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Day 9 Forced feeding

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Endless luke, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    When I was eight years old, forced feeding event/experience happened. I feel resentful of it.

    This is a difficult subject for me to write about because almost no one gets it. I've had one therapist that instantly got how destructive it could be and two friends who saw it but for the most part people seem to think it doesn't sound bad. What they don't understand is the day-after-day tenacity which my mother pursued it with. Anyway, let me get down to describing it.

    I felt like dinner time was when my mother would try and break my will. That she resented that I could think in any way that was different from her perfect view of the family and that this was the only avenue that she found morally acceptable. Since she was child psychologist she couldn't get away with beatings or other forms of abuse but if she could disguise it to herself as something good for me than it was allowable.
    I had a set amount of food each night that I had to consume or I was not allowed to leave the table. The first part of the meal was difficult but the second part of the meal was a huge fight against my gag reflex. By that time my father had left to go do his thing and so it was either me alone at the table or my mother staring at me.
    I tried in so many ways to get this to stop and she steadily boxed me. She destroyed my ability to communicate. I wasn't allowed to say I didn't like the food. We had a list of rules on the fridge that included that we had to say we liked the meal.
    I wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom because I used to store some food in my mouth and spit it in the toilet. This to me seems to be the point where a sane or loving person would stop and think that something needs to be reevaluated. But with my mother any negative feedback always meant that she did more of it.
    Since I couldn't speak I used to let my resentment show through my eyes. I was communicating that I knew that this wasn't something being done for me- it was her own power trip. So she would scream at me that I looked at her "with hate in your eyes".
    I trace this to losing my ability to be in touch with my anger. I also think she taught me to ignore my body. That was 45 minutes each day where she was teaching me to ignore one of the body's most valuable signals.
    I feel that this was abuse. I've never told her that because at even lesser levels when I've tried to talk about it she's utterly unreasonable. Her stance is, "so I made you eat your vegetables".
    When I thought I was finished I needed to get my plate inspected by her. If I didn't pass then I had to keep eating. I remember much of my life at that time being a series of inspections. After I washed all the dishes they were inspected, my room was inspected, etc.
    I wished for a mother that cared less about me. I wanted her to read a book, to have something she was interested in, something that she liked doing, so I could get a little peace.

    [For a great fictional account of this type of experience there's a dinner scene in Jonathan Franzen's _The Corrections_ which mirrored my experience.]

    Have you been overly critical of yourself lately? How and why have you done this?
    I don't think so. I've been hating where my life is at and my lack of progress but what I need to do to move myself forward is so mystifying I don't even know where to aim my criticality at.
  2. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Luke, this sounds like an absolutely horrible experience. The way parents deal with food issues influences us throughout our lives. I know adults who still clear their plates, no matter how hungry/unhungry they feel, because they were trained to do so as children. Eating can bring up a whole range of issues, such as guilt, body image issues, shame, etc. I watched one of my nieces go through something similar to you. Her parents were genuinely concerned that she was not eating enough, but every dinner became a power struggle and ended in tears. Luckily she had a strong will and was not broken--now she is a healthy, fit teenager. Her sister, who ate everything and was constantly praised for it, is now verging on being overweight.

    This is a big issue and you probably have a lot of journaling to do on it. Keep in mind that your mother was probably doing what she thought was best for you, even if it wasn't.
    Endless luke and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    Thanks Gail- this was a very important one for me to journal on.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Luke, your response to the QTP* is pretty interesting - maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it seems to me that you are in fact judging yourself quite harshly - hating where your life is at, citing a lack of progress, and not knowing where to aim the criticism.

    Your mother's behavior sounds marginally abusive. Not enough to call CPS, perhaps, but clearly, she was not emotionally healthy. This makes you a victim of emotionally abusive and unloving behavior. And the thing is, victims of abuse usually end up blaming themselves for causing the abuse. Children in particular seem to automatically blame themselves for the negative behavior of their parents. They assume that they must not be lovable children, because their parents would naturally treat them with love if they deserved to be loved.

    I can see that you consciously despise your mother's behavior, and maybe you are able to despise her as well (I wouldn't blame you) but what I'm wondering is if self-blame and self-hatred are the dangerous unconscious emotions that are being repressed by your brain, and which are continuing to cause your pain.

    Hang in there,


    *the daily Question to Ponder
    yb44 and Endless luke like this.
  5. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    I don't feel like I have many answers. I think there is perhaps a small gap between hating my life and hating myself but in the end it may amount to the same thing. Again, I don't think I directly blame myself for the abuse but I do think it made me feel unlovable and it lead me not to trust people.

    Although I do consciously resent my mother's behavior there is almost no emotion involved with it. I just feel like life is destined not to work out. Mostly I want very little to do with her. Trying to get her to recognize me or what I was saying was a failed effort. That's why it's good to be here and get reactions that do recognize what I'm saying.
  6. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I definitely see this as emotional/psychological abuse. I can relate because there was much tension at our family dining table too. There were certain foods that I didn't like and many of these I still don't like. However compared to some people I am not exactly a picky eater. My mother on the other hand used to scold and insult me if I refused to eat something. She wouldn't watch over me until I finished the food exactly but she made me feel so bad about myself that I ate the offending food to avoid the onslaught of abuse - and felt quite sick afterwards.

