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Stronger for the Breaks – How to Heal from a Toxic Parent

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Stronger for the Breaks - How to Heal from a Toxic Parent

It’s one thing to be dipped in venom by those you don’t really care about, but when it’s by the person who is meant to love you, hold you, and take the sharp edges off the world, while teaching you with love, wisdom and warmth how to do it for yourself, it changes you. There is a different kind of hurt that can only come from a toxic parent – someone who is meant to love you. Kind of like being broken from the inside out.

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The scarring and hurt that comes from a toxic parent probably isn’t something we talk about enough. None of us are perfect, including our parents, but there is a point at which imperfect becomes destructive, taking away from children the love, warmth and nurturing they deserve and replacing it with something awful.

When children are raised on a diet of criticism, judgement, abuse and loathing, it’s only a matter of time before they take over from those parents, delivering with full force to themselves the toxic lashings that have been delivered to them. 

Toxic parents come in many shapes. Some are so obvious that they can be spotted from space through the eye of a needle. Some are a bit more subtle. All are destructive.

A toxic parent has a long list of weapons, but all come under the banner of neglect or emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Toxic parents lie, manipulate, ignore, judge, abuse, shame, humiliate and criticise. Nothing is ever good enough. You get an A, they’ll want an A+. You get an A+, they’ll wonder why you aren’t school captain. You make school captain, your sister would have been a better one. And you’ll never be pretty like her. They’ll push you down just to criticise you for the way you fall. That, or they’ll shove you off a cliff to show the world how well they catch you. They oversee childhoods with no warmth, security or connection. 

Any negative behaviour that causes emotional damage or contaminates the way a person sees himself or herself, is toxic. A toxic parent treat his or her children in such a way as to make those children doubt their importance, their worth, and that they are deserving of love, approval and validation. If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Well yeah, my parent/s did that, but only because it was true – I’m pretty useless at life,’ then chances are that parent was a toxic one. The truth is that you, like every other small person on the planet, deserved love, warmth, and to know how important you were. You’re not useless at life – you’ve bought in to the messages that were delivered by a parent too broken to realise what they were doing. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

It is possible to heal from by toxic parenting. It begins with the decision that the legacy of shame and hurt left behind by a toxic parent won’t be the way your story will end.

How to heal from a toxic parent.

Here are some ways to move forward.

  1. It’s okay to let go of a toxic parent.

    This is such a difficult decision, but it could be one of the most important. We humans are wired to connect, even with people who don’t deserve to be connected to us. Sometimes though, the only way to stop the disease spreading is to amputate. It doesn’t matter how much you love some people, they are broken to the point that they will only keep damaging you from the inside out. You’re not responsible for them or for the state of your relationships with them, and you are under no obligation to keep lining yourself up be abused, belittled, shamed or humiliated. Healing starts with expecting more for yourself, and you’re the only person who can make that decision. 

  2. And it’s okay not to.

    Don’t be harsh on yourself if you stay in the relationship. The act of returning to an abusive relationship can set trigger self-loathing. ‘Why aren’t I strong enough?’ Know that loyalty is such an admirable trait, even if it gets in the way of your capacity to protect yourself. Own where you are and give yourself full permission to be there. Accept that for now, this is where you’re at, and fully experience what that’s like for you. You’ll never love yourself enough to change your expectations if you’re flogging yourself for not being strong enough. It takes tremendous strength to keep walking into a relationship that you know is going to hurt you. When you’re ready, you’ll make the move to do something differently. For now though, wherever you are is okay.

  3. Be honest about the possibilities.

    If you’re going to stay, know that it’s okay to put a boundary between yourself and your parent. You can act from love and kindness if you want to – but don’t stay in the relationship unless you can accept that the love you deserve will never come back to you. Ever. If it was going to, it would have reached you by now. See their behaviour for what it is – evidence of their breaks, not evidence of yours. Put a forcefield around yourself and let their abuse bounce off. Love yourself and respect yourself enough to fill the well that they bleed dry. They might not be capable of giving you the love and respect you deserve, but you are.

