Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

My story…

on October 11, 2015

I’ve been blogging for over a year now, and it has been cathartic to me to write about some very personal topics. I’ve realized that I’m very much not alone in my struggles, and I’ve also realized that my stories are touching the lives of people all over the world. I have an opportunity here, to engage an audience about issues I feel are important. One such issue is that of peaceful parenting. It’s my belief that authoritarian parenting and corporal punishment are highly detrimental. I believe they cause problems during childhood, and long into adulthood. I have started a group on Facebook for people who feel they are recovering from an authoritarian upbringing and/or are attempting to transform their own style of parenting. (Recovering From Authoritarian Parenting) It is for that group, and for you here, that I share my story now…

I was raised in a very strict authoritarian household. My mother is a narcissist and my parents are both very religious. My mother demanded immediate obedience without question. It was the “without question” part that upset me most. I wanted to know the “why” behind every answer, and it frustrated me to no end that my mother’s response was “because I’m the mom” for most everything. When I was young, I was punished with spanking (with a hand or an implement) or soap on the tongue. As I got older, it transitioned to taking my things away or extra chores. As a teenager, it was being grounded. The year I was 17, I was literally grounded half the year overall. The worst part was that these punishments were accompanied by constant psychological abuse. I was made to believe that I was bad, always wrong, at fault and to blame for everything, a troublemaker, stubborn, defiant. The punishments served to create distrust toward my parents, and the mental abuse served to make me hate them, hate myself, and want to die.

I began thinking about suicide at just 11 years old. By 17, I had amassed a collection of pills that I believed would kill me. I had done my research. I sat in the bathroom one night, staring at these pills, bawling my eyes out, and thinking that I couldn’t take one more second of this abuse. It was then that I realized something critical: I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to end. I decided then that if I could wait just a little longer, I’d be 18 and I could take my life into my own hands finally. Unfortunately, life with authoritarian parents, especially when one is a narcissist, does not improve with the magical age of adulthood. “My house, my rules!” So I left as quickly as I could.

Even though I got out at 19, the damage had already been done. My relationship with my husband was tumultuous. We had our first child within a year of marriage, just days before my 21st birthday. At that point, I had yet to identify my mother as a narcissist, and was blinded to the extent of the abuse I had endured. I battled depression and anxiety, and I soon found my thoughts drifting once again toward suicide. I knew I couldn’t do that to my daughter, so I sought help for the first time. Over the next several years, I was pushed various drugs by various doctors. I tried a couple therapists and was sorely disappointed. And as much as I wanted to raise my kids differently than I was raised, I bought into the belief that kids need to be obedient. We began smacking our baby’s hand whenever she touched something she shouldn’t as soon as she could crawl. That soon turned into swats on the butt. By the time our 2nd child was born, we were in full swing as authoritarian parents, hitting, using time outs, setting arbitrary limits, demanding our 2 year old stay in bed when we said goodnight. And the effects of that method of parenting are apparent to me now, but I was ignorant of them at the time. Tantrums, screaming, outright defiance over the simplest instructions.

Things continued to spiral downward until I hit my rock bottom. I had to get help, I had to change, because I was faced with losing my kids and subsequently, my husband. If that happened, I knew I could not resist the urge to kill myself any longer. I had been seeing a therapist again, and I finally opened up to her. I allowed her to see all of me, all the dark, hidden things. I opened my mind to change. I embraced it. And so, my transformation began.

It has been a long road since then. Many tears, a few years, and a lot of hard work. I still struggle with many things: yelling is a big one, showing affection to my 2 older kids is another. My oldest is now 11 and struggles with self-confidence, my 2nd child is 9 and we clash often, over many things. I see a lot of traits in her that I had, and it scares me. I’m afraid I’m repeating the past, that she’s paying for the mistakes I made when she was younger. I now also have a 2 and 1 year old. It was when I was pregnant with them that I extended my transformation from myself to my parenting. It was when I began to research that I knew I had to parent very differently.

And that leads us to the present. I have been sorely disappointed that, while there are groups and pages and websites devoted to peaceful parenting, there is seemingly nothing for someone like me, who had been authoritarian and is striving to be peaceful. I can’t believe these people don’t exist, so that must mean they are just too afraid to speak up. Too ashamed and guilt-ridden over their past to seek help and guidance. Maybe they have felt they tried and failed to become peaceful parents and have since given up. Personally, I refuse to believe that it can’t be done; that the damage I’ve caused my children can’t at least be lessened. At any rate, I have to try. They deserve nothing less. And perhaps I can encourage others to do the same. Maybe together, we can turn the tide. We don’t have to wait and hope our children do better than we did, we can do better now. Every second is a chance for a choice, a new beginning.

