toxic child

While we’re examining the role both Stark sisters play in relationship to patriarchal values, as an attempt to better understand their relationship to each other, the story as a whole, and to themselves, I’d like to see us remember that Sansa is also a child. Yes, she is older. Yes, she is better at playing the role demanded of her. But just as Arya is intimidated by Sansa being better at feminine things, Sansa is intimidated by Arya being loved and valued despite not committing to those things. Internalized misogyny and policing the patriarchal values she is taught are a part of it, but just as Arya is hurt by her mother potentially thinking she’s dirty and unsalvageable, Sansa is hurt by a muddied Arya, carrying weeds, being hugged, loved, and cherished, while she, the eldest daughter who finds herself betrothed to a prince in the beginning of our story, cannot risk appearing so human. 

The girls have memories of gorging themselves on cakes, snowball fights, being scared and scaring each other, so their home life was very typical to any sibling relationship or family relationship. I think the crux of it is the fear of falling out of familial roles and familial expectations, ultimately. So I think it’s shortsighted to not mention how their perception of what Catelyn and Eddard expect of them is a heavy part of it and pretty baseless to call either of them a bully.

And on the whole I don’t believe in a narrative that has to say, “yes, they made mistakes” or “yes, X was mean to their sister/brother Y” in order to defend a child or a social narrative in a fantasy novel. Sansa laughs when her friends call Arya Horseface. Arya hurls entire fruits at Sansa. They aren’t bullies, they’re children, under an immense amount of pressure as part of a noble family. 

terrifying your own child into submission makes you an abuser.

watching your child cry and screaming at them to stop and invalidating their pain and reasons for crying makes you an abuser.

staring at your child in disgust and contempt after they displease you makes you an abuser.

threatening to your child to take away their basic resources if they don’t give you exactly what you want makes you an abuser.

forcing your child to feel ashamed for not living up to your ideals makes you an abuser.

using slurs, hateful names and insults on your own child without any regard to what it does to their mental health makes you an abuser.

forcing your child to chase impossible expectations and making them feel like they’re worthless for not achieving them makes you an abuser.

acting like your child is a burden and a waste of space and blaming their illness/disability/depression on it makes you an abuser.

behaving like your child will never amount to anything and isn’t worth any resources and nurturing makes you an abuser.

making your child feel like they’re never good enough makes you an abuser.

if your child’s heart is hurting because they know no matter what they do and how hard they try they will always be a failure in your eyes, you are an abuser.

if your child can’t look at themselves without self hatred because they had to look at themselves from your perspective and all they saw is disgust and hatred, you’re an abuser.

If your child is struggling to believe they have the right to live and to be cared and loved, if they can’t stop hearing your hateful voice putting them down and using their every action to prove they’re worthless, you’re an abuser.

If you watched your child in pain and assured them they deserved it, you’re an abuser.

If your child can’t love themselves from how badly you hated them, you’re an abuser.

I hate this. Things like this scare the shit out of me.
Yes a parent should be protective. No they should not STALK their child.
Yes a parent can get upset at a child. No they should not flip out or let their anger make them out of control, or take out their anger on their child.
Yes a parent can lecture and maybe the kid feels like their parent is driving them crazy - but after the last two statements forgive me if I don’t exactly trust these definitions.
A parent should never be their child’s worst nightmare. A pain sometimes, ok, but not a nightmare.
And the idea of a parent “stalking” and “hunting down” their child is horrifying. If you were a good parent, maybe your child would have communicated whereabouts upfront with you already.
And the last statement is the worst. “I will subject you to terror and treat you like my property…. Because I love you!” No one would ever put up with this from a partner, a friend, even a grandparent…. Why is it suddenly okay from a parent?

Fuck toxic parenting.

Even if they say “they didn’t mean it”, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they say “they don’t remember it”, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they say “you’re delusional, I would never do that, you made it up”, they’re still responsible for what they did, and for trying to gaslight and invalidate your memories.

Even if they say “I didn’t do it, and even if I did, I would be right to do it”, they’re still guilty for what they did.

Even if they have excuses, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they act like it would have been crazy to expect from them to act any different way, they’re still responsible for what they did to you.

Even if they come at you with an entire agenda of how you should perceive what they did so it actually “benefits you”, even if they insist they did it for your own good, they’re still responsible for what they did to you, and for lying about it.

