Lost my childhood

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peaceofthewildthings

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Lost my childhood
« on: July 05, 2020, 12:31:22 AM »
Hi everyone

I'm a bit hesitant to post in here as I'm opening up a lot but I feel like I'm in a time where I could do with reaching out to others who are more likely to understand.

I'm in my 30's and distancing myself from my family as they are incredibly dysfunctional and my parents & older sibling are toxic and abusive. I've been getting therapy for a long time. There's a lot that's happened, but the main thing I want to bring up in here is the possibility that my Mum had munchausen by proxy - it's something I'm only just exploring. I am certain she is a narc, or at least has traits.

When my sister was beginning secondary/high school (11 years old), she complained of stomach pains and so my Mum decided to keep her off school. Numerous doctors visits happened and she had all kinds of tests. She was then diagnosed with a chronic illness (one you can't be tested for). A year later, when I began secondary school, I ended up off school with tonsilitis a couple of times. I saw my sister off sick and I decided to put my tonsilitis medicine down the toilet. I didn't want to go back to school. I tried to prolong my illness, and I started to complain of the same symptoms which my sister had in the hope I could stay off school.

I then got diagnosed with the same illness as my sister. I was 11, she was 12. We never went back to school. We never saw or spoke to our friends again. My Mum got a home tutor for us but that didn't last - I don't know what happened, I think we complained about her so that was the end of that. A few years later, my younger brother got diagnosed with the same chronic illness. I have a very blurry memory of his journey with being diagnosed - but the core of it is that the 3 of us were off school, we missed our entire secondary/high school education, had zero friends and never went out. My Dad is also incredibly verbally abusive so we were exposed to that even more as he was self-employed so was often in and out of the house. He was also physically abusive to me once - something my entire family deny and minimise.

Me and my sister were given crutches and wheelchairs because we had complained of leg pain. Whenever we went out we used them.

When I was old enough to work, but didn't because I was 'ill', my Mum encouraged myself and my sister to claim for disability benefits, and to give my Mum the money. She told me to exaggerate my pains when I went for my assessment - but put it down to 'they might not see you on your worst day, so you have to pretend you're having your worst day to make sure you get the full amount of money'. I accepted it, got the money, gave it all to her.

My Mum was constantly looking for 'cures' and had us on all kinds of different alternative therapies. Finally, one day, when we were about 16/17, we tried a new one and my sister felt she was 'cured'. I wanted the whole thing over with, so I said I was cured too. That was the end of that. Then life moved on as though nothing had even happened.

I would often cry and speak to my sister and tell her that I didn't think I'd really been ill, and that I'd lied. She kept telling me that wasn't the case - that I had been ill. She wouldn't acknowledge what I was saying and I felt in such deep shame about it. I felt I'd ruined my family's lives. I was incredibly depressed, so my Mum took me to the doctors and put me on Prozac when I was about 16.

When I was 25 I told my Mum that I had lied. I was in a mess, ever since I was 11 I had been in a constant state of fear that if my parents found out, it would be unforgivable. My Mum told me that she'd 'always suspected' that I'd lied, but thought of it as me giving my sister 'company' while she was off school so it wasn't all bad.

Between the ages of 11 and late 20's, I lived in a constant state of shame for what I believed I'd done - lied and ruined my family's lives. It's only since I've been to my current therapist, in my 30's, that I've started to look at the whole thing differently - that I was a child, that it was my parents duty to make sure I had an education, that parents know when their children are lying, and that they should've got to the root of why we were in a bad place. But they didn't.

A few years ago I decided to start family therapy and brought them with me. My Mum lasted 2 sessions and refused to come back. My Dad stayed for further sessions and told me that my Mum had told him about me lying about being ill. He was awful about it to me, told me how bad it was. My therapist tried to explain to him that I was 11, a child. He kept speaking to me like I was a piece of shit. He then refused to come back to therapy.

None of this has been spoken about properly. I am trying to speak to my brother about it more, as my parents and sister are, in my eyes, a lost cause now - I have tried several times with them and they are always verbally abusive to me. I'm just figuring out a lot about my childhood, and ever since I've looked into munchausen by proxy I'm wondering if this is what happened with my Mum after all.

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Bloomie

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Re: Lost my childhood
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2020, 01:14:40 PM »
peaceofthewildthings - I am glad you shared this here. Your T is right to reassure you that you were a child and the responsibility for your health, education, and discernment when a kid is faking symptoms to ditch school or get attention is with the parents.

What your mother encouraged and equipped her children to do was to malinger - which is to deceive others through fabricated illness for financial gain or to avoid responsibility for something. As a young child you had zero defenses against that powerful influence of your mother.

It makes sense then, that your parents could never accept any responsibility for this and would keep you out of school and isolated so that no one could challenge the diagnoses of their children and question your parent's motives. It also makes sense that they would turn the tables and viciously accuse you as you are speaking the truth now because they financially gained for years from this scam. And they used all of their children. And they are facing the truth of what they did.

Here is the thing... despite all of what had to be mind bending manipulation and abuse from your parents you have a strong sense of right and wrong and you have gone to great lengths to grow beyond this toxic environment. I am just so blown away by your strength and steadfast journey to a better life and a truthful account of what you experienced in your FOO.

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None of this has been spoken about properly. I am trying to speak to my brother about it more, as my parents and sister are, in my eyes, a lost cause now - I have tried several times with them and they are always verbally abusive to me. I'm just figuring out a lot about my childhood, and ever since I've looked into munchausen by proxy I'm wondering if this is what happened with my Mum after all.

I am so glad you are talking about this and processing what happened with your mom and family! Good strength and much peace to you as you continue healing!
"You can understand and have compassion for someone and still not want a relationship with them."
Amanda E. White, LPC @therapyforwomen

Bloomie 🌸

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peaceofthewildthings

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Re: Lost my childhood
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2020, 11:36:00 PM »
Hi Bloomie

Thank you so much for replying. I hadn't intended for my post to be quite as long as it ended up being, so I really appreciate you reading all the way through and taking the time to reply. It really means so much to receive validation in this way - even though I don't know you. I always convince myself that I shouldn't 'need' to reach out in this way, and I feel a weird sense of self-judgment when I find myself feeling so relieved to get a response like yours. As though I shouldn't be 'needing' so much - but the truth is I do.

It makes sense then, that your parents could never accept any responsibility for this and would keep you out of school and isolated so that no one could challenge the diagnoses of their children and question your parent's motives.



I think you're right. It was such an upside down place to be, though - my parents initially told me they thought I was lying, and I insisted I wasn't. They eventually said they believed me, and put so much effort into trying to find a cure for this mystery illness myself and my siblings said we had, but would also go through phases of telling me they didn't believe me. There were moments when other people (my grandparents, particularly) challenged my Mum over it, and she would defend me and persecute my grandparents. It was such a mess - I eventually started to believe I was ill, and looking back I think the stress manifested itself into aches and pains that I became so confused with what was reality and what wasn't.

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Bloomie

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Re: Lost my childhood
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2020, 11:38:00 AM »
peaceofthewildthings - I can't imagine where I would be if I did not have a group of people who understand to some extent and who validate and believe me as I have shared here in this community.

There is great healing and empowerment that comes from sharing our experiences or seeing such similar stories from others here on the boards. It's hard to explain the good it does our heart and soul after so many years of confusion and self doubt.

You have set yourself on a healthy path and I join you in hopes that your brother will see the peace and steadfastness you are gaining and will want to join you on that path, but either way, you are heading toward a clear and bright future.
"You can understand and have compassion for someone and still not want a relationship with them."
Amanda E. White, LPC @therapyforwomen

Bloomie 🌸