Escaping From A Cult Or Was This Normal?

If my family ever found this- they would be furious. they'd say I'm attention seeking, unwell, paranoid, and do whatever they could to invalidate what I'm saying, to discredit me...I've had enough of playing their game of silence and punishment.

I'm 38. It's nearly my 12 month anniversary of realising that perhaps our upbringing was possibly abusive. This came to be because last Christmas night at one of my sister's many holiday houses (she's loaded) my sister and her husband were really angry with me because I said I was going to get up at 5am and go for a a 3 hour hike- I was in training for an important event I was doing in memory of our brother. "YOU were well behaved today until you started carrying on about going for a walk....you are RUDE RUDE RUDE" yelled my furious brother in law whom I've known since I was 10, as he pointed his finger in my face. I was shaking and could barely speak. You see, usually at Christmas I have to sleep near the children, and when I wake up my sister and her husband are gone- off doing seperate things- and there's un unspoken rule I must babysit, only till 9am or so. Usually I'm totally happy to do this, but I was in training, and I had to hike for 3 hours before the heat of the day made it too hard. but of course, no one was interested in hearing why.

I left. I hitched after saying "I will never speak to you again". A little drastic to say this, but as for hitching to the nearest town - 2hrs away- I simply could not stay in their home knowing they really do actually think I am nothing. They've never shown any interest in what I do, or or I am. This occurred because I was never able to say each and every other time "hey, that hurts!". The camel's back was broken, because of that final straw.

I tried to ring my mum who saw the whole thing- to say "hey, sorry for worrying you, I'm safe and fine". She ignored my calls, refused to answer my texts or emails. She then said to pass on to me she wasn't even there when it happened. She was on the couch, right next to me when it happened.

More disturbing stuff happened that week. I recounted it to my mates in sheer frustration, and that's when I started to realise my upbringing maybe wasn't so normal. My friends were shocked to hear my mother was ignoring me- so I'd say- oh but this is just like her, if you rock the boat she punishes you...like the time when....and my good mates would sit there amazed and shocked.

I predicted that week that mum would deliberately eat poorly to aggravate her medical condition so that she would be centre of attention and say "look at how you made me feel". Of course, it was like clockwork.

Close mates who are psychologists- said things like "how on earth are you so normal with that kind of upbringing?"

Sometimes I completely understand and believe that YES my mother was very emotionally abusive- then I feel guilty, that it's me not her, that she can't help it, feel sorry for her, and that I'm just difficult. This is why it's like escaping from a cult, from brainwashing that started when I was tiny.

From a young age I was told in various ways "you should be locked up...you're certifiable...." always in anger.

Since very small I've always strongly felt if I wasn't biologically related to my mother, she'd have nothing to do with me- that it's only out of obligation that I was allowed to live there. As an adult I've always struggled with strong feelings of being 'unwelcome"

Sometimes she was in a good mood. We used to walk on egg shells, and clean a lot to try and keep her happy. Sometimes she'd say nice things to us. It wasn't all nasty and horrible.

She used to pack a bag on a regular basis, yelling " you revolting child/children- horrible little girl, I can't stand the sight of you, I can't bare to live here anymore- look at how you make me feel" etc etc etc. One of the first times it happened I was about 7, and I lay down on the drive way like a speed bump to stop her from leaving. She saw me, huffed, got in the car, and slammed her foot on reverse. I jumped up just in time to not be run over.

I once yelled at her when she was throwing a tantrum "WHY DIDN"T YOU HAVE AN ABORTION WHEN YOU FOUND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT WITH ME?!" I was in primary school and had just learned about abortions. She grabbed me by the hair and pulled me towards her face- she was bright red with anger and just shook me then stormed off.

When I overheard her saying untrue things about me to her friends, and I would confront her she'd say very gently "you're paranoid darling". She always discredits people who stand up to her- she's always hated my dad even though they lived together until my brother died a few years ago, and would tell everyone my dad - has dementia, is mad, has a mental illness...etc so that if he ever said anything about her, it means nothing because he's 'not with it" Mum did this to my brother before he died and to me too.

I'd hear her on the phone "oh I'm so worried about him/her (my brother or I), I just don't know what to do" and she'd sound very concerned- but we never experienced that concern directly- instead she'd get off the phone and blast us for doing something to annoy her.

She has never said a kind word about my siblings, my dad or her own family. She's always made it clear she will put her own siblings before us kids- she will fly overseas to help a sister, but she's only ever visited me once in my home- even during the 4 years we lived in the same city.

My mother is dismissive of my own personal struggles. This week for example I was in hospital after a red back spider bite (a poisonous Australian spider) however she did not phone me, or tell my dad. A few days later she emailed, making a joke of it, with a concerned one line "are you okay?". Her response has always been like this- giving the impression she doesn't want to give any attention in fear I might like the attention.

