One thing that never quite jived with me about the whole child of an abusive parent thing was the "people pleasing." They say that victims of abuse start to become people-pleasers, always on eggshells, always trying to make sure the other person is happy even above their own needs. They are anxious because anyone could suddenly turn abusive at any time.
I am the farthest thing from a people-pleaser.
Okay, I am extremely conflict-averse and my hands shake if I start to talk about something that might be controversial, and I become irritable and defensive when people I don't know even look at me, and I'm pretty certain I don't matter at all to any of my "friends" and thus always feel emotionally distant. But that's sort of it... I don't try to make sure people are happy. I don't really care about other people's feelings so long as they don't affect me. I don't actively make people try to like me. I try not to put myself in a position where I'll be close enough with someone for their opinion to matter? I tend to be pretty selfish.
Even with my mother, the primary abuser, I never went out of my way to make her happy. And I know often people will say, "abusive people are just going to be that way, it's not your fault..." and that may be true to an extent. I could be yelled at for things I forgot to do, meaning I had no idea I had done something wrong until I was being screamed at. But that didn't make me more vigilant. It make me less.
I would sometimes look at the house before she got home and think, "She's going to yell at me for the place being a mess. I could clean up, and then she might praise me instead for a change." But the thought of doing something to make her happy... to win her praise was disgusting. Even now the thought of it makes me sick.
I guess two things set me apart from the "worry about other people's feelings" people.
1. I was never physically abused. My dad used to threaten me with physical abuse when I was little, but I don't remember him ever following through. But after the divorce, apart from a few "love taps" my mom never hit me (and I know these "love taps" i.e. she hit me happened rarely enough because I would never let her live them down). She was hit by her parents as a kid, and was very careful never to hit me... even though I remember often begging for her to just hit me, because I'd rather she just do that and be done with it than everything else she was doing. But that's beside the point. The point is I was never afraid of her. I was hurt, especially at first, and then when it became clear that the screaming and blaming and mocking would never stop, I just hated her. I resented her, and I knew she was full of shit, but I was never terrified. I knew she would never hurt me, or even kick me out (even though she threatened to constantly). She wasn't scary, she was just a bitch.
2. I had a stubborn sense of justice. I knew for a fact, because I had television role models of good families, that parents were supposed to love their children unconditionally. Parents weren't supposed to tell their children that they were disgusting or swear at them. Sometimes she'd tell me I ought to be grateful, because she raised me, and fed and clothed me, and didn't hit me -- and that got no sympathy out of me. Parents were supposed to do those things. I knew how families were supposed to be, and my mother was a constant disappointment. So the answer was never conceding. Why would I give in to her demands just to stop her from yelling, when she shouldn't have been yelling in the first place? I'm sure I very much made my situation worse with my own martyr complex. In fact, I've often thought, it really was my fault, wasn't it? I was such a brat, of course my mother couldn't deal with me.
As an adult, when I can look at my mother objectively, it does seem like the entire thing was doomed to happen. Her childhood was very probably more traumatic than mine, because it involved just as much divorce and stressed single-parenting, but with the added spice of physical abuse, and having three older siblings to bully her. So she had anxiety, and was insecure, and felt like she had no control, so she reacted by being cruel, and nit-picking at her daughter, and screaming until she cried. I don't know if she knew how to go to sleep if it wasn't crying. Maybe I could have been more considerate. If I helped around the house, and didn't blame her for not being a good enough parent, then I'm sure she would have resented me a lot less, too.
But then I remember, kids don't come out of the womb knowing how to help around the house, and she never once taught me. I've been back to visit, 10 years after moving out, and the apartment is just as much a disaster area without me living in it. She expected me to magically know how to keep house when she never demonstrated to me how.
Kids also don't come out of the womb resenting their parents. I always figured I was just a nasty little brat who didn't love her parents enough... Children can be insensitive and mean. But then I remember my best friend in middle school would often get into loud yelling matches with her mom, and at the end they'd both start laughing. Even if they clashed, they would forgive each other. She was a bigger brat than I was, but somehow she still loved her mother underneath the brattiness. I didn't, and our fights never ended by shaking it off and still being friends. We'd cut each other as deeply as we could and eventually she would go cry in her room, or tell me to go to my room because she was tired of looking at me. I remember picking up a parenting book and finding a piece of advice that said to "say positive things to your child for 1 minute every day, and it will improve your relationship." I thought that really might work, if my mother could do it... because she didn't. Sometimes she would say something positive, but it was far from every day.
I just have to assume, given that I was a child, that if animosity started between us, it had to have originated with her. Even as far back as elementary school I remember not liking her much, and not missing her when she wasn't around. While other little girls were crying over their moms at scout camp, I was scratching my head as to why they weren't glad they were away.
That's something my therapist made me realize the other day, because I mentioned that when my parents separated, when I was in first grade, and suddenly my mom and I left the house and went to live somewhere else, I wasn't upset about it. I just very rationally thought, "We still have a place to live? And I'll still see dad on weekends? Okay, then, no problem."
It was always a point of pride for me, in fact, that I didn't freak out. I just rolled with the punches. I've always been very accepting of new information and new realities. It's a positive trait.
And I still think it is a positive trait.
But she was very surprised, and mentioned that I probably developed emotional detachment as a defense mechanism, even at that age.
Which would explain why even today, I don't maintain friendships, I'm not always sure how things make me feel, and I sometimes start crying without knowing what about the situation is making me cry.
Anyways. I don't strive to make everyone around me happy because I'm afraid they might turn abusive if I don't. I don't give a shit. I just want to be left alone. If someone decides they resent me, which I wouldn't expect them not to, then that's fine, I don't need to talk to them anyway.