The anxiety caused by my dysfunctional family is devouring me.

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    Hello everyone,


    First of all, I’m not an English native speaker, that’s why my grammar or syntax are a bit customized sometimes, hope it won’t make you cringe !

    I’m looking for advices and I hope some of you will be able to share with me a bit of their wisdom.
    I’m 32, back at the parents’ home since three months as I’ve been living abroad for a few years and do no longer have my own place to stay in my home country. I still have 5 weeks to go before taking my belongings and starting a new chapter in another country. But recently, the rise of my anxiety is becoming overwhelming. I had a difficult childhood : my father was in his own world, working a lot and couldn’t be bothered with his children when he was home. He doesn’t remember my birthday or my age, he never showed any kind of interest in me nor my siblings. He’s becoming a grumpy, unreliable old man who lies often just to be left alone. My mother is a depressed, frustrated woman, full of anger. She has never been really nice with my siblings, but as long as I remember, she truely couldn’t stand me. I’m the last child, and an accident, but not a happy one. Her marriage with a man she couldn’t respect was a disaster but she took me as an excuse to stay with him. Unfortunaly, I’m the only one of the kids to look like him, both outside and inside, and I guess it didn’t help my case. She liked humiliate him as much as she could and he never said anything (he used to stutter and she would make fun of it all the time for example).

    Sidenote : she was an uneducated woman, she never had to work because my father could provide for the whole family, she didn’t have friends or support and her parents always has been abusive. So even without me, I doubt very much she would have left my father.

    In front of others, she wore her “I’m a perfect mother” mask, her face, smile, even her voice were different and she was actually nice and appreciated by people. But at home, it was a nightmare. She would make fun of me all the time, say mean things about my appearance or my intelligence just because she could, criticize me everytime I was doing something (I was doing black ? I should have done white. I was doing white ? I should have done black). I was a smart kid, always the first one of my class, but she would pick on the very few mistakes I would do at school and would scold me for that. She couldn’t stand any noise coming from me, I had to play on my own always in silence and never disturb her. She would also threaten to slap me in the face quite often, usually because she was losing her nerves and I was around; she’s done it several times out of anger and always for unfair reasons. I was always trying my best to be invisible, quiet and nice, never doing anything to give reasons to blame or hit me.

    Her mother (my grandmother) was an abusive monster who would openly say she didn’t like her and close her eyes on her husband’s violence. She was ok with my siblings and cousins but for some reasons she didn’t like me, it felt like I took the place of my mother in her mind. I was terrified by her, having painful stomaches each time we would go. My mother knew about that but she would still bring me to her, sit, watch and do nothing to defend me.

    I wasn’t allowed to show any kind of emotions or even to feel them, only to shut up. She brought me up with the idea that only weak people feels love. She never paid attention to my stories or what was going on in my life but would always ask questions and show curiosity to my friends and relationships about their life. She wants to be the only center of the attention, she’s the only one to speak during family meals and she only asks basic questions about me when others family members are asking for news. She has refused to celebrate several of my birthdays (I was only asking for a family gathering with two of my aunts and my siblings) because she didn’t want them to feel forced to bring me a gift.

    She’s always been angry, as long as I remember. It’s like a permanent state; she’s nice when she’s outside but as soon as she’s back home, she’s putting her mask off, she starts her general inspection and yells at everyone til the moment she’s asleep. I’m 32 and I still have an anxious feeling all over my body when I’m doing the dishes or brushing my teeth because she used to scream at me like a mad woman from the other side of the house to stop the water – and I’m more environmentally conscious than her! It’s only a detail amongst so many others.

    I now realize that I don’t really like them, and it’s okay, right ? I mean, if they were my friends, I would run away from them and cut all the contact. But my mother has been really good to make us feel guilty about having a life of our own, specially concerning her. She was always the only one allowed to be tired, the first to take in consideration, the only one who deserved attention because of her sacrifices and her work… I went back to their home because I thought I had to be there to fix this issue with them and free myself of their negative influence. That was a big mistake. I thought I had to grow braver and stronger enough to face them and let go of the past but I’m only slowly getting devoured by my anxiety.

