According to my mother, I was a very obedient child growing up. She told me from my early days, as a toddler, she would place me on a high stool to feed me. I was afraid of heights and would not budge during mealtimes, so feeding me was always easy. “You were such a good kid,” she would tell me. This used to make me smile.
While most adolescents struggle with an identity crisis during high school and college, I didn’t. I never had to second-guess who my parents wanted me to be or become. Finishing my degree and getting a job that pays were the most important things to them. But the more I learned, the more I questioned. But I was not raised to question or have independent thought. Yet, in my younger days, I really believed that as I got older, my age would defy my parents’ grip on me and my thoughts. No, that wasn’t the case. They owned me. They gave me life. They sacrificed their lives, freedom and happiness, and I owed them.
Somewhere on my personal timeline, I grew up. I started to have deeper, more complex thoughts. I started to stand up for what I believed in. I started to question my parents’ authority. I started to challenge their restrictions and regulations. I started to disagree with their lifestyle and decisions. I grew up, but my parents didn’t grow with me.
My parents did not take well to my independence. You are such a failure. What changed? Why are you so bad? Did we put you in school so you’d turn out this way? Why are you this way? What’s wrong with you? How dare you? You’re not allowed to do that or think that. Why must you make my life so miserable?
Toxic parents do not know how to handle, appreciate, or live with their children’s independence. They need to feel needed. They need to have control over their children’s lives and thoughts. They need to continue to make decisions for their adult children. They yearn to feel important and better than their children. They live to criticize their children – but they only criticize out of love, they’d argue.
Children of toxic parents often feel like they don’t have a voice. Their opinions and different mindset is frequently met with ridicule or put-downs. They are often made to feel unimportant, unintelligent, or invisible. They are often compared to others, resulting in a hurt ego and a low self-esteem. And they can feel helpless and may lack personality. They may look for satisfaction in the wrong places and are unlikely able to maintain a healthy and happy relationship.
Even though I’ve started my healing process, I can still hear their voices inside my head. They used to be much louder, overpowering my own voice at times, but they’re only whispers now.