Adult children of toxic parents speak out

In my work with adult children of borderline parents, I have had many clients want to share their story and help others that might be experiencing the same journey as their own. Here are a few of their words. Names have been changed for confidentiality.

“It was a big relief to realize that I wasn’t at fault. I think I grew up believing that I was the bad one, the crazy one, you know? I always had this sense that something was ‘off’ but I had no clue how to define it or describe it to others. My friends in school always thought my mother was crazy. She would slap me if I tried to disagree with her, tried to hang out with my friends thinking she was cool, wore my clothes (which looked ridiculous on her), and basically acted like a middle schooler. I never felt like I had a parent.” -Heather

“When the movie ‘Tangled’ came out, everyone was raving about how amazing it was. I just remember thinking, ‘That’s my mom!’ She was so over-possessive and crazy acting. I felt like Rapunzel in the tower. I always hoped that I had been adopted and would find my true mother some day. Is that weird to say?” -Laura

“I had the rare Borderline father. He was obsessed with our mother and never wanted to let her out of his sight. I think he always hated us for being born because it took her attention away from him. He was an alcoholic and would go on these crazy night rages. My mom eventually left him when I was in high school and I was glad she did but felt a lot of guilt. For some reason, I felt like I should have been able to hold things together… like the ‘man of the house’ thing, or something? I have learned to keep him at a distance and have to have a lot of strong boundaries.” -John

“My mother used to have periods of crying and isolating herself in her room. She never directly said it but I was expected to make her feel better. I would check on her and ask if she needed anything, try to make her laugh, keep my little siblings away from her. I was the parent in the house for most of my childhood. I wasn’t really angry at her but felt sorry for her. I guess I resented her when I became an adult.” -David

“For me, the worst part about having a toxic mother is never having the mother of my dreams. Hope can be a bitch. I have gone through major accomplishments in my adulthood.. you know.. getting married, having a baby, graduating, getting a divorce.. and she has never been there to celebrate me or support me. I always felt like I was expected to support HER emotions. Or she was the center of attention.” -Beth

“My father was a narcissistic asshole. Everything was always about him. He wasn’t emotional, really, but we still had to tip-toe around him to avoid the anger and rage. We could never say ‘no’ to him, never have an opinion, or God-forbid ever threaten his masculinity with our own. He would constantly belittle us and call us ‘p*ssy’ and ‘Momma’s boy.” I had a hard time learning to be a good man. I never had that example.” -Scott

Thank you to everyone for your stories. If you have your own story to tell and share, I would love to be in touch through the Contact Page.

There is hope. You are not alone in this journey. Together, we heal.