People Explain Which Things Are Acceptable In 2022 That Weren't When They Were Growing Up
Societal norms gradually change over time, and it's not until a generation looks back and notices just how far they've come.
One of the major differences people from earlier generations find fascinating is how things were much more rigid compared to current times.
Curious to hear examples of this, Redditor FCFSDeals asked:
"What’s now weirdly acceptable in 2022 that was not acceptable growing up in your generation?"
Prior to cellphones, calling protocol was vastly different once upon a time.
Answering The Call
"Not answering the phone. When we only had landline phones (yes long time ago), there was no ringing phone that went unanswered. Now we screen or just plain ignore calls until we are good and ready to deal with it."
"Also, no one expected to reach you at any time, 24-7. I miss those days."
"But there was phone etiquette: no solicitation calls; no polls; and nobody called after 9PM unless someone was in jail or the hospital."
Appearance guidelines seemed to have shifted between generations.
"People have already said tattoos, but body piercings also exploded in popularity. It used to be girls could get their ears pierced, and that was it. When I was in high school, some guys started doing the one earring look and tongue, nose and bellybutton piercings were starting to become popular."
Comfort Is Priority
"Wearing sneakers to work at a fortune 100 company."
"At the beginning of my career it was suit and tie, then business casual and now I wear stan smiths, jeans and an untucked polo in the most senior position of my working life."
"I worked for the US Senate in 2009 (in a totally non-political job for the Senate Curator). I wore clothes from Hot Topic on the Senate floor. Some days I wore old jeans with holes in the knees if I knew I'd be climbing ladders to clean artworks. One of the women on the team had a full chest tattoo and made zero effort to cover it up because no one cared. The day I met Senator Inouye to discuss what paintings he wanted in his office, I had on trainers."
Benefits Of Letting The Hair Down
"They realized that they can't erode wages and expect us to look like we're on Mad Men at the same time. Allowing long haired freaky people has made them sh*tloads of money over the years."
Hair Coloring & Tattoos
"Any type of hair coloring would result in serious trouble at school. I also remember tatoos being frown upon as being found mostly on people that got out of prison."
The advent of the internet was a huge game changer, and rules were made up as we went along.
The Bandwidth Situation
"2 people using the internet at the same time."
Phones In The Classroom
"Middle/high school students being allowed to have their cell phones in class. Being caught with our cell phone when I was a high schooler was an automatic detention etc."
Consequences Of Having A Phone On Campus
"I graduated in the late 90's, and the president of my class got expelled one week before graduation for having a phone on campus. It was in his car, and this was after hours. It rang and a teacher heard it. They made an example out of him. He lost his admission to West Point."
"Now my 8th grader finds it super unjust that her science teacher makes all the kids put their phones in a box at the front of the room during tests, and feels super justified in never ever giving up her airpods to that sort of thing."
When I was a cast member at Disneyland in the early 2000s, we had to abide by the strict, clean-cut appearance guidelines required of all cast members–with different rules applying to each respective gender.
Men, for example, were not allowed to wear jewelry or have visible tattoos. We also had to maintain the length of our hair to not exceed past a certain length, and sporting facial hair was a major no-no.
Now, the "Disney Look" has changed, allowing all cast members to reflect their personalities through “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos," according to the Disney Parks Blog.
To the Mouse, I tip my hat for these awesome changes.
Reddit user newlymoneyedrapper asked: 'What is the worst excuse you've heard from someone who cheated?'
When it comes to the dating scene, we all know there are going to be rough moments, from awkward dates to being ghosted to heart-shattering breakups. But the thing everyone hopes will never happen is to be cheated on.
After all, if someone has the intention or inclination to cheat, why would they choose to date at all?
Already cringing at the thought, Redditor newlymoneyedrapper asked:
"What is the worst excuse you've heard from someone who cheated?"
Not 'Meant' for Monogamy
"When they get caught, they try to play the 'humans aren't meant to be monogamous' card."
"I'm like, 'If you don't believe in monogamy, why did you even marry in the first place only to cheat later? You could join a free love hippies commune at any time. But that's not what you did...'"
Coming Out as Polyamorous
"I know a girl that cheated, and when she was inevitably caught, said she was 'coming out' as polyamorous."
"She was dead serious and fully expected our support and everything."
"The difference between polyamory and cheating is informed mutual consent among all parties."
"It's not a sexual orientation, you can't just 'come out' as polyamorous. It's something your partner(s) have to know about and (willingly, not coerced) agree to. Otherwise, you're cheating and making excuses for your s**tty behavior."
"Lmao (laughing my a** off), get out of here. Actual poly people would know how important communication is beforehand."
"I would have laughed in her stupid, cheating face."
So, Grief Is An Aphrodisiac Now?
"She said, 'It was the anniversary of my cousin's death and I wasn't in my right mind. You know how upset I was. Blaming me is classic victim blaming. You should be COMFORTING me!'"
"This was AFTER I offered to stay with her for the night but she said she wanted to be alone."
"I wish I could say I immediately left her, but it took two months and a second cheating incident. That time she said she was upset over a bad grade (seriously)."
"I walked away. And I blocked her. The bizarre part is how she kept trying to contact me for four years after that. She even confronted me in the parking lot on my first day of work, begging me to take her back. Why f**k around so indiscriminately if you want to be with someone?"
"Anyway, I stopped trying to figure her out long ago."
"It was my first relationship (age 15 to 18), and I was a naive fool."
"I'm not jaded now, but I know a h**l of a lot better."
"I am sure her cousin would have been very proud of her using his death as an excuse to cheat and then call herself the victim."
Everyone Hates Mercury Retrograde
"My ex was very into astrology. She cheated and later blamed the great American eclipse of August 2017."
"SORRY I KEYED YOUR CAR, LOL (LAUGHING OUT LOUD). I'M SUCH AN ASPARAGUS."
"I think you mean the MOON is in GATORADE."
So Sweet of them
"'I didn’t even enjoy it, because I was thinking about you the whole time, and I felt terrible.”
Those Undeniable Needs
"He said, 'You were at the hospital for two weeks. A man has needs."
"My girlfriend had a contagious skin infection for several months, and the post-infection management was even longer. We put off sex for about a whole year, and not once did thoughts of cheating occur to me."
"I’m sorry you had to endure that. Not all men are like him."
Growing the Family, and the Relationship
"They said, 'My wife was pregnant, so I wasn't getting any.'"
"If I remember correctly, pregnancy is the time or one of the times when women are cheated on the most."
"This breaks my heart."
At Least It Didn't "Matter"
"They said, 'It’s not like it meant anything.' Oh good, glad we cleared that up."
"Yet you threw our relationship away over it. So what I'm hearing is I mean less than nothing to you."
"He really said, 'I’m just on Tinder to confirm that there’s nothing better out there. It helps me appreciate you more.'"
Getting a Jump on Things
"My previous partner told me that he cheated because he insisted that he 'thought I was going to break up with him anyways,' so he started seeing other women."
"I believe this was just another one of his manipulation tactics to put the blame on ME for his actions. To this day, I cannot fathom the mental gymnastics he had to do to justify his decisions... Lol (laughing out loud)."
"I wonder if he's familiar with the term 'self-fulfilling prophecy'?"
"Well, he is now."
Cheat or Be Cheated On
"My last boyfriend said he cheated because he thought I had already cheated. But I did not cheat on him."
"He felt like an a**face when he realized I didn't... But he lowkey still thinks I did."
For the Sake of the Relationship
"My college roommate would cheat on his girlfriend a few times a semester, and then feel awful about it and realize how much he loved his girlfriend."
"He started to rationalize that 'you need to cheat to stay faithful.'"
Opportunities to Cheat
"Oh, this thread reminds me of my ex, who was just a complete s**tbag."
"He didn't cheat, but he nearly did, and he told me about it and said 'Hey, I was really drunk and still didn't cheat, everyone around was so so proud of me and said I must really like you. They all thought I did amazing for not cheating on you even though I had a proper chance to do it, so I thought I'd tell you about it.'"
"I just raised my eyebrow at him. I remember that I did hang up on him a few times and told him that it wasn't massively impressive when he was being a d**k. He was very abusive so I couldn't safely leave him, though. If it was safe to do so, I would've dumped his a** right there and then."
"I know he's on Reddit so he'll likely see this, and good riddance because he's a complete t**t. If you see this, you know who you are, and I think you can go to h**l for what you did to me."
All About the Rush
"The answer is because cheaters get off on cheating. It gives them a thrill that a 'normal' relationship can't give them."
"This is why I say cheaters will always cheat, because they crave the excitement of it."
"They don't give a s**t about monogamy or non-monogamy; they just find it fun to cheat. They also enjoy chasing after other people who are in relationships because it's more fun for them to chase after someone who's already taken rather than to find someone who's not."
"In other words, they're sociopaths who get off on causing misery to satisfy their own selfish desires."
It's clear why these Redditors thought these were the worst explanations for cheating.
Not only do some of them not make sense, but they're a total dismissal of the cheater's accountability in the relationship.
While realizing that a partner you loved was cheating is already bad enough, it seems that receiving a terrible, ingenuine reason for the act would only serve to make it worse.
Think about the last time you were sick; the ritual of checking WebMD, thinking you have a life-threatening illness, then finding out it was a harmless rash that was causing you all that stress. Regardless of the symptoms, we’ve all been there—but what of the unlucky few who actually did have some sort of ill-fated, isolated illness?
A Bad Bridge to Crossred and white massage chairPhoto by Atikah Akhtar on Unsplash
In dental school, I had an emergency patient come in complaining of sore gums. Upon examination, I found a massive calculus bridge (google it for pictures) behind her lower front teeth. She only had about 3 remaining lower teeth, but they were all connected with a whitish brown mineral deposit that was about the size of a golf ball. She had never had her teeth cleaned and she was probably 55 years old or so.
