Being Sensitive And Having An Insensitive Mother

House

Sometimes, I dream of running away.

And then I remember that I would not be able to travel more than a few blocks without a panic attack setting in, and be forced to find either return home, tail between my legs, or find some other means of shelter, perhaps a public bathroom cubicle with a door that can lock.

So I stay in my room, and instead dream of not being conscious, which in itself is counteractive, as dreaming itself is a conscious act.

My mother is not a kind woman.

In fact, for someone like myself, who is highly sensitive and scatterbrained, I cannot think of anyone under the sun more unsuited to being my parent.

She screams at me. She screamed at me today. If you have Asperger’s, having someone screaming at you is a full-frontal assault, both emotionally and sonically excruciating. I curl up and cannot take it. I curl up, and wish I was dead. And still she goes on screaming.

Often, I am in the wrong. I can’t keep our apartment clean, and that is a fact. I am messy. I try to be neat and tidy, but sooner or later it all becomes disorganized again, and then I get screamed at for being the most disgusting slob to ever walk the land.

I daydream. Often my physical surroundings are often nothing more than interesting wallpaper. I live inside my head. I am introverted. So my mother screams at me for not socialising. I am sensitive. So she screams at me for using my sensitivity as an excuse for not wanting to deal with any that is unpleasant and stressful, like getting a job and interacting with people. I am empathetic. So she screams at me for refusing to eat meat, and is horribly scornful when I tell her I can’t put flesh, most likely from an animal who died in agony, into my mouth and swallow it. She tells me that she loves her two other nice and sensible children, and that I am deadweight, a burden; the sight of my face is abhorrent to her; that sometimes she doesn’t want to come home just so she doesn’t have to deal with me.

My siblings watch on, cold and unsympathetic. They are tired of my emotional outbursts, and tired of mother’s screaming. They are tired of having an older sister like me, useless and housebound, and perhaps that is the guilt talking, and perhaps that is not. My sister barely speaks to me anymore. She is getting a job soon, an after school job, to help my mother with the finances. And look at me. I am lucky not to be out on the street, as my mother likes to remind me. One of these days, she says, I’ll throw you out, and shut the door in your face, and it doesn’t matter how much you cry or beg, I won’t let you come back. You’re nineteen almost, you’re an adult. You’ll be on your own. I’m not working all these long hours just to feed and keep someone so inept and abnormal, who seems to float through life as though she were lost in her head.

All I ask is for a room of my own, where I can be alone, and read, and write, and work. I always work, even when I am miserable. Writing, and working, is all I have, and I know, given enough time and practice, I can get very good at it. I’m just not enough good enough yet, not by a long shot. I’m too young, too inexperienced. Any career in the Arts takes practice, long years of strenuous and constant effort. I don’t ask for much. Just a room. I can live on rice and beans, I don’t want any new clothes, just enough food to live on and pen and paper and a room of my own where I can live and write and not be disturbed. I wouldn’t mind if the room was small and cramped. As long as there is enough space for a desk and a chair, it would be fine.

It’s as if all everyone sees are the horrible parts of me: how awkward I am, how defective, disabled, strange. No-one seems to see the sensitivity, the empathy, the creativity, the imagination, the soul behind the stuttering mask. And because no-one around me seems to see my gifts–least of all my own mother, who laughed scornfully when I once made the mistake of telling her I would be a successful writer one day, before proceeding to tell me, her voice hard as a hammer knocking against my skull, that very few people succeed at writing–I begin to doubt whether they really exist. Once, my mother told me that I thought I was so “special”, her lips curled back in a sneer, that I needed solitude and to be undisturbed by people like some princess, and that, well, it was a big world out there, filled with talented people, and I was nothing in comparison. Go comfort yourself with that, she told me. When you have nothing to eat and no roof over your head, we’ll see whether you continue these dreams and delusions. If you can’t work and earn money, the world won’t care about you. Society has needs, and you need to fulfill one of them to survive. Who needs books? You don’t need books to survive. I never read. It’s too much reading that got you into this mess in the first place. You got lost in fantasy worlds, disconnected from reality, and now look at you. You’re a coward, you just want to escape into your imagination, where everything is fine and good, and ignore your duties and responsibilities.

Again, my siblings watched from the sidelines—there are no spare rooms for them to escape from the sideshow into, after all—and again, they remained silent. I think they hate me, too, for being who I am. I think they’re irritated with me.

