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Mr_Saturn512's avatar

Was I emotionally abused?

Asked by Mr_Saturn512 (558points) January 23rd, 2017

I feel like it’s a strange question but it’s something that my girlfriend got me thinking.

Whenever I spend a weekend at her place, I’m on the edge because I think every text and phone call I get is from my mom complaining about something. I can’t ever feel 100% at ease – in the back of my mind, I’m prepared for the worst.

I described this to my girlfriend and she said, “That sounds like abuse.”

When I was in high school, I loved a girl that my parents didn’t like because she was raped. They said her rape was her fault and she got herself in trouble and she was therefore a bad influence on me. Of course, I didn’t take it lightly and continued trying to see her behind their backs.

This resulted in a several-years-long battle in trying to be with my ex behind my parents’ back. I’d often get in trouble, and when I did, they scolded me and took away my phone and computer. I grew up through my adolescence with a program that they installed on my computer that would shut down at 11pm everyday. I had to prove my goodness and then I would get “tokens” for extra computer time.

The lowest point was when they threatened to not send me to my college of choice if I still pursued my ex. My Dad is a staunch critic of community college, and so he threatened to send me there. When I was caught yet again texting my ex, he told me one morning to get dressed because he was taking me to the nearby community college to check out their campus. As we walked on the campus, he said, “Look at all these kids here. They’re shit for being here. So you must be shit too if you associate yourself with them.”

This whole situation ended after I entered college. Mom gave up and Dad stopped caring.

But I noticed that it may have greatly impacted my negative feelings towards family in general.

My current gf is INCREDIBLY family-oriented, and I find that INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. It’s the only real topic of friction. I HAVE tried hard to go through with family gatherings with her family but I am IMMENSELY UNCOMFORTABLE AND NOT OKAY with her visiting my family.

My mom never liked anyone that I was interested in. After I started a relationship with my current girlfriend, I thought Mom would cool down. No. She remained the same. She read into every little thing that my gf did. My gf is a naturally messy person, and when she stayed over one day she had her luggage zipped open in the guest room and a bra was hanging out. After she left, my mom lectured me about how girls send messages to boys and their moms about wanting a baby. According to my Mom, my gf leaving out her bra hanging like that was a subliminal message that she was using me to get a child, and if she got pregnant then I had to be with her.

One weekend when I was away with my gf, my mom called me up. She was upset because when she left mail on my desk, she happened upon a sexy letter correspondence that my gf and I wrote between each other. We talked about sex stuff on it. Mom was appalled and warned me not to get in trouble. Afterwards, she had a talk with me again and said that I was in denial about being in trouble, so my subconscious left that note on my desk for her to find as a cry for help.

There are numerous other occasions but basically every time I spend a weekend at my gf’s, I have this inner anxiety that Mom is somehow, someway, going to complain about something, and my mood will be ruined. I’ve gone through baby steps. I stopped lying to my mom about hanging out with my gf so often and that helped somewhat. But I still have so much more to go and it’s very agonizing.

It doesn’t help at all that I find very eerie similar circumstances between my family and my gf’s family. Our mothers both have the same birthday and act the same, albeit my mother is much more extreme than hers. Our fathers are both having affairs and treat our mothers like shit. Despite this, my gf is still close to her family whereas I am not. They still go out on many vacations together and have a much bigger extended family than I ever had.

I am disappointed in myself for not getting over this hesitance with inviting her to family gatherings. There’s no good reason other than “I don’t want to.” I want to just leave my family be and have our own lives and make my own family. My family loves to be on a high horse and is very judgmental. My uncle once brusquely asked my gf about her teaching degree, “And what are you gonna do with THAT?” It’s very uncomfortable even though Mom has finally softened up over years. I know that deep down inside she thinks, “I’d rather you find someone else.”

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15 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Get yourself to a counselor or Psychiatrist. You need to work through your “history” and get yourself to a better place.

Cruiser's avatar

It is hard to rule out mental and emotional abuse. You seem to focus much of what you offered here as giving more than ample evidence of how oppressive your parents have been. But I see you have parents who have tried to support you and even willing to pay for your college. All I see is them having to put conditions on supporting you but what is missing is why they were pushed to having to put stings on what they are willing to support you and why?

