1- I never really got to have my own things. Like, take the Christmas when I got a TV and an NES. It was the most awesome thing my little 7 year old self ever got. I knew that we didn't have a lot of money to throw around and I knew that a TV (with a remote! We didn't even have one for our family TV) and a game console were pricey for my family. After I had the NES/TV in my room for a few years, the family TV died on us. Instead of buying a new one, my parents just took the TV they bought me for Christmas and put it out in the living room. Even as a kid, I knew that was wrong. You don't just buy people gifts and take them for yourself. I was pretty upset about it, and I remember asking my parents why they were taking my TV away from me. They replied that it wasn't my TV, it was just mine to use. This set the tone for a lot of "my" other things. It wasn't until I got a job in high school that I was actually allowed to have my own stuff. (The worst abuse of this "rule" was during a few times I was kicked out, I had to stuff what I could in my car or a trashbag and either get by with that or sneak in when my parents were out to get more of my things. Actually, I'm now starting to vaguely remember either threats to padlock my bedroom door shut after a kickout or that they possibly did something similar.)
2- Arbitrary rules. Again, with the TV, one week, I was only allowed to use the TV to play video games. The next, I was allowed to watch TV in my room. The week after that, video games only.
3- Removing my bedroom door as punishment. My parents used to think that somehow, it was acceptable to remove my bedroom door as punishment for slamming it. The worst part? My door wouldn't be replaced for months on end and every little infraction was an excuse to keep it off for longer.
4- The constant kickouts. I have been probably been kicked out of my parents' house about 2 dozen times. They would last anywhere from a day and a half to six months. When I was 16 and desperate to get away from the constant shitstorm growing up, they'd tell me that they wouldn't kick me out now, because they were legally responsible for me, but if I "acted this way" after I turned 18, they'd throw me out. ("Acted this way" usually meant doing something teens did, violating a rule they made after I "broke" it, or physically defending myself from my father's fairly regular assaults.)
5- Physical assault. A lot of it is fuzzy because I don't like to think about it, but both of my parents have charged at me, swinging their hands (luckily, I don't recall too many closed fist occasions). On one specific occasion in high school, my father tried to fucking choke me. (Sorry for the language, 15 years later and it still hurts me that my dad would treat me like that.) He also repeated this when I was 19/20. Arguments would always escalate to a point of no return. Eventually, I began to fight back, because I was not taking the chance that one day would be the last day for me.
6- My parents are "entitled to [their] opinions," but all of mine are dismissed. About a year and a half ago, my boyfriend and I were taking a dreadful course together. Midway, we had to do presentations. The presentations in my recitation period were to be about women in combat (pro or con). When the subject came up with my parents, I talked about the guy in my group who seemed to decide his possession of a penis made him the qualified to lead and his idiotic talking points. (Seriously, dude had clue what he was talking about.) I jokingly remarked that I was going to "coup the group and become leader." My dad snarls "oh, so YOU'RE allowed to have YOUR freedom of speech, but HE ISN'T?" My reaction isn't important. I've had to deal with that shit from them my entire life. My opinions are stupid, I'm somehow censoring others by disagreeing, and I'm a giant asshole for expecting that your opinions be rooted in facts. My parents are from the THEY'RE MY OPINIONS AND THEY COULD NEVER BE WRONG BECAUSE I'M ENTITLED TO MY OPINION LALALALALALALALALAICAN'THEARYOU, COMMIE! school of thought.
7- My mother likes to pick fights. My boyfriend and I were moving out the final bit of my belongings from my parents' house. (They were housing them for me during the most difficult year of my life.) My bedroom was really small and jam packed full of stuff. After walking into a tense household (shocker), I went up to my old bedroom, said "fuck it, let's just get this done and over with" and we started loading up stuff. I should mention that my parents all but refused to help even though I had a fucking thumb brace on my hand due to a stress strain that took about 3 months to fully heal. She kept coming upstairs, and trying to provoke arguments with me instead of helping. I calmly and politely said to her (four times) that if she wasn't going to help take things downstairs, I would need her to please leave the room because there wasn't enough room for three of us. Literally, that was what I said verbatim. The last time she came up, she got incredibly offended with this, and stormed off. When we stopped to take a five minute break, I was looking out the kitchen window, my mom stormed into the kitchen and screeched "WHAT THE FUCK'S YOUR PROBLEM NOW?" I turned to my boyfriend, said "did you just hear that?" He looked horrified. I looked at her, told her I wasn't looking in her direction and I wasn't going to fall for her attempt to get me into an argument. She screamed at me some more, I had to force myself to not cry (31 fucking years old and she still impacts me like this), and I told her that I wanted her to leave me alone because I wasn't doing anything wrong. Eventually, this led to me crying hysterically outside of the restaurant we went to for lunch, repeating "I don't want them in my life anymore" over and over again. I barely composed myself in time to go inside.
