15th October 2019 at 2:39 am #89661SunshineRainflowerParticipant
I could just do with a pep talk and some encouragement from you inspiring ladies. I feel like I might have shared about this several times before but I have had problems with my memory so hopefully I’m not repeating myself too much (luckily my memory issues seem to be improving slightly now).
Basically, not long after I escaped my abusive ex, during my recovery when I was reading about domestic abuse, personality disorders, emotional abuse etc I had the realisation that my parents often used certain manipulation tactics and did other things that were similar to my ex. They weren’t as extreme as him, it was much more subtle, but the pattern still seemed to be there. For example, they’ve never been able to accept responsibility for anything, they always have to deflect blame even if it doesn’t make sense. My dad uses a lot of word salad to avoid accepting blame for things, and he’s always done this thing where he says “well you did XYZ” if I ever pointed out something he’d done that had upset me. It was like he was saving up things I was doing to later use as ammunition, when all I was doing was trying to live in peace with them, not ‘win’ arguments. It was exhausting and infuriating and used to make me feel crazy when I lived with them. They always used to make me feel like I was this bad daughter and they were always right but that ‘they’d forgive me if I apologised.’
I started to notice that my dad was sort of creepy, looking at me through door hinges, looking at my body, making comments about my appearance and clothes, going up too close to me in the house then getting angry and saying I was overreacting when I got upset and repeatedly told him to not do these things. He made me feel angry, powerless, disgusted and violated.
My mother has said a few times that she ‘doesn’t know how to love,’ but now confusingly she says almost every time I see her that she loves me. It feels painful and untrue. She was very cold to me as a child and admits this, saying she thought she was going to die and she didn’t want me to connect with her. Whenever this comes up in conversation about how it hurt me, she always some how spins it round to be the victim, saying how bad it makes her feel and I’ve often ended up comforting her for the fact that she was cruel and cold to me as a child! She often used to ‘cry’ during these times but I started to notice there were never any actual tears and it always seemed a bit odd, and now I think that unfortunately it might have all be fake. She also used to do things like scream at me for crying when I was a small child, once she threw things in a rage when I was young which was pretty frightening, and she was always telling me I was too quiet and needed to be more like this other child. At the same time I was being bullied/emotionally and physically abused by my brother and also by boys at school. The message I got in those early years was that I was wrong/weird/stupid/annoying and that I deserved to be treated the way I was being treated because of that.
When I got older I started getting attention from men and boys and then she changed and started going n about my looks and kind of treating me like a doll. Recently she said to me ‘you were attractive’ which I thought was cruel because it basically is saying I’m not currently attractive. I think if I had a daughter I would never say that to her, it’s just unnecessary and cold.
She seems to lack empathy. I notice this in particular when a family friend has died and she just seems so unaffected by it, so practical and unbothered and even making jokes about it. It always seems to odd to me that I feel much more upset about these people dying than she is, when she has known them for a lot longer than me.
I always noticed that my parents said and did things that infuriated me but I never knew anything about emotional abuse and always blamed myself thinking it was my fault. Then I started to see the familiar pattern and realised that I was getting infuriated because they were always invalidating me, blaming me, gaslighting me, violating my boundaries, using word salad, lying, omitting important information, treating me like a child, making decisions that affected me without me and in general being unpredictable.
This all escalated when I left my ex and I started to figure it all out. As if on queue they started to act increasingly strange and it was frightening, they’d leave things in my room then deny having been in there, send me weird text messages repeatedly then send me more messages saying they were meant for other people. through out some of my things saying they ‘didn’t know they were mine’ and whenever I asked them about anything they’d say they couldn’t remember or didn’t know, hiding information from me. Then one day, they sent me a bombshell – they’d put the house up for sale and I had to find somewhere else to live, despite having no job (which they had encouraged, saying I should focus on my health and reassuring me they were never going to sell the house). I couldn’t believe they would drop me in it like that, it was so cold and callous. They had insisted they never wanted to sell, so why did they suddenly sell up knowing I had no job? I feel like it was punishment because they knew I had started to see the manipulation. Of course now they insist they sold up to help me get my own place, which feels like gaslighting and is confusing.
