The Food Controller Of The Family
“My mom was insanely controlling about food. Weird rules were in place, like ‘one slice of lunch meat per sandwich.’ No one but her was allowed to cook. She’d make one giant batch of spaghetti or something and we’d have leftovers for days, so she only had to make dinner twice a week. She did not work or anything, just didn’t like cooking every day. Breakfast was cold cereal and you’d only be allowed a small bowl with just enough milk to moisten it. Occasionally she’d bake something she called Corn Toasties which was simply cornbread baked in a sheet pan. She’d cut them into squares and fill the freezer with them and we could have one of those for breakfast as an alternative.
Once when I was fourteen I bought a pack of hot dogs at the store, snuck them home, and lit the grill. I was almost done cooking them when she came out screaming about fire hazards and swatted the plate out of my hand. She had been making spaghetti, so she told me what an ungrateful little cretin I was.
So then she ordered a pizza for the rest of my family, wrapped individual servings of spaghetti in freezer paper, and put them away. She told me that I will be eating nothing else until it’s all gone. It took about two months to choke it all down. I went without eating a lot of days. I was also grounded for over a year.
But I sure learned a lot about ‘consequences.'”
That Prom Doesn’t Sound Too Fun
“My parents were slack, but my best friends parents were so strict. She would have to escape to my house for some freedom.
It was the prom in 12th grade. Her parents allowed her to go to prom but said she wasn’t allowed to dance. We all went to prom, had fun dancing…until she saw her parents standing at the back watching.
She then moved out for University. After her first year, she came home to work for the summer. She had been on her own for a year and supporting herself and her parents gave her a 9 pm curfew. She spent a lot of time at my house that summer. She got married by the next summer and didn’t have to deal with it anymore.”
It Sounds Like They Were A Prisoner
“I was literally forced to drop out of school in the 5th grade because my grandmother believed that most people have no souls and were demon possessed. I was never allowed to leave the house as she said that the world was unsafe to roam freely because Satan was trying to corrupt God’s children. This led to a very sheltered life and very silly things like when we had to pray over every individual item that entered the house. Food, toiletries, dish soap, you name it. I got woken up at 2 am to be screamed at for 3+ hours over something ‘God’ had told her that I did wrong.
I had/have no education. The internet became heavily regulated as a way to punish me when I got older. Same with reading. Would go like 6 months without any sort of stimulation sometimes; nothing but the Bible.
I’m still dealing with a lot of the issues that came from being raised like that. I am just now learning how to multiply, divide, etc. She died when I was 16 and I’m 22 now. My grandpa was a lot less draconian than she was, especially after she passed.
I don’t believe in God. I have found that personally, science brings me more comfort than religion ever did. I also do not resent her. She was messed up in the head and lived a miserable existence. I still have my whole life ahead of me.”
The Family ‘Truth Session’ Seems Terrifying
“I was from a large family and discipline was very strict. If myself or one of my siblings broke one of the major rules, my parents would hold a ‘Truth Session’.
All the children would be brought to my Dad’s study where the guilty party would be given an opportunity to confess. If nobody came forward, we would be hit in turn in order of ascending age. The eldest four were hit with a sewer rod while, in deference to their age, the youngest ones would get a whack of a bamboo stick.
A sewer rod is basically a four foot long flexible rubber rod, around an inch thick and with a metal cap. It would leave the most remarkable welts. It was horrendous really.
Anyway, this would continue until someone admitted their ‘guilt.’ At that point, they would receive the blows that everyone else had received to that point.
So that was awful. I fully acknowledge that. I’m under no illusions. However, that wasn’t the actual unreasonableness. No, the unreasonable part was that the person who ’caused’ the Truth Session didn’t always receive the accrued punishment owed for having their siblings beaten. Sometimes they could just be let go making their siblings HATE them for causing pain to them. There’d be no explanation. The study door would be opened and we’d all be told to leave. That meant you could be rewarded for holding out and avoiding the punishment you’d definitely get if you admitted it at the beginning.
My parents now would tell ‘fun’ stories about how when I was a child and I’d done something wrong, I’d always begin with, ‘let me tell you my story.’ ‘Haha,’ they would chortle at my childish phrasing when I would recall the terror that such an approach was meant to stave off.”
The Evil Stepmother
“My stepmom would never let me have a birthday party. When I turned 12, she finally let me have a sleepover with friends. I was going to a Catholic elementary school at the time that had a rule that if all of the class wasn’t invited to a birthday party, then invitations could not be handed out at school to avoid hurt feelings.
