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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those of us that are older, we've had more time to think about this and try to figure it out... but I was wondering, how many of you have pinpointed what caused your SAD?

With me, it wasn't until just about 2 years ago that a counselor I had for a few brief months pointed out to me all the abuse in my life. By that I mean I had an abusive, neglectful family and married an abusive man even worse than my father, when all my life I'd tried to avoid men like him. But my mother and older brother were abusive also, so it wasn't just Dad. I've also discovered that my father, my older brother and my ex all (most likely... if I can believe what I've read about the disorder - but it honestly does sound exactly like them) have NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Those 3 are very good at blaming others for their mistakes... and after a while you do tend to believe it's your fault they're not happy, or that you caused the problem somehow.

Until this counselor, I recognized that they all drove me crazy, that they could be very mean with the things they'd say, attacking, sarcastic, cruel, set goals for me that I could never reach... or if I did, they weren't happy and raised the bar without ever saying 'great job or well done'... and made me feel like no matter how hard I tried, I was still a failure in their eyes. I never got the approval I sought, I was very rarely praised, nor was I treated like a person with equal rights by them or entitled to my own opinion. I didn't have value in their eyes, I wasn't respected... and since my value and self-respect came from them, I didn't see anything good in myself either. Until then, I didn't know any of this was classified as abuse. It was severe emotional abuse.

What I've finally decided is that my personality was the basis for everything. If I hadn't been created so sensitive and compliant, perhaps the various abuses wouldn't have made me withdraw more and more and made me so fearful or lacking in self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem.

We can't help the type of family we are born into, nor the type of personality we're born with... and for me, it all led to me getting shyer and more fearful day by day as I felt like such a failure. Lowering my expectations of others, while raising them for myself - to the point of becoming a perfectionist - looking for the 'perfect' man without knowing how to be realistic about it. It set me up to make some really bad choices in life because my thinking and value system were all messed up. What I grew up with as being 'normal' was anything but normal and healthy.

I wasn't ever told I was pretty (except my my ex, but I didn't respect or put value in his opinion because he was so abusive)... and it wasn't until after I separated from my H and was looking at old photos that I realized I had been a very pretty little girl. But I never knew it.

Nor was I told I was smart. It wasn't until I was given some testing by my counselor to check for learning disabilities that I discovered my I.Q. was just 2 points below the genius level... I had been convinced by them all that I was stupid and foolish (except my mother... in more recent years she's told me several times that I'm smart). That same testing showed that my educational equivalency was the same as if I'd had 18+ years of school... and I only had 1 semester of college, in one subject.

All of that makes me wonder... what might I have been today if either my personality had been a little different or my family, and ex, had been less abusive? What might I have done with my life had I been free of this SAD? I realize now it started when I was a toddler, but it's gotten worse and worse as the years have passed.

Have you discovered how yours started? I'm curious to find out if others had these same things in their life. I think in order to get over this, to rebuild 'me' the way I want to be, it was important to figure out why first.
 

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Mine was caused by abuse, also. My mother used to have almost daily temper tantrums and I was always scared to death I was going to do something to set her off. One of my earliest memories, I think I was about five years old, was I was sitting in my room upstairs listening to my mother screaming down in the kitchen about how hard everything was for her. It was just the two of us in the house. Then she yelled up at me to come down and set the table. I was so scared I was going to do something wrong, I was shaking. I dropped a fork on the floor and that's all it took to set her off.

So, that's what it was like growing up. She's said a lot of things my entire life just to make me feel bad about myself. I don't understand it. Your mother is supposed to be the one person you can count on to try to make you feel good. I've tried to talk to her about it a few times but all I got were things like "you can't blame your parents for everything" or she just would ignore what I said. Then she started writing me letters saying how sorry she was that she didn't have a good job when I was growing up. Finally I had enough. A few years ago I moved and I haven't told her my new address or phone number, and just cut off all contact with her. She's just a bad person and I don't want her in my life.

