Growing up, my mother often called me “stupid”, “fat”, “ugly”, “awful”, and “psychopathic”, just to name a few. She said things like how I would never amount to anything or how no one would ever love me. Occasionally, she also wished that I’d kill myself or get raped.
Whenever I make a mistake, she’d bring up many other mistakes I made. If she knows about my vulnerabilities or insecurities, she’d bring them up just to hurt or manipulate me. When I do something nice for her, it’s dismissed, ignored, or never good enough.
During my younger years, I also endured physical abuse. She’d hit me, throw me out of the house, or forbid me to eat. Maybe sometimes I misbehaved or disobeyed her. But a lot of the time, she did it just because.
Whenever my mother was upset, she found ways to make it my fault. That way, she can justify hurting me, physically and emotionally.
On top of the targeted attacks, my mother threw tantrums almost every day – screaming, yelling, stomping, slamming doors, making threats, and sometimes breaking things. She constantly insults and complains about everyone and everything, never satisfied no matter what. My family and I never felt comfortable or safe in our own home.
When all of us finally had enough, we decided to call child services. That was a traumatic event itself but at least it led to this moment. Read the full story here.
The rest of this post consists of various excerpts from my childhood. Some are everyday occurrences while some left quite an impact on me. But collectively, these experiences left long-lasting effects that I’m still working to heal from.
Only When It Suits Her
My mother never cared about my grades or how I'm doing at school. But when visiting family, she loved to brag about how great my grades are. She did that to make her sister feel bad since her daughters weren't doing so well. Then, she would go on and on about how I’m so smart because of her “genes” or parenting.
Constant Competition with a Child
I made a little scrapbook when I was in middle school that I was really proud of it. My mother then made one herself and kept bragging about how much better it was.
I was telling my friends about how I got a 99 on my history state test. My mother interrupted our conversation and said how much she just loves history, dropping huge implications that I only got a good grade because of her.
Once, maybe around my teenage years, I was resting my head on my father's shoulder. This wasn't something I did often at all. It was like one time because I was tired or something. I remember my mother shooting me the nastiest look. She brought it up like two days later during a fight and said, "You're always seducing your father".
My mother got my father arrested by telling the cops he was abusing her. All these years she continued to claim and spread rumors about how abusive he is and how he has an "arrest record" to prove it.
When child services showed up, my mother suspected that my partner - who was working with children at the time - had something to do with it. She said to get back at him, she'll call his workplace to tell them that he's molesting the children there. Fortunately, she didn't know where he worked. Then, my mother's boyfriend showed up, tried to beat up my partner, and made a bunch of death threats towards us. My partner called the police. My mother got the police to side with her. My partner and I got yelled at by the cops, claiming we could get arrested for wasting their time. Finally, a police report was filed on my partner for harassment.
My mother tried to push me down the stairs one time. I held on just tight enough I didn't fall. Afterwards, she cried and proceeded to call everyone she knows and told them I hit her.
Obvious Favoritism & Comparison
When my sibling, Kame, came along, they were obviously my mother’s favorite. My mother even said to me many times, “Why can’t you be more like Kame?”. My mother often compared us like how Kame was much more well-behaved, attractive, and thin compared to me. Whenever Kame caused any trouble, it was my fault. If Kame wanted any of my things, I had to give it to them. I remember once, Kame tripped over something and started crying. My mother immediately stomped into the living room where we were and yelled at me “What did you do? How dare you!” When I said I didn't do anything, she started hitting me.
Perspectives of a Scapegoat
There were many instances where my father or Kame blamed me for my mother's behavior. If my mother and I were in any sort of conflict, it would be my fault regardless of the situation because I should know better than to provoke her. There were also instances where my father would physically hurt me because my mother told him to or at least, annoyed him into doing it. And if my mother was ever getting physical with me, neither of them would bat an eye. If anything, they're annoyed at me for disrupting their peace.
One time, my mother lied to me that she left my two-year-old sister, Ushi, at the park on purpose to scare her husband. I ran out trying to find Ushi, but failed to. When I returned, my father told me that Ushi was with him all along and that my mother was playing with me. I approached her and asked, “Why did you lie?” She said it wasn’t a big deal, that it was none of my business, and I quote, "(*scoff*) She’s my daughter”. I walked away, trying to remain calm. But once I was alone, I broke down. And in the midst of all my fury, I tore up one of her lingeries and threw it away to hide the evidence. Later that night, she threw a fit and turned the house upside down. She said she knew I took it, that I was getting back at her (this shows that she knows what she did was awful and that my reaction was at least somewhat warranted). She continued her rampage for hours into the middle of the night. My father and Kame were extremely annoyed, yelling at me to stop provoking her and to just tell her where it is so they could get some sleep. So I finally told her I threw it away. My father and Kame weren't grateful, they just said: “Finally! Next time, do it sooner”. My mother rummaged through the trash and found the torn-up piece of lingerie. She then went into my closet to cut up two pairs of my favorite pair of pants to call it even. I felt so alone, so awful that night. Everyone hated me. No one cared about how I felt, how I really thought I lost my sister because of some sick joke. Of course, my mother never let me live it down. Me destroying her precious lingerie was something she brought up for years to come. Whenever I didn't want to do something she demanded, she threatened to call my school, my grandparents, or my boyfriend’s parents about that one time I intentionally damaged her property, and how that one action determined that I was a "psychopath that might kill her, or anyone, at any moment.