    It feels like I’m a kid again, all the old anxious feelings (towards my mother, people, school, work…) are resurfacing. My heart is beating crazy when I hear her coming back home, and I have painful stomaches again for no reason. I’m having awful nightmares and night terrors. I’ve developped food allergies and massive itching rashes all over my body, to the point my skin is all scratched and full of scars. I feel like I’m turning mad and there’s no issue. I’m going to leave their house for good in those 5 weeks but what will happen next ? I intend to consult a psychologist in the new country, but will I find a way to soothe those horrible anxious feelings someday ? Is it going to stick with me forever ? Because all those years abroad, it was there. I couldn’t feel them anymore but my anxiety was still a part of me, hiding somewhere. Or will it come back each time I visit my parents ? It seems hopeless right now. What would you do if you were me?

    What can I do right now to stay sane , to beat the anxiety ? My self confidence is really low, I don’t see any of my friends because I’m having issues again to go outside like 10 years ago and I feel unworthy and ashamed, my only goal is to escape from here but I can’t plan anything else. I feel too stupid to even dream. I’m thinking about having a family of my own but the more I realize about my dysfunctional family, the more I’m afraid to become a monstruous mother and I don’t want to take the risk to hurt children.

    I’m not even sure if they are the problem or if I am an ungrateful, too sensitive daughter.

    Any advices will be much appreciated. Thank you for your time, really.


    Dear Lia:

    “What would you do if you were me?”- leave your parents’ home ASAP, today, be it a hotel if you have nowhere else to go. Then end all contact with your parents.

    I did cut all contact with my mother. I wish I did it earlier than I did, thirty years earlier. Like you I moved to another country, on the other side of the world before I cut contact, but every time I visited her, my anxiety and distress intensified. Then I flew away, oceans away, recovered some, got better, then visited her again, got worse, then flew away… until I didn’t recover anymore.

    This is why if I was you, I would leave today and cut all contact with your mother, and father for good.

    “I’m not even sure if they are the problem of if I am an ungrateful, too sensitive daughter”- I used to  think that of myself, feeling lots of guilt but learned after I cut contact with my mother, attending my first quality psychotherapy and proceeding with the long and difficult healing process, I learned that I was not the problem, I was not born too sensitive and when a person hurts you a lot, there is nothing to be grateful for.

    I used to feel guilty about my mother feeding me and spending money of me (when I was a child- toys, school supplies, clothes and such. I learned late that when a person feeds you and tortures you, there is nothing to be grateful for.

    The anxiety left following childhood abuse stays. You can’t heal if you expose yourself to more of it (visiting your mother/ being in contact with her). To heal you have to be protected from more of the same, from the reminders of the abuse, and you have to start therapy and proceed.

    Your mother’s anger harmed you much more than your father’s inattention. Your mother harassing your father about his stuttering is evidence of her cruelty. You were also  exposed to her cruelty.

    There are similarities between your mother and mine and if you want, we can continue to communicate.



    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by anita.

    Dear Lia,

    Oooh, I just feel like hugging you reading all of this! It’s evident that you went through so much trauma and stress for an extended period of time and that can cause significant damage to your emotional and physical body, so be careful dear.

    Like anita said, RUN FORREST RUN. Seriously remove yourself from this abusive, narcissistic mother forever. I would definitely recommend seing a therapist. You gotta open up, release all this built up negativity you had to burry all these years and suffer alone. It’s do relieving you go to another country! Congratulations, a new chapter is being born!

    If I may ask, what do you think caused you to feel unworthy, your mother’s behavior towards you, or that she was (if at all) better with your siblings, so the comparison?


    Dear Anita and Sofioula,


    Thank you for taking the time, to read and to reply to me, that’s sweet of you.

    It was both relieving and painful to read your advices to run away. My mind went instantly spinning, finding dozens of reasons to justify my mother’s behavior. This is ridiculous and I’m conscious about it : I had an abusive boyfriend who would (without knowing) talk to me exactly like my mother used to when I was a kid, same bad words, same critics… To cut him out of my life was the best decision ever. But it seems impossible with my parents. I’m tortured by guilt and fear to disappoint her only thinking about it. My mind is telling me that I am the problem and she doesn’t deserve to be hurt with all the pain she went through in her life. I am the weak child, the too sensitive one, why I didn’t fight back like my siblings ? (they’re all as messed up as me by the way, but I was the only one to be terrified by my mother, I don’t understand why I didn’t have the strenght to fight and stand up for me).

