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Author Topic: Parent and child/teen dynamics
Redskies
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May I ask a question? I'm needing to figure out some things about my growing-up time, and I don't really know what to think or who to ask.

As a pre-teen and a teenager, my parents complained about my behaviour and told me several times that I was the cause of all the problems in the house. At the time, part of me was sure that this was very wrong, but at the same time part of me felt it was entirely true. It didn't seem like I really did anything bad - I never skipped school (while in compulsory education and before depression, anyway, but that's something a bit different), got top grades, never hung around anywhere, never came back late (because I never went out), shouted a total of 3 times in my life there, never swore at them or was insulting, didn't have any friends or acquaintances that they didn't like, didn't ask for money for anything other than school trips or lessons/activities for The Thing That I Love, didn't make noise, didn't have anyone at the house.

There was a lot of shouting between them and at me. They were both enormously unhappy and frustated. There was a terrible atmosphere in the house. My friends mostly refused to come to my house, and I didn't want to invite anyone there anyway. I cried (in private) whenever I had to go home from a trip or a visit somewhere, and I mostly didn't like going away because going back was so much worse. They would be shouting at each other at the dinner table, and then shout at me much more when I got up to take my dinner elsewhere, or after that was clearly wrong, if I tried to go elsewhere and leave my dinner, or after that was clearly wrong if I stopped eating it, or if I looked at them in a way they didn't like, or if I didn't look at them at all.

I know I've been peculiar as long as I can remember, both generally and more specifically with my parents. Someone else remembers me at 5 just looking at my mother while she screamed in my face - apparently children usually cry at that. I know now that I've had anxiety my whole life, and that is not surprising. I think that definitely creates some of the peculiar stuff. Particularly with my parents, I don't and didn't respond the way people usually do. They complained that I didn't seem to care, that I didn't respond when they tried to talk about things with me, that I didn't show any awareness that they were human and with feelings. I would and do sometimes literally not talk, come what may, just look at them. They told and tell me how horrible that is, and what a horrible person that makes me.

I understand that it would be deeply unpleasant to be on the receiving end of that. But I don't think it makes me terrible, because of the context. I did/do that when something is too much for me to handle, or mostly because I'm scared of them, or because I know from experience that there is nothing truthful I could say that would make anything any better, so I have no idea what to do.

Partner tells me that I'm lovely, and has seen interaction from/with my parents to tell me that they're really in the wrong and I completely make sense. I think Partner is biased, though, because Partner has only known a me within our relationship who feels safe enough to communicate when I can. I feel I can be myself with Partner, so Partner has access to what's really going on with me in a way my parents didn't, because I wouldn't let them in because it wasn't safe. So I don't know if their reaction to me was reasonable or not.

I'm just really confused.

I'm asking here because I think an awareness of abusive dynamics is needed for someone to have a handle on this, because I approach relationships generally more unconventionally than most of the world, and because I don't know how many places there are that approach parent/child issues with wisdom but while not making the child automatically "inferior". Plus, I have never found a therapist who really "groked" me, and I realise I'm probably really difficult to work with.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Well, certainly, it sounds like a very dysfunctional environment. Parents putting responsibility for their lives on their children, especially directly, and a lot of verbal explosions and outbursts (what sounds like verbal abuse) is not a healthy home or a healthy way to parent. It also sounds like they were basically trying to force a codependence on you by trying to get you to participate in the fights happening between them, even when you tried to leave them and not take part.

The fact that you learned to tune out isn't surprising; I expect that was an emotional survival skill for you, and potentially also an intuitive way to try and do what you could to de-escalate their shouting matches by non-participating. I don't think that your reaction to their dynamics -- your very passive, non-abusive reaction, is something to beat yourself up about it. I'm willing to bet that if you hadn't learned to react that way, you would have been a lot more traumatized by what went on there.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Yes. Thanks.

They definitely stopped me taking care of myself around the home situation, so it's no wonder I'm confused by some things generally now. I feel like I don't have the same set of rules about what's acceptable or preferable in lots of human interactions as most people do. There were definitely complex codependency things floating around there, but also, we were supposed to be this perfect happy family, and it seemed like they could create all hell, but whenever I broke that illusion, even just in front of them, that was completely unacceptable.

