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Do you 2nd guess yourself?

Old 11-02-2009, 11:49 AM
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Do you 2nd guess yourself?

I'm almost 42 years old and I still doubt myself. Throughout my childhood, both my parents told me constantly how lucky I was, how good I had it. My father would come home from work and beat me every day, my mother would tell me how much trouble I caused, how I made her want to commit suicide, how fat I was.... then they dragged us to church on sunday where we were expected to act like the happy family. My father would kick and choke me, whip me til I bled, then remind me how much people respected him because he was a deacon in the church and because he was so charitable (helping old widow women). He forced me to work hard from the age of 10, helping move and install large window air conditioners. He dragged me into bad neighborhoods when he went to collect from people who owed him money. I can't prove it, but I now beleive the reason he made me go with him on those runs to collect money was because he thought maybe people wouldn't kill him in front of his child. I also had a LOT of responsibilities in our house. I had house cleaning and cooking to do every day in addition to moving air conditioners, and taking care of my younger brothers. One day my father called me home from school to clean house, then sent me back to school, like this was a perfectly acceptable thing to do. It's not like he had already told me to do it before school or I refused or anything. He just had a hunger for power and I guess that power trip caused him to force me to do things his way, NOW. He didn't care that my grades got lowered for missing those classes to clean the kitchen when it could have waited a few hours until I got home. when no one else was home, I had to stay there to answer his air conditioner calls, even sell air conditioners in a secluded building where god only knows what could have happened to me. When I was 13 I got hit by a truck. I SWEAR I looked both ways and didn't see anything. It was DARK, it was RAINING, the street lights were glaring in my eye glasses. Somehow the headlights blended in with the streetlights and I got hit crossing the street. I was knocked unconscious. I couldn't walk for a few days and was banged up, but no serious injuries. At the hospital my mother berated me the whole time, telling me how much trouble I caused, that I didn't look before crossing the street, she shamed me for this endlessly. Never a hug, never any expression of concern for my safety, no "I'm so glad you're okay..." Just shame for getting run over. Both my parents told me regularly how fat I was ( I wasn't at ALL overweight, but they convinced me that I was). I slowly developed an eating disorder because I was afraid to let them see me eat, and because I thought I needed to lose weight. My mother blamed all her problems on me and regularly blamed me for her wanting to commit suicide. She regularly said she wanted to kill herself, then she would lock herself in her room and we would beg her to come out. She once got a big handful of pills, held them out toward me and screamed "JUst look! Just look what you almost made me do!" She knew my father was beating me, but never did anything to intervene. He even threatened to kill me, and I knew he kept a handgun. I was never EVER hugged. There was NEVER an "I love you." No affection in our home whatsoever. I knew they hated me, but I never understood why. I was as straight-laced as any kid I knew..seriously. I didn't drink or use, was not sexually active, didn't party, didn't do anything to cause them to doubt me, I did everything they told me to do. I was too afraid to actually do anything really wrong. I got whipped on because I didn't move fast enough when they told me to do something, or because I looked at my father wrong (I wasn't allowed to show emotion), or because my mother told my father that I had argued with my brother. So getting knocked around the way I did for those minor offenses, I was terrified of what would happen if I did something worse. So trust me when I say I really was as straight-laced as any kid I knew. I thought I must be so crazy, so defective, that I was incapable of understanding how bad I was that drove them to treat me so badly.

All these years later, there is no more physical violence, yet my father denies he ever laid a hand on me and my mother claims she didn't know about any abuse. She only recently told me that my father admitted kicking me in the stomach once with his pointy toed boots, but claims that's all he ever did. We gradually developed a superficial relationship so that I had a place to spend holidays and didnt have to feel completely alone in the world. I never loved them. I just needed them. Or thought I did. I didn't have anyone else. So I let them sweep the past under a rug. Finally, less than a year ago, I had healed enough to confront my mother on the past. She denied it all. Things turned ugly. She told my father what I was saying about him, so he hasn't spoken to me in going on a year now. Not that I cared if he knew what I was saying about him, as I intend to confront him myself at some point. I know that sounds so backwards. That the perp is punishing ME for saying those things about him. although every word I spoke was true. But it's the way my parents are. They manipulate my psyche by telling me I imagined it all, that I have problems, that there's something wrong with me and I need help. My mother and I patched things up in the spring. I never backed down from what I said, but we called a truce. Then a few days ago she started in on me about something and when I stood up for myself, she blew. It got real ugly again. Once again she's brought up how GOOD they have been to me all these years and how ungrateful I have been. Funny, all she could come up with was how they've helped me financially a few times in just the past 7 years. She was unable to express any other support they've offered besides financial. I told her to stay out of my life. Yet this is so HARD. I've felt so alone all my life, but at least I had a family to belong to. Now I have no one. And while I KNOW I have told the truth about all those years of abuse, the brainwashing has caused me to doubt whether it was really "that bad". I have no doubts about what happened. My memories are clear. But my head often says that it wasn't a big deal, that maybe I'm over-reacting, that it wasn't that bad. They've told me so many times how good they were that it makes me question myself. And here I sit once again, feeling very tempted to apologize for upsetting her so I can have my family back. That's what my mother wants me to do. She wants me to cower down and recant, while SHE, will NEVER admit any wrongdoing.