I agree with you Peek -- in order to move on, you have to understand what caused your problems. I used to wonder what my life would have been like had I been raised in a better environment, but that's just kind of depressing.
 

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I'm 22... and I did two years of therapy. I found out that I was abused. I was so far abused I didn't even realized I was abused. But boy... when I told my psychologist the things my parents did to me as a child, and the things they say even now.... her mouth dropped. My father was a severe alcoholic, and my psychologist thought that had a huge affect on me in social situations.... that I became hyper aware of what other's thought in public. Problems with drinking cause all kinds of problems in familys. My dad has been sober for ten years, but the affects it left on me were massive. And my parents were emotional and physicaly abusive. My parents are still emotionaly abusive. None of that helps to foster any self confidence in a person.
 

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PeekABoo, just remember you got me started!

I was raised in an emotionally abusive family. My Mom was an alcoholic and my dad was an emotionally unstable pedophile. Just before she died, Mom told me the only reason he never molested me was because she stopped him. But I think he probably did molest my brother. For as long as I can remember I slept with Mom and my brother slept with dad.

He was gross and disgusting. Most of the time, around the house, he wore nothing but his boxer shorts. If he got mad about something, which was often, he would go into a rage, shaking and swearing. When he was mad at me or my brother he would call us Goddamned little assholes or bastards. Many times he would be so mad that spit would fly from his mouth. I think our whole existence revolved around trying to keep him happy. He rarely bathed and just about every day he wanted me to scratch his greasy, dandruff filled head or pick the scales off the bottom of his feet. when I told him I didn't want to do it he said I didn't love him. I always did it because I didn't want him to think I didn't love him. One time instead of going straight home from school I went to a friends house. When they found me dad was raging and Mom was crying. When we got home they sent me to bed. I wanted to kill myself so I put a coathanger around my neck. I heard someone coming so I pulled the covers up to hide the coathanger. It was dad, in nothing but his boxers, and he got in bed with me. I was scared because I didn't know what he was doing, but he got out of bed a few minutes later without doing anything. Then Mom came in and told me she loved me and that everything would be all right.

I think my brother's sole purpose in life was to humiliate me. In every game we played he was the hero and I was the villain who always lost. One time we played cowboys and indians. In a neighbors yard he wrapped a clothesline around me and tied it off, then left. It started raining and I was screaming for someone to help me. He went home and when Mom asked him where I was he said he didn't know. The most painful memory I have is when he asked me if I had any girlfriends at school. I told him I would never have a girlfriend. When he asked why I said "Because I'm too damned ugly"! I cried and he laughed. He thought that was the funniest thing he had ever heard. He made me repeat it to Mom and dad and for a long time anytime anyone would come over, even total strangers, he would make me tell them why I would never have a girlfriend. To this day I can't imagine why any woman would want to have anything to do with me and I'm 47.

Everything everyone said or did in my family was made fun of. Maybe I was just too sensitive, but I cried a lot when I was a child. I didn't want to be made fun of. I wanted people to take me seriously. But I was called crybaby and Mamma's boy. By the time I was in my early teens I had taught myself not to cry in front of people. I still cried, but only when I was alone. And I taught myself to think very carefully about what I wanted to say or do so I wouldn't be ridiculed.

I've built so many walls around myself over the years that I don't know how to break them down. I don't even know if they can be broken. I still cry a lot at home, when I'm alone.
 

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^^Ernest, it really sounds like you had a really difficult childhood.:(

I guess part of what caused my SA may be blamed on my mother. Like the_bull my mother was prone to temper tantrums or something like them. Not all the time but quite frequently and they would sometimes last for days. I think I heard every foul word there is by the time I was 7. Maybe that's one reason I'm not impressed by foul language especially from women. There wasn't really any physical abuse to speak of. I hesitate to post the worst thing she did that I remember. In any case I think that taught me how to feel anxious.

