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

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.

    [irp posts=”793″ name=”Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them”]

     

  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.

    [irp posts=”1042″ name=”Letting Go: How to Master the Art”]

     

  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.

937 Comments

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Thanks for posting these replies – I’m an only child, now in my 50’s, with two very toxic parents – I was the result of an unplanned pregnancy – then eleven (11) moves to three (3) countries, four (4) states, and five (5) different schools by age 9 – my toxic parents still tell me i was so lucky to travel at such an early age!

– I can go on and on with true stories and real feelings, all about how my parents negatively interacted with each other, the world, and me, but for most of you, nothing I could write would be a surprise, especially if your toxic parents are narcissists, one is a secret addict, and the other is schizotypal.

– In the decades spent dealing with my toxic parents (and other toxic relatives and “friends”) I learned that almost all people never change, they do not learn from their mistakes, unless long ago, they first had the insight there was something wrong, then went to therapy way earlier in life, like late teenage years, and then did the hard work – (or perhaps realized their own very very very small place in the cosmos, for some perspective on their horrible behaviors (ego loss experience)).

– Most of our parents were fully formed people by the time we were born, unless they had any insight+actively sought help/therapy, they probably just stayed the same, and they probably got worse, due to time and age.

– I really hate to say it but the best advice I read here (*and my own cognitive tactic) is to do ones best not to think about toxic parents, family, “friends,” because it only causes you distress. Throughout my decades, the longer I didn’t think about my toxic parents, relatives, “friends” the better I felt, even normal, and optimistic!

– But then the dreaded time for calls, emails, comments from these folks comes, which I first try to ignore, but they continue so I have to interact effectively, not fall for the bait or point out the obvious (they are insane), just ride out the interaction (talking about the weather can help!) and admit I need 2-3 days afterwards to get this dysfunctional crap out of my thought process.

– I spent way too many decades trying to figure out the most rational path forwards to address these toxic people/ I discovered no matter what I did, not only did nothing work, my efforts made it much worse and many times, I could not/cannot predict the level of insanity that came in response.

– I was extremely fortunate to meet my awesome wife and have two awesome kids later in life, after I had years of insight and therapy as to what happened/is still happening to me. For me at this stage in life, it’s pretty easy to not do the same behaviors with my kids that shouldn’t have been done to me. My wife (initially fooled by my parents thinking they were just fine!) now sees the crystal clear reality of this situation and she is really supportive in all areas. If I had married any of my girlfriends prior to my wife, in my 20’s thru late 30’s, I know that every one of those relationships would have ended in divorce, because I was really picking wrong relationships based on what I saw growing up.

– None of us can get back the years and decades lost and damaged by these toxic individuals, but we can do our best to not pass on this outrageous behavior to our kids, relatives, friends. Maybe some small percentage of toxic folks will get better as their time comes. I can only hope so, but I doubt it. I hate to think this as I truly do not want anyone to simply drop dead, but I don’t see any relief coming until these toxic individuals do just that. I know I would not want to have read my own advice decades ago because I really thought I could work it out with these toxic people, now I ask myself, “could I ever change so I would think the toxic stuff that happened to me wasn’t toxic, but actually really good for me?”. I don’t think I could ever change, so why would I think there is any possibility these toxic people would ever understand what they did and what they do is so wrong?

– So my journey continues, not as much fun when thinking about these issues but I really have no control over anyone else than myself and hopefully there are others I will connect with in the future who won’t have any of these toxic traits

(* years ago I came up with a cognitive self-techique to help stop my rumination and misery, at the time because of a difficult breakup with a girlfriend (not difficult for her!) Basically, I imagine I’m in jail, a real jail, one you want to get out of and never come back to. Then I tell myself I am free from jail, on the condition I never think about jail again. The instant I remember anything about jail, I am immediately transported back to jail. If I can close my eyes and completely/truly think about anything else, I am immediately released from jail. It takes a while to finally train my brain to “stay out of jail,” but not that long, and it’s so good to get my full mental bandwidth back, at least until the next toxic interaction)

Reply
Rick

Tired,

Yup.That sounds like my Narcissistic mother. Lots of verbal abuse, with some physical torture thrown in. I have read many posts like this, looking for some relief from my residual problems – only I don’t know if I feel better seeing that others have gone through this, or worse because I relive my past with the bitch (Still going on from beyond the grave because she poisoned my brother against me).

That miserable bitch messed up four brothers and let my father die because she was mad at him. Unmistakably, the circumstances of his death would have fueled a big malpractice suit against a local hospital. But I talked out her out of it only because it would have smeared my father. I think she agreed because she was afraid she would have been caught. I am sorry for me that I have had to deal for my entire life with the madness in that house. Two things that I am glad about, though – 1) I escaped and have an OK life, and 2) my golden brother did not become the sole recipient of the lawsuit, paid for with Dad’s blood. Thanks to all for listening.

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Jemma

So sorry Rick, Like you my mother is toxic but unfortunately she is still with us. My sister became an alcoholic mid twenties due to my mother’s nastiness and died at just 52 from liver failure.
I’d rather walk away from the selfish, toxic, needy, incompassionate bitch but she has threatened to cut me out of her will (its family money passed down not anything she made). I have as little to do.with her as possible these days despite her threats, gaslighting and attempted manipulation. I can honestly say I hate her.

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Androgenic

Such a long thread. These anon messages feel like such a safe place, somehow.

I won’t go into my childhood. It was lonely and sometimes difficult.

I hid in closets with frequency.

In jh, sometimes in public places, instead of the slap, they’d pull my ear. Like a goat. It’s embarassing.

For the slight disrespect, for forgetting to do dishes, for expressing a negative desire to do something.
Cg
Fast forward to sixth grade. My classmates message each other on phones I won’t have until 9th grade. I cry every single day, and i joke about it at school. About this time, maybe a bit before or later, i often recieve comments, “you always look sad.” Or “you look angry.”

Junior school. My third school. And of course, no friends, no hangouts to date. Around this time, i realized that i have anxiety. Maybe depression, but i can’t say that i feel symptoms for 2 weeks striaght. I can’t tell anyone.

I’ve ran away from.my house.to escape beatings. Ive hid under my bed. I’ve done that pose for 8 hour stretches. I’ve cried a lot, often to the point where i’ve had rashes. Ive witnessed my sister being chased around the house for her crimes.

I made about 3 not serious suicide event attempts. I was in a state of sorrow and pain and I was somewhere else. And when i told my mother, she said, “what about me, don’t you think i feel that way?”

For the last 4-6 years, our relationship has been deteriorating. I stoppes saying goodnight because it’s never a goodnight when you can’t trust the person holding you. I feel no comfort when she tries to be kind or caring. When i tell her something upsets me, she yells at my disrespct and/or brushes it off. Im obviously upset, but the next day,she acts like nothing happened. By pretending to make peace with her, i feel emotionally manipulated.

My father never tried,though. But he’s q control freak. He’s threatened to kick my mom out. And me. And my sister. As a six digit earner. It’s always rules with him, so i keep my guard up and put up the smiles.

And to make matters worse, they always fight and make up. Typical couple that talks about divorce and honestly should have divorced but didn’t.

I’m just getting so tired of keeping up.the brave face. Sometimes i feel like it’s all in my head. Part of this is an amnesia problem/coping strategy. If my mom yells at me for being delusional and a disgrace today, ill forget what wer were fighting about the next day. There are parts of my memory that are empty.

But is it warranted? My sister was into porn, and was a repeated stealer. I have always been the quiet straight a student. Weve jad great times, great vacations mostly, and most days now we just go on.

Yet sometimes, especially with the way my mother talks about me, I feel like tradh. Like my feelings aren’t valid. Because of my introversion i can’t talk to anyone. I know it’s all ending in a few years. But sometimes I feel like I’m just super sensitive. And maybe its all in my head. Normal african family, i should conform.