    The thing is, I’ve seen quite a lot of psychologists when I was a teenager, and none of them has never pointed out that I had a toxic mother. I haven’t seen them for long though, it never really worked for me but how could they miss that fact ? Maybe it’s in my head, maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I’m exaggerating my memories ? My mother used to say to everyone that they weren’t doing perfect for their kids but always their best, and everyone would praise her, her bravery, her strenght… And I would do the same, I would say that they were doing their best for me, I would believe it, I felt actually lucky.
    I’m so confused right now.

    Sofioula, to answer your question, I feel unworthy because of her attitude towards me. She always made me feel invisible and stupid, not worthy of time nor attention. I never got close of any of my relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins…) because she was always on my way. I had elocution issues when I was younger, and she used to cut me saying I was shy or that she was the only one to understand what I was saying. So people would turn to her and she would speak for me, which was super frustrating because it became an habit for them. She was kind of the same with my siblings, but they look like her, and they have a strong temper, so they fought (verbally) with each others. They were braver than me.

    I was cooking the family meal today, something went wrong and I wasn’t sure it would be tasty and ready on time for my mother. Because the whole life of the house is arranged around her needs. I had tears in my eyes and was ready to cry, I was so upset with myself ! I act like a kid when I should act like an adult !


    Dear Lia:

    You are welcome. The reason ending your relationship with an abusive boyfriend was easy compared to the idea of ending your relationship with your abusive mother is that you met your boyfriend when you were an adult, or very close to an adult age. But you met your mother when you were a baby.

    Your brain was formed as a result of your interactions early on with your mother. Early on, there was no mental separation, in your brain, between her and you, the two were One, one mental unit. Her pain felt like it was yours, no separation, your empathy was with her, completely. And you believed everything she said to be the Truth. You trusted her completely, not being able to perceive, as a child, that what she said may not be the truth.

    You loved her so much (and still do) that you confused your love with hers. You loved her so much that you believed she loves you too, so much. It is the mental unit, no separation. You  imagine that if you cut contact with her she will hurt. While in reality, it is you who will hurt. She won’t hurt much, if at all, other than feeling embrarrased if other people find out that her daughter doesn’t talk to  her anymore, it making her look bad in others’ minds.

    The closeness, the intimacy you feel with your mother is your experience. You  only imagine she feels it with you. But she doesn’t. So if and when you do  cut contact with her, in her emotional experience, there was no  intimacy with you, so no intimacy lost. The loss is on your end, not hers.

    What do  you think about what I wrote?




    Dear Lia:

    One more thing, you wrote: “I’ve seen quite a lot of psychologists when I was a teenager, and none of them has never pointed out that I had a toxic mother… how could they miss that fact?”- they too had toxic mothers, toxic enough, so like you, they blame themselves, like you, they are tortured by guilt and empathize with their mothers. And so, they can’t help you in ways they haven’t helped themselves yet.

    Having abusive mothers is very common. Many people are attracted to becoming therapists because of their own difficult childhoods and issues they did not resolve yet.

    And another thing, your siblings argued with your mother, fought against her, unlike you, but “they’re all as messed up as me”, you wrote. This means that they lost their fight, doesn’t it?



    Dear Lia,

    You are not obligated to love your mother. She might have familial ties to you, but love is a choice and you can make the choice to not love her. The child you was dependent on her, thus seeking for her love. Parents are the first contact to the world and with evolutionary genetic wiring humans to be social animal, you were simply following your instinct of seeking out warmth and affection from your parental figures.

    You have done nothing wrong. You had only seek to please your mother in the way you knew how, but she is the one who chose to reject your efforts. Your mother is the one who chose to reject you simply because she could. It was not your fault. None of it is your fault.

    But if there is one thing many abusers have in common, it is that they are skilled manipulator. Like a predator to their prey, they have observed your strengths and weaknesses to know which buttons to push. And when the abuser is your mother whom you have spent many years with, it is little wonder if she doesn’t understand how to destroy your self-esteem while she has never encouraged you to have faith in yourself.

