Grammy-nominated R&B recording artist and reality star Syleena Johnson doesn't have memories of an idyllic childhood. Growing up, Johnson recalls being cursed at and bullied by her own mother. Though Johnson is now an adult with children of her own, her painful past has continued to affect her volatile relationship with her mom, Brenda Thompson, who now lives with Johnson. The family is at a breaking point.
So, Johnson called relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant to help her repair her relationship with her mother. In the above video from "Iyanla: Fix My Life," Iyanla sits down with Johnson to talk about her childhood experiences. Johnson tells her, "My mom cusses at us. She would call us b*tches and h*es, stuff like that."
Iyanla asks Johnson what she thinks she did to make her mother speak to her like that. Johnson says, "I used to hide all the time. I would go and closets and stay there for hours."
"You call this bad? As a child, you call hiding bad?" Iyanla asks.
"Well, I mean, if I was being called and I didn't answer, that was considered being bad," Johnson responds. "[My mother] viewed that as disrespectful."
That's not all Thompson views as disrespectful, according to her daughter. "She views having an opinion as being disrespectful. Even at 36. And this is where the problem comes in for me," Johnson tells Iyanla. "I should be able to have an opinion and a say about how I think things should run in my life."
After hearing this, Iyanla prompts Johnson to make a difficult and pointed statement: "I experience my mother as a bully," Johnson admits.
Johnson breaks down. "I just want it to end," she says through tears. "Why does it affect me so much?"
In the video, Iyanla explains how Johnson's childhood being bullied carries through to her outlook as an adult. "In your life, she's still a big person bullying you," Iyanla says.