I try so hard to get them.to understand and listen . To pay attention. I want them to tell me their proud, and i want to appreciate that.
Sometime i feel like there’s no way out of my parents influence.

So i’m trying to be strong. My parents made me who i am, but i choose who i will be. I’m going to be financially independent in colleges. I’m going to set boundaries. And i will be true to myself.
My story isn’t very serious as the others here, i know. And i wrote too.much, haha.
As a religious individual from a traditional cultur3 with a genderqueer identity, i want to say that i care about every single person in the world. I pray for the good people and the bad people and you. I think about a girl in sunny Washington having a bad day, or a.young boy in new york.working double shifts. I try to imagine everyone when i pray, and i pray that each and everyone of you all find hope and strength from within.

Reply

I used to live in a home with my cousins and I always used to wonder why am I not treated with the same love my aunt shows. Then I saw how other moms treated their kids, my school friends and I felt lost. I used to be slapped and beaten by my mom, sometimes in the bathroom with a hangar if I cried too loud. I was on Ed heavily scolded Infront of a friend who I invited and have never since let my friends come to my home. I am incredibly aware of it all and I still wonder why is my mother so toxic. I am 24 now and I have only followed and done what my mother has asked me to do without question, without learning about myself, without any discoverability. I did a law degree because my mother asked me to and I gladly went with it. I also learnt that all of this was just escapism for me rather than what I actually wanted to do and I feel incredibly guilty for using their money now. My mother although she doesn’t hit me any more she is the same amount of toxic and reminds me what a useless pos I am. I also get incredibly anxiety in any situation where I feel a little uncomfortable. I sweat at job interviews, sweat when talking to girls or even new people. I am so so lost

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Kala

I know what my dad thinks of me, even though he hardly ever explicitly expresses it. It shows in his subtle behaviours and comments. I don’t know what to do, because it’s become my thoughts too now. That I’m a failure and incapable. I don’t have anyone else in my life who has shown me love, like one would expect from parents. I want to invalidate these thoughts, but I don’t know how. Because they are emotionally intertwined with my desire for love and acceptance. I don’t feel strong. I feel like there’s something wrong with me. Where do I go from here? I’m scared to hold expectations for myself in case I fail.

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Colin S

We have to reach the point where we stop looking towards our parents for love acceptance and validation. As human beings we are inherently of value, loveable and of worthiness. If these truths have not been our experience then we have been betrayed.
When our needs go unmet a wound is opened up.
Our expectations of how things should be are based on some idealised thinking of what loving nurturing parents should be, and if we don’t get our needs met we assume something about us is not good enough, to receive. The truth is just because we haven’t received doesn’t lessen our inherent value.
We are left trying to make sense and we have to keep our parents intact, so we turn on ourselves, make ourselves the problem see our selves as worthless as this makes sense of all the evidence. We keep our parents intact because we have no choice but to turn to them for our survival.
There is nothing wrong with us , we have been dealt a shitty hand.
We have to turn to ourselves, set ourselves on a new path. learn Self compassion, learn to Self validate, to value and love ourselves. To setup boundaries to police them. This is not easy but the alternative is to continue as we have been.

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Rita

Thank you! I was looking for direction and you cleArly outlined a path. I am filled with hope! Many thanks for sharing this

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Mel

Reading all your comments give me hope.

I’ve never had a good relationship with my mother. Idk why really, but she doted on my little brother while constantly putting me down. I’d come home with near perfect grades and got the “Why didn’t you get higher” whilst baby bro would barely pass and get praised. I left the house early (17) and got into a very bad abusive relationship, without going into a long winded story, my son saved my life and got me out (to protect him). Lived in her basement for about a month (that’s all I could handle). Fast forward I’m a single mother with a young son getting up @4 to drop him off at a babysitter, go to work, and get home at 9, the whole time I got nothing but “I told you so’s” and criticism. I got my life semi together and met someone else, had a beautiful daughter. More years of criticism “You don’t visit enough” “You never call” but whenever we DID go over she made sure to once again criticize every possible little thing. I went for my dad. I love my dad, he was the greatest, my rock.

6 years ago I left my daughters father. Not for anything bad, we just didn’t work out and the relationship had been stagnant and dead for a long long time (she knew about this as I’d asked for advice multiple times). I met and started a relationship with my current husband. She didn’t take it when we told her we started seeing each other (she knew him as an old co-worker). Never found out the real reason why. I had shown up to work to give in some medical papers as I had had to go to the hospital after an accident at work. She walked in and yelled in front of everyone “YOU, COME HERE” as if I were nothing but a dog. Everyone’s jaws went slack and eyes went wide. THAT is the point were I realized just how toxic she was, to me it was her normal way of talking to me. Never did she ask if I was ok. I cut her out after that. Didn’t talk to her, didn’t call her. Made sure she was at work when I went to visit with my dad.

FFWD to the beginning of this year. I got a call from my brother that my dad had a stroke and was on his way to the hospital. I called my husband in a panic and off we went. The first thing she said to me was “You pick a fine time to come visit your dad”. The rage that bubbled up was insane. My husband bless him held me tighter and I just ground out “Yeah. Thanks for the call btw.” I later found out my dad had been on the bathroom floor since 9AM unable to move and she hadn’t called for an ambulance until my brother did when he got home after work at 4PM. I left it be and just let that stew.
He finally got released a month or so later and I got a call from her saying he was going back to the hospital cause he broke his hip. Progress, she actually called, or so I thought. Months of hospital visits and complications he was finally sent home with at home visits from a nurse 4x a week. Last sunday I got a text from my brother that my dad is headed back to the hospital that he hit his head while trying to turn. I asked for more details and he hit me with the “idk they’ve been doing CPR for 30min” I knew then that my dad was gone. I was crushed. I didn’t want to go to the hospital just to have them confirm what I already knew (curse having taken first aid courses). My ex finally convinced me to go and warned her to keep her comments to herself. When I got there they ushered us into the room for our goodbyes. I crumpled like a rag doll when I saw my dad lying there. He was my lifeline. He always made everything better. She didn’t even have the decency to give a supporting hand. Nothing. Just complaining to the nurse about how hard the last 2 months were. I was too in shock to say anything. I’ve not heard anything from her since. I check up on my brother and get details from him or my son.

She’s supposed to go to the funeral home today to make arrangements and honestly I fear she won’t tell me anything so I don’t get to say my final goodbye.

This is the final nail in the proverbial coffin. I want nothing to do with her anymore even though it still hurts to say that. My husband and I got married legally over the winter but we wanted an autumn ceremony (we’re weird like that, we wanted the winter date). I was going to invite her to my wedding anyway because I keep thinking “She’s my mom, she loves me even if she doesn’t show it, that’s just the way she was brought up”. I don’t want her there now. Actually I don’t even want to do a wedding now.
All I can think when I think about her is how she robbed me of time spent with my dad (It was a massive heart attack that did him in, not the fall). Does that make me a horrible daughter? We have no family here as my dad was adopted from overseas and we are from Germany. (We live in Canada). Any tips of how to let go of all this resentment? And how to stop hoping she actually wants a relationship? I’m tired of always being the one trying only to be shot down or ignored. My husband keeps saying it’s just not worth it and I know he’s right. But that stupid little inkling of hope is still there.

Apologies for the wall of text, it turned out much bigger than I had intended.

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Haripriya

Thank you so much..it was hard to read..but I keep reading everytime to heal…It is helping me what step I need to take next…how to care myself and not repeat pattern.. it need lot of awareness..it also helps when I get trapped in old thought… thanku…

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Another restless night

Thank you Karen for this article and for including the view count. It’s incredible to not feel so alienated in all this. Your words are an oasis to so many. Statistically, everyone can’t possibly make it through this heartache which lends perceptible merit to how cruel our treatment was, but all the same, hope we do!