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  4. Be careful of repeating the patterns with other people

    You might find yourself drawn to people who have similarities to your toxic parent. There’s a really good reason for this. All of us are driven to find an ending to things that remain unresolved. Because love, warmth and nurturing are such an important part of child development, yet so elusive for the child of a toxic parent, it’s very normal for those children to be driven to find a resolution to never feeling loved, secure or good enough. They will look to receive what they didn’t get from their parents in others and will often be drawn to people who have similarities to their toxic parent. With similar people, the patterns will be easier to replicate, and the hope of an ending closer to the desired one – parent love – will be easier to fulfil. That’s the theory. The pattern often does repeat, but because of the similarities to the parent, so does the unhappy ending.

    The decisions aren’t conscious ones, so to move towards healing, the automatic thoughts and feelings driving the choices need to be brought more into awareness. If this is something that’s familiar for you, it’s possible that you are being drawn to the wrong people because they remind you of your toxic parent, and somewhere inside you where your wanted things stay hidden, is the wish that you’ll get from them what you weren’t able to get from your parent. Look at the people in your life and explore the similarities they have with your own parents. What do they do that’s similar? What do you do that’s similar to the way you are in your relationship with your parents? Which needs are being met? What keeps you there? The more awareness you have, the more you can make deliberate decisions that aren’t driven by historical wants.

  5. Own your right to love and respect.

    One of the greatest acts of self-love is owning your right to love and respect from the people you allow close to you. You’re completely entitled to set the conditions for your relationships, as other people are to set the conditions for theirs. We all have to treat those we love with kindness, generosity and respect if we want the same back. If those conditions aren’t met, you’re allowed to close the door. You’re allowed to slam it closed behind them if you want to.

  6. Be careful of your own toxic behaviour.

    You’ve been there, so you know the behaviours and you know what they do. We’re all human. We’re all going to get it wrong sometimes. Toxic behaviour though, is habitual and it will damage the members of your own little tribe as surely as it damaged you. You don’t have to be a product of the inept, cruel parenting that was shown to you, and this starts with the brave decision that the cycle stops at you. People who do this, who refuse to continue a toxic legacy, are courageous, heroic and they change the world. We’re here to build amazing humans, not to tear them down. How many lives could have been different if your parent was the one who decided that enough was enough.

  7. You’re allowed to make mistakes and you’re allowed to do it on your own.

    You may have been lead to believe that you’re not enough – not smart enough, beautiful enough, funny enough, strong enough capable enough. The truth is that you are so enough. It’s crazy how enough you are. Open yourself up to the possibility of this and see what happens. You don’t need to depend on anyone and making mistakes doesn’t make you a loser. It never has. That’s something you’ve been lead to believe by a parent who never supported you or never gave you permission to make mistakes sometimes. Make them now. Make plenty. Heaps. Give yourself full permission to try and miss. There will be hits and there will be misses. You don’t even know what you’re capable of because you’ve never been encouraged to find out. You’re stronger than you think you are, braver, better and smarter than you think you are, and now is your time to prove it to yourself.

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  8. Write a list. (And get yourself a rubber band.)

    Write down the beliefs that hold you back. The ones that get in your way and stop you from doing what you want to do, saying what you want to say or being who you want to be. Were you brought up to believe your opinion doesn’t count? That parents are always right? That you’re unloveable? Unimportant? Stupid? Annoying? Incapable? Worthless?

    Now beside each belief, write what that belief is costing you. Has it cost you relationships? Happiness? Freedom to be? To experiment? To explore? Then, rewrite the script. Thoughts drive feelings, behaviour, what you expect for yourself and what you expect from relationships and world. How are you going to change those beliefs? Just choose one or two to start with and every time you catch yourself thinking the old thoughts, actively replace it with a new, more self-nurturing thought – then act as though that new thought is true. You don’t have to believe it – just pretend it is. Your head will catch up when it’s ready.

    If it’s difficult to break out of the old thought, try this: wear a rubber band (or a hair band) around your wrist. Every time you catch yourself thinking the old thought, give the band a little flick. This will start to train your mind to let go of the old thoughts that have no place in your life anymore. You just need a little flick – you don’t need to hurt yourself – your old thoughts have been doing that for long enough already. There is no right or wrong on this. All the answers, strength and courage you need to do what’s right for you is in you. You just need to give yourself the opportunity and the reason to hear it.

