How do you move on in a healthy light from an abusive childhood?
July 16, 2012 5:29 PM Subscribe
No former teenage angst here; what do you do when your parents genuinely SUCK?
posted by Chelsaroo650 to human relations (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure I come off as somewhat of an over-talkative, sensitive, emotional person... who may have some sort of problem and I think this stems from who my parents were to me as a child. The thing is, I don't feel like I ever really knew how to cope with who my parents are. I don't know how to diffuse from the chaos I experienced and try to subtract those unnatural reactions from my life... and maybe this will be a good background for you guys to know why I may act like I am emotionally off-kilter... I have never told this to people outside of my family.
I never considered myself a troubled person growing up, until I grew up and realized that I had dark places in my youth, and still do now. My parents were a giant ball of dysfunction. Dad was always yelling. In fact, that's all I remember him doing from 7 years old on up. I didn't know what to do, but I knew my siblings would do nothing. I was a middle child, the third of four. My mom was so caught up in defending herself from his attacks that I became the one who consoled my younger sister and cared for her, who was really too young to know anything. I remember being picked on for having crooked teeth (my father emphasized this less-than-perfect quality) and constantly fixated on this to the point where I refused to smile with my teeth unless by accident. It sounds like a joke to many but it stemmed from being constantly criticized and stayed with me for years... it was a feeling of constant rejection.
Eventually I grew tired of my dad targeting my mom and yelling at her for hours and hours, and became desensitized to nasty language (and REALLY nasty)... while my siblings holed up in their rooms, I tried to combat my father as if I was his equal and try to attack him so as to salvage my mother who seemed to curl up and cry. I constantly had to "save" my mother from my father. Who refused to hit me back, but didn't have any qualms about hitting my mom or my sister, whom he despised. When she was just 13, I have a very strong memory of her being punched in the face by my father. She was physically assaulted by him when she was 17.
My father has been distant my entire life. His emotions are ridiculously shallow and he's seen me bawling and in such despair at his hands but only to his indifference. He was always so calm. I knew there was something wrong with him. We had to have him removed with force from our home several times including a restraining order. One day he took off on Christmas eve taking everything in our bank account. He couldn't keep a job and we kept having to downsize more and more. I had the most miserable Christmas of my life when we were given donations... I was embarrassed and had no clothes.
It wasn't until I was 16 I saw my dad for what he really was when I took a psychology class. I realized my father was a schizophrenic (he has now actually been diagnosed as having more than one personality disorder; asperger's, schizoid, and paranoid schizophrenia). Realizing my friends had estranged alcoholic parents, drug addicts for mothers, etc. I felt unable to explain who my dad was or why he did what he did. It actually was very unnerving to have people in class make jokes about "the crazies" and how "schizos have split personalities." Yet it really is different when your dad is that "crazy."
My father is now divorced from my mother and lives with his parents. The aftermath of everything has left neither parent on good terms with their children. My father is lazy, jobless, and angry as ever... although he communicates with me daily. My mother has detached from her role as a mother and seems to believe her job as a mother was done when she left my father when I was 15. She was more worried about having a date for Friday night and frivolously moved in and married my now stepfather uprooting any stability we both had by moving us away into a home with his kids who he had detached from and were repeatedly in trouble with the law. I can't ask either for help and both of them are jobless. I have no security net as I navigate my twenties. I didn't have it even as a child, but I have become my sole provider.
I have a lot of anger towards them, and oddly, sympathy for my father. I used to remember my mother as somebody great but now nobody can recognize her. She is the definition of a codependent and if I confide in her, she just can't be my mother... she wants me to stop talking so she can spend "quality time" with my step father and caters to him and his children while forgetting about her own. She revolves around him and relishes his controlling ways. She has unhealthy relationship patterns I think I may have learned.
So now I am looking back on it all and wondering, how do I escape from these patterns? Is chaos all that I want to know? Am I better off leaving and severing ties with them or keeping their contact limited?