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Louise

Thankyou for this quote hard to read for me as it hits home, but helpful tips .

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Gemma

Your comment really moved me. I’m so sorry for what you and your sister have gone through. You sound so intelligent, insightful, and caring. Many old school authoritarian parents interpret everything through the lens of respect, control and conformity, and this can be very damaging to their bond with their kids, not to mention traumatic. They can also be emotionally immature and not open to learning or growth. None of this is your fault. You sound like a child any parent would be proud of. Is there a safe grownup you can talk to, like a friend’s parent, or a school counselor? Just to be honest, if you are under 18 and being abused or neglected, the counselor would have to report it. I hope you can surround yourself with supportive friends, extracurricular activities and resources until you can leave. Much peace and healing to you and you will have a better future, I promise.

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Kj

Not sure if my post went through

My entire life I have had to deal with a toxic mother. From my first memories of her up to the most recent but I’m proud to say I finally stood up to her.
I’m 28 and was at my breaking point a year ago mentality, physically, emotionally after bills and life over the years, since I was 21, My mother had told me to get a certification and money was guaranteed so trusting me mother I did so. Days, weeks, months had gone and every time I asked about the money opportunity it was pushed back with annoyance and before I knew it it was a year later I had lost my job, lost all the money I had saved before she told me to get it and basically had unknowingly hit my wall being afraid not knowing how I was gonna keep going I asked my mother (who makes 6 figures) for grocery money and was ignored like I had just told a bad joke. Out of shock I just said I can’t continue this conversation and she became angry and hung up the phone.
– for the last 10 years she has paid for her stay at home husbands entire life, cars, clothes, food, anything he request is given to him.
A few days later I had fallen into an even deeper mental hole and confessed to my mother I had felt alone for a long time and she responded by telling me I was nothing but a stupid, worthless piece of shit who doesn’t appreciate anything. (I’m a first generation American, college graduate, last year worked 12 total jobs). I confessed to my mother that I was contemplating suicide a few days later (thru text) and never even received a response. It took 9 days for ME to message her asking how could she ever do that to me? Her response to me contemplating suicide simple being “idk what you want me to do about that”
A months later after a few request of therapy by me (growing up she’d promise we go to therapy and just simply not speak about it again) she had gone through with therapy so I finally for the first time in my life truly let her know the most brutal honest truth about who she is a as a person, woman, human in the most ruthless respectful way words can describe. It was not until I started typing did I truly understand the damage done by her such as “I’m tired of thinking all women are the devil herself because they’re not, that’s just the woman my mother becomes when she looks at me”. And that release truly has changed me as a man. I feel so amazing, I would describe my life as “lite”, even with all the terrible memories her leaving me with three duffel bags as she moved states away without saying goodbye, not allowing me to see my siblings (I’m the oldest of 6) as a form of punishment simply because I was not happy in highschool (I was on epileptic medication that caused emotionally instability), or getting thrown out because my stepfather swung on me at the age of 10 and I was afraid so I called my father for help,

I take the positive and will make sure my children and siblings never experience such things.

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Gordon

A brave post. Thank you for sharing. Your mother’s words remind me of my mother’s words to me and my siblings

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Thomas B

My mom used to tell me that I was sorry, low down and that I would never amount to anything . Basically she told me that I was worthless . On the day my brother graduated from, at the time was West Georgia College . I said to my dad , man I’d love to go to college . To which he replied , College . Son , you barely made it through high school . There’s no way you could ever make it through College . Basically my dad told me that I was stupid . My mom passed away on September the 19th of 1988 due to renal cell carcinoma , but her words are still in my mind .

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Noor

I’m a 23 year old Indian woman. Growing up as my mother’s daughter I felt privileged that I have someone who is this concerned, dedicated, invested and loving towards me. Be it the smallest of things to the bigger ones, she has always been there. However, as I slowly moved on to the later teens (18 years and above) the dynamics of our relationship began shifting. I understand she loves me and wants me to undergo no harm in any way but she refuses to recognise that I’m an independent woman who wishes to live her life at her own will. I have recently completed a Masters degree in Neurology however I’m still not permitted to go out at my own will. Even if i do so, i have to face passive aggressiona nd the silent treatment for weeks at a stretch. I had a boyfriend when I was 18 and I hid it from her because I knew she wouldnt approve. When she found out, she was beyond infuriated and told me that I had broken her trust, our mother-daighter bond and I wasn’t worthy of being trusted ever again. I broke up with that guy when I was 21 and I tried telling my mom that had she been there emotionally understanding me I wouldnt have looked for that in someone else. I was shattered after my 4 year relationship but slowly and steadily I healed.
Right now, I am in a relationship again and my boyfriend is extremely loving, caring and empathatic towards my dynamics with my mother.
This time, to avoid making her feel like I am hiding from her, i told her about my current relationship. However, during every fight she uses it against me calling me shameless and uncultured and mannerless to engage in such activities that bring dishonour and shame to the family.
I dont know what to do or how to handle situations without breaking down. I suffer from extreme anxiety and my work is compromised too. I feel like a burden on her life who continues to bring her sorrow despite everything that she has done for me.

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Zoe

Hello,
We all have a story to tell, sometimes that story can read far worse than my own, which can bring some selfish comfort of “it could have been much worse” so thank you for sharing your pain and truly know you’re not alone.
I’m an adopted child, brought into a family of 5, mum and dad with 3 older brothers , we were all physically, emotionally and mentally abused by our parents but especially our mother.
As sad as their own difficulties of their children they didn’t have the capability to stop the cycle in-fact I’d say they used it to crank up their learnt abusive nature.
So many things to tell, but it was the general narrative of abuse that was dished out to us all in various degrees, beaten with belts swung around hair around by our hair only to meet a fist or slap around the face although that was rare on the face because people might ask questions, we were forced to shop lift although we weren’t poor, it was just an entitlement they felt from learned behaviour, we were controlled, weren’t allowed opinions or show emotions and if we did, we were punished physically and emotionally for it. Name calling and put downs I think were the worst as those things wreck your inner core and the hardest thing to repair, our mental image of ourselves is forged from our infancy years and to be told to be quiet, nit have a voice, you’re nothing special, who’d want you? Do ruin things for me or (my personally favourite) I’ll send you back to your birth mother if you fuck this up for me!
When I plucked up the courage to run away from home after hearing my mother discussing with my grandfather that I was a whore like my birth mum and was trying it on with one of my brothers, I went cold, dead emotionIly and walked out with my college book and a handful of clothes.
I wasn’t hard to find, 3days later, whilst I was at work She publicly beat me up I was 17yrs old and could have fought back but just let her throw me around like a rag doll, obedient once again.
Her parting words were, stay away from my fucking family and my sons.
This woman was referring to the only family I had known and brothers whom I love dearly.
Three 3yrs later she ends up in prison with a phone from her solicitor asking for me to be guardian to my 4th and youngest brother who was 13yrs.
And yes she come out only spending a few months away was all over me like a rash and of course I felt I had finally earns my place and was excepted. I forgave but didn’t forget as a frighten child will always be a frighten child until safety is found
With many years of good (but by no means great) behaviour from my mother who’d found God, I still always treaded carefully, it was always there lurking under the new veil of constantly asking for godly forgiveness her spiteful tongue and actions about others, she didn’t like any of my 4 sister in-laws and currently only has regular communication with my youngest brother.
My final straw was this year, she couldn’t contain herself any longer… as a now 46yrs old woman I have found my voice and have my opinions and disagreed with her on the subject of my nephews staying over my house for a sleep over, in a rage, at 76yrs she threaten to punch me and give me a good hiding!! weaving her fist in my face whilst calling me vile names.
I’m a grown woman with a beautiful 19yr old daughter and a wonderful partner whom understands me more than most, my adult life it has been a journey of constant healing, relearning how to show love and receive love in the healthiest of forms and removing bad programming from my mind which will take the rest of my days.