I basically performed an emergency cleaning. She could speak so much better afterward. Of course, I had to play it off like it was normal, but in my years of practice, I still haven’t seen a case that bad again. Get your teeth cleaned people. Even if you can’t afford every 6 months, once a year, or every other year is a heck of a lot better than never.
An elderly lady came into my practice asking if there was anything she could be given to help her sleep, as the Irish terrorists in the flat below were keeping her awake at night. She was reassured that terrorists were not planning to blow her up, or Cannock (a small inconsequential town in the West Midlands) for that matter.
On the second visit, she insisted that they were going to blow something up soon and expressed paranoid thoughts. A full mental health review was conducted by the GP and the community psychiatrist. She came up clean. That's when we contacted the police, a couple of days later the flat below our patient was raided and found to be full of explosive equipment and real IRA members.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
Just a Nibble
When I was on peds ID, we had a young girl come in with a rash on the bottom of her feet. She was also having headaches and joint pains. We spent close to an hour interviewing the girl and her mother. Her history was essentially negative. Finally, as a last-ditch effort, I pulled out the weird questions you ask in med school.
I asked if they had any unusual pets, as we had already ruled out normal pets. They said actually they did just return a pet rat for biting her. They thought that this wasn't really relevant. Bam! Rat bite fever.
I'm not sure if this counts as a rare diagnosis but it was a neat one. This fellow was at dinner with his wife and some friends when "all of a sudden" he slumped forward into his entree and went unconscious. I saw him as a hospitalist in the IMCU. Despite being unconscious, his labs and vitals were all stable and he appears to be adequately protecting his airway.
The wife was initially understandably distraught and not able to offer the best of histories, but as the patient gradually began to wake up, I was able to put together a few facts. The patient had pancreatic insufficiency and thus needed to take six pills with pancreatic enzymes before each meal. He also had a prescription for Ambien. They were both white pills...you can figure out the rest. He recovered fully without any long-term effects.
I diagnosed a patient with acute intermittent porphyria. He had a history of psychiatric admissions with depressive symptoms associated with nausea (though not much in the way of pain). I saw him as a medicine consult for the psychiatry service and ordered urine porphyrins just for completeness as it apparently had never been tested before. Lo and behold, they come back positive.
There is this old adage in medical school, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras." Which while perhaps relevant to a medical student, is actually the opposite for what is needed from a skilled practitioner. The common stuff is easy...practically reflexive. In our case, a better adage would be, "When you hear hoofbeats don't just assume it’s another horse." Too often physicians just hear the hoofbeats and ignore the black stripes.
A Staple Food Sourceman in blue dress shirt sitting on yellow chairPhoto by Mark Williams on Unsplash
I worked as a mental health tech to get through undergrad. A 15-year-old female in the adolescent ward claims to have swallowed a staple. Eh, but whatever, as I’m taking her down to x-ray, I tell her about the dime I swallowed when I was a kid. It happens. Well, turns out she underestimated the number of staples by around a hundred.
Every printout given by the therapists had been a swallowed staple. She had gotten staples from the other kids. The x-ray of her abdomen looked as if it were a weird staple-y snow globe. And yet, somehow, she was back to trying to take psych ward staples a week later. Never did figure out how they removed them all.
Baby born without a nose and with non-functioning eyes. Diagnosed with Bosma Syndrome. It was kind of crazy, I saw the baby a few months later and it was doing fine. Children with Bosma Syndrome grow up without any cognitive disabilities, it's very interesting.
I am an anesthesiologist now, but was a doctor in charge of a small rural hospital in India about 20 years ago. An elderly lady was brought to the hospital by an irate husband who felt she was faking an illness. She would lie in a room all day with doors and windows shut and complained of a headache. She refused to do housework or look after the kids. Other doctors who had seen her before me had treated her for pain with no improvement.
I examined the patient; who complained of severe headaches and just wanted to lie down and refused to open her eyes. I admitted her to the hospital and performed CSF tap (A needle into the lumbar spine to get a sample of fluid surrounding the spinal cord). As expected, it was tinged yellow (Cerebro-spinal fluid should be clear). These days we have CT scans to diagnose sub-arachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding around the brain); but it was a difficult diagnosis once upon a time.
One in a Million
The morning report was a good one today. We had a 59-year-old male come in with lower leg swelling. Within 3 days he becomes confused, febrile, and stiff. We put him in the ICU, thinking he had meningitis and got some CSF cultures and started antibiotics. Two days later, the cultures were still negative and he wasn't improving.
His wife then says this whole event seems similar to her husband’s (the patient’s) mom. She had Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and passed from it. It's a 1 in a million (literally) diagnosis and our tests are still coming back for it. Really rare case most doctors will never see.
The Living Dead
I had a lady come into the ER listed as “Multiple Medical Problems”. This usually means diabetes and the issues stemming from it, or maybe bleeding issues from another disease or maybe odd blood tests results at a clinic. I hadn’t seen the patient yet, but the doctor came to the nurse’s station asking who had room 15. I jumped up and followed him into the room.
I walked in and saw what I thought was a corpse. Then the patient’s eye swiveled over to look at me. She truly looked like one of the people they found in a concentration camp. I could see every bone, and her body was twisted in a decorticate position with her jaw locked open. Then the smell hit me: rotting flesh and body fluids. I struggled to keep a neutral face and not gag.
I tried to place a blood pressure cuff on her arm and her skin just started flaking off in my hands. I gagged. The doctor started removing her clothes to examine her. Her feet were black to the ankles. Her hip bones were poking through her skin and were black. The skin around her ribs was worn away to oozing muscle fibers.
Her calves were incredibly swollen and the skin was splitting like ripped pants. I removed her Depends, and there was excrement coating her entire genital area. Then the doctor went to remove a large bandage on her lower back. Her entire sacrum was exposed and the bones were BLACK! The skin around it was a black liquified mass.
It smelled like nothing I’ve ever smelled. I can’t even describe it. The doctor told her family I would clean up her ulcers and wounds in preparation for surgery (liar, no surgeon would operate on her). I had no idea how to clean dead bone tissue and liquified skin (they don’t cover that in nursing school). When I went to clean her sacral area, all the liquified skin separated and oozed all over the bed. I really struggled to keep myself together.
Afterward, I needed a moment in the supply closet to cry it out for a second. I had no idea the human body could break down so much without dying. I still think about that woman sometimes, and what led to her living like that. It still breaks my heart. My guess is that she had some sort of traumatic brain issue or a stroke.
Family members were taking care of her, and I think they were treating her absolutely horribly. I think as her skin deteriorated, she developed terrible pressure ulcers that never healed. The swelling was probably due to starvation and a lack of protein in her diet. I’ve had nightmares about her face since then. Once, I dreamed she crawled into bed with me.
I freaked the heck out and ran into the hallway. My toddler walked out after me, rubbing his eyes, asking why I ran away.
Catching Zebraszebra standing on wheat fieldPhoto by Jeff Griffith on Unsplash
My first rotation as a medical student was psychiatry. I was really nervous, and made a flashcard for each psych condition and a list of diagnoses to consider. One of the patients being discussed on rounds was psychotic (think: KGB is after me!) but was otherwise put together. He was really into doing art and was very, very religious.
I looked at my flashcard for psychosis and casually mentioned that we should consider temporal lobe epilepsy, which presents with religiosity and exaggerated artistic ability. An EEG showed that he had it. I've caught a few zebras since, but that was my favorite.
A six-month-old baby was not getting bigger and dropping off the growth charts. The baby wouldn’t move and cried all day long. I couldn’t figure it out. I was making preparations to transfer the baby to the university hospital for admission. One of the clinic nurses commented that the baby's cry sounded like a cat. Ding, a bell went off in my head.
Cri du chat syndrome or cats cry syndrome. Very rare. I looked it up on UpToDate and the baby had a high probability of having it. I referred her to genetics and they confirmed it. The attending called me and marveled at my clinical skills. I chuckled and told him the nurse diagnosed it. Good news, the baby had a small deletion of the 5p chromosome and managed to stay somewhat healthy and functional.
We had a young fellow come in who worked as a landscaper. He showed up in the ER with severe GI distress. The diagnosis was almost entirely from history. Apparently, he forgot to bring lunch so decided to munch on some "wild carrots" he found while he was out working. I Google "wild carrot dosing" and quickly figured out the diagnosis (this was in the this was Northeast USA by the way). I will give you a hint...a certain Greek philosopher also had an affinity for the substance...it was hemlock. AKA: Not good for you.
He recovered fine, though he did get a night in the ICU for observation.
The Worse of Two Evils
We had a good case a few years ago. An otherwise healthy, 40-year-old migrant worker from Central America started coughing up blood intermittently. Everything suggested tuberculosis: History (they were from an area with lots of TB), chest x-ray looked like tuberculosis, illness script looked like tuberculosis...but his tests for it (sputum/quant gold) were all negative.
I decided to test his urine on a whim to rule out pulmonary-renal pathologies. Ding, ding, ding! Blood. Lots of blood. The patient never noticed it, and his kidney function was superb, so this was a tricky diagnosis. Turns out he had granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegner's). Kind of a sad story, because TB is largely curable, but with Wegner's he'll be on chemo for a very long time with this disease. I'm glad we caught it before irrevocable damage to his organs, though.
A Bad Prognosis
As a third-year medical student, I had a patient come in with four years of worsening balance issues and garbled speech. She had gotten a crazy work up at an outside hospital system with every sort of imaging possible, biopsies of random sites, and a number of very expensive tests. She was at our university hospital for the first time.