My stepmom wouldn’t let me hang out with friends outside of school but also wouldn’t let me invite the whole class. So I had to sneakily hand out invites at school to the few people I was allowed to invite since that was the only time I ever saw them.
The day of the party, my stepmom got a call from the school about what I had done, and just as everyone’s arriving and going inside, she grabs my arm and yanks me aside to question me about what I’d done. I burst into tears trying to explain that I didn’t know what else to do. She said I was grounded for 3 months and mad everyone leave.
We also had assigned seats at the dinner table when we had ‘family’ dinners in front of the TV. My dad rarely ate with us. Her and her 2 kids got seats facing the TV, I got one that if I craned my neck I could see it, and my 2 siblings (when she let them eat) had to face the wall. When my oldest sister moved out, if one of my stepmom’s two kids had a friend over or if my dad graced us with his presence, I had to face the wall.
In junior high and high school, I wasn’t allowed to do any extracurricular activities if it meant she had to drive me to and from events unless I joined one of her kids in something, like choir. She would take her son to and from basketball practices and games all over the country, and her daughter did soccer all over the state. But if I asked to do an after-school club I had to find my own way home.
I actually rebelled against her my sophomore year of high school and tried out for a select choir that did a lot of events outside of school. When I got in, I had planned to turn it down because I knew how mad she would be about it. My dad decided to leave her that month, though, so I was able to enroll in the class anyway. Turned out to be one of the most fun classes I’d ever taken.”
Sadly, The Only Mother She Has
“I was not allowed a house key until I was 18, yet nobody would be home when I got back from school so I would spend a lot of time ‘hanging around’ outside starting when I was 12. I would usually be expected to be waiting outside no matter the weather for when they got home.
Even once I was given a key, I wasn’t allowed to stay home alone and had to vacate if they were gone.
Once, I lost my key (turns out my cousin had it in his pocket but he forgot). My stepdad said we would have to change the locks as ‘someone might find them and rob the house.’ When my mum got home, she demanded I go and look for the keys again. I refused as I’d spent hours looking and knew I wouldn’t be able to find them. So then she gave me a long, hard look, picked up a box of trinkets on my bookcase and turned it over while staring at me. After I didn’t react, she trashed more stuff in my room until I started to scream and shout at her, swearing (I didn’t usually swear at her but the years of abuse meant I would burst into anger when she started on me), and I asked her what was wrong with her.
While I screamed at her, she stopped and laughed at me incredulously, and asked me in a calm voice what was wrong with ME. Then she said in a low threatening voice ‘find your freaking keys’ and left.
So yeah, not the only ridiculous rule they had, but one that sticks out the most.
Some other examples: my bag was searched every morning before school and I wasn’t allowed to wear short puffer jackets or jackets without arms.
My relationship with her now much non-existent.
We fell out big time when I was pregnant, as she became even more creepy controlling – e.g shouting at me for 20 minutes because I told someone I was very close with that I was pregnant before I told her.
Then when I had to move out of my apartment, she kept messing with me about whether I could move back in with her, even though I was straight outta options.
Following this, on the day I was supposed to move in, she changed her mind last minute because of a dumb argument she started, so I had nowhere to go. I had to move my stuff to her’s anyway to store, and she didn’t lift a finger to help, leaving me to carry several heavy boxes up the stairs at ten weeks pregnant.
To make matters worse, she was extremely aggressive and threatening towards me to entire time (stuff like throwing furniture around near me).
Oh, and the ‘room’ I was supposedly supposed to be moving back into, before I was ‘so rude’ she ‘couldn’t have me in her house’, was still full of her stuff, with only the same inadequate SINGLE mattress I had when it was my room before.
Oh, and all of this happened the night before the first day of my nursing degree at my dream university.
And in case I didn’t feel vulnerable enough, when I texted her some weeks later to tell her I was placed in temp housing, and facing having to drop uni because I couldn’t afford the rent – but also couldn’t receive housing benefits because I was a student – she replied saying;
‘Are you kidding me so u will be another bloody statistic due to pride and carelessness. If you weren’ t so rude to me you could live here and if you had protected your fertility…’
After a bitter, painful and heated exchange of texts, I told her she would not be allowed to have anything do with her grandchild and resolved to cut her out.
I struggled through uni, the temp housing I couldn’t afford, moving into a council flat with nothing but some clothes, some belongings, a donated mattress, some donated baby stuff, and asbestos and cockroaches to keep me company.
I drew on what little support I had to help me to at least decorate the bedroom so my child could have somewhere safe. I didn’t have any furniture so I used student loans and my little wage from work to pay for it and live. Dark times and my daughter’s bio Dad had ducked out from the beginning so the loneliness was CRUSHING.
