Take your time to enjoy this cat meme now, because TW abuse galore after it.

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So I've never talked about this before and I'm not going to say too much about it now, but I've been gaslighted, verbally, and emotionally abused by my family since I was very, very young. It is what it is.

After a particularly trying day spent at a hoity toity luncheon with my mother, who audibly kept saying things like, "Remember to work from the outside in!", "Are you sure you're using the correct butter fork?" , "Is your napkin in your lap?" etc. etc. We were sitting at a table of eight other women, all of whom had advanced degrees, and could hear my mom saying these things. Nope, not embarrassing at all. Anyway, that's a super tame example of what it's like being around my mother, just for point of reference.

I grew up being severely punished any time my opinion contradicted that of my parents (yeah, that went on until after I got married), was not allowed to leave the house at night by myself up until I was...23? Somewhere thereabouts. It only stopped because I moved in with someone.

I'm still really weirded out by the idea that parents comfort their kids even if they were just fighting. That sounds completely bizarre to me, and I had no idea there were parents that did that. I was sent to my room to calm down, and was only let back out again if I agreed to behave, which meant no expression of negative or contradictory emotions to those of my family. Any friends I did have were usually chased away by my mom, who told me to "stop bringing home strays."

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I could go on for days, incidents that they insist were jokes and that I'm just oversensitive and need to get a sense of humor, stop taking myself seriously and grow up. Because when your only daughter comes home for Christmas after being 3000 miles away for four months, it is absolutely hysterical to find my one accomplishment that I was proud of (a pretty prestigious award from the LA Times for young journalist editorial writing), wrap that, and pretend that they didn't get me any gifts. To be clear - I don't give a shit about the gifts - but that's how they welcomed me home. They took something I was proud of, mocked it in front of extended family, and I was told to lighten up because it's just a joke! Stop crying; you're being so dramatic. Years later, when my husband asked why they did that, they replied by saying, "Oh she was so insufferable about it. We wanted to take some of the wind out of her sails."

I just tried writing about some of the other stuff that has happened, but it's just too fucking painful to write down and try to edit. The worst thing about all of it is that there is no one I can talk to about it except my therapist and husband. Everyone else is convinced that my family and especially my mom are just the best ever, and I feel like I've had to play along in public because I'm too afraid of what would be said or done to me if I didn't.

I finally decided to stand up for myself and I called my mom last night to discuss the luncheon and tell her just how NOT OK it was to publicly infantilize me at a professional event, or anywhere, for that matter. It went exactly as well as you expect.

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So right now, I am sans family. It's a pretty fair assumption to make when your father shouts into the phone that you're a liar and a drunk before hanging up on you.

Honestly, I'm just confused and rudderless by all this, and I really don't understand why they think I did something wrong. I'd ask but, well...I already know how well that turned out last night.

There's so much else, but I'm too terrified to talk about it after a lifetime of being told that I exaggerate, lie, embellish, and not to be trusted. Hell, it makes me afraid of my own thoughts and opinions, because I'm so concerned about whether or not it's true or I'm insane.

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So anyway, yeah. I'm estranged from my family, but according to them it's my own fault because I'm selfish, needy, and a liar with a martyr complex. I do not deserve to be believed, so I've never told anyone. Honestly, I thought this is how all families operate and that it was not at all unusual for a mother to tell her daughter that, "[She'll] believe me when I grow up and act like an adult."

I'm 33.

I need a lot of hugs or...fuck, just anything that makes me forget this for a little while. I've hidden all this for so long and have been so scared of people finding out how much of a weakling I am, that even just saying out loud that yes, I was abused, and yes, it was really, really bad makes me think I'm a bad person to contradict my parents' opinion of their parenting that way. I'm afraid of being told I really am insane. I'm afraid of what could happen if my parents ever read this. I'm ashamed that I let this happen at all, but felt completely powerless to do anything because I kept being told that it was MY fault they were yelling, MY fault for causing upheaval, MY fault for being locked in my room, MY fault for upsetting anyone in the family - it is all my fault. Even now, I don't even know if I can trust myself because my very vivid memories and what I've been told to think, feel, and act completely contradict each other.

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Most people like hugging their family members. I'm terrified of it, and noticeably tense up if it happens (it's only happened a couple of times - my parents are not very affectionate towards me or my brother).

Help me out, guise. I could absolutely use anything that's classified as cute, cuddly, floofy, fuzzy, adorable, a platypus, or funny in general.