Experience Project iOS Android Apps | Download EP for your Mobile Device

My Mother Stole My Childhood

It's sad that all my childhood experiences which are supposed to be happy and pleasant, like road trips, holidays and birthdays, are extremely depressing for me. I don't know why, every one of those times the abuse got worse. My mom would be especially volatile not only towards me but towards my father too. I would be paralyzed by fear as they argue (argument meant my mom screaming her lungs out and dad listening intimidated in his corner, so more of a monologue than argument but anyways). I would walk on eggshells the entire time and still get beaten up.

She would generally do it when dad was not around. Ever since I was in preschool up until I was 12-13. She would seem okay and calm going about her business around the house, and then suddenly a word I said, the tone I used, the look I gave her switched her crazy button somehow.

I would see her face changing composition. I could see her eyes narrowing, her empty stare as if her soul left her body. Her teeth would be clenched, her posture would change and her head would shake as she started to yell, louder and louder and talk faster and faster. "Child I gave birth to you, I will destroy you! Everything I do for you and you ruined my life!" As she would start walking towards me, I knew what was coming so I couldn't help crying but she would say "Oh! your crying now? why? I didn't do anything yet... come here I will give you a reason to cry". If I tried to escape she would chase me, grab me by the arm, hair, shove me onto the bed and start hitting, everywhere, continuing to repeat those horrible things. In those moments I would go numb, deaf, blind... as if I left my body. My only hope was her getting tired and hands hurting, so I sat through it, holding my breath to stop the crying.

After the beating she would storm out and leave me alone in my room. Ashamed, robbed of dignity, alone, worthless, small, silent, sore, afraid to cry and guilty that I upset her. 20 minutes later she would come back to check on me and she would tell me I shouldn't be sad, but happy because she hits me because she loves me. She would bring me food and come back again to check if I ate it all. It was a way to prove that I forgave her. So I ate it even if I didn't want to, out of guilt, out of love. Gee I wonder why I'm a bulimic today at 24.

For a very long time, I really thought my mom loves me a lot for beating me, my friends were not being beaten up like me, it meant they weren't loved as I was. I felt lucky but at the same time guilty and a loser for always doing something to upset her. Little did I know, it wasn't anything I did. I was trying so hard, it consumed my entire train of thought. Will this upset her? How should I say it? Should I get out of my room now? Is she in a good mood?

My overachieving parents started teaching me how to read and write at 6 years old, it wasn't fun because she had 0 patience with me. On my 8th birthday I wrote a goodbye note. I wanted to free my parents (mainly mother) from the pain and upset I was causing them. From what she told me on a daily basis, I destroyed her life somehow and she had the right to kill me because she gave birth to me, but she didn't because she loved me so much. So I thought what if I do it? Would that make things better? I don't want to say it was a suicide note, although I stared out of the window for hours. Maybe I don't even want to remember everything I wrote, while grounded in my room, on my birthday, waiting for guests to arrive. When they arrived my mom would tell them, "Tiffany"(fake name) is in her room, grounded because she did horrible things and was ungrateful, so you can visit her in there until I decide she can come out. So there I was alone in my room, writing a very sad, disturbing goodbye letter to my parents, while guests were happy celebrating my birthday and my mom was entertaining them.

Up until 5th grade I would slap myself when making mistakes. I was afraid my mom can read my thoughts. I was afraid she has a detective hired to check what I am doing at all times. I was convinced there are hidden cameras in the house. I have the same nightmares since I was 5. Being chased by someone who wants to hurt me, a woman spying on me at the window and not being able to cry for help. These happen in extremely intricate and complicated scenarios, with the same basic theme behind it.

Today I am 24. Bulimic, social anxiety, ocd, paranoid behaviour, trust issues, generalized anxiety, depression, low self esteem, this delightful cocktail very possible being post traumatic stress disorder.

I recently started seeing a therapist and flashbacks are resurfacing so violent, I am experiencing increasing anger. For the past 2 weeks I couldn't stand the sight of my parents and I am extremely resentful. I have nightmares, panick attacks and oh so much anger. Whenever I see babies or young kids I feel like punching their parents and yelling at them don't hurt them.

