Hello, I am a 21-year-old college student who is close to graduating with a BFA in fine art.
My situation is like this: both of my biological parents are abusive. They separated when I was very young, and the custody battle went on for years. As a child I didn’t understand that the way I was being treated was wrong I just thought it was normal. I carried that idea of normality with me for a long time, and my mother won the custody battle. I believed my mother insulting my siblings and me to the point of being unable to feel anything except a deep emptiness and acceptance of the insults that were given to us was normal. I thought her constant use of manipulation and gas lighting to get us to do what she wanted was normal. I thought that being grabbed by the back of the neck and guided to wherever my mother wanted me to be was normal. I thought that having a dull ache for hours wherever my mother grabbed me in anger was normal. I thought my mother destroying and throwing everything around me while she screamed the absolute worst things to me while I stared straight ahead trying not to give her any reaction was normal. I thought it was normal to be screamed at for hours on end until I broke down crying, and for more hours after that. I believed the fear I felt towards my mother was normal.
To say I am afraid of my mother does not even begin to describe it. I am absolutely terrified of her. How do I even begin describing it? Maybe how I used to be obsessed with those true crime tv shows at the age of five. How I used to believe my siblings and I would become just another story on them. How I used to stare at the ceiling waiting to hear my mother come in, which she always did and stared at us for hours as we pretended to be asleep. How I really believed that it was just a matter of time before my mother came and killed my siblings and me in our sleep. How I had always thought that this would be the night we finally crossed the line and it’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do except try to create enough of a distraction that my brother and sister would get away. To say my childhood was filled with violence might be somewhat of an understatement. When my mother married my step-dad I gained a step-sister. I watched many times as my siblings got into physical and verbal altercations with my parents, and my parents have physical and verbal altercations. These occurred at least once a day.
My step-dad was the one who raised me. He provided everything I needed and was my primary caregiver by all meanings. He would often shield me from what he could with things involving my mother. Around the age of ten, he and my mother would fight constantly. The fights, as I mentioned before, would at times get physical on my mothers’ side and he tried to defend himself without hurting her. They would separate every other week at this time. Eventually, one of these separations became permanent and they filed for divorce. In this time my mother told me I wasn’t allowed to see him, so my time with him was far and in between. When I was eleven my step-dad committed suicide. I had told my mother I thought something was wrong because he wasn’t responding to my messages. She ignored me for a week. The day she found his body she told me before dropping me off at school that she was heading over with the police to check on him. I went to school that day knowing I was going to hear he was dead when I got home. When I got home I went and started to clean the whole house and began making dinner for my mother, as I did every day or I would be subject to another rampage from my mother. When she got home she told me in excruciating detail how she found my step-dad. I finished my chores before I went to my room to cry as quietly as I could. My mother told me I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone or I would be punished. I was so scared of my mother I didn’t tell anyone about my step-dad or the circumstances of his death until I was seventeen. I was not allowed to seek help from anyone outside of our immediate family about anything, because my mother would find out. My mother was a prominent figure in Santa Fe, and I couldn’t go anywhere without her finding out. She worked at my doctor’s office and the people who treated me were her friends. As awful as she was to us inside the home she was the perfect community member and mother outside of it. No one could know how she was treating us unless they were in the house for long enough, which was rare. With my step-dad, gone things only got worse. My mother would begin to make up stories about him that had never occurred, such as that he abused her and cheated on her. She will not allow me to show any sadness or love towards my step-dad in her presence if I do it is met with extreme anger and ridicule.
My siblings no longer lived with us, my brother had run away multiple times and my sister moving out as soon as she turned eighteen. I was left alone with my mother and nothing I could do would please her. I had to take care of her as a parent would take care of a child. I cooked all her meals, I cleaned the house, and I often had to buy my own necessities. If I did not complete one of these tasks I would be verbally assaulted for hours on end. My mother stopped giving me money for lunch or buying me simple things like shampoo or toothpaste. If I asked for these things I was met with extreme anger and a multitude of insults. Later in high school I volunteered to cook food and feed it to the homeless, I joined a multitude of clubs, and I even got a part-time job from the age of eleven as a house sitter to make money, so I wouldn’t have to ask my mother for anything. She continued to insult me and belittle me by calling me rude and selfish for doing these things. It didn’t matter what I did in the house if I was sitting doing homework or anything else she’d begin screaming at me and accusing me of being mad at her for something even though I was clearly sitting there without any malice. Everything I did was for her approval, which she had trained me and my siblings to fight for.