  9. Find your ‘shoulds’ that shouldn’t be.

    ‘Shoulds’ are the messages we take in whole (introject) from childhood, school, relationships, society. They guide behaviour automatically and this can be a good thing (‘I should be around people who respect me’) or a not so good thing (‘I should always be ‘nice”). Take a close look at your ‘shoulds’ and see if they’ve been swallowed with a spoonful of poison. Our ‘should’s’ come from many years of cultivating and careful pruning, so that when that should is fully formed, it direct you so automatically that you don’t even need to think.

    It’s likely that the should that’s keeping you stuck has come from the person who wanted to keep you that way. Were you brought up feeling indebted to your parents? Like you owe them? Like you’ll never cope if you separate properly from them? Were the messages delivered to keep you small? Quiet? Hidden? Believing the messages may have worked when you were younger, steering you way from their foul mood or toxic consequences, but it doesn’t have to be that way now. Don’t pick up from where they left off. You’re older now, with different circumstances, and in a different environment. Bring your ‘shoulds’ out in the open so your actions can be more deliberate. If your ‘shoulds’ are working for you, love them up and keep them, otherwise let them go. 

  10. Nobody is all good or all bad. But don’t be guilted by that.

    One of the things that makes ending any relationship so difficult is that there will be traces of exactly what you want. Even toxic parents can sometimes be loving, warm or nurturing, though it’s mostly, if not always, done to further their own agenda. In the same way that being ‘a little bit bad’ probably isn’t enough to sever an important relationship, being ‘a little bit good’ isn’t enough reason to keep one. Zoom out and look at the big picture. If you feel miserable in the relationship more than you feel good, question your reasons for staying. If it’s because your toxic parent is old, frail, sad or lonely, that might be all the reason you need to stay, and that’s okay. If it is, own the decision in strength and put limits on contact or how much you will give to the relationship. You’re entitled to take or give as much to the relationship as you decide. Just whatever you do, do it deliberately, in strength and clarity, not because you’re being manipulated or disempowered. The shift in mindset seems small, but it’s so important. 

  11. Build yourself up.

    Toxic environments are toxic to the brain – we know that with absolute certainty. The human brain is incredibly adaptive, and in response to a toxic environment it will shut down so as to protect itself as much as it can from the toxicity. When this happens, as it does during prolonged periods of emotional stress, the rate at which the brain produces new neurons (neurogenesis) slows right down, ultimately making people vulnerable to anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, memory loss, reduced immunity, loss of vitality, reduced resilience to stress, and illness (research has shown that migraine and other pain conditions are more prevalent in people who were brought up in abusive environments, though the exact reason for the relationship is unclear).

    We also know, with absolute certainty, that the damage can be turned around. Diet (omega 3, green tea extract, blueberry extract, reduced intake processed sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates), exercise (anything that increases heart rate), and meditation (such as a regular mindfulness practice) will all help to rebuild the brain and heal the damage done by a toxic environment. Increasing neurogenesis will help to build resilience, cognitive function, vitality and protect against stress, anxiety and depression.

Healing from a toxic parent starts with deciding that the lifetime of messages that have left you hollow or scarred are wrong. Because they are. It means opening a heart that’s probably been closed for way too long, and receiving the love, approval and validation that has always been yours to own. Sometimes, it means realising that parents break too, sometimes irreparably, sometimes to the point of never being able to show love to the people in their life who deserve it the most. Sometimes it means making the brave decision, in strength and with the greatest self-love and self-respect, to let go of the relationship that’s been hurting you. 

Breaking free of a toxic parent is hard, but hard has never meant impossible. With the deliberate decision to move forward, there are endless turns your story can take. Brave, extraordinary, unexpected turns that will lead you to a happier, fuller life. It’s what you’ve always deserved. Be open to the possibilities of you. There are plenty.

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391 Comments

JRW

This is great! I gew up with horribly toxic parents who tried to manage my life and my own family’s lives! I was so happy the day my parent’s died!

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BG

I realized when my mother told me I was too stupid to say anything against her I had to let her go , I was 18 then . I’m 21 now it’s been the single most freeing emotion for me . Never looked back .