Whoever reads this, thank you for taking the time to peak inside my soul and hopefully you can relate and know you are not alone in your pain. I got through it alive and the only reason I didn't do anything stupid (like suicide) was because I loved my parents and didn't want them to suffer. When I heal from all this damage I will be able to proudly say "I am a survivor".

TiffanyHepburn TiffanyHepburn 22-25, F 13 Responses Apr 6, 2012

Your Response


You are not alone in this mess. I have binged everything (gained 15 kilo in one year) and have an exotic cocktail of PTSD, depression, self-harm, lack of self-worth, panic, social anxiety, intrusive memories of beating and sexual abuse. You have lost one year more than me (I am 26 now). I hope you live a very long life, too long to remember the old mess :).

Would you like to try out some reading material about these problems? I finally found the courage and helping friends to search out about the causes of my past. After the liberating experience of opening up and getting support from my friends, I am trying to start a support group where I live. Have you done any group therapy?

You expressed yourself well. Hope to see more writing from you someday. Maybe some positive memories that you are forming with you kid, to motivate some sad souls?

Lots of love for you and your family. You are going to do so well for your family. It is YOUR FAMILY, and nobody can stop you from giving them the best memories.

Thank you for your support. I'm sorry you went through that nightmare and have to live with those memories... but it seems you are on the right track and you found the support you need to heal. Do you have any reading suggestions?

Tell me if you went through this or still are... and if it's a part of the healing process or not.... I feel like I'm stuck in a cycle. Flashbacks come back, I get sad, then angry, then after a while all the anger turns into motivation to turn my life around and get almost euphoric and accomplish many things.... then I feel I don't deserve this and fall back in my dark memories. It's like a part of me doesn't think I deserve to be happy and feels like a fraud living this good happy life and tries to sabotage any progress I've made. It's like I can't stay too long without the feelings of depression, sadness and anger because in a way it's what I am used too and what I felt for such a long time it's almost comforting and feels more "normal" than being ok, or happy (although I am never truly happy, always second guessing and almost afraid to let myself feel happy).

I'm curious if other people like me go through this and how to break this cycle because it's so exhausting trying to hide it from others and keep faking it while it eats at me from the inside.

I am still trying to recover. I go through the mood cycles also. My psychologist said that the cycle is pretty common, since I do not have a stable self-image. The self-image was supposed to grow naturally during childhood, but did not because my existence was taken over by my mother and my maternal family. Loving myself is almost impossible. Before therapy and support groups, I have tried overarching, being narcissist, codependency, taking blame for everything, addiction but nothing could fill the hollowness I felt. My support group recently suggested a book called "Healing the shame that binds you" by John Bradshaw. It seems to answer almost all my questions (though I am a bit critical about all-answering books and people :) ). The first 70 pages age available for free online. If you find it interesting, the rest (around 150 pages more) is available for purchase of google books. I also found a copy in my local library and numerous seminars of Bradshaw on youtube.

A lot of people go through what you have been through. I have met people from four different continents who have faced the similar issues due to suppressed childhood. Never feel ashamed for it. These problems do not define us. I am sure that there is a real self hidden beneath all these mess. I have seen people find their true selves back, even at their middle age. I am sure we will not only survive this but surpass it. Just keep swimming, in the right direction :)

Thank you so much for the suggestion. I watched a lecture of John Bradshaw on healing the shame, covering the first part of his book so explaining the "problem" and an Oprah show where he showed some of the steps for healing. I must say it makes a whooole lot of sense now. I relate 100% to what he is saying about being a shame based person and toxic shame. Every time I am in public or even on the phone I feel so exposed and shame is dictating my every move, feeling watched and judged, and every gesture I make and word I say I am analyzing as if I am a third person watching from the outside to see how it would be perceived and then rerun the whole event in my head over and over for days on end. I am convinced that is why it is so exhausting for me to interact with people in other way than text or email. Everything I felt for so many years that was holding me back and suffocating me and couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, the low self esteem, feeling like I have to wear a mask, feeling like a fraud, the anxiety, not belonging, not feeling worthy, addictions and compulsive behaviour to fill the void and so much more. I ordered the book you suggested and also Homecoming. Thank you so much again for telling me about John Bradshaw... I am looking forward to start working on healing with a real plan and direction and not just the magical thinking I did until now "today I am changing my attitude" or "starting today I will not let the memories bring me down anymore" that we all know only works to build up that mask and doesn't treat the actual wound... and also looking forward to meet my true self one day :) there is hope...