    Many years ago I was out at a restaurant for lunch with my mother and brother. My brother's best friend had died after a long battle with cancer although it had been some time since his death. Somehow the conversation veered off and my brother - who must have been in his 50's at the time - mentioned this friend. He got all choked up and began to cry. My mother immediately told him, "Stop it S! Eat your lunch" I watched as my brother started to eat and as he ate I could almost see the sad memories and grief being plunged down his throat. This was a real 'ah ha' moment for me. There are so many of my own emotions that have been gulped down over the years.
    Endless luke and JanAtheCPA like this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's so sad, YB, sad, and tragic, and profoundly influential. My mother was always the same way when it comes to strong emotions - she can't handle them (age 92, still can't). I was in my twenties when I had my "ah hah!" moment and realized I needed to find other people with whom I could express my feelings. I hope your brother was able to do the same.
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Work on this Luke - this is good material to journal about. Use one of the journaling techniques where you are not allowed to think about what you're writing. Use a pen and paper and let it flow.
    There you go, Luke - this is it. "directly" just means "consciously". No child consciously blames themselves - it's all in the deep dark unconscious - where the brain keeps it hidden because bringing it out in the open is so scary. "Made me feel unlovable" is the key. That's exactly what the abuse did. More journaling material.

    This, sadly, is a form of self-hatred. You deserve to have life work out, but you really must accept and love yourself for that to happen. You took the first step when you joined this community, and you took the second step when you started to participate. And now you're doing the SEP... keep at it, Luke - it's worth it, and we're here with you.

  9. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    That's a good point about directly just meaning consciously. oi, I have a lot of work to do.
  10. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    Thank you for your confirmation that it was abuse. I've had so many years of denial of it from my family that an acknowledgement that I'm not making something out of nothing is important.
  11. cirrusnarea

    cirrusnarea Well known member

    Man, that's messed up. Like, having to finish your meal before you leave the table is common in most households I think. But I think your mom did take it too far, and was on a power trip as you say. And the weird rules like having to say you liked the meal...just weird. I got a weird vibe just from reading about it. I have a close friend who was emotionally abused by her mother in a similar way, only I think with her, her mother didn't let her use the bathroom except at certain times when she was very little. So she had to hold it in. She's doing well now, but she has OCD and other issues as a result.
    Endless luke likes this.
  12. alicebr

    alicebr New Member

    Just to chime in here: Luke, what you experienced is most certainly abuse. One of the few things children can control is their own bodies, and your mother sought to take that away from you. When we're children we *cannot* believe that our parents aren't right, because that idea frightens us to our very core--so we blame ourselves. That's where all the self-hatred comes in. The more you're abused, the more self-blame you heap on. Your mom couldn't admit that this was abusive-- that would destroy her image of herself.

    Food is so complicated. What we take into our bodies, what we allow in. It's such a complex issue, so wrapped in control and love and our warped ideas of love. Kudos to you for working through this.
    Endless luke likes this.
  13. KathyBee

    KathyBee Peer Supporter

    I have noticed that sometimes people when people wrong us, they minimize what they have done. They say it is no big deal. Then we feel like we should not be upset or only be a tiny bit upset. And then other people will side with that person and it reinforces the idea that it was not a big deal and we should not be upset.
    My situation was kind of the opposite of yours. Sometimes my mom would forget to feed me. And there was this idea that it was not really that big a deal to skip a meal. After all, I still got two meals that day. It wasn't like I would starve to death.
    But the psychological aspects were big. It was a big sense of insecurity for me and made me feel like my basic needs were not a priority. It also contributed toward food issues with me later.
    Endless luke likes this.
  14. AngK

    AngK Peer Supporter

    Hi, Luke. I read your story with interest. As KathyBee points out, the abuse was a little more manipulative, less blatant, which can keep you questioning yourself. As usual, the members here have great advice. The only thing I would add is for you to not forget to explore your feelings toward your father. My own childhood issues lean more towards neglect and I immediately zeroed into your father's action of slipping out of the room and not protecting you or standing up for you (which, quite frankly, as a mom, I would do for my child without hesitation.) Reading your story I could hear my own inner voice saying "Well, I guess I wasn't worth the risk of incurring the wrath of mom." Perhaps I'm off base, but it still may be worth the exploration. Good luck to you!
  15. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    I think you're dead on in saying that it was about control of my body and it amazes me how total she needed that control to be. It wasn't just my actions or what said but she wanted to get inside my head and break down my thoughts so that I'd be grateful for what she was doing.
  16. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    It's pretty amazing how people here have intuited all of the side issues. My whole life my father has never stood up for me no matter how bad her actions were. He says he regrets this now and I can tell he means it but his resolve never affects his actions in the present. If she did something today he would duck away and still not see it as being a part of a pattern.
    It's difficult because besides that issue we have a really good relationship now. We talk often and he's making an effort to help me move forward.
  17. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    I'd say that the cover-up is always part of abuse. This includes involving other people to participate in covering it up.
  18. KathyBee

    KathyBee Peer Supporter

    I think often times the other parent gets a pass when maybe they should not.
    Often times we have one parent who wrongs us in some way. The other parent does not participate, but they are often aware of what was done and did nothing to stop it or help us.
    One part of our mind tells us they did not do anything wrong. But they did – they failed to protect us. Or they failed to provide for our needs. So there is repressed anger at them.
    Sometimes we see better in other people’s examples than we do in our own lives. Years ago, I read a story of a young boy growing up with an alcoholic mother. One day the mother has passed out drunk and not given her children anything to eat all day. When the dad gets home after working late the boy says he and his sister have not had anything to eat all day and begs the dad to order some take out. The dad refuses. The dad says that it is the mom’s responsibility to feed the kids and it is not his fault if she does not. I absolutely hated the dad in the story, even more than the mom. Yet I never connected it with any repressed anger I felt toward my dad.
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