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Thread: I shouldn't be on here, but I need to know if it's true.

  1. #1
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    I shouldn't be on here, but I need to know if it's true.

    I don't know if I'm just being a stereotypical moody teenager, or if there is truly something wrong, or if it's all my fault.

    I'm in the second semester of my junior year, and I'm finding that I'm really struggling. I chose to take more rigorous courses like AP Chemistry and AP Calculus because I wanted the challenge, but that isn't what my problem is. The problem is the reaction my mother has had to me taking them. Her words when she saw my course selection sheet were "I'm not helping you when you crash and burn". It just escalated from there. I was talking to my older sister and she mentioned my choice in college (I had decided to attend community college and then enter the work force as early as possible), she said I might want to look into a university for my choice in major (Medical Laboratory Technology). When I asked my mother about it, she erupted in extreme anger. Yelling and screaming and name calling. There was one point where she was grabbing my ears, shoving her face in mine saying "I know why people kill their families, it's because of people like you" she told me I was worthless, ungrateful and weak.

    That was a couple months ago. But she hasn't really stopped with the ridicule. She regularly comes into my room and moves my things around, going through my drawers and my closet. She claims she's just using my hair dryer, but she has one in her bathroom, the only thing she needs is the attachment. Then she just leaves my stuff in different places and writes a passive aggressive note on my white board with all of the things I have to do when I get home, on top of my five AP classes worth of homework. Then she will berate me with the regular mantra of "you're lazy, worthless, I have to do everything myself". She also started taking my phone away for no reason, claiming it is distracting me, and that my "loser" friends are distracting me from what matters, her house and my grades. I would only use my phone for when I need help on homework, or if I'm just chatting with my significant other.

    I've tried to talk to her about my emotional state, but every time she says I'm just being weak, that I need to grow a thicker skin, that I need to grow up. She yells at me for crying, claiming I'm just feeling sorry for myself, that I don't deserve to feel sad. She calls me sneaky, that I use my computer to rebel against her, but I'm just looking up notes for Calc or Chem. She is going to start helping me learn to drive, but she has claimed that if I screw up she'll make me get out of the car and walk the rest of the way home, regardless of how far, or she will drive me home and give me some kind of punishment.

    Then there's the matter of my grades. I'm taking the two most difficult classes available at my school, the fact that I have a passing grade is a miracle. But I got a B in both, and she told me I could have done better, that I'm not as smart as I thought I was. If I had gotten a C, I would be isolated from my friends and made into my mother's personal slave. Not like I'm not isolated already. I'm not even allowed to see my significant other more than once a week, and I'm not allowed to go over to his house for some odd reason.

    I can't type anymore, I now have a curfew on my computer usage, even for homework purposes. My question is, is it all in my head or is my mother abusive? Typing it out I feel like I am just blowing it out of proportion, but I need to know.

  2. #2
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    idk, the more i think about things, the more i realize that this abuse/nonabuse classification only matters if we're talking of something illegal. like domestic violence is a crime, its something people go to prison for. so it does matter whether what i experience fits the definition of dv or not. cuz if it does - i can call the police and they will help me ensure my safety: take me to a dv shelter, arrest my partner, etc. know what i mean?

    and with emotional abuse - its not a crime that people get arrested for, so theres no legal definitions for it, and so whether your mom is abusive or not is a matter of opinion. i figure my opinion is worth a lot less than yours, since you know more about your situation than i do.

    i hear what youre saying, mom is being needlessly mean. idk if youre being polite to her, and it seems like she wants you to spend less time on your phone and to do more chores - but its still not nice that she loses her cool and calls you names. thing is though - whether you decide to call it abuse or not, the outcome is still gonna be the same. im not trying to be cold, just honest and realistic. cps wont remove you from your moms house and put you in foster care, cuz foster care can be worse. i figure youre around 16, so two more years till you can move out on your own. maybe these last two years at home can be made better? idk, school social worker, family counseling, mediation, etc, to negotiate a list of chores/grades requirements that you gotta meet to keep your phone. or to help you find a part time job so that you can pay for your own phone that mom won't touch. or some other arrangement that both you and your mom would be ok with, that would resolve this conflict and allow you to coexist peacefully.

    i just think sometimes labeling a problem doesnt really help solve it...
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  4. #3
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    Yep agree that name calling and such never really helps to resolve a problem...just creates further divisions and angst. In interpersonal situations like the one you describe I find the answer is to to try to find some common ground and build from that point. Within a family parents tend to take the more adult role and begin this process...establish some ground rules that they may gradually loosen as their moving towards adulthood child shows they are mature enough to manage their own life and safety. In my case this did not happen and like it is for you my final period at home was not easy.

