Emotional abuse can take many forms. Sometimes it is more obvious, with parents or caregivers being openly critical and abusive, as can be the case when our parents have a mental illness such as PTSD, has a personality disorder, or is alcoholic or otherwise drug addicted. Often though, it is much more subtle and it can leave you wondering whether or not you are imagining things or whether you are "going crazy." People will often think to themselves, "It wasn't so bad, why can't I get over it?"
For instance, a parent or caregiver might have been loving but not allowed you to have any boundaries, treating you more like a confidante or a pseudo-spouse than a child and getting upset, showing disappointment, or withdrawing love if you tried to object. Or perhaps your caregiver seemed fragile and you felt like you had to take care of them.
Both overt and covert abuse can leave you with a persistent sense of responsibility for other people's feelings, difficulty trusting others, and difficulty asserting yourself or with setting boundaries. It can feel very confusing and leave you with a great deal of self-doubt, or even crippling shame, where you wonder if maybe you are a bad person for feeling the way you do about your parents or caregivers.
This self-doubt can permeate other relationships and leave you with a sense of never being enough. You are not alone! We can help you understand why you have the feelings and reactions you do, and help you re-build trust in yourself.