This is the story of how I realized that my mother was verbally abusive. I hope that it’s existence will help you feel less alone.
Here’s the gist and you can read my full story if you want:
I grew up believing that I had an incredibly loving mother and never could figure out why I felt so worthless and destructive. When I was 17 I told my dad a lot of the things my mother had said to me over the years (basically that I was a life ruining monster who needed to change herself in every way possible). The reasons I took so long to figure it out were (1) my mother has Borderline Personality Disorder so she swings from devaluing you (being extremely hateful) to idealizing you (being extremely loving and charming, so much so that you thing you imagined all the bad stuff) (2) she categorically denied that she had ever done any of the things I said upset me (3) my life didn’t feel the way you picture an abusive life (I wasn’t huddled in the corner being screamed at all the time and my mum was not pure evil the way you imagine an abuser).
Here’s my full length story if you’re interested:
So, I went to the emergency room in November for shin splints that I thought were sprained legs. My dad and I spent four hours sitting around, being passed over in favor of more urgent patients. Who would have thought gun shot wounds were more serious than imaginary sprains? Anyway, my parents were starting a divorce so my dad avoided talking about my mum in case he bad mouthed her. But we had both been feeling it was time to talk about the elephant in the room. So, as we sat together against a wall with cold air blowing in from the ever opening automatic doors, I began to tell him about my summer.
(Context: She’d taken me and my sister to Maine to live with her sister while my dad was in England–they wanted some cooling off time. I didn’t know Sarah, her sister, because the two had fallen out over family abuse–my mother’s memories of being molested surfaced and when she accused her father, the rest of her family denied the whole thing. So, anyway I was spending the summer with some woman I didn’t know who I’d heard was the devil all my life in rural Maine without my dad (who is my best friend)).
But basically she spent the whole summer kicking me out of the house, saying variations of “the reason I’m always late getting you is I can’t bare to be around you,” bringing me to tears and continuing to yell while I sobbed, etc. So, it was summer of verbal abuse as well as neglect–she would disappear for hours at a time and be impossible to reach, wouldn’t buy me a $7 sports bra when I had none, told me to go away when I needed to talk, etc. So, it sucked and I ended up feeling like a revolting monster who should be ashamed to exist and was not only useless but actively making the world worse. Dad was really shocked by all this because Mum had hid it really well and I never thought to say anything because I thought it was normal or (if it seemed really bad) that I had imagined or exaggerated it. I had been a girl who thought that she had the best possible home life (and to be fair, it certainly wasn’t all bad–especially since my dad is the best). But once I started to remember, it all just fell out of the wood work–things I didn’t even remember but had a huge effect on me. I’m now pretty aware of all the cracks she’s made and am starting to patch them up.