I don't know about a genetic factor. There were a few relatives on my dad's side that were called shy but it didn't seem too severe to me. My mom's side is/was anything but shy.

I developed some type of cardiac phobia around age ten. I became over focused on my heart. Part of the problem was that I was having palpitations that I much later discovered were from reactive hypoglycemia. One thing my mother was right about was that I was a poor eater. I had a sweet tooth and ate far too much junk food which probably caused me to develop reactive hypoglycemia at some point during childhood.

At age 11 one day at school during lunch break I was at a nearby store to buy some junk food and was surprised to hear the bell ring. I ran back to the school and up the stairs and when I got to class my heart was really pounding which made me really self-conscious of it. Then the teacher immediately called on me to get up in front of class to read something. The more I tried to calm my heartbeat the more it started to pound and I guess I had what was essentially a panic attack. I did however get up and read without anyone knowing anything was wrong. :lol But from then on whenever I had to do anything in front of class I would have a panic attack(essentially). I know I suffered from high adrenaline levels from the reactive hypoglycemia so that was a big part of the cause.

Before that day I used to like doing things in front of class I never really got nervous I enjoyed it mostly. :stu My SA was basically like that, more or less of the public speaking type for several years until at age 16 it took a turn for the worse where I developed a nervous tic symptom which caused problems in more social situations.
 

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Ernest - That is one of the worst things I have ever heard. In no way are you or were you "over sensitive". You were severely abused. No child should ever have to go through what you did. Your parents were really sick people. That's just horendous. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that, and that you have to live with that memory and those affects.
 

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I can relate to almost every story on this post..........Especially the mother that could be set off with something as simple as a fork dropping.........



:lurk
 

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hema said:
I can relate to almost every story on this post..........Especially the mother that could be set off with something as simple as a fork dropping.........

:lurk
Me too.
 

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infinite_time said:
Ernest - That is one of the worst things I have ever heard. In no way are you or were you "over sensitive". You were severely abused. No child should ever have to go through what you did. Your parents were really sick people. That's just horendous. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that, and that you have to live with that memory and those affects.
Thank you infinite_time. You're still living with the abuse and I'm sorry. I got away from it as soon as I turned 18 and joined the Navy. I want to clarify that I didn't know for sure that my dad was a pedophile until just before I went into the Navy. He told me something that's too graphic to print here and I was disgusted. I should have gone to the police, but instead I never had anything to do with him again. I didn't even go to his funeral when he died 10 years later.
 

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Dear God I will never understand this!

I realize most abusers were abused themselves BUT, I will NEVER do this to my daughter..........I can't understand how a parent could do this without getting some type of help.
 

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hema said:
Dear God I will never understand this!

I realize most abusers were abused themselves BUT, I will NEVER do this to my daughter..........I can't understand how a parent could do this without getting some type of help.
Hema,

For a very long time, child abuse was not an issue.
No attention was paid to it.
That's just the way it was.
And there was no type of help because people didn't view it as a problem.
The verbal and emotional abuse left no visible marks.

Physical abuse was largely ignored.
"None of my business."
"I don't want to get involved."
The code of silence.
 

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My Mom is totally different with my daughter than she was with me.......I hear her make comments once in a while "That's child abuse" (something she sees, hears...) I look at her.....I said something once "oh, it was legal then" oh........I understand, because it's legal it makes it right! NOT;-)
I remember a site I found, MIchigan sex offenders, for "fun" I put my zip code in, I thought, geez, that address looked familiar.........It was my neighobrs.........Long story short, he was living with a women that had two little girls......I asked a few "Pros" what certain codes meant "If she (mother) had any sense he wouldn't be living with him" I'm thinking, she can't know.......Or she wouldn't....Know mother would put her child in this harm...What do you do........I made mention in passing conversation.........."Mind your own business"........ (Yes, I knew I was out of line to a degree but kids are kids.).....they ended up moving........Two months later, the man is on trial for molesting her children, he's back in prison...........
 

