Dear Dr. G.,
I am writing to you about this because I really need help with my life and I don't know what to do about it. I am 22 and I live with my parents.
My mom and I don't have the typical relationship that a mother and daughter should have. Since I was a kid, she was very abusive like when I used to get into a fight with my brother who is 3 years younger. She used to take his side on everything and without hearing my side of the story, she actually told me right to my face with my brother around that if I was her sister, I would deserve to be hated. My father is always working, barely makes it home early so he doesn't witness any of that but he usually takes my mom's side for no reason.
Just so you know, I have always been an A-student and I was not a troublemaker kind of child. On the contrary, since kindergarten until high school, my teachers loved me so much and have always showed me genuine support and assistance.
In a high school that I spent just one year, I was bullied for being a nerd and minding my business. Sad to say, my parents hardly showed me any kind of support and most of the times when they talked to me about that, all they could say that I am weak and it is not the kids fault that I am being so oversensitive and emotional.
Plus that, I can say I was naive for the many times that I used to talk to my mom about problems I faced with 3 rude people at college for the 4 years I was there. For every single time, my mom and I used to have a heated conversation, she would use what I told her against me about how I am hated and that I am so pathetic. She has never seen me as good enough for her as a daughter, despite that I used to clean after myself in the house and it was my fault that I didn't clean after my brother.
And she used to mock me in front of people for some words I used to pronounce wrong and I did tell her that it hurt my feelings and she would make a further joke of me telling me that I would deserve to be humiliated by strangers. Not only that but also, she would complain about me and that my brother is so much better. He doesn't even help at all with the household chores and he isn't a hard-working student, plus he doesn't actually have a real life because he is usually playing his video games and such.
Last thing, I was sleeping after a hectic day and I was so tired that she actually hit me in the foot to wake me up because she doesn't like it that I was sleeping for too long. Just like that. I did tell her, I feel so tired that I can't even lift my head and she kept hitting me on my shoulder and poking me while shouting. With all that, my father wouldn't even stop her and he would complain that I shouldn't be sleeping that much.
I just feel so mad at her, I feel so messed up … sometimes I do want to scream at them expressing about how much I truly hate them. I am planning to move out soon and I don't really want to cut them off my life but I am just sick of everything and I can't think straight.
I apologize for the long message and I hope I don't sound dramatic. Thanks a lot and looking forward to your reply.
A Distressed Daughter
Thank you so much for reaching out to me. It is more than clear that you have been dealing with a great deal of rage from your mother since you were quite young. And, sadly, your father has been unable to step in and give you support because as you said he would either take your mother's side or remain uninvolved. I am truly sorry about that. It is a shame that neither of your parents supported you and did quite the opposite which was to make you feel humiliated and hurt on so many levels. Home is supposed to be a place where one feels supported and has a fan club. Sadly, this is so often not the case. Despite being an excellent student and trying to help out around the house you were nonetheless treated terribly. I am so very sorry. Sometimes the best among us get treated poorly at home. This is just so terribly unfair but it is not uncommon.
You provided examples of your life with your mother over time and during many ages. Thank you for providing a clear picture of your life with many vivid yet painful examples. As a young child you were verbally abused and unfavorably compared to your brother. During your adolescence your mother bullied you for being bullied. You were opening up to her and seeking her help. Instead, she invalidated your feelings and blamed you for the bullying. That is truly a shame. Since you were open and communicating with her she gave up an excellent opportunity to help you and bond with you. My guess is that she made you feel even more helpless and perhaps even deserving of the bullying that you were enduring. Again, in college she berated you when you shared stories of interpersonal difficulties. It is so sad that your mother lacked the tools to help you and instead hurt you. You describe incidents during which your mother would shame you publicly for mispronouncing words. The more appropriate alternative, of course, would have been for her to correct you gently and in private. Shame is never helpful.
Let's fast forward to the present. I assume that you finished college and returned home. Your mother is now hitting you and your father continues to stand by ineffectively. I am not sure if you are sleeping because you are working hard and are tired or if you are depressed. Nonetheless, your mother should not be hitting you.
My suggestion to you is that you move out of the house as soon as you are able. Limit the amount of contact that you have with your parents. I am not suggesting that you stop communicating with your parents entirely. I am suggesting instead that you limit contact so that you are not immersed in abusive interactions. As you know, you do not need to live with people to be abused by them. I also suggest that you lower your expectations of your parents. I know that every child hopes for the approval of their parents but sadly not all parents are capable of providing this. Develop a support group of friends who treat you kindly and supportive. In life, we all need to be surrounded by people who honor us and this support group may or may not include parents.
Perhaps, you might benefit from speaking with a therapist who might help you deal with the delicate interactions with your parents that you will likely continue to have for many years. Home should not only be a place but a feeling characterized by warmth and safety. Sadly, not everyone is so lucky.
I wish you strength and courage in your journey. Please get back to me as time passes.
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