Children of abusers--Do you have to lower personal expectations to cope with life? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 09-17-2011, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This may turn into a vent, but theories are always welcome.

 

It seems to me that I have to let go of normal expectations in order to cope with life.  My most recent example is I am in the middle of canning season and I needed to get my pears done a day or two ago.  I also have tomatoes that need to be jarred, and I need to clean the resultant mess from doing all this.  This doesn't include feeding the kids, looking after their physical and emotional needs, laundry, gardening, cleaning the house, etc.

 

I have been understandably stressed about everything, especially because I've been needing to stay up until 3am several nights to get things done because when the kids are awake it seems like I can't do anything.  When I get stressed I take it out on the kids due to my abusive history.  For my to cope I have to have ridiculously low expectations of my life, like, "Hurray, I washed and dried one load of laundry today!" or, "I fed the kids three meals!" or, "It's okay if most of my pears rot and we really needed to can them for money reasons!"

 

Whenever I lower myself like that it feels like a reinforcement of the indoctrination of my childhood, namely that I'm worthless and can't work hard and can't keep my house clean and stupid and wasteful and etc.  That I'm not good enough to keep a normal household and still be nice to my family.

 

Is anyone else in the same predicament?  How do you deal with it?  I'm either very productive or I'm nice to the kids, it seems like I can't be both.  But because I demand both from myself I can never win.


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#2 of 14 Old 09-17-2011, 09:34 PM
 
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Yes, I definitely experience that. For me, it is compounded by the fact that I am disabled and often can't even do the chores. I felt like a failure having to give up my career, the house that we bought, and move back home with my mom as an adult. In my case, my father was a physically abusive drunk, and my mother was verbally abusive. Both have gotten help and our relationship has changed, but the scars are still there.

A few years ago, we were in the foster adoption process. The home study was very revealing for me. Talking with the social worker made me realize why I have certain fears, beliefs, and why I react to some things a certain way. I had previously seen a few different therapists and none of them helped me...it really surprised me that learning about abuse really made everything click.

I feel like a failure for not accomplishing what my sisters have. They have big houses, good paying jobs, etc. In reality, though, I have had so many challenges that they never have had to cope with. I have to slow down and remind myself that getting the garden in order IS a big accomplishment for someone with physical limitations. Homeschooling my daughter, growing a baby in my belly, and keeping the house from getting wrecked IS an accomplishment.

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#3 of 14 Old 09-25-2011, 06:50 PM
 
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#4 of 14 Old 09-30-2011, 07:01 PM
 
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#5 of 14 Old 09-30-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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Oh wow... DH and I were just talking about this.  I have extreme issues with dependability and control.  Because I could never depend on anyone growing up I had to control my entire environment.  I really only could depend on myself.  Very sad thinking about it.  I remember paying my moms bills at 16 and buying dinner for my little sister and I.  Sad thing was both my parents had decent jobs, they just had fun with their money.  So much that if we needed anything we had to fend for ourselves.  Numerous times my parents would leave and go out to dinner.  Maybe there would be rice in the cupboards and some butter... Yeah not my favorite thing ever now.  And while I did all that I was still worthless.  And now I take it all out on DH.  I give him control over things like laundry, say he doesn't put something in the dryer right away and though it still gets dry by morning, he still didn't meet my expectations.  And now I feel hurt and stupid for giving him any control and for depending on him.  I know that seems little, however I take it to extremes.  I think what hurt me the most was when I had trouble in grade school, I would bring my homework home and beg for help.  My mom would yell at me and tell me I was stupid why can't I just ask my teacher that's what she's there for.  So I would go to school with unfinished homework and it would pile up for weeks.  I would live in fear, because I thought my teacher would think I was stupid too.  I couldn't control that environment and now I literally have to have full control over my girls while their in school.   God I hate thinking about that.  It gets worse but I don't want to feel crappy tonight.  I just know that I have to constantly evaluate myself.  I have to watch my words and my actions and I have to remind myself they don't deserve what I had.  They deserve a mother who isn't bothered by them and a mother who will be there for everything. 

 

Hugs all, we're not crazy, not worthless, not stupid, not fat, not ugly.  We're just right... and we need remember that.

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#6 of 14 Old 10-29-2011, 09:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was able to talk to my therapist about this the other day (I've been to four sessions so far) and she was able to give me a really good tool.  I wanted to share.

