Counseling Appointment

Counseling Appointment

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Hi everyone. 

About a month ago, I wrote a list of my parents’ behaviors – ones that were hurtful and/or odd – and I showed this list to my counselor. I wanted to know if it could be considered emotional abuse because I was tired of dealing with the grey area. I wanted a definite answer. She said she understood how these behaviors could have a negative impact and how they could make someone feel emotionally unsafe. She sees emotional abuse as any behavior that causes emotional hurt, fear, confusion, etc., and she said that this is emotional abuse. She told me to stay safe – for example, stay away from them when I can. This semester is busy, so I’ve been doing that. She said the best thing to do right now is to protect myself.

When she told me what she thought, this part of me knew. It was validating. Yet this other part was scared, and I felt this weight. It is difficult to think about parents being emotionally abusive. It’s complicated. I love them, yet I know their behavior is harmful. I’m hurt (and sometimes angry) about what they’ve said to me, and it’s exhausting. 

I want to learn how to let go of my expectations of them. I’m still not sure how to go about doing this. As of now, I have a lot going on in my life. I’m trying to balance classes, homework/exams, lab work, church, time with my friends, self care, etc. Because of that, I haven’t been able to process this. I want to process this, but I wonder if it would be too overwhelming, especially because I’m living in the same house as them. When I figured out they were invalidating me, it was so difficult for me to deal with. I don’t want to live in denial or brush it under the rug, but I’m wondering if it would be easier for me to fully process everything after I move out. 

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen my assailant. I’m feeling better than I did on the day of my last update, which is good. I hope that if/when he does come back, I’ll be able to cope. 

I’m taking everything at my own pace and trying not to overwhelm myself. I have supportive people (including all of you!) who have helped me through the rough moments, and I’m so grateful for that. I hope you’re all having a wonderful week!


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26 comments

  1. Gamato04

    Thank you for this update, finally putting a word or phrase to actions can be really hard. Sometimes it feels like the burden of the label was worse than not knowing but it seems like your counselor is doing their best to help and support you which is amazing. School life can be incredibly difficult especially when you are trying to process something that might be hard to chew – all of which is more than okay and is completely acceptable. It’s amazing that you are working on self care, meditation can be incredibly useful even if it is for 5 minutes a day, and I’m happy to hear you are doing better.

  2. eagle206 Volunteer

    Hi Music2799,

    Thank you for coming back to update us on your story. I think that was a great idea to write down a list of all those things your parents do. Organizing your thoughts can be so helpful in working towards the next steps. I’m sorry that this is so complicated because of course, you love them, they are still your parents, and have been there for you sometimes. It’s really hard when someone who is close to us hurts us because we have this internal conflict on how to feel about them after. It’s so important to take things at your own pace, I’m really glad to hear that. Please come back and update us on how you are doing.

    Stay strong,

    Tyler

  3. brodie_james Volunteer

    Hey, friend,

    Thank you so much for sharing an update with us. It’s really great that you wrote down all of the things your parents have said and done to you to try and make sense of whether it’s emotionally abusive or not with your counselor. It also makes perfect sense that you felt that weight after your counselor shared her response with you. It’s hard to imagine or hear that people who are supposed to love and support us are doing things to us that are abusive, things that we definitely don’t deserve. I empathize with having a lot of things to manage and do every day to where processing through these things with your counselor might be overwhelming or interfere with your responsibilities. It’s completely within your power to decide whether that’s something you want to work on right now and prioritize your current responsibilities, or if you want to prioritize working through these things right now. We will always be here to support you and your decisions, no matter what you choose to do right now. I’m really proud of you for identifying these things and wanting to work through them eventually, and for reaching out for support whenever you’ve needed it!

    Please feel free to write us back if you feel you need more support 🙂

    Cheers,
    Brodie

  4. Harton.13 Volunteer

    music2799,
    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with some tough family stuff but I am so glad you’re doing better than the last time you shared! Often, taking it one day at a time is all we can do and it sounds like you’re finding good ways to cope.

    Family abuse is really hard to deal with. You are not alone in feeling conflicted in that you love your family but know that your relationship isn’t particularly healthy. Constantly going back and forth in your head can be really exhausting, and I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with it. Talking about it with your therapist sounds like it’s been really productive, and I hope you continue sharing with us, too, because we are always here for you.

