my parents (another vent, sorry)

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juno

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sorry about this in advance. no one has to read this or even respond. i just don't have a support system and need to get this off my chest before i explode.

i've always kept my parents at a distance (partly because i think it's what they want (if the way they dismiss and invalidate my feelings is any indication), and also partly because it's become something that i want as well), and because i stopped talking to them about my mental health altogether, our relationship began getting better. of course i still felt resentment towards them, but i was able to ignore it and have a good time with them.

i can't do that anymore, and i don't know why. my bitterness just overwhelms me the second my mother walks into the room. with my dad it's a bit more bearable and i can at least put up a front, because where my mental health was concerned he was practically never around; therefore, he never invalidated me. but put me in a room with my mother for one second and i promise you, before she's even said anything yet, i'll already be on the defensive, already will be recoiling, already will have this emotional wall up, and my mood will literally plummet. it's exhausting and i always feel guilty after, since she walks away all dejected and stuff to guilt me (i'll explain), but i can't control it.

it's weird. at first i was worried about treating other people that way as well, but i've found i have no problems with that -- not with other family members, not with my friends, not even with my brother. my parents are the only ones who see this side of me. and i know this because i am otherwise able to keep an extremely tight reign on my emotions, as a result of the way i was raised.

maybe it's a subconscious part of me that wants to remind them that just because they don't see the depressed, anxious, traumatized and dissociated part of me doesn't mean it's not still there. or maybe it's to let them know that what they did (rather, what they didn't do) has had lasting effects, and that suddenly smothering me with physical affection and talking to me in a light, happy voice doesn't equate an apology.

my mother has always had a problem with this, but it's hurting me now more than ever: she doesn't respect my boundaries and it makes me so uncomfortable that i feel like crying. my mother was always physically affectionate with us, but never too much. however, of course, there came a time in my teenage years where i didn't like being touched. i still don't (though only when my family members are involved; this is largely due to recent trauma), and i make this very clear to her, but she never listens and continues to poke me, hug me, kiss me, even tickle me, whatever.

i've tried telling her sternly, "stop. you're making me uncomfortable. i'm not joking around", and have even tried raising my voice, but it never works. she thinks i'm joking and continues to do it, until i've finally had enough and i lash out, but then she gets mad and i get in trouble.

i previously said that she'll walk away dejectedly to guilt me. she does this whenever i refuse to hug her or give her any physical affection for any reason. if i tell her "no", she will make puppy dog eyes, duck her head, and shuffle out of my room, then poke her head back in seconds later, only to see i haven't changed my mind, and will walk away all sad again. it worked when i was younger, because i always felt so horrible about it that i eventually conceded, but it doesn't work anymore. she's instead resorted to getting in my space, even when i back away and/or tell her to stop.

it's not that it's a dangerous situation. she would never touch me in a sexual manner or anything, and never has. the problem is that i associate touching any of my family members with my trauma, so i get scared when they get too close.

i know that the best way to solve this issue is to just tell her straight up that when she does that it makes me uncomfortable because it reminds me of my trauma, but we're not at the stage where i can openly talk to her about stuff like that. i don't think we ever will be. i mean, the last time i tried to open up to her, i told her about me possibly having PTSD, and she said "okay but it's not like that was an official diagnosis, so you shouldn't take it seriously". it's gotten to the point where i was completely thrown when my cousin told me that her parents were asking her therapist about what kind of behavior they could start to expect from her as a result of her trauma, and were pretty much doing research to learn more about it. i don't know, maybe even that is kind of going above and beyond? in any case, it's great for her, and i'm really glad that her relationship with her parents is improving.

sorry, i know this is a lot. but thanks if you got this far. and like i said, no one has to respond. i just needed to vent for a while.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Oh gosh, your feelings about your mum sounds exactly like mine about my mum! So I absolutely understand and get what you're saying and how you feel. My mum is less wanting kisses and cuddles. She tries to hold my arm at times and will want hugs or sits too close to me. I always get up and move away. I learnt a long long long time ago (consciously or not perhaps) there was no point saying no and explaining my feelings around why I didn't want that touch or behaviour from her, as she is utterly incapable of hearing or seeing or acknowledging my feelings.
If I ever do dare express my upset, I get in trouble too. My whole family then joins in for me upsetting my mum for some nonsense. My whole family then dismisses and doesn't want to know my feelings.
Anyway: enough about me!

What I wanted to say is: your feelings and reactions to her and her behaviour are valid. Of course you are on the defensive because you are anticipating the inevitable rejection of your lived reality from her again. And of course you feel guilty about your response after, because you are kind and compassionate and don't want others to be upset.

How to navigate all of that? This is where I am totally and utterly stuck myself. My T says I need to find a middle ground between walking away from my family for ever and this dysfunctional dance that I and they do. I have absolutely no clue what that middle ground is. And I have no idea how to reframe it; or offer tips to try and manage it all. Because I'm drowning in it too.

