In my little shortened story here, I want to give some personal examples of how I came to realize one of parents was a toxic and dangerous source in my life. I want to share some of my experiences because there are so many of us in the world vying for love and acceptance from a toxic parent or spouse, and I want you to know you are not alone in your pain. A believe it is a huge dilemma that millions face but not enough of us are talking about it. Too many children in this world are be neglected every single day and a lot of those children will grow up to be just as neglecting as their parents were because they don’t know any better. We need to break this cycle. We need to make sure children are getting the love and nurture they need to live and grow happy and healthy. We need to make sure the adults who never received that love and nurture, are learning to give it to themselves now. Children are the future and we need to do better for them.
I grew up in a small town, clearly not small enough because Billy Joel wrote a song about the dang place, yet it was small enough where almost everyone in the neighborhood knew of each other. A lot of my friends parents went to school together and their parents all know each other, three generations of students having the same exact English teacher type of small. My mom, my toxic parent, was well known in the township for awhile as the cheerleading coach, the ‘happily married to a hot guy’ mom of 2 who worked in a medical office during the day. She had plenty of friends she grew up with who we were always going to BBQ’s with and having get togethers at each other’s houses. We went on vacations about once a year and she was usually always happy. Seems like the typical, white American middle class woman. That is the last time she looked that good to the public. Now she’s divorced and has been taking up multiple unhealthy relationships with men of all ages, she’s moved back and forth from Pennsylvania about 8 times within the past 6 years while dragging me along for half of those trips, she and I developed a drug habit to synthetic marijuana when I was 17, she got me my first job but took every single paycheck I worked for so I never saw a dime, and she once told me she would try to sleep with my boyfriend should I ever get one because she genuinely thought I was trying to sleep with hers. She would say, “Be my friend for a moment” and spew on about her sexual interactions with whatever man it was that month. Yet turn around the next day and say, “I’m the mom here, I’m not here to be your friend.”
When we see such extreme, opposite emotions and actions coming from the people we love most, especially when we are kids, it can be very hard to process. We badly want to believe that they are truly doing what is best for us because that’s their role as a parent; to lovingly guide us in the right directions, steer us clear of bad decisions and help us when we most need it. The confusion and pain comes in when we somehow realize one or both of our parents has failed to give us what we needed as a child. Luckily I realized while I still was a child that the things she and my step dad were doing were not normal and healthy. I wasn’t sure exactly how, but I knew in my gut I was not safe in their care. Luckily I learned from TV and movies and other kids parents and my biological dad. Some people don’t realize until their 40’s, if ever, that they have spent their entire lives trying to please their toxic parent by doing things that don’t make themselves happy. Narcissistic parents have this way of making you feel like you cannot survive without them. They also have this way of making everyone else around you believe everything they say as well. They are master manipulators and want to seem as if they are the most trustworthy people on the planet. They come across as if every thought and idea they’ve ever had is the correct and right way of thinking and doing. They want you to look at them as if they are God and you would be nowhere and nothing without them. They find out what you desire deep down inside and then they give it to you, as to reel you in. They want you to feel like they are the only person who can provide you with what you need. Once they have you reeled in, they will make you fight teeth and bone to get that one thing they gave you. At this point, they have you believing you need them because they were the only one to ever give you that love, affection, communication, whatever it may be. It can be difficult to identify this within a spouse, but it can be even harder to identify this within a parent because first, you were a child when they taught you this tactic so you knew nothing else, and second because we’re all taught to obey and honor our parents. Even though you are their children and they do love you in their own dark way, they themselves most likely had a toxic parent and were never taught the right way to parent, or even how to love themselves in a healthy manor. That type of neglect can cause a serious personality disorder within someone.
I actively work on myself to make sure I don’t end up manipulative and narcissistic like her.
