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Is my mother emotionally abusive?

I grew up with a mentally (and sometimes, physically) abusive father, my mom would always be in the background to tell me how horrible he was and how he should know what he was doing to me was wrong. He would give me the 'silent treatment' constantly. Everything from getting B's in school or getting my hair cut would set him off. The silent treatments would last anywhere from two weeks to a few months. I dealt with that from before I could remember until I was eighteen when my parents got divorced, now we're mutually ignoring each other.

I was always a very angry child. I became angry quickly, and would eventually become physical (hitting my parents, kicking, etc). I was punished (spanked, time out, no tv, silent treatment) nearly every week. My father even had a book called "How to handle a strong willed child." I used to say "I hate myself" all the time, not sure where I got it from, I just remember saying it quite a bit before entering elementary school.

When I was ten my parents pulled me out of school and I was homeschooled until I graduated at 18.

My mom and I have always had a 'friendship' instead of a mother/daughter relationship, and I think that might have made her behavior towards me worse. When I turned thirteen suddenly my mom started giving me the silent treatment, something she had promised she would never do a few years previous, because her own mom used to give them to her and she knew how hurtful it was. I truly don't even remember the circumstances behind why she started ignoring me, all I remember is feeling very hurt. But I'll give one major example that had her ignoring me for four months.

When I was fifteen I not only lost an old friend to a car accident but my best friend (and only friend) of over six years suddenly refused to talk to me. I was heavily depressed for six months, until a guy I used to know at my old school suddenly showed up at my house just to see me, claiming he had missed me. I had always had a crush on him, and my mom knew this. A few weeks later we started dating. Now when I say dating, I mean the only place we went was to his church on Sunday afternoons driven by his mother. We didn't go out to eat, didn't go to movies, didn't go anywhere. Just church for two hours on Sundays. Then his mother would drive me back home and I would wait until the next Sunday. The farthest relationship-wise we got was hand holding. No kissing, no touching, nothing. Just holding hands. Every single Sunday my mom would be giving me the silent treatment for the craziest reasons, such as not calling her on my way back home, coming home ten minutes after 7:30, or not letting her read the notes he had written to me and left in my mailbox for me to open Sunday morning- and she wouldn't stop ignoring me until the end of the week. Then it would start all over again a couple days later. The worst one, where she didn't talk to me for weeks, was when my boyfriend randomly showed up at my house on a Saturday morning. I was very happy! Well, my mom would only let us 'hang out' in the living room with herself present. We endured it for about thirty minutes, and then he said he was leaving. I told my mom I would walk him out. When we got out the door I asked him if he wanted to walk down to the cemetery for a few minutes (it's less than a block away). Nothing was going to happen there, I'm not one of those girls. I just wanted to share this really cool, old cememtery I had found a few years ago with the guy I was dating. And he's not one of 'those' guys either. We weren't down there more than five minutes, exploring the tombstones, when I suddenly felt very sick to my stomach. I knew I had to get home, I knew my mom knew I had gone somewhere with my boyfriend. I panicked. Left my boyfriend behind and ran home (he was chasing after me wondering what was wrong, but I couldn't focus on him at all. Only on my mother.). I didn't even say goodbye to him, just ran through the front door. My heart dropped when I saw my mom standing a few feet in front of me with her arms crossed. Only thing she did was say, "I'm so disappointed in you." And that's the last thing I heard from her mouth for a month. I was so distraught I refused to see my boyfriend, and broke it off with him. Dating him had caused too much trouble between my mother and I, and I wanted her to talk to me again.

Finally she started talking to me again and everything went back to normal. A week later my ex-boyfriend sent me an IM on aol, I was very stunned because I knew I had hurt him with the sudden breakup. Well, lucky for me, my mom walked through my bedroom door and saw his message on my computer. She FREAKED out. I've never seen her so angry. She started accusing me of still dating him without her knowing, of having sexual relations with him (that was her reason behind why I 'hid' the relationship from her). I was horrified. She was completely wrong, that had been the first message I had gotten from him. I tried to tell her but she just talked over me. Then she slammed my door and refused to talk to me for four months. I was at my lowest point during those months, I had no one to talk to. My father and I weren't talking, I had no friends, I wouldn't dare talk to my ex-boyfriend in fear of worsening the relationship between my mom and I. Sometimes I tried to reach out to my mom and beg her to talk to me, just to listen to me. The one time I got her to speak the only thing she told me was that I was no better than her little sister, Lissa. I had heard some pretty awful stories about my mom's little sister growing up. Lissa had been spoiled rotten from a very young age, she was the favorite in the family, when she was twelve she was found with an eighteen year old boy in a motel room, the next week she was caught shoplifting, etc. So for my mom to compare me to her little sister was terrible. I was sick to my stomach. I didn't understand why my mom would ever think I could be anything like her little sister.

