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Is my mother abusive?
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Is my mother abusive?

I'm 25, going through some stuff and looking for answers.
I'm home for the winter with my husband and we're watching my parents' house while they are out of town for work.
We spent several hours cleaning the fridge and cabinets because although my mother keeps a very clean and tidy household, she loves to shop and we found heaps of foodstuffs that had gone bad, some as long as 4 or 5 years ago. It was a tricky job, as the cabinets are high up and my 5'11" husband had to stand on a stool to reach the things in the back, and I put a lot of thought into organizing the remaining items so they will be found and used more easily.
When I said what I was doing on Facebook, my mom called me with a "who-do-you-think-you-are" attitude and was angry, told me to stop and mind my own business, and asked if this is the kind of stuff I do in "other people"s houses."
I was distraught. It was the last straw. I did some deep soul-searching, looking at my own diaries from when I was 15 until the last time I was there before graduation at 19.
There were several entries where I was upset at my mother. but I always thought that it was normal teenager angsty stuff.
My mother (and father too) often told me that I have no personality, a horrible attitude, that I was selfish, spoiled, a jerk, an *******, a moron, rude, stupid, have no common sense, I act like a "retarded 8 year old", have no (musical) talent, the list goes on. As I got closer to graduating high school they told me that I would never survive in college, never survive in the real world. According to them I had no social life, just 4 friends who were stupid morons, and that I was always in my own little closed world on the Internet. I watched anime and listened to Japanese music, which they thought was childish and annoying.
They always provided for me, materially and financially. I never went without, but my mother also constantly tried to push me to share her interest in fashion, beauty, superficial stuff and called me a nut and a scumbag when I tried to have my own individual style. I repeatedly told her I had no interest in jewelry, girly clothes and stuff but she would still constantly buy it for me and push it on me. Oh, did I mention she bleached my hair blonde continuously since I was about 9 years old and I hated it? I came from a tropical island where my hair was sun and chlorine bleached from swimming, and when my naturally light brown hair started to grow back in she wouldn't have it.
My mother made a big show of always sparing no expense. I wanted to live more modestly, working a simple part-time job and shopping at thrift stores and saving my money but she would tell me that's what poor people do, and I'm not poor.
My parents supported me going to college to study Japanese, but would also constantly berate me up until I moved into the dorm that I would never succeed if I watched Japanese anime and listened to Japanese music. When I tried to explain that my interest in the culture was giving me a great head-start in learning the language my mother mocked me asking "so, are you fluent yet?" and then when I tested into an accelerated course because I found I already knew basic sentence structure and how to write simple characters they bragged to all their friends.
My mother always bragged about me to her friends, but inside the house I never got that praise. My mother loves to put on this glamorous front to everyone she meets. Everyone she knows always gets expensive gifts around the holidays and usually she has a best friend who she will shower with designer things and they are inseparable for years until inevitably they do something she doesn't like and are dropped like a hot potato. This has happened a few times that I know of.
My older brother is 30 and still not making a living, my mother always gives him money and pays his bills for him, but he was never abused like I was. He never cleaned his own room. Mom did it or ordered me to do it. Yet she always berated me for my room not being clean enough.
It wasn't just verbal/emotional abuse.....If I had a "sour" look on my face (which was usually a confused look after I was yelled at for not even doing anything bad) I immediately got a hard slap on the face.  My mother often took out her stress and anger on me when something happened at an inconvenient time for her. Once my teacher called my house because I was late to class often and "not doing well" (because the material was way below my level we found later) and I had just had a shower and she took my hairbrush and beat me with it. Once in the morning she got frustrated while brushing my hair and brushed it so roughly my scalp bled.
If I cried in front of her from the abuse she mocked me. "Oh look, she's cryyyying, she's saaaaad"
What affected me most was the way she would scream and yell directly in my face to the point where I actually winced. But that was her normal way of dealing with things....she always screamed, yelled, and threw a tantrum when something didn't go her way at home or in the car. And if I calmly asked her to be quiet because I was on the phone, or I did something so rude as to shut the door to my room to block her out, the verbal attacks were then directed at me, calling me "rude" and an "*******". My dad would either tune her out or tell her to stop calmly, but that never worked. My mom had this habit of ranting and raving to thin air at times. Her behaviour was just irrational.
My now-husband came to visit and from a long time ago he said something was strange about the way my mom would just yell my name from somewhere in the house and I would literally jump to attention and hurry to wherever she was to follow her commands. That's because if I didn't do just that, doesn't matter if I was in the middle of studying, playing a game, or boiling water to make hot ramen noodles in my room because she hasn't attempted to make lunch and is sitting there eating cookies all day, I have to be there NOW.
My mother always said that my friends and now-husband would someday see what a horrible selfish jerk I am and see my "real" personality, and they would hate me and I would be miserable and alone...and I would deserve it.