It was the most stressful thing but I eventually found somewhere. I’ve been signed off from work due to a few medical conditions but I know I can work again and want to to support myself, mainly because I don’t want to feel as vulnerable as I do now.
I’ve found a job to try and arranged trying it out as a volunteer but then unfortunately got ill again and had to postpone. They seemed ok about that and said to get back in touch when I was better. I’m aiming to try the job out in the next few weeks and since I know a lot of you have recovered from abuse, found and maintained work and gone onto be successful and support yourselves I wanted to ask for your help so that I can do it too.
I want to be successful and support myself and my amazing cat. I know I have to take small steps due to my health, and will only be working limited hours at least at first. I’m actually really looking forward to it, as I’ve worked in the past many times and have enjoyed several of my past jobs, I just need to find something again that I can manage and even enjoy. The key for me is that it definitely needs to be part time.
Anyway thanks for listening and for any advice. I still feel like this frightened child a lot of the time, and confused and scared by a lot of things, since I realise now that my parents raised me to depend on them rather than be independent. There were so many things I had to learn when I moved out that I had never done before, mostly because they’d always insisted on doing everything saying they wanted to help me, and then they’d refuse to discuss things or share information when I wanted to try to understand these things (such as about savings and insurance etc). I think it might be similar to how a cult-leaver feels although I’m not saying my experience is as extreme as theirs. In the end it’s trauma bonding/Stockholm syndrome where you know there’s something wrong and that you’re being controlled but you don’t really know yet how to live your life independently, are very fearful about supporting yourself as are used to being controlled so it feels scary and weird to be on your own. It’s also because for years you’ve been conditioned to think that you can’t actually support yourself and that you need them.
It’s very confusing because I’m still coming to terms with all of this, I’m still reeling from how they suddenly sold up the house and struggle to process who they are and often think maybe I’ve got them wrong but then they do something else that is weird or scary or unpredictable or cruel and I’m back at square one, acknowledging there is a problem and knowing that the only way forward is independence from them.
15th October 2019 at 6:38 pm #89706HopeLifeJoyParticipant
I am in the same boat as you so you won’t get a pep talk from me but rather an offering of some short form of brainstorming 🙃
I too feel placed into a vulnerable position more than ever due to my financial dependence on others (social benefits).
I believe the key in succeeding at securing your job is your ability to bridge the reality of your mental health state and your desire for financial independence. This is the riddle I am trying to solve because i’ve tried a full-time, lower responsibility position and collapsed miserably after just a month. My brains and especially my emotions would’t cooperate and give me the headspace needed to be productive. I remember how often I went to the ladies to cry out my heartbreak, I was in so much pain.
I believe some work in therapy is needed first before work becomes a possibly. Goodness me now I am repeating the exact same words of my social worker 🙈
Basically some stability is needed. Emotional and intellectual stability. Because you will face challenges at work. You will need to handle them professionally and diplomatically producing results out of a complex situation. Which we all are capable of doing when functioning to our full potential.