Reading what I wrote, I've been thinking that it isn't right to give someone a hard time for basically going non-verbal sometimes. No-one has to deal with or be ok with anyone else's stuff, but it isn't right to act like those things are the worst thing ever, are objectively terrible, and that no-one else will ever be able to or want to be near you because of it. My dad was worse with this. He's told me that it makes me not a human, that it's the worst thing one person can do to another (... I accept his right to his own angle on things, but seriously, perspective???), that I'm manipulative and that no-one will ever be able to deal with me. That this was maybe not objectively correct only started to dawn on me after I started telling Partner about it, Partner heard a bit; and my father told me that Partner would leave me if I didn't change, and Partner went spare when I told them and said that no-one else could know what was good and bad for Partner, I was good, and that it began to make more sense why I wasn't comfortable getting close to people because I thought I was bad for them, and "Redskies being with you is the best thing please don't leave me".

Non-verbalish things have happened a few times with Partner, and it's a very different experience. It's still hard and upsetting for both people involved, but it's completely different because Partner neither takes it as a horrible personal failing of mine and nor as a manipulating or punishing response to them specifically. Partner figured that they'd upset me in some way, and just wanted to take care of me for that, while not thinking that They'd done something really wrong either. I found this refreshing and frankly baffling. I still don't really emotionally understand that this can be ok and someone could be ok and like me.

I've also become close to someone who it turns out also sometimes becomes very non-communicative. How much I don't mind that has been really instructive. It's not a great thing, but it's something that can just be matter-of-fact and worked around. It doesn't have to be a big terrible thing and make a person awful. I'm still adjusting my brain round this.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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For the record?

You've said more than once that you feel you must be very difficult for people in helper-positions with you to work with you.

And I don't know what experiences you have had, but I have to say that it is VERY hard for me to imagine that is so. I have found you to be incredibly responsive, self-reflective and thoughtful, and I'd say you are incredibly EASY to work with.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Um. They mostly tell me it's hard.

It's funny, Partner too just shakes head in bafflement at this kind of thing, and says "but you're so communicative. Sure, there's a hell of a lot going on with you, but if someone just listens, it's all there. I have no idea how no-one before me put half of this together."

I think some people struggle to follow where my brain goes - we just think differently. Maybe some people aren't able/willing enough to go off their own framework to where I'm going - I think I'm pretty strong-headed that way, and I think I've been through so much and thought so much that I'm usually on the right-ish track and I don't like someone else trying to take me off it. Privilege and approach-to-the world issues - queer, disabled, feminist, non-normative, Survivor woman, anyone? A massive barrier of anxiety. A significant part of the anxiety is/was about telling people, and it seems how therapists usually approach people with difficulties opening up totally, totally walks smack into my anxiety, which of course then I can't tell them is happening. So I don't open up much. I'm also no good at opening up just because someone asks me or I'm supposed to or even if I want to; only if I feel like it's safe to do so and I will be understood, or rather, nothing bad can come of what I say.

The most recent therapist has walked badly into my anxiety issues, and also showed herelf to be a bit broken about disability. I'm not sure there's any way back from that, if I can trust her otherwise, and if I even feel like I want to. She basically pulled the therapist model of not being able to change other people, only one's own thoughts, about the situation of being in the street and noticing people looking/staring if you're with a man with an obvious disability. Not that I was asking for help with that, it came up around something else. She was basically saying they might have been thinking something different, or that we should be more forgiving because it's not malicious, it's ignorance. Aaaaargh. I don't think that's an acceptable way of approaching disabled people's experiences of prejudice, and she tried to argue against me by using examples of when she's out with groups of disabled kids she works with. Urrrgh. Able-bodied not getting it. I think it might matter, because one of my disabilities is involved with in-person communication, and so is significant to how my relationships with other people have evolved and how I experience them. Honestly, it's probably less useful to have a therapist who I can't discuss that with.

