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    Dear d85,

    In reply to the advice you gave TeaK, thank you for saying it sounded like I took good care of my father. That means a lot.

    You are welcome. It does sound like it – you helped care for him, you also tried your best not to get covid and infect either of your parents – that shows you cared a lot.

    You’re right, I do think very poorly of myself and have low self esteem. I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but I guess during childhood there were some upsetting things that happened at home and with certain family members when I was growing up.

    The way we were treated as children affects our self-esteem very strongly. If there were some painful and traumatic experiences, no wonder you’d end up feeling less-than and not deserving, or blaming yourself for things that weren’t your fault. If you’d like to share some more about your childhood experiences and the dynamic you grew up in, it might help us figure out what the key problem is and how to go about it.


    • This reply was modified 13 hours, 41 minutes ago by TeaK.

    Dear Anna,

    don’t worry about not answering right way – you are busy and have many things going on right now in your life. Congratulations on becoming the finalist in a scientific writing contest and that you’ll have 2 of your articles published, while still being a bachelor. Well done!

    Thanks for sharing some more about your childhood and upbringing. It’s great that you have such a deep insight about your relationship with your mother. And also, that you’ve healed most of it and aren’t susceptible to her criticism any more. Her attitude to dating and relationships served you well, but it may be also a double-edged sword.

    Namely, your mother was careful not to date until you are old enough, so you wouldn’t get a false idea about relationships, and probably also that you wouldn’t be hurt by people coming and going from your life. That’s admirable. Once she started dating, it seems she immediately found the right guy, because she started dating when you were 16 (10 years ago), and you say she’s been with your step-father for 10 years. So for her, I guess the first time was a charm?

    I wonder if this gives you some sort of pressure to follow in her footsteps – to find a stable, long-term relationship right off the bat? She set a very high standard, and you don’t want to disappoint her by being less than perfect in your choice of partners?

    when you truly love someone, you’re supposed to do whatever it takes to fix everything which could be fixed before throwing away, right? We can’t be at our ups all the time and if your feelings for the person are real and as strong as you say they are, then you will stay by your partner’s sides for the better and the worst.

    This is true – we aren’t supposed to throw people away without first trying to work on our problems. But there needs to be some reciprocity. If we are constantly pushing for the relationship to continue, while the other person is not really showing too much enthusiasm, often checks out, wants to take breaks, and questions their ability to stay in the relationship – then it’s hard to really work on it. There has to be willingness on both sides. Perhaps you were pushing it and wanted to save it partially also because you wanted to meet that high standard your mother set? She was never pleased with anything you did, and maybe this was a way you still wanted to please her (without even being aware of it)?

    Just one more observation: it appears your mother and your boyfriend’s mother are alike – both highly critical and control freaks. So perhaps you felt seen and understood by him because you shared a similar experience? You’ve managed to largely heal from it and assert yourself, and you were trying to help him do the same… only he wasn’t ready and it seems he won’t be ready for quite some time…


    • This reply was modified 15 hours, 6 minutes ago by TeaK.

    Dear d85,

    don’t worry about accidentally pressing the Report button – it happens sometimes, it’s no big deal. I won’t be in any trouble because of it.

    Regarding the rest of your post, I’ll be away from the computer for a while, but will write more later.


    Dear sossi,

    I’ve been following parts of your discussion with anita, and she offered you a great perspective and a very likely explanation for the troubles you are experiencing in your life: your narcissistic mother. You asked anita:

    So you think that everything i do and all the experiences i have now are basically stemming from the difficult relationship with my mother? I see the point. Maybe..its hard to correlate for me but i can see what you mean.

    I too believe your experiences in your adult life are reflecting your experiences with your mother, both in your childhood and still on-going. Anita described it well on page 2, post No 387571.

    Here are some false beliefs, that you concluded about yourself and other people, based on your unhealthy relationship with your mother:

    I just feel like men are out to get you, like other women eventually all turn jealous and everything just goes sour. I want healthy relationships but it seems like im asking for the moon.

    I worry that if i try to meet someone, i dont have really all that much to amazing social circle of happy people, no kids and no fun career.

    You believe that all men are out to get you, that all women will eventually turn jealous, and that you don’t have much to offer. This is a direct consequence of growing up with a narcissistic mother. A person with a narcissistic parent has a very low self-esteem. They feel they don’t have much to offer because they were always ridiculed and put down. They’ve never received praise and validation because their parent always competed with them.

    A narcissistic parent feels threatened by his/her children’s talents and successes, because it endangers their fragile self-esteem. That’s why they need to put their children down and ridicule them, so they would feel better about themselves. The child just never receives any appreciation or validation.

