I have wanted to write about my past for a few years now. But only for the last few years and never having the courage to do so. This despite so many therapists telling me how cathartic a process it would be for me. I’m in my middle 40’s now and have been getting this same advice since I first broke apart in 1995. I simply never saw the point in writing down all the ugliness. Instead, I let it bang around in my brain for the better part of the last 20 years, slowly making me sicker and sicker. Now it’s time for a release. I’m writing some down and I’m posting it so I know it’s out there somewhere. It will be outside of me, where it might be seen and contemplated by others. It won’t be simply a letter to an unloving parent that never gets sent. I’m going to free the angst. Just a little for now. Just to see how it works.
Of course, once you begin writing something like this, you start second guessing yourself. You think, for God’s sake, I’m 47 years old…Get the Hell Over it already! Your parents were hard, unhappy and angry people. They took it out on you. They crushed your spirit. But as my Doctor asked, at this point in my life, why am I allowing them to take up so much real estate in my head? My father’s been dead for 7 years now!!! The answer is I don’t know why I allow it, but this post may be step one to evicting them.
I’m going to start at the end (the present) because for today…for right now….all I can manage to get down on this virtual page is the fact that finally, after all these years, I accept that I cannot be near my “first family” anymore. I have PTSD from an emotionally and mentally abusive childhood. One in which there was almost no kindness or love and more disappointment and anger than any child should have to witness. My parents’ dislike for each other and their ability to blame me for their lives was topped only by the insanity of how they would come together long enough to abuse me. That much they had in common. That was what they shared. My father’s own self-loathing caused him to lash out verbally on a daily basis. He would tell me that no one would ever love me, I was a loser, “a big zero,” a nobody. I understand now that he did this out of his own self-hatred, but at the time he broke my spirit. And my mother watched, listened and usually did nothing. Sometimes though, she piled on. Truthfully, she did love him I think. She didn’t respect him, but she loved him in a dysfunctional co-dependent kind of way. She needed his validation more than she needed me. I was sacrificed so she could keep up the charade that their marriage wasn’t based on bullshit.
“So what?” you might think…lots of people have this problem or worse! That’s probably true. But now I have children of my own to parent and the broken spirit is still alive in well in their Mom. And broken people don’t usually make great parents. I have PTSD as I mentioned, Depression with periods of suicidal ideation and suffered for decades with an Eating Disorder. For the last few years, I have tried everything known to science to get out of my depression and deal with the anxiety…and for the most part I have the tools I need to be well. To smile sometimes because I am truly happy and sometimes, through the pain. But all that has to happen is for my Mom to come around and make a snarky comment or two and I’m in bed for 3 days. I feel withered all over again. She is toxic to me and I have to accept that. My Doctors and my Husband have understood this dynamic for years but only recently have I come to understand that I cannot have her in my life because she will not ever change her behavior. She will never acknowledge my pain or take any responsibility for any of it. Deny, Deny, Deny.
Just last week when I was crying at the aspect of cutting off from my family, my Doctor simply said, “you are grieving because these people are dead to you, but they are dead to you because they NEVER REALLY EXISTED.” I am grieving the childhood I wish I had, and the parents I deserved. And as I grieve, I feel waves of pain wash over me bringing flashbacks of childhood memories, mostly bad, a handful good and with the pain of regret comes the nausea and the sense of loss even though it is the loss of something I never really had. It is like when a loved one dies and you feel the pain cycle through you over time. I can’t do this grieving without writing it. I share with my Husband but it’s hard for him. He doesn’t know what to say. He had loving parents. I told him my current mantra is “My Mother couldn’t love me and it wasn’t my fault.” He almost didn’t know what to say. It hurts him to know that’s how I feel. So rather than just keep dumping it on him, I’m writing it down. I’m posting it and I’m putting it out there. Maybe no one acknowledges and maybe someone does. I know there are so many with similar stories. I just have to believe for all of us, the pain subsides. The tide ebbs and with it, the pain.