8- I am the worst behaved, most spoiled brat who ever existed. I had problems in high school. I was bullied to an extent (always verbally fought back), most of my honors classes were terribly boring, and I had two teachers during my junior year who blatantly engaged in favoritism and would mock less popular students. When I went to my parents about it, they dismissed my complaints. After a few dozen times of complaining, I began to just cut class all the time. Instead of trying to find out why I was cutting class and why I was unhappy, they did things like arranged for me to be humiliated in front of my high school's principal, and still maintain that I was a little asshole in high school. I cut class. I smoked pot once my sophomore year and didn't touch it again until the end of my Senior year. Similarly, I drank once my junior year and didn't touch it again till Senior year. I would miss (my 11 pm) curfew sometimes. I don't think I did anything that terribly out of the ordinary for a creative kid who didn't fit in in their public, suburban high school. But no, even now, my parents will insist that I was a terror during high school.
9- I didn't have a house key until my Sophomore (possibly the end of my Freshman) year in high school. I was expected to sit outside, locked out until my dad come home to let me in. I was told that I'd "lose the key" if it was given to me beforehand.
10- My parents were (and still are) notoriously unreliable. One year, I was part of an afterschool program affiliated with the local cable company. I was supposed to call collect, yell "it's(drunkenatheist)i'mdonecomepickmeupplzkthx" into the "name" portion, and my mom would not accept the charges and come get me. The last meeting of the year, I told her that it was supposed to end early, but she kept telling me it wouldn't. The meeting ended 20 minutes in, and I wasn't allowed to get a ride with anyone else (no, seriously). I called my house multiple times. While I waited for my mom (which was something like an hour and a half), I was catcalled and sexually harassed by all sorts of perverts driving down the street. I was about 16 years old and was wearing a dress. I wasn't equipped to handle that, and I was scared shitless the entire time. When my mom finally came to pick me up, a guy walked close to the car. After the night I just had, my first instinct was to lock the doors. It seriously did not register that he was Black until after I did it and saw the (justifiable) look of horror on his face. He screamed "FUCK YOU, BITCH!" at me, and I was really upset by it. I wanted to roll the window and tell him it legit wasn't related to his race and had to do with the fact that he was male and I had just spent a good hour and a half dealing with every pervert in the area shouting lewd remarks at me. After I said this, my mom just sort of laughed it off. She might have given me a flippant "oh yeah, sorry," but I don't even think I got that out of her. Thanks Mom, so glad you were concerned about my fucking SAFETY.
11- After I gave up a baby for adoption, my mother let me know that I needed anti-depressants. This was a week after I gave birth. (Please, do NOT praise me for my "strength." Not even in a "I know you don't want to hear it, but..." because it's really insulting to me. I'm only mentioning it because it seems to be the cliched, gut response I typically get.)
12- The general treatment I received from my parents the entire time I was pregnant. They would sit downstairs and loudly talk about how I could just 'raise the baby and go to school, and everything would be fine.' I'm sure y'all can figure out a big reason I did NOT want to raise my baby. And by "a" big reason, we're up to 12 big reasons thus far. We haven't talked about it in years because it was something I did to get back at my parents. Yes, because everything is about ruining their lives. EVERYTHING.
13- The constant cracks about my appearance. Starting from an early age, I was informed that I had to lose weight. For a short period, my father would physically remove me from bed, drag me to a mirror, grab my waist and say "you better look at that belly." In some sick way, he thought this would motivate me to lose weight. Instead, shit like that led to me hating my body, to me developing some anoerectic eating patterns, and have a terrible relationship with food. Another time, when I was about 12, I started getting some mild acne along my hairline. Like a lot of kids, I would fiddle with and pick at the pimples. This was not acceptable to my parents, so my dad had my mom forcibly slick back all of my hair into a ponytail and I was told that I had to wear my hair like that until I learned to not pick at my skin. I have mild adult acne (which is finally starting to clear up) and spent a lot of my life blaming myself for it. Then I learned that facial wash companies make acne lines and it's pretty much disappeared since I started using them. Alternately, they would praise my looks and then yell at me because I had low self-esteem. They never understood that I was crying because of the mixed messages, not because I was touched by the "compliments."
14- Their not being divorced is (in a roundabout way) my fault. My mother once told me that they never got divorced because my dad "wanted to live up to his responsibilities." When I pressed her, she said that I was one of his "responsibilities." Yes, because growing up in a household like that was certainly the best thing for me.