Am I in a toxic home? And what do I do?

Hello everyone.

So, I moved out of my parents house about 3 years ago, when I was 19. I learned that I was in a toxic environment and that my parents would not accept me for who I was. They would judge me for going out too much, for wanting tattoos, for wanting to be something other than the perfect daughter they dreamed of.
I moved in with my now ex-boyfriend and his family. During the relationship, we were both toxic to each other. I felt like I could only stay home while he took my car and went to work or to see his friends. (This is just a backstory because it does relate to now).
After we broke up, I moved in with my aunt back in December of 2019. I lived there until March, where she moved in with her daughter and I moved in… with my now ex’s family. His family helped me out because they did care about me, at the time, and wanted me to be in a better environment than where I was. My ex is really around, he kind of just stays in his cabin in the backyard of the house. So, he isn’t really the problem.
The problem lies with the fact that I have been living here for 9 months. I feel used because the parents always tell me to go to the grocery store for them or just run some errands. When I am home, they don’t really come and check on me. They don’t ask me about my dreams and goals, or about how I am doing. I have let the mother know that I do have mental health problems and she seemed to understand my situation pretty well. Lately, it feels like the mother only talks to me about her problems. Whenever she calls (they have two houses due to custody stuff), she only talks bad about her two kids (one is 18 and she is my closest friend, the other is 21 and is my ex). She talks bad about her ex-husband, constantly; she tells me some personal problems with her new husband and talks bad about him, and she views the world pretty negatively. I am hurt because we used to be close and I used to be able to talk to her. But I am now realizing that maybe, this entire time, it has just been like how I described it. I feel like a punching bag.
Her husband is pretty absent. He works from home until 5pm and more so cares about the other children rather than me. The mother also seems to care more about her actual kids than me.
I’m not expecting anything from them, I was just under the impression that I was also a daughter here. The mother has told me that before, that I was like a daughter to her.
So the case here is that I am either ignored/not cared about, or I am used as a punching bag. I have told this to my friend, their daughter (the 18 year old) and she sees where I am coming from. She is annoyed that her mom is talking bad about her and she knows that there is a negative influence here.
I also feel like I can’t be myself, which was an issue with my parents. I have heard this family and the way they talk and view the world for 3 years now, and I know that who I have grown to be is something they won’t like.
I don’t have a job right now and I am working on my finances. But I don’t know what to do. I want to move out, but I have no where to go (meaning no family to move in with). I feel so alone. I feel constricted and hurt, and I keep going back and forth about if this is a toxic home or if this is just negative thoughts. I don’t know if this is me being scared based on past trauma, or if this is a new cycle of toxicity that I need to learn about in order to do what is best for me.
Thank you for your support.

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Hey @thewitchybunbun, welcome here!

First off, as you had your own traumas in the past, then asking yourself if your story is repeating itself is really understandable. I think that’s something a lot of people who were hurt at some point ask themselves. “Will this happen again?” is a tough question, it hurts but it’s also important to get some perspective when it’s needed. Know that the interrogations that you have don’t make you weird. Reaching out as you’re doing here is also a great step in order to discuss what’s going on.

It sounds to me that this family has a lot of communication issues, and the mother especially has a need to talk openly… but not to the right person. The way I understand what you said, there are some unresolved issues that they’re not really willing to discuss with each other - while it would be the solution. So they talk to you, and maybe a reason for that is that you’re part of their family and they trust you, but at the same time you are an outsider (what I mean by this is that there’s a part of their own story that you didn’t share with them). They also seem so focused on their own problems that they totally dismiss you - as you said, your needs, dreams, expectations. I can really imagine the discomfort of being in this position, especially as it seems you didn’t ask to be given this role of confidant.

At this point, unfortunately, the mother doesn’t seem to be aware of what she’s doing (or doesn’t want to). It might be a little tricky to address the problem without upsetting her. BUT you have the right to try to talk to her and explain what you’re willing to discuss or not. You have the right to set some boundaries and explain your discomfort. - you have a good relationship with everyone and it’s not easy to be put in the middle, almost like you’d have to pick a side. Eventually, you could try to encourage her to talk to a therapist, if talking/expressing her struggles is what she needs. Just some suggestions though. It also depends and how you feel about it. Do you feel like you trust her enough to share about how you feel? And do you think she could understand what you mean?