Despite this, I had lots of great friends in high school, my teachers and friends parents also seemed to enjoy having me around, when I went to college, despite my parents trying to tell me what to do despite having no idea what they're talking about (both of them have never been to college) I managed my credits and actually graduated early for my major (4.5 years vs 5) made lots of friends in college and became an officer in both the Japanese Culture Club and Anime Society, volunteered and got part-time jobs and yes, did become fluent but not just by going to class. Married my husband and we are going to celebrate our anniversary, 4th wedding and 7th overall.

But under all of that I have always had low confidence, low self-esteem, whenever I made a date or appointment with a friend I always thought underneath that they would ditch me (I was teased in middle school pretty badly by people who would do that), I often blamed myself for things that went wrong, and when I was about 20 I started having steadily severe panic attacks and depression.

I thought my mom was mean and I was scared of her growing up so I would try to do well in school and stuff, but I thought that was normal. But with my recent symptoms, and recent things going on, I wanted to find out....
was I abused?
is my mother narcissistic?
and what should I do?
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23 Comments Post a Comment
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13167_tn?1327197724
I'm sorry,  your post was so long I didn't read it all,  I kind of stopped after you said you posted on your Facebook that you were cleaning out your mother's house.  

It sounds to me like the animosity between you and your mother is mutual.  I can't imagine posting on my Facebook page that I was cleaning out some specific person's kitchen.  
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1884829_tn?1323881924
RockRose maybe if you would have actually read her post before commenting, you may have understood and had a right to post a reply. Sammi33, in my book how your mother has treated you since you were a child until now is definitely abuse, and it has obviously affected you as a person. Im so sorry you had to grow up that way. Maybe it would help if you had some counseling. I wish I had more input than this, but I'm no psychiatrist. I wish you all the best.                                                
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1548028_tn?1324616046
This is only my opinion.  I think it sounds like you probably were abused but in the BIG scheme of things we make choices in life.  When we get on our own we can choose to repeat how we were raised or change it and do it better.  I tell my kids all the time if they don't like something I have done then change it and make it better.  I don't (for many reasons) do things like my parents and I can be mad or hurt or simply just change it.  I have that right as an adult and need no ones approval.  I love my parents and just accept them for who they are and don't go along with things that I don't want to.  I can't fix others.  I can only make myself the best I can be.  I really would have been hurt with the facebook post.  Just a thought.  Be the bigger and better person.  

As to Rock Rose-  People come here for help and support.  Sorry her post was so long to you but maybe she has never told anyone these things before.  You had a choice to answer and to read the post.
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535822_tn?1389452880
I was wondering why you had to clean your moms fridge out , and why it was your concern?I could understand she may not have liked it ...
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13167_tn?1327197724
To kendradawn and ku,  i had skimmed the post,  just not read word for word and chose not to comment on the remainder of the post.

Sometimes,  in parent or spousal relationships,  a person only looks at one side,  which I believe she is doing.  Her mother sounds like a fanatic,  and very into fashion and appearances and luxuries,  and she is the polar opposite.  That, in the most healthy parents,  will cause stress. In an unhealthy parent,  it will cause explosiveness.

At that point,  you can dissociate from them as an adult.  

It's very telling,  and I think very helpful to point out the first part of her post where she appears blindsided and guiltless for posting that her mother's kitchen needed cleaning out.  Taking her mother's personality as a whole,  I think anyone here could predict that would set her off,  and rightfully so.

And to call her mother's rightful rebuke the "last straw",  IMHO,  I think needs to be pointed out.  