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Kaw

I am now 63 years old and have hardly gone a day without thinking of what my parents did to me, largely to protect themselves. They have ruined my life. My father has died but he leaves a legacy and have enlisted my siblings to carry on the abose through money, power, dominance. They continue to manipulate through covert means if not outright insults. I am single, childless and trying to take care of myself financially. I expect some day i will be committed to hospice housing, if there is any available. Ive lived a life of running scared and dont know who to trust. Any advice is welcome. Ps, my patents were very well off

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Sara

I am now an adult,,,I was sexually abused right under my parents nose for 4 years while they enjoyed their alcohol infused time. I am now 47 and it hit me like an s.o.b after many years of being able to keep it down,,,,time to cut ties because I know it will never fly.

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Tonia

I can so relate to this. I’m 62, same everything else: present circumstances and the parental motivations and consequences of said behavior. What is working for me is to create and maintain a distance (psychologically as well as geographically if possible,) not expect more out of myself than I have to cheerfully give, and to work on being content with what I have. An attitude of, “this is the hand I have been dealt, now what can I do to be happy therein.” Forgive, and realize you can’t change them, or the past.

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BS

I’m just drained, again I’ve allowed my toxic mom to insult and belittle me again. I’ve made an informed decision this time around at 40 years of age, that I’m breaking up with her. I feel the anxiety,slight depression and feelings of helplessness. I am sticking to my decision. No more contact with her and my siblings,which of course ,are on her side.

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Normie

Wow I have tried to do this and it has been so hard for me because of the whole concept of a mother loving her baby the moment in time that changes a women’s life. How did u come to the decision she didn’t love you just trying to figure out why my own mom doesn’t love me. Thanks

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BS

A toxic mother has her favourite kid/s. You know she doesn’t love you when your opinions or life choices are ridiculed and she gangs up with your siblings and they gossip and ridicule your life. At first you tell them everything that’s going on in your life,thinking they are family. One day you disagree with mommy dearest and she insults you with all that you’ve shared with her about your life, then it will dawn on you regarding the perception she has of you. Not any of the siblings are bold enough to confront her or defend you. Mommy then continues to have a tight ,close relationship with your other siblings. They visit each other, spend Christmas together. You’re just never invited. The siblings on her side seem like they are under her spell. As for you, you’re sidelined cos you refused to live life on her terms. Of course to mommy, your life choices are bad for you and you will need her someday (this she will scream on top of her lungs) and that you’re nothing without her. She is a LIAR! Life is great without her. Slowly getting used to making your own choices and be responsible for the consequences. It’s freedom at last.

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DS

Omg, I just read your reply to Normie, and honestly, BS, you and I seem to have the exact same thing going on. I also have siblings (3 other women to be exact) and they are exactly how yours are. They always complain about my mother and hate her at times, but are not brave enough to say enough is enough, because they are under her spell. Well, I broke away from it, and my toxic family dynamic to begin with. 2 of my sisters I never really truly got along with so I will not miss the loss of my friendship/sister ship with them as much as my other one. She, however, is too much under my morher’s control and spell, for me to truly trust her. It’s so dang sad because aren’t we all supposed to have loving and supportive families??! Why did we get so unlucky in family? But honestly, I don’t care for a pity party because I have my own family, and should really just learn from padt mistakes, and try to be a better parent to my own children.

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DS

I feel the EXACT same way. At 40, I just decided last week to cut off my relationship with my super toxic parents. I feel all the feelings you mentioned as well. It’s just sad that it had to come to this, but for self preservation, it’s probably the most important decision thus far. I also did it because I have children of my own and I was seeing the same control my parents always exercised over me, they were doing it to them, too ( and me, at the same time.) I just want to be a better parent to my children because, in part, I have behaved the exact same way my toxic parents did. I want to break the mold, and for me, that means breaking away from them for good.

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Christine

I know how hard that is. I suffered from a spiteful toxic mother for years and because she was my mother I felt obligated to keep her in my life. I am released when she died. I am now suffering toxic treatment from my sister and have decided to put her out of my life for good. It is very liberating.