 

In our family our children are not good or bad, they just are.  Their actions are good or bad and we try hard to direct without condemning.  For myself, however, I've always equated behavior with my worth, and since I knew I could always do better I was never good enough.  So my therapist told me this week to treat myself like my children.  My actions might be productive or lazy or bad or great but that doesn't change my inherent worth.  And I'm shocked to see that I actually do feel better about myself when I just evaluated the action.  Now, that may be just because I've had a productive few days, but I'm hoping it's the start of some real change for me.

 

How is everyone else?

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#7 of 14 Old 10-29-2011, 10:10 PM
 
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that is a great tool. I too have to have a very stress free life and can't do simple tasks.

I too am in therapy and I too was abused as a child.

This thread gave me a lot to think about


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#8 of 14 Old 11-02-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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thanks for posting on this subject. adults who were abused as children , myself in this category, want to be better for our children but sometimes hear ourselves being not as kind and loving as we'd like. especially when we are stressed! i just keep trying and trying. but reading this helped me remember to forgive myself and just keep trying. i hate my actions some days, but if we feel badly about ourselves it may make us behave even worse. so far i'm not as bad as my mom was.

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#9 of 14 Old 11-03-2011, 08:26 AM
 
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I've read all these posts with great interest, because I was physically and verbally abused as a child and have a lot of problems in controlling my anger as a parent.  I want to be so much better than my mother was (my father was mostly neglectful).   It occurs to me in reading these posts and with all the thinking I've done lately (and reading, and going to therapy) that when I don't forgive myself for not being better than I am, it demonstrates my low self-worth and is actually me abusing myself.  Where did I get the idea that I needed to behave perfectly in order to have worth and being worthy of love?  Where did I get the idea that fundamentally I suck so I have to behave perfectly and not make mistakes ever?  Healthy people, whoever they are, make mistakes and don't think that it's further evidence of their deep inner suckage. Of course, thinking that I have low self worth sometimes makes me feel worse -- fundamentally flawed -- making me have even lower self worth.  

 

What I didn't get as a child was gentleness and unconditional love and acceptance.  I needed that as a child and that need is still there.  But now I'm old enough to not depend on anyone else for that -- I have to learn how to give that to myself.  I think that one way that I must learn to give that to myself is to have much nicer self-talk.  When I have bad days (either getting angry and feeling like a bad parent OR not being able to get stuff done), I need to be gentle with myself.  Our society urges us to be productive, to be overproductive, to speak with pride about being overworked instead of balanced.  This doesn't lead to happiness or balance or goodness in any way.  I have to fight to find that overwork to treat myself with gentleness instead of telling myself that I'm a slothful slugabout.  I'm working on this. 

 

Just wanted to share my thoughts.  Eager to hear y'all's thoughts as well.

 

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#10 of 14 Old 11-03-2011, 03:23 PM
 
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I find myself to be very judgemental of myself.  It s horrible. I can't do anything right or the right way so I do nothing at all.


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#11 of 14 Old 11-03-2011, 04:00 PM
 
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I totally feel this way sometimes.

Actually, I have completely cut my mother (who is and was abusive) out of my life, but there are time when I fail that I can still hear her in the back of my mind telling me that its pointless to even try because there is no way I will ever accomplish anything I want. I am by NO MEANS a perfectionist, but there are times when if I cant get the whole house clean at one time and most everything crossed off my list of stuff to do I just feel so incredibly overwhelmed and doomed to failure.

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#12 of 14 Old 11-03-2011, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I had another therapy session today.  My stress level has been way lower this week and my therapist (and me!) is happy about that.  But what I haven't told her is all the things I'm not doing.  I'm not cleaning the home, I'm not washing dishes, I'm not doing laundry, I'm not using cloth diapers, I'm not cooking meals, I'm not scheduling playdates, I'm just not doing much.  We both understand I have a long ways 'til I'm "done", but I'm barely functioning.  But I've been a happy barely functioner.


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#13 of 14 Old 11-03-2011, 10:26 PM
 
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I have found that works for me to... I actually have a friend who comes in and helps me with these things

 


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#14 of 14 Old 11-07-2011, 05:23 AM
 
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I find that it helps when I concentrate on what I DID accomplish and not what I didn't!  I congratulate myself on things I am able to do and make a list for the next day.  Having a balance is important and giving yourself grace to not be perfect is necessary!

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