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My father was abused very badly, and so were his siblings. And their father who was a horrible man, was abuse by his care takers. So when it came to my brother and I.... we ended up being abused. It's three generations of abuse going on. I have sworn that if I have children, it stops right there with me. No child should have to suffer through abuse. As much as people like to say you can go on from it, you never get over abuse. It never stops hurting.... and it never stops affecting you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am really sorry you all had to go through so much! :rub :group :(

Ernest, your story is so heartbreaking! That was horrendous the way you were raised and what you had to live with! I belong to another site, for survivors of abuse (all types - physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, etc.) so I've talked to others that have stories similar to yours. My abuses cover many areas and isn't limited to just the things I put in... that was just somewhere to start. But I never had to go through being threatened daily with the concern of sexual abuse or incest... I'm sorry you and your brother did. And although I'm very glad your mother protected you, I'm sorry she didn't protect your brother the way she should have. There's little doubt in my mind that your father was abusing your brother sexually.

It doesn't make it right at all or justify it in any way, but perhaps his anger and hatred towards you, his meanness, was because of that... because he hated it so much his hatred turned towards you because you were the one being protected. It wasn't either of your fault he was the one your mother made sleep with your father, but a child doesn't see things that way. All of that is just a guess on my part, but from the things I've been told during the last 17 months since joining that group, it does sound reasonable. I know that doesn't make it all better for you, but I'm sincere in that I'm really very, very sorry you were raised under those conditions - in such a sick, twisted, abusive family.

Are you or your brother in counseling, Ernest? Talking about the things that happened, bringing them out in the open, breaking the silence, helps to disarm the trauma... and having someone trained in treating abuse, and SAD, will help you to break down the walls. There is hope, Ernest... but it will take time. I just turned 56, and I'm just getting started on that... but it's given me hope for the first time in many years... and that's what we all need.

Hema, I don't think you were out of line at all in bringing it up to the woman next door. She may not have liked that you brought it to her attention, but her job is to protect her daughters... not bring a child molester into the house with them! Was his arrest because of him molesting her daughters, or was it because he molested someone else's? If it was because she discovered he was molesting her daughters, perhaps what you said opened her eyes and it saved her children from years of abuse. I'm proud of you for putting effort into trying to help her children... and I think that was very brave of you. It's not something I think I could do... but I don't know. I think, for me, it would have been much easier, and emotionally safer, to just report a suspicious situation to the police, or the child protection agency, rather than to confront anything like that myself. I just get too scared and turn into a coward when having to confront. I'm glad the jerk is back in prison and I hope they keep him there!!!

I think what I'm seeing here is that most of us were exposed to some form of severe abuse in our childhood. I've thought for quite a while that it's the abuse that's caused this in me... and wondered if that were the case for most people. I have big blank spots in my life, but my mother has filled me in on a lot that went on... and I have photos that show me hiding behind her, or the shy, fearful, protective posture I adopted (something I was always being criticized for by my mother).

Infinite_time, I'm very glad you've determined that you're not going to raise your children the way you were raised... that you're going to break the cycle. That was what I determined in my late teens... although there were times a part of the past came out and I sounded like one of my parents to my children... but thankfully, it wasn't something I allowed to continue, and fought to be completely different than they were.

Sprinter, I passed out several times as a kid and they never could figure out why. In my late 20's, after having almost daily dizzy spells at the same time each day and feelings of extreme weakness and total lack of energy... along with mental confusion, it was finally discovered that I had hypoglycemia. Until this moment, I don't think I've ever associated it with adrenaline levels. Thank you for bringing that to my attention! That makes a lot of sense.