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31 responses to “My story…

  1. oonalee says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I was raised with authoritarian parenting & have used it myself but am working on becoming a gentle parent. I’m glad to be part of the group.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alexmoriah86 says:

    Wow. This is such an honest and insightful post. I just discovered your blog. I wasn’t exactly sure how much I would get out of it, since I’m not a parent and don’t ever plan on having kids. But, something told me to hit the follow button. I like that you touch on a variety of issues. I was raised by an authoritarian father and an anxious, controlling, perfectionist mother. I have also struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and an attempt. Therapy has helped a lot, but it is a daily struggle. I think that it is awesome that you were able to see how your earlier parenting style wasn’t working and changed it. Most people don’t do that. So, kudos. Anyway, I’m excited to read more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing how people can relate to others all over the world. An honest account can be the best medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s good to read you were/are helped by therapy. I’ve struggled with finding a good one. Can you tell me how you went about finding one that ‘worked for you’ so to speak?

    Like what told you that the therapist you chose was good enough?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, it just took trial and error. The one that finally clicked, she was personable. Her office was homey and comfortable. She understood anxiety, because she had a contact form online that she’d respond to quickly (I still hate making phone calls now! If it hadn’t been for the online contact, I may not have found her!) She related to my childhood, had a mother quite like mine. She was a mother herself, which was important to me because a lot of my problems were with my own kids. She was gentle, yet didn’t talk any bullshit, she told it like she saw it. As good as she was, though, I didn’t notice big changes in myself until I was extremely honest with her. I think that was probably the hardest part.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this open share. I can assure you that you are not alone in your journey. I think a lot of people might be afraid to speak out in fear of being ridiculed for their past behaviors (yes, as gentle parents, unfortunately they can tend to be quite judgmental and harsh at times making those that have been authoritarian afraid to speak out). Hopefully with stories and voices such as yours it will have impact on others looking to for better, gentler ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing, your an excellent writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Helen says:

    Thank you for sharing your story..mine to is very similar xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jaimi says:

    so excited that i caught this post thanks to P.P.!! thank u for sharing your story and im excited to join the group! thanks! i too have had that sort of upbringing. i took pills to end my life but i didnt know what i was doing and didnt take enough or the right kind. my kids are 6,5,3&3m and i havent hit then since 2012 but i have been struggling with yelling big time! im just really looking forward to the group!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ashley says:

    Hi… I have requested to be a part of your closed group, yet I cannot find the page when I look it up. I requested to be a part of your group through my phone. Now, as I am on the computer I cannot find your group.

    I am under a different name on facebook, but I would truly appreciate being a part of your closed group.

    I .. two years ago I began therapy for some extreme childhood/adult issues. Well, .. it would be nice to hear from others who are striving for a life they never experienced, while struggling to get there.

    Kind Regards,
    Ashley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Try searching “recovering from authoritarian parenting” on Facebook. Let me know if it works or not and I’ll help you further if necessary!

      Like

      • Ashley says:

        For some reason it isn’t working. I have tried to look it up on my phone again, and it isn’t showing up there either.

        I am not sure if you can add people personally, but if so, I am under Acton Halloway on facebook.

        Thank you,
        Ashley

        Like

      • I will leave this link here, hopefully it works. If not, I could add you as a friend, then add you to the group. Once you’re added to the group, I could just delete you from my friends list. I would not even look at your profile 😉 if you feel comfortable doing that and this link doesn’t work, let me know!

        https://m.facebook.com/groups/798988390222985

        Like

      • Ashley says:

        This is the message I receive each time I search for the group:

        “The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may be broken or expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.”

        I don’t mind if you add me in order to add me to the group. I would greatly appreciate it.

        Thank you,
        Ashley

        Like

      • That’s very strange, I’ve tried searching and it comes right up. I’ll have one of the other admins try and see if it works for them! I’ll add you right now, my Facebook name is Alicia Johnson.

        Like

      • Ashley says:

        It is strange. Especially since I saw your group through my cellphone and requested to be a part of it. I accidentally sent more than one request, but I didn’t think much of it.

        I accepted the facebook request.

        Thank you for going to such lengths to add me to your group.

        Ashley

        Like

      • I added you to the group, when I see you on the member list, I’ll be deleting you from my friends list. I’m happy to help, but I keep my personal Facebook page pretty private 😉

        Like

      • Ashley says:

        As of right now, I do not see a group request. (I have checked my settings and do not see anything that would obstruct your group’s visibility, or group request) I will stay on the look out. Again, thank you. I understand about keeping facebook personal and private, I too keep my page extremely private.

        Ashley

        Like

      • Very strange. No one else has had that problem. I resent the invite. Perhaps you need to restart your computer or phone, to refresh Facebook? I can’t think of any other reason why it wouldn’t work.

        Like

  10. I wish you well on your journey, you can do this! It all starts with seeing were you’re going wrong. And you e already done that… I was raised by a single mum who loved to tell me to be more like other people, because obviously being myself wasn’t good enough, I’d go to school and be bullied by peers then come home and be bullied by my mother. It’s led me to believe that I’m not “fine”. please continue to share your story. I need support and help to break this cycle but it’s so hard when I don’t know the next step. What does gentle parenting even look like?? Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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