Lack of Empathy
When I got my period for the first time, I didn’t even know what it was. I went to ask my mother about it and she gave me a critical, maybe even disgusted look, “Are you stupid?”
I was struggling a lot with depression during my middle school years. I read an article online that encouraged me to tell my parents or to send them the article. So I emailed it to my mother. After a while, I asked her to check her email. She skimmed the article while I stood there like a puppy. She resumed what she was doing soon after. I continued to stand there. After a bit, she finally looked at me annoyed, “What? Of course you’re depressed. Look at you, you’re so fat”. She resumed whatever she was doing, acting like I was invisible.
My mother never taught Ushi to brush her teeth. She said, "She's going to lose all her baby teeth at some point anyway, what's the point of cleaning them?" So during one Mother's Day when Ushi was about 7 years old, a piece of her tooth chipped off. Ushi said she was in a lot of pain. I still remember how she laid on the floor in a fetal position, silently crying, unable to move. Since it was pretty late, my mother had to take her to the ER. Our mother was literally complaining the whole time. She yelled at Ushi for not taking care of herself, how she always gives her so much work, and how she can do this to her, especially on Mother's Day.
It’s Never Her Fault
Growing up, my mother constantly blamed me for her failed marriage, claiming I’m the reason she had to get married to my father, thus giving up her youth and future; I’m the reason she’s stuck in an unhappy marriage feeling so depressed and unfulfilled with life. In her reality, it is apparently my fault that she accidentally got pregnant with me and decided to keep me.
When I confronted my mother about hitting me all those years when I was a child, this was her response: “You were a problematic and troublesome child. You needed discipline. It wasn’t abuse”. She has denied hitting me for many years. So it was interesting and surprising that she didn't deny it this time, but justified it instead. However, she does continue to push that she was never abusive, even when nobody brings it up.
Oftentimes, to support one of her ridiculous claims, my mother would mention “experts” she personally knows or how so-and-so agrees with her. Whenever she claims that I am rebellious, disrespectful, or whatever bad, she would name-drop people from her circle like “My friend asked me why you were so disrespectful to your own mother”. Or when she tries to make me feel like something is my fault, I’m overreacting, or I’m being sensitive, she’d say something like “Your teacher was right. You do have a lot of insecurities and emotional problems.”
That One Snowy Evening…
I was 13 years old and my mother was sick for a week or two already. I missed many days of school (she didn't allow me to go), took care of her and Kame, cooked, and ordered/paid for delivery. One night, my mother said she craved a certain type of soup and asked me to make it for her. We didn't have any of the ingredients handy. There was a blizzard outside and I was also on the third week of my heavy menstruation so I wasn't feeling well. (I can be on my period for weeks, sometimes months. It can get to the point where I'm anemic, which I was during this time. I was later diagnosed with menorrhagia). But I felt bad for her and I guess I wanted some validation. So I went out into the storm. It was windy, snowy, and getting dark. I waddled to the grocery store maybe 4 or 5 blocks away. But with the weather and my condition, it felt like an eternity. When I got back, I tripped at the front porch. I stayed there for a bit, not moving, really wanting to cry. I wanted to stay there and sleep forever or just vanish. But I managed to pick myself up and went inside. I grabbed a big pot and boiled some water. But other than that, I didn't really know what I was doing. So I asked my mother how to make it. She was vague. I continued asking questions throughout the cooking process and she got really angry, claiming I just wanted her to do all the work with no intention of really making the soup. So I stopped asking and winged it. I made the soup, poured some in a bowl, and brought it to her. She told me to leave it on the table. I had some, too, and it tasted pretty dang good for my first time. But who knows what she’ll say. I was prepared for her to say it was “meh” or how I completely screwed it up. Though, a hopeful part of me thought, “Maybe she’ll like it”. What I didn’t anticipate was that when I went back to check on her later, the soup was all cold with a film forming on top. It wasn’t even touched. She didn’t even care enough to try it.