When I first entered the room, I reached out to shake her hand, and from her wheelchair she had to raise her head at me because she couldn't look up with her eyes. This was the first red flag. I also asked her if she had the sensation where one of her limbs would move without her controlling it, and she said yes, suggesting something called Alien Limb Phenomenon.
I diagnosed her with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy with features of Corticobasal Degeneration, a very rare disease on the spectrum of Parkinson's plus syndromes, and my supervisors agreed. Unfortunately, it was a bad prognosis, but the family was consoled by the fact that at least they had a name for what was happening.
Hard to Missperson in blue denim jeans lying on bedPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
A woman came in with severe opiate withdrawal and some shortness of breath. Because she was so insistent about how miserable she was, everyone sort of wrote her off as drug-seeking. The morning I rounded on her, I decided to do a thorough physical exam. Lo and behold, she has a hard non-mobile clavicular lymph node...it was so big that it was impossible to miss if you just did the exam.
Immediately we got a chest x-ray and then a CT scan. There was a perihilar mass. After a biopsy, we learned it was small cell carcinoma (lung cancer).
A Hard Revelation
I was visiting a friend’s house when I was introduced to his dad who had no medical issues. He was a hard-working farmer, but looked a bit too thin. Something told me there was something not quite right, and so I asked him if I could examine him. I promptly discovered hard lymph nodes in several areas. Further investigations revealed he had disseminated cancer. He kicked the bucket less than a year later.
The Meat of the Issue
A patient came in with an itchy rash that would not go away for weeks, and a new swelling of the mouth and tongue. She had "hives" all over her body and the only thing that had helped was repeated steroids. She was a mid 40s female who worked with dogs, so we assumed that she had a new allergy to pet dandruff, fragrance in a shampoo, flea medicine, or something along those lines. We discharged her home with an appointment for the dermatologist to do a biopsy of the lesions. But that wasn't the last we'd see of her.
Later that day, she turns back up in the Emergency Department with swollen lips, increased rash, and trouble breathing. She started having these problems 15 minutes after eating a roast beef sandwich. Someone on the team remembered that she works with dogs and asked if she'd had any recent tick bites. Sure enough, she had been bitten by a tick a few weeks ago and identified a picture of a Lone Star Tick.
Turns out she had developed an allergy to red meat after a bite from that tick. This allergy is called an alpha-galactosidase allergy, and is a reaction to a carbohydrate carried on the outside of cells (think like the carbohydrates on red blood cells for ABO blood type) by all other mammals except humans and monkeys.
The tick had bitten one of these and kept some of the protein in its digestive system, and then after biting her, her body developed antibodies to the carbohydrate, causing her to have a new allergy to meat.
Ordered an abdominal ultrasound on a refugee from Iraq via Syria, expecting to find gallstones because she felt full easily after eating and was having pain in her right upper quadrant. Instead of gallstones, there were two, 7 cm cysts in her liver. Hydatid cysts from a tapeworm.
More Than Meets the Eye
As a fourth year during my rotations, I noticed my patient had a vertical subluxation of her crystalline lens during a dilated eye examination. The part of the eye that develops a cataract later on in life was shifted significantly up. She had severe myopia and astigmatism (-14.00 - 5.00 x 180 OU), and her 6'1" tall body along with disfigured teeth led me to believe she had Marfan's Syndrome.
She had never heard of it, never seen a cardiologist, etc. A few lab tests confirmed. She can live a normal life; she just needs some meds and education. She had very long fingers that jumped out at me and braces on her teeth. As an optometrist, I focus on glasses and contacts, but I see (no pun intended) and treat an unbelievable number of systemic diseases that manifest in the eye or retina.
My Old Motherwoman wearing eyeglassesPhoto by Todd Cravens on Unsplash
One of my favorites is when we had an 85-year-old man in for cellulitis or something, and everyone was documenting he was confused—in part because he kept talking about his mother; his mother was going to be so worried, he had to be discharged to take care of his mother etc. He became agitated and was actually getting ready to be dosed with Haldol because he was insistent he was going to leave to take care of his mother.
Note, the standard is to play along, tell the patient something like "Oh, we already called your mom, she knows you're here" that sort of thing, but he wasn't buying it. Finally, the nurse asks him if we can call his son to make sure the patient's mother is being taken care of (really, just to placate the patient), and the patient agrees. We call the son, the nurse explains the situation, and the son informs us that the patient's mother is indeed alive at the age of 101, but that he is staying in his father's house assisting in her care.
Poor patient was legitimately worried about his mom, and we all thought his infection (or just old age) was causing him to be confused!
On a Hunch
ED referred a guy to me who had a platelet count of 2. The guy looked bloody sick with abdominal pain, petechial rash, feverish, diaphoretic, and he was a bit confused and drowsy too. I talked to my boss who said to give him prednisolone and he'd see him tomorrow, but I was convinced this guy had a really rare condition called TTP (Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) and so I called the major hospital in my area and sent him to their ICU for a procedure called plasma exchange.
I ordered a test called ADAMTS13 to prove the condition, and still have a paper copy of the result (he had none of this chemical) because it's the best diagnosis I've ever made, it helped save his life!
Menkes kinky hair syndrome. I was called to see a 3-month-old boy with hard-to-control seizures. His most remarkable exam finding was his hair: he had been born with a full head of black hair (he was Hispanic), but at the time I saw him, the first 3-5 mm of each hair shaft was nearly white, with an abrupt color change, still black on the tips. The hair was a giveaway for this disorder, almost no need for confirmatory testing, but the admitting team had already ordered whole exome sequencing.
This was not a fun and exciting diagnosis to make, more a sinking feeling upon discovery of the hair (neurodegenerative disorder due to a defect in copper metabolism that is irreversible once symptoms appear), but it was interesting to see at that transitional stage. I had only seen older boys with Menkes before, once the hair was already pale and brittle all over. Usually the hair has changed long before the diagnosis is made.
Ignoring the Issue
I'm an anesthesiologist. This happened when I was a resident. It changed me for life. We had a 29-year-old male in for finger surgery. We had an uneventful induction maintained on Sevoflurane. Within 20 minutes we started to have rising ETco2. I called my attending after trying to hyperventilate the patient (She was a young Harvard trained peds anesthesiologist).
She comes in and asks me what I think is going on. I tell her things seem strange. She tells me to chill. Five minutes later, the ETco2 is over 100 and I'm freaking out! I call her and tell her this is MALIGNANT HYPERTHERMIA (easily fatal reaction to certain anesthetics caused by congenital aberrant sarcoplasmic reticulum receptors).
She says that I'm being ridiculous when I tell her I'm afraid this is the real deal. My pages get ignored by her. The patient’s temperature starts to rise. I'm bugging out and call the board runner (supervising Anesthesiologist for all the operating rooms). He's old. He knows me well and trusts me. Comes in, looks at the monitor—and his face went white.
Needless to say, we save the patient after many dozens of vials of Dantrolene. Six months later I'm made to do an M&M and the young Harvard attending insinuates I did something wrong in front of the department. Most of the rest of them come to my aide. She leaves the job shortly thereafter. I will soon be at her fellowship.
I didn't diagnose it, but I have a patient with primary Ciliary Dyskinesia with Situs Inversus, aka Kartagener syndrome. The cilia in the body don't move well, and this mainly affects the respiratory cilia/lungs, although it also causes infertility, related to the cilia inside the fallopian tubes and the sperm tails not working well.
Situs Inversus is when the organs inside the thorax are mirror images of normal, the heart is on the right side instead of the left, etc. I was looking over this patient's old medical records and one of the radiology reads of a chest x-ray said, "There has been interval development of dextrocardia. Since this is physiologically impossible, the film has been flipped."
Probably the original film the radiologist had been comparing to had been incorrectly flipped to look "normal," maybe by someone who assumed there had been an error. Another chest x-ray report just read: "The film has been flipped" and then went onto the rest of the interpretation.
A Quick Diagnosisperson holding baby feetPhoto by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
I once saw a child with mosaic trisomy 8. It was a complete mystery why he had speech apraxia, and the geneticist I was working with took one look at his feet, saw that they had super deep creases lengthwise, and ordered a karyotype with mosaic trisomy 8 in mind. Sure enough, he was right. I was amazed how spot-on he was predicting that.
Caught in Her Throat
Primary doctor here. Had a two-year-old refugee child (whose parents couldn't communicate well) who swallowed a button battery and it was stuck in her throat. For clarity, I didn't know it was a button battery, but something just didn't feel right, so I sent her to the ED. If she had gone perhaps one more day, she might not have made it—it had already destroyed a good amount of tissue in her esophagus and was apparently somewhat close to perforating.
I feel like it would have been very easy to just say she had a sore throat from an illness, particularly with the language barrier. I'm glad that something felt weird to me—she didn't look that bad, but was just holding herself and breathing weirdly.
Rare and Terrible
Wolman Disease. A genetic disease that affects about 1/200,000 kids, terrible outcome. It leads to calcification of the adrenal glands, which is how I picked it up on a chest x-ray on-call (I'm a radiologist). The kid had failure to thrive and a big spleen so I brought it up. He got further testing which confirmed the diagnosis.
Bottom line, don't forget to look at the adrenals or ribs on peds x-rays!
Probably Stiff Person Syndrome. Technically it was paraneoplastic antibodies causing a case of mild stiff person-like syndrome, but it was basically a lady who had glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies which caused her to be really stiff. How'd I figure it out? Well, she was really stiff and it was very odd. I was out of ideas and literally googled "stiff person" and got the result of a disease I'd probably heard mentioned in passing in med school but is so rare you forget about it: Stiff Person Syndrome.
Yes, it's real. I thought it was a joke at first—but it's all too real. Ordered the test, it was positive. Later, after more research, I learned that you can have similar antibodies and symptoms with paraneoplastic syndromes, so I did a scan, and found a lung tumor. Boom. SPS is really rare. Paraneoplastic syndromes are less rare. She was somewhere in the middle.
