If so, it can be hard for you to recognise.
In my own personal healing journey, and the work I do supporting clients on their journeys, I believe these factors are at play:
If things being a certain way is all that you’ve known, then of course it feels ‘normal’ and familiar to you.
I still often stop myself mid-way through a story that I’m telling my partner, as yet another realisation sinks in... ‘Oh… that isn’t normal, is it?
As a child, you were wired to yearn for love and support from our parents, and you needed some denial in order to survive your experiences.
I noticed some time ago that I tended to constantly rationalise and reframe my past experiences, rather than just allowing myself to accept them. Perhaps you tend to do the same, saying things like: ‘At least there was always food on the table’, ‘It could have been worse’, ‘Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember?’
It’s common to feel guilty when we start to consider that the job our parents did wasn’t what we needed. Society’s expectation is that a daughter or son love their parents unconditionally. We feel we are doing something wrong if we dare to question their behaviours.
This guilt is exacerbated if our parent made us feel that what happened to us growing up was actually our fault; that we were somehow to blame for their behaviours. We grew up believing that our mum or dad was abusive to us because we deserved it. When an adult twists any situation around to suit their needs and justify their behaviour, a child must either realise the parent is wrong and is manipulating events, or accept what the adult is telling them: that they are to blame. Of course children in those situations internalise all of the blame, they don’t have the awareness to choose differently. And sadly, as a result: we don’t stop loving the adult… we stop loving ourselves.
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Here are some examples of your mum or dad’s behaviours that are unhealthy and actually emotional and psychological abuse:
1. Justifying their behaviours using blame
2. Not respecting your privacy, or physical or emotional boundaries
3. Causing you to feel you must be ‘on alert’, walking on eggshells around them
4. Making you feel as though the things you do aren’t good enough
5. Giving you the ‘silent treatment’, sulking
6. Causing you to feel confused and to doubt your own version of events
7. Over-reacting to things, creating a scene
8. Disregarding your feelings and needs
9. Competing with and being jealous of you, trying to ‘cut you down’
10. Trying to control you
11. Making unreasonable or frequent demands
12. Criticising or judging you
13. Comparing you to others
14. Not listening to you with any interest; being disengaged, distracted, preoccupied
15. Using emotional blackmail
16. Attacking or lashing out at you
17. Using manipulation and guilt, playing the role of the ‘victim’
18. Not taking responsibility or apologising to you
19. Demanding your attention, making everything about them
20. Making jokes about you (saying hurtful things ‘as a joke’)
21. Making you feel as though you can’t express negative emotions
22. Putting their own feelings first
23. Holding you responsible for their happiness, placing unrealistic expectations on your role in their life
24. Blaming you for their unhappiness, making you give up things you like in order to ‘even out the score’, telling you about how much they sacrifice and do for you
25. Even as an adult, you still feel scared of or intimidated by them , experiencing anxiousness when they contact you
Acknowledging that your mum or dad - the people who were likely the centre of your world, who you needed more than you needed anyone else, who you understandably looked to for love and emotional support - did not (and cannot) provide this for you can be difficult to do, but it is an important part of your healing.
You do not have the power to change others. You can only change yourself. What other people do is none of your business; but your perception and how you respond to it is.
The wounds you carry from your childhood are not your fault.
But your healing, your present and your future, your adult life… is.
During the next few days, I’m offering a limited number of free Strategy Sessions to anyone who experienced toxic parenting, and is ready to heal and move forward. In your high-value session, we’ll get clear on what’s holding you back and create a roadmap for you to thrive.
These sessions are free so will fill up fast.
Book yours now - you do deserve it, you are worthy of this gift.
I love you xx