Her Greatest “Hits”

When I shaved my legs for the first time, she criticized me for accidentally cutting my ankle. I still think about it sometimes when I shave my legs today.

When I was bullied at school, she asked me, “well, what did you do to them?” I existed, that’s what I did. I was me.

In junior high, when a boy in my class jumped on my back when I fell down playing volleyball and slapped my back repeatedly, she chose to handle it quietly with the parents, while I continued to be bullied by this boy later at school.

She often competed against me with my friends, trying to appear “cooler” than me.

She made me feel bad when I wanted to quit playing volleyball when I knew I no longer wanted to pursue it as a junior in high school, and when I chose not to be confirmed in Catholicism because it no longer felt like my faith. I have never regretted quitting either of these things.

She shamed me for exploring my bi-sexuality with my girlfriend.

Growing up, she often competed with me for my father’s affection and criticized me when I was dressing up too much, and “outshining” her. We had to be on the same “level.”

My uncle slapped me on the ass once when he was drunk, and another time called me a loser to my face. I told her about these events and she said and did nothing.

I cut myself once when I was feeling terrible about my past addiction. Later when she saw it and I told her about it, she said meanly, “is there anything you won’t try?”

A relative verbally attacked me in the street after Christmas dinner. She blamed me for causing trouble when I stood up for myself.

When I suffered from debilitating insomnia and was suicidal and needed help, she acted like I was a burden to her and made me feel bad for my illness.

When I expressed that I wanted to pursue music at age twenty-five, the first thing she said to me was, “well, you’re not getting any younger.”

She has stood by and said and done nothing when family members and others have insulted me.

When a construction worker hired to do work in her house bullied me and got in my face unprovoked, she said nothing, even after she had expressed frustration to me about this person’s behavior prior.

On my 29th birthday, I got dressed up and she said I looked like a whore to my face.

She kicked me out of house while I was working and saving money, a few months before I had planned to leave on my own again saying, “I have to set a rule that the kids can’t stay here past 30.” My brothers have lived there for years, still do, now in their early 30s and late 20s with no plans to leave. They have lived there as adults twice as long as I did.

She criticized me in secret to my boyfriend once, “you know how she is,” she said. My boyfriend knew it was hurtful and called her out on it.

She shamed me and my boyfriend after my boyfriend accidentally spilled wine on my brother, and stood next to my brother while he told me off about the accident accusing my boyfriend of being drunk, which he wasn’t. A good friend of hers saw this and thought it didn’t make sense how she reacted toward me.

After a music performance of mine when I was amped and excited coming off stage, she “shushed” me and scolded me in front of my relatives and said, “ok, you can calm down now.” I was in my early 30s when this happened.

I estranged myself from her and expressed how this abuse has made me feel throughout my life and that I can not take it anymore. She went to therapy, she said. I eventually let her back into my life, but nothing really changed.

She never asks me about my life or shows a genuine interest in who I am, my feelings, my friends, what I love, or what I’m doing with my life. When I asked her once recently why she doesn’t ask me about my life, she hesitated then said, “I don’t ask because I think your life is sad.” My life is not sad.

When I was suffering from anxiety and we went out to dinner, and I mentioned I was feeling anxious at the moment and was trying feel better, she said, “yeah, I noticed, you’re being really ‘meh’ with me.” I was on the verge of having a panic attack.

When I expressed that I thought I would make a good therapist, she said, “well, those with the most issues tend to make the best therapists.”

That was the last hit… and I will not take any more.

I will not be silent.

I will use my VOICE and my POWER to stand up to emotional and verbal abuse.

This is what I have survived. This is what I have overcome. And despite it all — not in spite, but in and out of LOVE — I will keep creating, I will keep growing, I will keep loving, I will keep LIVING, and I will keep FIGHTING for this BLESSED and BEAUTIFUL LIFE, and for OTHERS TO LIVE THEIR OWN BLESSED AND BEAUTIFUL LIVES FREE OF ABUSE.

If you feel you are experiencing emotional and/or verbal abuse, please seek the help of a licensed counselor near you, online, or speak with a trusted ally. Please visit the following resources to learn more about emotional and verbal abuse.

Forms of Emotional and Verbal Abuse You May Be Overlooking - Psychology Today

Emotional and Verbal Abuse - Office on Women's Health, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services