Reading the posts on here, these people shouldn’t be in charge of little people let alone anything else they have no excuse they could have broken the cycle everyone always has a choice….
they don’t deserve to take your life because that’s what they’ll do by you staying in contact, be free from abusive parents… cut the ties and really start living the peaceful life you deserve

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Auswoman_33

That is absolutely horrific and I’m so sorry you had to endure it for as long as you did.

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Gabi W

I’m sorry for what you went through as a child and as a young woman. I’m very glad you found the courage to love yourself and help others. Thank you for sharing and showing us your courage because that gives us hope that we too can cut out the cancer even if it’s family!! Thank you for eliminating the belief of church and Society, that a child is obligated to love his or her toxic parent and continually allow them to continue to abuse you.

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Joe G

I am this parent you are describing. I never thought I was, because I did feel like I was loving and nurturing. My son is in college now and he’s going down a self destructive path. I think he’s mentally scarred. I was more authoritarian than authoritative, and I did use psychological methods over behavioral. I never realized it until now. My husband and I are heart broken, and we blame ourselves everyday for the mess we’re in. My son is a wonderful young man, and I love him deeply. How do we undo the damage from our toxic parenting. I stopped talking to him 3 weeks ago to give him space, but I told him that I love him and I’m here for him. My husband has been on him consistently, which is different for him since he’s more hands off. He just got very worried about the heavy drinking and weed use… he was waking up at 3-4pm and missing his workouts (he’s a college athlete) – my husband is worried that he’s going to lose everything and he wants to motivate and push him… I think it’s pushing him away. My sons dream is to play professional, but we have told him that he can change his mind anytime he wants because he’s more than an athlete to us. My husband is really ok with that, but he feels that my son is reacting to our toxic parenting and he doesn’t want him to regret not taking advantage of this opportunity because he’s mentally drained. I feel like it’s a circle and I just want to make it stop. I want my son to be mentally healthy, I want my husband and I to learn better parenting techniques, I want to undo the past. I love him more than I love myself and more than I want to be right. Please help.

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Kayla

Hi Joe,
My names Kayla and I have a parent similar to what you’re describing yourself as. First of all, I would like to commend you for saying you love him more than you want to be right. You have no idea how much I to this day would love to hear a sentence like that. If you want to hear a perspective coming from the other side of the relationship, then I would say talk with your son about this completely transparently. Admit it to him, instead of having conversations about specific behaviors of his and worrying if they’re rooted from toxic parenting, say it. Tell him you realize you were wrong and apologize for what you feel you could’ve done better. Even if this doesn’t fix the behavior he’s showing, if the issues he’s having are due to parenting, this will give him the first step he needs from you to fix himself, acknowledgement. You can’t undo anything, but your willingness to try will speak volumes. Good luck!

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Joe G

Thank you. I did what you recommended and it really helped. We all are in a much better place. He still drinks, and smokes. But it’s not to the same extent. He got good grades this last quarter and seems to be on a good path. There’s bumps here and there, but we talk through them differently now and we understand that he’s his own person now. We can give him advice, but it’s his choice. Thank you so much. 🤗

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Neha

Hey there, this article has really mad me look into my shortcomings and really validated my thought processes and random realisations. From the time i was a kid, my father worked in armed forces and was never really stayed with us. Me and my mom used to live with my grand mom, who had very strict rules and toxic behaviour patterns. Her idea of raising kids was to put them in control and manipulate their opinions towards life. Even she was very good person and is still my role model, her behaviour made a very lasting impact on me. It made me be someone who doesnt show emotions clearly and tries to test people for their loyalty and faithfulness. Just when she was getting weak, my dad came back when I was around 12-13 and started the same things again. He never tried to understand who I truly was and expected too much from me. It eventually built a very pressurised environment, where everyday I was supposed to prove myself that I am something that he used to think. Eventually, whenever he was disappointed, I was beaten up like a dog and thrown out of house. And the next day its again a new page. Everything repeats again. If you say what my mom doing, she was too busy supporting my dad and igniting him whenever she thought I was doing wrong or not doing enough.
In the middle of all this, I was sexually harassed for 4 years, when my father was away, by some relative and luckily my aunt helped me come out of it. I was scarred badly and never wanted to act like a “girl” that is being girlish, choosing all girly things was a huge no for me. Looking at this, I was called gay by my classmates and no one helped me out of it too. All the time, it was only my friend, who was sticking next to me and motivated me to pick myself up and reminded me I am more than what people call me. Slowly, i gained courage to talk back to everyone, including my dad, and the abuse took another form. He was now more disappointed that i talk back so he started throwing tantrums about my body and my career and social life. I took all that and talked back, fought with him, beat him back whenever he raised hands at me and waited for my college to end. I wanted to apply for my masters in Canada, and then came pandemic. Both my parents were against with that idea and wanted me to pursue it in India itself. Its been an year, I could not clear any colleges. I am trying for jobs and there is one last college that will release results in this or next week. I hope i get in and leave this place.

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Shikha

Hi neha
I was pretty much in a similar situation…..my childhood was strangled and smothered ….i found courage only after going to the deepest pits…it was very scary….always remember you are a soul and nothing can break you…just make a world inside yourself….start viewing them as outsiders and strangers….and trust me the entire universe will help you.
Sending you prayers and healings

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sunny

you are very bave to share your story. for me it was always a toxic mother, i was very close to my father at one time, right before she made us hate each other, and made me hate my self and think i’m never good enough like the other girls, i have a younger brother and sister all the same case but i’m more blamed for everything, i was abused emotionally, mentally and physically, i was burned with a fork for bad grade once, now it has been a year(-16 days) since my father died of cancer , he apologized to me before that, but it only got worst with her , just yelling for no reason and calling us names,i found my self alone I don’t have any friends, my bf is a good person and listens to me but i don’t really like to talk about it much, i always says it’s because she was miss treated as young but that’s no reason for me, professional help was never in the picture, i believe i’m stronger than this but it just gets me, my plan is just moving away as soon as i’m financially independent as i’m graduating with a masters degree in biology and genetic engineering this year and work on me more .
this has been very helpful and therapeutic to read all of your stories and share mine.

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Terhi E

Namaste. There are always some amount of difficulties in relationship with ones mothers. The desicion how to take it, learn with its, become a bridge-builder it in is ones own choice and a not choice. How I want my life to be, how I want to be in relationship with whom had brought me to this lifes. And, am I doing and going on correctly in relation to my mothers or am I making mistakes? I would ask, how to cure the relationship, myself and my mother and start taking a study it upon alike now is. At the end it is just one difficulty amongst all others.

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David B

Terri
I don’t think you can repair a relationship with a toxic parent. They will never think of themselves or accept that they are that way. The damage they inflict will just continue. They will continue to inflict emotional damage for as long as they are allowed. Don’t allow them to, I did and paid a hefty price. I remained in contact with my toxic parents. Forever trying to improve the situation but I never could. At 56 years old after a lifetime of hurt I finally gave up on them. My mental health improved continuously. I still suffer the scars and I am well aware that parts of my personality that I am unhappy with are due to their abuse. I have read a couple of stories on hear from young people who are well educated and seeking escape from their toxic parents. I wish them all the luck in the world and urge them to make the break as soon as they are able. They can return later in life when they are stronger and can set boundaries to protect themselves. If they find they are not allowed to return then they know their decision to break was the right on.

