Please Note: This situation ended with my "escape" in 2011. I appreciate all of your concerns and kind notes, but I'm out! I'm free! I'm happy and married. Please see About for more details about my NEW life. Thanks!
Welcome to a day in my world. It's 2008. I'm twenty-eight years old and a respected, successful IT Business Analyst. Nevertheless, I still live with my parents...and it's eating me alive.
I want so much to have my own home. A beautiful haven where I can be warm, take hot showers every day, go to bed whenever I want, cook delicious meals and enjoy my life. Best of all, with a home of my own I'd finally feel completely grown up.
But we've talked about it and it's absolutely forbidden. “We haven't worked so hard on you just to throw you to the wolves,” they say. I know they think I'll turn into a whore without them, and can't make wise decisions on my own. And it's destroying my self-esteem. Of course, none of my relatives nor co-workers know I'm forbidden to move out. They just think I'm weird.
Oh, how I'd like to have a boyfriend. But ever since I introduced a boy to Dad in '95, I've been terrified of being slut-shamed again. My last date was a year ago. He was a really nice guy. Even kissed me goodbye on the cheek. But, just as I suspected, Mom and Dad instantly demanded that I dump him. No reason given, but I'm sure it was the kiss. They broke my heart, but I obeyed them.
I always obey. I'm scared not to. When Dad gets angry, he runs through the house like a rabid animal, screaming at the top of his lungs, beating the air with his fists. One time he passed out.
I'll never forget refusing to cheat on my schoolwork in eighth grade. Dad punched me in the face. Of course, he instantly gaslighted me and said it wasn't a punch. I'm almost thirty, but I'm still scared to disobey him. And if I challenge Mom, well, those angry pouting fits she has are extremely unpleasant.
It feels like Mom and Dad are holding my self-esteem carelessly in their hands. And if I don't do exactly what they want, they'll crush it...again. I've gotten so used to it, now I criticize myself constantly so no criticism they fling at me will come as a surprise.
Well, I s'pose I'd better get up and pretend to be happy. If I'm not cheerful, Mom yells at me.
“Good Morning, Mother. How are you? I'm okay. Well, I just couldn't sleep.”
Just as I suspected, my morning interrogation has begun. And it seems my insomnia and nocturnal bathroom visits are disturbing Dad's sleep. I can't believe Mom is telling me that I'll be using a bucket in my room from now on. It feels so demeaning, but I know better than to argue.
I suppose Mother will come into the bathroom during my sponge bath, as she usually does. She wants to know why I need a “bath” every day and if I'm using more hot water than is strictly necessary. Next, I'll be lectured on using too much hot water, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper and towels. And this, despite paying monthly rent and doing all of their errands for free.
We've all heard of the mother who lays out her adult daughter's outfit each morning. Well, mine actually does it...and watches me dress. My wardrobe only contains baggy clothes she considers “modest.” I'm not allowed to look “too good,” or she'll accuse me, again, of trying to seduce Dad.
Ah, finally ready for work. But first, she'll give me the “once over.” As always, she's rubbing off some of my eye makeup. Next I'll have to blot my lipstick while she accuses me of wanting to look like a hooker. And if I don't wear full cover makeup to cover my "acne", Dad will grimace in my face and forbid me from eating supper with the family.
Whew! I made it through inspection and am finally free to depart for work with the usual vapid injunctions of “Drive safely” and “Be careful.” As if it wouldn't occur to me otherwise.
I like being alone in the car. It's the only place I'm free to think my own thoughts, scream at the top of my lungs or even listen to the forbidden country music station. But I must remember to call home to assure them of my safe arrival at work. Call upon arriving and leaving every destination. It's a cardinal rule. And if I'm late calling, oh, the drama!
I often lay awake at night, fantasizing about running away from home. Just getting in my car and driving. But it's just a pipe-dream. I don't want to break Mother's heart. Dad will call the police. And they have my power-of-attorney.
Even while sleeping, I have nightmares about them. Always the same nightmare. I'm screaming at the top of my lungs, but they don't hear me. The nightmare mirrors real life. When I do verbalize sadness, I'm shamed and lectured. It's easier to be agreeable, smiley and catatonic. They don't see all the times I sit, head in hands, repeating “Don't exist,” over and over.
Well, it's 6:00 pm now and time to leave work. While my coworkers depart for romantic dates, dining out or a cozy evening with their families in their comfortable homes, I have none of these joys awaiting me. I must run my parents' errands three nights each week. Tonight is grocery night. And because I'm not allowed to drive after dark, I'll first be driving home to turn my car keys over to Dad. Then he'll drive me to the grocery store in my car. Supper can wait; their errands are more important than my hunger pangs.
I'm looking forward to the weekend. But why!?! I don't have any friends. Certainly no hot dates to look forward to. And I'm not allowed to drive after dark, downtown, highways nor more than forty miles from home. That really cuts down on entertainment options.
Well, I may browse an online dating site, but that gets complicated too. YouTube skits about smothering parents often contain the stereotypical scene where they write their adult child's online singles profile. My dad actually does it. And Mom reads all of my emails.
I'll probably just read a book this weekend. And doubtless Dad will demand that I spend several hours alone with him while we play instruments, he talks to me and paws at me. Mother will doubtless eavesdrop on us as she always does, and then interrogate me later. “Did you talk about me?” she always asks.
Just another day in the life of a "deadbeat" daughter.
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If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by certified crisis response professionals.