I am in lock-down with an emotionally abusive mother. She constantly makes disparaging comments about my job and my degree. She is not good at emotional regulation, and when she is in a bad mood she always takes it out on myself and my two siblings. When she is in one of her bad moods, she will say whatever she can to hurt us. It is so deliberately spiteful, because she always targets the things that she knows will hurt us the most. Even though I try not to take it personally, it gets to me sometimes. For example, in second-year, I didn’t get the internship I wanted. She brought that up WHENEVER she got angry at me. “Other people got an internship at Deloitte! How come you don’t have anything?” Well, now that I have a job, she hasn’t stopped trying to make me feel bad. She’ll say stuff like “other people got the good jobs and you got the leftover job”. Once she said that she had “lost two jobs” because of me. This is not true – she got fired due to constantly making mistakes at work. When I call her out on things, she will try to gaslight me. For example, she hates Indians and constantly says that they are “evil” and “try to use others”. So I called her a racist. She then called me a terrible daughter for talking to her this way. I feel terrible hearing her say such things though. It’s not right. Things really hit the fan today because she was upset about screwing up her interview (and is in general feeling very bad about not being able to find another job). She exploded at my younger sister when my sister got a math problem wrong, and my sister started crying even though she’d done nothing to deserve being yelled at. I can’t help but really hate my father when this happens, because he has been an absent parent his entire life, in the sense that he lives with us but rarely spends time interacting with us. Whenever my mum goes into one of her moods (and screams hurtful things at everyone around her to make them feel as bad as she does), he always goes downstairs to his “man-cave” and leaves my siblings and I to take the brunt of her anger. It really makes me sick. Kind of feel a bit better putting all that down.. any idea of what I can do to keep myself safe at home
Thank you for getting in touch and reaching out for help, it was brave of you to share your story and ask for support. It sounds like you have you have been going through an extremely stressful time. I am sorry to hear your relationship with your mum and dad has been so challenging, I imagine the current restrictions have exacerbated these issues. Despite everything you have been going through, it sounds like are very caring about your siblings and their wellbeing.
Given your circumstances, I understand why you are feeling emotional and overwhelmed. Being in lockdown must make life even more difficult because you can’t have a break from home. I’m sorry that you have been experiencing such critical and disparaging comments. University can already be stressful without additional pressure or unrelenting expectations at home. It must also be difficult feeling distant from your father and not being able to rely on him.
Right now, it may be most helpful to focus on your own self-care and what you can control. As hard as things are for you right now, connecting with friends and engaging in activities or experiences that are meaningful to you are really important for your mental health and wellbeing. Scheduling time for physical activity, particularly an outdoor activity like walking that will get you out of the house and expose you to direct daylight, will be really helpful. Also consider practising mindfulness or relaxation to cope with stress at home. There are an abundance of online mindfulness and relaxation resources available at no cost. Using an online app is always convenient and easily accessible. I’d suggest Smiling Mind or Insight Timer – these are two great apps with a variety of guided exercises.
I am glad you felt a little better from noting down your feelings and experiences. Writing and journaling your thoughts and feelings may help to relieve some of the stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You may also find talking to a counsellor helpful, which will allow you a safe space to explore your family issues and home environment in greater detail. You can book an initial consultation with a CAPS counsellor here.
You can also access a mental health care plan from your GP for longer term support. This means you can access between 6 and 20 counselling sessions with a Medicare rebate. One-to-one counselling will assist in addressing issues with boundaries and communication at home. The University of Melbourne’s Safer Communities Program also provides confidential advice and support for students who are experiencing emotional abuse from family. Given the volatile situation you are currently facing at home, this may be another helpful resource.
Thanks again for being brave and reaching out!