What information would your parents have to offer to this discussion?

Sneki95's avatar

“I want to just leave my family be and have our own lives and make my own family.”

That’s a clear sign. Get away from them as far as possible. And get some help.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

You sound like you are trapped. If you can provide for yourself then your parents will have less control over you. I would get a full time job, anywhere to start, then move out.

Mr_Saturn512's avatar

Sorry my post is long so maybe the answer was drowned out. They didn’t want me seeing my ex anymore. I continued to see her so eventually they ultimately said, “If you continue seeing her, then we won’t send you to your college of choice.”

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Mr_Saturn512 Most of college is worthless anyway. Get a job as a cashier somewhere and pay your dues and you would be ahead of your peers. In a few years you could get a few pay raises and be a manager, and you can pay your own way to university.

Cruiser's avatar

@Mr_Saturn512 Not suggesting you are between a rock and a hard place….more so you are at a crossroads where a man/young man has to make a choice. This it your life….not your parents. It is your choice to lean on their support with their conditions IF that is what you see is best for you. If you indeed love a woman and see her as your future without the overreach of your parents then you best start packing your bags and don’t look back.

College is not worthless…it is if anything that is a 4 year breather that can give you space to have time to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. FWIW I would not hire a salesperson without a college degree.

Sounds to me that despite your parents controlling hard line that they have given you quite a lot of support.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Young adults often feel smothered by their parents. It is what spurs them into leaving the nest and providing for themselves.
Since we have only one side of things to go on, I am going to look at this from the stark standpoint of its your life, your future.
I don’t care how much this girl loves you, if you can’t cover the bills comfortably well, there will be tension somewhere along the way.
Do you want to be a forty year old asking people if they want to super size that, or would you like to be called “Mr.” at your work?
Your initial question is if you were emotionally abused.
I don’t think so. Having a difference of opinion is not emotional abuse.
It sounds more like a case of guilty conscience to me. You know what your parents believe, want, expect, and you’ve been trying to figure out how to get what you want, and get around what they want. It is wearing away at you. You are obsessing over your phone because that is a contact to them you keep with you. You are seeing it like a guard, a tattle tail. If you didn’t have the phone with you, you would still feel creepy, and it is not their fault.
If you had a dream about your gf with another man, would that be her fault? No. It would be your own brain’s concoction.
If your parents have set boundaries for you, they are trying to protect you from bad choices until you are mature enough to set those boundaries for yourself. That is not abuse.

LostInParadise's avatar

You can’t spend the rest of your life living in fear of being contacted by your parents. You need to stand up for yourself. If you and your parents disagree on some point, acknowledge what they are saying and then explain your view. If there are things that they say that you find annoying then tell them. Don’t get overly emotional about it. Speak as one adult addressing another. Your parents did not treat you well but there is no point in dwelling on that.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Overbearing parents, you have them. They may have reasons for not liking your girlfriend that we are not hearing. They may not want you getting entangled in a family before you have your college done and career set. Trust me, don’t fuck that up and especially not for a girlfriend. Ignore the above advice saying it’s not worthwhile. It is. Sounds like they want you to be successful but are also planning your future for you. I’m faintly picking up on some strong dependence on them and also on your G.F. If you’re still in your teens it’s understandable but if not… time to find your own ground.

VenusFanelli's avatar

I’d say that you were. I think their behavior is extreme.

canidmajor's avatar

My mother has a cluster B disorder, I understand the confusion and dread that comes from communicating with her.
A very helpful, comprehensive group online is outofthefog. It’s anonymous, covers a large area of circumstances, and the people are experienced and kind.

It is very difficult for many people to understand this kind of thing unless they have experienced it. There is a tendency to have the gold standard of parenting measured by the “at least they didn’t hit you” metric.
If you are an adult, (really, it is difficult for teens to be objective and discerning about these things) take your responses to these stimuli seriously.

Do visit the site I linked, at the very least, the resources listed there could be helpful to you. I have found support and nformation there.

Good luck with all this, I wish you some peace with these issues.

Zaku's avatar

I’d say your story describes emotional abuse, yes. Sounds horrible. You have my sympathy and condolences. The good news is that seeing it this way can lead to sorting it out and healing, which should improve things quite a bit.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have read the entire OP, and I have also read the thread.