Knowing if this is a toxic home mostly depends on how you feel about it and how much it’s impacting you/your well-being. There are, in any case, definitely some toxic behaviors in the way they (don’t) communicate together, but even more by the fact that you don’t really have a space to be yourself. As much as you can love each other, you are still an individual with a unique voice. You have the right to exist for who you are, and not for what people want you to be. So I’d say, trying to talk to the mother could be a good start - if you think that’s possible. I can understand that this idea might be scary to you and it’s only a suggestion. <3

In any case, let us know how it goes if that’s okay for you. :hrtlegolove:

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Thank you so much for your reply. It really sounds like you understand my situation, and I really appreciate the help. It feels lonely trying to figure this out on my own.
The mother does not like to be told a different view. There was an argument recently between her and her son, to which she started throwing guilt about this incident a year or two ago where she had a medical emergency.
There was another time recently where she was telling me her view on the world (which I have heard before). When I offered my view point, she completely dismissed it and decided to make herself right instead.
I have been telling myself that if the situation pops up where I need to tell her my discomfort, as in if she starts talking bad about her kids or ex husband or her problems in general again, I would tell her my boundaries. I guess it is hard for me because when I moved out of my parent’s house, my mom said “if you leave, you are not a part of this family anymore”, and she said “f*** you” when closing the door. I guess I have a fear of mother-figures right now because as much as I love them, I am afraid to tell them my truth because I don’t want to be given a silent treatment (which my mother has also done) or be cursed at again.
With the mother in this household, I have a hard time as well because I don’t want her to start talking bad about me behind my back (which unfortunately feels like what I am doing to her). She already does that with everyone else, and it gets on my nerves. I know I can’t change a person, nor would wishing they would be different do any good. I more so wish that I was in a healthier environment, because what you said about my well-being really makes me realize how my well-being feels deprived and constricted. I thought that being here would be better for me than my parents, which it is in some aspects. I have my friend (the daughter) to talk to, I get to be with my cat again, and I am able to eat healthier and be in a better location for my health (in the mountains). As far as the energy in the house goes, however, it is hard.
I appreciate you taking time to read my rambling. I sometimes feel like I say too much or I shouldn’t say certain things, but I have been learning that it is best for my mental health to at least reach out. I am in a more self-loving place than when I was 18/19. Now, I love myself enough to know that I deserve to be in a healthier situation and be around people who do genuinely care about me.
thank you so much, and much love to you

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No worries for talking a lot or just a little - both are okay. What you write is something you need to share and get off your chest, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As you said, reaching out is a good thing to do. <3

Honestly, your fears are really understandable. My mom was very abusive as I grew up and I received that silent treatment multiple times. It creates wounds on our hearts. It’s like having our existence being denied by someone who’s supposed to be loving and caring. There’s no way to describe how terrible it feels and no one should ever feel like walking on eggshells with their parents. I’m sorry you had to go through this. That “conversation” you had with your mom when you moved out was also very violent. It makes sense to carry the fears of being treated the same way by someone else, especially by a mother figure.

But also… just wow. The things you write about you, the way you perceive yourself, the progress you made through the years. That’s beautiful. You are beautiful. And you are definitely changing this narrative of fears and abuse. You do deserve to be in a place where people genuinely care, without any criteria that you would need to fit in. This is a very powerful statement, friend. A very important strength that you have. I feel like when you ask “am I in an abusive home?”, you need some guidance but somehow you already have the answers. But even more: you have that strength in yourself to make sure that the story doesn’t repeat itself. You know what is right or wrong. And not just through a good/bad perspective, but also by taking in account the subtelties of the situation you’re in.

So as I understand, the mother is not really open to discuss and doesn’t like to face her contradictions. It’s just a human reaction, but definitely not a healthy one. Putting our head in the sand is not really a strategy at all. :confused: And as you said, unfortunately, you can’t change that person. It’s also not your responsability. This doesn’t mean your relationship is over, but for some people we just need to love them with a distance unless they try to work on themselves. As you mentioned your job/finances situation: how do you envision that in the (near) future?

Also, it seems that the daughter is more listening and understanding, which is really awesome. Do you think she could help you to talk to the mother, eventually? Could she understands your concerns and be an ally in that situation? (not like trying to create some division of any kind, but on the contrary to seek more peace all together). This kind of situation is very sensitive, but sometimes with the right timing and words, we can find a hearing ground with the person in fronf of us. (Again, I don’t know any of them so if that’s absolutely impossible that’s totally okay - I’m only wondering what possibilities you can have). <3

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