When Rapunzel left the tower and the evil witch she thought was her mother, she stepped into freedom and found adventure. But despite her escape, when she looks back, there will be an irreversible damage that lingers. Healing from dysfunctional families hurts. There’s no way around it. Even when you leave them and find another home elsewhere, you’re still carrying the weight of emotional baggage that scars you for life.
I don’t think it ever gets easier, but the best part about life is that we have the ability to create what we want from it. We can still do the things we love and go on. Healing comes from a place of understanding. If you grew up from a toxic background, we want to shed light on patterns and situations that are hard to understand, mainly because it’s painful. Psych2Go shares with you 6 side effects of toxic parenting:
1. You have a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
When you grow up in a dysfunctional family, you’re at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder. According to a study done in 1998, researchers discovered that people who are exposed to toxic parenting on a consistent basis are more likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), regardless of whether they were young or in their adulthood. Out of the 940 adults who participated in the study, researchers found that factors, such as income, education, and country of origin had no impact on whether they would develop anxiety, but the element of toxic parenting did.
When I was a young child, I often worried about setting my mom off. I was a clumsy kid, constantly knocking things off the table or tripping over my own feet. I would often spill juice on the tiled floor in the kitchen or on the hardwood in our living room, and the sugar would leave a sticky residue behind every time. Instead of telling my mom what happened, I tried to clean the mess without her knowing.
Some days, I was lucky that she didn’t notice, but more often than not, she always found out. Her anger soaked into me and left a painful mark. I was still a little girl when I tripped over a large toy and it cut deep into my feet. Scared to approach my grandpa, afraid he’d have the same reaction as my mother, I winced and kept quiet, even though I was bleeding a lot. Looking back, I know he wouldn’t have yelled at me. But everywhere I went, I’d see remnants of my mother’s anger.
2. You may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The more abusive your parents are, whether it’s emotional or physical, the more likely you are to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Abuse causes people to be more alert and on their toes, because they anticipate more danger in the future. This leads to chronic anxiety, memories of abuse playing repeatedly, emotional numbing, and not being able to see the future because they are afraid they cannot escape the present danger.
On New Year’s Day, I thought I was going to die in my room when I felt unsafe to leave it. I didn’t eat or drink anything the whole day; my mother controlled what I was allowed to consume, and I didn’t feel safe using the resources she provided. I was afraid she was going to use them to guilt-trip me later on for it. It felt like I was slowly approaching a dead end—until I swallowed my pride, called my boyfriend at midnight for help, and the cops arrived.
3. You may be highly self-critical and blame yourself for everything.
If you are a highly sensitive person, then you may have grown up sacrificing your self-esteem for love. Parents who exercise conditional love will make their kids feel like they’re not worthy of love. As a result, they’re often pressured to prove themselves. If they make a mistake or do something that upsets their parents, they will be highly self-critical and blame themselves. But, this is how they remain hopeful. When kids believe that once they fix something about themselves or get better at something, then maybe their parents will start treating them better.
I’m a workaholic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just stem from passion. Part of the reason why I put so much care and effort towards my work is because in the back of my head, I still want my parents to be proud of me. Somehow, I think that once I achieve all of my dreams, it’ll help bring my parents closer to me. It’s not fully wrong. But I have to ask myself, How close is close enough? I think we want to love each other better, but it’s still a delicate dance.
4. You’re more likely to experience health problems.
According to a study done in 1985, researchers discovered that those who were in dysfunctional relationships were at a higher risk of developing heart problems, compared to those who didn’t grow up in toxic families. In addition, the chronic stress you experience from toxic parenting can affect your immune system. Psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula stated that constant arguing or disagreements in close relationships can weaken your immune system. The more tension and abuse kids experience from their toxic parents, the more likely they can get sick.
5. You have a hard time saying no because your boundaries weren’t respected.
When you grow up in a dysfunctional household, boundaries are non-existent, because they’re often crossed. If you grew up with a narcissistic or alcoholic parent, this is especially the case. Perhaps they often depended on you to take care of things around the house, or maybe they never respected your individuality because they always saw you as their own personal product. It’s hard to say no when you’re not allowed to have control over your life.
6. You may develop an insecure attachment that affects your relationships.
Growing up with toxic parents can influence you to seek comfort and love elsewhere, or it can cause you to fear relationships when you’ve developed trust issues. Insecure attachment exists in two forms: anxious and avoidant. Anxious attachment is when the individual latches onto someone strongly. They feel as though they have to constantly prove their own worth and chase after the person. Insecure attachment, on the other hand, is when the individual becomes self-reliant and refuses to depend on or let others in. When you grow up with toxic parents, it colors and affects the relationships you find yourself in.
Are you experiencing any of these side effects from toxic parenting? We understand how harmful they can be and want to help. Please share your story with us by leaving a comment down below!
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If you enjoyed this article, then you may also like 8 Common Characteristics of a Dysfunctional Family or 10 Ways to Deal with Toxic Parents.
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Chavez, H. (2018). 13 Signs of a Toxic Parent that Many People Don’t Realize. Lifehack. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
Florio, G. (2016, February 24). 5 Ways Having Toxic Parents Affects Your Health. Bustle. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
Malkin, C. (2016, September 30). 8 Common, Long-Lasting Effects of Narcissistic Parenting. Psychology Today. Retrieved March 14, 2018.