Hi, I'm a 16 year old girl and I'm afraid my siblings and I are being abused emotionally and verbally (and occasionally physically) by my mother.I don't really blame her, not really. I know she's had a lot happen in her life. The death of her dad when she was still in college, the miscarriage a year after I was born, being accused of causing my older sister's autism, watching her mother deteriorate from Alzheimer's disease. I understand all of this so I feel incredibly selfish for being hurt when she lashes back at life. And I understand that feeling guilty for being hurt is a sign that this relationship is messed up.

My mother does not seem to be very aware of the effect she has on others. I flinch when she touches me; in fact, because of her, I had problems with anyone touching me. My problem with touching is that whenever there was an, ah, "episode" when I was younger, it would end with me apologizing for being a wicked child and then my mother would hug me and say that she still loved me. Only I didn't feel loved. I'm an actress so I am very familiar with how much you can appear to love someone without caring a bit. I was hugged but all I felt was trapped.An episode usually involved getting in trouble for something (usually something small, like not finishing a handwriting assignment before dinner), then there would be excuses and lies and I would be spanked until I confessed followed, of course, by an apology (by me) and a hug. Oh, and occasionally the old "This hurts me more than it hurts you" line. At least, that's what I remember. In light of what I know now about psychology, I think that it is very possible that in a large number of those instances, I was not actually at fault. I came out of the phase in my life feeling that I was a huge liar. Nothing I said could be trusted. And to this day, I retain the belief that excuses are meaningless. (Of course, I have since added to that philosophy that authorities should always look at the circumstance of a failure such that they may bestow mercy where it is deemed worthy.)

Now, I am constantly under the assault of judgement and criticism. I know that my mother just wants me to do well in life. But I wish she would be gentler about it. And I wish that I could talk to her to develop a system in which she can set me on the straight and narrow path but I will also be permitted to act and behave as young adult with her own mind. But my opinions do not hold any weight in mind. In an argument (alright, a fight) I tried to explain that I felt as if my opinions didn't matter. Her response, verbatim, was "And well they shouldn't! You're still my child. I don't have to listen to anything you say or explain anything to you. When you're an adult people will care what you say. But I'll always be your mother and you will treat me with respect." So what I think doesn't matter.

My mother is two-faced. She says that grades don't really matter if I try my best. But I cannot ask for any sort of financial aid for anything or get a job unless I have straight A's. She thinks I am straight A material; apparently staying up until 2:30am isn't trying my best. But I get in trouble for staying up late because sometimes I bump into things and wake up my autistic sister who proceeds to scream bloody murder.Oh yes, my sister. I do not hate my sister. I love her very much. I feel horrible for feeling the way I do. I am very resentful. My mother's favorite story to tell about my sister is about how she understood how to play hide-n-seek at a very young age. Where other children would cry because they couldn't find mommy, my sister would giggle and crawl around the apartment, looking behind doors and beds until she found mommy. "You sister was so clever," my mother will sniffle. Now she is 18 and is still struggling with the most basic concepts of Algebra and will likely never progress beyond a 4th grade reading level. I understand my mother's pain. But then she pulls out another card, "I think that whatever was taken from her when she developed autism was given to you. You need to make sure you don't waste it." Thank you for that enormous burden of expectation, mother. I shall carry it with me forever. Not only must I be the brain child who graduates cum laude of an prestigious engineering school (along with a bachelor's in a liberal arts degree) who will provide the funds for my three younger siblings to attend college as well, but I must also accomplish whatever great things my sister might have accomplished with that clever mind of hers. Of course, whenever I vocalize these responsibilities I feel, I am told to stop playing the victim, that I know that I don't have to do anything to help support the family. But, I think, why do you want me to have a high paying job by the time my younger sister is ready to leave for college? Excuse me if I am bitter when you ask me six years from now if I would donate to her college fund.

I think that if that was all, I could handle it. I am a very strong person, you know. But there is more. My mother once told me (she now has no memory of telling me this, a common theme for her) "When mommy was younger, a lid was unscrewed too much in mommy and now the lid doesn't fit right anymore. So it's harder for mommy to keep the lid on than it is for other mommies." I didn't fully grasp what she was saying then, but I have since pieced together that when a doctor told my mother that it was her parenting that made my sister autistic (which I do not believe is true, there's too many things going on chemically for that to be the cause, though I'm sure it aggravated her condition -heh, listen to me to talk about my sister like a lab experiment, aren't I a monster?). Anyways, my mother kind of exploded when she found out the doctor had been wrong. She hates that man. And her excuse for her short temper now is that she lost control back then so she has trouble with maintaing control. That, in my opinion, is B.S.   No excuses, remember?

But all in all, my biggest problem is that all of this hurts so much. I should be used to it by now. I understand why she acts the way she does, so why does it hurt so much? This morning I was suffering from extremely painful menstrual cramps. My mother came in to find out why I sounded like a hurt puppy. When I told what was wrong, she started saying that it was my fault that I was in pain because I don't eat right and I don't exercise enough and besides, I use tampons against her advice and that tampons will mess up my insides, etc. I lay there in pain, really just needing a heat pack, or even fifteen minutes until the cramps subdued but I got a lecture and was called fat and stupid. Great way to start a morning right? I went to school feeling like shit. And that's a minor battle wound. The real ones are permanently scarred on my arms and legs. Yes, I cut. Past tense cut. My parents found out at the beginning last school year. My dad looked awful when he found out and kept asking "Why? Oh baby, why?" But my mother? She wanted to know what I was reading or who I was talking to that made me start pitying myself again. She threatened to take me back out of public school ( I was homeschooled up until 9th grade). She told me that it was wicked of me to mutilate myself and that I wasn't going to go very far in life if I let little things like that get to me.And I am truly afraid of that.

If I cannot stand up against my own mother, how can I face the world? I have tried to stand up to her before. I just get slapped, told not to talk back, and then I am sent to my room until I can come back down with an acceptable attitude (which includes a humiliating apology). If she detects any trace of insincerity, the cycle begins anew. I can't beat her. I know this isn't a game, but sometimes, it does feel like some horrible game. If I can win, if I can beat her, I get out and the rest of the family gets out too. My mom is not the enemy. She's suffering too. But then who is? How do I win? How do I fix this?I'm not suicidal. Not yet. But it's been close. Too close. Suicide is a sin. It's trying to take control of death instead of trusting God to decide how long you live. It's not the way out. But there must be some way. Is there? IS THERE?