Living in a Mentally Abusive Family—AKA Why I have an Eating Disorder and Hate Myself

I know my parents love me and sometimes I actually wonder if I am fabricating the abuse in my own mind.  I live with someone who is BiPolar and the swings are so extreme, but the lows last for days or weeks.  The things this person and others in the family have said and done go back to at least kindergarten.  Whats worse is with a BP person, you can’t argue or scream because they (or at least this one) gets so depressed they become incredibly suicidal.  So rather than using your words to try and fix the problem or get it out in the open, you have to bottle it up inside.  No child should be worried about who lives in their house each day, just as no child should cry themselves to sleep every night.

I am an only child, which may be why I think this could all be in my own head–no one sees it but me.  I have been told I am selfish, lazy, unable to share, unable to have that give and take in a relationship (which is why at almost 30 I have never dated), no one wants to be my friend because I’m bossy and mean (heard that when I was 12), and my favorite was “you aren’t pretty enough to try out for cheerleading,” every middle school girl needs to hear that one!

Whenever I put up the walls to stop the hurting, I am accused of being mad about something.  “What did I do to make you angry,”  one of these days I would love to say “YES I am angry, angry because you keep hurting me and don’t seem to care or notice.”  The worst part is, when the swings change course, all the hateful thoughts and words are forgotten, as if they never happened, except I remember every single one.

The isolation is the worst.  We don’t have friends in our family, the mental illness gets in the way.  Just when you make friends and get close, someone decides the friend is out to use us or is not good enough.  Some flaw always appears and it becomes like a giant pink elephant on the runway of New York Fashion Week, hard to hide and not very pretty.  The friendships end quickly.  So instead, the family has become this tight cluster.  No outsiders allowed.  Which is worse than flings.

Nothing is ever the fault of a BP person, oh no.  She says “I never went to that exhibit or class I was thinking about going to because I didn’t want to bother you and I know its not your thing so I just skipped it but I am really sad I missed it now.”  What she wants you to know is she is blaming you for either having opinions or for not remembering something she casually mentioned months ago.  What really happened is she forgot about the damn thing too but rather than blaming the oversight on herself, CONGRATULATIONS, it’s your fault.

In our house we hide behind religion.  Now we haven’t been to church in almost a year, that’s another one of those things we blame on others despite not really wanting to go in the first place.  But of course every other day we decide this will be a great time to set up the desk so I can read my bible in the morning before others get up.  Yeah like you are really going to do that.  You say it once or twice a month, ain’t happened yet.  I used to be religious, but the whole concept just doesn’t work for me anymore.  I don’t need some ancient book telling me how to be a good person, I know right from wrong.  My parents become totally different people when they are on the bible-bandwagon.  They went on a retreat once and for over a month afterwards they made no jokes or laughed or anything they normally do.  Scariest time of my life.

We go out of our way to prove we are right.  Now i’m not going to lie, I do this too.  I think I tend to fall into this trap because I feel so stupid sometimes, like I have jello for a brain, I just want to be right about something, know something.  I live with a highly intelligent person, he tends to lord that over everyone.  Trouble is he knows a single fact about almost every topic and that’s it.  He doesn’t update them either.  If some Hollywood scandal happened four years ago and you mention one of the people involved tomorrow, the same scandal story comes up in the conversation.  It no longer applies, but in an effort to appear “in the know” we dredge up last weeks tuna steaks and serve them as catch-of-the-day.  Highly intelligent, but also really good at faking it.  Still excels at making you feel stupid for not knowing something.

I build walls, scores of them.  Some people get in further, none have made it all the way inside, of course.  Most people are stuck on the lawn.  I let only certain people onto the front porch.  From the porch, you can look in the windows, gives you some idea about my inner workings, but not nearly enough to know everything.  From the lawn all you see if a nice house, none of the inner turmoil.  I tend to ‘cluster share,’ I share some things with you and other things with her, but they rarely overlap.  This keeps from any one person knowing too much.  You never know when the information you share will be used to hurt you.  Had that happen enough times to build a fail safe.  I am always waiting for someone to read my personal thoughts, or check my computer history, maybe read a few of my texts.  To protect myself, I password protect everything and delete my browsing history daily, sometimes more.  I delete texts either after the conversation ends or after something personal is shared.  Now I’m not so naive as to think that everything I delete can’t be found and restored, however I know the people in my life are not likely to possess such skills, nor are they likely to seek out a tech genius to retrieve it for them.  Intensely private, that’s me.

I could probably go on for days about all of this.  Maybe someone out there can relate.  The mind games in a family can turn inward, forcing you to hurt yourself in similar ways.  No wonder I have low self esteem.


2 comments on “Living in a Mentally Abusive Family—AKA Why I have an Eating Disorder and Hate Myself

  1. This sounds almost exactly like my household growing up. Almost. My mother is probably BP, but I think her narcissistic delusions are what made it unbearable. I am really sorry you’ve had to go through this, and still are. I send my love and hugs.


    • Thanks for the support! I finally, after 29 years, realized that it was not fair to allow her to hurt me any longer. I love my mother, and I know she has no control over her behavior, but while she has the luxury of forgetting after each episode, a special feature for bipolars, I am unable to forget the things she says. All my life they have built one upon another, crushing everything I am. So I decided to stop the pain. Mental illness runs all over my family, both sides going back generations. It’s probably the one reason why I will never have children of my own. Oh, I could adopt, but the thought of harming an innocent child like that, of me becoming my mother, is scary AF.

      I’m sorry your childhood was less than stellar. If you ever need to talk, I’m a great listener!

      Liked by 1 person

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