3 years have passed since I wrote this... Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read my story and then write about yours and encourage me, you are very kind. It was a really tough time for me and I sank deeper and deeper in my dark memories, had a few failed attempts at therapy and then I got so tired of being angry and decided to refocus on something else... somehow after a while I managed to close the door on all of that as I got a new job, bought a house with my fiancé and got married. Wow... I can't believe how normal that sounds. I now have a 5 month old son that I love so so much and all these memories are coming back. He looks so much like me when I was a baby it's crazy, so when he looks at me with that cute innocent face, his big happy eyes and giving me gummy smiles my heart melts and at the same time I am flooded with so much sadness thinking about my childhood. I cannot for the life of me understand what kind of mental illness my mother had to treat an innocent child like that and how on Earth was I able to survive all that and still manage to function in society and have a family. I am fighting those memories every day and even though I am relieving that nightmare each time, in a way I don't want to ever forget so I can make sure to give my baby boy all the love and attention and support he deserves. That any kid deserves and that I never had.

Your post was over 2 years ago so I hope you are doing well. I am a 37 year old man and suffer the same symptoms as you experience. As a result, I never married and never had children of my own. 20 years ago I left my abuser (my mother). I still struggle every day and was diagnosed with PTSD. Nightmares of my mother haunt me constantly (just woke from one). Stay strong and know what you went through was not your fault. A grown man such as myself can be deeply wounded by such childhood trauma. Don't be ashamed or guilty. Be gentle with yourself because your mother sure wasn't.

Tiffany I'm currently sat in the bathroom sobbing as it's the only place I can be where I won't be shouted at in my face. My mum says the most horrible things that I can't even repeat. I think I'm depressed and I was trying to talk to her about it, 5 minutes in she exploded with the usual delightful remarks like you've ruined my life, I had so much before I had you but I spent all of my money, youth and time on you now I'm nothing but your slave and you're useless to me. go to hell. I hope when I die you live alone and no one comes to see you and I'll laugh that you're finally all alone. I don't know who to go to. No one will help me and I don't know what to do I feel so alone. My mums never hit me but she may as well.

Tiffany you are not alone. I was adopted and I grew up in a similar environment. I was bitten by a dog at the age of 5 and had to listen all the way home about how horrible I was and I was a huge liar. All this was said about me in the third person while I was trying to disappear into the back seat of the car. I was hit on a daily basis, called every name you can imagine and heard how I had ruined her life. By the time I was 17 she made sure she told me every day that she was going to kill me. I slept with a booby trap on my bedroom door so I would wake up in case she'd try to come in and light my bed on fire. I left after she threw me into the pantry door and threatened to shoot and kill me. 25 years later I suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression, anger, social phobia, non existent self esteem, suicidal thoughts and yet I somehow function in society and if you met me you'd never know. I don't trust anyone really, I don't talk about my feelings, I have issues with being harassed at work, I prefer to isolate myself and would be happier if I could finish my life on Mars all alone. My adoptive parent, she's no mother let me tell you, constantly fights with her husband and puts him down as if he was a 6 year old child. I was once told that I hadn't been disciplined enough growing up, I should have been beaten much more often and more severely. Did I ever think about calling the police? Not back then and even if I had they would have sided with her. She was the "perfect stay at home mom" no one believed me when I spoke out about what happened to me. I am in therapy now and maybe some day I'll be kind of normal. Keep your chin up and know this, it was not your fault and you are not alone.

Tiffany, I really feel for you (want to cry!) and I can't begin to imagine what you've been through. The emotional and spiritual pain (not to mention physical!!), and what angers me the most (and with this I can relate to) what gives them the right to abuse and do these things to an innocent child who doesn't understand what's going on and doesn't have the capacity (and shouldn't!) to understand and deal with whatever is wrong with the adult. I, as an older sister of 3, had to deal with that when our parents got divorced and we had to go visit my dad and his new wife.