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Starlit

my mother was toxic, I have cut her out of my life, I am left with healing from her toxic ways, but at least I am free from her. best decision i have made because i am able to not be bogged down by her issues she has not healed from. i am able to try to be who i want to be, not who she wanted to be. I struggle with second guessing myself because I learnt that from her, but I am working towards becoming a whole person without her dragging me down and I am proud of that!!

Sometimes we have to let our mom’s go, to move forward, to feel the victory we deserve as abused children. to break the cycle of it’s ok if you abuse me and I put up with it victim mentality. sometimes it is the only way no matter how hard it is.

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Kiwi

Starlit, you are extremely brave. I understand what you might have gone through-thank u for sharing your story. Sometimes it’s hard to realize a different reality than what you’ve been conditioned.

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Sheryll B

My mother and father was abusive my father more physical and my mother neglectful and mentally and she was mentally unstable. I ran away most of the time thought they changed when I was an adult / it got worse / they decided to play shunning and try this how they care about me — right — just like old times the two caring —my mother decided she would ask my now ex – out for dinner and give him all this negative stuff about me and tell him i was a bipolar runaway. Then gave him a instructions for threats to give me to make me run to their house so my mother could shove pills down my throat – because they soooo caring . Then when we got divorced they decided to get my sister with calling cps and spreading rumors . My parents actually thought they were not going to get caught in the abuse the thing is is when they cant hit === anymore or have the police called on them like my dad did on him for abuse on my. then it to emotional and they did shunning / with this I’m dead to them / my mother did this drama back turning / they called CPR constantly /my mother repeated her emotional abuse saying I didn’t deserve anything / anything she could do/ including when my daughter got married my sister stole my car — then it was you didn’t deserve to see her get married/ they are rotten people. I used to think their some kind of hope for them — i hate my family / none of them —

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Can’t deal anymore

I am an only child. My parents never really talked to me, they yelled at me or eachother all the time. They would get into fights all the time and try to make me pick sides everytime and when I wouldn’t they would yell at me. One would always leave and say they would never come back but hours later they would come back and not talk for days to eachother or me. When they did get alone it was just with eachother. They hardly ever bought food for the house, they would buy cigarettes before food. They never cleaned the house and there was mold growing everywhere and dirt everywhere. When I got older I could not have friends over cuz it was to embarrassing, a few times I did have a friend over tho and they would leave Disgusted. I got really depressed and tried to kill my self a few times and ran away but my parents would drag me home. I call the ministry and back then they called my parents and made an appointment… so they actually cleaned there house and bought some food. The ministry did nothing but my parents were so mad at me, they would yell at me or they would fight themselves or even not talk to me for days. When I was old enough to get a job I got one and started saving up so I could move out as soon as I could. They would take my money tho. When I bought my first car my parents would take my keys all the time and take my car because they didn’t have money for gas and use all my gas so I couldn’t go out cuz I don’t have anymore money for gas. When I finally got to move out I moved in with my boyfriend and my parents hated him and would always come over and bug us and tell me to leave him and come home cuz he was a horrible guy… but he wasn’t. My parents would always bug me for money. And when I said no they would be mad and tell me that I had to because I owed them cuz they raised me. When I had kids they would tell me I wasn’t been feeling a good mom tell me I was doing everything wrong. I moved away a few towns over and they fallowed me. When I got divorced and moved back I was horrible for leaving them they said. To this date my parents have maxed out my credit cards, told my 15 year old daughter that I am such a horrible daughter and told her that she needs to be horrible to me. I just can’t take it anymore. I have not talked to my parents in just over a month my mom has called once and sent me a few texts but I have not replied. Christmas is tomorrow. I feel so hurt and so betrayed. I have applied for a last name change because I don’t even want to have the same last name as them anymore. My doctor says I need to start some Counselling for all of this. Am I doing the right thing? I feel so happy not talking to them or being around them. But I hurt, how could they be like this to there only child? Do they feel hurt to?

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Sinead

Hello. Sorry to hear you have gone through this. I have gone through a toxic mother aswell and I no longer speak to my mother. It’s been 6 months now and I feel great, I have a bad few mins where I think about her but it’s all negative. Because the only positive memories I have where a lie as she never ment them as it was all done for her selfishness and that’s what gets me through. Remembering how she made me feel and cry and even tho it’s hurts it goes away after a minute or two sometimes seconds because then I’m just blank. I feel numb most of the time and I’m not happy, I don’t know what happy is but that will come back in time.
To answere your question Do they feel hurt too? No I don’t think they do, only when they release what they are missing out of and they have no one to bully any more. They pretend they are hurting and they are sorry to get you back then they will do it again. So deep down no they don’t as people like this don’t know how to care. I wouldn’t feel guilty for not speaking to them. If it’s what you want and you know if it is because it won’t be the first, second or third time you thought of never speaking to them, You must stay strong! It’s a long road a head. It’s your life! They don’t sound nice people or that they care about you. You deserve so much more and you can make that happen for you and your daughter. Good luck with you journey it’s gonna be bumpy but just remember all the negatives and how it made you feel and you will smile and tell your self it’s there fault this has happened not yours. X

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Anonymous

I estranged from my mother this year just before lockdown. I was physically and emotionally abused all my childhood, often used as a scapegoat and coerced into thinking I was a rotten apple. My mother left me at 7 months old with my alcoholic grandmother whilst she went on holiday, my grandmother apparently left me by a boiling kettle and i apparently pulled it on myself and was scarred for life on my back. This has left me with huge self esteem issues all my life and shame. When I was younger I always felt different and was treated different , there was domestics in my household, I was often hit and physically restrained a child by my father. I was selected in school as being gifted and talented in English literature and the arts. My mother didn’t see this as an achievement and often only praised my brother who was gifted at maths because she is a maths teacher. She said English and art was not important and that maths was. I struggle with maths which I think is down to her as I would often work things out differently to her but still get the correct answer she would tell me it was incorrect. If I questioned my parents they would physically assault me. I remember my first parents evening in year 7 I had achieved highly in every subject and got good feedback except of my p.e teacher my father started hitting me outside the school gates I got home and he was battering me and screaming and my mother just stood there . I never got praised for the things I was good at often being told it was unimportant. I remember i had been out in year 8 came home and my parents were in my room, they were reading my private diary and were screaming at me about things I had written in my private diary. They even took the door of my room. I started giving up on what people said I was gifted in through teens as I didn’t see much of a point. My mother focused only on herself putting herself through university always praising herself about getting to be a maths teacher which is statistically not often seen from someone in her background. It’s not until I got older I think my mother was studying to be a teacher whilst allowing and being part of abuse at home. At 17 I confronted my parents over the fact my father was not in any of my baby pictures I asked my mother who didn’t even have the decency to tell me what I always sort of knew that he wasn’t my biological father. She has always sided with him in arguments and even said it was my fault when he had a knife to my throat, held my wrist on my bed whilst punching me in the face which lead to a black eye and sprained wrist. I have always been manipulated by my mother saying I am immature and a very aggressive person . At 28 I seperated from my own partner after finding out about his gambling addiction I had no other choice to move back in with my parents who I had not lived with since 19 as I had no way to support my son on my own. I lived there for 3 years not speaking to my step father and once had a bust up after speaking up about his abuse to the family dog which he denied and my mother flew in to a rage screaming at me saying why am I causing arguements. As well as physically assaulting me and sometimes my brother through childhood he used to assault our pets. I often would just ignore the things he said to me but this year it came to a head when my child fell over a tool box on the house and got hurt. I was in the other room, I ran in tried to get past to console my child and he wouldn’t let me past, he then pushed me into a radiator. I stood up took my son to his room as he was frightened and I wanted to remove him from that situation he followed us upstairs. I closed my sons door he then pulled my hands out the door and began to slam the door on my arms, we were then segueing my son was so frightened I slapped my step dad into the face my mother got in the middle in which he picked her up by the head and moved her . My son ran out the room I ran out he said he was calling the police and my mother was saying don’t don’t, the told me to get out which I said I was I apologised to my son and said that he was right to want to call the police and no one should ever tell him not to like that if he feels threatened. I cut them off after that there are more things that have been done but I finally got the strength to go on my own my son lived with his father for a week whilst I sorted myself out I now have my own place and we are happy I am starting to heal but it’s a long road .