  5. Megan Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    It’s nice that you did talk to you therapist about this, I always think it’s helpful to have answers and get a different point of view. It’s definitely hard to think of our parents as being emotionally abusive, especially because they are the people that are supposed to take care of you. I think letting go of your expectations and processing this is something you can do in therapy. I worked through my mom’s emotionally abusive behaviour in therapy and it really helped me. But you know yourself best and if you think that it’s not something you can deal with until after you move out, I would wait then. You don’t want to give yourself more than you can handle, and it sounds like you’re really busy already!

    As always, we are here for you and we support you,
    Megan

  6. Lizzi

    Hey music2799,
    I’m glad you haven’t seen your assailant recently, and I hope it’s a long time before you have to see him again. I agree with your counselor that what your parents are doing is emotional abuse. I know how complicated it is trying to accept that they are abusive when you do still love them. I feel like most people want to see their parents as good parents, and not have these tough feelings towards them. While everyone’s situation is different, I also have emotionally abusive parents and it’s so difficult to decide how to handle that. Do you cut them out of your life? Do you accept how they treat you and just try to minimize time with them? Do you confront them about how they are treating you? You’ve got so much going on right now in your life and if right now isn’t the best time to deal with this, that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you’re ignoring it. You are just putting it off until you have the time to truly deal with it and have the energy to feel whatever you need to feel in a safe way. I’m glad you have supportive people in your life that can help you work through all of this, and I’m really glad to see that you’re feeling better than your last post!

  7. tayestlack Volunteer

    Hello love, I’m sorry everything is coming at you at once and it can be exhausting, but maybe by staying busy, you’ll focus your mind away from your parents. Remember to stay honest with your therapist and continue to stay strong and keep your head up high. Thank you for updating us and we’ll always be here if you need us in the future. I hope you have a lovely day

  8. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Hey Music2799

    I am so sorry this news is hitting you the wrong way. I think it is hard to process when you are so busy. I would continue to protect yourself. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed until you move out. Continue to stay strong and its understandable to stress out. It will get better and continue to talk with your therapist.

  9. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi music2799,
    I’m sorry this news is hitting you the wrong way. I think it is definitely hard to process when you are so busy. I would try to find time when you are on campus to just be by yourself and figure this all out. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed until you move out especially if you don’t know when you are going to move out. Continue to stay strong. Just remember when this is stressing you out, just breath. It will get better. Continue to talk to your therapist about this too.
    -Alyssa

  10. Marissa Day Captain

    Hi music2799,

    Thanks for the update! I’m really glad you took the time to write out all of your parents’ behaviors and show it to your counselor. I completely understand feeling validated but the heaviness at the same time. It’s difficult to deal with, but I’m glad you realize that what they’re doing and how they’re treating you isn’t ok. Juggling everything in life is exhausting and difficult, so I want to remind you to please be gentle with yourself. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. You’re doing amazing! Stay strong.

    Marissa

  11. rkr18 Volunteer

    music7299

    Thank you for updating us. We are always here for you. I’m sorry your feeling all these emotions and are having to figure out what to do. I am happy to hear that your feelings were validated and that you have a support system. Please keep us updated and I am praying that you get through this. You are strong and brave!
    -Marie

  12. Jess Volunteer

    Thank you for updating us! I’m glad to hear that you were able to discuss your situation with your counselor and receive that validation you needed. It’s so difficult to hear that our loved ones are behaving in harmful ways. We love them and it feels impossible to acknowledge and process the fact that they are harming us. You’re doing the right thing by taking things at your own pace. School is difficult, and you need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself first. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I’m glad that you’re feeling better than the last time you updated us. That’s so great to hear. As always, if you need anything, we’re always here. <3 Stay strong, keep using your coping skills, and keep fighting.
    -Jess

  13. Jevati Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    I’m really glad you have a counselor you can talk to and trust, and that you feel comfortable coming here and sharing with us, too. Trying to sort through relationships with parents can be completely exhausting. One of the toughest things is what to do when you know that they love you, but they’re still doing/saying things that are hurtful and having a negative effect on you and your mental health.

    I can definitely see how your counselor’s reaction is validating but also means you’re not sure about your next steps. Living with your parents still, as you mentioned, can also complicate things.

    One thing that has helped me with my relationship with my parents (who have been emotionally abusive) is knowing that I don’t have to handle everything at one point in time. It’s okay to hold the knowledge of how they hurt me (or are continuing to hurt me) without needing to address all of it or fix all of it in that moment.

    Invalidation is one of the most painful things, because it breaks trust and can cause you to wonder if you were overreacting or if things really did happen the way you felt they did. I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that your feelings and memories are valid.