It really is heart breaking what some parents do to their children. I see you wrote this a year ago so I hope things are a bit better and if not, know there are always people around who can help and I really wouldn't mind chatting to you. I hate to see people suffer. Be strong x

Damn! What kind of "mother" says things like that to her child? If she felt so strongly about not wanting a child, she should've put you up for adoption. She would have been doing you a favor.

Do I know some of these feelings. I try not to feel a thing. I try to switch off emotions. And then ... all hell breaks lose (emotionally).

I, too, came from an abusive home. I was physically, verbally, sexually and spiritually abused. That was when I was a child. I've spent years in therapy and the one thing that I come away from the therapy is this...I am a survivor and I need to forgive both my parents. I forgave my mother and we now have a beautiful relationship. I tried to contact my father to forgive him face to face but he killed himself before I had the opportunity. In my heart I forgave them both and it lifted a boatload of guilt and pain from me. Forgive your will make you stronger and a better person. Don't live your life filled with regret for missed opportunities and abuse from your missguided parents. You have a wonderful life to live and it should be one filled with love, forgiveness and joy. You deserve it. My heart goes out to you and I hope you find peace in your struggles to come to term with what happened to you.

You've been through a lot of pain and I can only begin to imagine what your childhood was like. It's realy devastating that these things happen, especially to young, innocent, defenseless children... It's truly amazing how far you've come and forgiving your abusive parents is realy the only way to completely heal. I am trying. At least I have realized I need to forgive them for myself. It is a step forward. But I am in a dark place right now... seeking answers, wanting to understand and it is all consuming. In my head I am confronting them about it, and it only fuels my anger so I'm reluctant to actually bring it up. I hope one day to forgive my mother for making my childhood a living hell and my father for not stopping her.

This is very upsetting to me, I was never treated this way growing up, but I had a niece that was. It broke my heart every time I was visiting her family. I wanted to take her and keep her but I had no right. I guess as long as she wasn't being physically abused the police couldn't get involved. The CPS agent told me UNFORTUNETELY it's not against the law to be a horrible parent. All I could do is be careful to love my own. I hear about stories like yours everyday on my website I'm trying to help people be better moms and dads one family at a me I'm here for you

The title of your story struck a chord with me. As I read, I became more and more sick to my stomach with anger. How dare anyone do that to their child! How do things like this exist?! As a child-abuse survivor myself (my mother said many of the same things to me and I reacted similarly! It was a little eerie), I have only recently found my anger. I don't know about you, but I really hate the anger. Sometimes I think I would rather be the submissive victim than the one holding all this burning vengeance. It makes me feel like a bad person - because I naturally shun aggression - being at the butt of it for so long. but I trust that it is part of the process of overcoming this. Do you feel that too? I'm so glad you are facing these issues, realizing that you are not to blame and climbing your way out of that dark pit. Survive, girl. And don't let that woman steal any more of your life!! Hug.

Feel sorry for your past, although I didn't personally experience such a childhood. Seems like you're gradually getting over it - sincerely wish you all the best in your adult life.

Hmm... it sounds like she didn't do a good enough job beating you.... if are here now running off at the mouth. just a thought!

Who cares what he has to say? He's obviously clueless. In our place he would have probably crapped his pants, coward!

you idiot keep your pointless opinions to yourself. You have know idea whats its like to grow up in a houshold like that.

You wrote this in your profile:

"I think it's great that there is a place where you can say whatever you want and interact with others that have felt the same way at one time or another in their life."

Then I went on to read the rest of your page....Lord, get some help. And, when you decide to further abuse someone that went through so much torture as you have above, with such a hateful comment, it further goes to show that you are not well. No one who is well would say such a comment, so I advise you to get some help. Obviously, you have problems which are so deep that you would probably have to spend the rest of your life in therapy. I advise you do so. When you make comments as you did above, to someone that has suffered so greatly, you show the true depth of evil inside of you. Only an evil person would further add such injury. May God have mercy on anyone you come in contact with.