Psychological Abuse and Dysfunctional ParentingBy
I received a comment on the post “More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationships” from Pam, and it began like this; ~ “I have lots of bad memories from my childhood but what is worse is what I don’t remember. I can’t remember my mother ever holding me. I have no memory of my mother ever supporting me in anything or encouraging me. I don’t remember my mother ever siding with me against someone who had hurt me. I have never felt that my mom liked me. It seems that my mom was angry with me from the time I was born.”
I can totally relate to that with my own mother. I felt like I was born to fill something in her and I failed to do it. And I believed that I was a failure; that I was defective and unlovable. Realizing that was only a fraction of the process to recovery however. The belief system problem was that I believed those things about myself and they were not true about me. I can’t stress this part enough ~ I was NOT born to fulfill a need in my mother. I was NOT a failure. I was NOT defective and unlovable.
Today, I use this comment from Pam to explain the progression of emotional and psychological abuse and dysfunctional family upbringing; how those beliefs are born and incorporated and how they become cemented and why they are so hard to realize and then let go of.
~Pam goes on to say that her mother resented her for being born sickly (not the perfect child of her dreams) and then used that as a means to garner sympathy from others for the burden of having a weak child.
Once again, I also believed like Pam, that I WAS a burden to my mother. I believed that because I could not fulfill her wishes for me fill the longing she had in herself ~ then it was true that I was a burden. I failed and that was the proof that I was useless. But that is also a lie.
Growing up believing these kinds of things in the first place creates a very fertile ground for other false beliefs to take root and grow. False beliefs flourish when the foundation is primed that way.
~ Pam was raped at age 14. She had been told that it was impossible for a woman to be raped and once again, having no choice, she believed that too. She blamed herself, and took on one more lie which added to her already low self esteem and further diminished her self worth.
And as with ALL cases of dysfunctional family teachings, and falseness taught and accepted as truth, one lie rooted in the believe system builds on another;
~ Pam was raped and believed it was her own fault. On top of that she had been taught that if she lost her virginity, she would be “used merchandise” and that she was ruined. And she believed that too.
Why wouldn’t she believe that? What other frame of reference did she have?
~ So Pam ran away. And as these things so often go, the focus of her parents was never about why she had run away or what would cause her to run away. The focus was once again on how much she hurt her mother. It was all about her mother.
Keep in mind that the child in the situation accepts everything that the parent says because the brainwashing that the parent’s value is much greater than the child’s value is already cemented in place from such a young age.
~ Her mother never stopped berating her; emotionally abusing her for running away, constantly asking when she was planning to do it again. Remember the original cause was never addressed. This child had to endure the knowledge of her rape with no support, no understanding and she believed it was her own fault.
~ Pam was in so much pain (and understandably so!) that she turned to drugs as a way to cope. As a way to dull or numb the pain. The drugs led to associations with dangerous people. Therefore, this child was raped again. Once again, drawing from her already cemented belief system, she blamed herself. He offered her a place to live, and since she needed the drugs to dull all the pain, she went to him. Her parents did not protest; they did not investigate this man’s background, (he was a man, she was a child.) BUT her parents felt sorry for themselves and used this situation as a way to garner support and sympathy! That this ungrateful and out of control daughter had done this to them and is causing THEM so much pain. AND STILL the child herself was never considered. Still the child is at fault; both parents say it and the child herself believes it and is willing to accept that this is something she brought on herself.
And this is how so many of us grew up! One lie, one more false belief piled on top of another, the first one feeding and supporting the birth of the next one.
All the while their daughter is in extreme pain, grief and needs to use alcohol and drugs to cope with it all; to escape the constant pain, believing that the failure is all hers. She has believed it from birth.
~ The man that Pam went to in order to escape the pain of her dysfunctional childhood, the pain of being raped and blamed for it, used her and raped her for six months and then passed her to another man who did the same and even worse. Her parents did nothing to help her though they knew where she was. They continued to blame her. Furthermore, as is so common in these cases, they held it over her head for her entire life and used the guilt and shame that THEY planted in her in the first place, to manipulate her.
Pam lived with the false truth from this psychological abuse and these lies in her belief system for years, her self esteem was diminished; the value assigned to her by her parents, by the traumas and events and then by her own self, was nothing.
~ At the age of fifty, Pam realize what happened to her was a crime. She went to her parents and confronted them about it. The offered excuses and lies but never acknowledged the truth. In the end, Pam told them that if they wanted a relationship with her that they had to treat her with respect and to acknowledge to her that what happened to her was a crime and take responsibility for their part in it. She never heard back from them. And that in itself, speaks volumes… about them.
When our belief system still accepts that it is our own fault; that we failed, that we are to blame, returning to that belief is the default method. That is why we don’t stand up to abusers who still abuse us. We are convinced that we have some part in it. That is the same reason why we don’t/can’t stand up to dysfunctional parents or see where they did the damage. We were convinced very young that had we not failed them or disappointed them in the first place, then we would have been loved.
Writing this article was slightly surreal; there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was writing about Pam, or if I was writing about myself. I had to remind myself to stick to the comments that Pam made, as I was tempted to add information of my own that was not included in her account. This is my story too, only the details are different.
This is the story of millions of children around the world who have not been listened to, have been falsely taught, and who have been discounted. This is psychological abuse.
Please share your feelings and comments.
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;
Click to read “more on mother daughter dysfunctional relationships” Pam’s comment is # 84
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