    Your mother is skilled at painting/coloring your reality with her colors, your mother is skilled at making the world center around her. At a young age, that taught you to ignore your will, your want, your desires, your needs in favor of your mother’s needs. That taught you that you had no value as a person; that you don’t matter, only your mother matter. Your mother had also instilled the fear of her into you because it’s simply easier to break someone when they fear you. Fear makes it easier to control you.

    Now that you are breathing the same space as your living nightmare, your anxiety is making itself known because you still fear your mother. Your body has already ingrained that fear into your heart so now your defense mechanism is going haywire in the presence of your childhood bogeyman. You do not feel safe with your parents thus your anxiety is screaming at you ‘no, No, NO!’. You are not safe. You need to get out.

    Moving on from your nightmarish childhood does not have to happen in the presence of your family. You can heal while still living far, far away from your would-be oppressor. Being strong means being okay with not meeting or seeing those who had abused you. It’s not that you are weak not meeting them, but rather, you respect yourself so you look after your well-being. And if being okay means not meeting your family, then that is what you should encourage yourself to do.

    You need a safe space to heal, not a space with your oppressor. Especially when staying with your family means constant vigilance against your mother to see if she is going to do something to you again. You don’t need that. Constantly ‘fighting’ does not make you strong, rather it just tires out your spirit. Find the courage to leave, do it for yourself. Do it because leaving is showing the strength to say no to what hurts you.

    Good luck.


    Hi Lia,

    I was looking for bloggers who blogs about life and such and come across yours and got curious as to what your site has. I thank God I found you. I can totally relate to what you’re going through and I want to tell you about my story and some pieces of advises I can give you I think.

    First of all let me introduce myself, my name is Angelica, I’m a Filipino and I’m 25 years old turning 26 this coming May. I got depressed late 2017 I didn’t tell anyone at first <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>because it will got you thinking maybe you’re just too stressed out working or physically tired but I read an article online and search for symptoms of depression that’s when I realized and said to myself “I think I’m depressed.” I seek professional help that time but it’s just a one time thing and the doctor gave me prescription to take for sleeping and I can’t remember one of the medicine I took that time but it felt like it’s going to make you feel calm or dizzy or quite high so you can just go to sleep and rest so your mind will be at ease. Then 2018 came that’s when everything exploded in front of my eyes that I can no longer contain it in inside as I attempted to commit suicide so I decided to seek professional help again and this time I took antidepressant medication for how many months and I had therapy. When I had the therapy before it comes a time that I got to know the root cause of my depression and “It’s my Father” as it all boils down to my roots or foundation which is my parents or him because he was the reason why our family got messed up. As what my doctor said the cases like mine won’t be felt until you reach your young adult age most especially I’m the youngest in my family and you know when your young you can’t really tell your parents what you feel inside you because you just keep saying yes that you think and feel everything was okay until you become an adult and realize that everything that happened in your childhood affected you so badly. I was told by my doctor if I couldn’t verbally say what I feel to my father then I can just write and send it to him so I did.</span>

    My father was into a lot of girls in his times, drinks here and there. Anyway, I had an awesome and crazy childhood. My father was a great manipulator. He will use emotions to manipulate you and it sucks! I fell for it many times and I believe everything he said since I look up to him because my mom was on the other side of the world (another country) working her ass off to provide for us and also I long for a parent because no one is beside me physically all throughout my life except for my sister who has been a sister and a mother to me growing up since my mom wasn’t physically available to support me. So anyway, I really had a long story but what’s worse is way back last year 2018 May 2, I can’t forget my father called me and said worst things I could have ever imagined a parent would tell a child. After a month of not saying anything when I sent my letter to him he called and told me a lot of things and one of it was “I was letting boys use my body” It’s like I was a slut to him. “You want me to discredit you with your boys?”. That’s just some pieces of words he threw at me. It hurts like hell you know. He can’t just accept the fact that he’s the main reason why he and my mom got separated because of all his stupid deeds and he can’t accept it because of his super duper mega PRIDE and EGO! and the fact that his youngest child is telling him straight to his face but in written form. but I have good intention for writing letter to him because I just had to say what I wanted to say that keeps me going forward in my life because I don’t want to grow old having this grudge towards him but it end up worse. but that’s life you have to move forward even if it’s hard.