My mom had my brother when she was 17 and in the 80’s that wasn’t exactly something to be praised and accepted. She took a lot of lack her whole life from her own parents over it. Funny then that her problems with me began when I hit puberty and started to grow into my own woman. She tried everything she could to keep me and my brother from growing into happy, functional adults in society. What was worse was that she never did it directly, in order to make sure she was still seen as a perfectly happy mom who knows all, while still being in complete control. She made sure she never had to lift a finger. She was smart in her manipulation and used my step dad as a means to scare the living crap out of us so we would do anything he (she) said. In psychology, this is called triangulation and is popular with narcissists. She would also only share certain information with certain people in order to make a situation favor herself. My brother was allowed to go to our grandparents house because they helped raise him when my mom was just a teenager. I was not allowed to go because my mom didn’t want them to help raise me too. It hurt her pride to know that her parents had a better relationship with her son than she did, and she didn’t want the same to happen with me. By not letting me spend time with them, it in turn hurt my grandparents and made her feel better for them neglecting her. Yet she never once thought it was hurting me. So while my brother got to thrive within relationships in our family, I was told I was never invited because they didn’t favor my mom, and I look just like her so I must remind them of her and not want me around. Again, she didn’t once think that telling me this would hurt me. She made sure I did not get to have a strong, healthy relationship with them because she never got to. There were also many times where if her and I had a problem, she would call my grandma and say everything she did, I actually did. So as a child I could never call up my family and say, “Hey mom’s being super crazy and I don’t feel safe with her” because she always called to make sure I looked like the crazy one first. For years it left me feeling extremely insecure, unsafe, and unsure of who I would ever be able to trust if I cannot trust the woman who birthed me.
As I got older and realized she was only ever just using me for my money, using me as a prop when she didn’t have a man or new best friend. She was only ever using me to do things for her she was too lazy to do for herself, using me to deal with problems she didn’t feel like dealing with, using me to have someone (ANYONE) on her side. If I ever had an opinion different than hers, there was something wrong with me or she felt I was straight up betraying her and would say the evil things she truly thought of me. A toxic person may believe deep within them that their tactics are the best and only tactics, even though they completely fail themselves of ever having any real healthy love or affection and have no problem blaming everyone else for that. They may forever blame their own parents for the reason they fail and never accept that it is their own actions and thoughts that have brought them to the chaos that is their life. For a very long time I was extremely confused because I learned mother’s were supposed to be loving and accepting and helpful; not make me feel worthless and shameful. As much as I wanted and needed her to be a half decent and caring parent, the hardest part of all of this way accepting that she never will be. Sure she’s had her days, but I’ve learned they never last and are almost always a ploy to get something out of me. I want you to know, if you’re dealing with a toxic parent, it is COMPLETELY okay to set boundaries and give the space you need between you and this toxic person. I felt horrible for a long time for wanting to cut her out of my life entirely. In a counseling session when I was 13, I told her I didn’t want anything to do with her and instead of trying to figure out why, she got up, said, “I don’t need this shit”, and left.
For years after that, the only one in our relationship to attempt to keep things healthy, was me. I wasted many tiring years trying to make a loving parent out of dark, chaotic clouds. I felt horrible for so long I didn’t have a loving mom, couldn’t make a loving mom, and wanted to completely cut off my unloving mom. Did I do something horrible in a past life to deserve this? I was still tearing myself down even when she was not around. I was still blaming and shaming myself for the things she blamed and shamed me for. Until it hit me, that I truly do have control over my own happiness and I don’t have to feel bad about letting go of the one person I am supposed to be able to automatically trust in this world. You do not have to allow someone to treat you badly and make you feel horrible just because they are apart of your family. You do not have to subject yourself to that type of pain just because it stems from a parent. Just because that pain is caused by a parent, does not mean you have to continue in the pain and pass it on. You were born to emanate light and love! Any person, parent or spouse, who attempts to turn you into dark and pain does not deserve one second of your time, energy and efforts. Family or friend.
Now, after almost 3 years of no contact, I know I have made the best decision I ever could for myself. I actually had to mourn and grieve over her as if she was dead, which may sound insane, but it was the only way I could move on knowing she won’t be in my life. I grieved the mother I once had for a short while. I grieved for the mother I always deserved but never received. I mourned for the close relationship I always craved with her. I mourned the fact that there will never be a possibility of us having a good relationship, no matter how badly I may want one. I accepted that there have been people and friends I have met along my journey that have been more help and guidance to me than she ever was or will be.
My now 28 year old virgin brother still lives with our grandparents, playing video games day in and day out, and has sleepovers with my mom in the basement of her friends house she now lives in. I live on my own in South Florida with an amazing roommate, my mini pinscher and my journeying soul. To be able to live life now however I want to, to make any decisions without first worrying about what my toxic parent will have to say, is way beyond liberating. It was once heartbreaking to know I have more love in myself for myself than my own mother had, but it is now a beautiful aspect of myself that no one else can take credit for. To know I made it out alive without becoming a narcissist myself reminds me of how brave I was during those darkest moments of my life, even when I didn’t feel like living anymore. To know that trusting and listening to my intuition was all I ever needed to do, gives me reassurance that I can trust myself to accomplish any difficulty thrown my way. I want you to know that you too can experience this freedom. You too are capable of lovingly lifting the world off of your shoulders, and calmly holding it in the palms of your hands. You too are able to shine light upon the darkest corners of your soul.