    Looking back I can see that I was not the easiest peron to live with,tended to focus on my own priorities and over-react (not saying that you are doing this...didn't think I was at the time ).

    If I could go back and replay things I think I would try to sit down and invite my mother to tell me what was important to her...idk may be things like I share in the household chores, treat her with respect...knowing my mother this would not have been an easy process as she would almost certainly have taken the opportunity to vent, and I would have had to use all my control to hold my tongue and let her know I was listening to her with an open mind. Hopefully this approach would have provided me with the opportunity to talk about things that would help me to feel trusted and in a good position to achieve my own goals. Idk maybe to have reached a point where we could have mutually work out how we could work together to make each others' lives easier...take some of the heat out of our horn-locking relationship.

    I hope what I have shared helps you to find your own way to improve your relationship with your mother.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

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  6. #4
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    Well, just goes to show we all got our own ways of dealing with stuff.

    My mom was a bit of a tyrant. I would never try to decide what is important to her, would only invite more abuse.
    She did the whole messing up my room to prove to me it was messy then belittling me and degrading me yelling to clean it up. Nothing would ever please her because her pleasure or displeasure was not related to me at all.

    I wish then to be able to not internalize it or take it personal, but I am still sorting out the affects of feeling worthless.

    I will certainly say she was abusive in every way. Her behvaior was not to support my betterment. It was not motivated to have me do better in life in anyway. She was out to sabbotage me cause it is what she did to sooth her own lack of identity, self esteem, etc. She resented me.

    Yet, we do not decide if your mom is abusive, cause really isn't possible form this point, and I lack such qualifications, etc, all valid, and yea, what help would it do ya, idk?

    So for me, in my situation, what I found was best was simply avoiding her. My mom was a huge distraction. There was no way at all I could focus on school work at home for all the interruptions with her emotional dysregulations at me. So I ended up staying after school every single day. Sometimes even missing the late bus and walking home way more miles than I knew I could. If not after school making friendships with my teachers who saw my earnest efforts, I was at the local library, or a friends house. If I was home, did my best to find a space she didn't go to often cause to cross her path meant it would remind her to bug me in some way so she could get attention and use me to vent at.

    I did my best to make it seem like it wasn't my choice to get away with excuses such as:
    We all must meet at the library Sat for a group project or I'm in big trouble
    My teacher kept me after to redo some work
    There is a science project and our group must stay after Thurs...etc

    Idk, it would be nice if you have a mom thta wants to be heard and valued...
    But I know no way in this planet mine wanted to do anything but use me to spew venom at.
    Sounds dramatic maybe, but really how she was to me, just was treated invisible or with disdain.

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  8. #5
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    Hear what Sunfl0wer is saying...agree we all need to work out the best way forward in circumstances like the one you describe. Can not assume that what works in one situation will work in another.

    My mother was not at heart a bad person, lot of her angst came from her inadequate ways to deal with stuff (violence and such)...unlike yours she did not deliberately mess up my room and blame me. However she did develop some pretty funky ways to cover-up, distort and wrongly attribute blame in oder to avoid having to deal with the not ok stuff that was happening to her and her kids. An example she explained my injuries and odd behaviour away by building a false picture of me (one I came to believe)...that I was a clumsy accident prone and emotionally unstable child. Unlike Sunfl0wer's description of her mother, I could sometimes appeal to her...knew that although it sometimes (often!) got swamped by her other agenda she did have a conscience. I use to alternate between feeling angry with her and sorry for her...feeling hard done by...and guilty about her best not being good enough for me.

    Was tough...is still tough to write about.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

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  10. #6
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    Abuse or not abuse

    Hi,

    I have read some of the previous replies and, while I think they are wise they are leaving something critical out. It is true that it is not illegal to engage in emotional abuse. Like many others have said of their mothers, my mother was a bit off and ruled by anger an anxiety, and also like many others, I have had to deal with the aftermath and try to make sense of it. So has my sibling.