I made a clinical diagnosis of fairly early-stage necrotizing fasciitis (the infamous flesh-eating bacteria) in West Africa which was pretty cool... The patient was a young adult male who was writhing and screaming in agony as he was carried in. He spoke a tribal dialect and I spoke ugly French, so it was basically impossible to get any information out of him or the friends who brought him in.
I laid him on the table and did a rapid trauma assessment. When I stripped off his shirt, I saw a small patch (maybe 4" x 6") of blackened tissue below his left nipple along the side of his ribs. It looked like a chemical burn to me at first glance. I realized that some of the skin had torn off the area when I removed his shirt, and when I touched the lesion to examine it, I could feel the skin separating from the tissue below it.
The technical term is "desquamating." It had a horrible odor like spoiled meat/rotting garbage mixed with 100 degree west African heat and 100% humidity. Putrid. His temperature was over 40C (104+ F) and his O2 saturation was terrible. The rotting garbage smell indicated anaerobic bacteria, the skin peeling off indicated connective/soft tissue involvement, and the disproportionate pain (relative to the size of the lesion) is a hallmark of necrotizing fasciitis.
I ran back to my room and grabbed the Oxford Handbook of Tropical Medicine (highly recommend if you work over there in medicine) to double-check because I had never seen a case of flesh-eating bacteria in person before and didn't want to screw up the diagnosis and move things in a different direction if I was wrong. Sure enough, everything matched up and the chief of medicine stopped by to confirm the diagnosis. He basically said, "Oh yeah we see these fairly frequently, people get a cut or a bug bite and then rub dung or dirt into it and the infection takes hold."
The craziest part was the outcome. In the United States, patients with necrotizing fasciitis in one limb frequently die or suffer amputations of both arms and both legs—even in the best ICUs. Here we were in the middle of West Africa at a remote bush hospital and this guy has it on his chest, which pretty much wrecks the standard aggressive surgical approach since you can't exactly amputate the chest.
We loaded him up with high dose IV ampicillin a few times a day and his wife forced him to eat multiple bowls of porridge...miraculously he made a full recovery and left smiling 10 days later. I'm convinced it was the porridge.
Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleevepruning topless babyPhoto by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
I diagnosed a little girl at birth who had Ectopia Cordis. It's a birth defect where the heart is located outside of the chest or thorax (yet it's still underneath the skin). It only happens to about 5-7 per one million live births. Warning, if you plan to search up "Ectopia Cordis," the images available may not be for the faint of heart.
Say No to Drugs
Today I took care of a man who believed he had been bitten on the abdomen by a baby rattlesnake that had fallen out of his ceiling vent, crawled up his abdomen under his skin, up his throat, and was currently coiled and rattling in his brain. Diagnosis: methamphetamines. Just say no.
Against All Odds
Five years ago, I spent six months working in a small rural Zambian hospital in the medical ward as part of a volunteer/outreach program. I have done mostly family medicine, and some surgery in my early days, but decided to mix life up a bit. The hospital was typical third world—a few basic medications, rudimentary clinical tools, a small lab on site which was usually broken.
No resuscitation tools whatsoever. HIV, TB and malaria were rife—it would not be uncommon to encounter a loss per day despite our best efforts. On one of my first days there an unconscious person was carried in by a mob of locals. I could smell him before I saw him. He had been in a house fire and his skin was cooked—completely black around his chest, face, and over his legs.
He was still breathing on his own and maintaining his airway but we had no doubt he had inhaled a lot of smoke. With no way to intubate or provide oxygen we merely had to hope that he didn’t swell up and close off and deal with the rest of the burns while he was unconscious. Two colleagues who worked in the hospital came over urgently.
We all kept our cool externally and got the nurses to translate to the man’s family that we were going to do everything we could to get him better. In reality, all three of us knew his chances at survival were in the single-digit percentages. We decided that due to the extent of his burns we were going to have to do an escharotomy (cutting the burned skin to prevent it contracting and stopping him from breathing).
Turns out I had the most surgical experience so despite having never done one before I gave it a go, hoping for the best. We got an IV into a neck vein and got fluids going. The local nurses dressed his burns. We gave him whatever pain relief we had. He was unconscious for a couple of days but eventually came to.
Each day we were expecting his kidneys to pack up but to our surprise, gradually he got better. He was with us for just over four months recovering. He came out severely scarred but he had beaten the odds and survived.
A Rare Talent
I've diagnosed anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis in a patient that was thought to be withdrawing from an unknown illicit substance. Then, not two months later I had another patient with the same disease. I was talking to a neurologist recently and he thought it was a condition that is far more common than we thought it was, but still a pretty good catch for an internist.
I've caught a few conditions that were rarer, but it's nice to talk about one that's treatable.
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
I'm PhD, not MD. The weirdest to me was a bloodstream bacterial infection that looked sensitive to antibiotics in the clinical lab, but the patient could not be cured. We got samples of the bacteria and turns out it was "tolerant" to antibiotics in a biofilm (heart valves) but not sensitive in the clinical sense. Opened my mind as a microbiologist to how insanely adaptive bacteria can be, and how they're more a population than individual cells. The most interesting paper I ever published, and unexpected.
Subtle Symptomsman reading papers in front of computerPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Not super rare but sort of diagnosed/missed Myasthenia gravis. I was an intern in the emergency department. A woman presents with the classic vague symptoms of fatigue and weakness. Notably, her father had very recently passed. Full blood panel was normal, her examination was almost completely normal but I did find she had proximal weakness (her upper arm strength and thigh strength were poor but her hand and feet and shins etc. were normal).
I presented to my superior and we decided to send her home because we couldn't diagnose her with anything and we can't admit someone to hospital for fatigue. She was upset that we couldn't help her. After she left, I couldn't shake this terrible feeling. I asked my superior, what about Myasthenia Gravis? Well, too late now, besides the testing takes weeks.
She represented a week later (I didn’t see her). She was admitted this time and seen by a physician. More tests were ordered and eventually she was diagnosed and treated for Myasthenia Gravis. I saw her 6 months later and she remembered me, she was doing much better and wasn't upset that we missed the diagnosis.
It can be very hard to diagnose some things because of how non-specific the symptoms are. In this case I had a feeling she had a real disease especially with her proximal weakness but there wasn't much we could do about it.
I'm not sure if I count because I'm a veterinarian, but I saw trigeminal neuritis in a dog. Basically, the dog can't move his lower jaw, but it's not stiff or painful or anything, it just hangs slightly open. It looks like the dog has just received some unbelievable news, basically. It goes away on its own in 2-4 weeks, but the dog can't eat or drink very well, so you have to syringe feed them, do elevated food bowls, etc.
Benadryl to the Rescue
I had a patient transferred to our hospital for a STEMI (major heart attack). When they arrived, I noticed they looked a bit red and asked them, other than the chest pain, what symptoms they were having. The person said that they had been having a rash for a few days as well as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Those symptoms go along with a condition called scombroid poisoning which you get from eating old, dark meat fish (tuna, mackerel, etc.).
I asked the person if they had recently been eating fish and sure enough, they had been eating salmon for the past few days. Assuming they had it, I treated them with Benadryl which fixed the rash, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They were taken by the cardiology service to get a cardiac catheterization (how you find clogged blood vessels in the heart) for the heart attack and the results came back normal (no vessel occlusion).
Best I could tell, the condition stressed their body and made them tachycardic/hypotensive which made their heart work harder. The increased demand on the heart + an already weak heart led to the heart attack. Also, was pretty awesome to see the EKG go from showing a clear heart attack to normal after being treated with Benadryl!
I'm a nurse and I work in a pediatric ER. A young woman brought her baby in to be seen for vomiting. I ask her to put the baby on the scale. While on the scale I notice a strong odor of bug spray so I asked about it. Her response made my blood run cold. Mom: "A roach crawled into her mouth so I sprayed a little Raid in there." She said it in a matter of fact tone, like it was no big deal.
Queue up calls to the police, CPS and a 1:1 sitter for the child and the mom. When all was said and done the baby was fine and turned over to her grandmother so no worries there. I have no idea what happened to the mother. I don't believe she was intending to hurt the child. I think she was just completely ignorant.
We had a case a couple of years ago that still gives me chills whenever I think about it. A younger girl goes to her family doctor in a small town outside of the bigger city where I live. She had persistent headaches, which just started a few days prior. No past medical history of anything similar or really at all about her that stood out as relevant.
Unable to diagnose or treat her headaches (which were rapidly growing more severe), she was sent to our hospital (X state's Childrens' Hospital) for evaluation. We ran her through the typical gauntlet of testing for common causes, CBC/CMB/CT/MRI etc. still with no clue. Nothing came up on blood cultures either. At this point she was in the PICU rapidly deteriorating, with high fevers and periodic losses of consciousness.
After eliminating all the horses, we had to start looking for zebras...and quick. We collected a CSF sample for culture thinking it might be one of the rarer forms of bacterial meningitis. While this was cooking (cultures usually take at least a few days) we tried again to get any other possible info from her parents...that's when we learned the whole story.
For the first time, they mentioned that they had visited a local waterpark a week or two before the girl’s symptoms started...and this was in the middle of summer. For any Peds doctor, or especially ID doctors in the room, those words made their hearts sink. Sure enough, the cultures came back, positive for Naegleria Fowleri, the pathogen responsible for Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). Which up until that point, I don't think there was a documented case of a patient being diagnosed with PAM who survived.
