Cycle Of Emotional Abuse
Growing up poor and sometimes homeless was never easy. My mother and father argued daily and when my father was not around my mom was always engulfed in despair. It hurt me to see her that way, but when I tried to embrace her one late night she pushed me away and yelled at me, telling me to go to my room.
That hurt me so much, but I understood it was because she didn't want me to see her cry. I worried about all the things she did though, I thought about if she had enough money to pay for rent, or if we had enough food for my siblings, is dad going to come back with the car, is he with another woman again, did he spend all his money on beer, and so forth.
My mother had to work two jobs, and that left me in charge of my siblings, and she put a lot of responsibility on me. She had such high expectations of me too, whenever I didn't reach them I felt like a failure, whenever I didn't "do something right" she would yell and if I dared try to talk back I would be quickly shot down.
Being bullied constantly at school didn't help either. Since I was timid and quiet I was an easy target. They would call me ugly, tell other people I had lice since my hair was untidy, and a teacher's pet since the only times I did speak where to my teachers--it was only about grades/schoolwork. I always felt different and alone. I never asked for things or knew how to express myself. I also felt that crying in front of others is shameful.
In my teens things got better financially for my family, and so did school. I learned to stand up for myself and make friends. However, I still have so much trouble allowing myself to be loved by anyone. I feel I am not good enough. I also catch myself saying demeaning things to my siblings which hurts their self esteem.
I feel like a monster, even if I apologize I can never take back the damage I already caused. I love my family so much, how can I be just as nagging/controlling just like my mother? I always vowed never to be that way...but it seems she instilled that in me and I can't seem to get rid of it. I hate myself more than I have ever before in my life and I just wish I could help myself because I know my siblings look up to me and love me just as much I love them. I don't deserve their love and they don't deserve to be emotionally abused.Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Alice, and thanks for telling your story here. Your story is very touching, and so is the artfulness of the photograph you provided. I have a sense that you are a fine person, with a lot to offer. Your concern for you siblings is a reflection of your good heart. I will try to help.
I think you were given too much responsibility too soon, and punished when you didn't meet your mother's expectations. That created an inordinate burden for you, making you feel like you're supposed to take care of others, especially your family. You may have some suppressed anger because of that.
These journaling processes
will help you. The first helps you review your history, the second gives you a safe, healthy place to express your anger, and the third helps you to begin shifting your focus to the good in you and the world around you.
I also suggest you use these imagery processes for emotional healing
to deal with old trauma, and to "go back" and get that younger you and tell her, "It's over. You don't have to do this any more. Now it's time for me (the adult you) to take care of you (the child you).
It is time for you to learn to heal your past and love yourself, Alice. That's the first step to being the kind of sibling and family member you want to be.
My very best to you,
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