Recovering from abuse is such an upside down experience, it requires so much more than theoretically resolving our problems, we are dealing with unexpected triggers and fatigue, which are taking away enormous amount of energy…
One thing I know for certain is that we all will be able to get back to work, simply because we are so very much worth it yes!!! Getting there girl, getting there! 💪😘
18th October 2019 at 10:07 pm #89889EfcharistoParticipant
Yes, I totally feel that way too. I grew up hearing plates smashing in the middle of the night and have had experiences of having the locks changed on a house I was sharing with a family member (his house). He waited for a time when I was just about to embark on a new chapter in my life in terms of work and study and then decided to take that moment to throw me out, overnight, spur of the moment, potentially planned but it was to remind me how much he is the one in control. With the power, the money, the physical presence, the loud voice, to crush me. I, too, was uncomfortable with the way he looked at me sometimes or made comments about my appearance that were inappropriate. He used to have women round to the house, the same age as me, who were his sexual partners and would, behind my back, complain when I had anyone round by way of a new relationship. He isolated me by doing this and allied himself with others in my family to make me think the problem all lay with me. He would tell me I should treat his house as my home and I was dependent on him insofar as I was not paying rent. Then one morning he told me he was changing the locks because I didn’t want to stay for a meeting with him, when I had a prior commitment. He brought one of his friends round (a female whom I had got to know as a friend) to coerce me into staying for this strange meeting which I did not want to do, and couldn’t do, because I’m busy and have things I need to attend. He took away my dog the day before he announced he was changing the locks. I feel as if I’ve been treated like an animal, as disposable, as worthless and at the precise moment when things are going well for me, he turns it all around with a click of his fingers and wanted to see me put down a peg or two, or ten… He’s extremely rich and I am facing financial hardship. It isn’t fair.
15th October 2019 at 7:04 pm #89709blue eyesParticipant
Hi, I could have written your post. My parents treated me like this like a child never trusting me to do anything, telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I was very dependent on them and lacked confidence. My mother was very critical of me all the time and seemed to be very angry. My father was easy going but he sometimes behaved like you describe your father, looking through hinges etc. I have never told anyone that its horrible and creepy. Also, I had many abusive friends and family members who were quite vile to me. I thought this was normal and that I must be horrible. I ended up in an abusive relationship for over twenty years. I knew he was hurting my feelings but I thought it must be something I was doing wrong to deserve that. It was only when he was horrible to my lovely innocent little dog and I witnessed his mother being very nasty to her grandson’s girlfriend that it all clicked into place and I realised it wasn’t me. Then I started to do google searches found various sites and links and started to read. I eventually left him, and then I started to realise hang on if they are abusive then these friends and family members who are behaving in the same way must be too. It was a complete shock, I couldn’t understand why everyone was suddenly being horrible to me. The thing was they probably always had been like that I had only just started to see it. The stress was terrible and I lost my memory. I got rid of about ten friends gradually over a few years and the vast majority of my family. I keep in touch with only a handful of cousins now and even then I am very careful of what I say and do as they are quite covert. Its very hard and sometimes lonely but it was the only way I could heal and concentrate on myself because every time I was around them I would become distraught and I would slip back into comfort eating and lack self care. I will give you an example of my cousins’ behaviours, one of them spat into someones food once. I was upset about forthcoming medical treatment and another of them said you will have to toughen up and her husband proceeded to tell me in vivid detail just what the procedure would entail, another came to hospital to visit my mother when she was desperately ill and while sitting by her hospital bed proceeded to mock me about my weight. I actually stood up and screamed at her and told her what I thought of her and one of the patients relatives said well done good for you, One of my proudest finest moments sticking up for myself. Inevitably I ended up being the villain to the rest of them, but that was one of the turning points for me to get rid of the lot of them. My dad died a few years ago and I am more or less the full time carer for my mother. I have had to learn to do everything, cook clean shop by myself. Because of my parents babying me and all the bullying and abuse I was a wreck a shell who had panic attacks in public who was scared to walk anywhere and didn’t get the bus.
Now after a lot of no contact and having to look after my mum, who is different with me now I have had to stand on my own to feet and to my surprise I have found I can cope very well. I have gained in confidence I go out to places on my own and I volunteer with lovely people. All I needed was to get rid of the abusive people in my life. x
18th October 2019 at 12:22 am #89830SunshineRainflowerParticipant
Hi HopeLifeJoy and Blue eyes,
Thanks for your replies and sorry I took a while to reply back. Blue eyes it sounds like our experiences have been really similar, I feel the same about wondering whether these people have always treated me like this or whether they started to get worse once I realised. It’s like they brainwash us. I’m glad you were able to turn it round and are doing better now.
