My name's Tony, and this is the first time I tell people what happened. I've been lurking on the boards for a while now, trying to figure out what happened to me in context, all factors present. It's been hard, and the thing I've been asking myself is, "why?" I think I've finally got it all together now.

So here goes. Most of it was emotional abuse, but there were definite sexual and physical components as well.

My mother was beaten by her father and mostly abandoned by her mother (I know this because she used vignettes from her life as sort of bedtime stories as far back as I can remember). She is a resentful, unhappy, emotionally unfulfilled person, and that is what led her to do what she did. She has a paralyzing need for control and a lot of shame from a strict, unforgiving, unloving religious upbringing, which she projected onto me.

When I was four or five, I developed some kind of genital rash. I have no idea how, since I was extremely isolated and barely had physical contact with other children because my mother deemed it wrong. It took the form of pimples, probably molluscum contagiosum. Instead of consulting a doctor or doing research, she decided to eradicate them herself, popping the pimples and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the area. Said area was, of course, extremely sensitive. She would hold me down and hurt me, rub me raw and pinch me (I'm pretty sure she drew blood) and tell me how it was for my own good, and better her than a doctor. I have very patchy memory of this particular ritual, but I know it happened multiple times over the course of maybe a year or two and I know it hurt a lot. She has never been a gentle person and she used her fingernails and strong fingers very effectively. I'm pretty sure there's a lot more about it that I'm not remembering. To this day, anytime someone is between my legs, I dissociate. I hate blow jobs.

Throughout my life, she did as she saw fit with me. She isolated me, forced me to keep her secrets, and made me spy for her constantly. She badmouthed my dad, who was almost always at work, and told me lies about him being abusive. I know now that he never abused anyone and she made these false accusations to paint herself as an innocent victim of fate. I wonder sometimes what she did to him, besides launching frequent smear campaigns against him and trying to break apart his relationships with my siblings and me.

Her religious zeal incorporated metric fucktons of body shame. She taught me that my body was something to be controlled and used as a tool, and that it did not belong to me - only God owned it. I had sexual issues early on (arousal from physical restriction and autoerotic asphyxiation at the age of seven, I'm almost positive that there was more to those popping sessions when I was little), but when I first masturbated at fourteen, she had a fit. I thought it was the end of the world and I was going to hell. From then on, she made me tell her when and where I masturbated and whether it felt good, all in the name of confessing my "sins." She taught me to hate my body and ignore my physical needs.

When I was twelve, she felt me up to ensure that I was "developing correctly." It took a couple of minutes and involved a lot of squeezing and weighing. Apparently, her father once walked in on her in the shower and tried to do something similar to her. I don't know if he succeeded or not, but I do know that she knew what she did to me was wrong because of that experience.

She used to give me long, extensive backrubs that went a little too far south. I always had to interrupt her to pull my pants back up to a decent level, at which she would take offense and ask me if i didn't love her. She would also initiate these weird wrestling matches with me and tickle me to gain the advantage, holding me down with her thighs and constricting my breathing and blood flow to my arms until I admitted she won.

Starting when I was about fourteen, she used me as a surrogate husband, because she felt unfulfilled in her marriage. She told me intimate details of her sex life and expected me to comfort her when she was unhappy, validate her, agree with everything she said, and help her take care of the house and my siblings as a husband would. She never hugged me unless she was seeking comfort from me, like I was a living teddy bear. When she considered divorcing my dad, whom I loved, she asked me for advice on the matter.

Dad was absent, but otherwise an excellent parent. When he was home, he was loving, kind, forgiving, responsible, and funny. I loved him, so in order to draw the focus back to herself, my mom told me constantly that he was lazy (despite the fact that he spent most of his time at work, providing for us), bad at parenting, and would die early. She also told me that the rock music he and I both loved was actually of the devil and that it would corrupt my soul.

Eventually, Dad started working from home. He had his own issues, and when he became suicidal, my mother made me half of his suicide watch. I was fourteen and considering suicide myself. Nobody else knew about this suicide watch except Dad's therapist and maybe a family friend, and nobody else knew about my state of mind because I was afraid to burden anyone with my problems. I was expected to do what was necessary and never complain or be affected in any way.

She homeschooled me until my senior year of high school and made sure our family moved every two to five years, ensuring that the only people I interacted with were the ones she approved of and the only education I got was screened by her. I had no friends until I went to college, and I certainly never trusted anyone enough to tell them that something in my home wasn't quite right.

She kept me constantly on edge, often creeping up on me and tickling me, smacking my ass, stepping on my toes, or pulling the hair at the base of my neck to try and get a rise out of me. If I became frustrated or told her to stop, she would get angry and tell me she was just having a little fun. Of course, I was not allowed to do the same to her because that would be abusive. She accused me of abuse a lot. She would also wake me up in the mornings by yelling at me and turning on the overhead light, sometimes pulling off the blankets and spraying me with cold water. She liked to yell a lot. It was most evident, though, in the extensive house-cleaning sessions she enforced, during which I had to ask permission to use the bathroom. These sessions sometimes meant we missed meals.

I have two siblings. Whenever Mom and Dad would fight, I was expected to ensure that they didn't hear about it. I guess I succeeded, because my brother has no idea what happened and my other sibling isn't as damaged as me. I devoted much of my life to trying to make sure they had as normal a childhood as possible, taking their punishments for them and giving them what I had to make up for what Mom took away. She wasn't as bad with them as she was with me, and I think it's because I covered their asses a lot. She would also play favorites constantly, punishing me anytime she had an excuse and rewarding them for any good behavior.

When I was a teenager, I started fighting back against her. She told me that I was being unruly, rebellious, and abusive toward her. Eventually, she had everyone (myself included) convinced that there was something wrong with me, so I went to a doctor (general practitioner who'd been studying bipolar disorder for years) and was diagnosed with bipolar II after a short questionnaire and a five minute conversation about my mood swings and depression. Nobody ever asked if I'd been through anything difficult that might have caused my issues or considered that my anger and other feelings were justified. He prescribed lamotrigine, which made me extremely compliant and removed my emotions completely until I started tapering off it this month. My mother, of course, used this diagnosis and my shaky self-concept to convince me that I was a horrible person and that she'd been an absolute saint for "putting up with" me.

Recently, I started having sort-of anxiety attacks (emotional flashbacks, my psychologist calls them). I've been dealing with aversion to touch, jumpiness, low self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, inability to trust, emotional numbness, severe dissociation, and a whole host of other problems for years, and I'm seriously sick of it. I used to be so proud of the fact that I never cried, even when I was little. Now I wish I could. I think it would help. I'm working on that, and fortunately I have a great therapist to help me and an awesome dad who understands what I'm going through and cares about me. I have hope for a future now, and posting here is the first step.