August 1, 2012

My childhood with a borderline mom

My friend in high school used to complain all the time about her mom, how her mom abused her emotionally and verbally. How she couldn't get along with her mom etc. Add physical abuse to those and there you get my childhood

My mom isn't a bad person, she's actually very kind to people around her, my dad's employees, etc. She cares about the people around her when she's 'sane'. Her problem is that she's ignorant to her own mental health and projects her own unhappiness to her immediate family.
If you see my mom and get to know her, you won't believe what Im saying here. She makes jokes, laughs, has high level of energy, always active, involved in activities. In short, high functioning. But unfortunately not to her immediate family, For me, she's a hysterical, unstable, hypersensitive, controlling mother.

I do not remember much about my childhood. What I remember are surgeries, never ending courses, studying and beating.
Growing up, my mom was very strict. There's no room for mistakes. I had to live up to her standard, which was very high.

She only bought me literature books and forbade me from reading comic books. I used to borrow my friend's comic books and hid it under my uniform :) I used to put those books in my school bag before but she ransacked my bag, hit me and tore up the books in front of me. No matter how I cried, she always proceeded on and I had to buy new books for my friends with my minimal pocket money. So I learned to hide the comic book inside my clothes. Well, it really depended on my luck, because every now and then, she would ransack my room and if she found those books, I was dead meat.
She also tore my favorite books to pieces when she found out I was reading books instead of studying. I never understood why other children could read and buy comic books and I couldn't.
Once, in her rage, she deemed me incapable of continuing to the university and tore up my high school diploma certificate.

I seldom had free time for playing. I always had to go to extracurricular courses, music lessons, math, language classes until late at night. I had no right to say no.
She used to accompany me studying until 3 in the morning, but maybe I was a slow learner, she always grew impatient when I got sleepy after midnight. So she usually pinched me black and blue, beat me up with broomstick, banged my head on the wall, even burned me with an ironing rod.

I was a clumsy child (still am) and I tend to forget things easily. Whenever I unintentionally spilled my milk or juice (which happened quite often), my mom would scream at me and beat me up. If I forgot to tell her things, she would scold me and accuse me of intentionally hiding things from her, thus disrespecting her.

My mom is big on unhappiness and dissatisfaction. She thinks that her family is a big disappointment. She complains constantly about not having a place called home, that her family doesn't love her enough. She asked me quite a lot of time,"What did you ever do for me? What have you ever given? Nothing!" This brought me to another memory when I was in the primary school. On her birthday I bought her a flower bouquet, a false one because I thought it would be long-lasting. She berated me for not buying fresh flowers instead.

Her insecurity is also very prominent.
She cares very much about people’s opinion about her. In people’s eyes she had to be the good guy. She constantly compared me and my sister to our cousins. We were never good enough. I was always being compared to my cousin, saying how smart my cousin was and that I was a disgrace to her, how she could never be proud of me. My cousin’s grade in math was better than mine, but I also excelled her in history. My mom never saw my better grade and focused on my worse-than-cousin math grade.
My sister suffered more than me in this case. We have an aunt who likes to brag about her daughter. She bragged how smart and diligent this cousin was. My mom believed every single word she said and berated my sister constantly for being lazy. In the end, we found out that this aunt lied about her daughter’s grade. My sister’s 12 year misery was based on nothing but a vicious lie. We were always at fault and other people were always right. She believed everything other people said.

She got extremely upset when she found out that people were talking behind her back. She found out once that my uncle was talking about her, she still resented him after more than a decade. She also hates the fact that we talk about her problems. The funny thing is, she also talks and bad mouths people quite often. A double standard, indeed.

Other people always come first and she never defended her family members in front of others. She cares too much about what others would think of her if she stood up against them. As for her family members, we have no other choice but to cope with her.
One day miraculously I had free time after school and invited a friend over to play. Suddenly my teacher showed up (it was her fault, she forgot that I didn’t have class that day). I refused to take lesson because it was my only free day in months and I had a friend visiting. My mom forced me to take the lesson, no matter how I cried and protested, because she felt bad for my piano teacher. Needless to say, my friend was angry at me and refused to talk to me afterwards because I neglected her for 1,5 hours. I remember how I hated my piano teacher, which wasn’t fair, because my teacher had acknowledged her mistake, said sorry and wanted to leave without giving me my piano lesson. It was my mom who insisted that I took the lesson. I finally learned that I couldn’t trust my mom, that she wouldn’t stand up for me, and I learned to depend only on myself.