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Shawn

Great article and so helpful! Here’s my situation. I always felt pushed away by my mother when I was little. She also abuse me physically, mentally and emotionally. If I struggled in a certain subject school, she would stick me in my room and tell me to get my grades up and ignore me. She would use sayings like, “ I don’t know is not an answer” or “how’s that working for you?” As time went on I never thought I was good enough and I started lying to my mother because of how she treated me. I never did anything illegal. When my wife and I got married my mother made everything about her. My wife and I lost our first child in 2013 and my mother didn’t like how we handled the situation. Things got worse from there and my mother moved away. She wants to try and have a relationship, but on her terms and it has to be done her way. She won’t come to visit, but expects us to visit and do all the work. My wife and I have two living children now and are trying to focus on our family. Am I in the wrong here?

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Desiree

My experience is a little different. I was extremely close to my mother growing up. I loved hanging out with her. I have almost all fond memories of my childhood. I remember being happy, well adjusted and having everything I needed (and most things I wanted). She toed the line between being a mother and a friend flawlessly until I was 21-22 years old. I’m just starting to realize that, in the last ten years, that has gradually changed. In the last four years, our relationship has steadily gotten significantly more negative. Somewhere along the line, I started taking responsibility for her emotions. Due to her actions being passive in nature, I feel like it took me a long time to realize what was happening. She uses a veil of concern and love to justify her actions and words. She employs passive aggression, manipulation, guilt-tripping, and bucks against any boundaries I put into place. The worst part is that I truly believe that she does not realize she is doing these things and how it affects me. I truly believe that her concern comes from a place of love and her wanting better for me than she has done for herself. The problem is, I’ve let her behavior go for so long that she reacted extremely negatively anytime I bring it up (which is normally only when she brings up a slight of mine against her – real or perceived, obviously, not the best time to bring it up but I’m human also). I’ve become aware of so many negative traits/habits that I’ve developed while trying to appease her and I’m appalled at myself for not realizing it sooner. She holds so much resentment toward the one time that I did bring up my concerns that she refuses to speak about it in any productive manner. To add to this, I have two daughters of my own (ages 13 and 7) that are starting to see the same behavior in her. I want to shield them from it but I also want them to have a relationship with their grandmother. To compound it even further, while my girls are learning remotely (their school is currently shut down for covid), she helps to teach them via Zoom from her home in North Carolina (I live in Pennsylvania). I work full time so this is a HUGE help. I feel like I “owe” her for helping me out in this crazy time but I’m owing her at the expense of my own mental health. I want to improve upon myself for the sake of my own children. I don’t ever want them to feel this way but I’m so worried that I will somehow be blind to my own behavior and history will end up repeating itself. The entire situation feels impossible.

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Theresa

This is a very good site. I hope someone can figure out if there’s something wrong with me or my mom. I’m an only child and my father was unresponsive to me growing up. No hugs, kisses, or I love you. He didn’t want kids. My mother, according to her, suffered from post partem depression. But, I guess she was loving towards me until I turned 6 or 7. She told me during that time that I “turned away” from her and that I didn’t want my hand held or kiss goodnight, etc. Her friend told her that I was just becoming independent. My mom took it way too personally and withheld any emotional or physical love since. Plus, during that time, my parents were thinking about divorcing and my mom actually said to me that I had to choose between them two to live with. Well, they decided to stay together. When I was 14 I caught my father trying to sneak a peek at me after I came out of the shower. It was very sneaky. The bathroom mirror reflects onto the hallway closet mirror which reflects in the master bedroom if opened slightly. I’ve lost trust and respect in my father and never told my mother because I didn’t trust her with my feelings. Fast forward a couple of decades: I retired from the Navy same month my dad passed away from cancer. I dropped my future life and moved home to help my mom who was completely dependent on my dad. But, since, there’s been nothing but her getting drunk and picking arguments with me claiming I’m selfish, cold-hearted, don’t appreciate her or show compassion towards her. I didn’t have a lot of money to help out with anything in the beginning, but as time went by I was helping with groceries and things. I gave her some money for half the bills but she told me she doesn’t want it. But, then gets drunk and throws it back in my face. She’s been drinking heavily for the past several years. I had to call 911, one time, because she was taking Chantix and threatened suicide. She was diagnosed with Altzheimers and she has COPD. But, she still goes outside to do yard work because she says she can’t stand looking at certain things. I’ve been mowing and doing things but not what she wants done. She’s says I don’t go out there and say “here, let me do that for you.” Because, before the 911 incident I would insist on doing something while she was doing it or say to her I can do it, but she’ll say she’s got it. And told the psychiatrist after 911 incident, because they put her on suicide watch, that I was being controlling! My mom has been drinking all December: 2 thirty packs, 2 twelve packs. And now the criticisms and arguing are starting all over again. A while back she hadn’t drank for several months and was starting to complain she wanted a beer. When I told her she had a drinking problem she snapped, and we got into an argument. To the point where I slammed a door on her as she was trying to come inside. It hurt her arm and she called adult protective services for elder abuse. The lady came out the next day and I explained she has a drinking problem, but she told me I had to let her have some beer because she’s an adult…!
So, yes, I’ve gotten her beer after that and she’s been drinking ever since.

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Anonymous

I have a father who is close-minded and emotionally distant from me and my brothers. Because of this, he is often verbally abusive when angry. This causes a lot of mental and emotional distress for me. Anytime I try to make him understand that there are better ways of correcting us when we do wrong, he shoots it down and nothing happens. He believes that only he is right. Most times, I feel like I’m caged because he criticizes everything that I do, whether it’s wrong or right. I just mind my own business but he continually bothers me as if it’s his life I’m living. The atmosphere at home is too toxic. I feel like I don’t have an opportunity to just be myself without worrying about what he’s going to say or do. I feel like I’m living in an environment where we are forced to look, act and behave in a certain way. I just want to be myself and I want my brothers to be themselves and live their best lives, but we’re not allowed to do the things we want. What do you advise?

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Anaanya

I’m an current living with a abusive and toxic mother in my maternal grandparents house because my father died pretty soon after I was born. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t cry or felt like killing my self. The only thing that has keep me going is that after school I’ll go to a college far away. But I don’t know how to hold on now as I’m not sure about my college admission. My mental health has taken a real toll these past years and you can clearly see them on my academics. My mother makes it a point to scream at me and pick at every single insecurity when even I’m trying to do anything at all. Every single conversation with her turns into her screaming at me and blaming me for everything wrong with her life. My grandparents don’t say anything either because she makes their life a living hell too. I always feels I so guilty also because she has no one else apart from as she makes sure everyone leaves her because she treats everyone like absolute shit. I understand where her toxic behaviour comes from as she herself has had a bad life and refuses to acknowledge she needs help because tahts only for crazy ppl .., recently though shes started throwing stuff at me like glass bowl and cups who miss my body by barely few inches. No one has ever loved me and no one cared about me. I am scared. What the fuck did I ever do to never receive any love. She is my mother … she is supposed to care for me!! She doesn’t give a fuck it I’m hurt or miserable, never has she ever comforted me. But I have to comfort her everyday when she feels sad. I can’t talk about any of this to my friends either because I am just not comfortable with it … I have internalised everything for the past 16 years and I don’t know how to help myself at this point. I’m tried.