I cried and screamed when she yelled at me today. It was my fault. I forgot the keys. I forgot where I placed them. I am always losing things, and I don’t know why. My mind doesn’t co-operate with the concept of physical location, doesn’t pay attention to my surroundings. I couldn’t open the door to let my siblings come in from school, which is a task allocated to me because my mother is afraid they will lose the key while at school. They were stuck outside until my mother came back early from work so they could be let in and do their homework at their desks.

She was boiling with rage. I could feel it through the front door, smoldering gushes of it. I was so scared. I hid in the bathroom. She came inside the house and banged on the bathroom door until it felt like my skull would break, screeching for me to come out. I didn’t want to. The screaming would be louder then, without the door acting as a physical barrier. But I did, because I knew she would get angrier if I didn’t. I I didn’t even have time to get fully-dressed; I was changing when the key cracked in the lock, signaling my mother’s return, and then I was running, half-dressed, wearing nothing but a long singlet. To come out, half-naked, and have her scream at me, felt so humiliating I think I could have died.

Now she is gone, back to work, to the grocery store, to do what I cannot help her to do. She left me to my tears, and my rocking, and my crying, in a cold fury. It is her anger that hurts me the most. I sense emotions as if they were physical rather than psychological, so her anger felt as though someone was repeatedly pummeling me in the stomach until I was coughing up blood. But my mother is right about one thing: I am a burden. More than a burden. And to place all your hopes on success in the Arts is a risky move. Besides, I am not disciplined enough, not talented enough—she is right, she is right. That was what my brain told me, as I rocked on the floor a few minutes ago. I don’t know if it is true. I don’t think it’s true. But I don’t know.

Loneliness set in soon afterwards. My family does not treat me like one of them. Half the time my sister doubts everything I say because she is convinced that I am crazy and delusional, insane. I am a tolerated pet whose unruliness is no longer amusing. I can’t turn to anyone for help: not my father, not the Government; I don’t have any friends in real life, who I can call and ask for help. After dropping out of university, any educational institutes could not care if I lived or died. I once called a Helpline number, desperate, and the man on the other end of the phone was clearly bored and rattled off a series of generic questions, and I couldn’t stand it so eventually I hung up on him, and then felt bad for being rude. Later that evening, I was scolded for using up the remaining credit on my phone.

Only through this blog have I met other like-minded people. Some of you might think, seeing as I can be quite wise and mature for my age, that I cope well, but the truth is, I don’t. I am stuck: I want to be financially independent, yet cannot due to my psychology. Thus all I can do is suffer in my family’s home, and suffer in silence, and be grateful for it, because at least I have a roof over my head and most nights go to bed without feeling too hungry. These days, I feel guilty even eating any food in the house. It’s the energy that radiates from my mother whenever I eat. Like I am a beggar from the street come to sit at her table, and steal her food, food for which I did nothing to work for to get. Some nights I go to bed hungry just so I don’t have to stay in the kitchen around her, and have her eyes on me as I eat.

I’m not sure what to do. I don’t know why it is that the outside world hurts me so. It’s the noise, it’s the sounds, the lights, the people—but it’s also the energy. Out in the noisy city streets, there is a lot of bad energy, and it gusts against my skin like skittering sparks from a flame. It’s too rough, too cruel, no kindness, no love. It makes me want to shrink down and down, into a mouse, and scurry away into a tiny cubbyhole inside a wall, where I can have my own miniature doll-sized bed and drawers, a tiny firefly coaxed into acting as a lamp, a niche where I can store nuts and berries, a wardrobe holding clothes stitched using spidersilk, and miniscule books on little shelves, their pages patterned with rows and rows of miniscule writing. There, in that quiet, tiny space, I would be safe, and happy, and not be hurt by anyone or anything.

And so it goes. When reality becomes too painful, I disappear into my mind, a turtle retracting back into its shell. It heals me. It lets me escape. I write, and I imagine, and am happy, if only briefly, and I hold tight to the hope that one day, my books will be published, and they will exist long after I am dead, to provide comfort and joy to others who need to escape or to forget, or who are sad and suffering. That is the power of fantasy, of literature, of Art. The world does need books, no matter what my mother says. And I will write them. No matter what it takes, or how long it takes, I will. As long as I can still breathe and think and communicate, there is hope.