For those of you that had mothers that would jump on you for doing the least little thing that all kids do - just normal 'kid' things because they're constantly growing and have co-ordination problems (dropping a fork, spilling milk, bumping into things, etc.), I had that too. My mother, I'm sure, had PMS severely... I did, so I know how crazy that can make you, and you really don't have much control over it. The times she wasn't having that she wasn't nearly as bad... but I still felt unloved and ignored... and ridiculed for so many things. I just happened to be very fortunate that I discovered what was causing that in me (after I tried to have myself committed because I thought I was going crazy)... and was able to get medication and find out the things that would correct the problem... but that wasn't until I was in my early 30's. But with my mother, she was raised in a very abusive home too... her mother neglected her, her father beat her for the least little thing, and they both showed favoritism towards her brother and sister. So I know a lot of it was what she learned, but there were the PMS problems too.

JohnnyEnnui, I'm not sure I can buy into your T's womb theory but it's not my opinion that's important, it's yours because it's your therapy. I do know that the mother's hormones and chemical levels will effect the baby, it's heart rate, etc... but thought processes aren't transferred and a fetus would have no any way of associating what was happening with the change in body chemistry. It wouldn't know what was causing it... just that it felt certain sensations or stress. At least that's my opinion (please don't think I'm ridiculing you in any way... OK? Just expressing my views)

I do think abandonment (emotional or real) can effect our SAD... maybe even cause it. I just recently had it pointed out to me that I've been abandoned many times in my life... and I didn't recognize it for what it was. But then, until about 2 years ago, I didn't even know all this was considered abuse either. I also think if you happen to be a very sensitive child, any type of harshness can effect your self-confidence and self-esteem (whether intentional or not)... and cause you to withdraw. I'm very sorry you lost your father... it sounds like he was the only stable parental influence in your life. I think that would make anyone withdraw. But to lose all your friends at the same time would be totally devestating for a child! I'm so sorry!
 

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I wasn't physically or sexually abused but I was constantly made to feel that I wasn't right because I didn't want to do the things that other kids did. Playing sports, riding a bike, going outside to play never appealed to me. I wanted to do more grown-up things when I was younger and I never got the chance. So I was basically stuck around people I didn't want to be around who did things I didn't want to do, and one of the first ways to make friends is to find people who share similar interests and who you can interact with on the same level. Since I didn't get the chance to be around people I liked and liked to do the same things as me, when I got to high school and there were such people, I was totally unprepared to socialize with them, and it's been the same ever since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm so sorry, Robert! I was made to feel there was something wrong with me because I couldn't do the things I wanted to do. I was talked down to, teased, made to feel ashamed and ridiculed. But the way you were treated was rejection just the same as mine was. There are many forms of emotional abuse, but all abuse effects a person's self-confidence and sense of worth or value.

I think in your intro you said your mother had raised you to be more interested in academic pursuits. There's nothing wrong with that if there are other areas of allowing the child to be just a kid... and even encouraged all those things from the very beginning. If the only area where you received praise (if I'm reading it right) was when you did well in school, why would you want to do anything else?

We, as parents, sometimes don't realize what we're setting our kids up for when we don't start them off with 'balance' (playing, learning, discovering, etc.) in the very beginning... but then when they get to a certain age we expect them to be interested in things we haven't encouraged from the beginning... and perhaps we've even discouraged them from doing before. They're left kind of holding the bag... and it's empty.

Just as an example... my ex was a curious, playful little boy who played with other kids, rode his bike, etc. But when he got into H.S. and wanted to play football, his mother told him No... she was afraid he'd hurt himself severely and insisted he be in band instead. My H was never physically active from that point on. He never played any of the sports other kids did in H.S. because his mother was always on him about his grades, band practice and was afraid he'd get hurt if he played football, basketball, etc. She set him up and he became what she wanted... but then she wasn't happy either because he became lazy in her eyes. He did turn out lazy and he had no interest in even teaching his own son how to play various sports because he had no interest and didn't know how. He couldn't win no matter how hard he tried.