After that episode, the silent treatments came and went. But it wasn't until last year that they got worse. I started talking to a girl online (who is now my closest friend), and I would tell her whenever my mom was ignoring me. She never said anything until November 2009. I had mentioned that my mom was ignoring me again, and it was her birthday. I told my friend how depressed I was. Then I said something like "Remember that time when my mom stopped talking to me.." I don't remember what I was getting at, I just remember my friends response. "No, I don't remember a specific time. Nearly every week you're telling me she isn't talking to you." That's when it hit me. I hadn't realized it was that often, I only would remember the times when she was talking to me again and everything was happy again. My friend asked me if I knew what emotional abuse was. I was very shocked. I didn't even talk to my friend for a week because I couldn't believe she would suggest such a thing. Me being abused? No way.

I apologized heavily later to my friend for ignoring her like I promised myself I would never do to anyone. And then I looked up emotional abuse.

After reading everything I read, I couldn't believe how much it sounded like my mom. Ever since then I've been 'monitoring' my mom during her silent treatments. I've realized a lot of things because of that. She blames me for everything, she accuses me of everything, everytime I tell her the truth about something she says I'm lying, she would never ever give me a hug, she would never ever apologize, and she seems to be controlling my life. I'm not claiming to be perfect, I do lie (but never to my mom!) because I'm good at it but I never lie about serious things only about silly things like "I have a dog", I am a pretty jealous person, I'm still easily angered (but no longer physical), and I can be selfish sometimes. Well I rarely see the selfishness (because it's something I've been working on for many years, so I'm trying to get better), but my mom claims I'm a very selfish person. In her eyes I'm also lazy, just like my father, without common sense, and a b****.

I've begun to write on my calender when she gives me the silent treatment with a "ST" beside the date. So far I've counted 39 days in the last two months. My mom and I still live with her exhusband, my father, so she constantly blames me for telling her get a divorce because her situation hasn't changed (I honestly don't remember making her get a divorce), for not allowing her to move in with some guy she met on the internet (yeah, I told her I didn't like the idea), and for smaller things. She acts as if she's completely dependent on my opinion, and they got a divorce when I was fifteen. Why would she get a divorce because a fifteen year old told her to? Her most recent blaming is this past Saturday. She needed to go to the grocery store, we went to Krogers because I wanted to get a ticket to go see the new Harry Potter movie down the street. When I got back from the movie I was going on and on to her about how wonderful it was, and then she told me to shut up and said, "I will never allow you to make me go to Krogers again. That meat I spent twenty dollars on was not a tenderloin, it was a new york strip! I could barely chew it! Never again. Next time we go where I want to go." And she hasn't talked to me since then (it's now Tuesday).

My friend tells me what I'm living in isn't healthy. I agree somewhat. When my mom ignores me I'm sick on my stomach, I'm depressed, I can't even breathe fully, I can't enjoy myself, I just feel dead to the world. I feel like that the entire time she's ignoring me. The second she gives me any indication that she's talking to me again, all those feelings go away and I feel perfectly fine again. I know that's not healthy, I hate feeling like that. But is this actually emotional abuse? What if I did tell her to get a divorce and I just can't remember? There's been a few rentals I've told her I don't think we should move into because they're too expensive, so I am partially responsible for the fact that she still has to live with my father. I don't really see my mom abusive. Controlling, yes. But not abusive. I love her to death, regardless of the few times I've told her I hate her in anger. She means the world to me. I don't think I'll ever be able to leave her. I feel like she would waste away if I left her, I can't let that happen.

I was just wondering what you think? Is my friend right? Is this real abuse that I should be getting away from (even though I can't)? Or am I just the selfish liar that my mom says I am, and it's really me that's sick in the head?
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First Helper needanewname

replied December 9th, 2010
this is like reading about me and my mums relationship! I am probably a bit older, at 39 - my mum is 64 and this has gone on for twenty years. I get exactly where you are coming from, feeling like you are in some kind of black hole when your mum is like this and when she is fine then I feel fine too. I have been seeking advice on another forum too and will let you know what they say. Just want you to know you're not the only one that lives like this x
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replied February 21st, 2012
I understand
I have grown up with this, its horrendous. at 15 I met a lovely boy my age and at 18 we got married. we are now 19, very happily married and my mother just accused him of attacking her sexually, at the time she says it happened she was extremely drunk and I was in the room the whole time. she claims I am lying for him. This will never get better and you need to leave. I cant tell you how much I wish I had rung social services when I was a kid because although I love my mother, she wasn't giving me any love back. My thoughts are with you, Hannah xxx
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