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toxic parents


dardoo
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My story is a long one. I am 44 year old working, married mother of 4 grown and almost grown boys. My problem in a nutshell; my parents. I'm an only child and when I was 16 I found out that my dad really wasn't my dad. I remember him from the age of 5 when my mother and I moved to a southern ontario town, but that didn't bother me but it answered alot of questions.. Since I could remember they fought. I mean drunken brawl like fights. For example I was about 8 and they had been fighting all day, very late into the evening a tremendous storm started and I was very scared, between the storm and their fighting all of a sudden the house went quiet, I crwled out of bed and tiptoed down the hall to the kitchen, there were no lights on but with the lightning flashing through the window I could see my motheer passed out on the floor with my "father" standing over her with a butcher knife, I remember screaming running through the living room out the door down the street 4 houses to a neighbor and banging and banging on the door and it's pouring and I'm only in my nightgown. Another time they had friends over again I was about 8 or 9 and I needed to use the bathroom, as I walked passed the living room I noticed everyone leaving, and the closer I got to the bathroom I could hear my mother crying, the door was slightly open and as I looked in I watched her slit her wrists under the running water she looked at me with this pained look in her eyes, I ran outside to my "father" told him what was going on and he laughed. Episodes like this went on for years I was there but I wasn't, it was like they were the only ones in the house. I would sleep walk until I was 18. I couldn't make friends because on my confirmation my "father " showed up dead drunk at the church. He was so intoxicated no would sit near us. Lots of episodes like that. The few friends I made came to my house once and that was it. We moved to another town making friends was horrible, home life was horrible when I was around 17 my mother took an overdose of pills and left a letter in the bathroom telling me her life would have been better if it wasn't for me. I lost myself then, I was going to go to college, didn't and started sleeping with anyone that even showed they cared. I got pregnant at 19 had the baby at 20 of course stayed home had no where else to go no friends, got a job while mother took care of the baby, and every day she let me know I wasn't good enough to be his mother, the way she would talk to me her actions. There is so much more t o my story but in a nutshell in january I had had enough of the manuplation, her anger every time she talked to me accusing me of being out with my friends everynight not giving her enough attention, It got to the point where everytime the phoned would ring I could feel my stomach tighten up and my neck tense. So I decided to call her just to talk let her know how I feel, for the record I have never been able to talk to her about anything in my life nothing, so I said that I was upset that she would think I had all this free time and money to go out that I in reality went out maybe once a month with them, that I was home every night that she shouldn't feel upset, my mother liked to go out late at night, like 10pm to a restarurant well I get up at 4:45 am somtimes 3am for work so I don't go out much, she blew up at me and said that she was sick and tired of it always being about me that she had her own problems, well I said in a civil way that when she had time to talk to me to call me. That was almost 6 monts ago. Today is her birthday. Oh ya she is no longer with my "father" he lives in a hotel room and is a full blown alcoholic. I don't know what to do anymore. All my life have been made to feel guilty for everything. Even my marriage is suffering and I am ill and need to go for surgery so I won't be able to work for awhile. I have so much anxiety I can't sleep I sleep for a couple hours that's it. I don't know anymore what to do . Please any advice.

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Dardoo,

Lots on your plate. You've been pretty horribly abused during your coming up for one thing. Witnessing your mothers suicide attempts and the violent confrontations between your "parents" must have been pretty traumatic. Being so isolated from peers would have been hurtful too. These difficult circumstances have dramatically shaped your life and choices. Your relationship with your parents has been a continuing stress, and now at present, like the cherry on the top of a sundae, you are scheduled for surgery that will prevent you from working, which is probably something that gives you a sense of security and identity. Lots on your plate.

the thought crosses my mind that your mother may have been someone with an undiagnosed case of borderline personality disorder. Dr. Allan Schwartz has written a few good blog posts on the topic of growing up in a "borderline personality disordered family" so I'll point you to those articles (1) (2) (3). Of course, your father had his own problems, but I don't have anything in mind for you to read about that, other than our abuse topic center, which seems to apply pretty well enough.

It often helps if people with many problems can pick out one (or two at most) to focus on. When you have so much going on, it can be very confusing and hard to talk about. Is there a particular issue that would be good to talk about?

Mark

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I agree with Mark. I think the best place to start dealing with your problems is to focus on your present needs. You said you have not slept well and feel anxious. Given some of the concerns you have shared with us I would find it difficult not to be anxious, but making sure you have enough sleep is very important. If you find yourself unable to pack in the sleep you want in one phase, you should try taking a 20-30 min nap somewhere in the middle of your day. These naps will probably be more important in your case since you seem to be accumulating a sleep deficit. Just find a safe place to sleep uninterrupted and close your eyes. Even if you don't actually sleep, closing your eyes will help. Try to eat well and prepare for the surgery.

You mentioned that you expect to undergo surgery and that you will be unable to work for a period of time. I imagine a great number of tasks must be addressed as a result. If you have not already done so, perhaps you should set aside some time to plan for contingencies, like someone to help keep an eye on the kids while you may be unable to do so yourself? Or perhaps having a meeting with your kids to establish the principles you expect of them, the tasks they must deal with while you are recovering, phone numbers of people they should feel comfortable reaching out to in emergencies, and so forth. Just brainstorm and plan on any issues that are commanding your attention. Focus on the things you can take action on and prioritize amongst them.

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First of all I really want to thank both of you for replying so quickly . You ask me if I have a particular question; that is hard. I have spent so many years being manipulated into thinking it's all my fault, nothing I do is right, that I had to apologize even though it might not had to have been my fault. Yesterday was my mother's birthday, we always had a bbq on her day, and I wanted to call her but again I felt sick just thinking what a simple call could turn into that I didn't. I have acute diverticulitus, I have had 5 episodes in the past year, 3 which landed me in the hospital so I finally have a surgeon that thinks something should be done, so I am really worried about that too. I just feel lost I guess. I also have been dealing with my husband's closet drinking, he feels if he drinks without my seeing I won't find out, Duh!!

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So -

Shame issues

Stress re: upcoming bowel surgery

Actively drinking alcoholic spouse

That's quite a bit right there. :)

I'm thinking that the surgery stuff and preparing for it adequately, (as Kaudio has pointed out) is probably most important to address in the short term. Would you agree?

I think Kaudio's suggestions are quite good. It helps your stress if you can try to anticipate what will happen if you are not able to do your regular routines and try to work out ways to address those issues in advance. You may not get them all figured out, but just knowing that you are doing what you can to prepare can help you feel more in control. And what you don't feel right now terribly much, I imagine, is in control.

Mark

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