It’s the incurable brain-eating amoeba that lives in warm stagnant water and can enter through the cribriform plate at the top of the nose if the patient gets water up there...which happens all the time at waterparks. Anyway, long story short, we basically cook up a (very non-FDA-approved) drug cocktail as a sort of Hail-Mary attempt at fighting this infection, as nothing else in any other case had ever worked.
In addition to this, we basically stick her in a Mr. Freeze chamber, lowering her body temp to below what N. Fowleri can usually survive. Unfortunately, most people can't survive it either. But for some reason, (though in an induced coma the whole time) she steadily improved. When we took her out of the deep freeze and allowed her to wake up, it was incredible...
She was alive with no apparent neuro/cognitive deficits, and the new cultures showed no growth of N. Fowleri. It's not too hard to figure out where this occurred, as it may still be the only successfully treated case in the US.
Like Flipping a Switchman in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglassesPhoto by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash
I can't remember all the details though so bare with me. I'm at a big tertiary hospital, and had an elderly veteran brought to us one day after being found unconscious in a park. He had alcohol in his system and a quick look at his records showed that this was an ongoing problem with him. He was a sweet old man who was very grateful for our help, up until day 3 of his hospitalization. That's when things took a dark turn.
He developed pneumonia-like symptoms and became somnolent for a few days. Then, out of nowhere, he became very inappropriate—he begins grabbing the nurses and repositioning them, touching himself, and constantly licking his lips in a disgusting manner when anyone even looked at him. He went from a sweet old man to a deviant almost overnight. We even had to wrap his hands up in bandages to stop him from touching himself and others. Oddly though, he hit on anyone and everyone (women and men) except for me. I guess I wasn't his type.
We ended up diagnosing him with Kluver-Bucy syndrome, caused by HSV encephalitis (herpes). Symptoms include hypersexuality and hyperorality. It's pretty rare and I haven't seen it since, but as you might imagine, it left a lasting impression on me. He improved with treatment though, and was incredibly embarrassed after finding out what he had done.
When I was an intern, we had a 22-year-old man with persistent abdominal pain, all studies negative. His symptoms were unexplained. His mother was constantly at his bedside, and his medical history, which was extensive according to his mom, included multiple hospital stays with no definitive diagnosis. I noticed that he would frequently take ill after meals, which his mother brought from outside the hospital.
It eventually became clear that he was a victim of Munchausen by proxy. His mother was making him ill. I'd had a patient with Munchausen's when I was in medical school (she was injecting her own waste into her IV), so I was particularly tuned in. Both cases were very sad.
We may have many fond memories of childhood that center around food.
A favorite meal, a special celebration dinner, simple comfort foods, baked goods enjoyed with grandparents or holiday feasts.
But not everyone is blessed with culinary talents. And some cooking impaired are responsible for feeding children.
For those kids, memories of meals might be more trauma than beloved tradition.
Reddit user zZoZo- asked:
"What meal traumatized you as a kid?"
"My grandma’s asparagus, it traumatized my dad more as it was the only way he had had asparagus until he met my mum."
"We would go out and harvest fresh asparagus when I was a kid, and my mum would grill it, sauté it, or make a salad."
"My grandma only made it for me once. Well my grandma would put it in a pressure cooker on a steam tray and cook it at pressure for 3 minutes."
"It would come out just holding itself together, she would slide it onto the plate, put slices of hard boiled egg on top, salt, and pepper. It was hot mush in a stringy tube with cold egg and no real seasoning or flavor left."
"Just a miserable symphony of textures that would stick in your mouth and teeth."
"My grandma knew I hated cantaloupe but my sister loved it, so so when we would visit my grandma when we were kids she made me eat a piece of cantaloupe for every piece my sister ate."
"To this day I do not know why."
"I f'king hate cantaloupe."
"My father would put raw liver in a juicer and make liver pancakes, no bacon no onion."
"Your father seems like the type to have…secrets."
"I’m wondering if fava beans and Chianti were involved."
"Mom had a habit of clearing the fridge of leftovers by tossing everything in a pot and serving it for dinner. Ugh."
"The most...ahem...memorable combination was: some old spaghetti sauce (not a bad start...) some baked beans (kinda weird, but okay...) some leftover tuna-noodle casserole (getting weirder...) some peas (gotta have a vegetable) and, I kid you not, the leftover cherry Jell-O (why, Mom? Why the Jell-O???)."
"I still have NO IDEA why it all had to go in a single pot."
"I was forced to eat a mayonnaise sandwich at a sleepover once."
"It was so disgusting, and I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I was done."
Bribery or Extortion?
"Not traumatized, just salty. Mom took my brother and me to a restaurant with another one of her mom friends and her kids, that mom was really into making kids try new foods."
"She made me eat a stupid octopus or squid tentacle or something to get dessert, whereas my brother held out until all he had to try was some basically normal piece of cheese."
"Clearly I didn’t know how to be stubborn."
"My mom found some 'hidden veggie' article that called for zucchini in brownies. Two bites in, something tasted off."
"I looked in the brownie and saw the green fibers of vegetable and my mom gleefully told me the secret ingredient. I protested and complained and refused the brownies and she said I wouldn’t even notice."
"Mother, if I wouldn’t notice, then why did I almost immediately notice?"
"Took a long time for me to trust her desserts after that."
"F'k those 'hidden food' recipes. Just learn to cook zucchini in an appetizing way and let me eat the zucchini for dinner and a normal brownie for dessert."
Salads That Aren't Salads
"Oh God, this 'salad' my mom would make that was literally just frozen peas and cheese chunks coated in mayonnaise. I couldn't even be near it without gagging.
"Whenever she'd make it I'd start crying and hide under the bed (I was around 5 or 6). Thank Christ she eventually stopped making it."
"I still hate mayo. To this day even the smell of it makes me physically sick."
"With my grandma it was green Jello, grapes, celery, walnuts, shredded cabbage and carrots in a Jello mold."
"When she unmolded it, she would fill the center with Miracle Whip and sprinkle it with paprika."
"Most disgusting side dish ever."
"Meatloaf. My mom would force me to sit at the table and eat a bland meatloaf with no seasoning whatsoever."
"My grandmother's cooking in general is always bland. Salt and pepper. That's it."
"So when I moved out with my boyfriend. It was a kick to the face cause he actually uses spices and seasoning."
"Love the woman, but damn. And I get it. She lived on a farm with 11 brothers and sisters. So taste wasn't really the point of eating."
"At least she uses salt. My MIL doesn't even use that!"
"That's disturbingly common in some regions - especially the Midwest.
"I have family who deliberately don't add any salt as they're cooking, and then offer guests a salt shaker (which they, themselves don't use)."
"Holidays are agony. And the worst part is that I'm not sure if everybody is suffering in silence with me, or if they've all somehow been indoctrinated and just don't even want the salt."
"I went to a wedding as a kid where they served oysters but not fresh ones. They were from a jar and then put back into shells."
Anyway I put it in my mouth and I wanted to spit it out, but my dad gave me one of those looks (death stares) so I had to swallow the snot like thing."
"I love seafood but have never been able to eat a fresh oyster since."
Not Finger Lickin' Good
"Cow's tongue. I was 8 or 9. I sat at the table until 9 pm, refused to eat it, just sitting there crying as quiet as I could."
"I didn't want to get in more trouble."
"Finally my mother gave up and I got a cheese sandwich and sent to bed."
"I will never, never eat another mammal's tongue. Just typing that out made me gag."
"I was around 6 at the time. My dad used to season and roast baby potatoes. For some reason as a kid, I just couldn't stomach them."
"They made me want to throw up. After a few of them I would run to the toilet."
"One time, I thought I was clever by hiding them under the cushions of my seat. I got away with it for a few weeks."
"Until my mother was obsessively cleaning because she couldn't get rid of the smell of compost from the dining room."
"Eventually she lifted the cushion to see a heap of mouldy squashed potatoes."
"That day for dinner, my dad made an extra portion just for me. Apparently when I saw the plate I went pale."
Don't Name Dinner
"It's not at all fun to name and raise a chicken only for it to be served for lunch."
My Mother was not a good cook because she hated to cook.
She could reheat things from a can or make something from a box, but she had a tendency to add canned peas or cut up hot dogs.
Luckily I loved cooking and took over all family cooking duties as a child.
My only food trauma was a dish my Sister made: Polynesian liver. Yes, it was liver baked with pineapple rings.
None of us could eat more than one bite.
Do you have food trauma? Share your story in the comments.
Every unhappy family is unhappy in their own way, but these toxic families are all completely insane. Whether it’s a controlling mother or an absent father, these Redditors had to find out the hard way that their families had ugly habits and dark secrets. They say you can’t choose your family—and no one would choose these broods.
The Prodigal Sonwoman crouching in front of display shelfPhoto by billow926 on Unsplash
My birthday: "I got you a pack of socks, but I realized I can get them cheaper from somewhere else, so I'm going to return them." My brother two weeks later: "I think I'd like archery, will you get me this $600 bow?" Parents: "Oh, heck yes!" Thing is, I never even got the socks. The favoritism runs very deep in my family.
Man Hands Misery Down
My dad screamed at me for 20 minutes when I was 11, called me a witch, and told me to get the heck out of his house when I casually mentioned we seem to argue more than other families. In truth, I know he was hurt too, and he regrets not having talked to someone about what he went through as a kid because of how much it hurt his own family.
The Black Sheep Of The Family
My wife helped me come to the realization. Out of myself and my two brothers, I was the only one to have never been behind bars, yet I was the only one my parents didn’t buy a car for. And actually, it wasn’t just about getting a car—they refused to even teach me how to drive. I had to move out of the house before I learned how.
So one day, I had my wife (girlfriend at the time) over to my parents’ for Christmas dinner. My mom offers me a glass of champagne about two months before my 21st birthday. No big deal, right? My stepdad proceeds to throw a temper tantrum about how I’m underage and not in his house and all this. Well, a couple of months later, I found out he bought my little brother, his biological child, a bottle of high-end bourbon for his 18th birthday.