    The part that I think has been left out is the fact that we are not facing that a problem is a problem. I will probably say the same thing that you heard: you can't approach this legally and you need to make the waning years of your childhood as pleasant as possible: ignore your mother as much as possible, possibly try to speak to her in a way that doesn't challenge her. This will lead to your final exit from the house. This is the way that our current school and legal system forces you to handle it. But it is the best way to go at present,

    The thing I see wrong with this is, in the long run, this creates the same "we really can't call it what it is" mentality that hasallowed all kinds of abuse to proliferate. And for you and people like you (and me) it makes the issue of what happened to you sort of vague and hard to pin down; in my opinion that makes it hard for you to fully accept what happened to you once you leave and also makes it harder for you to say, "I am not responsibile for this and it is not of my making". To me that statement and that knowledge is key in fully dealing with something that will possibly eat at you once you leave.

    Honestly, I can't tell for sure what your situation is but I am tending to believe you. You can't stop your mother from her reign of terror. But I would hope that someday that some teenager will. We spend so much energy on fighting bullying in schools and we make sure to let everyone know that we do this because we refuse to see hurt children become adults. I don't see the difference here. To me the solution is intelligent policies applied to the duties and actions of guidance counsellors. And if we are dealing with a form of mental defect on the part of the parent, there should be concern by other adults.

    Why isn't this being addressed, even in the age of anti-bullying (whose existence after thousands of years is miraculous)? Because it would involve a lot of difficult discussion on the part of law makers and educators. And a lot of growing pains and legal explosions as new forms of intervention reach maturity and become "the law". Ironcially these are the same reasons that forms of abuse like child abuse have been allowed to proliferate.

    As I said, I can't be sure of your situation. The internet is disturbingly anonymous and I can't tell what the truth is. But if your story is accurate then I think you need to be able to say, "I have been abused." It may also be helpful to say, as was suggested in earlier replies, that your mother has personal problems that make her analysis of you completely wrong. My mother was prone to volatility and narcisissm and I eventually learned to expect nothing to her. But that doesn't make it right and it doesn't justify what you are going through. Please keep all of this in mind because it's all the truth. The parental role is sacred and yet some parents are miles away from having the ability to fill it. Nature is arbitary and cruel and this is all part of that.

    So don't blame yourself. Find your own passions if you haven't already. Take risks because it is worth it for you to make the most of your life. And, if necesary, steer clear of your mother. You are the point here, not her. Once you are generous enough with yourself to admit that to yourself you will be in good shape. I know that having your mother screaming ugly things in your ear doesn't help you get to that point but it should be your goal. You can't change someone else and you don't need to.

    If you think about this as you go along remember there is a 58 year old former teenager with a similar mother on your side. Perhaps someday the schools will learn how to handle these situations.

  11. #7
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    Agree that it is important not to trivialise anyones distress by failing to give it due credence. However for me it is important for me if asked 'was this abuse, rape, illegal behaviour?' for me to be able to speak from my own truth eg to say 'I am not in the position to make that judgement call...wasn't there...am not authorised or qualified to do this'...from your description I can see why you are thinking that it might be' or some such. For me the important thing I needed was to be listened to...to feel heard...to not be palmed off with placatory phrases not have the pain or emotional turmoil that I was experiencing lessened and invalidated. To me and I believe most people the (admittedly somewhat hackneyed phrase) that peoples perceptions are their reality is very true. This was very strongly brought home to me recently when I witnessed the extreme and very real distress a friends teenage daughter experienced due to (her words) 'the world's worse hair cut'...at least in the short term the state of her hair took her to the very edge of her coping mechanism...it's cause seemed trivial however this did not lessen the pain she felt or her desperated need for non-judgemental support.

    Conversely I have a friend who lives with a guy who gives her the odd thump...she was raised in a family that dealt with differences in a physical way...she learned to hit back. Tells me she is ok...feels safe enough...can look after herself.

    Thinking about examples like the two I have mentioned and dwelling on my own personal experiences of what helped and didn't help me has lead me to think that the only accurate way to decide what is or is not traumatic to a particular individual is to listening to them and believe how they feel about it.