Anyway, once I went into labour, the hospital repeatedly tried to call her but she didn’t pick up. After having my daughter at 2:15 am (having been in labour since 11 am that morning), I called her exhausted and emotional – not because I wanted to, but because I knew I was expected to.
She picked up and immediately I could tell she was angry with me. I was like ‘are you okay?’ and she was like ‘YEP.’ Just yep in a short tone and stony silence.
So I just said ‘why are you being like this?’ and she spat out ‘get over yourself, don’t start your bull with me, OK?!’
I hung up and sobbed. I called my Uncle to ask him why my Mum was angry with me, and he said it was because she wasn’t at my labour. I was incredulous because not only is it MY decision who to have at my birth, PEOPLE TRIED FOR HOURS TO CALL/TEXT HER, AND SHE DIDN’T PICK UP OR GET BACK TO ANYONE!
I will still never forget or forgive how she treated me in those precious, vulnerable, hormonal hours/days after giving birth. It really broke me. I just needed her to be something like a Mum for once. Just once, when I had just become a Mum myself, exhausted after everything I’d been through physically and mentally and suffering baby blues and still ignored by my daughter’s Dad and ugh. I just needed her to be kind, that’s all. Just kind.
After that, I realised I needed to put up an even higher wall to her than the one she already faced.
My daughter is three now, and there’s been one or two more blowouts with my Mum, but not like it would have been if I didn’t try to cut her out.
I’m stronger at resisting her manipulation and standing up to her now. I keep myself very guarded around her, and only show cool, light affection. I have only said ‘love you’ once since this all started, and that’s only because I felt obliged to. It’s very superficial, very tense, very ‘performed’ and liable to crack at any time.
Sadly, she still has the ability to hurt me with the slightest remark, tone of voice or messed up behaviour, but I’m less vulnerable and have accepted that I’m never going to have a mother figure in her. I had two years of psychotherapy which, although it didn’t anywhere near cure my mental illnesses and I still need help despite it, it did allow me to analyze and discuss the abuse and its long-lasting effect on me.
I kind of feel sorry for her, because she makes an effort every now and then, but I think she knows it will never be enough, and I don’t think we will ever have much of a relationship. I sure she carries a lot of guilt/pain because of that, and I think she started out my childhood with the best of intentions. I also think she never got to develop and grow into a healthy human being, because of some awful things that happened to her. She does have somewhat of a relationship with her granddaughter, at least. Still not enough of one, if you ask me, but there are limits to how involved I can allow myself to get with her.”
This Was A New Level Of Road Rage
“I had to be 15 minutes (minimum) early to high school every day of the week, up until I got my own car in my junior year.
One morning, in particular, I was about 7 minutes late to get out the door, and my father rushed me out, and angrily drove 70 MPH down the road in our neighborhood, until he hit a trashcan and cracked his windshield.
Being the idiot I was, and not assessing the situation I said, ‘Dad, the speed limit in neighborhoods is 25.’ To which he replied ‘Leaving time is 7:00 AM!’ Then he took his hands off the wheel, while it was still moving to turn around and hold 7 fingers and yell ‘SEVEN’ in my face.
5 minutes into the drive later he slammed on the breaks to pull over on the highway unexpectedly, then told me if I ever talk like that to him again he’ll pull me out of the car and ‘pitch your butt like a tent.’
Maybe this wasn’t really a story of being strict, probably just abusive.
I don’t talk to my dad anymore. He has come to me crying for the last 2 years saying how sorry he is and how he’s a moron and how he started taking anger management courses, but you can’t treat a kid like that every day from the moment they are born and expect forgiveness with a couple of tears and a petty apology.”
Was This Super Religious Father A Closeted Psychopath?
“It was when I was around 16 years old. My father took me to my church youth group and dropped me off, fully aware that we were going to a Christian concert that was roughly an hour away. His only rule was to keep him well informed how I was doing the whole time I was out. Mind you I was among two chaperones and didn’t socialize very well with anyone (considering my father never let me leave the house, ever), so I stuck with our youth pastor for the majority of the time. We had a good time out, recorded some songs with my phone. My battery got really low and so I text my father letting him know that my battery was about to die, but we’d be home in two hours. My battery died before I got a response. We returned to the church where he dropped me off, it was 3:00 in the morning.
Hammered, my dad sped off and took me to the middle of a field, asked me for my phone, stepped out of the car set it on the ground and shot it multiple times with his weapon. Turned out I was grounded and was sent to bed early that night. A couple of hours after ‘going to bed’ he burst into my bedroom, AR-15 in hand and points it at me. He muttered nonsense I can barely remember.