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Until one day it’s all over. I was free from depression but the anxiety never really go away. As my doctor said, anxiety will be there every now and then. It’s so hard for the days that I will have anxiety attack it’s like everything is falling down that sometimes you just want to keep it all to yourself because you don’t want to burden anyone with it and the feeling that no one will understand you except for yourself. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>As time went by, I slowly learned to open up to some people that I trust that whatever it is you want to say there’ll be no judgement that will come from them because you know and they’re making you feel that they will be there for you at all cost. It’s so hard to tell people what you’re going through because sometimes your relationship with them may it be with your friends or family are being ruined because you can’t control everything what about to go out of your mouth that comes from your mind from being open to everything and the reaction from them. But in this time you will learn who are the real people that truly care and love you for who you are and will always be there whatever happens. Having this anxiety is crazy because you don’t know when will it occur but when it does you know it’s real and you will feel that all things around you is starting to turn upside down like you just want it to end. The excruciating pain that stole your happiness, the smile in your lovely face and the joy you bring to other people are sometimes messed up because of this anxiety. Overthinking comes with it, self pity and etc. that everything you see or feel irritates you and just want to be alone at times but doesn’t really want to. That kind of feeling that you can’t control. Sometimes it will consume you to the point you are questioning everything even your own self if you are really worth it. You’re mind has become irrational to the things that touches your sensitivity when it comes to the root cause of your bitterness or pain or what really causes everything when you became depressed. Up to this day, I still experience anxiety from time to time but I’m fighting harder each time it occur and learning what I can do to prevent and cope up with it.</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>All of this are the product of your own mind and the memories of all the negative, sad, bad experiences you had in your life. When you let everything consumes you it will tear you apart and break you into pieces like you’ve never been before. But take this, your only battle is to fight it that what you want is to live because you are worth it and life is so beautiful that you want to taste and feel what more of what we called life has to offer. There are still people that believes in you trust me may it be some or only one it doesn’t really matter as long as you believe and have faith in yourself you will get through it and the real people who really care and love you will come out on it’s own. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and always there for you whenever you need them. CUT THE TOXIC PEOPLE in your life may it be friends or family. You will not make progress if you keep holding on or involving yourself with the people who causes you pain or preventing your happiness to come out. As what other people usually say “let bygone</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>s be bygones” or “be patient, work hard for it and everything will follow.”</span>

    I hope somehow my story impacted you and can help you cope up with what you’re going through.

    – Angelica


    Hello again,

    I’m sorry for the delay, that was just too much to handle.

    Anita, you’re right. That would be my loss, that would only hurt me if I ever cut contact with her. I feel very strange these last days, sometimes I see her and feel completely disconnected from her, as if she was a complete stranger happening to be in my sight. Do you think I love her ? What a terrible thing to feel for an abuser.

    My siblings lost their fight too, as you said. One of them is violent to the point he’s been sent to jail a few times, and the other is in an abusive relationship with a violent, alcoholic partner. Gosh, she managed to completely break 4 people in her life.

    Thank you GL for your message. It makes so much sense, it brings so much clarity to the situation. But I couldn’t leave. I’m leaving in a few days, it’s time, but I couldn’t do it earlier. I understood that I’m still terrified by her, by her power over me. I really need to work on that. The more I’m aware of what she’s doing, the more she’s ignoring me. That makes things a little bit easier at least.

    Thank you Angelica for sharing your story with me, that resonates deeply with mine. I was sorry to read about all the pain you went through with your father and your mother being far away, but very happy to read that you were able to get over it and open yourself to meaningful connections with people who love you. That’s a real strenght to find the courage to open up to people. I’m not there yet, but that was inspiring. Thank you.

    I feel strange and disconnected recently. I sometimes can see with clarity, with almost a neutral vision, how she behaves with her “family”, how she ignores our needs, how she doesn’t give a crap about us, how everything is about her, how she manipulates us to get what she wants. She didn’t educate me, she trained me like a dog, like a dog you don’t even like enough to respect.