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CL

Thank you for this! I’m 36 and just now realizing how toxic my mother is to me and my sister. It’s been years of emotional abuse, guilt trips, manipulation, constant belittling and pitting me and my sister against each other. She can be so sweet and nice, especially around other people, but mean, cruel and horrible the next. I’m always left feeling that I owe her and will forever owe her. For what?! Being born? I didn’t ask for that. She needs constant attention from people and doesn’t care about anyone else’s needs. If I or my sister have a problem whether medical or life in general, she always makes it about herself. I’ve never had self-esteem, or trusting relationships until I found my husband. He’s the exact opposite of everything I’ve ever known. She tries to manipulate him too and gets angry at him because he won’t allow it. I also have a 7 year old daughter and terrified of ever doing to her what my mother has done to me. She has a toxic relationship with her own mother, it runs in the family, and for years I’ve pitied her but enough is enough. I’ve walked away and through with it all! I control my life now, she can’t use me as her beating post anymore.

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DS

Hi CL, I feel the same way about my own mother, only that she pits me against 3 sisters (not just one.) My mother also had a horrible relationship with her own father, and I know she hated him. But unfortunately for me, she didn’t try to be a better parent. I think toxic parents didn’t not realize they are toxic to their kids. They are so narcissistic that it’s always about them. It’s a great thing you have found a supportive and loving person to lift you up. My husband is the same way, and I’m grateful. I also have 2 children and I’m desperately trying to not be the toxic parent my parents were. Unfortunately, some of my behaviors have been very similar, but I’m consciously trying to prevent that from happening ever again. My worst fear is my children growing up and hating me because I damaged them emotionally. But I will not let that happen, and learn from the past. Anyway, good luck to you!

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CL

After reading all of your stories, there’s a comfort in people who can relate to your experiences. I’ve always felt something wasn’t right or normal in my childhood. Thank you, all of you, for sharing such personal, deep emotions. It’s one thing to think of how you feel but entirely another saying it out loud. I’ve wised up long ago not to keep a private journal, my mother read my last one when I was 29 and used it against me in every fight. My private thoughts are mine, they belong to me and I have a right to my private thoughts and feelings. So do all of you! Remember that! You own your life, not your parents.

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Charley

My mum read my diaries and although I once loved writing a mental block stops me from revealing my true feeling and thoughts on paper even thought I know it helps to write it down. I walked away from my toxic selfish mum 12 years ago but she has left a very deep scar on my soul. I try to treat my three kids with love, compassion and humor and I have a beautiful family I can’t seem to emotionally let go though. There is only my brother and father left of my family and I thing she finally turned his head. I speak to my dad but he lives abroad. Sometimes you feel like although you have your family ( hubby & kids) you miss a childhood love you never had. Walking away was the best thing to do no doubts! But getting over it is an ongoing thing for sure! Ps I am so glad I read this page it helps me understand a little more 🙂

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Sara

This is so very hard, I think the hardness of it all is actually holding on rather then letting go, today I have decided to let go and see where it leads, where ever it leads may be better then here, as at the moment, here feels like hell, a battlefield, a place I do not know nor understand nor even where I want nor need to be, it is time to set myself free.

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Cici

This article and all of these comments resonate so much with me. I’m 34 and I feel so sad because it’s got to a point where I no longer respect my mother due to her toxicity. Whilst growing up I always thought that the problem was with me, but now I understand that her put downs and constant criticisms were due to her own issues and not mine.
I look at her and hope and wish that I don’t grow up to be like her, which is such a sad feeling and truly breaks my heart.
I am now engaged and my fiancé fully supports me and has seen how she can be, and he understands how worried I am about turning into her. The feeling of never being good enough is something I would not want to pass onto my future children.
Letting go is simply not an option for me because at the end of the day, I still love my mother but I still hope that she will wake up and realise the emotional pain that she causes to myself and my father.
Now I distance myself from her a bit, but I also can’t let go fully, because I would not want to leave my father to deal with her by himself.

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DS

Hi Cici, at 34 I felt the exact same way. I was so afraid of turning into my mother, and unfortunately, parts of me are very much like her. I couldn’t let go however, and just kept forgiving. However, at 40, I’ve realized that it’s best to let go and really try to focus on myself, be better and resist becoming toxic to my own kiddos. It sounds like your dad is a good guy, which is great! I personally have 2 toxic parents who feed off each other. My dad is spineless and even though sees the manipulation and control, he’s been under my mother’s spell for so long, that I don’t think he knows any different. But unfortunately, his inability to stand up to my mom, has earned him the status of a toxic parent as well. I have severed ties with both of them. It’s just very new for me bc this just happened last week, and my emotions are still very raw, but it’s 1 day/time. Good luck, and I hope your relationship with your mom takes a healing and healthy turn.