So I don't really know what to do about therapy any more. I think I can probably do some self-help work around the anxiety (and I guess it's obvious that that's what's been happening) but probably therapy would help. I'd been having therapy for months and not got anywhere. Progress came from my own head, things I read, and conversations with Partner. I just couldn't trust my therapist or convince myself to talk to her. Partner turned up some good, sensible reasons for that, showed me that I learned as a kid talking was always dangerous and not-talking always the better and safer option and that now my instincts tell me not to talk, and the more I try to fight against those the more they tell me it's a bad idea because my instincts are the safest thing I usually have, so at least I make sense again.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I don't suppose that a fist-bumpy, supportive UGH! would suffice in response?

(Because that's what I just did, and it really does sum up my feelings quite nicely.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Thank you [Smile] I'm glad it's not just me.

I think I'm super-sensitive to whether someone is likely to "get" me, and if they're not, I just don't at all feel like opening up, even if I want to. If they are, it seems really easy, apart from about the specific anxiety issues. I think that being workable with the categories listed above is a significant part of my picking up if someone will "get" me or not. I have no idea how to find a therapist of that description who is also ace with anxiety. And who is smart enough about humans and human relationships to get enough of their head round my family background. I think I could do with a therapist, but I don't have much energy left for trying againagain to find a suitable one. I think the one I have is fairly good, except for not being everything I need, which maybe makes her not all that good for me. I don't really know what to do. I'd sort of decided to live with the disability thing, but since then I've not been able to figure out a way to get past how she's played into my anxiety. And the disability thing doesn't help with trust. I have to fight the rest of the world about disability too much, I can't be doing with fighting my therapist too.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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WesLuck
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Gee, that's certainly a rough road you've had to tread. It seems you have a stack of non-traditional (note I don't mean this with any negative connotations) characteristics, plus the bad family situation. You've certainly been through a lot, and I offer my supportive sympathy for getting a non-supportive therapist, who shouldn't be making judgements like she did.

Anyway, congrats for coming this far. You've certainly had a tough road, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But I say you have built a great deal of character and strength from your adversities, and I encourage you to keep finding safe places to talk and communicate, like Scarleteen!

And there's this:

-big hugs for Redskies- [Smile]

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Redskies
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Wes, thanks. (And "non-traditional" is all good with me [Smile] )

...This is going slightly off-topic for this, and I won't go on and on about it, but it might help to just mention it here, as I never felt like I had anyone at all to go when I was a kid or teen.

TRIGGER WARNING for threats, including of violence, and controlling behaviour, next paragraph.

My father decided that he was going to Make me talk today, pulled the usual unpleasant stuff on me, and then threatened me. "I'll smash that computer; it's mine, I paid for it." "I can't do anything to you, but I can to your things. I'll take your possessions away. I'll take your Z." (I'm trying to keep my identity more private - "Z" is an object, but is as individual as a human, is beloved, is damageable, is worth a lot of money, is a big and necessary part of my life, and is something that people who are really into it tend to have one of the closest relationships of their life with; plus, my mum bought it for me.)

F*ing Terrified me. That's unacceptable. I had my mobile next to me, so I called Partner, had my father hear it was Partner, and left the phone on speaker next to me. My father was calmer and more reasonable with someone else in the picture.

I do not want this person in my life. I am getting out of here as soon as I can finalise everything with my and my mum's stuff, and probably when I've had some breathing space tonight try to see what I can do to secure more things if I have to make a more sudden exit. Maybe put some stuff in storage rather than leave it in the garage.

It is no wonder I do not trust this person and do not experience this person as safe. My mother did s* stuff as a parent sometimes too, but she had no model of love, care or affection in her upbringing, and I think she learned a lot of bad stuff from my father, because he always says how much he loves her/me and how much he just wants to help. She believed that for years. She was a different person before she met him, and a different person after she knew proper love with Alf. She brought loads of her own baggage in, but I think most of the horrible stuff came from my father, and I do not forgive him for what he's done to her, to me, and to her and my relationship.