It's not being unsupportive to point out that maybe a more fair and balanced look at her relationship with her mother might be in order.
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Avatar_f_tn
Let me be more specific about the facebook post....I merely said "We're cleaning out the fridge, Mom!" and then I said "Phase 2...cabinets." I posted a picture of the fridge all clean and shiny and she actually commented "Great job! It needed a good clean!" at first......then the next day she said "Remove please"
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Avatar_f_tn
I wanted to clean the fridge and cabinets simply because I thought it needed to be done...it had obviously been let go for years and there was some evident repetitive buying that was honestly a bit worrying (My mother's father died of Alzheimer's.) But that could have been caused by the amount of stuff there already was that was getting buried and pushed to the back and forgotten.
Plus my mother obviously thought that I am a pig and can't keep a clean house.....she was telling my father that in the loudest voice possible while I was in the house the week before.
I thought that if my mother came back to the house in January and found that her kitchen had become so organized and she had room in the fridge and cabinets again she would be happy.

I have been trying to look at it every which way, but I believe that she was releasing her anger and stress on me, not simply disciplining me out of love. Simple discipline does not involve smacking on the face for looking confused, yelling and screaming insults literally at the top of her lungs 2 inches from their face and ears, and regularly telling them matter-of-factly that they have a horrible attitude and no personality, and they will never have any true friends, and that even if they marry their husband will divorce them in a year.
I don't ever recall them telling me to my face during my high school years that they loved me, believed in me, just wanted the best for me but were being a little harsh, were sorry for hitting me or screaming at me. The only praise I got was years later, on Facebook or Youtube where others were looking.

Sorry. I tend to be long-winded....I want everyone to understand the story I'm trying to tell....
Thank you everyone for reading and commenting.
ku111, Of course I would never think of screaming and yelling and being violent to my own child! I absolutely detest violence....(that isn't cartoon violence or video game violence) Watching a fistfight or boxing match makes me physically uncomfortable. I have never insulted someone like my mother insulted me. If I am angry at someone I simply tell them why but I never insult their person. ...anyway. you and Kendra...very insightful and good advice.
RockRose, I'm trying to look from all sides...My mother had an abusive mother, and her father only gave her the bare minimum to make sure she was fed and clothed, but no luxuries so she would have the money for later.
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1884829_tn?1323881924
Sammi33, I also had an abusive mother. She is bipolar, ADD, and OCD. As a child, she would beat me and my sister if their was a spec if paper in the floor of our bedrooms. She was always up then down, ok one minute then screaming and hitting us the next. There is tons more examples I could give, but it would take all day. Fortunately she got help when I was 17 and is now on medication, but it has effected me to this day. I now have a 3 year old and I'm dead set on being the very best mother I can. I want her childhood to be the opposite of mine. I try to look at it positively, because now that I'm grown; I realize she was mentally ill, and now Im so thankful that she got help and we are now closer than ever and she is the best grandmother to my little girl. I actually went with her to several sessions at her psychiatrist. That also helped repair our severely damaged relationship. I know how it feels to be abused by your own mother, although our situations are different.. in some ways they are the same. I really hope you and your Mom can resolve your issues. Like I said, counseling may help. About the Facebook post, I see nothing wrong with it. You were just trying to help your Mom and it seems you put great effort into what you were doing for her, and just wanted her to acknowledge and appreciate what you done. That's understandable. Now, I can see if you had put something like "Cleaning out my Mom's nasty kitchen kitchen cabinets and fridge" that she would be offended and upset, but you did not put any such thing. You were just proud of what you accomplished and wanted her to be too, at least I assume. Anyways, I just wanted to tell you some of my story so you could see why I can relate to a degree. As I said, I really do wish you all the best. If you ever want to talk feel free to message me on here.
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1884829_tn?1323881924
And RockRose, I only said that because you clearly stated "I'm sorry, your post was so long, I kind of stopped after you said you posted on Facebook that you were cleaning out your Mother's house" from there, you were kind of rude in my humble opinion, and you didn't even comment on the real issue of why she even posted in the first place.
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13167_tn?1327197724
Kendra,  I'm sorry that I came off rude.  I often come off rude on a computer screen,  and I'm telling you the truth,  NEVER in person.  Never, truthfully,  and I say the same things.  It's in the delivery with a concerned look and a concerned voice rather than black and white words.  But I do know that often here I  come off rude.

Sammi,  at this point it might be best to cut your losses and distance yourself from your mom.  Since she had an abusive mother too,  she just doesn't "get" it,  and it seems like her presence in your life is toxic.

When you have children,  if  you choose to,  you're going to want to find special friends - maybe older women - who can model loving mothering.  It doesn't come naturally,  it's a learned behavior and you haven't benefited from it.  If you have sisters in law or cousins,  dear friends,  who are terrific mothers,  watch what they do.  