@Mr_Saturn512 I was emotionally abused by my parents. What you described above sounds like what I experienced, and therefore, it sounds like abuse. When a parent places conditions on their love for their children, that is a form of abuse. There are worse kinds of abuse, but this is still abuse. (Let’s not play the game of what abuse is worse.)

I understand your current psychological makeup, too, because I experienced the same thing. I had dread of talking to my parents and other relatives. My difficulty led me to move to foreign countries to try to escape. What I learned over the years is that their abuse continues in any way they could reach me. I also learned that I could not control them, but I could control how I reacted to them.

Now, that is very simple to write, but in reality, it was a difficult, long process requiring years of psychotherapy.

I am going to concentrate on one thing you wrote: I’ve gone through baby steps. I stopped lying to my mom about hanging out with my gf so often and that helped somewhat. This is huge! You took a step! You did it! You have started the journey of healing and becoming your own true self. Do you know how important this is? It’s enormous! So the first thing you must do is pat yourself on the back. I work in mental health, and I know how extremely important this kind of thing is. Many people never get this far. They never even take the first step. Not even the first.

You took that step! You did it! Reward yourself. Do one nice thing for yourself today. It doesn’t matter how small that thing is. Do it. Do one small, nice thing for yourself. You decide what that is.

This step can lead to many more, until you are a whole, true man. Your next line after that is: But I still have so much more to go and it’s very agonizing. I will not lie or sugar coat this. You are correct. It’s not going to be easy nor will it be quick. You have a lot of work to do before you are free and whole. Here’s the good news: I did it and so can you.

I went to psychotherapy for many years (I actually still do, but that’s another story). I started after I left my parents’ house and college. When I was on my own, I started therapy. I learned that I did not have to suffer alone. There were knowledgeable people out there to guide me. The therapists over the years have never prescribed what I should be doing. Never. Not once. They never told me I must do this or that. What they did was guide me through my own healing and let me make up my own mind about what I wanted to do about certain situations. I was always the one in charge.

Your story leads me to think you are still living at home with your parents. I suspect you’re not done with college. If that’s correct, start by visiting your college’s counseling center. Try an appointment there. It’s another step, and you do not have to tell your parents. That’s correct. I’m suggesting you do something and not tell your parents. The reason is if you tell them, it will give them more ammunition to use in their emotional abuse and manipulation. You do not need more of that.

I want to end by telling you what my life is like now. I am happy in a way that I never could have imagined. I am a free, whole man. I am completely at home inside my own skin. I love myself. It took many years to be able to feel that genuinely. Many years. But it came. I guarantee it can come for you, too. I promise.

SamiCYa's avatar

This is most definitely abuse. Emotional, psychological, both. But yes, its abuse. I have had to quit visiting family members because I’m at the point that I will get physically ill from the stress they give me. I don’t know exactly what you’re going through but I feel I can relate on a few levels. I could go on forever but to keep it short my grandmother (who I lived with at the time) also had me on edge to were whenever she called my heart sped up and my anxiety shot through the roof because I knew she’d find something to degrade me over.

The reason they gave for not wanting you to see that ex, to me personally, is very disgusting. My suspicions though is that she could’ve been the worlds most perfect girl and they still would’ve found a reason to not like her.

I agree with Tropical Willie that counseling might be helpful. I wish I could’ve had it, especially in high school. I could’ve made progress with my self esteem much much sooner. A counselor would be helpful not only to work through your own issues but also to help you recognize normal behaviors from abusive behaviors.

I found distance to be the healthiest solution. I moved away from my dad, and then my grandmother, and life finally seems normal. If you don’t want to see your family or get your girlfriend very involved then you shouldn’t feel obligated to have to. You’ve tried and its caused nothing but stress and eventually it will seep into your relationship. Not everyone is close with their family, and theres nothing wrong with that. To be perfectly honest if I had someone do to me what you described I would move far far away and limit contact to phone calls and not even that if it can’t be nice. There is nothing wrong with placing healthy boundaries for yourself, it doesn’t matter WHO the boundaries are for.

I hope you figure this out in the best way possible for your situation.

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