This is a controlling, aggressive, scary, self-pitying man, and I am done.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Redskies
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Sorry. I'm still feeling really shaken. And I feel like I did after my mother died again - I can see Z (well, its case) right near me, but I really need to touch it, and then that's not enough and I need to cuddle it, and then I need to actually be in contact with Z itself and take it out the case and cuddle it. Zs can be cuddled, but probably shouldn't be cuddled without deliberate thought and care, and Zs are definitely safer in their cases if one isn't actually using them... so these feelings are definitely not rational in terms of Z's well-being. And cuddling Z doesn't really make the fear of losing it go away.

This is not fun.

And I feel like sleeping while cuddling (cased) Z. And I feel silly, and frustrated with myself. And mostly just scared.

My Z is a "he", named Janis. He's better at what we do than I am. He's wonderfully easy to work with, if I do something kind-of-right he always makes the best of it, and he's really adaptable and obliging to other people too. He makes himself noticed, but not in an intrusive or jarring way; and that works well for me, because I can be slightly less inclined to go for that, but when I need to I can lean on Janis to make it happen, and then when it does it feels good and natural and not argh-put-a-bag-on-my-head. We complement each other really well, and we've been together 10 years. I usually call Z "Z" so people think I'm slightly less odd, but I know his name. I'm totally, totally attached to Z. ...And now I sound totally weird [Smile]

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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WesLuck
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This is shocking. If you STILL have to put up with this, it makes it even worse. I hope you can get out of it as soon as you can. Anyway, I can still do the best I can, and I'm sure you will too, hard as it is.

-more EXTRA big hugs for Redskies, and a smile too- [Smile]

[ 06-24-2012, 02:47 AM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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Redskies
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I feel really rubbish right now. A couple of days ago, my dad and I were in the same space with a whole load of people and me and Z. I was really afraid he was going to take or hurt Z, even though he wouldn't, in that situation. I had to struggle to keep my mind together to concentrate on what Z and I were doing and not dissolve into a sobbing, shaking, panic-attack heap. Sucked even more when I actually really like what Z and I were doing.

I miss my mum horribly and called up step-dad Alf and cried down the phone and made him cry. It feels so messed up to call my step-dad and tell him I'm afraid of my dad, that I don't want to be near him.

I'm very short on support network because Alf is a long way from me and I don't want to put Everything on him because he's grieving for my mother too, Partner is in another country and has grinding life-stresses caused by other people extremely not doing their jobs, and the only other friend I have that I feel connecty and comfortable with isn't near, is long-term homeless and has very long work-hours, so not only is meeting up really difficult and rare but we hardly ever have a phone conversation either.

I just feel very lonely, down, and bonus-portion crazies anxious/jumpy/scared/shut-in-self right now. Even my mind feels all clouded over and non-function-y, and I lose all sense of having any value to anyone else and any right to be in any space in the world at all.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Redskies, do you live with your father? If not does he have any means of entering your livingspace. I'm just curious how he could take Z if you don't live together.

It is clear that whatever Z is it that Z os incredibly important to you and helps you in tour life. I hope you can keep Z.

I am thinking of you and wish you well.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Redskies
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Thanks, moonlight.

I live in my father's house. He lives nearby in his and my mother's house, which is now legally his. Obviously, he has keys to his house. I am getting out of here soon. I've just found it difficult because of mental health problems (if half the time I'm not well enough to go buy food, then moving house is hardly a do-able thing), and because moving involves the entirety of my and my mother's histories. Some possessions are more important to me than they are to many people, but often, it's because it's all I have.

When he threatened to take Z, Z was just a foot away from him. He has no right to Z, and I would've called the police. It would be theft. I would still go out of my mind worrying about what might happen to Z, and I doubt any authorities would consider it as much an emergency as I do - this is not a replaceable possession. I suppose I feel a little similar to how someone might feel about their dog, cat or horse being stolen.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Sans
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Oh boy, Redskies. That is a lot to go through.

(Sorry for the late response. I saw your post for the first time today. I hope that it's okay for me to reply).

I completely understand regarding your experience of mental health issues and how they affect your well-being. I really, sincerely wish that I can help in some way, because I identify with so much of what you've stated in this thread. Your current situation is so similar to what happened with my ex-stepfather years ago. Unfortunately there is only so much that a stranger on the other side of the world can do over the Internet (in other words, nothing), but if some supportive words will help, then here I go.