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B3

Hello all, thanks for sharing, here is part of my story:
My parents were married and divorced before I was born. Allegedly, he abused her psychologically and physically. He held a knife to her throat, threatened to kill her, threatened to rape her sister, threatened to cut me out of her womb and show me to her before he killed her. He stalked her at work and tried to run her off the road. He was (and is) an alcoholic. I was told these stories over and over again as I grew up. Sometimes the guilt would keep me up at night, even in elementary school. He had a few other ex-wives that said the same thing about him, although he has never admitted it or been charged with anything and also never laid a hand on me physically (I have experienced some of the psychological abuse though). Although that was the seventies in small town Oklahoma, so maybe things were swept under the rug a little more back then.
She escaped to her parents one night. After I was born, we lived with my maternal grandparents until my mother remarried. I loved them so much, they were everything to me, but are both gone now. I believe they protected me as much as they were able.
My biological father, was in and out of my life sporadically. He had every other weekend visitation and certain holidays. He never took most of them, which honestly felt like a relief, because I was equal parts terrified of him and equal parts afraid of my “real” family thinking I had any sort of fun with him or affection for him. I wanted to please them. I wanted them to love me. I wanted them to forgive me for being his daughter. I tried to earn it, but never felt I could. He eventually remarried when I was 16, to a very nice lady. He attempted to be in my life more at that point, but he sugarcoated the past as though we had a relationship we didn’t have. We never spoke of his abuse of my mother until I was 27 years old. I wrote him a letter detailing my feelings about him, me, what he did to my mother, etc… He didn’t respond. When I confronted him a year later after he left me out of my grandmother’s (his mother’s) funeral, he denied everything and said I was crazy. We didn’t speak again for 5 years. I eventually reached out to him and we smoothed things over, at least on a polite, speaking terms level.
My mother, was cold and distant towards me most of my life. She would always comment how I was so much prettier, smarter than her and was always handed everything in life. As I became older, I thought I recognized a jealous tone in these statements, but it made no sense to me as I felt like the bad, ugly duckling most of the time, with few friends and generally just felt awkward and weird all the time. Different from and separate from everyone else. When I was bad, I was told that I was “just like him”. A few close, trusted friends and relatives are probably what saved me from going off the deep end, along with the love of my grandparents. I was academically and athletically gifted, but it seems like a ceiling was put over my head so that I never went very far or high. I was restricted to the house for months at a time for the smallest of transgressions. (i.e. grounded for 3 months for a single instance of “talking back”; each instance would add months of time; I was literally grounded from 7th grade through my senior year of high school). I began to struggle in school and socially, but no one ever made time to help me. Once my struggle became apparent, I was punished for the failures but no help was provided. I made the cut to be on the high school volleyball and softball teams and in the drama club, but wasn’t allowed to leave my house to go to practices or events after school. I was also not allowed to accept a ride from anyone else at school. I would find workarounds to let me participate and be normal, but the answer was always no. Eventually, I gave up asking to do anything. I loved my mother and wanted her to be proud of me. She never gave any indication of this. The rare times she was kind to me, was when I was suffering from illness. Sometimes I pretended to be ill so that she would be nice. At those times, I felt like she loved me.
My stepfather, married my mother just after my first birthday. He raised me as his own, sort of. I loved him as a father and I believe he did try, but has his own mental demons. He would sometimes defend me against my mother and that made them fight. He was unpredictable though, one minute he was my hero and the next he was an angry villain. I never knew which one he would be. They fought every weekend, when I was growing up. Every weekend was a knockdown, drag-out fight. Glasses thrown at each other’s heads, extremely mean words, threats to leave, etc… I am not exaggerating when I say this was every weekend of my life at home. If they weren’t at each other, they were at me. They would lecture me until 2 or 3 in the morning, with me sobbing and crying the whole time. I felt like a hostage that wasn’t allowed to go to bed until they had their say and “got through to me.” My grandmother would say they were being too hard on me and then they would exaggerate everything I was doing so that she would not take my side. After her death, I read an entry in her diary that said she hopes that I “get my life together”. Reading this gutted me to my core.
When I try to talk of any of this, I am told that it didn’t happen, that I am exaggerating, they had it so much worse than me, they were protecting me, he didn’t have to raise me but did anyway so I should be grateful. So much more to add, but this is the gist of it. Sometimes I feel crazy. What if they are right?
It has affected me so much. I am not the wife, student, employee, friend that I know I can be and should be. I feel like this holds me back. It causes me stress almost every second of every day. I want to get better and get past this, but any healing I do seems only temporary.