When I was in the service, they had a whole bunch of deep-sea fishing trips and pro sports games they would go to without even so much as asking if I could come. They didn’t come to my boot camp graduation that I offered to pay for. They didn’t see me off when I was deployed. They weren’t there when I came back. Great times.
Better Off Apart
My mom and dad separated because they finally admitted that all that fighting wasn't normal. I'd talked to them in my young teens about how I hate how they fight so much, and my mom said all married couples fight like that and that it was normal. Now I'm 18 and they separated this year, and they realized it is not normal or healthy to have "discussions" that involve screaming, tears, clenched fists, and everything short of physically harming each other nearly every day.
Neither of them are bad people in the slightest. They are both good parents, but they were just in a bad relationship and thought that staying together would make me and my sisters happier, when in reality I wish they would've separated years ago. They brought out the worst in each other. Then recently, my mom let out her biggest secret.
My mom came out as a lesbian. Turns out, part of the reason she was angry all the time was from repressing her sexuality.
Even though I seldom leave the house because I’m pretty introverted, my mom can’t handle it at all when I visit friends. Whenever I get home, she accuses me of loving them more than her. It's even worse if I go out for two consecutive days or more, than she just goes totally ballistic. It's suffocating and stupid, really.
Daddy Doesn’t Know Bestassorted clothes hanged on rackPhoto by Chase Charaba on Unsplash
I was 9, and I was really nice to a poor guy selling shirts out of the back of his truck. My father’s reaction haunts me. My dad pulled me away and told me directly "It's great to be nice to people, Chris, but be mean too. You want people to be a little scared of you." Even at nine, I was like, "That's not...great," and it really was an interaction that shaped our relationship.
I went on to teach, have a vibrant friend group, and generally, I love people. It's in my work and in every fiber of my life. My dad didn’t come out so well. He passed, alone, of an overdose about 10 years ago. The funeral would've been basically empty if not for all the friends who came to console me.
Correcting The Sins Of Father
When I was growing up, especially in my teens, I now realize I suffered from anxiety and severe depression. My parents never did anything about it, even though they definitely could see something wasn't right. I don't place ALL the blame on them, as this was back in the 90s when mental health was still not openly discussed. But I was messed up for a very long time.
I got the help I needed, albeit as an adult, and now am a mom to an 11-year-old daughter. I am starting to see some familiar things in her; anxiety is the big one right now. So we have "Brain Checks." If she ever needs to talk, at any time, all she has to do is say she needs a "Brain Check" and I stop whatever I am doing and let her tell me what is bothering her.
I can't always fix her problem for her, but we talk it out and see if we can ease her mind or how we can do that. I know she won't come to me for everything, but I hope that by doing this, she knows I will always provide her with a safe space to speak her mind and not be judged. I have no qualms dragging her to our GP for either meds or a therapist referral, though, if I feel talking to me just isn't enough. I don't want her to suffer like I did.
I was 11 years old when my mom and I came home to my aunt stealing our stereo equipment. When my mom confronted her, she pulled a knife. At the same moment, my uncle happened to be driving by, slammed on the brakes, reversed, and then came into the yard on the lawn and hit the corner of the house a little bit, jumped out of the van, and attacked my aunt. I only found out the dark truth about that day much later.
As my mom unpacked everything to me when I was older, she explained that my aunt was taking things to get money for her substance habit. Much later than that, I found out that my uncle wasn’t sober and shouldn't have been driving at all. I look back on that day as the day I lost my innocence in a lot of ways. Can’t really go back from that.
To be fair, my nuclear family was generally your standard loving functional family. It was just my mom’s half-siblings who were toxic. They were always taking money and never around unless they had to be or needed something. After my mom passed, my aunt called me looking for money, and I pretty much hung up and never talked to any of them again.
Busting A Gasket
I married into a toxic family. My husband realized it when his sister insulted me, out of the blue, to him for an hour. She then blamed him for making her husband hate the entire family. Meanwhile, everyone else in the family who was within earshot of all this all claimed to have not noticed or heard anything. It was loud and long. They knew.
He was pretty shell-shocked by the whole thing. It was ignored and NEVER resolved or discussed. It's a very large family. I have been the black sheep ever since even though I wasn't even in the “fight.” I would actually take responsibility for anything if I knew what made her so mad at the time. I apologized to her and she has never even admitted anything happened.
She was having a really tough time in her marriage at the time, however, and is now divorced. We didn't live in town, so each visit was a nice, pleasant time and we all got along fine prior to this. Really changed out entire dynamic.
The Mother Of All Pettiness
I had my graduation from engineering on the same day as my mother's birthday. I, of course, had nothing to do with choosing the date. But you couldn’t convince my mom of that. My mother said I "ruined her birthday"—and then she got a cruel revenge. She scheduled her birthday party to be on my actual birthday. Her birthday is in March, mine is in August.
Mother May Iwoman in black and white striped long sleeve shirtPhoto by Julien L on Unsplash
My first memory is of my parents fighting when I was three years old. I remember my mom looking at my dad and yelling, “This is why we’re getting a divorce.” They separated when I was two, but took some time to figure out custody, as well as the actual finalization of their divorce. My mom was always so angry and would scream, throw things, and tell me consistently she didn’t want me around.
I finally had a breaking point with my mom the day before I turned 17. We got into a huge fight and I realized that she was just taking out the aggression of her past on me. I realized she had been blocking out what she put me through, and finally brought it to her attention. I know her mother was awful, and she kept perpetuating this cycle.
What triggered the whole realization was when I dated someone for the first time when I was 16, and my boyfriend’s mom treated me like her own. It was the first time I felt welcome in a home. She made sure I ate because she knew I wasn’t eating properly at home, she always had a bed made for me in case I ever needed a place to stay, and would always check in with my boyfriend to make sure I was okay when I went home.
A Twisted Family Tree
I was eight years old and sitting in my new babysitter's apartment having an asthma attack. I was very allergic to cats and my mom had left me with her despite knowing my allergy and knowing that she had nine cats. But the reason why she left me there was even worse. She needed me out of the way so she could go sleep with my older sister’s boyfriend.
She hadn't even sent my inhaler with me. My life nearly ended that day, honest to God. To make matters worse, my sister found out and got in a fistfight with my mom in the hospital hallway while respiratory therapy was working with me. They both caught an STD from the dude, and I learned to always have my inhaler on me. Among other lessons.
You Are What You Eat
My cousin Stephanie made a peanut cake, just everything out of peanuts. The flour had peanuts, it had peanut butter, peanut chocolate, and peanut chunks. I'm very allergic to peanuts, and she knew it. I refused to eat it for obvious reasons, and Stephanie shed some crocodile tears about how she had lovingly made the cake so we can all eat it, and how insulting it was for me to pass on it.
Between my Aunt Karen, her husband, and my paternal grandparents, they forced me to eat a HUGE piece of that cake while my other cousin called emergency from outside the house. I literally almost passed on. Afterward, they said they didn’t know about my allergy (???), and “I was a rebellious teenager who was very picky about food."
Rain Check On Decency
When none of them showed up to our youngest child’s third birthday party. Oh, but it gets worse. We had this planned for about a month and a half; you have to when you have three kids and crazy lives. Less than three weeks out, my mom decides to go on a mini-vacation to Florida for three days and asked us to move the whole party.
Her husband, my stepdad, decided that since she wasn’t going to the party, he didn’t have to either. Meanwhile, one of my brothers decided to go on a kayaking trip because he felt no obligation since my mom and stepdad weren’t going. Our youngest brother is the only one with a legitimate excuse because he had work that weekend.
So, the day of the party, everyone’s asking, “Where is your family?” This is both friends and my wife’s family, who I love dearly. For the first time, I didn’t hold back and said, “Because they’re toxic and too self-absorbed.” This was definitely one of those last straw situations. My wife and I were married young, and to be honest, my in-laws have been my parents ever since then.
Visiting Hours Are Over
Years ago, I was in the hospital after getting stabbed in the abdomen. I went under and the doctors had to bring me back. I woke up in the hospital full of stitches, but still alive. I had a really great group of friends who came throughout the weeks of my being there, to the point that I got my own room because it was disturbing fellow patients I shared a room with and the staff were super nice about it.
The only family member to visit, however, was my younger sister. My mom, dad, other four siblings....None of them came, and my mom only phoned and communicated to me through the nurses, never speaking directly to me until I was back at home. And this was during a time where we actually had a decent relationship comparative to other times in life.
A Rude Awakeningwoman in white long sleeve shirt holding wine glassPhoto by krakenimages on Unsplash
When I moved in with my partner, I noticed she called her family for things I would never call my own for. Then I realized this was because she actually likes them and doesn't see communicating with them as an obligation. Instead, she wanted them to be part of her everyday life. It was then I realized just how messed up my family truly is.
The Root Of All Evil
Growing up, my family basically pooled together all our paychecks, and whatever was extra after bills was more or less fair game to use for my parents. So I constantly got my paychecks drained. I tried saving money up by saying I had a little less than what I did. After a year, had about $1,000 saved up. That’s when disaster struck.
My mom took my card to "buy dinner" and proceeded to check the balance on my card. She sees I have a lot more money than I was telling them. So she used my card to buy over $150.00 of food that I got none of, and then kicked me out of the house for "making the family do without." Imagine not being proud of your kid for trying to save money.
Not me, but my girlfriend. After a year of being, together I invited her over for Christmas. After all the gift opening, my family sat down for food and we were all laughing and having a great time. Then I looked over at her, and she was quiet and just looked kind of shocked. We get in my car afterward, and she said “Is this how Christmas is every year?”