Speaking of emotional exhaustion, my mom is hypersensitive, assuming and judgmental. Everything we said or didn’t say, did or didn’t do could trigger her outrage. We never knew what to expect, when her mood is going to change. I learned not to confide anything in her because she judged and often used what I said to attack me later on. She could be smiling one moment and angry in the next hour. We were so afraid of her emotional outbursts so we tiptoed around her feelings, walking on eggshells all the time, learning to distant ourselves and not say anything. Unfortunately, she didn’t like the fact that we kept our distance either. It feels like being around a ticking bomb, you just don’t know when it will explode.
Silent treatment (can stretch up to two weeks) was our routines. 

She thinks only in black and white. It's either you're with her or against her. Opinion difference means disrespect, betrayal.
She used to have a dispute with her brother and refused to talk or having any contact with him. My sister, as a child, still kept in touch with my uncle's family. My mom called her a family traitor.

Inconsistency was one of her dominant traits. Today she would say A, and tomorrow Z without even remembering what she said before. She used to dislike me having male friends, berated them when they called me. The next week when she’s angry, she would say,”Why don’t you have any boyfriend? Your cousin has one. Must be because you’re ugly that no one wants you.”
Or she would get mad at me because I went out with my friends and she felt that I abandoned her and my family. But when I stayed home, she would say,”You’re a difficult person. Maybe that’s why you stay home and don’t have any friends.”

Another main trait is that she always feels victimized. She's the protagonist and life/ people treat her unfairly all the time. So she tends to blame everything on other people, circumstances, bureaucracy, her own childhood, etc.

It’s quite scary when she’s consumed with rage, she didn’t realize what she was saying and didn’t remember the hurtful things she had said afterwards. I grew accustomed to her hurtful words, saying that I was the crap of society, how she regretted giving birth to me, etc. She would also try to turn me against my dad, saying that my dad doesn’t love me, how mean my dad was and how she felt victimized. She couldn’t accept that I talked more to my dad than to her, and she despised the fact that I saw my dad as a better person than she was. She also blamed me for things I couldn’t control. She told me it was my fault that she had under eye bags, because I cried a lot when I was a baby. At this point I couldn’t help but wonder, how am I supposed to take responsibilities to such actions? And couldn’t she accept the fact that I cried a lot, if even as a baby I already had to deal with surgery’s pain?

She blamed me for her problems with my dad. She used to forbid me from reading some documentary books about Christianity when I was a child. She's a devout Catholic, FYI. When my dad asked me if I had read those books, I told him the truth. My dad then told her to stop indoctrinating me and let me think freely. My mom went berserk and denied everything (she really didn't remember that she forbade me), and threw accusations at me. I was a big liar, etc. This happens a lot of time and I didn't bother to argue anymore. It's no use to argue with someone who doesn't remember things she did or said and sees herself as the victimized good guy.

It wasn’t easy, being a child and having to deal with abuses. I grew up doubting myself, struggling with my already low self esteem and physical pain. I was born with physical impairments, needing to go through many surgeries and recovery processes. I became sad, bitter and resentful. I used to think that I was a bad child, but looking back, I realized I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a smart and perceptive kid, I graduated with distinction, I took responsibilities, I didn’t act up, did drugs, etc, and I never complained about anything.

It was a huge relief for me when my dad told me a story that kinda explained her absurd behaviors, that it wasn’t always my fault.
It was a scorching summer day and I was not even 1 year old. My parents pushed me in a stroller, they couldn’t get a taxi and I began to cry. My mom was so pissed off hearing me cry, took me from the stroller and wanted to slam me down on the pavement until my dad grabbed me away from her.
At this point, ironically, I smiled in relief. So after a life time of soul searching, I wasn't the rotten egg :) 

I grew up thinking I was crazy,  because my mom is a happy-go-lucky, extrovert person on the outside. My friends and cousins told me how lucky I was to have such a funny and supportive mother. I could only smile and doubted my own sanity.
As long as I can remember, I couldn't wait until I finished school and was able to go abroad to pursue higher education. So did my siblings, I guess. I can't speak for them, but from what I perceived, all of us just wanted to get out of the house, away from her rage and insecurities.  

Well, but we all survive :) My sister grows up to be a kind-hearted, cheerful person and my brother is now a very perceptive and stable person. And all ends (hopefully) well :)

* I went to Germany after graduating high school. I was free to explore and express my own opinions, but sadly I also showed some significant signs of BPD. 
Now I'm back in my hometown and, again, trying to cope with mom's emotional roller coaster ride. I'll write about this in another chapter :)

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