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Cycle Of Emotional Abuse

by Alice
(United States)

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,

Dr. DeFoore

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Comments for Cycle Of Emotional Abuse

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May 08, 2012
by: Anonymous

My mother was a kind and loving person but my father was a relentless tyrant who raised me and my two brothers to fear and hate him. When we were able, we left home. I left at the age of fifteen running away to anywhere I could get by bus or train, living in constant fear of him. I was always afraid of him but yet I loved him in some weird way cause he was my dad. I constantly put myself in dangerous situations and was suicidal from an early age. My mother died when I was eighteen while I was gone. To date, I have never forgiven myself for this. Never. I have cut my father out of my life and blame him for making life so unbearable that I left so young.I was close to my mother and after I left my father forbid her to talk to me. When I found out what was happening, I tried to go home but he would not let me. This cruelty has shattered the life i may have had. A year ago, I tried to kill myself and was hospitalized in a facility where I was able to open up a bit but I still cannot talk about it. The problem with me, I cannot forgive myself all the years later. Not for not being there when she died, but for not being a better daughter so he could have loved me more.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Learning to love and forgive yourself is very challenging--but you can do it if you decide that is what you really want. You are worthy of forgiveness. The reason you can't forgive yourself is that you hold yourself to a high standard...and that high standard is a reflection of who you really are.

I wish you well on your road to peace in your heart.

Dr. DeFoore

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