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Emotional incest
January 12, 2002
12:07 pm
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Britney
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I just spent alot of time researching "emotional incest" on the web. I had heard of it before but never thought it related to me or the mess I have made with my life. I feel sometimes like I have just been surviving all my life-riding the waves but never steering the ship. My decisions-where to live(I chose my hometown),whether to go away to school(I didn't),to get married (I married my first boyfriend-later divorced),etc.,etc.,-have all been based on the needs of someone else. I'm 39 years old now and I have used my life to make everyone around me happy. Now, I read about emotional incest.

My mother, who I love very much, emotionally incested me as a child. My father was the most short-tempered man I have ever known. He would fly into rages over nothing with my mother (who didn't say a word), cursing and yelling for things as minor as not being able to find something in the cupboard. He didn't ask for things and was terrible at communication. I don't remember any communication with him. I was always too nervous to say anything to him even as an adult. The only time he spoke to me is if there was an outsider present so the image projected to the outside was different. When in rage, he cursed at my mother,repeatedly telling her she was stupid. He would get SO ANGRY. She never said a word - not to him. After, she would release all her feelings on me. As far back as I can remember,I was the one person she confided in. My mother was, and is, a peacekeeper and, for the most part, I am grateful because I could not have lived with another as angry as my dad. My older brother and sister treated her terribly at times as well so I tried to make up for everybodies abuse by being there for her and supporting her. I have always felt she lived a terrible life and I just wanted to make everything right.

My sister,who is older than me (I'm the youngest) seems to have coped well and I think she would be upset if I ever mentioned my feelings on our childhood.When I was about 8, I remember my father flying into a rage with my brother(who was then a teenager)one christmas morning over a radio my brother had given me. My brother left the house and I was sure he was never coming back. I cried for hours and I remember my sister saying "Why are you crying? He's not mad at you." I knew then and there that my sister and I were very different.

Today, I am a grown woman. My mom lives about a mile from me and we talk several times a day (My dad died Oct 1, 2000). She is 66 years old and now, just as when I was a child, I wonder how I will live if something happens to her. I'm too old to be feeling so dependent on her.

January 12, 2002
2:10 pm
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syqg
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You're dependent on her too much or should that be the other way around. You can seperate from someone alittle and never leave the room. You need, as well as I do with my Mom to LEARN how to do that.You need to know that ever how bad her life may have been, she had choices, we all do. With me I've learned I had more pain(sometimes) than my Mom felt over her own decisions in life. You are a caretaker. That's not always a bad thing in it's self. It's just now in your life you(the inner you) is trying to show you to take care of you now. Love your mother, love yourself. But let go alittle.To have lived with a man like that for so long, well, she can handle you taking care of you for awhile.

January 12, 2002
2:14 pm
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verte_femme
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Britney--I understand about your life being spent making others happy. I didn't understand from your posting how you are dependent upon youir mother though. Could you explain more fully? VERTE

January 12, 2002
3:57 pm
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Britney
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I wish I could Verte.

I just don't know the answer to that. We are very close. I confide in her more than anyone else. I just feel this emotional link between us to the point where I wonder how I would continue should something happen to her. I am told I appear very self sufficient, confident, and strong to others but inside I feel quite the opposite. This must sound ridiculous coming from a woman my age. I have a bf, good friends, and a good relationship with the rest of my family. Yet, since I was a child, I have had strong fears of someday losing my mom. God, I feel like a child in an adult body.

If anyone can shed some light, I would appreciate it. I don't know how to fix this when I don't even know why I feel this way.

January 12, 2002
7:01 pm
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Molly
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Your last post, and of course only you know how balanced your life really is, sounds like you have a very close relationship, and fear the loss. Doesn't matter how old we are, we wonder about loosing a parent. My sister and I were thinking about writing a book on dealing with becoming an adult orphan. Death is so final, and when you loose a parent, its like that built in safety net is for ever gone. Trust me you survive, a really strange thing happened to the three of us, all three of us, sis, bro, and self, quit our jobs on the same day, one year to the date of our mothers death, go figure.....

January 12, 2002
8:17 pm
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verte_femme
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Hon, I wonder if Molly isn't right about fear of loss....I only know that you may be better off enjoying the time you spend with her instead of worrying about how to "fix" it...changing focus sometimes helps when we become fixated on something negative. I understand so well about the appearing self-sufficient and confident while inside you still feel like a child who doesn't know what to do next...been there and still am! Verte

January 12, 2002
8:55 pm
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Cici
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Hi Britney,

I've actually read about emotional incest as well. It was a strange scenario, too, because I had made a big separation from my Mother at the time (she didn't speak to me for a year and told me I was "dead to her"). I sublet a room in a house my friend lived in and I was curled up in the corner of the closet (When I'm upset I used to like to crawl into small spaces). I found a book the last girl who had lived there had accidentally left and I started leafing through it and I was interested in the topic.