That wasn't all there was to it, but I think it's a good example of a parent being overly controling and not realizing that there needs to be balance - and how important it is to be well rounded and keep your muscle tone, etc. through exercize. But that those things also teach team work, good sportsmanship, and many other things that are valuable in life.

I've seen the follow in kids before... they admire their parents and think it's so much more fun to be an adult, that that's the way to gain respect, but also the way to get attention, that they reject being a child. But what I've also seen is parents telling that child repeatedly that you're only a child once and 'making' them go out and play... making them have a childhood, because they knew it was important in the child's developement. My mother used to shoo us out of the house all the time during summer vacation - I think the three of us inside squabbling got on her nerves, but I think she also realized we needed fresh air, exercize and needed to be involved with other kids.

I didn't mean to make this this long again. I'm sorry. I just wanted to point out to you that there are forms of abuse that we don't always recognize... and that a lot of parents don't realize their behavior is abusive or neglectful. You can only teach what you know... but that doesn't help those that are made to feel bad for the way they're set up and raised. Then it becomes that grown child's responsibility to figure out how to retrain themselves and change their views.
 

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Its sad to read about the abusive upbringings many of you endured. I too can't understand why people perpetuate the abuse that was heaped on them, or how they can live with themselves.

As for the origins of my SA, I think I have the genes for it. I also think my parents, mostly my father, were emotionally distant and controlling. This kept me near them when I should have been running around getting into trouble :cig and being around them wasn't nurturing or healthy.

But much of what I struggle with now is my own doing. The past 30 years or so I've been calling the shots in my life, albeit with some "ghosts" having some say. But then I've been aware of the ghosts.

As I make positive changes in my life, as I've done the past few years, I realize that those changes could have been made earlier. Most of the time I don't wallow in self pity over the time lost, but rather, feel good about what these changes mean for today and tomorrow. But sometimes wallowing is so seductive, I can't control myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm sorry you didn't have a healthy upbringing either, Atticus. As to why the cycle of abuse is perpetuated, I think we all continue what it is we learned in childhood, it's what we're familiar with, whether we liked it or found it beneficial or not. The only time we change something is if we, at some point, see that it's not healthy, that we didn't like that and that's not how we're going to raise our kids, and do our best to change it. But you have to be aware of that in order to do anything about it.

Deciding that's not how we're going to raise our own kids is good, but it shouldn't stop there. For me it did... I didn't know that my family was abusive because that's what I was raised with, so I didn't know I needed to help myself too. That there were things in me that needed care and attention... that I was hurt and broken. I knew I didn't like me, but I didn't know what to do to make myself like me. I didn't know how to go about giving myself the self-respect I needed, or the self-confidence, how to be assertive or find the value in myself... because no one was ever concerned about me. And I was so meek and fearful, so used to being considered last, if at all, that I didn't know how to get the help I needed.

If you happen to see a family that looks like it's the perfect family and something you'd like to be or have yourself some day, first you have to figure out how they got that way, why that person (for example the father) is a better father than yours was, how he differs, and how to change a whole lot of ideas and bad info you were raised with. It's not an easy job and a lot of people just fall back on what they learned because it's the easy way to go... or at the very least, change just a few things to begin with. But each little change is a step in the right direction. Things take time and the old messages we got from our own childhood are difficult to alter. They can pop back up decades later in our own treatment of our children without meaning for it to happen.

I've had that happen a few times... then I think... OMG... I'm my mother (or father). But at least we can recognize those times if we're watchful and not allow it to continue.

I think we all realize things could have been changed a lot earlier... but it's good that the changes were made, so you do have something to be proud of!

As far as wallowing in self-pity. I don't think that benefits us at all... but I do think it's Ok to allow ourselves from time to time to feel sorry for ourselves because we're showing ourselves compassion when perhaps no one else in the world has. That's a part of healing and being good to yourself. It's telling yourself that you do matter and you do have value, that you weren't treated with respect and real love and you deserved to be.

:hug
 
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