I had to read one reply at a time then take a break to stop crying and sober up. All of your words have affected me so much even though i initially wrote it a while ago (big props to the insanely busy Maggie who took the time to keep me updated on when she was going to post my story). I have made strides with both daughters. In the time between i hit send and i received the email saying it was going to be published it was my mission to change this tiny family and my self for as much the better as possible. With my now 9 yr old she has had less throw-downs and more talks. We have our special time when my now 6 yr old goes to bed. When an argument starts brewing I am learning the early signs and we are starting to say our feelings instead of lashing out. Though we do still have slip ups it has gotten so much better. I want to say so much more, but it all sums up into thank you. To all the replies and to Maggie. Submitting it and having the knowledge of it and the words from everyone makes me so much more stronger and I can not say thank you enough.
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Thank you for visiting Violence UnSilenced, a speak-out platform for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. If you are a survivor and it is safe to do so, we encourage you to share your story here. If you are not a survivor but you want to support those who are, please click around this site and find out more about what you can do.
I have anger issues stemming from past abuse that have definitely reared their head in my parenting. I know that feeling of shame when I overreact or lose it and yell. A few things have helped me. One, every good mom who I know and respect has lost her temper and handled a situation the wrong way, it happens. I find it really useful to apologize because it tells the kids that I am not an omnipotent, never wrong mother and I think it helps them learn how to apologize also and handle their own feelings. Also, in taking responsibility for yelling or screaming, it validates that it probably scared them and that they did not deserve that kind of treatment. I think as an adult who was abused, the invalidation of my feelings was always the worst part.
Also, when my kids frustrate me, I try and focus my words or criticism on the action and not them personally. I try to take some of my emotions out of it and just exact a consequence when they misbehave. Rather then yell or berate them for never listening or making me tell them a million times(although I have been known to say that from time to time), I just set the timer, make them sit on a chair and walk away giving myself some time to decompress. And then of course the hug reassuring them that I still love them.
And it's really hard to not continue the patterns you witnessed as a child. Go get a therapist. A good therapist can help you get the tools you need to be an effective parent and happy adult. It's not your fault that you didn't have healthy people to mirror but as an adult it is so empowering to break the cycle. Best of luck to you and your kids and thank you for speaking out.
You are not a failure.
By posting here, you are taking a series of steps to a better life.
Abuse isn't limited to physical, it can also be mental and emotional.
I'm sorry to hear that you have suffered so greatly.
My childhood wasn't always that great (dad was a drunk) and I struggle with the to have or not to have children issue because I am afraid that I will do the same.
By breaking your silence, you are helping to break the cycle.
Thank you for sharing your pain.
Please don't lose hope, you might niot see it now, but you keeping a rein on your temper will be helping your aughters, as will making sure they live with strict guidelines. Please please try to get some family counselling.
Karen, I wrote a post today about honoring the dark side of ourselves ---> http://goo.gl/nR3fL and it's the part that keeps us from so many awesome things that we can have in this life, but it is also the thing that gets us to the next big thing, if we can move through it! Being a survivor myself, I now can see how we can become locked in to ideas that don't bring out the best in us! So, I wanted to say a couple of things, YOU ARE A GOOD ENOUGH PARENT and that is all a child needs. As long as you try and keep at it, you're doing fine! Also, you won't ruin your child no matter how ineffective you think you're doing this parenting thing. Yes, we have been abused and we have survived abuse, but we were not RUINED and we are NOT HELPLESS to making ourselves exactly what we want for ourselves! Seek out resources and get your kids the support they need and you will see it will be ok- challenging, yes, but OK! Best to you!
I understand your anger. I experienced a lot of anger as an adult concerning my abuse, and my kids received some of it in the form of crankiness and yelling. You recognize that there is a problem. You know what the source of the problem is. You just need some help addressing the cure. I respectfully encourage you to find counseling for yourself and your daughters. There is help available, even if you cannot afford much. You have half the problem licked, so please do not give up now. I doubt that sending your daughter away will help. You have a family history of this type of behavior. Sending your daughter away will not take her away from the problem, but just might complicate things if she feels abandoned. She might just blame herself. You are strong. You are aware. Keep moving forward. Thanks for sharing this story!
Thank you for sharing your story. Sending you love and strength to you and your daughters, may you find peace and happiness xo
I wrote a post today about honoring the dark side of ourselves ---> http://goo.gl/nR3fL and it's the part that keeps us from so many awesome things that we can have in this life, but it is also the thing that gets us to the next big thing, if we can move through it!
Being a survivor myself, I now can see how we can become locked in to ideas that don't bring out the best in us!
So, I wanted to say a couple of things, YOU ARE A GOOD ENOUGH PARENT and that is all a child needs. As long as you try and keep at it, you're doing fine! Also, you won't ruin your child no matter how ineffective you think you're doing this parenting thing. Yes, we have been abused and we have survived abuse, but we were not RUINED and we are NOT HELPLESS to making ourselves exactly what we want for ourselves!