    Another thing I did to help me with the invalidation was I wrote apology letters from my parents to myself, basically pretending they were apologizing for a bunch of different things they said/did. It was very self-validating for me. Maybe that is something you could do with your counselor or might help you feel like you’re able to be in touch with your feelings about the emotional abuse without needing to talk to them directly about it, if you’re not in a place for that. If you feel comfortable, you could also share those letters here with us — we are happy you trust us, and we’re here for you.

    – Jev

  14. mikaylaanne11 Volunteer

    Hey again music2799,

    I’m glad that your experiences were validated. It certainly can be difficult to deal with the news that someone you love is behaving unhealthily, especially when it negatively impacts you. I agree that you should prioritize your safety right now. You might feel like you’re in survival-mode, so it could be hard to process this news. Something that might help is using your some of your self-care time to start to work through these feelings. Self-care can get messy sometimes, and if you think that working on processing these feelings can help, it might be something to incorporate into that routine. Above all, do what feels best for you right now.

    I’m also glad to hear the update on your assailant. I hope that that distance has helped you to feel better! We’re always here for you, and I also hope you have a wonderful week!

  15. kelly Day Captain

    Hey, music2799. I’m so glad you were able to get some validation from your counselor. I know how hard it is to struggle with loving your parents, even though they are abusive. It’s human instinct to love your parents and that makes it hard to see when they are harmful to us. We are biologically programmed to trust that they know what’s best. It takes a lot of practice to let go of those expectations. I still struggle with that all the time. I think you’re right, maybe now is not the best time to process everything. If you’re still living with them, it makes sense that a lot of energy would just go to protecting yourself and surviving. Just acknowledging that they are harmful to you is a big step. You’ve gained a lot of coping skills, and I believe you will be able to get through anything at this point! Keep us updated.

  16. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear music2799,
    I am so sorry that you are experiencing this situation, but it is good that you were able to talk with your therapist and to receive validation. None of can tell you how to respond or what you should do…whatever is best for you at this moment is what you should do. Learning that your parents are contributing to your hurt and trauma is excruciating. Figuring out how to deal with it is difficult at the best of times, let alone while healing from something else and managing school. Keeping your distance and avoiding the opportunity for them to hurt you further is a great way to manage an overwhelming situation until you are able to do more about it. Understanding that your parents are parenting you in the way that they learned through their parents may help you find some compassion and understanding for their behavior. It will also give you an opportunity to break the cycle in your future. I am in Early Childhood Education and I have found that many positive parenting sites, groups, and podcasts specifically address consciously changing the way we discipline (teach) children from the way we were disciplined. This research and information was life-changing to me. It also helped me see my parents as people who were doing the best that they knew how despite the hurt they had experienced while growing up. After that point, I have/had very careful relationships with them. I set my boundaries while still being respectful. Do things in a way that helps you and feels right to you while still taking care of yourself.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  17. Breanna Grunthal Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    Thanks for coming with the update! I’m sorry you’re still having these issues with your parents. It is really difficult and complicated emotionally when you love someone and yet they treat you wrongfully. And it is especially difficult when these people are your parents – people whom you are supposed to rely on for support. I understand all too well how difficult this is, so I’m sorry you’re dealing with that right now. Something that helped me was getting validated, like what you received from your therapist. This will help you move out of that grey area to a place where you can let go of your expectations of them. I know for me, it did get easier once I moved to college and had more space from my mom. Ultimately, you know yourself best and that is up to you whether you want to process this now or wait. But, there are definitely tips that you can read about how to start letting go of some of these expectations. For example, I recommend looking into some tips used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I have found some things in there to be very helpful when I’m in some tough spots. Good luck, keep your chin up, and stay strong!

    Sending lots of love and support,
    Bre

  18. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi music2799,
    Thank you so much for continuing to share your story. I’m sorry that you’re still dealing with the issues with your parents. I’m glad that your counselor is helping to validate your thoughts, and that you have such a supportive system. Perhaps looking for a place to live away from your parents would be helpful. However, don’t feel like you have to rush. As a current college student, I understand how overwhelming the work can be, so don’t push yourself too hard. If you ever need anything, let us know. We’re always here for you.

