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Is my mom abusing me or am I the problem?

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The thing is, I don't hate her. But I can't say that I really love her either. Most of my memories with her is just her yelling at me. She puts me down and makes me feel like shit. She tells me that i'm pathetic and i won't succeed in life. Yelling at me calling me lazy, ugly, and an embarrassment to be around. I hate to admit it, but she's mostly the reason why I have so many problems. She's the reason why I isolate myself always being afraid what others think. I'm always trying to find ways to avoid her since I can't talk to her for 10 minutes without her yelling at me for something. And its not just me, its my whole family. I hate the way she treats us. Like she's the ruler and we're all peasants with no feelings. I seriously have no idea how my dad deals with her.

Today, she is where she really got me. I'm agender, panromantic and asexual. But, I really love dressing masculine. I have a lot of gender dysphoria with my female body that its unbearable. Everyday I look into the mirror and just break down in tears staring at my breasts and long hair. I hate them so much. I've been asking my mom to let me be able to cut my hair short for years to look more masculine, but every time i even bring up the topic of hair, it always turns into an argument. Today, she started yelling at me and said "what!?!? you want to look like a BOY???? Is that it!?! But you're a GIRL!! but thats UGLY? everyones going to make fun of you! you're going to be the center of attention? What are you some stupid lesbian?? HUH? Don't make me mad. Thats pathetic. It makes me very sad that when I look at your friends they all look so grown up wearing heels and make up and dresses. And yet here you are asking to get some boy haircut. If you were a boy then of course! But you're not! Stop wearing your stupid raggedy hoodies and sweats and dress like a girl! Cause thats what you are!! You need to look pretty if you want to get anywhere in life. This better be some dumb teenage phase. Maybe you need therapy cause thats not normal."

The worst part is that she was telling me this in the car where i couldn't leave. I was shaking and i'm pretty sure one side of my neck is red from where i grabbed it so hard. Then, a few hours later she always acts like she did nothing???? As if she didn't just give me the biggest fucking panic attack i've had all week. I really don't know whats wrong with me? I don't understand why the sex I was born with has any saying in how I have to dress and act. It just makes no sense to me.
It doesn't help that she's basically a broken record, repeating everything over and over and over again. It's seriously slowly driving me insane. I tell her to stop repeating things, but then she says "but if i don't repeat things then you won't do it" which is NOT TRUE. Its gotten to the point where just hearing her voice gives me a headache cause everything is just so repetitive that i can't take it anymore. I can't take her yelling or this stupid gender dysphoria anymore. I just want to be myself, but I can't cause i'm always wrong. "mother knows best" apparently.

I hate myself for feeling this way. She gives me food and a habitat. She does my laundry and cleans. Sometimes, we have fun and go out somewhere. Without her, this house would be chaos. She calls me very ungrateful when i try and tell her to leave me alone, and maybe she's right? I don't know. She says she loves me and that I am her blood, but is constantly insulting and yelling at me to the point where i panic and self harm or feel unbearably suicidal. She somehow turns arguments around to make it seem like everything is my fault. Its my fault that she can't accept me and i'm not the daughter she wanted. I can't talk to anyone about this. Not even the school councilor. My mom is very familiar with the teachers and are friends with a lot of them. Anyways, thanks for reading this. It felt better to type this out.


Well-Known Member
Dear Evan,
My heart went out to you as I read this.

Yes, your mother is acting abusively when she says the things you describe. But I suspect that, behind it all, what she feels most is fear. She sees you as an extension of herself, not as your own person, and she's afraid you'll turn out to be someone she doesn't want to be, someone she herself would be ashamed to be. Being abusive is meant to control you. She figures that, if she hurts you enough, she'll change your behaviour and make you into someone she can relate to. It's a roundabout way of getting control over her own emotions and her own life.

The thing is, there's nothing wrong with the way you are. Nothing crazy or abnormal. It's just not the most common way of being, so plenty of people don't accept it (or imagine it's a phase or a fantasy or something). She's one of them. She's not only afraid for herself, of course, she's afraid for your future. Because she can't accept you (yet), she imagines no one ever could.

Please understand that this is her issue, though you have to deal with it. You haven't done anything wrong. You aren't anything wrong. Plenty of people would accept you easily, especially now. People are more enlightened than they used to be. The thing is, she probably grew up hearing and believing all the old ideas, the things she's saying to you now. She wasn't given a healthier perspective, so she can't imagine that anyone could think differently than she does.

I'm trying to think of ways you might respond to her. It's often useful if you can reframe what the abusive person is saying, to make them reflect. Or you could agree with something neutral, something unimportant, and blow off the rest. She won't get what she wants, then, from the argument.

So, when she says you're pathetic and won't succeed, maybe you could say, reflectively, "So, you're afraid I'm pathetic and won't succeed. And you're afraid of how people will react to me. Thanks for being concerned about me, but it must be hard to live with so much fear. You don't need to worry so much."

When she says you left your stuff all over the floor and that you're a lazy slob, you can simply say, "I did leave my books there." It doesn't really give her an argument. Whereas, if you respond to the insult, she'll just keep on going.

Yes, it would help you to have somebody to talk to. Is there a local teen support group (or therapist) you could reach out to? You need some validation, someone in your corner who will affirm that it's perfectly okay to be who you are--and that you aren't pathetic and that you can certainly succeed.

If you approach your school about seeing a counsellor, say up front that you need to speak to someone your mother doesn't know and that whatever you say must be kept 100% confidential. (By law, it has to be, but it never hurts to remind people. It tells them at the outset that you will protect yourself.)

I grew up with a lot of emotional abuse myself, so I really feel for you. It can definitely mess with your head.
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