I told her yes, and she said “This is nothing like my family’s style. We open gifts, get into arguments, and then take the gifts back.”
I Know You Are But What Am I?
When my mother and I were on a heated phone call with each other and she said how much I "hurt her." I finally had the courage to say "Well, what about how you hurt me?” Her response was "Well yeah, I MEANT to hurt you!". Big eye opener on that one.
Loud And Proud
I always thought my family was normal, it was just big and loud and everyone had tempers. Then I learned I was wrong. I told someone a funny story involving my little sister throwing a loaf of bread at my mom...the look on their face told me to stop there and not get to the part where she threatened to burn down the house with all of us in it.
Bad News Beargrayscale photo of man using magnifying glassPhoto by mari lezhava on Unsplash
One of my grandfathers only called me with super-negative information. He’d tell me thing like he put one of the cats down, with details on how the cat acted on the way to the vet. He let me know on my 21st birthday that I was an old maid. That one was just after my grandmother, his wife, had passed a few months prior.
When my parents’ house was broken into, he didn’t even tell me. I only found out when we arrived home to see yellow tape outside my bedroom window. When my father passed, he decided my mom and I didn't need any sympathy calls or anything. Because it "might upset us more." I had more sympathy from perfect strangers.
He did call me after my father passed to let me know that my father never loved me—which was a crock, as anyone who knew my father knew how close we were. He passed in the hospital last year, and I had to miss the funeral. I couldn't have shed a tear anyway. Meanwhile, many of the locals think he was great—they only saw his public persona.
The Lion’s Share
I will mention one episode only that particularly hit me, as toxicity in my family is basically the norm. I was around seven years old and my grandfather, my mother's father, a plush of Mufasa and baby Simba from the Lion King. After visiting him, my parents and I went to my grandmother’s, my father's mother. I had my plush with me.
We stayed at her place for 3-4 days. When it was time to leave, I was collecting my stuff but I couldn't find the baby Simba anywhere. My mother asked my grandmother if she had seen the plush anywhere and she said no. Also, she commented "She (referring to me) is spoiled" because, in her opinion, I wasn't good enough at taking care of my things.
I left with Mufasa only and without baby Simba. One year after, we visited my grandmother again. I went to the living room and my blood went cold. In one corner, my grandmother had put all my cousins’ toys so that they could find them easily when they were going to visit her. And...well, together with a giant doll, kitchen utensils, and a children’s book, there was my baby Simba plush. My grandmother had taken it away from me to give it to my cousins.
Get Away From It All
When my mom yelled at me for being depressed. She was saying how rude and inconvenient it is for everyone around me that I was depressed. She was screaming so hard that her face was all red. She screamed at me frequently. She would also always wait until I was in the car with her because I would be unable to leave.
I stopped talking to her after that and she played the victim. She apparently was suffering because she was “abandoned by her daughter.” No one in my family wanted to hear my side of things, no one reached out to check in on me. I was made out to be the bad selfish daughter. Now, I don’t have a relationship with anyone in my family.
I cut both my parents off after I realized they both will not change or get help or see they ever did anything wrong. It’s been tough to deal with the emotions of it all, especially the emotions I felt when I was younger and in their care. I’ve been working on it with therapy for a few years now. But it’s been a necessary decision for me to cut those ties, so I can focus on myself.
I was seven years old, and my dad hadn’t been home for three days. My mom put us kids in the car and drove to every bar in town until she saw my dad’s truck. Then she told me to go into the bar, look for my dad, and tell him to come home. I refused, so she sent my 4-year-old brother in instead.
Forgive And Forget
My mother threw a fit about how my son is so involved in his dad's life. This hit home, because my mother and father have been separated for a long time because she did the same thing to him with us. She decided that I was “neglecting” my son because I didn't want to limit what he does with his dad. I'm sorry if I won't repeat my family’s mistakes and that I want my son to have a father.
Shoddy Support Systembrown and red books on white surfacePhoto by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash
When my parents realized that I had been accepted into a premier school on a partial scholarship, they retracted their promise to pay for my college, just because they wanted me to go to a state school near them. They even gave me an ultimatum, telling me that if I went there, I could never really be accepted back into their house.
I ended up going to the local state school they wanted, and flunked out due to stress and depression. 24 years later, my brother is on his fourth degree and they are still supporting him and his wife. Oh, and his "professional poker playing."
Hush Little Baby
I was talking to a friend about how my allergies had been acting up recently, a problem I had never had until I moved out of California, when she asked me if I wanted Benadryl because she had some in her purse. I told her I built up a tolerance to Benadryl, and she was very surprised because my allergies had just started getting bad when I moved here.
She asked me how in the heck did I build up a tolerance to Benadryl? My answer made her go white as a ghost. I mentioned to her that growing up, my mom would give me Benadryl every night until I was about 14 or 15. It would make me drowsy so I would go to sleep and leave her alone. She was very alarmed.
In Sickness And In Health
When my mom opened my mail, took out a credit card check, made it out to herself for $4,000, and put it in front of me to sign…while I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy. I did not sign it, and she was very angry and told me how I owed her. We really didn't have any kind of a relationship after that because I was just trying to stay alive and the stress was too much.
Then my sister started jumping all over me because I was asleep and didn't answer the phone when she called me…because I was tired from cancer and the treatment. Yeah, we're still not talking.
It’s All About Me
It happened this past week. I asked my mom if we could go out to lunch and we made plans for Thursday. Instead, she stood me up to go shopping for a new car, and kept calling and saying, “Just one more dealership!” I was waiting for over three hours in the shopping complex by the restaurant. She apologized over text and asked if she could come see me to show me her new car.
There were kind of a lot of moments; but some re-occurring moments were whenever I was seriously sick or hurt, my mom wouldn't believe me, or she would ignore me. When I was nine years old, I told her the vitamins she gave me made me feel sick. She told me to hurry up to the car so I wouldn't be late for school. I said that I really didn't feel good.
She yelled to hurry up. I go outside, and suddenly I'm puking on the lawn. She rolled her eyes at me. When I was 12 years old, I told her that I fell on my elbow at school and it hurt a lot. She just hummed at me. I tell her the next day that my arm still really hurts.
She said I was fine. The day after that, I'm being driven to school, and she asks me why I was wearing a sweater even though it's hot outside and also, "Why are you holding your arm like that?" I roll up my sleeve and show her my elbow, which is purple and swollen like heck. Her response: "Oh." 17 years old. I was sick, sick sick sick, and she kept telling me that it was just allergies.
I asked her if I could just lie down for an hour. At exactly an hour, she called for me to do the dishes. I didn't get up because I was just starting to doze and I really felt like I couldn’t move. She kept yelling at me to get up, stop being lazy, and come do the dishes. I pulled myself out of bed, having to use the wall to support me.
I see her in the main room and tell her that I genuinely didn't feel well. She scoffed at me and said I needed to stop acting. My brother had stepped in the main room then and immediately took a step back seeing me. "Oh my god, you're literally gray. You look terrible, Mom are you seeing her?" My mom didn't say a thing, but my grandmother came out of her room, hearing my brother, and also gasped in horror, expressing how terrible I looked.
It was only then that my mother said, "Okay, let's get you to a hospital." I had a particularly bad case of strep throat. Anyway, I'm 20 now. She still doesn't believe me if I'm sick or hurt. She’s always claiming that I'm being dramatic, even though I'm not the type to play-up my sicknesses. In fact, I even tend to downplay them.
A Lifetime Burdenred envelopPhoto by Natasya Chen on Unsplash
My mother is sending me a copy of her will. She said if I ever open the envelope before she passes, she will kill herself. And if she ever sees me in person again, I need to show her the unopened envelope. She said if I "get snippy" about it, she will turn around and go home. I tried to help her find a different place to keep it. But she doesn't know of one. And she will hassle me about not opening it for the rest of my life.
My father-in-law is beyond toxic. My wife always said she wasn't close with her dad, but we would see him for Christmas every year. We lived in southern California, and her family lives in Michigan. My father-in-law once took a trip to southern California and never told my wife until the day he was flying home. On that call, he told my wife that she "was ungrateful" for not driving down to see him.
She had just had a spinal tap for a meningitis scare and couldn't drive by herself. Then when my son was born, my father-in-law dropped off another family member but said he needed to run an errand. He didn't come back for a few hours. When he did, he just said he had to leave. Didn't even talk to me or my wife. Oh, but it gets worse.
For my son’s second birthday, he said he and his wife would be out of town for a wedding. Turns out, the wedding was the next day, and “out of town” meant 20 miles from our house. The third birthday, he just didn't show up. When my mother-in-law—they aren’t married anymore—got diagnosed with cancer, my wife called him, and all he had to say was "Huh, crazy” and hung up.
When my mother-in-law passed this last January, he never even checked in on his daughter. My wife calls him out now, and I've told him off a few times and "ruined Christmas" after he tried to say my wife wasn't a good daughter since she never visits.
No Going Back
When I was locked out of the house and my father told me, "You're not my son" at age eight because I'd forgotten my homework at school. I was let in when my mom came home from work at 11pm. There were a lot of other things that happened before and after that, but being told your status as a family member is that arbitrary really puts it in perspective.
The Silent Treatment
My brother got mad at my dad for bringing him the wrong food—my brother is older and spoiled. When I stood up for my dad against him, my dad yelled at me, marched out of our house, and then didn’t talk to me for two weeks straight, despite the fact we were living in the same household at the time. He proceeded to only talk to my brother and my mom.
My grandma and I are very close. I live a few hours away from her, and she is not very tech-savvy, so it’s difficult to phone her sometimes. I went home a few weekends ago and we got some time alone to talk. She told me that her sister, my great aunt, is getting pretty sick. She is having problems with her kidneys and it’s affecting her mind.