Do you guys have these doubts? Do you ask yourself if it was really that bad? Do you ask yourself if there's something wrong with YOU that has invented things that didn't really happen? Do you wonder if somehow you really were so messed up that you were incapable of understanding that you drove them to abuse you? That you made them do it?
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Old 11-02-2009, 01:17 PM
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Hi daydream

I think if you look up resources for people in abusive relationships, you'll find a lot of things apply to parent-child relationships from male-female relationships. Abusers tear down your worth and self-preservation so that you will continue to tolerate the abuse. They do this because it's in their best interest to continue having someone to abuse. It's not in their best interest if you get better. You should read some of the stories from the "Friends and Family of Alcoholics" forum next door. You often hear the general idea that it doesn't matter if the alcoholic is good to you 29/30 days of the month. If they're violent or abusive for even one day, that's too much. Lots of people go through stress. LOTS of people CHOOSE to deal with it in ways other than taking it out on their partner. The same applies to parents in how they deal with their kids.

To borrow from another thread... Let's say you and your parent are standing in the kitchen looking at your blue fridge. Your parent says, "The fridge is yellow." And you say, "No, it's blue." You could argue about it for the rest of the day, but after all is said and done, you know that you've got a blue fridge standing in front of you. You can't change the reality that another adult has decided works for them.

Similarly, if the main point of your argument is that beating children is wrong, and your mom or dad's main point is that beating children is perfectly acceptable, then unless one of you is willing to shift your definition of reality you will never be able to agree on whether your childhood was "good" or "bad". And personally, I'm not inclined to think that it's your reality that needs any shifting.

A lightbulb moment for me was when I realized that my dad (lifelong alcoholic, "not abusive") was never going to apologize for the things I felt he had done wrong by me because he doesn't believe those things were wrong to do. Maybe it was because he was raised that way? Maybe because it was what he saw growing up? Either way, it helped me make more sense of his reaction when I would confront him - because to him, he literally thought I was crazy for having a problem with what he thought was normal.

So end point there: an abusive person is always going to say they treated you "good" because usually really do believe that this is how people are supposed to be treated.

Realizing this helped me detach. The other thing that helped was creating a family of choice for myself out of good friends. These are people who do treat me well that I choose to keep in my life. These are people who are happy for me when I achieve and who support me when I hit a hard time. It's tough being dealt a crappy hand for a family, because even though you can walk away, you can't stop needing a family.

I met some good people through various volunteer work I used to do. Some of my closest friendships came from post-secondary school buddies. Do you do any community or volunteer work? Are there any friendships in your life that you can foster a feeling of family from?
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Old 11-03-2009, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by daydream View Post
I thought I must be so crazy, so defective, that I was incapable of understanding how bad I was that drove them to treat me so badly.
You didn't deserve that treatment, didn't cause the treatment, and can't change how they treat you. I believe that you are understanding things perfectly. However, what you seem to be having a hard time with is facing the reality of how bad they treated you. You need to start learning to trust yourself and nevermind what they have to say b/c they are wrong. Abusers are master-manipulators. One thing that might help you see it from the big picture better is to ask yourself, "If I saw someone in the same situation as me, what would I say to them? Would I tell them they are crazy or tell them their parents are abusive and crazy?" Part of them wanting to convince you that nothing happened was so that you would play into their little game and facade. It truly is about them and it NEVER has been about you. I exactly know how you feel and you're not alone.

I have no doubts about what happened. My memories are clear. But my head often says that it wasn't a big deal, that maybe I'm over-reacting, that it wasn't that bad. They've told me so many times how good they were that it makes me question myself. And here I sit once again, feeling very tempted to apologize for upsetting her so I can have my family back. That's what my mother wants me to do. She wants me to cower down and recant, while SHE, will NEVER admit any wrongdoing.
It is easier to just give in and go alone with what they want to get the monkey off our backs. It helps ease our pain, but in a way, this will never allow us to heal. If the only reason why you may be considering giving in and apologizing is b/c you are afraid to be alone--that is not a good reason to be around someone. You should be around someone because they build you up as a person and make you feel good and because you want to be. They shouldn't beat you down with a sledgehammer everytime you voice your concerns or have an opinion about something that differs from them. That is an abusive relationship--mentally and emotionally.


Do you guys have these doubts? Do you ask yourself if it was really that bad? Do you ask yourself if there's something wrong with YOU that has invented things that didn't really happen? Do you wonder if somehow you really were so messed up that you were incapable of understanding that you drove them to abuse you? That you made them do it?
Of course...it is only natural to doubt ourselves when our family of origin tells us such. We are supposed to listen to what they have to say and value it. However, a family of origin who is abusive is not someone worth taking seriously. It has taken me a long time to realize this b/c I didn't want to be alone...I didn't want to be the "bad daughter", and I knew all of the negative repercussions that would follow by "not going along with the flow and what they want." I really had to prepare myself to separate my self from them..be prepared for the manipulation tactics and make sure that I had at least 1 or 2 people that I could go to for support.

Don't buy into their crap. What they did was awful to you and no body knows it BUT YOU. Don't let them destroy any faith and confidence that you have in yourself....don't let them accomplish that goal. Without faith in ourselves...what do we have? (I do believe in a higher power, but that higher power gives me the strength and hope to believe in myself).

Take care and God Bless you. :praying
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