It’s been years or even decades since you were a child, living with emotionally abusive parents. You would think that it would be possible to put the past behind you and move on.
Yet, the emotional abuse you experienced still feels fresh. It’s as if those experiences had just happened yesterday.
The result of having experienced emotional abuse is that you approach life today much differently than you would like. Things that seem easy for others are quite hard for you. The result is that you struggle to live up to your full potential and to enjoy life.
Consider why growing up with emotionally abusive parents still affects you in adulthood.
Playing the Role of the People Pleaser
When you were a child, you learned that making sure your parents were happy ensured they were less abusive. Now, as an adult, you have stepped into the role of the people pleaser. You want to make sure that everyone is happy and that they’re pleased with your performance.
On one hand, this isn’t necessarily a bad skill to have, especially if you work in a customer-service related job. However, being a people pleaser can be problematic for relationships. You struggle to assert yourself, and you bend over backward to please your partner. The result is that you sacrifice your own needs and desires.
Wearing an Emotional Mask
Another trait grown children of emotionally abusive parents display is wearing an emotional mask. In this case, you present yourself to other people as happy, content, and successful. Even your life partner and children may not realize that you are putting on a mask. You’ve gotten that good at hiding your true emotions.
Beneath the mask, though, you carry the heavy burden of painful emotions and memories connected to emotional abuse that was never resolved. Long-term, this will erode the quality of your relationships, as those feelings inevitably come to the surface. No mask can hide those emotions forever.
Having Low Self-Confidence
One of the most tragic outcomes of having emotionally abusive parents is that you have zero confidence in yourself as an adult. You have this belief that you absolutely cannot accomplish anything.
Even when you do have a desire to accomplish something, there is that voice in the back of your head that says you can’t. The consequence is that you live an unfulfilled life. You’re never able to reach your full potential. You know this, and it drives you to become sad and depressed.
Becoming an Overachiever
As a child in school, you were the student who always got straight A’s. In fact, anything less than an A felt like a crisis. You participated in clubs, sports, and applied to a dozen colleges as a senior. In college, and later in your career, the desire to go above and beyond continued.
Why do many who have been emotionally abused by their parents become overachievers? Because they want to either prove their parents wrong (see the previous point) or try desperately to satisfy parents who are impossible to please (see the first point).
Eventually, many who become overachievers due to emotional abuse get to a point where they experience a crisis. They have such high-pressure jobs and lives that they reach a breaking point—and implode.
Healing From Emotionally Abusive Parents
The scars emotionally abusive parents leave on their children affects them profoundly and can last a lifetime. Both their professional and personal life are crippled by the burden of this abuse.
But there is help. Participating in trauma therapy can lift that burden and give you a new lease on life without the shackles of emotional abuse. If you’d like to know more, please contact me.