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I'm thinking of running away, but I'm not sure if I have a reason to

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  • ccsmod10
    replied
    Originally posted by Guest View Post
    I'm currently 17, turning 18 in a few months, and the majority of my childhood was characterized by isolation. This mainly stems from the absence of my mom, leading the rest of my family to retreat back into their shells and to isolate out of grief; this is especially the case for my dad. Given this, I spent the primary years of puberty alone with zero guidance or emotional support, wherein any time spent with others was with my small, ever-changing pocket of irl friends (who I felt weren't close enough to even be remotely intimate with my personal traumas and struggles) and online friends from my early days of the internet who I felt too guilty to completely trauma dump to. Suffice to say, I had very little emotional outlets during the most important developmental years of my life, and any outlets that I did have barely heard the core of my problems. This is made infinitely worse by just how awful puberty is for a person's mind. Anyone would know how mentally taxing it is constantly worrying over this or that, and social pressures applied to me because I'm a woman made things especially hard. My identity, especially, is an important aspect also, where my personhood was incessantly invalidated by people around me as a consequence of my gender. I was already struggling with finding myself as a natural product of puberty, then also punted down by social standards/demands. Insult to injury, if you will.

    Queue my dad, who is already emotionally constipated and extremely traditional in his ways, given that he is quite old. He firmly believes that he should be able to do what he wants by proxy of being the dad, the breadwinner of the home. Due to this, when I finally began to regain my voice with support from a new set of online friends (my closest one so far, love them to bits), I was met with a rude awakening being that my dad doesn't care abt a single thing I say.

    He has a really consistent way of doing it, and it goes like this: I, his daughter, bring up a concern and wish to voice my opinion. My dad shuts down the conversation as soon as it starts, refusing to listen to a single thing I believe, declaring his say as final and superior. His favorite phrases include "This conversation is over", "I'm done talking to you", and "Stop". This routine has happened almost every single time I've brought a concern to him or so much as wanted him to hear my opinion, even if the subject was something as basic as our dog's source of drinking water (true story btw, that somehow led to a giant argument).

    With my insecurities about my personhood in mind, to have someone who should be validating my experiences and opinions, willing to hear my voice, not do a single one of those things was beyond upsetting: it's traumatizing. The treatment I faced at having who is supposed to be one of the biggest figureheads in my life invalidate my voice for no specified reason influenced me into a tendency to conform to other's demands. I was completely left in the dark as to why someone, even my own dad, would silence me; I subsequently inferred that it was my fault and something was just wrong with me. I then grew a subconscious trauma response to evade conflict, deciding things would dissolve as quickly as possible, saving me the mental anguish and potential of losing friends, if I just agreed and went along with people's plans. This essentially conditioned me to never question authority, because apparently, there's something wrong with me that makes me unworthy of a voice in the first place.

    This also works hand-in-hand with a bad tendency I developed where when something goes wrong, or I get into an argument, my mind goes into a downward spiral about past conflicts, past arguments, I start remembering things, and I try to rationalize the "why" behind everything bad that ever happened to me, especially if it revolves around the way my dad treats me. I would have full breakdowns thinking about and trying to pathologize why I was repeatedly treated a certain way. I've since grown out of those tendencies, finding a great sense of independence from my aforementioned friend group, but my dad's treatment continues despite my refusal to bend to fear.