When I was a teenager my vision changed and I needed glasses- my mother was furious telling me I was an attention seeker, and refused to get my eyes tested. My teacher spoke to mum about my need for glasses, only then did she allow me to see an optometrist. She bought me a pair of glasses that were bright and ugly- blue and white ingham patchwork- and I believe she wanted me to feel embarrassed so I'd not wear them, to prove her right that I didn't actually need them. I accidentally lost the glasses on school camp- which for me wasn't good because I relied on them, and she mocked me, saying of course I lost them deliberately because I didn't like them, and didn't believe me that I really did lose them. As an adult I sometimes fear I am attention seeking without having any real needs, and I question my motives, and whether I am actually really unwell or I'm just making it up for attention (with the flu, a spider bite etc).

She increases contact with me when she perceives I have 'succeeded', during which times she'll say things like "you remind me of myself"- her compliments are usually re-directed to herself. She'll forward me emails from friends who say "oh you must be so proud of your daughter I can see you in her". I have always felt her children are either used as trophies, or to elaborate on and enhance her martyr story, and I used to think this was funny.

As a teenager I developed major depression in response to hearing my father attempted suicide because he felt I didn't love him anymore. Whilst he was in a psychiatric hospital for 9 months, I was also gravely unwell. This made my mother furious. She would deliberately speak on the phone to her friends so that I could hear "She's a selfish *****, as if I haven't got enough on my plate". I was suicidal, the psychiatrist I was seeing wanted me to go into hospital, I stopped seeing the psychiatrist immediately because if she made me go to hospital mum would have been even more angry with me.

My brother was most certainly the scapegoat until his death during a psychotic episode a few years ago. Now this role seems to shift between my sister and I. This year I have been attempting to establish new boundaries with my mother, as a result I am being ignored/silent treatment, and at times she will eat poorly so that she upsets her health condition- I mentioned to her recently how I feel very uncomfortable that I've never heard her say a kind word about her sister, my sister or my dad, and partly because I know she would do the same to me. Usually being so upfront would result in silence - not answering the phone, no response to texts or emails for several months. However she was gentle and said "our family denigrates each other, this is just what we do- it's not right I agree, but it's how we show we care". Her response was real, I believe, because several months before I stood my ground on another issue, letting her know if she couldn't accept my boundaries I would cease contact with her.


There's so much more, and I'm sorry this is so long. I need to get it off my chest, I need to know whether my background is normal, or not.

I used to think families who liked each other were dysfunctional- seriously.

HopeFeat HopeFeat
31-35
2 Responses Nov 30, 2012

I used to think families who where nice to each other were dysfunctional as well. I think it's part of the brainwashing that narcs put their children through. My mom would always snicker at and look down on parents who looked out for thief children. Your mom did some real damage to her children... You're very strong to have survived it. The things she does are not normal. She has been very abusive to you. What's worse is that people who have not suffered this sort of abuse will not often recognize it. What's even worse than that, people who have suffered this sort of abuse will refuse to recognize it. Siblings And other family members will often take the narcs side and turn on the healthy person who upsets the order. Discontinue contact
with her and watch your life improve! Good luck...

Some of these things sound like my mom. :( I never thought families who liked each other we're dysfunctional though. I envied them so much. I still do. I'd do anything for a family who loved, cared for, and supported each other. Lifted each other up not put them down constantly.

do you think your mum has narcissistic personality disorder? I'm trying to get an understanding of whether the above is normal, did everyone go through what you and I experienced, or is it rare? Anyway, I appreciate that you took the time to read and then reply! It was a very long post, so thank you!

Um idk, I don't think so. Idk I have the kinda guilt thing you talked about. With my mom she'll be really mean and other times she'll be nice so I feel guilty telling anyone what she does or I start thinking maybe I misunderstood her, maybe she didn't mean it that way, etc. just a couple weeks ago I couldn't find something and asked her where it was she became furious and told me I'm the most worthless piece of ****. When I was about 8 maybe 7? She told my sister and I that if she had a gun she would shoot us. We had a broken gun it didn't work at all. But at that age I felt horrible after that. And I was so disappointed that I couldn't please her. She tells people I verbally abuse her and I have called her a ***** but only after she keeps yelling at me and telling me everything I do wrong. It just becomes too much. :( I attempted suicide about a month after I had been kicked out. She did come to the hospital but she brings up how much it cost them all the time and she always tells me the house is much better without me and why don't I just leave, and how she loved it when I was gone. I don't know if its rare but i definitely don't think its normal. I've been to friends houses and I love it the parents are so warm and inviting. I'm sorry you've gone through it.