Seek out resources and get your kids the support they need and you will see it will be ok- challenging, yes, but OK!
Best to you!
You need to make space to forgive yourself for yelling. All parents yell at their kids. THe more you can forgive yourself, the less it will happen. Trust me on this one. I could have written what you wrote three years ago. In fact, I did.
The experiences we have as children turn us into who we are today. Each day we make a choice between letting it break us or rising above our past.
Congratulations to you for recognizing those challenges that your childhood brought upon you and striving to break the cycle of bad behavior for the benefit of your children.
Realizing that there was a problem is a huge part of winning the battle. I wish you strength as you continue to heal yourself and do right by your children.
All of what you have described sounds like abuse. It also sounds similar to my upbringing. I have managed to get past my unpredictable, uncontrolled rage through counseling, and I am now much more relaxed and easygoing, which how I was always meant to be.
I sure hope that you can find help and peace, so that you can be the person and parent you want and deserve to be.
You should definitely get family counseling. If you can't afford it, see if your daughter's school can help you get into some sort of income-based program. And yes, I know that income-based means they assume you have nothing to buy but groceries. I wish you the best.
If it's any comfort, my son also says those sorts of things and tries to physically fight me. Since I am close to my family and they are strict, he doesn't get away with it much. But I suspect in your circumstances, I'd be in your shoes. His preschool director has been a big help. She has worked with many, many children, and says that very intelligent children act out much more and are also more personal and manipulative with what they say. It doesn't reflect as much on you as you may think. Children know when their parents are questioning themselves and jump right in with guns blazing. It's perfectly normal, and entirely unacceptable. I think your daughter is reacting more to your expectations of yourself than your expectations of her. And counseling could certainly help with that.
I have one piece of advice only. Talk to your daughter. Tell her the full scope - that you grew up in an environment that included a lot of anger (maybe omit examples, but include the info about physical abuse and lots of yelling) and how that impacted you and your siblings. Tell her that you're trying hard to break that pattern, because these things get passed down so easily and you don't want her to feel angry all of the time. Tell her that you worry that you've hurt her with her anger. Tell her that her sister looks up to her and will do what she does - that she's a role model. And tell her that she's an important person, to make sure that the cycle doesn't continue.
Give her 8-year old snippets of the whole picture.
Do this during a time when she's not angry - so it's not a lecture, it's a conversation you're having with her - and make it clear that you recognize that you have hurt and been hurt and that you don't want her to hurt or be hurt. Then ask her if she has any ideas what will help her, and based upon what she says, consider talking about counselling, having dedicated role-playing time, having special date times, having a code for when she needs to be excused from anything at all, to calm down in her own environment, etc.
We tend to want to protect our children, so we forget to give them credit for the base understanding between right and wrong and their intrinsic wish to be loved and loving. If she's able to exert the anger, she's able to hear where it's coming from and to try to be part of the solution.
Just my two cents.
I am not a mother yet myself - but I do have to give myself the "I will not become my mother" mantra on a daily basis. I know your fear.
Considering my lack of parenting knowledge, you should probably take this all with a grain of salt... but sometimes tough love is the best way to deal with situations like this. Perhaps sending your daughter away and finding help for yourself is the best course of action.
You are a survivor of abuse and you are already one step ahead of the game by coming out and talking about it. Please do not give up on your or your daughters...
Breaking generational patterns of abuse is huge, exhausting, frightening work, and it can feel isolating precisely because you can't look to family to help you with your children. Being the generation to pull out of abusive in the midst of your own pain and the rigors of parenting means you are a walking miracle. Your self awareness and determination is carrying you far away from what you lived through, and you are not failing. Sending you love and hopes for support.
I wish I could reach through the internet and give you a big hug. Please do seek some family counseling. There is no shame in it.
Karen, I think the other have said it all. Being self-awareness is half the battle of your development, acknowledging that you were abused, especially by parents is courageous. How you feel and how you act may be in conflict, and your daughters are picking this up.
Anger it the opposite of love, you need both to survive, stifling your anger only serves to make you feel powerless, but expressing it in a control manner empowers you. It is how you project your anger that singles you out from someone who cannot control their anger, (e.g. your mother and grandmother) and the longer you keep this in the more powerless you will feel you are becoming.
It maybe that you need to talk to someone, who can help you to work this out, but for now take baby steps, stick to your guns with your daughter, you can show them that you are angry with a look, a tone of voice and how you hold your body, if these actions are in conflict, then you are setting yourself up for abuse by your daughters or anyone who can identify with what you are projecting. If the abuse is not being dished like in your past memory, then the mind finds ways to reproduce it in the present. Being aware of all these emotions and expressing these emotions fully take time to learn, because you never learnt them.
