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How to deal with lack of closure concerning a history of mistreatment from a parent

Community Member
Hi, for context, I'm 19 and a full-time university student. I live with my sister, father, and mother (this is all important). And I guess in the last year or so, I've been kinda figuring out that I have essentially mummy issues. Also I hope I posted this in the right place as well.

She was pretty crappy to me and my sister when we were younger. She was pretty angry. Sorry for not going into any detail or anything but my dad + sister agree with me when I say that she was pretty crap.

I don't really know how this has affected me otherwise but her talking to me, knowing that she's listening to me when I talk, and talking to her makes her uncomfortable. I can't have her in my peripheral vision either as that also makes me uncomfortable. And when she does try to deal with me, I automatically lash out.

We've tried to talk to her, had a big family conversation but my dad (who was meant to be the mediator) just backed out and it felt like me and my sister were debating with my mum instead of actually talking about it. And I did feel like a lot of the problems I mentioned, especially with my experience coming out to her (I'm queer), she denied ever happened. Like events she denied, saying they didn't happen and generally laughed it off (which she does whenever this is brought up) even if me and my sister both remember it. Or she will remember the event and spin it as harmless when I remember being a confused and afraid kid for example. And she tries to tell convince me that what she did was justified when it really wasn't.

And that I guess gives me unresolved issues which make me lash out at her when she tries to interact with me. And I know that makes me sound really immature but I genuinely don't know how else to communicate with her.

And my dad saying she was an asshole when I was younger is almost the only thing validating that these issues and events that happened weren't actually made up and that I'm not just blowing it out of proportion or fabricating it out of thin air.

I'm just generally very out of my depth and pretty young in the grand scheme of things. I don't want to make up with her and don't feel comfortable doing so but how I deal with the fact that I'll probably never get any closure or any apology? How do I cope with this???
6 Replies 6

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Garfield2020,

It sounds like the situation with your mum is a big source of stress and discomfort for you, and you are trying to accept and come to terms with what this relationship will look like in the near future. While I generally think people can change, it is often a decent idea to just let things be for the time being, and focus on things you can control.

My own situation with my mother is quite similar, though we've probably found a 'system' that works. Without going too much into detail, I have quite a similar reaction to my mother in how I have an automatic assumption that she's trying to say or do more than I think she is letting on. This may all be in my head, but it is based on previous behaviour and it makes our interactions quite challenging. Especially because her general behaviour and values seem quite opposed to mine, so we don't really get along traditionally either. This all came to a head which basically led to a very severe case of depression and general stress for me, which only began to resolve when I moved out. The same then happened to my sister until she moved out.

Understandably, moving out may not be viable for you. But I think the key is to get as much space as possible. Covid may have made this more challenging, but even when you are around her, it might be good to see if you can create mental space. It sounds like even seeing her can fill up your mind a bit, so the solution may be to see if there's a way to 'empty' out those thoughts.

Have you ever tried any kind of meditation or breathing exercises to essentially remove noise from your mind? That could be a good way forward to learning how to deal with the day to day stuff, which may make the bigger picture a little more manageable.


Learn to Fly
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Garfield2020

Thank you for sharing your post with us. The last thing I would think of you is being immature. After reading your post, I feel quite the opposite about you as bringing up a thing that is a source of such distress to you is a very mature approach. You seem to be confused and hurt. Considering what you have written I wonder if you would be willing to focus your thoughts and energy more on yourself rather than expecting or hoping for an apology from your mother. You need some self care and again, considering your description it appears that your mum doesn’t want to admit to anything that you felt and/or perceived as hurtful to you. So it might be difficult to make her realise her mistakes and apologies to you.

I like James’ idea about moving out, if this would be an option for you? At some point in young adults lives it is really good to get a chance to spread the wings and try life by yourself. Regardless of having bad or good relationship with the parents, it is just generally a good option.
How would you feel about it? Not trying to force it on you just checking what options would you be comfortable with.

Hi Garfield.

It looks like you are going through a lot and i am truly sorry about it.

It seems as if she is not giving you enough effort and care. Your need to take her out of your mind and do things that benefit YOU. Thinking about her and especially since you feel uncomfortable is not worth your time and life. You need to try and invest in self-care. Here are a few tips:

- Working out. Either going to the gym or using a workout app such as the Nike app.

