A side effect of an abusive childhood can make you far too tolerant of chaos.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I grew up with a neglectful and abusive mother. Because she was also hugely disorganized, my life was often chaotic. Everything was done last minute with no planning or organization. It was a running family joke that every holiday required at least one trip to the local drugstore to get things she forgot. Back then, the local drugstore was the only store open on Christmas. It was not even that unusual to have to go more than once because she would realize other things she had forgotten after the first trip was made.

While that seems fairly innocuous, it was far from the only place that chaos ruled. When I was small she never kept up with the paperwork required for my school. I remember once in the first grade after I asked her over and over to sign a paper that I needed to be signed, and she was just “too busy,” to take the 10 seconds to do that, I ended up trying to forge her name. Since I could not even write in cursive yet (they taught that in second grade), I got in trouble. Shout out to the school who didn’t even care to try and figure out why a six-year-old was having to resort to forgery for something a responsible parent should have been handling. Despite many obvious neglect and abuse signs, my school never did anything to help me. It was a private Christian school, so abuse was normalized. But that is a topic for a different essay. …


Some weird stuff has been going on around here this month.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

In our family, we put up the Christmas decorations on Black Friday. This year being what it has been, we decided to change up our decorations and do more with lights. We went shopping and bought all new lights and then brought up some of our non-lighted decorations from our storage unit.

Decorating was uneventful and my son was happy with the results. He loves Christmas. It is the one time of the year he drops the serious teenager act and becomes a giddy little kid again.

Now, as I’ve told him, I have never been the jolliest of elves (family of origin issues), but since my boyfriend died in November two years ago, the end of the year holidays are just something I drag my ass through now. I don’t expect that to change. But I put on a neutral, if not fake happy face for my kid. …


As shocking as it may seem, people live in their homes.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Twice in less than a day, I have had to deal with the same lack of consideration issue. People loudly yacking outside their apartments with their phones on speaker.

When I first moved in here, I struggled with having to hear people’s private stuff.

But I’ve gotten used to it and rarely notice anything that is not exceptionally loud anymore.

Last night, I was trying to fall asleep early because I knew my cat would not understand the time change. I was facing down an ass-crack-of-dawn meowing attack that would be launched complete with 16 pounds of furry body balanced on two little paws on my chest and some rank I’ve-been-licking-my-own-ass cat breath in my nostrils. …


Your depression wants to make functioning as hard as possible, but here are a few tips to help make it a little easier.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jakub Kriz on Unsplash

The world is very difficult right now for those of us who have depression and anxiety. If ever there was a time when outside factors are weighing us down, it is now. The pandemic with its fear, idiots in denial, sociopaths who don’t care who they harm, and economic destruction is gearing up for a winter return to the previous levels we saw in spring, if not worse. Politics with our fight for the future of our country. …


Two examples of selfish parents who probably think they love their kids.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence on Unsplash

I have these neighbors who have a deteriorating relationship. Originally it was the husband, wife, and two kids living there. I guess now it is over now because just the husband is there.

I’ve lived here about a year and a half and their fights have gotten worse and the police were coming more frequently. Around a month ago the wife and kids moved out. The kids come to visit him on the weekends.

It has been really quiet since they left. I had not seen the police here at all. Until today. This morning I heard angry yelling and a door slam. Then a little while later the police were at his door talking to him. …


When something gets linked in your mind with a bad experience, it can be very difficult to unlink them.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

The year 2018 was a rough one for me. My boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year and he died in early November. As 2019 dawned, I was in a very sad place emotionally. I decided to try and make myself feel better by starting a gratitude journal. I had heard good things about the practice and decided to give it a shot.

I did it daily through January and didn’t see a change. Now, I admit I was in a bad place, so I was not expecting miracles or anything. I continued to plug away at it because I wanted to give it a fair shot. …


Your mind is going to fight you every step of the way.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

Despite the fact that novelty will draw your attention, consistency is what your brain craves. It hates change. Once your mind has settled into a pattern, breaking that pattern is very difficult. The beliefs fed to you by your abuser is just such a pattern.

Your brain is not great at distinguishing between what is good for you and what is bad for you. Repetition will convince your mind that something is true regardless of how awful it is. Regardless of how it hurts you. …


The road to healing is long, but here are some steps you can take to get started.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

I had an emotionally abusive mother. I have spent most of my adult life trying to heal from that. As a child, I didn’t really know it was abuse. I didn’t know other families were different. As I became a teenager, it was obvious she was fucked up, but I had already internalized some serious learned helplessness and I didn’t think there was any way out.

It is not a coincidence that my mother excused all bad behavior by herself and my siblings as “family.” She thought anything should be forgiven just because you happen to be related to someone.

I wish that I could say I was able to escape from her, but I was not. Her abuse ended when she died. Prior to her death, I did not have a big enough reason “why” to cut her off. …


Some of your mental health problems can be traced back to the emotional abuse that you suffered.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jamie on Unsplash

Emotional abuse can screw you up in some long-term ways. Whether it is a partner or a parent abusing you, the effects mess with your mind and your image of yourself. When people who are supposed to love us instead treat us like crap, it makes us question our own worth. It makes us question if there is something wrong with us. It makes us wonder if we are lovable at all.

When it is a parent who mistreats us, it will often follow us into our relationships. I grew up with an emotionally abusive parent. My first boyfriend was also emotionally abusive, just in different, less obvious ways than my mother was. He was not openly abusive. He didn’t hit me or put me down. But he did treat me like I did not matter. He would stand me up frequently. He would disappear for long periods of time. He would not take my needs or wants into consideration. …


Ramifications of emotional abuse can follow you for your entire life.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Mario Azzi on Unsplash

I grew up with an emotionally abusive parent. She was a compulsive liar and hugely critical of everything about me. Her abuse managed to instill in me both a fixed mindset and learned helplessness. She has been dead for 18 years and yet I continue to battle both to this day.

She ingrained a fixed mindset into me with the only positive thing she ever said about me. She always told me that I was smart. I think she convinced herself of that so that she did not have to take an active role in my education. She never helped with or even supervised with homework. …

About

Heather Ashman

Writer. Single mother to transgender son. Still grieving the death of my partner. Lifelong fighter of depression and anxiety. M.A. in Human Behavior.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store