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13 thoughts on “Being Sensitive And Having An Insensitive Mother

  1. I’m so, so, sorry. I know the agony when my mother even so much as raises her voice a few decibels, so I can’t even imagine how you feel. It must be terrible.
    I’m sure you already know this, but remember that no matter what her and your sibling say and do, you are still valuable beyond measure, because you are human and because you possess an individual, feeling, creative, and incredibly intelligent mind. And this may seem weird, but to me, people with autism and Asperger’s seem far more human to me than the rest of us.
    Have you ever considered working on Etsy? Etsy, in case you haven’t heard of it, is a place where you can sell handmade or vintage items. If you have a credit card or your mother would let you use hers to make an account, you could knit stuff like mittens and leg warmers or make bracelets or something. I don’t know if it’s really your thing, but with your imagination I am 99.99 percent sure that you’d be great at it. Knitting and crocheting are actually pretty easy; I’ve tried both myself and you can pick up the skill fast. Also, you get to read or watch something while you do it if you get good, and even in the beginning when you need to watch your fingers, you can daydream, as I do :). And it won’t take up much space, so when your done can can just put it under your bed or something.
    They sell supplies on the website itself, from simple stuff like yarn to lace and stamps. A local store would probably be cheaper, though. And when you make stuff it actually sells for a pretty good price. The way I would calculate how much to sell it at would be to add the cost of all the materials to a set number of dollars per hour of work. But that’s just a suggestion, of course. The best thing about this is, no face to face interaction; it’s all online. At most you might have to go to the post office, but you can ask a sibling or your mother to mail it for you.
    Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/ . Let me know if this idea helps.
    Love,
    Khadija

    • Thank you for the suggestion Khadijia. Though I have never been much of a hands-on and craft person, I will look into it. Most of my attempts at sewing and knitting have turned out adequate, at best, though I’m sure I could come up with something, like fridge magnets, perhaps, or jewelry. The materials would cost money in advance, though. Thank you for caring. Much love.

      • Dear Anne,
        Please, please, please don’t take me the wrong way, I understand your situation and I’m not one of the people who think that you might be fake or anything like that, but I asked my mom if she could help me pay for your supplies and she wanted to know why you don’t get government help specifically because of your Asperger’s, because the eligibility rules are:
        -aged between 16 years of age and age pension age, and either
        -permanently blind or have been assessed as having a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment
        -unable to work, or to be retrained for work, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next 2 years because of your impairment
        -have been assessed as having a severe impairment or as having actively participated in a Program of Support
        I think you also have to be training for or looking for work, so maybe that’s why.
        I’m really, really, sorry for asking this question, and I hope you don’t find it offensive or intrusive. But my mom is not an HSP on an INFP, so that’s probably why she asked.

      • No, of course I don’t find it offensive. I am self-diagnosed with Asperger’s, it expresses itself differently in females so we look like, on the outside, especially in public, that we are simply awkward, and can function quite well. The psychiatrist was an idiot, and tried to classify me according to male Asperger’s criteria, many of which I did not fulfil, I was too empathetic, etc, even though traits like high empathy are common among women with Aspergers. Many female Aspies go through life struggling, continuously dropping out of schools or jobs, without realising what is wrong with them. They wouldn’t even consider me for disability just because I had anxiety or depression, which was all they ended up diagnosing me with. At the moment, I’m not in university because of my anxiety and sensory issues-otherwise I could claim Austudy–nor am I working or able to look for work (you have to show proof that you’ve applied, gone to interviews, etc.). If you’re not studying, not looking for work, and not working, and you haven’t been officially diagnosed with a severe psychiatric impairment, then they do not care about you. Right now I’m just working on my mental health, and my writing, to get to a point where perhaps I can move forward in my life. I’m not sure how, to be honest, and it’s very frightening and I often get sick with worry about it, I don’t want to live with my mother forever, but that’s the way it is, for now. Thank you for going to all that trouble for me. It’s hard to express gratitude through words, but the fact that you care enough to ask and inquire makes me feel touched. I don’t feel so alone. Without this blog to express my feelings, I don’t know where I would be.

        And please don’t feel any need to send me any money. Now that we moved and our rent is lower, my mother can use the extra money to buy more food and pay the bills. I’m not happy, but I am surviving. I’m rich, in comparison to other people around the world. The Donation button is really now for any money that I can, in a way, ‘earn’ to contribute to the family as someone who isn’t working.