    This in no way means that personally I see abuse as ok...that it is only an issue if it causes distress to those who are it's targets. It does mean that ranking one form of abuse/not ok behaviour above another and using this to make decisions on an individual's level of suffering and need for support is too broad-brush and simplistic to sit comfortably with me. My opinion for what it is worth.
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

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  13. #8
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    with jane completely

    got another small thought:
    its not ok for mom to yell and call names. however, that doesnt mean she gotta get off your back and leave you be. its her right and responsibility as a parent, to insist that you do your chores, spend less time on the phone, adjust your attitude, etc. shes just using the wrong way to go about it. there are other ways. some parents take away their kids phones for good, some cut off allowance, ground them, send them to boot camps, etc. i personally am strongly against boot camps, but thats just me. all of these are perfectly legal parenting techniques, if the parent feels their teen is out of line and they just cant seem to get her to behave.

    and yet another thought:
    its not ok to yell at people or call them names. doing so can be considered verbal abuse. mom is doing it - ergo mom is verbally abusive. true. however, if you ever yelled at someone or called them names (classmate, neighbor, mom, etc) - you're also verbally abusive. two wrongs dont make a right of course, yelling and calling names is not ok - but if both of you yell at each other, neither of you are blameless victims. not my call to define your reality for you, no idea what your relationship with your mom is like. just saying this approach of "im a victim, shes abuser, its not my fault" can result in a stalemate.

    i dont have a relationship with my mom - i kept trying till i was nearly 40yo, it just doesnt seem possible for us to get along, unfortunately. however, i also had a falling out with my grandma, who was my primary caretaker for a while. i loved her but was mad at her, i felt she screwed up so badly it couldnt be reconciled. so i was mad and didnt talk to her for a few years. we did reconcile eventually, but by then i was an adult, living far away, we only saw each other sporadically, and then she passed away and now i dont have a grandma. that was long ago, im over the grief and guilt, but i still wish i put more effort into this relationship, reconciled with her sooner, so that we'd spend more time with each other. i thought she was a horrible person and i hated her - and now i miss her and wish i were wiser.

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  15. #9
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    I found it useful in my situation to learn all I could about abuse and abuse cycles and definitions whatnot so that I could make educated/reasonable decisions about what to do, and figure out what was best for me. And for me, I felt empowered labeling what my own mother did to me as abuse. I can understand, to some degree, why she is the way she is, but of course that doesn't excuse the neglect and emotional/verbal abuse she did to me. And yeah, I was a pain in the arse. Lack of good role models led to my behaviour being less than ideal. I wrote angry emails to my mother, screamed and swore at her, broke stuff. These aren't good things to do, so I don't recommend them, obviously. And I've put a lot of effort into learning to cope and communicate better in the years since. However, despite those actions being "wrong", I've chosen to forgive my younger self. Yeah, I did them, and I'm responsible for them, but I can't really see any other way I could have acted at the time, given my lack of parents-being-parents, and the abuse/bullying being levied at me by one of them. I take responsibility for these actions now by acknowledging them as hurtful and committing to not doing them again. Also, as the parent, it was her job to be, well, a good parent. And she failed at it. And that's something she needs to take responsibility for.

    I cut my mother out of my life. Haven't spoken to her in over three years. The difference is incredible. I'm calmer, more rational, more compassionate, now that I have the space to be, rather than always having to be on edge.

    I'm always amazed by people who talk about forgiving their abusive parents and reconciling with them and having a relationship after all the crap they went through. Like...how's that even possible? Obviously, it is, but it's not something I can currently wrap my head around.

    Just from what you've written, it sounds like you try really hard, and that you're nice and try to be reasonable. If you're civil with your mother and she's acting like that, that would be super disheartening. What she says to you is absolutely not okay. That is verbal abuse, like the others have mentioned. It says more about her than it does about you.

    As for what to do...it's difficult, when you're in the age range you belong to. I know that, at least in my country, 16-18 is an awkward time for social services to get involved, because in some circumstances it is legal for a 16- or -17-year-old to live alone and work or go to school. So they often don't forcibly remove kids this age from their homes, since the kids technically have the choice. But it's hard, because when you're that young and this kind of stuff is all you've known, you tend to internalize what the parents say, so many kids don't even know what's happening to them is wrong...

    You got another parent, or someone from your extended family you could talk to? One who would believe you and not make excuses for your mom's behaviour? It can be super heartening just to have someone you know trust and validate you on what's going on.

    Personally, when I was a teen, when I wasn't fighting with my mother, I was avoiding her. Idk if that's possible for you, but might be something to try.

    I hope you can come to understand that you aren't worthless or lazy. You're nice, and articulate, and very smart.

    Hope you can figure things out and that it gets better really soon.

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