    Someone asked me today what i dreamed of doing and i just couldnt think of it. I have feelings about what i driven, hardworking , i like to make money…but passions? i feel a bit lost in the money making process…

    Perhaps what was important to your mother was money and social status (including an “amazing social circle of happy people”, with your mother at the center of the circle, charming and dazzling them all, being the center of attention). You have been  striving to achieve what she finds important, never stopping to ask yourself “what is important to me, what are my values, what would I like?”

    It’s no wonder, because your mother never stopped to ask you those things – it was only about what she wants. You didn’t matter, you weren’t seen as a unique individual but as a function of hers. You were there to make her happy, and it didn’t matter if it wasn’t what you wanted.

    I am not writing this based on the exact things and vignettes from your life, because I haven’t read everything, but it’s what happens typically with children of narcissistic parents. It’s all about the parent, and never about the child. That’s why I believe you feel you don’t have much to offer, and you don’t know what your passions are, what you would really like, but you just follow what your mother expects from you.

    I think it would be important to really become aware of how much you were programmed by your mother’s upbringing, and to start separating yourself from her world view and her wants and desires, and to start discovering your own…


    • This reply was modified 20 hours, 55 minutes ago by TeaK.

    Dear d85,

    I am sorry you are consumed with regret regarding this girl. What sticks out to me is that you struggled with regret when your father passed away too:

    And in the aftermath I emotionally shut down, struggling to deal with regrets, things left unsaid, not being by his bedside when he passed (despite rushing to the hospital and just being too late).

    It appears you were blaming yourself for not having done enough, even though you took good care of your father before he ended up in hospital (I had to help him with day-to-day functions as he could barely move, before he ended up in hospital.)

    With this girl, you felt you couldn’t make her happy and would only be a burden:

    I thought I would just end up bringing this girl down, and that she could be spending the time she would be waiting for me getting to know someone else who could make her happy.

    I wondered if it might be better for her to find someone else that could give her what she deserved.

    I thought I couldn’t make her happy, and would end up being a burden and I should step aside so she could move on and find someone better than me. I thought she’d be better off without me.

    This all shows you think very poorly of yourself, and this is what probably keeps you in this cycle of self-blame and regret.

    You say you’ve been suffering from depression and mental illness for as long as you can remember. Do you know what triggered your depression? If you feel like sharing some more, please do.



    Dear canary,

    Yes, I feel less of a human because of my anxiety. Because I see everyone, like my peers and family not feeling the same anxiety I feel. … So that’s why I don’t feel normal sometimes, especially in public when I feel an episode coming. I micro analyze everyone’s behaviour and they all seem so nonchalant, but I’m the only one in the room bouncing my legs, feeling uncomfortable and changing positions, so I feel like everyone is watching me, even though I know no one is.

    I know the feeling. I suffered from toxic shame, and it got particularly strong in secondary school. I would often blush intensely for no reason, sometimes simply sitting in class, listening to the teacher. I would start blushing on my my way to school and was constantly cooling my cheeks with my hands, because they were burning! I felt like a freak, and really so different than others, because everyone seemed to be relaxed and normal, while I was battling this demon. And I couldn’t talk about it to anyone because I had no close friends in secondary school, so I just suffered in silence.

    Toxic shame for me was like anxiety for you – debilitating and something that isolated me from people. But what caused toxic shame wasn’t my blushing cheeks. Rather, it was the belief that I was to be ashamed of myself – a belief that my mother planted in me. I felt like a freak because of her constant criticism, and having blushing cheeks just “confirmed” in my mind that I indeed was a freak, abnormal and that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Which is similar to feeling “less than human”, like you do.

    I am trying to point out that you most probably don’t feel less than human because of your anxiety – you feel it because you were severely criticized by your father when you were a child:

    he would constantly criticize me about little things that eventually became my insecurities. For example, he’d comment on my weight (I was very skinny), he’d comment on my height, my posture (I slouch), and little things like that. It made me insecure.

    Constant criticism makes the child feel like a freak, abnormal, and less than human.

    Basically, in my childhood he would tell me to focus solely on my studies, not talk to people about my personal issues (he even told me not to make friends), he would criticize me… and he did that because that was his way of raising me. He wanted me to grow up to be strong, so he would tell me things that he wished he was told as a child (focusing on studies, appearing confident, etc).