Self-Pitying Drama & Suicidal Threats
My father and I were arguing with my mother about something one time. In the midst of that argument, she opened the window on the second floor and sat on the ledge, screaming, “No one loves me. No one cares about me. I might as well die!” When none of us batted an eye, she grabbed Ushi - a one-year-old baby at the time - sat back on the ledge with both their bodies angling outwards, and continued the theatrics. “No one cares about us, baby! Let’s die together!” We managed to grab Ushi back and locked ourselves in another room. My mother gave up her show, then went on to call the whole world complaining about how awful we are.
Lack of Boundaries
As a teenager, my mother entered my room without asking or knocking. She would look at what I’m doing on the computer and listen in on my phone calls and conversations. When I'm not home, she would go into my room and “clean up” without my knowing, which is mostly throwing away or donating my stuff. I would often find my missing things in the trash or donation bag. Or I never found them at all. The rest of the family and I often have to sneakily retrieve our belongings. And if she catches us, she’ll throw a fit about how dirty we are and how cluttered the house is. When we point out the many things she has that are spread throughout the house and the half-eaten food she leaves on the table rotting through the week, she would claim that we’re projecting.
Growing up, my mother often commented on my body like “I wish my nipples were as pink as yours!” (pre-teen) or "Wow, your breasts are so big" (teenager). She would also often playfully slap my butt or squeeze my breasts. I remember the time when I was maybe 11 years old, she lifted my shirt in front of all my cousins and drew a mouse on me with my breasts as the mouse’s ears. Everyone laughed. I felt embarrassed but I went along with it and laughed, too. I didn’t think anything at the time. But looking back now, it is weird and creepy as hell. Also, my mother doesn't lock the door when she’s in the bathroom, so I learned not to either. I was used to walking in on her and her on me. When I got older, once I started locking the door, she would knock a lot and insist on coming in. I remember her asking once, “Why is the door locked? What’s so sexy you don’t want me to see?” When I turned maybe 14, she started telling me about her dating and sex life. She would brag about how men want her, talk to me about certain men she's seeing, or tell me about what's happening in the bedroom. Once I was a young adult, she started asking me for sex advice.
Her Attempts to Destroy My Relationship
Once I was in my first relationship, my mother constantly talked about how much better my partner was than me and kept questioning why he was with someone like me. “Oh, he must be really desperate for sex." “He really wants to live in New York and you’re the only way”. “He must be after my father’s money” (yes, she meant her father). When that didn’t have any effect, she started going on about how I’m mistreating him (which is a very real fear of mine). If we share food, she said I'm making him eat my leftovers; when we go grocery shopping, she said I'm forcing him to push the cart; and if we chill at home, she said I'm trapping him, purposely not taking him out. She would also try to scare me. “He’ll leave you once he knows how awful you are to me. “He wouldn’t stay with someone as unstable as you”. She even said, “You better be careful, Ushi might steal him away from you one day” (She said this when my partner was 21 and Ushi was 9). She even "joked" about this to my partner's parents. Once I realize my mother was actually getting to me, I showed no reaction when she commented on our relationship. If she asked questions, I kept my responses positive and vague like "We're good" or "He loves me. I'm not worried." As a result, her tune changed. “Maybe he does like you but relationships don’t last. My psychologist friend says that most relationships can’t make it past 3 years”. And when we hit that mark, she changed it to “7 years”.
Pettiness & Immaturity
One time, my partner and I came home with ice cream for my two younger siblings. We didn’t think anything of it, until maybe a week later when we were all out together. My mother loudly claimed that she will be buying ice cream for everyone and told us all to order what we wanted at the counter. My father ordered for himself and my siblings. As I was about to order mine and my partner's, my mother stepped in front of me, pulled out her wallet, and said to the employee, "That'll be all". I was confused until my father told us that we didn’t get any because we didn’t get any for her last time.
During some fights with my father or her husband (my stepfather), my mother would intentionally turn on all the lights in the house and leave all the faucets running. She would laugh that the bills are going to be crazy now. And if anyone turns any of it off, she would turn it back on. She can keep that up for at least a couple of hours. She would also sometimes throw away their things in a subtle way that's hard to notice, like pouring half her husband's coffee down the drain. Later, she brought it up proudly, laughing "You didn't even notice your coffee was gone".
My mother’s tantrums involve screaming, wailing, stomping, slamming doors, throwing things, and the occasional destruction of property. Some other childish behavior she displays at times is intentionally interrupting and overpowering your voice by yelling, or covering her ears going “la la la” when she doesn’t like what you’re saying.