When I was fourteen she started to slip up. When I had my friends over for sleepovers she would forget they were there and begin her abuse on me for the day, screaming at me for things that I had nothing to do with and throwing things such as pots and pans around. She would stop when they came out to check on what was going on and apologize for forgetting they were there. When I was eighteen I began to live with my boyfriend at the time and his parents. I was so relieved to be out of the house, I could finally sleep peacefully. This was the same year I began college. I chose a school out of state because I had to get away from my mother. I knew if I stayed I would never gain independence from her because of the way she had me, for lack of a better word, trained to do what she wanted. During this time, I was still afraid of her. When I told her that I would be able to go out of state she called me and yelled at me over the phone about how ungrateful and selfish I was. I had to drive from my boyfriends’ house to her because she wanted me to, and she attempted to make me not go to college at all and stay at the house with her. With the help and reassurance of my boyfriend and his family, I went out of state and attended university. I even changed my home address to their house, so my mother wouldn’t be able to keep important information from me as she had done in the past. I started going to the counselor at my university and was told I had extreme anxiety and depression. I called my mom to tell her, and she told me I was wrong and after that, she used that information against me to make fun of my mental state and ridicule me constantly.
At the time I wanted to take my cat, that I had owned since I was five, to my school as an emotional support animal. She made me feel guilty for even suggesting it, saying I would ruin my cat’s life, manipulating me into not taking him so I would still go back to the house. At the same time, she was telling my sister how rude I was for leaving my cat with her to take care of and not taking him with me. I got him under my name the following semester and got him registered at my university as an emotional support animal.
In the fall semester of 2018, I had broken up with my boyfriend. When I told my mother the only thing she said was that I belonged to her again. In December I received a text from my mother about how she was mad at my sister and how none of us gave her the love she deserved. When my mother is mad at one of us, she involves all of us. She then called me to, once again, talk about how she was mad at my sister and how that somehow involved me. She was relatively calm on the call until she asked me where I was staying when I returned home, I told her I wasn’t sure because at the time I didn’t even know how I was getting home. She became irate and asked why I wasn’t going to stay with her. She spoke over me when I was trying to answer her several times until I gave up and said I didn’t say I wasn’t going to stay there, I just said I didn’t know. She hung up the phone. It is very common for my mother to harass me through email, phone calls, and texts. She tried calling me multiple times after that, and I texted her that I needed time to think. She accused me of wanted to kill myself. She does this often because she wants a reaction out of me not because she genuinely believes I would hurt myself. I told her that I was fine and was going to see my counselor, which was true. Earlier in the week I had broken down and told my counselor the truth about my depression and how bad it was, and how bad my life situation was in general. On the appointment on Friday, I went into more detail and told her about what my mother had said. After the appointment, I called my mom to try to communicate with her one more time. I tried telling her I process things differently, and that I needed her to understand that and love me for how I was. I apologized for not being who she wanted me to be, but I was trying my best, to which she responded that I was manipulating her. She said I had taken a knife and was twisting it in her stomach, and that I was a terrible child who wanted to cause her nothing but pain. She was screaming at me about how I had manipulated her into taking care of me. I was so distraught that I told her I had to hang up the phone. She continued to try to call me and text me about how I had treated her worse than anyone ever had in her entire life. She told me she even attempted to text and call my ex-boyfriend and his family just to accuse them of stealing me away from her and how they had ruined her daughter. She told me not to come home, and to not tell her where I was as I drove across the country.
I complied with what she wanted and drove to New Mexico and stayed with my friend and her family. I kept this a secret because my mother would begin to harass them had she known. During this time, she told me to get my own phone plan, because she was going to take me off of hers. I went in the next day and got my own phone plan after I bought out my phone. I was still at the register waiting for my receipt when she called me, meaning she was watching the transaction. I was so scared I left the store as fast as I could. She texted my sister and threatened that I should not go to my workplace on a certain day because she would be there. This instilled so much fear in me I told my superiors about my situation and had her face known to security in case she ever tried to find me there. For the past several months my mother has left me harassing texts and calls, to the point where I blocked her number and on social media. She started calling me from different phone numbers. She even started sending me emails. My mother is extremely emotionally, mentally, verbally, and at times physically abusive. I cannot rely on her. It’s to the point to where if I get a call from a number I don’t know I start to shake and panic because it might be her. I can’t even imagine seeing her in person.
I have to transfer from my university to one that is less expensive because of all the new bills I have, such as my own phone-line, my tuition, car payments, and for my pets whom I love dearly and will not abandon. I need to find a new place to live and somehow also pay the rent there. I hate asking others for help but I don’t know what else to do, I need help and I will be eternally grateful to anyone who is willing to lend a helping hand. I am trying to find a full-time job, but my already collecting debt is scaring me and I have no one I can rely on, and I need at least 5,000 to make ends meet. Thank you and God bless.