Regarding a vocal complaint that “no one understands me at all”

I am used to being criticized for my communications. That could be part of why at this point it can be rather rare that I get “offended.” (However, if I do get offended, it can be quite intense for me.)

I was raised in the midst of lots of messages toward me along the lines of “your perceptions do not matter.” If I “said something wrong” or “embarrassed to my parents” (such as by questioning presumptions or logic), that could lead toward being targeted with abusive “floods” of derision.

Also, one of the things that I recall was being threatened for “too much analysis.” I do not recall a specific case from my childhood. However, I can imagine a scene in which someone makes a very specific statement, then I later repeat it to them (to the best of my recollection), and then comes a sharp, harsh interruption of “oh come on… that is NOT what I said!”

It could be like this: I say “but yesterday you said that I could go to the party tonight. Both of you said yes yesterday, so what is going on?” (That example is probably inaccurate, but you can get a sense of the dynamic.)

So, I would experience grief (in relation to expecting to do something that appealed to me), but then, instead of being told “we changed our mind because of __________,” I would be chastised just for asserting that my parents had ever given approval previously. “No, we did not say that. What’s wrong with you? What you are saying does not even make sense! What makes you think that you deserve to go to that party? If you hang around with your friends too much, you will probably only drive them away.”

I recognize now that the last several statements were projections and perhaps worked as a distraction to completely take the subject away from what my parents had previously said and basically just shift to a shaming session. Anyway, at the time, it worked to distract me with those kinds of “tantrums.” I withdrew further and further.

By my teenage years, my conversations with my parents grew less and less casual and more and more formal (perhaps even pretentious). Generally, I avoided talking with them at length (one of them in particular). I made a point to avoid sharing my thoughts, interests, or analysis. I “shut them out.”

Their response? Occasionally, my obvious lack of comfort in talking with them was targeted aggressively along the lines of “what is your problem? Don’t you AGREE that I am right about ______? Hello?!?! Are you an idiot or what?”

Of course, this general kind of thing was not just from my parents. Peers also taunted me at times. But when “friends” said things like that, I generally could just end the friendship. With parents, that may not be an option.

In fact, I also was “a jerk” MANY times. When anxious, I could push people away (and then even blame them for “not being a better friend”).

Anyway, I know LOTS of people have had WAY more intense experiences than what I just mentioned. Some people are raised by intelligent and committed parents who make it a priority to set the tone for open communication with their children (and then really seek to understand what is going on for their kids). On the other extreme, some children are eventually seen as threats by their parents and so the kids are intimidated in to near total silence. The child’s “only job” is to “act normal” and “avoid drawing attention to our family.” LOL

In between the extremes, there are many other variations, including parents who are so busy that they are barely around to talk with their children at all. Everyone’s history has some unique aspects.

Anyway, I know that as a teenager, I specifically selected certain interests that would repulse my parents. Rebellion was valuable to me, whether that meant going out of my way to disgust  them or just some old-fashioned teenage “passive aggression.”

My friends and I developed “code words” with the specific intent of being able to communicate to each other in the midst of our parents while avoiding being understood. Any of this sound familiar?

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