Best wishes.
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1884829_tn?1323881924
Thank you RockRose, I appreciate you explaining. And thanks for the apology. I know often things can be misinterpreted over the computer, text messages, etc.
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757137_tn?1347200053
Facebook is nothing more than a big trouble maker. You may enjoy baring your soul to the anonymous world about you, but other don't. If you hadn't indulged yourself on Facebook, you would have finished the job in your mother's kitchen, hopefully to her delight.
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Avatar_m_tn
Black rose, you worry me with your comments to people in pain. Here you even admit to not reading the whole post- so without even reading the info offered you have the answers??????
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Avatar_m_tn
**** off ya mean *****. get out of here.
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Avatar_m_tn
HI There

I think the best thing you can do is go get some help from a therapist.
You have a lot of Deep wounds. you have a lot of hurt inside your heart.
It doesn't matter if the abuse happened in the past its happened and it's left a huge scar on you.  You may not think so because you may have blocked it out. but that's all still deep inside of you. The reason you went and looked in your old journals is because something inside of you knew something was not right. It's hard to admit to yourself that your own mother did wrong because it's hard and it hurts to admit it. But when you get it all out and you heal you will feel strong and confident. We all still have a child in us . and that little child was hurt and then we grow up and sometimes block that child out because we think to ourselves "well I'm grown up now". we need to be a our own parent to that child and stand up for him or her. It's time. stand up for that little girl. Stand up for yourself for now on. Don't let anyone push you around, not even your own mother. She may not like it but it's the only way you will get healthy. next time your in the middle of steaming water or whatever it may be and she yells your name out. keep doing what your doing. when you get to her you'll get to her. if she comes to you pissed off just say calmly" I'm in the middle of something I'll be with you in a minute". if she gets mad just say "I'm sorry You feel that way but I'm not sorry I didn't come". if it's gets worse Leave. Keep that up but Don't ever say Sorry or be sorry over something like that. soon enough your mother will realize your not going to take anymore abuse. and she will stop. as I'm writing you this I'm also writing to myself I know what your going though. and when people tell you "to get over it" or whatever negative  thing they have to say just know they don't know what you went through or are going through. or they haven't dealt with there own problems yet. Your going to be ok. Don't be a victim anymore. Be a survivor. take care of yourself ok. Wish you the best. -Jacqueline
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Avatar_f_tn
Here's the deal: First the most important thing to understand is that belive it or not, her behaviour is not about you. Anyone who would freak out at somebody for doing  something nice for them is disfunctional behaviour. Clearly the kitchen cleaning hit some kind of insecurity with her. Given that you mentioned her values can be materialstic and she cares a lot about what her friends think,  it would only make sense that appearances mean a lot to her. This also probably goes hand in hand with her incessant expectations from you to 'get it right' when you were growing up. She probably holds the same unrealistic expectations on herself, so therefor you not meeting those standards gets taken as a reflection on her parenting skills. As she seems to be highly insecure, she will put up a massive defence at the prospect of failure as a mother, and so that's where the abusive comes into play. God forbid she can be anything less than perfect so to acknowledge the possibility of failure is too much or her to handle. However what you need to underatand is that these feelings are so repressed that she is not even conscious she has them. Ultimately you turning out different than her is not because she failed you but because you are an autonomous individual who has grown into who you are through your social environment, and surroundings as well as your own personal interests. But in your mom's eyes she needed you to turn out just like her because she can't feel self worth without having that reassurance. Parents should love their children no matter what or how they turn out, not use them like that. But again she is probably mot conscious of any of it. I'm sorry you were treated this way. I was treated that way too. I am now in training as a counsellor and counselling does help make sense of things. Not only that but it helps you recognise where you may be bringing a lot of that past into your present with other relationships. The common outcome from situations like these develop into trust, abandonment and rejection issues which very much can coincide with low self esteem. All you can do now is surround yourself in supportive situations with people who care about you while you learn to focus on loving yourself, so that you can be strong and live your life in a way that does not involve the feelings of your past into your present circumstance. Seems like you are on the right track by dealing with these feelings you have. It may take a long time and you may have to deal with them in various ways, but once they are dealt with then you will move on. You just need to believe you can and it'll happen. If you don't deal with your feelings about this then there is a danger in some of the same patterns repeating themselves in your future, perhaps with your own kids (although maybe not nearly as bad). It is very common for this to happen. Counselling really helps! Always keep yourself alert when you around someone who can 'never' be wrong. Those are the ones who have a lot to protect and will hold their guard up so tight it may be at the expense of others- even their own kids! Xx
