My experience with toxic parent relationships

“Children who are not encouraged to do, to try, to explore, to master, and to risk failure, often feel hopeless and inadequate. Over-controlled by anxious, fearful parents, these children often become anxious and fearful themselves. This makes it difficult for them to mature. Many never outgrow the need for ongoing parental guidance and control. As a result, their parents continue to invade, manipulate, and frequentlydominate their lives.”

—Susan Forward

Hello, and welcome to Olivia’s Blog! This is my first blog and I went with something that was really personal to me, in hopes that it might help someone by sharing my story. In this blog I will be talking about toxic parent relationships and how it has affected me. Even if it helps just one person, in my mind I think that is worth it. I’m not going to lie, it is kind of nerve wracking to put it all out there, but writing has always been an outlet for me, so I hope you enjoy. I would also love to hear feedback, and maybe some of your experiences with toxic people in your life if you’d like to share.

Guilt trips. One of the first signs I noticed, was how they managed to pressure me into doing things. When I was younger I didn’t think much of it, but as I grew older I started to recognize how they would use this as a tactic against me. When I was eighteen years old my dad bought me a car, me at the time, I was just excited about owning my very own car, I did not make the connection at first. It wasn’t until later that I realized that, when I did not cooperate or do as they say, they would then use that against me saying, “I bought you a car, how many people’s parents buy them a car?” Sure enough, that seemed to do the trick. In toxic relationships from my experience, they would use guilt against me to gain leverage, always being the ones in control. 

Being overly critical. The next sign that I noticed was how they were overly critical. In high school, I was doing many extracurricular activities on top of school. I tried to exceed in all areas but it all came to be too much. So I tried my hardest in sports, to try to impress them and make them proud. Nonetheless, they still nitpick and found something that I was doing wrong, and they would constantly criticize me for it. When I would come home from school they would both sit me down and berate me for hours at a time, while comparing me to my siblings and my friends. It’s one thing to have a stern talking to when you’ve done something wrong, but it’s completely different when it’s on a daily basis. I would come home and anxiously sit in my car, try to collect myself before I walked through my front door, because I never knew what it was going to be like that day. Were they going to be in a good mood or was I going to sit there feeling like a disappointment?

Embarrassing you in public. It didn’t stop there, they would embarrass me in public, in front of friends, family, or complete strangers. They always had a way to get into my head and make me feel inferior. As time went on I grew more insecure about myself and started doubting my self-worth. I knew that was an unhealthy habit but I blamed myself for it. I was so hard on myself because I really believed that these problems were because of me, that I was the problem.

“We just want what’s best for you.” They used to say it all the time when I was younger, and that’s how I convinced myself that, what they were doing was okay. When in fact it wasn’t okay. When they used that phrase so much that I began to question if they really do want what is best for me, or if they just want what’s they think is best for me.

“I never did that.” Then denial came after that. Whenever I would go to them and tell them what they were doing had affected me they would deny ever doing it, or say you’re just overreacting. During my freshman year of college, I was studying to be a nurse, but then I realized that that’s not what I wanted to do. So when I came to them about possibly switching majors my mother threatened me and made all kinds of wild accusations saying that I would never make enough money doing anything else. After that conversation, I just left it alone. The next day, I told her what she said made me really upset and she denied ever saying that. I don’t know what is worse her denying it, or knowing that she said those awful things and choosing to not acknowledge my feelings.

Keeping Tabs. When I was growing up I wasn’t a big trouble maker in fact, I was a homebody. I didn’t like going out very much, I would rather have stayed at home. Yet no matter what I did they always had to keep tabs on me, even throughout my adult years. During my freshmen year in college my mother managed to sign into my account so that she could keep track of my grades and attendance. Whenever I would mention something they would always bring up the fact that they were paying for my college tuition so they could do whatever they want. Leaving me with the feeling that I could never escape as if I was a bug under a microscope.

The change. I eventually began to see how all of this has affected me emotionally. Seeing a therapist she made me realize that something had to change, that this was not a healthy loving relationship. I tried to repair the damage, but the damage was already done. I wasn’t able to move forward in my relationship with my patents, because they were set in the past, holding their grudges against me. Seemed as if there was nothing I could do to improve the relationship, I made the only choice I felt I had left. I made a decision that I had been planning on for a very long time, and that was to have a fresh start.

Fresh start. After years of considering what is best for me, I decided moving out was the best option. People will tell you all kinds of things, that moving out is not rational, that you’re not thinking about your family. I ignored all that outside noise and tried to focus on myself. Nobody knows your situation better than you, and no one can decide better than you can, what is the best course of action to take.

Friends. I couldn’t have gone through this alone. Luckily I found a man who is now my fiancé that helped me get through all of this. When we first met he said that he could tell I was broken just by looking in my eyes. That was the hardest thing to hear, partly because I knew he was right. I was very closed off in the beginning, but over time I began telling him bits and pieces of my relationship with my parents. To my surprise, he was very understanding and reassured me that I was not all of those awful things my parents said. I had other people who supported along the way, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have them by my side. I learned that It is so important to align yourself with the right people, people who will support you and love you unconditionally.

Discovery. After I moved out, I felt immensely happy, I cried tears of joy, because there was no longer a voice inside my head controlling me. It felt very liberating to me. I just wanted to sing and dance in the rain, that’s how elated I felt. Now I am starting to explore things and try new things that I never did before.While pushing myself out of my comfort zone, because you can’t learn when you are in your security blanket. I was always passionate about photography and writing, and now I am giving it a try because life is an adventure so why not enjoy it and have fun while you still can. At the end of the day, family isn’t always blood. Its the people who want you in their life; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you happy and smile and lastly who love you no matter what!

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