Even if they cry about how much it pains them to be accused of hurting you, they’re still responsible for what they did to you.

Even if they cry about how much they love you and how they did it all out of love and never meant to hurt you, it’s still their responsibility for what they did to you.

Even if they act like what they did shouldn’t have hurt you and you’re the one responsible for taking damage, for being sensitive to being abused, it’s still their responsibility for what they did to you.

Even if they blame you for what they did to you, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they insist someone else did it to them too, even if they insist they had it worse than you, even if they say it’s a cultural thing, they’re still responsible for what they did to you.

Even if it was long ago, and they act like you’re wrong for remembering such old wrong doing, it’s still something they did, and they’re still responsible for doing it.

They can lie and deny and accuse and blame and invalidate and gaslight. It doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for what they did. It doesn’t absolve them from guilt.

Nothing can absolve abusers from responsibility for their own actions. Nothing.

Gaslighting. The Gift that Keeps on Giving.

Ok, I officially suck at sarcasm. 

The trouble with gaslighting is that it sticks. It becomes such an ingrained part of who you are and how you think. 

Examples: 

You were told often as a child that “you are always in the way” 

You can be minding your own business, stood perfectly still, just looking or thinking and someone bumps into you. Your first instinct is to say “sorry”. If by some miracle the person who walked into you manages to say sorry first… what are you going to reply? You reply “No, it’s my fault.. I am always in the way”. 

You were blamed or yelled at for things you didn’t do as a child. 

Someone you work with has their purse stolen. Your immediate emotional response is guilt and fear. You expect to be blamed and yelled at. You expect to be questioned by the authorities. You may even search your mind over and over for a memory or a clue that actually you are responsible and you did take the purse. 

Trying to confront your abuser with the truth of what they said resulting in denial. 

Those few occasions when you tried to express your pain, you were told it didn’t happen or was never said to you. So now, every time someone says something hurtful to you, you don’t respond. You can’t trust what you heard. You look for other meanings or decide you must have misunderstood. 

You were told you are difficult and oversensitive. 

You cannot now trust your emotional responses. You are afraid to react and express yourself in case others see just how ridiculous you really are. You bottle up your emotions to the point you cannot even cry sometimes and you feel empty. 

Growing up you were often told you were unlikable and unlovable. 

You find yourself as an adult not pursuing friendships or relationships. If they don’t call you, it’s a rejection. If they cancel plans, it’s a rejection. You come to believe that you are intrinsically not wanted by anyone unless they put in enough effort to get to know you and make it inside your defences.

Everything is always your fault.

Your friend stopped talking to you and you are asked “What did you do wrong?”. Now, the ending of a relationship is a dark journey into despair trying to find the flaw in yourself that ended it. You may call that person promising to change, if they could just please tell you what you did that was so wrong. No matter if they treated you badly, they wouldn’t do that if you could just be better. 

You feel crazy.

You can’t trust what you hear, what you see, what you think or how you respond. Nothing is solid and tangible. It’s always the worst case scenario. You are afraid of yourself and everyone around you. You are terrified people will see the “real you” and you will never see them again. You can’t push your career or your education because you can’t believe in yourself. 

Gaslighting is insidious and invasive and changes everything about the way we relate to ourselves. The only way to fight it is to be mindful. Take the time to think before you respond. Challenge yourself daily. Teach your inner voice to be kind to you. Learn to trust your instincts. Believe in yourself and the wonderful,  imperfectly perfect human being that you are. 

<3


Your parents words will plant seeds in your head that will grow into thick, looming trees.  When they say it’s your job to be there for them and care for them, you believe it.  When they say you’re selfish, cold, worthless…you believe them.  When they make you believe that it’s wrong to do what’s best for you because it’s not what they want, then you can’t help but believe they are right.  The guilt becomes overwhelming.

But they aren’t right.

You are allowed to do what feels healthy for you.  You are allowed to focus on your job, your school, your life.  You are allowed to be angry at them.  You are allowed to not care about their issues.  You are not their tool, you are not their parent, you are not their clay for molding.  You are you.  And you can recognize that guilt but don’t let it consume you.  

Because you are so much more than what they made you believe.

What the Hell is “Gaslighting”?

In 1938, a stage play called “Gas Light” debuted for the first time. The play is about a husband who gradually convinces his wife she’s insane by acting strangely and secretly manipulating objects in the house - like dimming the gas lights in the attic - and refusing to acknowledge that they’ve changed. Today, the term “gaslighting” is used to describe any behaviour designed to make another person question their sanity. 

