Realizing I was emotionally abused as a child (College Softmore)
About half a year after my parents had separated I discovered this truth. While it was super great that I was finally able to understand why I thought they way I did and did the things I do, it also shocked me to the core. One would have thought that discovering this would have been a breakthrough not cause a breakdown.
The gears first started turning a few months before my epiphany when I was still going to my therapist. I saw her about three times a month and we talked about a lot of things, all of them centering around the issues I had with my mother, and why I resented her so much. I showed her my art and poems as that was my main outlet for my negative emotions. We talked about how manipulative my mother was over my life (the fact that I had a curfew while I was in college was astounding to her), and about how phrases my mother would say had morphed my thinking. At this point we hadn’t put a label to what was going on inside my mind.
I also talked to my dad a lot and found out that before my younger sister was born my mother had tried to control the things I played with. As most mothers try and do. she was desperately trying to my make into that stereotypical “girly girl” when I was clearly on the path to “tom-boy.” Dad explained how I liked to play trains with him and how disapproving my mother thought of this. A few years later mom finally got her “girly girl” in the form of my little sister but never gave up on trying to force me into that role. I remember playing with Barbie’s, makeup, and dolls during my pre-kindergarten years, basically all the stereotypical “girly girl” toys. Thanks to my dad, I was still able to hold onto some of my “tom-boyish” ways. He would buy me Matchbox cars whenever we went to toy shows, we’d race the Nascar remote controlled car tracks, and he’d let me help him set up the huge old train set we had.
When I got to middle school I started being more artistic and started devoted large amounts of my time tracing and drawing in an anime style. Mother did not approve, surprise surprise. She thought academics were more important than letting my express myself and improve my artistic skills. This is the start of her clamping down on my creative spirit. This is also the time when I got into anime, or as my mom called them “cartoons.” I was into Naruto at the time and she didn’t want me watching all the violence and tried to steer me towards more “realistic” shows like reality tv (it’s what my mother and sister would watch all the time; I couldn’t stand it). Since my friends were into anime I would always catch her looking down her nose at them, because we were the “weird” kids. She’d put on this “good hostess” face but it was so forced that it was so painfully obvious that it was fake. It was always a struggle to go to friends houses to chill or go to parties when she would keep denying them, saying that she needed a weeks notice in advance so she could plan it around her schedule.
In high school I got into sewing and used my new found skills to start making cosplays for the one convention I went to a year. What a shock, mother didn’t approve. She thought the money that was being spent on the fabric and the conventions was a waste,especially if it was for anime themed things. Video games also became a big part of my life. I’d spend hours downstairs in the basement playing .hack//gu or rockband or smash. Dad would come down and join me in smash or rockband and the games that he couldn’t join in he’d stand and watch for a little while and ask me questions about what was going on. Mother, on the other hand, would just complain about how I isolated myself downstairs not interacting with my “family.” This was also the time when my mother and sister were trying to force makeup down my throat. My mind was focusing on inner beauty rather than outer, since I wasn’t the “thinnest” or most “attractive” girl out there. Those two just couldn’t understand. In the morning when the two of them would spend hours on their makeup and hair I’d barraged with “Do you wanna try this eye shadow?” or “You should put some foundation on.” or “You need to learn how to do makeup for when you get out in the real world.” or “You can’t go to work without makeup.” I was perfectly fine with my natural look, sure I had acne but so did everyone else. I always ignored them and told them, “It’s what on the inside that counts. If someone doesn’t like how I look on the outside and doesn’t want to get to know me, that’s their loss.” Over the years after countless barrages, my confidence in my words was getting shaky.
During my entire I was also being compared to my sister. She was labeled as the “smart” one, I was labeled as the “weird” one. Not “creative”, not “artistic”, “weird.” Because my sister was involved in cheerleading (a sport) my mother gave her favor over my choice of doing musicals with the theater. She was the baby of the family and got everything she wanted, even if she never admitted it. I always resented her for that. She got the most love, got the best things ,and just seemed to get treated all around better than I. It always seemed like she could do no wrong, but all I could do was wrong. Forget to do this, not do this, let me remind me that you failed to do this two years ago, etc.
It wasn’t until I told Ryan all these things, and basically told him everything about my childhood until now that we were able to figure out what had happened to me.
Compared to most cases it certainly isn’t the most extreme example of emotional abuse, but when I researched it more I found myself checking a lot of my boxes and becoming emotional because the things I was finding were accurate to my home life. The sad part of this whole thing is that I don’t even think my mother realizes what she was doing and continues to do to me.
There is a happy lining to this; I realized that I needed to start focusing on doing what made me happy. I wasn’t going to let her drag me around to places I didn’t want to go to, as I was practically tied down to her schedule before; I was focusing on my schedule. I stopped going to church, I moved onto college campus, I made my own plans with my friends and stuck to them. Just recently I declined the traditional “family vacation” in order to go to a convention in Baltimore. The last few that I had gone with just my mother and sister had resulted in some horrid depression during the trip; I didn’t want to go through that again. While it made her horribly upset, I felt so much better and happier that I didn’t go. Now it’s the era of me.