I can totally relate to the fear and anxiety you experience when he threatens your possessions. While my ex-stepfather (we'll call him R) was living with my mother and I, he would constantly threaten to break my piano and my violin. Those two items are so very dear to me. They were, truly, all that I had in the world. When R was here, abusive and controlling, I had no one to talk to. I could only play on my instruments and derive what comfort I could from them. Thus, they have extreme sentimental value to me. I couldn't have possibly parted with them.

But R knew that and took advantage of it to threaten and manipulate me, just like your father did to you. I was beside myself with panic when, late at night one time, he got up in his usual rage and started pounding (I mean pounding!) on my beloved piano. Hitting it with force. He did stop before he did any real damage, but I was SO SCARED. I thought that I'd die if he broke my piano. So I understand your anxiety regarding Z. And I know how frustrating it can be when others, including authorities, do not understand how important certain possessions are to us.

I really hope that you can get out of there soon, as this appears to be the most beneficial solution for you right now. If you feel like it, I would very much like to be updated on how you are doing.

Please take care, Redskies. My best wishes to you and what belongs to you.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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Redskies
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Sans, thank you. I relate to what you write more than I can say, truly. Thank you for your concern and support.

I haven't seen my father much and he hasn't acted like that again. It's almost enough to make me start thinking things will be different, but I've been in that cycle as long as I can remember, and whenever I am far enough away from what he expects from a person, he'll do the same stuff again. I need to remember that. He isn't someone to trust, because he's shown it enough times, and I don't feel like trusting him for very good reason.

I'm still trying to navigate round all the mum-father-me-separation-legalsituation-etc as ethically as I can, hurting everyone as little as possible, and trying to take care of my mother's wishes, while trying to negotiate round my mental health issues, and making a fairly half-assed job of it. I'm just immensely slow.

I am feeling very mind-blown right now, because: you know those stories of finding 40-year-old letters in a dusty box at the back of the attic after someone dies? I've got me one of those. It's not there's-a-previously-unknown-blood-relative-out-there type of big, but it's big. Much too long a story to put here, and it's not the purpose of here, anyway, but suffice it to say that I'm somewhat mind-blown. I also understand my mother a good deal better, and am grateful for that.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Sans
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I can relate to what you're saying so intrinsically to the point where I acknowledge your words as part of me and my experience, because they are. R used to do the exact same thing. Between his episodes of outbursts, rage, and abuse, there are times where he does not act like an atrocious, out-of-control doomsday machine. These calm intermittent periods usually last no more than a week or two. During these periods, I used to think that things have finally gotten better but I couldn't have been more wrong. The episodes always, ALWAYS come back. They lengthen drastically over time. Until, finally, the intermittent periods of calm disappear altogether.

Towards the end, shortly before my mother and R separated, I ceased to trust him and his lies altogether. It finally got through to me that he is just completely manipulative by nature and untrustworthy. He made a s***load of promises about 1 or 2 years into his relationship with my mother and I. When he "messed up", he'd feign apology and promise to "get better". I've stopped waiting around for him to "get better" a long time ago. It ain't ever gonna happen. Not in this lifetime. *rueful smile*

It does sound like very complicated and painstaking work, navigating around so many issues. I don't think that it's you being immensely slow. It's just really, really difficult and painful stuff to deal with. So please, don't blame yourself. How are you doing in terms of self-care these days? Are you getting some time each day to sit, relax, do what you enjoy, and get your mind off stuff?

Yep. I definitely get what you're trying to say. It must be very emotionally draining for you. Totally understandable why you would be mind-blown sorting out those letters. I just really hope that you're coping and dealing with all these things at a pace that is manageable for you.

Aside from your father, are you living with anyone else? Anyone who can provide you with some support?

Most definitely. No need to thank me. You deserve every shred of concern and support I can provide. And let me know if what I say is helpful/not helpful. Please take good care.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

Posts: 537 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sans
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Just checking in: How have you been doing these days?

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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WesLuck
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-my best wishes and hugs for Redskies, a truly wonderful and strong person amid the chaos-
Posts: 540 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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