Gaslighting is abusive behaviour. Any person who tries to make you doubt your own sanity does not have your best interests at heart. Gaslighting is a tool to keep you in an abusive relationship, and prevent you from reaching out for help. 

In its weakest form, gaslighting means convincing you that you are misremembering or exaggerating something that happened. “I never said it like that, you’re exaggerating!” or “You’re making it sound worse than it was!” are common examples of gaslighting. At the end of the conversation, you might even find yourself apologizing to the other person, even though you were pretty sure that they were in the wrong. This sort of thing can happen in a normal relationship, especially if one or both parties aren’t very self-aware, but it’s a concern if it happens all the time… especially if only one person seems to have a faulty memory.

Gaslighting can also mean convincing you that events didn’t happen at all. Your abuser can absolve themselves of responsibility, and keep you in check, by convincing you that abuse never took place. “We never had a fight at my brother’s wedding… are you feeling okay?” or “I’ve never thrown anything at you in my life! Do you have a fever or something?” are more serious examples of gaslighting, and they are absolutely not okay. If someone is trying to convince you that a fight or episode of abuse never happened, that’s a huge red flag that cannot be ignored. 

At its very worst, abusers may go out of their way to stage strange events in order to confuse their victims. An abuser trying to keep a victim in check, or socially isolate a victim, may go out of their way to act strangely in order to make their victim doubt their own mind. Abusers may steal things from you, disappear for days on end and claim that they told you where they were going (or deny being gone), or mislabel your reactions as they’re happening (eg. pretending that you are irrationally angry when you are actually calm). These are also huge red flags, and cannot be ignored. 

Gaslighting is not unique to abusive romantic relationships: it is also common in toxic parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, friendships or school bullying. Anyone who mistreats you can gaslight you. 

The best defense against gaslighting is self-confidence, and careful recording. Trust in your own mind. You know when you’ve been abused. You know your own reactions. And write things down - keeping a careful record of abusive incidents and what was said or done gives you a record to consult when someone else gets in your head. 

Gaslighting can make it especially difficult to recognize and leave a bad relationship, and no one deserves to go through it. Know the signs. Protect yourself. You deserve better. 

It is often difficult to recognize the connection between early-life feelings of imprisonment, and our subsequent need for space and distance in our adult lives. This can be manifest in many different ways: non-committal relationships, career indecision, a perpetual need to live alone, social avoidance, perpetual mistrust of the world etc. For a time, these manifestations can actually serve a counter-balancing purpose, as our spirits breathe a healthy sigh of relief after years entrapped. If all you know is engulfment, it is essential that you have a taste of safety and spaciousness. But, taken too far, our escape hatches can actually become a prison of their own, one that deepens our isolation and prevents us from forming positive associations with the world. Any imbalanced reality has an imprisoning quality. Just because our early-life environment felt like a prison doesn’t mean that we can’t create a different reality-one that is rooted in healthy connectiveness.
—  Jeff Brown

it’s time to shut down the lie that children who don’t grow up being hit, humiliated, and scared into obedience will grow up into spoiled, entitled, selfish monsters. there is zero truth to that. children grown in a healthy and nurturing environment will get a chance to grow up healthy. children who are raised by monsters who try to pretend that abuse is for the child’s sake and that the child would become a monster if not abused will be stripped of their health and will be denied an actual start in life and will be forced to fight for survival. I’ve had enough of abusers pretending they’re helping the child while they’re just taking and taking more and more away from them and leaving them permanently traumatized and emotionally injured. Don’t let them get away with it.

If parents teach a child with any method available that the child must be

  • submissive
  • extremely obedient
  • silent about their needs
  • always content with what they get, even if it’s much less than they need
  • pleasing to everyone around them
  • giving others what they want even when it’s harmful and painful to do so
  • expecting punishment at merely displeasuring someone
  • expecting pain as soon as they don’t meet someone’s expectations
  • not good enough unless they make everyone else happy
  • putting their needs last, or not having needs at all
  • extremely grateful for every little bit of human decency they get
  • best in the world in everything, or else they’re worthless
  • recognizing that people who hurt them most likely do it unintentionally or even worse, out of love
  • accepting hurtful behaviour without calling it out, complaining about it, or even letting the perpetrator know how much they got hurt
  • extremely forgiving, to the point where they forgive without even getting an apology, or with the hurtful offense still going on
  • tolerating insults, humiliation, slurs, and hatred being directed at them
  • never showing outright anger, rage, resentment, or hold a grudge
  • never fighting for their rights
  • never refusing to do what’s asked of them
  • accepting that they might be unlovable and that nobody will ever want them