I used ot be very dependent on my Mom, to the point that I was scared of being on my own. She has bipolar mood disorder so our relationship was often like a yo-yo. She was the one who went into rages and beat the children while my Dad pretended not to notice, but she would always be very conciliatory afterward and take us on shopping sprees (only to return the clothes afterward!). She often confided in my about her relationship with my Dad and she forced me to sleep in the bed with her and my Dad until I was about 11.

It was weird, just weird, but I was clingy to her. I had no boundaries with anyone because I had never learned any from her and I had been molested as a young child. But after I was date raped I snapped and withdrew from everyone around me, including friends and family. The year that followed was possibly the most painful year of my life - I had a string of clingy, dysfunctional relationships with men who weren't worth the pain (ha ha) because I was trying to replace that big, gaping hole I felt in my soul. I was also the youngest child.

In that year I realized that my Mom had clung to her youngest child because that was her identity. Her entire identity was caught up in being a mother, and when I withdrew it rocekd her world (literally), and she reacted with her usual bitterness and anger. Definately not your situation, but there are some similarities.

Anyway, in the end, I reconciled with her but we aren't as close as we used to be by far. I learned to reach out to other people and created my own support network with people on this board, new friends in my town, old friends I reconnected with. I feel a lot stronger now because I have that network, but I still struggle with the residue from past traumas and it's just hard to get over. I can't say, do this that and the other and there's your quick fix. I can say, though, that it is a painful but necessary thing to reach out to others and pull away from your Mum.

Hope this helps in some way!

January 12, 2002
10:18 pm
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leevons
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Hi Britney,

I wish you knew how much better I feel now that I have read your post. I did the exact same thing making up for everyone's wrath on my mother. My mother and I are the exact same way. I am 29 years old and also feel like a child in an adults body. My dad was the same way. My brother and sister are different than me as well. Your story is almost exactly like mine. I hope you will write back My email address, in case you want to write to me personally,it is [email protected]. I would love to hear from you. I can't belive how similiar our stories are.

God bless,
Sky

January 13, 2002
10:16 am
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Britney
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Thanks everyone. I am truly touched by your kindness and consideration.

Cici, I am gonna try to do that. I truly am. I just turned 39 years old and I have made the decision that I am going to change my life for the better. I know it will take some time but I want my "40's" to be the best time of my entire life and I know I can do it. I have two very specific issues to deal with - fear of intimacy and this issue with my mom.

Sky, I'm so glad this helped. I too have been amazed at the similarities in other people's stories and it helps to know I not alone.Thanks for offering your address. I will add it to my address book and be in touch.

Molly, for God sakes, girl, tell me when the book is written so I can get a copy. Sounds like a great idea.

Verte, Sygg,- I felt incredible shame writing this thread because it is only now that I have begun admitting these things to myself. I wasn't sure what kind of response I would get because I felt this should be a child's issue--not an adults. Thanks for your compassion and understanding.

Brit

January 13, 2002
12:31 pm
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Molly
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Isn't there a child that wants to come out in all of us ?

January 17, 2002
1:41 pm
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Pita
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Im scard, as this is stiking a cord within me, Im at odds within myself now about severing ties with my mother without making her mad. I knew about sex at 5 year old cause of a relative. However my mom is bipolar, and she is obsessed with me, she indirectly has wanted to have sex with me since I was 15, the first time I ran away from home, that would be a secret I would not acknowage until my late 20's, when I finnally got the guts and tired of her staring at me and my legs. (as I stayed with her in between an alcoholic domestic violent marriage)I confronted her and she finnally said that it was because of her manic depression... Im 39, and feel like Im 5. So she quit staring and making gogo eyes at me, and I call her about every weekend, it seems like I emotionally want a momy, I set myself up to be hurt over and over. Its so wierd as she knows exactly what to say to me to cut my confidance and esteeme down so low, that it takes me a day or so to bounce back usually after a fit of rage or depression. Ive alaways been afraid she'd do a suiside to further hurt me. Is this weird or what? Is that emotional incest?

January 17, 2002
2:38 pm
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Molly
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That sounds more like incest. Emotional incest is usually more like no boundry lines between the parent and child, like a friend relationship, discussing things with the child that the parent should discuss with a therapist, or another adult. Like ie., your dad is an idiot, don't you just hate it when he acts that way, men are terrible don't ya think ? common lets go shopping and spend his money girl friend.
That is a poor example, but you can see that the mom could confuse the childs relationship with the other parent. They have been put into a roll as an equal instead of a child.
But you described actual sexual commons, that is incest. I don't see where bipolar, or manic depressive episodes would be the cause, sex is sex, and between parent and child is not acceptable what so ever, in my opinion. Have you ever gone to counseling for this ? It is a very tangled emotional web for you, and I do believe that with support you could draw the necessary boundrylines for your own health and well being.

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