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Roshni

Dear Anaanya, I’m so sorry that you are going through such difficult times. I have been there where you are now and I can completely relate to you. I can speak from experience that one day life will give you a chance to move away from this toxic environment and you will get a chance to build a new life for yourself. But most importantly even if you move out , the traces of toxicity will remain with you if you are not aware of the toxic things that has happened to you. Mind is a very powerful thing. It stores memories and habits in a very unconscious way that we get to know years later. I myself became aware of this 10 years after leaving the home . I would encourage you to remain aware of all the things and act on them consciously when you move out. Seek professional help so that they will be able to guide you with necessary tools and coping mechanisms. Also don’t ever doubt yourself of you not being enough. You are a strong brave person meant to do wonderful things. Allow yourself to make plenty of mistakes, learn from them and move on. Life is a big adventure. So treat it that way. Behavior of other people is not a reflection of what you are as a person. People behave badly coz of their own insecurities. It has got nothing to do with you so don’t ever blame yourself for the things that happened to you. I know it can be very confusing that the one person who is supposed to love you the most hurts you but you need to understand even if they don’t doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be loved or are not enough of anyone’s love. All parents are not toxic but toxic people do become parents and there’s nothing we can do about it. The only thing we can do is control our reaction to the toxicity. I really hope you find the strength to deal with this and hope for a better a bright future for you. You deserve it and you are totally worth it

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EMMA

Hey, you are very right what matters is our reaction to toxic environment,
I joined this group 3 years ago, before I got married, I am married now I always thought my mother will change now now I am grown up with my own family, but no seems she won’t change, I am really hurt, I try but this is sad, yesterday she sent so many messages from nowhere about how she paid for my fees, that I am ungrateful it hurts, no matter how much you give your parent she feels it’s not enough, tried to tell her I am not working we have 1 income what we do for her is what we can afford, and she was like I don’t want anything from you this hurts sooo much..
It’s true that hurt people hurt people I have a daughter now I am wondering how do I break this chain I am so scared that one day I will be like this to my daughter, to my husband, some days I ignore to her messages and pretend I am fine but I know I really need to heal so I do better 😢

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Reeme

Actually I’m living with a really toxic mom and idk how to get use to it
My parents divorced when I was 3yo and then at the age of 7 she remarried again and had 2 girls but she divorced for the second time now my second sister is living with father in Canada and me and the youngest we’re living with
Trust me she was the kindest mom ever but last year she started talking to a lot of men start having some weird thoughts the problem is that all of them are losers
And now she doesn’t work she doesn’t cook or even do anything
She’s always busy with her phone and her men and then I found myself all alone in this world
For me I can’t see myself with a mother doing some bad shit and in the same time I have no way to go so I hope if I can just get use to it and have to deal with it without effecting my life

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Tired

I currently am living with an extremely narcissistic mother, a father who supports everything she does, and a sibling who is basically turning into her mini me. Honestly living with her is so tiring, but there really isn’t anything I can do for now. She screams at the smallest things, and doesn’t seem to understand social cues. She is not a good person and I am tired of her pretending to be. The other day she finally got a job after a year of not working because she didn’t want her “talent” to go to waste. She kept going on and on about how her work is lucky to have her, and how she deserves a higher pay. I don’t think she realizes how selfish and narcissistic she is and exactly how toxic she is. Once we had an argument and she escalated things to the point where she brought my dad into it and I got hit so hard I couldn’t walk for over a month. Even though she is not a good person and what she does is just horrible, my dad still supports and often goes along with what she does. She encourages him to hit me and she often complains that he doesn’t get involved (like with hitting and yelling) enough. After I healed from the incident, she would threaten my sister and I to do it again. She likes to make an example out of me either from when I get beat, or when she takes things away or destroy my stuff (she smashed my phone in a fit of rage). I understand that she has issues with her past and marriage and other things, but the purpose of having kids is not to fix these problems. Once I was having thoughts of suicide and wanted comfort from my mom but instead she made it into my fault, even said that teens can’t have depression, and then handed me a knife. I am thankful that I can finally recognize that I do not deserve this treatment but I am worried about my brother who is only eight and is growing up to be just like her. The other day, he hit our sister with a hard back book on the head and instead of saying sorry when she started crying, he told her he’d do it again if she bothered him again (like our mom). He is very manipulative, he steals stuff straight out of my sister’s and I’s rooms, he lies and he doesn’t listen when someone tells him to stop. He is insanely spoiled and that’s because my mom hasn’t messed up with him like she has with my sister and I. I honestly don’t know what to do, although I only have 2 years left until I can be free, I really don’t know what to do. Sorry for the rant, but it was inspired of the action of my mother today. After studying for over 3 hours I wanted to take a break so I was watching a YouTube video (literally only 4 minutes into the first and only video) when she came in and started screaming about how lazy I was and how I only watch videos all-day. That same day my brother only watched videos and played games when he has a project 3 weeks overdue. I don’t have access to any social media or streaming platforms, my phone was destroyed and the only thing I can do for fun is drawing and that’s it. I am going insane living here with literally nothing to do except study. Honestly what I am asking for is tips on how to cope with this and how to survive in toxic environments. I do not need help from CPS, they have came twice and it made things worse. I honestly just want tips and a place to rant. Sorry for the long message, and thanks for allowing me to finally talk about whats happening.

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Andrea

I’m so sorry for what you are going through .. do you have any friends or a responsible adult you can talk to in confidence? I’m not sure of your age but if your at school/college is there a counsellor there you could talk to ?
If in the meantime you can concentrate on your studies this will help with your future. Think of what that looks like and focus on this. Your education will be a passport to a new future whereby you may be able to leave to go into further education away from home or a job that allows you to move. Maybe you could get a part time job to fit around your studies which would take you out of the house and maybe save some money. Keeping a low profile, studying and focusing on when your able to leave may help you get through things. Good luck and stay strong .. also learning to meditate may help.xx

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AM

Dear Tired,
I am also so sorry to hear what you are going through. You are smart, strong, and brave. Andrea provided excellent advice. To cope, keep drawing. Other ideas are reading good books, journaling (if you can keep it private or destroy it), music (listening, singing, or even just humming), physical exercise (maybe dancing) affirmations (telling yourself you are strong, you are a survivor, you are smart, you will be fine, any positive messages you’d like to hear). Can you get outside for walks? Also, keeping in touch with friends as much as possible. Wishing you some peace and know that one day you will be free of this situation.

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Sue

I’m so glad that you recognise this as narcissm and narcissist enabling. I would say read up on books that focus on healing from narcissm…when you get the chance! But above all learn to meditate, particularly for a few minutes at a time. It is hard for us from toxic environments to do, because we are hard wired to be alert for danger, try to right the wrongs etc…but keep practising. Most of the teachings suggest best to do in an upright position, but in an oppressive environment you can do last thing at night and first thing in the morning in bed, so no one knows. You are so not alone x

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AAAA

I live in an asian household where my mother manipulates, tells me how worthless i am and humiliates me in front of many without any second thoughts, Everyday i’m always reminded that i am nowhere near my sibling’s achievements and how i am such a disgrace in the family. i wake up with her yelling at me just because i need to do chores for them and that everyone in the family except me needs to rest (i’m the youngest). My older brother also treats me badly and i know for a fact that i’m not doing anything wrong i dont have any vices i only have 2 close friends and i’m trying my best to impress them. I cry myself to sleep and i honestly feel like i can talk to my dead father more than i can communicate with them. I have a boyfriend who listens to when i feel depressed but most of the time i dont tell him everything just because i also dont want him to feel like he can’t handle a sad woman like me and leave. I feel like i’m inside a dark box just waiting for a light of hope. Just a while ago i was just sitting in the corner minding my own business my mom told me that no oppurtunities will come to me and i’m just useless and believe me when i say i’m not even doing anything 🙁 sometimes i just want someone to talk to without any judgement and would just hug me while i let everything out because my heart is breaking and aching everyday. When i was in my mom’s tummy i was an unwanted baby and she thought of aborting me but luckily i was strong enough to survive so maybe just maybe i really do have a purpose in life and maybe just maybe i am not worthless as they told me that i am. I promise myself that when im financially stable i’ll be able to seek professional help and make my heart happy again 🙁