then the child is being abused. It doesn’t matter if they use violence, guilt, terror, emotional abuse, brainwashing, threats, psychological abuse, punishment, discipline, harsh language, or if they teach it all to the child politely and with explanations to why they have to be like this if they don’t wish to be a burden on society. To shape a person this way out of convenience and send them off into a world that will abuse, exploit, take advantage and destroy a person like this, is abuse. Nobody needs to be any of these things. And people who aren’t any of these things still aren’t a burden on society. Abusive parents are a burden on society, and on their own children. Children aren’t there to be controlled or used by adults. Children are humans in development. Their boundaries should not be crushed before they even have a chance to develop any.

When you are a child and you feel ignored, your brain has actually been programmed to ignore your feelings.
As you age, it will be the ‘norm’ to feel invisible.
And you will naturally feel invisible to your own Self.

You will struggle to ‘see your feelings’ and 'feel them’ and to ultimately be able to 'identify and claim’ these feelings as your own.
You will seek outward validation, cues, signals and signs as a means to help you clarify and justify what is happening inside of you.

This is a consequence of being raised by self absorbed parents.
To 'feel seen’ in an authentic way, we must be willing to 'see the self’ and learn how to embrace as well as shatter any illusion ever created that had us believing we were not good enough.

F**K that programming dear one!

You were always good enough, and when you understand this at your core–you can make the Self your new best friend.
You can be silly, and free because you know it’s okay to be you.

When you develop this self humility and self acceptance, you are able to attract people who can see the real you as well. When they say they love you, you can believe them because you are showing them who you really are. When you hide yourself, and people say they love you,
you will always doubt whether they do because on some level you will know you have hidden some aspect of you due to fearing what they may think of you.

Just be your true Self…own it–accept it…honor it–and don’t expect anyone to change you–and don’t expect anyone to change for you…just be you!

—  Lisa A. Romano

I feel like the best scene in the new Beauty and the Beast was when the wardrobe shot dresses and wigs and stuff onto 3 dudes attacking the castle and the one guy just OWNS it. Like runway-model spins and just BEAMS so happily and the wardrobe is singing “Go! Be free! Be free! Be free!!!”

That dude’s smile in that scene is everything. Be free from toxic masculinity my child.

I understand that you had a hard time, and I’m sure you didn’t hurt me on purpose, but I need you to undertand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me.
— 

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming your Life, by Craig Buck and Susan Forward.

This part is in a section of responses for when/if you confront your parents about ways they hurt you. This really helps for when you know your parents have other problems (my mother struggles with bipolar disorder and drug/alcohol addiction), and you feel bad for being mad about their mistreatment of you. It is okay to be mad. Their other problems do not excuse how they treated you, and they don’t invalidate your pain.

Let’s play, “was I abused” game! Reblog and bold the things your parents have done to you! Italicize if you’re not sure. (copy paste it all and then bold)

Physical abuse

  • parent slapped me to prove their point/teach me a lesson
  • parent spanked me as a “punishment” saying it was for my own good
  • parent pulled on my hair to force me to move
  • parent threw things at me while angry, things heavy enough to hurt me
  • parent trapped me into a room/corner so I couldn’t escape them
  • parent hit me when I wouldn’t obey them/tried to confront them
  • parent used a twig/stick/belt to lash at my body
  • parent grabbed me to force me to pay attention to them
  • parent pinned me down and physically prevented me from escaping
  • parent brought me into situations where I feared for my life
  • parent made it painfully obvious for me that I’ll obey them or suffer injuries
  • parent threatened to beat me if I wouldn’t do as they say
  • parent forcefully fed me something I refused to eat 
  • parent made an attempt at strangling/drowning/burning me
  • parent banged my head/body into the wall/furniture
  • parent forced me into sexual activities

