Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]

Why You Still Cry When Your Parents Hurt You


This is my answer to the following question on Quora:

Why do i shed genuine tears when my parents confront me? I am in my mid 20s living with my parents. We’re emotionally closed up. We live together but never converse. I am bitter of my childhood and relations we’ve had. Is this it? I was recently diagnosed with depression and was on meds. I think i might have a problem i can’t pin. I just got back to smoking marijuana.

First, I’m so sorry to hear about your relationship, this is not a trivial factor because we all form an idea of “self” and “relationship of self with other” from adults on whom we depend. For most children, these adults are parents.

Thus the way your parents treated you and related with you forms a foundation for the way you learn to relate to yourself, treat yourself — and relate to them/treat them.

The reason why you shed genuine tears is not from bitterness, although it’s tempting to think these are tears of anger when the situation and events surrounding your growing up can cause much feelings of anger.

I think you’re oscillating from feelings of anger and sadness and denial — sometimes within the same day or even the same interaction with your parents — because you are grieving.

You are grieving for the parents you deserved but did not have, because they were not capable of loving you the way you needed to be loved. They were not able to relate with you the way you needed to be related. They didn’t know how to treat you the way you needed to be treated (with love, respect, tenderness, a full but light heart — maybe you can grasp what I mean.)

Because you are entering adulthood and begin separating your sense of self from your parents’ sense of “who you are” (and it sounds like their sense of you can be skewed, because of their own past experiences) — you realize deep down that there is a slim or no chance of that little child within you ever getting from your parents what that little child deserves in the first place (love, respect, tenderness, a full but light heart.)

This makes you grieve.

Your grieve is made worse by your clinical depression and the fact that your parents inflict new wounds while opening up old wounds of your relationship, so that you feel like your soul can not ever truly start the healing process.

First, I urge you to seek treatment from licensed professionals and see whether you need medication therapy or psychotherapy — for me personally, I needed both at the beginning — later I relied on psychotherapy when I had a relapse. This is not a “one shot deal” — it can take years of effort and I speak from personal experience when I say, “I’m WORTH the effort.”

Second, I urge you not to take an escape (such as smoking marijuana, or other forms of escapes) that numbs your pain, because the only way you get through this is by living through this with both eyes wide open (metaphorically) and escaping simply delays the inevitable requirement for you to live through this and breathe through this.

Third, I urge you to consider the reality that your sense of self never really depended on your parents view of you, that you are whole and intact as a person. You are wading through a deluge of conflicting messages in your mind — there is the sane messages you know to be true, “I am a good, I am enough, I am whole” and there is the insane messages you know to be false, “I am evil, I will never be good enough, I don’t deserve love” — you are escaping from the big battle between these two types of messages.

You know what happens when you try to fight a battle with your eyes closed, or with a broken foot, or with a fuzzy mind. Now imagine this is a battle that will keep raging on until you live through it and emerge triumphant.

And I believe you can indeed emerge, triumphant — as your whole and intact self that you’ve always been — only now you can see it with the appropriate pair of eyes and not from your parents’ pairs of eyes.

I did it, you can too.


You may also want to read:
Note to the Hyper-Self-Critical Child Who Has Grown Up

Independence: Dear Daughters of Tiger Mothers

A View from Negativity

Why I Wrote ‘The Youngest Light’

“Jane Chin, for Joy”

Dealing with Manipulation, Guilt, Emotional Abuse, and Self-Pity

Written by Jane Chin

July 4th, 2012 at 9:47 am