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Avatar_f_tn
Here's the deal: First the most important thing to understand is that belive it or not, her behaviour is not about you. Anyone who would freak out at somebody for doing  something nice for them is disfunctional behaviour. Clearly the kitchen cleaning hit some kind of insecurity with her. Given that you mentioned her values can be materialstic and she cares a lot about what her friends think,  it would only make sense that appearances mean a lot to her. This also probably goes hand in hand with her incessant expectations from you to 'get it right' when you were growing up. She probably holds the same unrealistic expectations on herself, so therefor you not meeting those standards gets taken as a reflection on her parenting skills. As she seems to be highly insecure, she will put up a massive defence at the prospect of failure as a mother, and so that's where the abusive comes into play. God forbid she can be anything less than perfect so to acknowledge the possibility of failure is too much or her to handle. However what you need to underatand is that these feelings are so repressed that she is not even conscious she has them. Ultimately you turning out different than her is not because she failed you but because you are an autonomous individual who has grown into who you are through your social environment, and surroundings as well as your own personal interests. But in your mom's eyes she needed you to turn out just like her because she can't feel self worth without having that reassurance. Parents should love their children no matter what or how they turn out, not use them like that. But again she is probably mot conscious of any of it. I'm sorry you were treated this way. I was treated that way too. I am now in training as a counsellor and counselling does help make sense of things. Not only that but it helps you recognise where you may be bringing a lot of that past into your present with other relationships. The common outcome from situations like these develop into trust, abandonment and rejection issues which very much can coincide with low self esteem. All you can do now is surround yourself in supportive situations with people who care about you while you learn to focus on loving yourself, so that you can be strong and live your life in a way that does not involve the feelings of your past into your present circumstance. Seems like you are on the right track by dealing with these feelings you have. It may take a long time and you may have to deal with them in various ways, but once they are dealt with then you will move on. You just need to believe you can and it'll happen. If you don't deal with your feelings about this then there is a danger in some of the same patterns repeating themselves in your future, perhaps with your own kids (although maybe not nearly as bad). It is very common for this to happen. Counselling really helps! Always keep yourself alert when you around someone who can 'never' be wrong. Those are the ones who have a lot to protect and will hold their guard up so tight it may be at the expense of others- even their own kids! Xx
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3060903_tn?1398568723
Hi, i'm sorry that you had such a terrible childhood. I think that parent's often disconnect once they are able to financially provide for their children. You mom grew up learning to be the way she is, as well as your father. I think the message that Mellissa gave you......"Ultimately you turning out different than her is not because she failed you but because you are an autonomous individual who has grown into who you are through your social environment, and surroundings as well as your own personal interests." You can talk to your mom and say that you would like to repair your relationship with counseling, which she will probably not take you up on, and then get on with your own life without her negativity. I think that any adult child can have a better life by talking about the abuse they've been apart of for so long, with a therapist. It was suggested above, as the best way of warding off any residual problems in your own life, that can negatively affect your life. After you put an end to the abuse, by getting co counseling, or choosing no to be around her, I' think you'll be better off. You said that your mom was okay with it, (facebook) and then asked you to "remove it", and that in itself, is not a bad reaction. She had time to think about it and decided for whatever reason that she didn't want it posted that anyone else was responsible for her kitchen. She is full of pride and quite possibly rigid on that point. But I see from this post a wounded inner child that needs to have reassurances. There is a group called ACOA. (Adult Children of Alcoholics or Dysfunctional Families) that might really help you. It's free to join, and is a member based group that are able to open up with exactly the types of things that you've described. It allows you to talk about it (and you seem to need to) and you will get live support. I went, when I needed to talk about my childhood, and it helped a great deal. I made friends with a few of the people there, and we looked forward to going out for coffee one week a night together. Most children that come from abuse need to deal with it in therapy. It becomes a bit heavy to subject your family only to talking about these things, so you need another outlet IMO. Best of luck, sorry for the length (no, i'm not really) hahaaha
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3060903_tn?1398568723
I just realized that this is an old thread, oops, the poster probably isn't around. Hmmm
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3060903_tn?1398568723
I just found out that this poster hasn't been around since December 24/ 2011, what a waste of time this has been..... PS when i see an old poster that i'm interested in discussing their plight i generally go their profile page and see if I cant' get a bite from them that way. Just a suggestion. I guess I just HATE wasting my gigabites. lol
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