I really liked your last sentence when you said “All I needed was to get rid of the abusive people in my life” and how you discovered you really were capable. I really hope it’s the same for me. I have tried jobs and a career before and unfortunately a lot of them didn’t work out so I often fear that it’s me. I found the career exhausting and stressful. I disliked most of my past jobs and found myself becoming anxious and super depressed in a lot of them, I’ve often wondered how people don’t go insane in a lot of jobs.
I have had some jobs in the past I’ve enjoyed though thankfully, and have liked a lot of the people I’ve worked with as well as encountering abusive bullying types. Unfortunately most of these jobs were temporary so aren’t available anymore and decent part time jobs seem really hard to find. I’m trying a different approach this time where I’m approaching companies speculatively rather than waiting for them to advertise, since I know this can be a good way to negotiating jobs that suit you better in terms of the role and the hours.
HopeLifeJoy you’ve summed up my dilemma about returning to work when you wrote: “I Basically some stability is needed. Emotional and intellectual stability. Because you will face challenges at work. You will need to handle them professionally and diplomatically producing results out of a complex situation. Which we all are capable of doing when functioning to our full potential.”
Some of my difficulties are emotional stability, getting to bed on time, sleeping on time, waking up on time then getting out of the house on time then being stable enough to handle difficult people at work and stress. In the past I remember in one full time admin job that made me miserable I ended up taking one day off a week towards the end because I was so unstable I was crying and feeling enraged for at least a few days each week. The job itself was not really as advertised, I wasn’t trained, I didn’t click with my colleagues and they refused to let me reduce my hours so it was terrible. I’m a night owl too so early starts often make me feel physically sick. I’ve found a job to try out that is flexible, sometimes it includes working at nights and weekends and the hours can be increased or decreased from what I understand so that sounds like it might be better for me. I know that full time rigid 9-5 very quickly makes me lose the will to live and feel like I’m losing my sanity, it’s just difficult when most jobs fall into this schedule and won’t even allow part time hours.
I’m feeling quite low about it all today not helped by being really tired because I had another emotional upset last night and only got to sleep at 5am. I wish I didn’t have these meltdowns, they make everything more difficult and I wouldn’t have coped with a full working day today after it. I’ve been working hard for years to get my life on track and it often just feels impossible, but I will keep going.
18th October 2019 at 7:42 pm #89865HopeLifeJoyParticipant
Sweetie, since stability is needed you (and me as well) can start with simple tasks;
Set up a daily routine which will open and close your day with self-care. If you are a night owl🦉 that’s fine, arrange your schedule around it, the time you’re getting up doesn’t matter, as long as you get enough sleep and half-hour of daylight to absorb vitamin D. Even when faced with stress at least self care is taking care of and you will learn pushing yourself on the day you are feeling tired and slowing down on the days adrenaline is shooting through the roof. To keep your energy levels balanced. No more very high up and deep down. Saving enough energy for the next day. And the next. Sustainable energy. Does that make sense? I am trying this routine because I am sharply focused on standing my grounds and go from one to the next meeting and can easily forget about feeding myself or sleeping enough. So by setting up a steady self-care routine I don’t need to think about food, hygiene, exercise, dressing myself in warm enough clothes…it is freeing up enough mental space to keep myself focused on confronting the people I have to during the day. But my mornings and evenings do belong to me. And I am making them comfortable, something to look forward to 😌
You seem to be an artist, a creative person? Maybe free-lancing would be ideal for you. You are choosing when and where you’d be working as long as you deliver your work on the agreed deadline, you own the freedom of time and space.
You will find a variety of possibilities where you’ll be able to use your creativity; writer, blogger, graphic designer, web designer, journalist, reporter, music industry etc…
I am quite the opposite, physically I do enjoy the office, the regular days & hours, I couldn’t imagine working in the evening or nights or weekends. But creatively I absolutely need my mental space.
I know one day you and I both will be working, keeping steady and be happy, you’ll see. 💕
Keep going tiger!
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