  19. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there,

    Thank you for giving us an update! It is always great to hear from you. I think that writing a list of how you are feeling about your parents actions was a really great idea! I hope it was helpful for you to talk those through with your counselor. It sounds like she had some great feedback for you. I know it can be really difficult, especially with family. How you are feeling toward them is very valid. I think you have done a really great job working through that! Don’t forget we are on your side! You are doing everything right! Don’t give up! Hope to hear from you again! 🙂

    Sending support and hope your way,
    -Natalie

  20. Kayla Volunteer

    Thank you for updating us. It’s a good idea to run these by your therapist, seeking a third party professional opinion can really bring clarity to a situation. I’m glad your keeping busy and I hope school is going well! You’ve got a lot going on, and school is so important so I would keep prioritizing that. I do think it would be helpful to look for a place of your own, perhaps with friends from school somewhere nearby. I think it would give you a lot of independence which could be great.

    Sending you love,
    Kayla

  21. Shannon Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    Thank you for sharing with us. I’m so sorry you have to deal with your parent’s behaviour. But im glad you have your therapist to validate your feelings, and of course, we are here when you need us. good luck with all your course work and classes! I know all these things are a bit overwhelming but you can do it! Be kind to yourself

    Shannon

  22. Amysue43 Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here. I can see where you feel torn between investigating and digesting the information from your counselor or simply waiting for things to calm down before you do. You don’t want this to take up so much of your time when you need to be working on other priorities. Perhaps setting some goals for yourself through the week to digest your thoughts. You could set maybe 30 minutes or so to just jotting down what’s on your mind in detail. This will help organize your mind and putting it down on paper will allow you to think clearly. You can touch on these topics you go over with your counselor in these 30 minutes as well. If you visit such throughout the week, you’ll grant yourself enough time to think without becoming overwhelmed. You could run this idea by your counselor to see if she could find reason in doing such – simply a suggestion.

    You are strong <3

  23. zelda Volunteer

    I hope you’re doing well, given everything you’re going through at the moment. I’ve also experienced times where my parents were emotionally abusive. For example, my mom yelled and screamed at me for having to get my tonsils removed. However, she did apologize the next day. I hope your parents have an understanding of how their actions have impacted you as well. If they don’t, then I’m really sorry you have had to deal with all of that. Would they be willing to try family sessions with you and your therapist? That may help them understand where you’re coming from. Maybe you could try writing them a letter expressing how you feel, even if you never give it to them. Hopefully, these suggestions help you. I don’t know if I can offer any more guidance, but please feel free to reach out to me if you want. I’m here for you and so is everyone else on this platform.

  24. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for coming back to share with us. I’m glad that you have been validated by your therapist-what your parents have done to you is not okay. I think it’s okay if you wait to process until you move out. For my own survival, I had to do something similar. I know that can be difficult, but we are here to support you whenever you need. Let us know how else we can help.

    Erin

  25. dzreid Volunteer

    Hi there!
    I have to say as hard as this is for you to live in that environment, you are stronger than you may feel. It takes way more than we realize to face issues alone but when we are living daily with reminders, makes it more complex. Taking care of ourselves when we are facing difficult situations can be challenging especially when we are being weighed down with mixed feelings & mixed messages.
    I never had a relationship with my mom. She was very emotionally abusive among other abuses. I had to first accept the fact that no matter what I did, I wasn’t going to change how she was. Talking with my therapist has helped me work through so much of the pain that my mom caused. I now have a peace.
    I hope you continue to reach out whether it be on here or with a therapist. Take time for yourself & remind yourself you’re not alone. You can get through this!
    Dawn

  26. Solongago

    Complicated is a good descriptive word for the relationship with your parents, especially for those of us who have had sexual abuse or were sexually assaulted. I don’t know that it is ever easy to sort our feelings out when it comes to them. Some folks cut off their folks and just divorce them entirely, or remain angry with them. And for some people, and for what they’ve endured maybe that is the best thing for them to do. For others of us, we have to balance caring deeply for them, loving them with seeing them as they are, and what they have done, how it has affected us in the past, and how they treat us now, and how that is currently affecting us.

    Part of growing up is shifting our emotional need for relationship from our parents to our peers. For us this can be even harder than ordinary young adults. It’s complicated. We’re vulnerable. Sometimes parents can be making it harder for us to step away from them and form our own attachments to others because they sense that vulnerability and they want for us now to be protected. Or they want to protect themselves. Even if they were not a part of the assault — stranger attacked you, they still often feel they failed to protect you. So now they feel they need to protect themselves or you.

    Someone could probably write a book on all the possibilities. The best thing for you to do is to continue in therapy, and write as much as possible. Share what you can with your therapist.