I have just joined with a little hope to find someone who has experienced something similar.
My name's Abigail, I am 21 years old,currently living in the UK, I come from a working class family.
I have never thought of my childhood as traumatising. But I do remember that moment when I realised that my family differs from others. I was about 8 or 9 years old.
I think the main problem was my mother's drinking. She would not drink every day, only on her days off and she wasn't aggressive when drunk either. She would just be silent in the kitchen drinking on her own and falling asleep while smoking(which scared me as she might set the houe on fire). However, her drinking used to get her in arguments with my father as she used to verbally abuse him and manipulate him which, occassionally, led him to drink as well. Although they never divorced, even when I was young, I honestly wish they did. Constant arguing, rare domestic violence (for which I never really blamed my father for it and I still think he was provoked) and always seeing my mother drinking and trying to ignore it when I invite friends over was often unsettling and uncomfortable. I don't know how it affected me back then, I just used to listen. They rarely argued and never fought in front of me but I did witness the drinking every two days in the week. My mother used to hide alcohol whenever I walked in the kitchen but you can only hide the bottle - not the state of drunkenness. It seemed like everyone in the household knew about the drinking but no one ever talked about it loudly, it would only be mentioned sometimes in the passing. I used to live with my grandparents (mother's parents) as well who just always pointed out how bad their daughter and my father is but never really do anything, they were constantly telling me that I will have to fend for myself in the future as my parents will not help me.
family relationship-wise, I get along best with my father who never shouted at me and used to make me laugh. I did respect him and if I did something wrong, I would be scared of his reaction which was never severe. My relationship with my mother was bad for as long as I can remember - she had mood-swings, used to shout at me, never listened to what I'm saying, used to make me do chores which she knew I hate. Sometimes, however, when I had a really massive argument with my family, she would actually try to protect me but only in extremely severe arguments which always puzzled me as in normal disagreements, she would just go against me and sometimes even blame me for things I didn't do. My grandparents were very critical of others(like my parents) although they did spoil me. They had very high expectations of me and whenever I failed, they would bring me down and make me feel worthless, saying if I want to end up like my parents.
Socially outside family I was quite normal - I had one or two good friends, experienced some early childhood fallouts, some minor verbal bullying, I never told anyone about my family though. I was really good at school academically, graduated with flying colours.
When I graduated and it was time to leave for university, I decided to leave my country and go away from my family. I told everyone that I'm leaving to UK for studying but it was never the main reason - I just wanted to escape from my family and see what it would be like. I was 19.
One moment that I remember very well to this day was when I was leaving and saying the final good bye to my family before leaving to UK, my mother hugged me crying and told me that she is sorry. I never really understood this gesture.
After moving to the UK, I did find a steady job and started studying as well. I made a few friends from either work or uni or outside, took up some new hobbies, made a fairly steady life for myself.
After the first year of living on my own, I started thinking about my family and concluded that I was wrong the whole time and my parents were struggling and I was ''kicking-off'' for no reason, I felt like I was just being a silly child. I was feeling sorry for what I put them through. However, first time I went back home for holidays to see them, they did treat me nice but it didn't take long for my mother to turn crazy and drinking again. It seemed like nothing has changed.
Even now, I'm feeling pressured by my grandparents who are putting their hopes in me (as they kind of abandoned their hopes for their own daughter, I suppose) yet they tend to criticise me if I don't act in a certain way. Now that I am a financially independent adult I could not care less yet it makes me think back that a lot of times I was made feel worthless - they did say that I am smart and pretty and so on(when I did what they wanted) yet they implied that my parents are horrible and I need to prepare to ''hard'' life ahead of me. They never believed in things like emotions - depression etc. and whenever I got the courage to tell them that our family is different, they just said that I'm imagining things which to this day, sometimes I think I do. I guess, this put a strain on me to succeed(which may not be alwas a bad thing) but I am a sensitive person by nature and I do not have that thick skin.
All this aside however, today it left me with difficulties to form strong relationships, both friendly and romantic. I never had a boyfriend as I do not really trust people in general nor I had a really close firiend that would know my past secrets. I find it very hard open up about my feelings, I can make friends if I have to (in social situations), however, I cant make friends or find partners that I actually need. I get scared and try to move away from the relationship. I feel that maybe I don't feel good enough to find a partner and I don't want to open up to my friends as I don't want to become a burden or the one with ''mommy'' problems. Maybe moving on my own abroad and cultural shock with feeling of isolation and loneliness contributes to problems of attachment as well. Although, I am studying and working, I feel lost in life as I do not know what I want to do, where to live and I don't really know where I'm going. I do drink alcohol occassionally (both socially and on my own) and it does loosen me up emotionally, however, I feel that drinking more will only be a false solution to the problem.
Just wondering what are your thoughts and maybe someone has been through something similar and could share some advice.