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DS

B3, no they are not right! I don’t know you, but from the way you write, I can tell you are very intelligent and perceptive person. Unfortunately, you have been shaped by so much negativity, that it has taken away your self worth and respect. You are so much better than that! Don’t let your toxic past shape your future because you are the only one who can take control. I’m speaking from experience. I have decided that in order for me to grow and be better, I need to cut toes with my parents. It’s probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. Alyhough my emotions are still very raw, I feel freer in a way. This article and thread has made me feel so much more confident in my decision and has validated my feelings. I truly hope you heal because you sounds like such a wonderful person, worth every breath.

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Andre

I have read a lot of these comments and I feel like myself and the other commenters have so much in common. I feel like out of everyone here my mother is the worst and most toxic parent. I feel the same way as another commenter. When I was younger I thought and my family thought I was the problem. But it wasn’t that I was a problem, it was that she had a problem with me. I didn’t have to do anything wrong and she would treat me horrible. People would tell me that I had to do something wrong and that she wouldn’t treat me bad for no reason. But i wouldn’t do anything wrong for her to treat me bad. Her favorite thing to do to me was to scream at me in public for no reason. My other family members all listen to her and are on her side. She treated me so badly that she gave me 3 mental illnesses. It would have been nearly impossible to stay away from her because every time she would treat me bad I would stop talking to her but she would just treat me worst or always come around me to annoy me. One time she treated me bad so I stopped talking to her , so one morning she wakes me and my brother up at 6 in the morning saying she felt sick and she needed to go to the hospital. So we took her and when she got home I asked her what the doctors said and she ignored me and then came back and said she always gets what she wants one way or another. The crazy thing is even she treated me so badly and was suppose to put my self esteem way down, I am actually very confident. I feel like I am 1000 people in 1. I feel like a one man army. I feel like I don’t need my family. I definitely don’t need her. I just wish I had know what she was doing to me so I could have left, completely severed all ties with her and anyone she was in contact with and tried to undo everything she did to me. I am telling you compared to the rest of you my mother makes your toxic parents look like angels.

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Aus_Woman33

I’m not sure that you meant to be so dismissive but I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. I don’t think there is any point in comparing our toxic parents, as the important part is how we feel about it, not what they did to us.

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Laura

After reading these posts I now know I am not alone in this. For such a long time I have lived a toxic life mainly due to my mother’s toxic ways and treatment towards me and others. I have always felt guilty of progressing and doing well in my life mainly because she’s looks down upon anything that’s good in life. Living this way with her has been so depressing and outright difficult due to how she treats me and others. I pray that I find a solution to this madness yet I feel guilty due to her being my parent, but surely need the madness to stop!! (Troy led mama)

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DS

Hi Laura, it sounds like my mother, depressed and nagative, so she takes it out on everyone around her. It’s unfortunate that she has everyone in my family, including my 3 sisters and father, under her spell and control. Well, I’ve broken away and will most likely not speak to anyone in my family again because of her.

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Privesh

Society seems to confer martydom and sainthood on mothers. My mother died never acknowledging or accepting responsibility for anything pain she inflicted . No my emotions were not important and simply dismissed . My dad died when I was 6 , she remarried in less than a year. Not a day went by without my being told what sacrifices she made for me ,how horrible my dads family was. I had to live a lie pretending her husband was my father , not a single photo or item of my dads allowed. Her priorities in life were to be a good second wife and step mother. Congratulations in your grave ,you succeeded ! You forgot that I was a 6 year old child that needed the security of knowing my mother was there for me. You chose another man, his child and then your child together !