    How can a child grow up to be strong if they are constantly criticized? He was like a drill sergeant and you were in a boot camp – he was beating you up metaphorically with his words, yelling at you, and this was supposed to toughen you up and make you strong. He was crushing you and your self-confidence, while believing this would help you. That’s really bad parenting!

    You were supposed to appear strong and invincible, while inside you were falling apart. You were afraid, you didn’t know what to do, and you weren’t supposed to talk to anyone about it. Only to your mother. But she too told you to keep a front and pretend that everything is fine:

    This is because he told me that I can’t trust anyone (same with my mother, she told me that as well), that I shouldn’t share personal information with others except my family.

    Maybe she didn’t want to go to school to talk to your teachers when you were bullied because she considered it shameful that you’d have problems with it? Were their concerns along the lines of “what would the people say, how would our family look in the eyes of other people? In the eyes of the teachers?”

    If so, you had the additional burden of keeping it hidden from others, pretending you were fine, while inside you were falling apart.

    This is my summary based on what you’ve shared so far: first your father breaks you, makes you feel weak and insecure, and then he demands you to be strong.  While you mother demands from you to only pretend to be strong and not talk to anyone about your weaknesses. A perfect recipe for a mental breakdown, if you ask me.

    You say your father has changed a lot in the meanwhile:

    For example, he knows how I lack confidence and he tells me that I’ve been acting confident lately and that he’s glad I am.

    The only problem is that you aren’t more confident, you are still anxious. But when you tell him that, he doesn’t acknowledge it:

    When they ask me how I’m doing I say horrible, they say, “but you look better! You’re doing better.” but im not! even if I’m not hysterically crying doesn’t mean I’m not doing better. I’m just as sad and anxious as i was yesterday.

    This kind of attitude – denying your reality, minimizing your struggle – isn’t really helpful. What would be helpful is if they paid for your counseling. So that you don’t have to rely on school counseling but have a real, quality support.

    He tells me that I’m strong, I’m able to get through anything, he tells me not to worry (especially about school), he is literally telling me the opposite of everything he told me in my childhood.

    It’s good he is telling you this now, but the damage is already done. You’d need to heal your childhood wounds, specially your lack of self-esteem. And you might need professional help for that – it’s not enough if your father tells you you are strong, while at the same time denying or minimizing your suffering. He had his chance to cheer you on, but he blew it. Now you need someone else to help you heal the damage he’s caused.

    I don’t feel supported sometimes. I talk to my family about it and they do boost my confidence and support me but I’m looking for someone to understand my anxiety because that’s the main thing I’m dealing with.

    Your family was involved in creating the damage, so now they can help you only partially. As I said, I think the best way they could help you is to pay for your counseling.

    Also, have you thought about taking a break from school for maybe half a year, while working on your mental health? Because it seems you feel a great pressure to perform well in your studies, but find yourself unable to do it. This then becomes another way of beating yourself up for not being good enough, for underperforming and disappointing your father (not the current, more relaxed version of him, but his old self, who stressed the importance of school so much).



    Dear Dave,

    good to hear from you! I am glad you’re doing fine, meeting new people, opening up to new experiences, and taking it easy, with no pressure on yourself.

    Though sometimes I find I don’t want to pursue hobbies etc in the evening, but also I struggle to relax.

    As anita said, there is probably a reason why you can’t relax in the evening and allow yourself to unwind, chill, perhaps watch TV or whatever is your favorite pastime, and simply enjoy yourself… Be at peace with yourself as you’re doing nothing, just chilling, just “being”… Are there thoughts that come up, e.g. the internalized critical voice of your father that you are so clumsy for simply being yourself, or perhaps another thought that stops you from enjoying the moment? If you’d like to explore it more, you are very welcome.

    The autumn has come here too, but the weather is still nice and sunny, and still not too cold. So I am enjoying it! 🙂



    Dear moonlight,

    I am so sorry you had to go through all that pain and torture at the hands of your own mother. She was a sadist and deserved to be prosecuted for child abuse, but unfortunately she got away with it. Did anyone in your family know about your abuse? Have your teachers noticed anything? I assume she threatened to beat you up even more if you dared to tell anybody?

    I told her why I had to cut our mother out of my life but she gave me an ultimatum, either I maintain a relationship with our mother or she will no longer keep in touch with me. I decided that my mental health and the health of my baby was more important than catering to my mother’s every need.

    If you’ve explained to your sister why you’ve cut contact with your mother, and she didn’t see it as a legitimate reason, but gave you an ultimatum, then your sister doesn’t have any compassion for you and was probably brainwashed and manipulated by your mother. Maybe she even thinks that you are lying about having been abused? How was your mother towards her other two children? Perhaps she tortured only you, while pretended to be a good mother to them?