My aunt and grandma took her to the doctor, and then to get some medications that were about $7. Her card got declined. She hadn’t been checking her accounts, and after calling the bank, she found out they were drained of over $10k in checking and were overdrawn on top of all that. That’s when she discovered a horrific truth.
They called her daughter and granddaughter, and they both admitted to taking the money from her account. My great aunt has been paying their rent for three years and has given them two vehicles. She pays the insurance on them both. This was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and she is cutting them off. Best of all, the latest update on her health is positive.
Don’t Follow Your Dreamsblack and white typewriter on green tablePhoto by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
I was on the ride home from school and my mom said, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I answered, “Maybe be an author or something like that.” She replied with “That is so dumb, that is the stupidest thing. You are smart and you have the whole world at your fingertips, and you want to be an author? You can be a scientist or a doctor, but you want to waste your life being an author.”
Kind To Be Cruel
The first time my husband spent time with my parents was when I realized I was in a toxic family. When we left, he was like, “Wow, your parents have literally not said a single positive thing about you. All their ‘funny’ stories about you growing up are really just awful.” I kind of just figured that was normal. Lots of eye-opening times later, and I don’t talk to my parents anymore for a slew of reasons.
Going Whole Hog
After my dad passed, we were cleaning out his apartment. My mom, paternal aunt, paternal grandmother, and I were there. I was 11, my parents were divorced, and while my mom tried telling me that my grandma was not a trustworthy person, she detached her own biases enough to still allow me to be close to my dad's family and make my own decisions.
My dad had a motorcycle, which he adored. At his apartment, because he had no will, every major possession was supposed to be recorded to the estate lawyers to be sorted out later. Nothing was to be taken home. On his motorcycle keys, he had a keychain of a bike. I was in the kitchen alone with my grandma, and spotted them on his key rack.
Nonchalantly, I said, "Oh, it's dad's motorcycle keys!" My grandma said, "Oh yeah, it is." Then she grabbed them and slipped the keys in her pocket. Weeks later, I overheard my mom talking to the lawyer about not being able to find the bike keys. I told her what happened. My mom asked me if I was 100% sure I saw what I saw, and I was positive.
Lawyers spoke to lawyers, and my grandma denied that it ever happened. It came to the point where I had to give a sworn testimony at a deposition, all while my grandma looked me straight in the eye and calmly told everyone present that I "was a grief-stricken delusional child who was prone to lying". She then tried telling everyone that my word could not be trusted due to the intense trauma of my dad's passing, and questioned the courts about whether it was wise to believe an 11-year-old over an adult.
She chose possessions over her family. Every member of my dad's side supported her—and then she topped even herself. She lied on my dad's gravestone, making him two ranks higher in the service than he was, and then also stating he served in a war that he never did. I don't even visit my dad's grave anymore because it's just lies.
I tried to sporadically interact with them for a few years after that, but officially cut contact in 2013.
Lean On Me
I was waiting outside the toilet at my mom’s house for my partner to come out. I was with her because she has severe depression and anxiety, and wanted someone there. My mother came out of her room and exploded, asking me why I'm sacrificing so much and telling me that my girlfriend was faking it to manipulate me, horrible things like that.
Worst of all, my girlfriend heard everything and broke down really badly. I haven’t taken her to my mother’s since.
Big Day, Big Ego
I was at my sister's wedding, and it was the most fun wedding I've ever been to. Everyone was having a blast. I was catching up with some first cousins I don't see very often when my mom walks up to us and starts complaining about how my sister didn't want to invite some of my mom's cousins. My sister and I had only met them a few years before and my sister didn't like them.
My mom insisted that she needed them to be there so she could have fun. The screwed up thing was my sister had given in to my mom's demands and some of those cousins were actually there. So my mom was actually insulting my sister at her own wedding for letting her have her way. I had known my mom's siblings and parents were pretty awful, but this was the moment I accepted that she was just as bad.
Evil Stepmothera person holding a small mp3 player in their handPhoto by Cartoons Plural on Unsplash
I didn't realize this was an example of how awful and toxic my stepmother was at the time, but when I was 11, my stepmother got my two sisters, her biological kids, iPod touches. I did not receive one. At first, I brushed it off as my stepmother not getting me one because I didn't really listen to music much, but then again neither did my sisters.
I realized years later this was just another example of her blatant favoritism towards her own children, whether she would admit it or not—and trust me, she wouldn't.
My dad gave me the silent treatment because he thought I crashed the car he had just bought for me and I wouldn't own up. Why? because it had red marks on either side of the window. He thought I must have hit a barrier or something, despite me pointing out that this would have almost certainly smashed the screen into smithereens.
After a week of racking my brain, I asked if there was a red “for sale” banner across it...he replied yes, then slowly began talking to me again.
Poisoning The Well
My oldest sister, who is not mentally well, went on a bit of a poisoning streak several years back, and we pretty much told her that either she needs to stop, or she's officially kicked out of the family. But yeah, so my sister apparently would be spreading salmonella and E. coli into our drinks and food whenever she could.
Me and my dad went into her apartment, and her fridge was full of uncovered raw chicken and it wasn't even cold. The whole fridge was unplugged. All the chicken had that slimy grey film on top of it and I would have blown chunks right then and there if I hadn't splattered the toilet bowl two or three times over just earlier that day.
She admitted to us later that before she'd come to hang out with us, she'd rub the slimy, rotting chicken all over her hands and face and then spray on perfume to mask the odor. I always thought her perfume just smelled bad, but I guess it was always because she had the putrid scent of rotten meat all over her skin. Sadly, it gets more horrifying.
Then, for whatever reason, a reason that she couldn't or wouldn't explain, she'd take her disgusting hands and rub the rims of our cups or glasses and lick and spit on our food when we weren't looking. Who does that? Of course, there was tons and tons of mold growing everywhere in her place as well. Every little crack and nook had something growing in it. I left her place fully willing to just cut her out of my life.
The Ones Who Are Left Behind
My brother is the worst. He may be depressed or addicted to his computer or something like that, but he's just terrible with everybody around him. To him, everybody is stupid, nobody cares about him, and the entire world is out to get him and keeping him from achieving anything. He's 28, without a job, living with our father.
Meanwhile, our poor father is doing all he can to help him, but there's nothing to be done. This is, of course, after our mother gave up helping him after many years of putting up with him. In the meantime, my brother has been tormenting everyone who dares talk to him. When visiting my father a few years ago, I saw my brother very briefly.
It was tough for him because I'm getting on with my life. I have my own home, a cool job I love, I'm getting married, money isn't an issue...and he on the other hand is alone, living at his dad's, without a job. We talked, again briefly. He tried and tried again to find ways in which he was better than me or to say that I'm stupid. He got frustrated, called me names, and left.
Love Thy Neighbor
My adoptive parents kicked me out my junior year of high school for being gay—they had already known for a while, but my then-boyfriend coming over Christmas morning to exchange gifts made them “deal” with it. They told me to break it off or get out. I declined and came home one day the following January to find out they’d changed the locks.
My boyfriend’s mother found out that I was staying with my aunt and what my parents did, and immediately drove me over to make my parents let me get clothes and items from my room. She then let me stay with their family. A few weeks after that, my parents showed up with officers, claiming they were holding me against my will and brainwashing me.
We told them our side of the story and it ended up in court. I went through the process of getting emancipated while dealing with them and finishing off high school. I haven’t talked to them since I graduated, over a decade ago. I still hear about how crazy and manipulative they are from the stuff they do to my brother when he complains about them, but I won’t see or speak to them under any circumstances.
About Facea woman with her mouth open and hands in front of her facePhoto by Simran Sood on Unsplash
My aunt has always been difficult. She could be very nice and caring, but then, for no obvious reason, she suddenly turned into a screaming monster. Once, my mom, who has a key to her apartment, left her a present and a card in her bedroom for my aunt on her birthday, and all my aunt did was scream and yell about "How dare we break into her place.”
A few months later, she was detained for throwing a chair at her co-worker. This led to her being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She had to get into therapy and was on probation for many months. She’s doing much better now, and her therapist helped her a lot. It turned out that my aunt is the sweetest, most caring person in the world. I'm looking forward to seeing her next week.
My father and his wife spent years convincing me I was a bad son, and I believed it. Genuinely, from when I was around 3-4 until I was 23, I thought I was a bad son and felt so guilty. It wasn't until I was 23 that I realized that they were the ones canceling seeing me and then calling me up to reprimand me for not seeing them. It was them. They were bad parents, I wasn't a bad son. Their friendly facade to me and my friends was so thick that I never saw it, and a lot of my friends still don't see it.
I cut contact with them three years ago and have refused to acknowledge their existence since. I just tell people I don't have a dad.
The Great Deceiver
When I was six years old, my aunt, who was my guardian, faked my grandmother’s passing. She lied to all of us—local churches, her friends, and strangers—for sympathy and money. She wrote to multiple people asking for support. She needed money for a headstone and the funeral, etc. People bought into it hook, line, and sinker.
So you can imagine our surprise a year later when we received a letter from our grandma saying she was coming to see us.
The Bare Necessities
My shower stopped working one day. I went to my mom, who was sitting in bed, and told her it was broken. Her response chilled me to the bone. She just looked at me, annoyed, and shrugged. Well, then my bedroom light burned out. Same thing. I tell her, hoping she'll at least give me a new bulb. She says "okay?" And shrugs me off.
She made me feel entitled for asking for necessities. So I stopped asking for things. Most of my high school life, I spent in a room with no light, a kitchen with no food, a bathroom with no means to shower, one pair of pants, no socks, and in pain. Sitting in my dark room, unable to shower for a few months, I considered why some people shouldn't have children.