Home Advocacy Misophonia Horror Story #3: Step-Monster Meets Misophonia

Misophonia Horror Story #3: Step-Monster Meets Misophonia

by Shaylynn Raymond
silver French-door refrigerator

When I was 11 or 12 I developed a disgust for my stepmother. We ate most meals together as a family, especially dinner. I remember just glaring at her while I was filled with this uncontrollable rage. I couldn’t understand where this rage was coming from, but I knew it happened when I heard that noise. I stopped eating at the table, instead I just sat there, as stiff as a board, afraid to move a muscle because I didn’t trust myself not to lash out. We had a rule in our family, we couldn’t leave the dinner table until our plates were cleared. I sat. And I sat. And I sat. I endured every lip smack and slurp. Until finally, my dad released me. Then, I’d run into the backyard where I’d be free to release all that bottled up rage. 

A few days after this trigger started, my dad confronted me about my problem, saying there was obviously something going on with me, it was clear by my body language. Me, not knowing how to approach the subject and also self-aware that what I was feeling was somehow wrong… wrong of me to feel this way and wrong of me to ask anyone to change themselves for the way that I am feeling… I confided in my father what I felt. I told him that I can’t stand it when my stepmother chewed with her mouth open (which was every time she chewed – unless she had an extra big mouth full of something and then she only chewed with lips together to keep bits of food from falling out). 

I remember this as clearly as if it was yesterday. Bless my father for trying to help me, the next night during dinner when he noticed my stepmother chewing with her mouth open, he said something about it. He said, “Chew with your mouth closed at the dinner table!” While pointing his fork pointedly at her. You could have heard a pin drop. My stomach did a flip. Was this it? Was this going to be the end of my torment? My stepmother glared daggers at my father. She coolly stood up and said, “Can I speak with you outside, please?” her eyes never leaving my fathers. 

Long story short, my stepmother being my step-mom took special offense to my father’s display, seeing him as “taking my side” against her and took extra steps to ensure she stamped out whatever it was that me and my father had between us that allowed me to open up to him, I went back to being a ball of anxiety during meal times, barely eating at all and bottling all that rage up until I could finally find some blessed peace and quiet. 

Weeks went by, turned into months and my miso triggers only got worse. Now it wasn’t only my stepmother that triggered me, it was my little brothers too. There were 3 of them and it was part of my task as their older sister to look after them when my father was away, as well as other household chores. I remember gently pinching my little brothers’ lips together, trying to show him how to chew with a closed mouth. “Like this!” and as soon as my fingers would leave his lips, he’d start chewing with an open mouth instantly. The rage overcame me. Before I knew it – SMACK! I’d open-handed smacked my precious little brother across the face. Hard. He started crying and I started panicking, trying to get him to stop with any distraction I could think of, the whole time apologizing and fighting back my own tears. Why would I do this to my beloved little brother, the most innocent thing I’ve ever known in this world? I hated myself. I just couldn’t understand why I was this way. 

“What’s going on?” My stepmother had heard the crying and had emerged from the house to see what the commotion was all about. My heart sank. I was done for now. I didn’t respond, I just knelt in front of the crying youngster with a panic in my eyes, terrified for what was about to happen. She took one look at my little brother, who still had a distinct hand mark on his cheek, scooped him up, went inside and called my father to report. I didn’t come home that night. 

Months turned into years, and I had rationalized my misophonia into hatred towards my stepmother because she was the source of my biggest triggers, and I just could not stand being around her while she was eating – which it seemed she was constantly putting a celery stick or apple slices or something in her mouth. I started searching for excuses to not be in the home, since I wasn’t allowed to visit friends’ homes. Extracurricular activities. Band. Basketball. I even took up a part-time job working after school and weekends. Since these things often went on during dinner time, I’d often come home late and hungry. Knowing as much, my stepmother guarded the refrigerator when I got home, making sure I went straight to my room without even a snack. She put a lock on the freezer after she caught my father slipping me a frozen fruit snack one night. She didn’t like that I wanted a life outside of babysitting and household chores and wanted to put a stop to it. Being a good-natured person who was raised to respect adults, it took a long time for me to finally snap, but snap I finally did. 

I remember it was my turn to put the dishes away and I was working on putting the silver away, from the dishwasher basket and into the silverware drawer. My stepmother was standing behind me, looking over my shoulder to make sure I was putting the silverware away properly. My dad was away for work, so she knew she could be extra if she wanted to. She was happily snacking away on something. I was holding a fork in my hand, turned to her and was already crying when I screamed in her face, “JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!” and I ran into my bedroom and slammed the door. Of course, I’m sure the first thing she did was call my father and report. 

I went through all the normal movements of the next day. Get up, get breakfast, milk the goats, go to school, come home, do some chores and I quickly hid myself away in my bed as quietly as I could as soon as I was finished. I just wanted to die. The anticipation of whatever repercussion for what I’d done was killing me. Finally, late into the night, my dad came home. He opened my bedroom door. Of course I was awake. He knelt down so that we were eye to eye and he said, “I think it’s time that you went to live with your mother.” I looked him in the eye and unflinchingly said, “I think you are right.” I had the van packed and ready to go by day break. My dad called my mom to let her know her house would soon have a +1. She couldn’t get away from her job at the drop of a hat at that moment, but luckily my stepdad could that day, and he met us halfway. And just like that, I was living in a whole new place with people who couldn’t have possibly known my struggles with misophonia. I was 15.  

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