    These incidents of being silenced and shouted into conformity have happened an innumerable amount of times, making me believe that he does it because he simply doesn't see me as a person, or loves me for that matter. He always takes me wanting him to hear my beliefs as me trying to steamroll his authority, but I've never asked him to bend the knee and agree to everything I say/demand, because it's never been about having my opinion be "right". It's about being heard, being considered, and my dad can't even do that without taking it as an intentional act of rebellion or a means of torturing him. That's another thing too, he always tries to victimize himself whenever I confront him on disrespecting my personhood and silencing me. He'll weaponize the things he's legally obligated to do as my father (such as giving food, clothing, and means of bathing) above my head as to make me feel bad for disagreeing with his ways. Sometimes he'll even try and make it seem as if I did something wrong too, where he'll so much as split the blame to try and alleviate his part in a conflict. A third thing he does is harp about how terrible some other people are, as some tactic to convince me that he's not that bad (he's admitted as much as to me). Speaking of him weaponizing his parental obligations, that just tells me that he thinks our relationship is transactional, or established out of fear. He doesn't do things for me because he loves me, he does things for me because he'll be punished if he doesn't, and/or he wants subservience and silence out of it. It makes me wonder why he even had kids.

    Despite everything, I don't even know if what he does to me constitutes as "emotional abuse". Maybe my uncertainty about that is a testament to how much he's made me believe that I'm wrong for so much as speaking my piece. With that uncertainty, I decided to take matters into my own hands and hear the feedback of people outside of my circle, outside of my established influence. Hearing advice, or different perspectives, would help a lot. Ty
    Thank you so much for writing to us, and so thoroughly and eloquently. It seems like you have an awareness/perceptiveness and emotional intelligence that will aid greatly in recovery from the traumas you've experienced.

    It sounds like your dad has not made your emotional safety a priority, and at the times you've tried to bring it up, he's gotten defensive. It sounds like you have attempted to make your relationship more harmonious so you could both be happier in the relationship, and he has viewed it as a threat to the way he does things and has shut things down before they could even begin to move anywhere. That can be a tremendous disappointment, and as you've already identified, take a large toll on your own wellbeing, especially when sustained over a long period of time. It's normal to have felt (and still feel) angry, sad, or even guilty/ashamed. Or confused at why you feel any of those things.

    It can be hard to put a black-and-white label on what exactly "emotional abuse" is, but it sounds like your dad has definitely stunted your happiness for a long time now, which is not something you or anyone deserves.

    It's good that you have a group of friends now that you feel safe with, and hopefully you feel you can express what you're feeling to them and it will be received nonjudgmentally. If you want to further expand the circle of people you can talk to, it sounds like your situation could warrant seeing a therapist/counselor to discuss what's happened. It seems like it might be likely your dad wouldn't approve of/pay for one, but you may be able to see someone in school. There is also the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), who offers a hotline and live chat service from their website (www.nami.org). Additionally, you might benefit from a group like Alateen, or Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. Both are free, peer-supported groups dedicated to the communal recovery from traumatic childhood, and both organizations have virtual and in-person meetings you can attend, even just to listen, if you like. Their websites are: https://al-anon.org/newcomers/teen-corner-alateen/ and https://adultchildren.org/.

    Lastly you can always reach out to us for counsel. You mentioned thinking of running away but not being sure if you have 'reason' to. We are here to help 24/7, whether it means chatting through a potential plan of action, or discussing other coping strategies. You do not have to deal with this alone, and are already on the right track by reaching out

    Leave a comment:


  • I'm thinking of running away, but I'm not sure if I have a reason to

    I'm currently 17, turning 18 in a few months, and the majority of my childhood was characterized by isolation. This mainly stems from the absence of my mom, leading the rest of my family to retreat back into their shells and to isolate out of grief; this is especially the case for my dad. Given this, I spent the primary years of puberty alone with zero guidance or emotional support, wherein any time spent with others was with my small, ever-changing pocket of irl friends (who I felt weren't close enough to even be remotely intimate with my personal traumas and struggles) and online friends from my early days of the internet who I felt too guilty to completely trauma dump to. Suffice to say, I had very little emotional outlets during the most important developmental years of my life, and any outlets that I did have barely heard the core of my problems. This is made infinitely worse by just how awful puberty is for a person's mind. Anyone would know how mentally taxing it is constantly worrying over this or that, and social pressures applied to me because I'm a woman made things especially hard. My identity, especially, is an important aspect also, where my personhood was incessantly invalidated by people around me as a consequence of my gender. I was already struggling with finding myself as a natural product of puberty, then also punted down by social standards/demands. Insult to injury, if you will.