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Aus_Woman33

My mother is pushing my boundaries too far and it is so stressful. I can’t bring myself to cut her off completely. I have in the past, but now I have a child and I worry about the example I set for him if I can’t tolerate her. She keeps sending gifts for him in the mail, and bringing many gifts when we see her. I generally have a rule of providing no information about our life but my son had a procedure recently and I wanted to share with my friends on social media, so I send a short text to her. She takes this as a sign that contact can be extended and that she is in the ‘inner circle’ and it begins a flurry of texts and calls. I let down my boundary. This morning a package arrived on our doorstep which was sent yesterday. I have had enough but I am struggling to tell her to back off. Of course, she won’t get it, doesn’t get it, so often ignoring works best. But it’s so hard to reprogram my wanting to thank her for the gift even though I don’t want it.

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Mariah

After reading this, I was disowned because well…my mother hated my boyfriend. I’m still recovering from a blow up. She blasted all the most hateful things about my fiance, then when I came back with all the crap she did wrong to me, i was called a liar and she blocked me on Facebook because I dared to challenge her way of thinking. I know my fiance can lie, but has never once cheated on me. She mentions that he’s been sick and that he has an STD, which we tested for, doesn’t have, she claimed he had MRSA due to an staph infection from 2015, my sister said unless my mother had suddenly a degree in medicine, that she found hard to believe. I was told to ignore my mother, the truth is, she claims I need counseling for even thinking about challenging her. I get mad enough, I might, but when she’s blasting this all over FB for the whole world to see over minor things, it starts to being an issue for me.

I don’t want that kind of issue in my life, I cried enough over it, and I still cry over the fact I can’t see my father, because my mother claims that she won’t let him without her there.

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Louise

This was an incredible article, and so many comments from brave people trying just to get on, and deal with the fallout caused by toxic parents. I am one of three siblings, all damaged in some way, by toxic parents who were not able to turn their own unhappiness inwards, and try and use some insight to turn it around. I am determined to break the cycle. Good luck to everyone.

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Marterm

What im left with is that I hate who I am when I am around her. I hate the anger that is inside of me. I worry that I am like her and my kids will end up hating me too. I have tried to resolve things with my mother (im in my late 40s and she is in her 70s) but we argue so easy because I cant let go of some of the horrible things she has done when I was in my late 30s early 40s. I just cant forgive her and she thinks what she has done is justified and has no remorse and still feels im in the wrong, yet I know in my heart I was trying my best, single parent with very young children, who was still having to be a certain person that my parents thought I should be, but wasnt. MY dad is dead now but my mother has turned more controlling than she has ever been and has pushed not just me but a good few members of our family away. It is frustrating and im left with trying to heal these wounds 🙁

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Julie Leigh Domeny

Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much. This will help me.

I have been dealing with this for all 64 years (today is my birthday)! I have basically freed myself from a toxic grasp and do a better and better job of keeping my commitment to myself every day. Yes, I still give a chance to prove themselves otherwise, but this toxic bunch proves themselves as toxic as ever! The last attempt proved a game changer and I look forward to a full life without them.

To the commenters. You are not crazy and are not alone. And, I am so happy to know I am not alone. Wow. Wow. Wow.

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kaw

In response to Julie Leigh Domeny

Hi! Read your post, and, yes, you know, as toxic as my family is, I still give them chance after chance to prove to me otherwise, and time after time they prove me to be right. I think I’ve protected myself through it all, but each time I hope they will prove me wrong and that they are good, honest, caring people. I suppose the last straw is when they totally rip away all money left in the trust to me. Hopefully, by then I will have worked, earned and found spiritual fulfilment for all eternity and will be the richest the soul beyond belief.

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kaw

Tonia,
In your response to my comment – thank you for your response. Hard to believe there is someone else who has a family as sick as mine. You’ve given good advise – work on being happy with what I have. Yes, I think I’m there but one thing is, I would like to find someone to trust and love and who will love me. The people worth having, it seems, run, once they find out about my family, thinking I may be as sick as them. It’s pretty scary to think I may live the rest of my life with no support system – no family, no friends, no nothing. Just what my father wanted for me.

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kaw

In follow-up to my last comment, I have read that God had a plan before we were born of what our life was going to be like, that whatever happened to us was supposed to happen, that there are lessons we need to learn in this life. If that’s the case, and I believe it may very well be, he hasn’t made it easy for us. This one is incredibly tough but I believe if I am successful, so will be the rewards.

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