Making Me and My Sister “Fat”
When I was a toddler, my mother got me fast food every day; there were buckets of McDonald's toys to prove it. So... I was a fat child. Growing up, I constantly struggled with my weight, so I was already extremely self-conscious. Her calling me fat and ugly all the time obviously just made it worse. However, what I didn't realize was that all those bad foods she got me might actually be intentional. I think she wanted me to gain weight so she could make fun of me for it. I only came to this conclusion because she did the same thing with Ushi. My mother got Ushi a lot of fast food, takeout, and junk food. Whenever I voiced my concerns, she would say one of these things: "I'm buying her food because I love her". "Ushi's the one who wants it". "You have no right to tell me how to raise my daughter". "Look in the mirror before you criticize me". So Ushi started gaining weight. Once she did, my mother started lecturing her about how she has to take care of herself or be healthy, you know, "Be like mommy". Like with me, she started calling Ushi fat. But does that stop her from buying and feeding her all that crappy food? Not at all. If anything, my mother doubled down on it because I was getting through to Ushi to eat healthier.
How Dare We Get Sick
One time during elementary age, I stayed home from school sick with the flu and fell asleep on the floor. She beat me till I woke up. As she hit, slapped, and stepped on me, she screamed at me for pretending not to hear her when she was calling my name to take my meds.
Growing up, whenever I’m sick, my mother would often accuse me of faking. Now as an adult, I have trouble mentioning I’m sick to anyone. I also often feel like I'm not really sick and doubt my own discomfort and pain. When I was 15 and struggling from extreme period cramps, my mother said I was looking for attention. I didn’t even mention the pain to her; she saw me squirm and squeeze my stomach for a second. On a doctor’s visit, the doctor claimed the birth control he prescribed me was known to cause intense cramps and asked if I needed painkillers. I didn’t mention the pain to him or anyone, but I felt so validated. My mother was there with me since I was a minor. The doctor tried to talk to her, but she was too busy on her phone.
Ushi was less than a year old when she was sick this one time. I don’t recall with what. What I do remember was that my mother constantly complained and yelled, causing Ushi to cry even more than she already was. My mother got so fed up that she threw Ushi, a few-month old baby at the time, onto the bed. Ushi ended up vomiting after the impact. My mother exploded and yelled even more. Her constant complaining when we're sick, or even when she's sick, happened very often. The only difference is when we're sick, we're being a burden. But when she's sick, we're expected to drop everything to take care of her.
Getting beaten, starved, or kicked out of the house were some of my "punishments" growing up. It started when I was about 7 and continued till I was maybe 14 where these punishments became harder for her to carry out.
One time, when I was around 8, I accidentally flooded the toilet. I was so scared and tried my best to fix it but it only made it worse. I fearfully went to my mother to confess, hoping that coming clean would mean minimal punishment. However, once "I flooded the toilet" left my lips, she chased me into a corner and repeatedly stepped on me. I blocked her with my hands and she really hurt one of my fingers. I don't know what was wrong but I still felt some pain in that finger a year later.
My father brought me to a carnival with his aunt and her family once when I was around elementary school age. Afterward, my father and I returned to the store he was managing at the time. My mother was there waiting for us and she was furious. She interrogated us about where we were and who we were with. I was honest because I didn't see any reason not to be. That didn't help. When I mentioned how much fun I had, she grabbed a backscratcher that was for sale on one of the store shelves and started hitting me with it. I ran as she chased me around the store waving around the backscratcher, trying to hit me. By the way, we were in public. The store was open for business; there were other employees and customers present. And there she was, chasing and hitting me because I had fun with my great aunt, whom she still hates with a passion despite not having seen or interacted with her for over 10 years.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If I recount everything that’s considered “eventful” from my childhood with my abusive mother, this would be a novel or perhaps a whole series.
Every day was an “event”. Not a day goes by that was boring living with my mother. There was always something. And that was something I never truly realized until we were finally away from her.
The night we called children’s services was the first night of our “freedom”. Our first home away from my mother was a tiny apartment around 500 square feet with a tight kitchen and one bathroom for me, my partner, and my two siblings. It wasn’t the most comfortable but it became a safe space for us.
We no longer have to plan out our every move and action in fear that it might cause an explosion. We no longer have to anticipate her unpredictable tantrums and verbal attacks.
We’re still dealing with the aftermath of her abuse. However, I am working on reversing all the damage that’s been done to me and my siblings. It’s not easy and it definitely sucks a lot of the time. But at least we’re in a better place and at least we have each other.
As hard as some of my experiences were, I am grateful for them. Because of them, I strive to be a better partner, parent, sister, and person. It’s also the reason I am so grateful for what I currently have in my life. My experiences taught me not to take people or things for granted.
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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with a physically and emotionally abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.
I am always trying to better learn, understand, and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this healing journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda, a place where others who faced childhood abuse can hopefully find support, resources, and motivation to begin healing.
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