Emotional abuse

  • parent called me derogatory names and slurs more than once
  • parent said my name mostly with hatred and scorn in their voice
  • parent degraded and humiliated me in front of others for fun
  • parent insulted and devalued something really important to me
  • parent deprived me of something that meant the world to me
  • parent yelled and swore at me in anger more than once
  • parent blamed me for things that were out of my control/not my fault
  • parent shamed me for my physical appearance
  • parent guilt-tripped me for not pleasing them well enough
  • parent regarded me as a burden, and shamed me for needing them at all
  • parent insisted I couldn’t take a joke after I got hurt from their insults
  • parent never comforted me/got angry if I reached for comfort
  • parent punished me for crying/showing fear/showing trauma symptoms
  • parent humiliated me for showing excitement and happiness
  • parent subtly let me know that my feelings and my problems don’t matter
  • parent got angry at me for feeling depressed/angry/tired/suicidal
  • parent blamed me for feeling depressed/angry/tired/suicidal
  • parent compared me to cousins/other children to prove how I’m the worst
  • parent decided for me how I feel when it was convenient for them
  • parent told me that I was crazy/delusional/need to be locked away
  • parent threatened me with kicking me out/sending away if I don’t change
  • parent refused to accept my sexuality/tried to force it to change
  • parent required for me to act normal to protect family’s reputation
  • parent isolated me from family activities they all enjoy
  • parent assured me that nobody will ever want me 
  • parent insisted that I was lucky and that I could have had it much worse
  • parent made me responsible for their well being and made me the caretaker
  • parent insisted that their harmful acts were all made “out of love”
  • parent demanded me to be available for their requests at any time
  • parent punished me for trying to establish boundaries
  • parent destroyed my belongings as a revenge
  • parent made inappropriate sex jokes and comments in my presence
  • parent denied doing any of this and insists that all the blame is on me

Psychological Abuse

  • parent kept pointing out my flaws as proofs that I wont achieve anything
  • parent called me stupid, incompetent, ignorant, while withholding information that I needed to know in order to complete tasks
  • parent would change their side of the agreement in crucial moment and then pretend it was obvious from the start
  • parent stalked me/distrusted me without any reason/invaded my privacy
  • parent attacked my insecurities and vulnerabilities in any argument
  • parent forced me into degrading actions while they watched me do it 
  • parent threatened to leave me
  • parent accused me regularly of behaving the way they did
  • parent never acknowledged, praised or approved of my actions
  • parent always demanded they are right without any proof/explanation
  • parent insisted that they’re a great parent using financial support as proof
  • parent insisted that I should be grateful for how good they are to me
  • parent gaslighted me and tried to make me believe my memories weren’t real if I confronted them with what they did

Neglect

  • parent didn’t notice I haven’t been eating properly
  • parent didn’t notice I was sick/didn’t care for me while I was sick
  • parent didn’t notice I was injured
  • parent didn’t notice I didn’t have clothes/shoes I needed for school
  • parent didn’t notice I suffered from trauma 
  • parent didn’t notice I was anxious and stressed
  • parent didn’t notice I was depressed
  • parent didn’t notice I was cutting myself
  • parent didn’t notice I was suicidal
  • parent didn’t notice I was being sexually abused
  • parent didn’t notice I was being bullied
  • parent failed to get me medical attention when it was needed
  • parent failed to teach me the very basics of self care
  • parent didn’t seem to notice any of my needs and feelings except the absolute minimum I required to survive
  • when I notified them of these things, they denied it, accused me of lying, decided it wasn’t happening and/or blamed me for it

Financial Abuse

  • parent made me feel ashamed for needing money
  • parent made me feel like I’m a financial burden to them
  • parent only gave me minimal money to survive 
  • parent made sure I never have a decent amount of money on me
  • parent took the money I earned from me
  • parent used the money to blackmail me (if you continue this way let’s see who will pay for your bus ticket!)
  • parent insisted since they “pay for my stuff” they have the right to control my behaviour and actions
  • parent had enough money for luxury but kept me without anything
  • parent refused to get my medicine/get me medical attention because it’s too expensive while they got everything for themselves
  • parent would keep me anxious over if they would pay my expenses or not
  • parent would make me do as much work for them as possible before they would pay for a necessity
  • parent kept me in the dark over family finances even when I was of age
  • parent would make sure I never have enough money to escape them

If you bold more than 5 things, you have been through abuse. For some particular ones, even one true thing on this list means you’ve been badly harmed by your parents. Also this list is not complete, there are many more abusive behaviours not listed here, feel free to add!