I remember when I was young, my parents justified their constant abuse and emotional neglect by saying that I was putting strain on the household financially. The reason for this claim was because they had just put me into a fancy private school- therefore, everything was my fault. I did not realize then that they shackled me with guilt because I did feel very bad/felt like I deserved the mistreatment. For most of my life there were often times I went to school without lunch money, afraid to ask (not only because I would be yelled at and threatened) but because I didn't want to put more financial strain on my parents. In college and when I first started working there would be times i couldn't afford basic living necessities but I refrained from asking for help, preferring to suffer in a deluge of anxiety and panic. When I did start making money, I would do things like pay for their gas/food when I was home and not tell them, thinking I was contributing and "paying back my debt"
This memory was JUST unlocked as I was writing this. One year, I believe I was 13/14, my dad screamed my name so loud my whole house shook. I can not even recreate all the anger and hostility in his voice- no one would scream that way to anyone unless the other person had murdered their loved one, and even then I'm not sure they would raise their voice that way. I came downstairs and he berated me, then told me to put on my shoes then he took out $20 and threw it on me maliciously as I was on the floor trying to put on my shoes as fast as possible upon his intimidation and goading. It was my mother's birthday- I remember trying to remind him but I got too scared. When he picked me up from school he would refuse to look at me and either we wouldn't talk and I would be in the backseat or he would be screaming at me. I remember my heart pounding and feeling sick every day going back home knowing he was picking me up. I would've rather stayed at school. My dad threw the cash at me and told me to run across the street as fast as possible and get her a cake. He was angry because it was her birthday and he was angry that he had to spend money on it or, I don't even know why he was so angry. Either way, I got the punishment every time he felt angry. At the time I didn't think this was unusual- it was just the way he always treated me, and the anxiety/panic he caused was what I sat with every moment of every day. This was normal life to me, as a child.
I now remember that during this time I was in school feeling bad for my very existence and shouldering the responsibility of their financial strain, my parents were renovating the house.
They redid the kitchen, the backyard and pool. It all looked even worse after- they redid all the concrete in the backyard and it turned out splotchy.
Was it really me causing them financial strain? Did they really have nothing, as they claimed, after paying for my tuition?
Now looking back, I shudder at their manipulations. I never ever wanted to go to that school. They forced me to study for the test, they forced me to apply and I told them countless times how unhappy I was there. But my alternative was not a good one- I started out in public school in a magnet program but we had to enter the school through metal detectors. My school was on the news for guns and drugs. According to them, the public schools weren't great in my area- though for some reason my brothers went to great public schools and they then put this guilt on me- that they paid for my schooling and didn't send my brothers to private school and that's why their chances at college weren't as great as mine. I now realize it is not my fault that they did not do their research.
Actually, my little brothers were too depressed to try hard on their college applications despite having additional college counseling support my parents paid for because my mother was in the hospital with a blood infection. They told me this a few months ago- they were too stressed to want to try.
For years after I was angry that I was in that school. It really really messed me up in a many ways- it was bad, I was bullied and the culture shock (being that I had just moved to LA from a small town where at least there was a big Chinese community and had no friends here then went to a school with basically NO diversity) was too great, my parents ignored my cries for help and screamed at me every day because I wasn't grateful- they tried to teach me to be grateful for my own abuse. My mother said that she had no regrets sending me there- she was implying that I learned about image/presentation- aka I make her look good.
My mother admitted to me a few months ago that it was the wrong environment for me when I asked her what I was like as a child when she first met me, and she said very friendly, talkative and happy. I said, what happened after? She said she didn't know, perhaps they didn't spend enough time with me (which is true- the time I've ever spent with them 1 or 1 is marginal- we never "hung out" or went shopping or went to the movies. 1 on 1 time was someone picking me up when I wasn't able to drive and screaming at me the whole way), or it was that school, after years of saying she didn't regret sending me there. It's been 9 years since I graduated, and I attended that school for 7 years.
There was one point in time maybe around 17 when they had a talk and decided they would stop yelling at me together. They realized the impact of them both attacking me was too much for me. For them to realize something like this, as insensitive and removed and in denial as they are, is HUGE. Maybe they noticed me blacking out? I doubt it- they did not admit to negligence even when I was bleeding through my clothes, every day for months when my cat had fleas and they were biting me- you would walk into my room and see black dots jumping everywhere but she wouldn't buy flea medicine. I was so ashamed of all the bites all over me I used to get a foundation spray to use on my body otherwise people at school would get alarmed- and they often did even after I used it. So, my mother got to yell at me. My father got to yell at me. Then at one point suddenly he stopped acknowledging me all together. We lived in the same house yet he never looked at me. He never spoke to me. We used my mother as a liaison when there was anything we needed to communicate to one another. I do not understand why this was happening- it is just as baffling now as it was then.
I was never sure what was worse- at least having my existence acknowledged through the constant terrorizing, or to be so insignificant your father can't even look at you. Did I become a ghost? It certainly felt like I died, and I was relieved, though this is the flip side of that exact abuse. Some would argue this type of emotional abuse is even worse. My mother interchanged this cold shoulder tactic in with her aggression, too when sometimes under years of mounting pressure, I would burst into tears around someone, like my piano teacher.
My parents told me for a long time, up until I disconnected from them, how they don't have much because of my mother's hospital bills. I mentioned before noticing that my mother buys new furniture every day even though no one is using it (she's buying a new bed for my former room that no one lives in even though when I was a child and begged for a new bed, she threw a tantrum at the store- she often did this in public). I'm not stupid enough to think that the huge leather couch doesn't cost $$$$$$$. Before I left for the airport 3 trips ago, my father told my mother to give me some cash for the cabs etc.. and my mom said, "she doesn't want money, don't give it to her!" Upon my return, she said she wanted to buy me a bag. I told her I didn't want one (1. because I actually didn't need one, 2. I thought it would be a waste of money for someone who claims she doesn't have any, 3. anything and everything she does/gets me comes with strings or a shit ton of guilt later, 4. this is such inconsistent behavior I did not want to be involved).. , but she insisted. I told her finally that it would be better to give me cash instead, at least that I could use to pay my rent. She said no, she doesn't like giving me money. Instead, she pressured me every single day for a week. I was grilled and pressured about it every time I left the house and when I returned, every single time I ran into her. My friend advised that I should stop fighting and just take it- I finally said fine. She bought me a $3,000 bag. I have no idea why besides that she wants one- she loves bags. Before I left, she tried to give me some cash.
"I thought you said you didn't like giving me money?" I said, confused
"I'm being a pushover. Take it"
"I don't want it"
"I walked all the way to the ATM this morning to get this for you" (guilt trip, like always)
"I don't want your money" and I walked out
What the fuck is going on?
When I was a teen, when they "had no money" they bought a BMW and told me I could drive it. They used this against me for years, saying how generous they were to have bought a BMW and let me use it. When deciding which car to get, I suggested a very inexpensive one. I NEVER wanted a BMW and it wasn't even mine anyway! They acted like they bought me a car! Guilt was their favorite tactic for forcing responsibility onto me.
Sometimes I really do wish I wasn't so scared of them to have talked to a social worker and gotten out of there. That only shows how bad it was, that I was so afraid of it I couldn't even seek help.