Not all parents are the best role models. Some end up being extremely toxic, causing the children to grow up into adults with various issues.
Childhood is all about exploring the wonders of your surroundings, playing in the mud, making friends who giggle at the same things you do, laughing as your dad throws you in the air, helping your mom bake (more like supervising because you can’t reach the countertop) and sleeping between your parents because you feel safe with them. Childhood is knowing that your parents are there for you, supporting you, loving you and guiding you. But what if you never got to experience that?
Instead of having parents who love you unconditionally or respect you as an individual (no matter how young you were), all your parents did was place conditions on how much they will love you based on the favors you did them. Or dragged you into adult drama but still treated you like a child. Sometimes people saw you as being older than your age or commented that you’ve matured too fast. Maybe it’s because you had toxic parents and were forced to grow up quickly while still being treated with the restrictions of being a child. Here are 6 ways in which you coped with having toxic parents.
You stayed away as far as possible from your parents – not that it was easy. When you were younger, you were confused by their constant yelling or when they would get mad for something you didn’t realize you had done wrong. But as you grew older and started to understand that it wasn’t normal, you started avoiding being around them. Of course, they would guilt trip you or make you pay attention to them all the time, but as much as you tried to make them happy, it was taking a toll on you. So you were either in your room most of the time or became one of those people who enjoyed school because it meant you were away from them.
You knew that you couldn’t show them the real you. For one, they would have something to say about it all the time or they would try to change you. So you became two. The face you showed your parents was the one that catered to their every whim and fancy, gave them attention, or agreed with them even if you knew you didn’t. By doing this, at least you weren’t giving them more ammunition to shoot you with. The real you only came out when you were in a space that you deemed safe. It was most probably when you were alone because you could only trust yourself.
Your emotions were always mocked by your parents. You tried to get them to understand that you were your own individual but they never accepted that. So you shut down emotionally. You couldn’t deal with anyone making light of your feelings so you decided to just shut it off completely. How can anyone hurt your feelings if you didn’t have any? It, of course, meant that everything was bottled up but you tried to keep yourself from feeling the pain of having to deal with it internally.
You weren’t getting any kind of love from home so you looked outside for it. Sometimes you were lucky when you found someone who could give you affection genuinely, something that your parents should have been giving you. You would look to this new person for approval and they would guide you well without judging you. It could have been a teacher, a neighbor or even a friend’s mom.
But sometimes Lady Luck was not in your corner and you ended up looking for affection from someone who fed off your needs. Being a child, you might not have been able to recognize it because all you wanted was someone to love you unconditionally. Of course, the conditions would not have been so obvious but at least they were being affectionate, more than what your parents gave you. The person you connected with could have either led you onto the right path or made you veer off into the wrong world, but it was the only way you could cope.
If you weren’t too successful in bottling up your emotions, you looked for a way to express the pain and the rage of having to deal with toxic parents. You were never good enough no matter how much you tried and so you needed to let it out. Maybe you choose to write or draw. Maybe you put your pain into songs or you chose to help out at an animal shelter because that was one place where you were confident you would never be judged (if a cat judged you, it’s because they dislike everyone equally). It helped you put the emotions onto paper and gave you a center to draw some energy from.
But maybe you turned to some not-so-good habits that are better left unsaid. It may have given you a high or an adrenaline rush for a short time but you knew it was temporary. For that short period of time, you were happy, unjudged, and free from any guilt or pain. Peers who joined you would make you feel a sense of belonging and that made you feel appreciated.
You knew that sharing anything about your life would cause more drama than it should have so you started keeping it a secret. You let your parents believe that they knew about what you did but actually, they were in the dark. You didn’t want their toxicity seeping into that part of your life that was a haven for you and you made sure they never found out about it. Then as you grew older, no matter how much you tried, you continued to keep things about you private in your relationships or friendships because you were afraid that it would be mocked or used against you later.
You were aware that your partner or your friends would feel slighted but after years of dealing with people who should have wholeheartedly supported you but instead tore you down, it became a habit that you couldn’t break.
Being a child meant that you were supposed to enjoy your life before responsibilities were assigned to you. You were supposed to laugh and be happy with your parents, not feel like you had to go outside to get someone to care about you. Toxic parents sometimes don’t even realize how toxic they are and end up just transferring all of those insecurities, complexes and narcissistic tendencies into criticism against you. But pushing through it meant that you turned out to be stronger than you give yourself credit for.