    In any case, if your sister isn’t supportive and doesn’t trust you, you should accept that and not agree to her terms. Don’t go back to talking to your mother by any means! Stay firm in protecting your own mental health and the health of your unborn son, even if it means letting go of your sister, at least for the time being.

    You are doing great btw – you have a happy marriage and are soon to become a mother – so it seems you’ve come a long way and went through some serious healing in the meanwhile…



    Dear Andi,

    I dont know really, a bad case of bridezilla?!

    It’s more than bridezilla, since she refused to listen to you and accused you of lying even earlier, in the case of revenge porn. That’s pretty severe. It appears you had a toxic relationship with her for quite a while, where you allowed yourself to be abused and put down by her. She needed to be the center of attention, and things needed to be her way – or else she turned really mean.

    How could I spend 20 years of my life with somebody who just behaved this way. I am so confused!

    Perhaps a part of you believed you deserved to be treated like that? It usually happens because we lack self-esteem, and this goes back to how we were treated in our family of origin…



    Dear Anna,

    you said earlier about him:

    Honestly, I couldn’t wish for a better partner when he is at his ups. The way I want to be loved and seen, he is like this.

    It could be that your weren’t loved and seen by your parents, and he fulfilled that need?


    Hi Murtaza,

    Also just so you know, i wanted to do online therapy yesterday, i liked the idea that someone could listen to me, but there were some external problems, too expensive to solve, i still wanna do it, if there were easier option.

    Good! I am glad you wanted to give it a try. Don’t give up – I hope you’ll find a way to make it happen!


    Dear Anna,

    it’s good you decided to distance himself from him and take a break. And also, that you’ve realized he has a tendency to be unhappy, even though he would have all the reasons to be happy. But there is always something preventing him to be happy… and until he deals with his deeper issue(s), he won’t be capable of a healthy relationship.

    It’s great to read that apart from problems with him, you have a great life, great successes and a promising future. But like anita noticed, you still didn’t perceive it like that, but felt that without him, your life was a wreck. In spite of your personal successes and the fact that you “totally enjoy yourself physically and mentally”, you still couldn’t imagine your life without him.

    Like anita said, this could be related to your childhood and the inability to be truly happy if one of your parents isn’t happy. This same dynamic is now playing out not with your parent(s), but with your boyfriend. If you have a hard time letting him go, it could be a sign that there is a wound still active in you, where you seek love from an unavailable parent/partner. Does this seem plausible to you?




    Hi Murtaza,

    There is no hope is there?

    It is what you are telling yourself. Because you say “it’s my way or no way”. And your way isn’t working for you… so you’re clinging to something that’s not working.

    why the only love i can get is from my own mind,

    Your mind is both good and bad for you. I’ve already explained it here:

    You don’t blame or condemn yourself, you harbor no shame, so from that point of you, you love yourself. But at the same time, your view of life is very destructive, and as I said, it blocks you from having loving relationships. So you became a prisoner of your own mind, of your own philosophy, because it leaves you bitter and hating your life.



    Hi Murtaza,

    I posted a while ago, but the  post is “awaiting moderation” because it contains a link to your previous thread (a shout-out to TinyBuddha moderators: perhaps links to tinybuddha’s own content shouldn’t be moderated!). Anyway, I am posting it here again:


    There is no hope is there?

    It is what you are telling yourself. Because you say “it’s my way or no way”. And your way isn’t working for you… so you’re clinging to something that’s not working.

    why the only love i can get is from my own mind,

    Your mind is both good and bad for you. I’ve already explained it in your “It’s funny how life works” thread, page 2, post No 384611.

    You don’t blame or condemn yourself, you harbor no shame, so from that point of view, you love yourself. But at the same time, your view of life is very destructive, and as I said, it blocks you from having loving relationships. So you became a prisoner of your own mind, of your own philosophy, because it leaves you bitter and hating your life.

    BTW, I love Peter’s metaphor of the sparrow trapped in the silo. I hope you too find it helpful!


    Hi Murtaza,

    though you’d need to do it from a different mindset.

    How do i do that? Im not gonna argue anymore, im just gonna listen, i feel like sh*t teak, i don’t know what to do, i hate life so much

    You’ve asked me that several times before, and every time I tried to give you an answer, you said it was “bullshit” and that it’s not applicable to you. If you still feel the same about the things I’ve said (related to the possibility of healing and changing one’s attitude about life), I can’t help you unfortunately because my advice would be the same as before.

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