I moved out the next morning, and have been living with my mother ever since.”
Burning All Of His Child’s Things?
“My father was very very strict. I wasn’t allowed to have alone time with my mother, I think he was afraid I would tell her of all the abuse because he beat the life out of me constantly (she was grossly brainwashed and completely oblivious). But the oddest thing that still bugs me to this day is that he would burn all my things as punishment. And I get it, seeing my toys and valuables burning sucked, and I probably learned some lessons. But he not only burned toys, he would burn EVERYTHING.
Every year or so for school we would go to Meijer and buy me new school clothes and shoes. He would also burn those, like sometimes days after he bought them. At 8 years old I remember thinking…you now have to buy me more clothes. But that wasn’t the point I suppose.
He once took me to the palace of auburn hills in Detroit to see the Globetrotters one year and during the night he bought me a Globetrotters basketball and jersey. We had a fun night. The very next day, I had left something on the floor in my room and his punishment, among other things, was to burn the basketball and jersey he bought for like 150 dollars less than 24 hours earlier. It just never made sense to me.
I don’t think it affected my view on material possessions much, but it really messed me up emotionally. I was in some dark spaces for a long time. I escaped in my teens, haven’t looked back.”
Her Mother Thought Interrogating Her Daily Was A Good Idea…
“The rule when we were kids: ‘No lying.’ It seemed reasonable, but it’s not.
It wasn’t about the rules. It was about the CONSTANT INTERROGATIONS. There weren’t really any rules as there were her personality and the things that bugged her, and the fact she was going to interrogate the absolute life out of us every single day. It’s the complete lack of privacy and the total suspicion that made living with this kind of parent the worst. Not even the whitest of lies or the tiniest of omissions were acceptable.
Where were you? Why? When did you get there? When did you leave? Who else was there? What did you do? Why did you do this? And did so-and-so do that? Why did you let them? And how is that related to this other thing? Why did you just lie to me?
It’s hard to explain, but there was this Socratic lawyer-type method being applied constantly to invent lies to catch you in. Like she was looking for an excuse to backhand you, digging in until our memories failed to provide total consistency, and then she could ground us, or whatever. If she was in a bad mood, she’d scowl around the house until she found something out of place so she could scream at us. Screaming. Lots of screaming.
For ‘strict’ parents, it’s often not really about the rules. It’s about ‘respect,’ which is a dog-whistle for total domination of the subordinates in the household. If there were rules, there would be times when I was allowed to do what I was doing without suspicion. This did not exist.
Every single day on my way home from anywhere, I had to prepare a huge list of answers, try to find where she would dig in and build up the walls. Keep stories simple. Build big emotional walls. It mostly didn’t work. We didn’t really have a relationship. We didn’t talk about my feelings.
Maybe try imagining if every day you had to cross the border twice and board a flight, but the border agents are all your mom.”
Not Just Strict, But A Boring Place To Grow Up
“We couldn’t go sledding during the winter – or any other season, obviously – because my mom was a neat freak and didn’t want snow slogged into the garage. So, no snow playing of any kind, really. We never built a snowman. I did go sledding when I was an adult. It was pretty great.
All of our clothes in our closet had to be arranged by color, descending in order by shade. So, for example, midnight blue at one end of the blue section, and Tarheel blue at the other. There was a system in place for colors, too, so if the yellows were by the purple’s, there’d be consequences to pay.
No shoes on in the house under any circumstances. It was super uncomfortable when my brother’s friend, who had prosthetic legs and always had shoes on, came over and didn’t take his shoes off. Mom got really mad and confronted him.
No Legos or puzzles were allowed, as they made messes and looked like disorder.
I freaking loved puzzles once I became an adult. One of my favorite hobbies.”
Oh No, Not The Coffee Pot!
“This was the most ridiculous rule – I wasn’t allowed to leave the coffee pot out…
My mother had a really nice espresso machine that I could never master the art of using, so we had an ancient ‘Mr. Coffee machine’ that I would use. My mother would get super irritated if I left the machine on the counter after I was done using it. My best friends can remember plenty of times my mother would do that whisper yell trick ‘Ummm what is that coffee pot doing out?’
Once she was actually so angry about the coffee pot being left out she grounded me for a week. The kicker to the whole thing was once I moved out, I came home to visit and there was my mom’s nice espresso machine and also, a brand new Mr. Coffee on the kitchen counter. I turned to my mother, ‘What is that doing on the counter?’ My mom, ‘Oh your dad bought a new Mr. Coffee and it’s not nearly as ugly the old one.’ Her whole reason for getting ticked off for years was because the old one was UGLY…”