prompt from ragnarok_08: What was the most sobering thing your parents have said to you?
What comes to mind most strongly is my parent M telling me that no one would ever love me as much as M did. This bothered me at the time but it took me a while to fully understand why. For one thing, it felt like a threat; "I am your greatest source of love so you better value me because if you don't, you just won't get love." For another, M has almost never made me feel loved, so it felt like they were simply telling me I was unlovable and I should expect that people who claimed to love me would try to control my every action, disallow me to show negative feelings and demand that I placate their negative feelings, devalue the parts of me that I most loved, seek me out only to get me to do work for them, show no appreciation beyond a temporary cessation of criticism, and give to others what I crave while pretending to treat me the same. I think this is why when these patterns crop up (in far milder ways), they feel so normal that I do not realize them for a while. I simply get more and more convinced of my own worthlessness. I think I need to note feeling worthless as a sign that I'm falling into these expectations again.
Honestly when I look at my childhood I'm amazed that I managed to learn how to love at all. I always thought that I was relatively well-off as far as escaping abuse goes, but I didn't realize 1) that I was physically abused and 2) that I was almost entirely emotionally neglected and was emotionally abused. M would tell me that they loved me at least every other day and would give me a hug before bed. From at least the age of 8, I never wanted this hug and never felt any truth in those words; it was part of a ritual I had to perform to keep my parents from being mean to me in response to perceived rejection. I would feel angry that they were saying "I love you" when they never showed any care for my feelings at all and literally told me on several occasions "I don't care how you feel." For years, I refused to say the words "I love you" unless I was currently overwhelmed by a feeling of love (thus, never saying it in response) in order that I would be sure to never say it meaninglessly like M did.
M mistakes a desire to own as love. M wants to own me, to have me care about their opinion and want to please them, to build up the qualities that M values and erase the ones M does not, to behave in a way that makes M feel good about themselves, to enjoy and desire M's company. M in fact thinks that being my progenitor means that they have the right to these things. M was physically and emotionally abused by their parents, so I understand why they don't know what love is. However, I think they have a responsibility to learn in order to reduce the harm they cause others, and I consider it reprehensible that they choose to protect their pride at the cost of hurting everyone around them.