    It’s almost time to leave and I feel on the verge to collapse, as if chaos was the next step. I’m not even relieved to leave, I’m only exhausted with life. As I’ve been reviewing my life, I realized that I always have been in company of anxiety, depression and panic attacks. I’ve always had a hard time with people in general, was always alone as a kid because I feared and couldn’t understand the other kids, and started to have some friends when I learned how to behave like the others, and some of them picked me as a new friend. I’ve never had a genuine, open connection with anyone and I realize with sadness that no one has ever encounter the real me. I only have superficial friendships and relationships with people, I don’t know how to connect safely with them. I’m deprived of social skills and prefer to be on my own anyway. I used to be smart and the first one of my class, but I lost the capacity to focus and memorize things when I was a teenager. Now I live very much in the present, and don’t remember a lot of things.

    I realize now that it’s probably because I fear the others. They’re always perceived as a threat, as a potential danger capable to damage me if I let them in in my inner world.

    I don’t know if it’s my upbringing who has turned me in that kind of lonely mess, or if I’m born being different. One of my cousin is bipolar, and I have strong doubts about my mother/brother/one of my uncle who are exactly the same kind of persons : the three are manipulative, angry, subjects to terrible and extreme mood swings, destructive with everyone.

    Sorry, I guess I just needed to rant anonymously. I’m not sure about what kind of therapist I should go to, a generalist one, someone specialized with mental illnesses ? Am I mentally ill ?


    Dear Lia:

    I will read and respond to your latest post and anything you may add to it when I am back to the computer, in about sixteen hours from now. I hope other members will reply to you as well, before I return.



    Dear Lia:

    “I feel very strange these last days, sometimes I see her and feel completely disconnected from her, as if she was a complete stranger… Do you think I love her?”- yes, you love her because you loved her from the beginning, the strongest of love. She then hurt you a whole lot, and it hurts most to be mistreated by the person you love most. Naturally, all animals move away from mistreatment, from pain. So you moved emotionally away from your mother, feelings he is like a stranger. It does feel strange to feel the person you love most in the world is a stranger. It is like an earthquake happening in the brain, shaking a person’s very foundation.

    “she managed to completely break 4 people in her life”- mothers do have that power, to break her children.

    “It’s almost time to leave and I feel on the verge to collapse, as if chaos was the nest step. I’m not even relieved to leave”- you were born with the feeling of safety connected to being with your mother. You know intellectually that your safety is not with her, but the feeling you were born with, safety with the mother who holds you in her arms and feeds you, that feeling is still there. This is why you imagine that you  will collapse without that chaos is away from her.

    “I’ve been reviewing my life, I realized that I always have been in company of anxiety, depression and panic attacks.. always alone as a kid… I’ve never had a genuine,  open connection with anyone… I don’t know how to connect safely with them… I used to be smart and the first one of my class, but I lost the capacity to focus and memorize things when I was a teenager… I fear the others. They’re always perceived as a threat, as a potential danger”-

    – the chaos was with your mother and the danger was there. Your well being was harmed, your ability to find comfort with others was taken away from you, and you lost your mental abilities. This is the reality of your childhood. But still, a child imagines the safety is with the mother because this was the emotional experience of the baby and young child when the mother held you and fed  you.

    “I don’t know if it’s my upbringing who has turned me in that kind of lonely mess, or if I’m born being different. One of my cousin is bipolar… my mother/brother/one of my uncle… the three are manipulative, angry, subject to  terrible and extreme mood swings, destructive to everyone”-

    – you were not born troubled. You were born loving, just like your cousin and brothers and uncle and mother. Each one of you suffered abuse and became troubled as a result. Sometimes a person suffers brain injury or a tumor that causes certain behaviors, but most often it is a result of a different kind of injury, still an injury, only it is not a falling down and hitting one’s head, it is an emotional injury.

    “Am I mentally ill?”- I am sure you fit some mental diagnoses. I fit quite a few and received those diagnoses by doctors, major depression was one, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was another, Borderline Personality Disorder, yet another. Even bipolar (I doubt that one, but was given that diagnosis as well). Point is I don’t fit most of those diagnoses anymore. What a relief!

    I thought I was completely broken too (“she managed to completely break 4 people”), but I was wrong. I was not completely broken and a lot of healing was possible for me all along. It is possible for you too!

    I hope to read more from you.