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Jacqueline

Dear AAAA,

You are so very brave and I believe that your life absolutely does matter. Almost always people who try to shame you have personal issues themselves. My mother has always been mentally and emotionally abusive, and it has been hard. One of the greatest gifts I have received in life is this difficult relationship with her. It has grounded me and brought me closer to the Lord. It has been painful, but I am realizing as I age that we can rewrite our story. It does not have to end the way they say it does. You have every opportunity to change it. You have to dig deep inside of yourself, and believe you can. It takes time, and do not expect this to happen overnight. Take small steps; baby steps if needed. You WILL arrive one day. Don’t give up! You have too much to offer. God always has special plans for us. Abuse is so very difficult because it makes a person feel empty inside. It is hard to understand it. I also have learned that trying to figure out why they do it is just spinning your wheels. They are broken, and they end up breaking us. I do think when you can get counseling, it will help so much. Just know that were created for a reason. You were created out of love and you will return to love. I do encourage you to take walks. Nature and fresh air does wonders for your mental state. Don’t think…oh what is wrong with me? Nothing is wrong with you. Always dust yourself off and keep getting up just one more time. Look forward to letting this ending be the way YOU want it, and not what someone else wants for you. I am truly sorry for your pain. When you look into the mirror; see what God created you to be. A beautiful girl with beautiful eyes and mirrors do not lie! Abuse makes can make you feel worthless. You did not do anything to deserve this treatment. Love yourself & believe in yourself. Many blessings and love to you. It will be ok. Keep telling yourself not only will you be ok, but you will rewrite your story the way you would like for it to end. Honestly, Jesus has been the one time and time again that has given me the strength to move forward. You can not have faith and fear. They always seem to cancel each other out. You can do this & make it. I am glad you can reach out, because that part of healing. Take care!

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Anonymous

I have just realized that my mom has been emotionally abusive towards me. Everytime i would tell myself that “mothers are like this, their voices needs to be heard like this” but no i was wrong, the insults, the criticism, the comparison (she compares me to her for what she has achieved and i have not, what she has and what i dont have), the silent treatment for months, and mind you, im her only child and we stay just the 2 of us. This has been going on for years, i stay in the bedroom most of my time unless i go out for a walk to meet my cousin or friend. She even make fun of me for staying in the bedroom. Im writing this with teary eyes. I sometimes scared to make food for myself because when she argues with me she tells me that she’s the one who buys food and that me i dont have a job but my peers have jobs. This has pressed me long enough and i need my freedom, i need to be happy. When we are not fighting my mom is loving and caring but you could see that she feels like im burden to her, yoy could see that she doesn’t want me around but when im not around she wants me back telling me she misses me. I dont know man im confused. Im sorry for writing such a long comment. When im not around i also feel guilty for leaving my mom as she is old and i do most of the things in the house so who will do those things for her when im not around. This emotional abuse has cost me a lot of things. When im in a relationship i also emotional abuse my partner, silent treatment, criticism and stuff just like what my mom does to me. I need to break from this chain, but how?

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Shaun

I’m literally in tears reading this because I went threw the same exact thing growing up I’m 34 years old now and I have one older brother that lives in another state so it’s just me and my mother, I check on her once a every three week because she’s still mentally abuses me I don’t think she notice but when I try to explain to her she over talks me or mock me I just moved out a year ago because I couldn’t take it anymore and she also made me feel guilty for moving out saying my part of the rent is her gambling money. She definitely tries to control my life but I don’t let her you have to start somewhere try going to the gym and reading and remind yourself whatever she tells you, you are not that you are better.

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Alan C

I am 44 mate. And only two nights ago mum and her husband actually began hitting me in the carport because I told them a few home truths. I now have a broken rib and a bruised arm. Unfortunately I defended myself so I didn’t come off second best but the relationship is now over. I am sick of the control and the manipulation from her narcissism.

take care mate and know you are worth it. they are not

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Separation anxiety can come with a tail whip - not only does it swipe at kids, but it will so often feel brutal for their important adults too.

If your child struggle to separate at school, or if bedtimes tougher than you’d like them to be, or if ‘goodbye’ often come with tears or pleas to stay, or the ‘fun’ from activities or play dates get lost in the anxiety of being away from you, I hear you.

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Access to the recording will be available for 30 days from the date of purchase.

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The more we treat anxiety as a problem, or as something to be avoided, the more we inadvertently turn them away from the safe, growthful, brave things that drive it. 

On the other hand, when we make space for anxiety, let it in, welcome it, be with it, the more we make way for them to recognise that anxiety isn’t something they need to avoid. They can feel anxious and do brave. 

As long as they are safe, let them know this. Let them see you believing them that this feels big, and believing in them, that they can handle the big. 

‘Yes this feels scary. Of course it does - you’re doing something important/ new/ hard. I know you can do this. How can I help you feel brave?’♥️
I’ve loved working with @sccrcentre over the last 10 years. They do profoundly important work with families - keeping connections, reducing clinflict, building relationships - and they do it so incredibly well. @sccrcentre thank you for everything you do, and for letting me be a part of it. I love what you do and what you stand for. Your work over the last decade has been life-changing for so many. I know the next decade will be even more so.♥️

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Posted @withregram • @sccrcentre Over the next fortnight, as we prepare to mark our 10th anniversary (28 March), we want to re-share the great partners we’ve worked with over the past decade. We start today with Karen Young of Hey Sigmund.

Back in 2021, when we were still struggling with covid and lockdowns, Karen spoke as part of our online conference on ‘Strengthening the relationship between you & your teen’. It was a great talk and I’m delighted that you can still listen to it via the link in the bio.

Karen also blogged about our work for the Hey Sigmund website in 2018. ‘How to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Children and Teens by Understanding Their Unique Brain Chemistry (by SCCR)’, which is still available to read - see link in bio.

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I often go into schools to talk to kids and teens about anxiety and big feelings. 

I always ask, ‘Who’s tried breathing through big feels and thinks it’s a load of rubbish?’ Most of them put their hand up. I put my hand up too, ‘Me too,’ I tell them, ‘I used to think the same as you. But now I know why it didn’t work, and what I needed to do to give me this powerful tool (and it’s so powerful!) that can calm anxiety, anger - all big feelings.’

The thing is though, all powertools need a little instruction and practice to use them well. Breathing is no different. Even though we’ve been breathing since we were born, we haven’t been strong breathing through big feelings. 

When the ‘feeling brain’ is upset, it drives short shallow breathing. This is instinctive. In the same ways we have to teach our bodies how to walk, ride a bike, talk, we also have to teach our brains how to breathe during big feelings. We do this by practising slow, strong breathing when we’re calm. 

We also have to make the ‘why’ clear. I talk about the ‘why’ for strong breathing in Hey Warrior, Dear You Love From Your Brain, and Ups and Downs. Our kids are hungry for the science, and they deserve the information that will make this all make sense. Breathing is like a lullaby for the amygdala - but only when it’s practised lots during calm.♥️
When it’s time to do brave, we can’t always be beside them, and we don’t need to be. What we can do is see them and help them feel us holding on, even in absence, while we also believe in their brave.♥️

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