Why Does My Family Treat Me As If I’m Nothing?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Since I was a child, I was taught that females must do everything for the males. Growing up to my father drinking everyday, to come home to beat my mother, to then beat us. When he was not drunk, he would make us pick out a weapon that he would hit us with. I guess that somehow it clicked into my older brothers head that it was ok to do the same thing to us. From 6 to 13 yrs old, I was sexually abused by my older siblings, which is my brother and sister. There has also been numerous times where family relatives have groped me, and touched me in inappropriate places.

My mother would come home to tell us all the things she had done with her boyfriend, that includes sexual content. I was a 5th grader when she would tell my sister and I this. You see, my parents were always separating and getting back together. I always liked them apart, since it was much easier for us. They expected us to have the house spotless, their laundry done, and food ready and served for them to eat. Apparently we were useless at doing anything right. Guess my parents loved having 4 children, more slaves for them.

During High School my older brother tried to molest me again, I shrugged it off. Both my parents remarried, and were dedicated to their new lives. My father lived close, but his wife wanted him to stay away from us, so he did. My mother married a man who we knew nothing about. Both their new spouses were very young, very rude to us.

I always maintained high grades, so for that I received a scholarship to a private school. It was nothing to me, since a child I knew that my brothers would get the attention no matter what they did. So I completely tuned out what was happening in my life at the moment.

In High School I started to experiment with drugs. I even tried to grow some in my room. It also came to me that I was not interested in men, that when I saw a woman, I couldn’t help but be attracted to her. That’s when I knew I was a lesbian.

When my sister and I were kicked out of the house, I was in my 2nd year of HS. MY mother claimed that we were trying to steal her husband from her. My father didn’t care to hear what we had to say, he just let his wife close the door on us. So my sister and I lived on our own.
When my mother decided to let us back in the house a year later.

I concentrated on not letting anyone take advantage of me in any way. My mother was about to have a baby, and my father had already had his. When my mother had her child, I completely changed, I knew it wasn’t the baby’s fault. I started noticing the way they treated the baby, I knew then that I would have to take care of her right. At this point I had lost my scholarship due to drugs. I was attending a public school, which I dropped out of.

So instead of school, I took care of my sister. I finally felt that it was time for me to let everyone know about my sexual orientation. I was not allowed to touch my little sister, then few days later I was kicked out. My aunt took me in. It is there that I found out that my father had another child who was 5, his new wife was his longtime mistress.

My mother and her husband are addicted to gambling, so they took me back in to take care of the child while they went out. The baby grew, they became more irresponsible. Now I argue with them to take responsibility, and be real parents to the child. I keep trying to prove my point that she needs the love of her mother and father to have a good life. I don’t want her to have a life like mine.

I finished an alternative program and received my HS Diploma. I stopped using drugs the year after I started. I am 18 years old. I wanted to work and go to college, with no money I can’t do the schooling. With the economy so bad I can’t find a job. All my siblings have been helped out by relatives in receiving a job, well paid jobs. No one has offered me some help. I asked if I could receive it, turns out I’m a big joke to my relatives, I deserve nothing. My siblings receive help with cars, cellphones, getting taught how to drive. None have took the time out to teach me to drive, or buy me a car, I don’t even own a phone.

My mother gave me until March of 2009 to pack all my things and leave her home. A home where my siblings still live in. I turn 19 in the month of March, I can’t join the military due to my eczema. My question is why? What is it that I did that I am seen as nothing? Why do things just get worse and worse?

I have been depressed for so long, haven’t told anyone because it will never matter to them. Lately I have been contemplating suicide, and many ways of doing it. I would of done it tonight, but decided to seek advice on my situation. Can you please give me a rational thought as into why this is happening? Why do I feel like killing myself?

A. I am sorry you had to endure many years of unpleasant experiences because of your family. You grew up in a toxic and negative environment. You were neglected, molested, abused and left to fend for yourself. Despite this you managed to graduate high school and stop using drugs on your own. Given what you had to endure it’s important to highlight how significant these achievements are. I know you’re not feeling very celebratory at the moment but please be very proud of these accomplishments. They’re a testament to your resilience.

I can’t answer the question of why your family treated you in the manner that they did. I’d need more information about your parents to answer the ever-elusive “why?” question. Generally it’s probably because they have their own psychological problems. If we analyzed their lives and behavior we’d probably find that they suffer from a host of psychological issues. Psychologically healthy individuals would never treat their children or anyone else in the manner that you were treated. Clearly something is wrong. They might be psychologically unhealthy or they may simply be bad parents. It’s difficult to know for certain.

Knowing “why” your parents behave in the manner they do does little to help you overcome the damage you’ve sustained as a result of your upbringing. You are at the point in your life where you’re considering suicide. Now is not the time to analyze “why.” Now is the time to focus on saving yourself by getting help and support.

Being kicked out of your parents house at this point might be a blessing. Let it be the turning point in your life. Not living with your parents allows you to be free of their toxic environment.

Right now you need support. Try to find a local mental health clinic or related clinic in your area. Mental health clinics usually offer support and counseling from case managers, outreach workers, social workers and therapists. In addition, many clinics offer programs that help individuals secure housing and job assistance. They might even be able help you enroll in a college program or find you funding for school. You need all of these services and you need them right away. At the very least please seek out some form of mental health assistance for your depression and suicidal ideation. It’s imperative that you find some agency or clinic that can assist you. Please do this as soon as possible. Start this process by checking the yellow and white pages.

Also know this: you grew up with very difficult life circumstances. What you had to endure was not fair. It’s going to be hard to overcome what you’ve experienced but it’s highly likely you’ll succeed in life if you keep trying. Try not to let your past dictate your future. It’s not going to be easy but as an adult you have the power to positively alter your future. You have the control, not your parents. They can’t hurt you any longer. Also worth mentioning once more is the fact that you were able to graduate high school and stop using drugs. This is a “big deal” because it means that you’re smart enough to recognize the value of education. You also realized on your own the harmful effects of drugs. You made it through school successfully while having to live through abuse and neglect at home. This is evidence of your mental toughness and ability to withstand difficult life circumstances. These are very positive and encouraging qualities about you. Let your intelligence and resiliency lead you out of your difficult family life and onto a better and more hopeful future. The first step towards a better life starts with getting help and support immediately. I wish you luck. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Feb 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Why Does My Family Treat Me As If I’m Nothing?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/09/why-does-my-family-treat-me-as-if-im-nothing/