    Dear Lia,

    The exhaustion from realizing the truth about your family is understandable. As much as you didn’t like your family, it didn’t mean you understood the reason why. And when any truth is revealed, well, there are certain decisions you have to make precisely because of the truth. But right now, after spending time in the presence of your mother and your family, it’s no wonder you have little energy left for anything else. You’ve had to maneuvered around your mother and her actions, detaching yourself from the situation because it’s become too exhausting for you. You’re tired and I am very glad that you will be leaving them. Once you leave, take some time for yourself. You’ve been walking on eggshells, best to take a break.

    On the other hand, because you are too used to the abuse, not being abused might be too much of a novelty and that can be very frightening. Human are creatures of habits so it became habitual to expect abuse from someone, your mother, and to endured it. But now that you are leaving with the prospect of no longer being abused, that can be scary in that you don’t know what to anticipate in the future so you don’t know how to react. Do whatever you can to ignore that fear and leave. Even when leaving seem scarier than staying and enduring the abused, ignore your doubts and keep telling yourself that you need to leave. Focus on leaving and nothing else until you leave.

    Now, from your childhood, you’ve been trained by your mother to put the needs of other people before yours. While the abuse has instilled in you a fear of other’s judgment and motives so it’s not surprising to see that you don’t really trust other people. That fear has kept you from socializing because you didn’t know whom to trust, if there was anyone you could trust. As you really couldn’t trust your family, it’s won’t be easy to trust a complete stranger. Trusting someone is an act of vulnerability, something you couldn’t really do with your family. Hence, you’ve never been able to let yourself be vulnerable with other people. Not your fault.

    But if you seek for relationships that are true, then it’s something to work on. Of course, not every person you meet will care to understand you, or treat you genuinely, but let that not discourage you. Relationships are built on time and commitment, and you’ll meet many people in life. And as you slowly start to understand some basic things about those people, you might find someone who genuinely wants to form a friendship with you. But you’ll have to be careful about playing at ‘being friends’ just because you hope for their genuine feelings. You can easily be too nice and forgiving which can lead to others taking advantage of you.

    If you could, try looking for a family counselor that specializes in parental abuse or at least has worked with abused victim. There should be some websites that list the specialists around you and what they specialized in. Look for someone who has studied and worked with abused victims. Depending on where you are, you can always inquired with the local abuse shelter about recommending counselors to you. But note that working on any psychological issues will take time so be patient when looking for a counselor that can meet your needs since it does take time to find someone that you might feel comfortable with.


    Dear Lia,

    “It’s almost time to leave and I feel on the verge to collapse, as if chaos was the next step.”

    The next step may be something alone the lines of peace, quiet, and grief.

    Your trust concerns have merit. Your nervous system is so used to these cycles of abuse, that it would be quite unfamiliar to suddenly not have that in your life anymore.

    Similar to a phenomenon called “traumatic bonding”, it may cause you to subconsciously attract new situations of abuse.
    Abusive personalities, not unlike that of your ex-boyfriend, can smell those wounds from a mile away, so to speak.
    And may feel tempted to exploit them. (=> You)

    There’s a saying: “Choose your friends, don’t let them choose you.”

    And if such abuse were to happen again, it is my experience that those people will not quit stamping on those emotional wounds until you heal them. (your wounds)
    And if you would simply kick that person from your life, another will come because the wound is still there.

    That is why you’re acting so distrustful.

    You intuïtively know that you first have to attend to the trauma if you ever want to feel safe enough to allow yourself to truly open up and be vulnerable. And it will take time, effort, and therapy to do that.

    So go get a high-quality therapist, or two, and by all means do NOT go into this process alone.
    Build a support system. Gather resources.

    Improve your skill of discerning supportive from unsupportive people.
    Polish up on your boundaries. Have standards.
    Embrace the life that was given to you.

    If you expect any kind of retaliation for going your own way, have an exit plan.
    Like a commander planning out a defensive strategy: Protect yourself.

    Personally I highly recommend the Somatic Experiencing therapy discipline for healing the trauma.
    And “The Power of Now” audio-book for modern spiritual support.

    Both have been an absolute game-changer for me.
    And still are.

    Take CARE


    Btw I don’t necessarily want to encourage you to leave.
    This is a very personal decision of yours, and then also only if you’re ready.

    I’m merely sharing and possibly projecting my own experience onto yours.
    And what I might’ve done differently if I could go back in time with what I know now.

    Hope this helps and I wish you the best.

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