    Queue my dad, who is already emotionally constipated and extremely traditional in his ways, given that he is quite old. He firmly believes that he should be able to do what he wants by proxy of being the dad, the breadwinner of the home. Due to this, when I finally began to regain my voice with support from a new set of online friends (my closest one so far, love them to bits), I was met with a rude awakening being that my dad doesn't care abt a single thing I say.

    He has a really consistent way of doing it, and it goes like this: I, his daughter, bring up a concern and wish to voice my opinion. My dad shuts down the conversation as soon as it starts, refusing to listen to a single thing I believe, declaring his say as final and superior. His favorite phrases include "This conversation is over", "I'm done talking to you", and "Stop". This routine has happened almost every single time I've brought a concern to him or so much as wanted him to hear my opinion, even if the subject was something as basic as our dog's source of drinking water (true story btw, that somehow led to a giant argument).

    With my insecurities about my personhood in mind, to have someone who should be validating my experiences and opinions, willing to hear my voice, not do a single one of those things was beyond upsetting: it's traumatizing. The treatment I faced at having who is supposed to be one of the biggest figureheads in my life invalidate my voice for no specified reason influenced me into a tendency to conform to other's demands. I was completely left in the dark as to why someone, even my own dad, would silence me; I subsequently inferred that it was my fault and something was just wrong with me. I then grew a subconscious trauma response to evade conflict, deciding things would dissolve as quickly as possible, saving me the mental anguish and potential of losing friends, if I just agreed and went along with people's plans. This essentially conditioned me to never question authority, because apparently, there's something wrong with me that makes me unworthy of a voice in the first place.

    This also works hand-in-hand with a bad tendency I developed where when something goes wrong, or I get into an argument, my mind goes into a downward spiral about past conflicts, past arguments, I start remembering things, and I try to rationalize the "why" behind everything bad that ever happened to me, especially if it revolves around the way my dad treats me. I would have full breakdowns thinking about and trying to pathologize why I was repeatedly treated a certain way. I've since grown out of those tendencies, finding a great sense of independence from my aforementioned friend group, but my dad's treatment continues despite my refusal to bend to fear.

    These incidents of being silenced and shouted into conformity have happened an innumerable amount of times, making me believe that he does it because he simply doesn't see me as a person, or loves me for that matter. He always takes me wanting him to hear my beliefs as me trying to steamroll his authority, but I've never asked him to bend the knee and agree to everything I say/demand, because it's never been about having my opinion be "right". It's about being heard, being considered, and my dad can't even do that without taking it as an intentional act of rebellion or a means of torturing him. That's another thing too, he always tries to victimize himself whenever I confront him on disrespecting my personhood and silencing me. He'll weaponize the things he's legally obligated to do as my father (such as giving food, clothing, and means of bathing) above my head as to make me feel bad for disagreeing with his ways. Sometimes he'll even try and make it seem as if I did something wrong too, where he'll so much as split the blame to try and alleviate his part in a conflict. A third thing he does is harp about how terrible some other people are, as some tactic to convince me that he's not that bad (he's admitted as much as to me). Speaking of him weaponizing his parental obligations, that just tells me that he thinks our relationship is transactional, or established out of fear. He doesn't do things for me because he loves me, he does things for me because he'll be punished if he doesn't, and/or he wants subservience and silence out of it. It makes me wonder why he even had kids.

    Despite everything, I don't even know if what he does to me constitutes as "emotional abuse". Maybe my uncertainty about that is a testament to how much he's made me believe that I'm wrong for so much as speaking my piece. With that uncertainty, I decided to take matters into my own hands and hear the feedback of people outside of my circle, outside of my established influence. Hearing advice, or different perspectives, would help a lot. Ty
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