Talk to your daughters, find out what they are feeling, share yours with them (expressing your anger and love), take time out with them and treat them, not because they are good, but because they are your daughters. Trust yourself, don’t put yourself down for not knowing what to do, if you had someone to teach you, you would have some awareness of what to do. But most of all LEARN TO LOVE YOUR.
Thank you for trusting us to listen to your story. I can tell it takes a great deal courage for you to share it.
Anger management (or how to process all the messy, complex emotions we experience in a healthy rather than unhealthy ways) is something we all have to learn. To no fault of your own, you learned to be angry or, rather, to interface with the world through expressed anger. What I've learned in my own life, having grown up with adults who didn't (and still don't) manage their feelings perfectly well all the time, is that I'm not usually angry as much as I'm something else, like sad, frustrated, feeling incompetent, disappointed in myself, impatient, etc. In learning how to express those feelings in safe and healthy ways, I find myself expressing anger much, much less. For what it's worth.
Your awareness is the first, biggest, hardest step. It is what makes you a good parent. The other stuff, to make you a better oarent, is all stuff you can learn. Really. I know from ezperience.
yes, be kind to yourself. I can relate to a lot of what you said. the fact that you recognize that it is a problem is important. if you can find a way to get therapy for you and your girls, it can do a lot of good for you all.
You've been so strong - keep taking it one minute at a time. Easier said, than done, but still, that's the only way to battle such volatility, fear, shame, and anger. It was defintely abuse that you suffered, but you're doing so much differently.
Keep making different decisions, reach out for help. If there is a university in your city that has a grad program in counseling you can get very cheap or maybe even free help for you and your girls. The patters they are beginning to exhibit dont' have to become more permanent.
Wishing you all the best and hoping that you find the strength to fight for yourself, your children, peace in your house, and peace within yourself for just one more minute.
I admire you so so much for posting this here. It must be insanely painful to look at your children and recognise the pattern is repeating. How absolutely agonising for you. Yet instead of looking away, ignoring it, you're facing how badly you feel and wondering what you can do. I respect that so much. Yay for you and I really, really mean it!
I get that you're wondering (I think a lot of us do) but your childhood was definitely abusive. You were very frightened a lot of the time, and your emotional needs weren't met. That's not good.
As far as your daughter, it sounds like she has learned behaviours. This is how she's learned to deal with anger. It's not anger, the feeling, that's the problem, it's that she's dealing with it in a way that's not going to help her, now or in the future. But the folks here are right! It can be changed! There's help out there, for her and for you and she's still totally young enough for interventions to work. It's actually really hopeful, in spite of how I'm sure it feels.
I know it's hard as a parent when you don't know what to do - but you're looking for answers which makes you different from the adults who were in your life when you were young. Try to keep that in mind, okay? You've already started to break the pattern just in that alone. So you keep going, one step at a time, and you get help, cause you deserve it! And so do they! You can so totally do it. I absolutely believe.
i like what Ozma said...be kind to yourself. not all anger is like your grandmother's. and you are probably doing better than you think.
but yes, i know it too, and how it lurks there like some kind of inheritance and breaks out in ways i can't seem to quite control. and i worry about it, and stamp it down and try to figure it out, again.
just sending you solidarity, and sympathy.
I don't know how to make you feel better but I will say that I think you are probably doing better than you think you are. Your daughter shows anger and this scares you. But I worry you may be projecting too much of your past on her. Some children feel intensely and no child has the self control that adults need to have (and that women in your family didn't have). So you blame yourself but in another family, she might be the same and her parents would just shake their heads and think she is a hothead.
She does have issues with anger but it is your job as a parent to deal with those issues and you can do it! You obviously have a lot of self knowledge now--have faith in yourself.
Be kind to yourself also. Every parent gets angry. Anger is normal. Work on how you express your anger and helping your daughter express hers in a healthy way. Not everything she will struggle with in life is your fault...being human comes with a lot of struggle. Moms always blame themselves but it's important not to get too overwhelmed with self recrimination because our kids need us.
Karen, big hugs to you, you and your girls are struggling. Have you thought about family therapy? I know where I live we have resources for struggling families dealing with issues like yours.
My brother was like your daughter when we were small. He used to terrify me, it's not a good dynamic for your daughters but you know that.
Hope you reach out and find someone to help you deal with this and change your family history. You can do it, look how strong you are, writing about it here for us to read. Love and light to you and your girls.
You survived abuse, and sending your daughter away won't change that.
It would be best if you get help for yourself so you can deal with your past.
I think it's important that you also consider help for your daughters- one needs to learn to deal with her anger (and what's causing it), the other needs to learn to deal with her sister's anger as well as any issues she may have.
A kid with some issues doesn't mean bad parents. A kid with parents who ignore or won't work to solve the issues is getting some bad parenting.