So my long winded message is: I hear you.
 

juno

New Here
Oh gosh, your feelings about your mum sounds exactly like mine about my mum! So I absolutely understand and get what you're saying and how you feel. My mum is less wanting kisses and cuddles. She tries to hold my arm at times and will want hugs or sits too close to me. I always get up and move away. I learnt a long long long time ago (consciously or not perhaps) there was no point saying no and explaining my feelings around why I didn't want that touch or behaviour from her, as she is utterly incapable of hearing or seeing or acknowledging my feelings.
If I ever do dare express my upset, I get in trouble too. My whole family then joins in for me upsetting my mum for some nonsense. My whole family then dismisses and doesn't want to know my feelings.

What I wanted to say is: your feelings and reactions to her and her behaviour are valid. Of course you are on the defensive because you are anticipating the inevitable rejection of your lived reality from her again. And of course you feel guilty about your response after, because you are kind and compassionate and don't want others to be upset.

How to navigate all of that? This is where I am totally and utterly stuck myself. My T says I need to find a middle ground between walking away from my family for ever and this dysfunctional dance that I and they do. I have absolutely no clue what that middle ground is. And I have no idea how to reframe it; or offer tips to try and manage it all. Because I'm drowning in it too.

So my long winded message is: I hear you.

Oh my god, this is literally exactly how I feel! Growing up, I was always torn between feeling alone in this but also wondering if what I was experiencing was normal.

As for the whole getting in trouble thing, I totally get that. It was kind of a vicious cycle, in a way, because on one hand, I felt I wasn't allowed to express my emotions because whenever I did, I was either ignored or would get in trouble; therefore, I never learnt to cope with them properly. But on the other hand, my mother would always tell me, "You must confide in me, I am your mother" only to dismiss how I felt all over again, and I'd end up right back where I started. The rest of my family either sided with her or just stood by and let it happen.

That makes complete and utter sense. For so long I was so confused as to where I stood with my parents, and what I felt about them. Did you experience that for a while too?

My therapist mentioned something similar to that. She suggested family therapy as well, but to be honest, I've grown tired of trying to get them to hear and listen to me only for them to deflect it and dismiss my feelings.

Have you tried family therapy before? If so, how effective was it?

Thank you so much for your response; it really helped. I hope your situation gets better. If you ever need to talk, my PMs are open :)
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
was kind of a vicious cycle, in a way, because on one hand, I felt I wasn't allowed to express my emotions because whenever I did, I was either ignored or would get in trouble; therefore, I never learnt to cope with them properly. But on the other hand, my mother would always tell me, "You must confide in me, I am your mother" only to dismiss how I felt all over again, and I'd end up right back where I started. The rest of my family either sided with her or just stood by and let it happen
Yeah...snap!
I'm the youngest out of three. There was chaos in the family when I was born ( I was unplanned: my mum openly admits she wasn't coping but blames that on us children). So I took the role of being quiet as there was already so much noise, and so many emotions flying around. There was no space for my emotions. If I dared to express them I was either ridiculed or told off for upsetting my mum. So when I then got abused: no where to turn other than to myself, and that started a very unhealthy downturn....

And yep, totally confused about my experience of them for so long! Because they fed me, clothed me, took me to the doctor, and when they were mean or cruel it was dressed up into fun and good for me, so very confusing. I'm in my 40's and only really beginning to see it for what it was. I've always known it's odd and other people have different experiences of their parents, but trying to dismantle the mean behaviour and the good parenting is utterly confusing!

And family Therapy?!!! A big fat no!! My parents are 75. If they haven't changed by now they aren't going to. It's a matter of me either finding better ways to manage them or me just finally walking away from them and the drama they thrive on.

But maybe family Therapy might work for you?
Is there a sibling or someone in your family who vaguely 'gets it' that might be a good person to have your back a little about it all?

I'm sorry you have a similar experience. It is so rejecting. And yet.....

For example: they have no idea I'm in therapy. They have no idea what happened to me as a child (or at least I never told them and they never asked). When I was showing signs of disturbed behaviour as a child like hiding rotting food in my room and not washing, I just got told off rather than any questions or probing or concern about this change in behaivour. When I was a teen they must have known I was doing drugs because they asked me once and because I lied and said no: no follow up.
My parents are friends with convicted sex offenders. We have arguments about this. They even wanted one to move in with them when he came out of prison! My parents think there is something wrong with someone who became a victim of sexual assault.
So I will never tell them.
And this makes me want to walk away.
They don't know me. They will never know me.
Sorry - I'm taking over into a rant here! And that doesn't help you with your situation.
My T is very level headed and keeps reminding me about this middle ground which I simply can not locate or understand! I hope you find it.
 
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