  2. Oh, my dear, there is hope!! I’m so sorry for the assaults you must deal with. I know the exact feelings you describe. I’m sorry though, I don’t think I have answers for you because I’m still working on my own answers… However, I do want to tell you that it can and, I’m nearly certain, does get better but, you will have to force yourself to make changes. scary stuff, I know but, you will survive. Khadija has a great idea about etsy. Also, there are other avenues of creating income from your room such as, virtual assistant jobs.
    I think this is the only post of yours I’ve read so I don’t know much about you yet but, I do have hope for you! and, I think you’re great! (mostly because I think I’m great and I can see myself in what you’ve described of you) 😉 Keep your chin up and try to remember to refocus on positive
    thoughts. You can be amazing!! ~L

  3. You have my sympathy, completely…

    My mother has treated my this way, sometimes too… The “It cant be worse for you than for other people” argument is especially hurtful. Yes, some things are worse for me than for others, and some things are worse for others than for me. People are different. But that argument just doesn’t sink in. Once, I didn’t want to go on a class trip (overnight) and she started to worry because she could see that I worried, and she managed to say “why can’t you just be like the other kids?”

    Some support… Wishing me to change so she didn’t have to feel worried. And blaming me for my personality (witch she didn’t understand). You have my support, at least. I’m reading your blog, and although I don’t have panic attacks, I relate a lot to the way you write that other people see you and how your family behaves towards you.

    I hope you are feeling better and not churning the bad experience over and over inn your head to much (we have a tendens to do that, right?).

    Love, Malin.

    • Yes, I do tend to do that, ruminating for hours on end even as I am occupied in other tasks. Thank you, so much, for reaching out, and I truly hope your home situation improves. You’re right. They don’t understand that people are different. They just don’t.

    • The thing is, I don’t hate her, and I understand where her anger is coming from a good deal of the time. So even though I am furious, full of rage and humiliation, at the same time, I am full of love and pity, and the conflict within me grows immense.

  4. My mouth dropped to my ankles as I read this post. Are you me? I can relate to nearly every single word you wrote here from misplacing the keys to my mum shouting at me for not socialising more.
    Have you tried to talk (calmy, not while in the midst of a fight) to your mum about how you feel? I have had years and years of friction with my mum because we are polar opposites in pretty much everything – temperaments, values, tastes. The only thing we have in common is that we are both highly emotional and stubborn, which makes for very prolonged, vicious arguments. A few weeks ago though we sat down and tried to have a calm rational discussion and explain our points of view and I really feel like it helped. I’m coming to accept that we have such vastly different worldviews that we’ll never see eye to eye but at least we might be able to give eachother a bit more space and understand where the other’s coming from.
    Also are you much of an outdoory person? Have you heard of wwoofing or helpxing? It’s a great exchange programme where you can go and work on a farm for around 5 hours a day and get board and lodging in return. Some places ask for less than that and some more, and some are more social whereas others you are pretty much left to it. Just thought I’d put it out there as an option.
    By the way you are an extremely talented writer, I wish I had your skill (I’m also an aspiring writer, currently working on a novel) so keep at it and don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s a waste of time.
    Mel

    • Hello, Mel. My mother and I are exactly the same: both of us are entirely different creatures, except that we are both very emotional, and very, very stubborn. Exactly the same! And I understand where you’re coming from with the whole sit-down-let’s-chat business, but, well, the thing is, it’s rather hard for me to sit down and have a proper conversation with her, as English is not her first language, and so there exists a language barrier as well, which am I sure you can imagine makes even the smallest argument even more difficult to manage. It’s like trying to talk to a stranger, half the time, who doesn’t understand you, and half the time doesn’t understand what you are saying. At the moment, I’ve just been trying to not get in her way, and not do anything to upset her. It’s like walking around eggshells, every single day; I wish every morning I could move out, and not have to suffer a moment longer under her regime. Thank you for your encouragement. You write wonderfully as well, and I hope you have lots of fun writing your novel. More importantly, thank you for reaching out, and making me feel less alone in my pain. I am an outdoorsy person, actually, despite being an introvert–but I only like going out on cloudy days, and spending time around nature, all by myself. So things like woofing, which I have considered participating in in the past, are a bit too social for my temperament. I basically crave solitude the way I do air, and it makes life tremendously difficult. But we make do with what we have. Thanks again for reaching out.
      Love, Dreammerambling

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