- Focusing on the people you truly love and care about and enjoy your time with them.

- Use techniques that help refresh your mind such as praying or meditation.

- Focusing on your main future goal. As you said you go to uni so try and focus on achieving high marks.

Please stay safe and i am here to chat if you need.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Garfield2020,

I’m sorry that you had a mother who wasn’t supportive or understanding of you, it can be really hard when the people who are supposed to love and care for us let us down the most. I have been in a similar situation with my own mother, who really made me ashamed because I had a medical condition and that no one would accept me. But I suppose that she was really projecting her own fears and shortcomings on me. When we’re children, our parents are our gods but as we grow up we realize that they are really just as messed up as everyone else. The way I see it is that you have two options. The first is sitting down and having a completely honest conversation with her and telling her everything you feel and how she let you down. However, you need to be prepared for the fact that she may completely discount your feelings and go on the defensive. Which can be incredibly hurtful when you are laying your heart out there and all you really want is a hug and an apology and an admission that she could have handled things better. I suppose you have to be content in the fact that you are getting your feelings out there and not be reliant on the response. And the other is to just let sleeping dogs lie, to accept that she is who she is and will never change, and has many failings that she is unable or unwilling to address given her own life circumstances and how she was raised. What you choose will probably depend on how you are feeling and whether you feel that you can let it go and move on knowing that you have the courage to be you. Toxic people have a habit of denying and minimizing your feelings, it makes it easier for them to treat you like shit. So if you feel that things were pretty crappy or weren’t right then I’m sure they werent. Trust in your own feelings and your gut, you don’t need anyone else to validate your feelings, you were there.

Community Member

Hi, sorry for taking such a long time to reply. I've been bogged down in various university related stuff (which is ironically, not going great for me either).

But genuinely thank you so much for everyone saying nice shit. Nearly cried when reading everyone's replies. I'm just gonna bullet point through everything that everyone mentioned.

  • I used to do meditation but it never got anywhere. As in, I didn't really have the discipline to continue it for long. I used to take a lot of night walks but shit has just hit the fan with discipline and being able to make myself do anything. Also Covid and isolation are not a good mix lmao. That made everything in general worse, especially with my studies.
  • Concerning the gym; sorry this is just me opening a whole Pandora's box of issues but yeah never felt comfortable in gyms. Probably some social anxiety thing with a little bit of other stuff sprinkled in.
  • Yeah a lot of people have mentioned moving out but it's not really an option for me since I still rely on my parents financially. I deal with my own university stuff but I need my parents for somewhere to live/food to eat/etc since I don't have a job. And I'm fine with working and everything but even my dad acknowledges this but if I had a job, something (so either my studies or my work) would have to give way for the other.
  • I have tried sitting her down and talking to her but it never gets solved, it just makes it worse. And I do think about the stuff I mentioned with me being queer since I pretty much came out twice. The first time was like "we love you, no matter if you're gay or if you're trans!!!" and the second time was her crying when I told her I was going to go on HRT. Because I guess when push comes to shove, it's not okay to be queer. Conditional acceptance and whatnot. And then my dad said that her being upset was justified. Though went on HRT (which was a long complicated process) because I don't care about her approval & also because I handle my own medical stuff so there's nothing she could have done to stop me anyway.

But y'all are very right that I just need to do some sort of self-care, find some sort of peace of mind. Since it's honestly festering so bad. Like a lot of anger and it festers daily. I've considered writing a letter to her (with the intentions of not giving it to her), just to get everything out. Since I guess there's so much.

Thank you a lot everyone, and thank you for listening.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Garfield2020,

No worries at all - we are here for you whenever you are ready, so there is no need to apologise.

It sounds like you've tried a fair bit and it's okay that some of it didn't work because of self-discipline. That's totally understandable; I'm living fairly well at the moment and I can't even get to the gym now! It was infinitely harder when I had the stress of being around my mum every day.

Writing a letter just for yourself could be a great way to get some of that anger out. I find it helpful to think of all the things you've tried like walks, meditation, and perhaps writing, as various tools to try when the others don't work. They all have a time and place, and we only need one of them to work at any given time.

So good on you for trying, and I hope the letter writing is helpful. Let us know how you go.