Maybe In A House …


I have been in recovery for a while now. Most days, I feel pretty good. Most days, I can keep my anxiety from paralyzing me. Most days, I function well. However, I don’t have to look far to see my pain. All I have to do is think about my parents.

Last night, I was watching a TV show, and a woman was grieving the loss of her mother to cancer. It had been about nine months since her death, but since the woman was planning her wedding, she was particularly upset. I could feel the intolerance building up inside of me. I may have even rolled my eyes. I thought to myself, “at least you had a mother”. This doesn’t happen every time. My compassion has come a long way. But last night, the feelings were there.

I have several primary emotions associated with my parents. First, there is the anger. Several years ago, it was rage. In therapy, I could scream at the top of my lungs. I could plot their deaths. I could beat a couch cushion with a bat until my arms wouldn’t work anymore. It was the first major emotion I reconnected with. There was a lot of it, and I was fairly comfortable expressing it. I can even say it was easy. I don’t have an issue with anger because to me, it isn’t vulnerable. It feels powerful.

Unfortunately, there was some intense grief behind the anger. I am not ok with expressing that. I don’t “do” sadness. Sadness is vulnerable. To me, vulnerability was the same as death when I was a child. In my family, you didn’t show weakness. It was always used against you. I didn’t cry … ever. It took a while to get to the point where I could grieve as an adult. Honestly, I have only grieved substantively in the past two years. I hate it. It still feels weak to me (and clearly I still judge others who do it). There’s one problem … it’s the only way for me to heal. It is critical to my recovery.

Grieving is different for me than those who have lost parents through death. My parents are still alive. I grieve the fact that they were never “real” parents. I grieve what I always wanted them to be. Like little orphan Annie, I grieve the little house hidden by a hill with the piano-playing and bill-paying parents. That never happened for me. As a child, I remember looking at houses in my neighborhood and wondering if they had a real, loving family. I wondered if I could go live with them. I wondered if I could get someone else to adopt me. Obviously, these were not the most realistic musings on my part, but I was a child.

I also grieve their reaction to me in recovery. Some part of me still wants them to apologize. I want to hear them acknowledge that they were wrong. Of course, I know this won’t happen. If they acknowledge it, they are admitting to a federal crime, and they won’ do that. They just tell people I am lying. They continue to weave their web of deception and hope they can hold it all together. So I grieve for that acknowledgment that won’t happen.

Grief is bad, but fear is the worst. Fear was the primary motivator in my family. “Do everything right or else.” There were plenty of nasty consequences. My parents were willing to use any form of abuse. Nothing was consistent either. One day, something small could spark a rage-filled attack by a parent. The next day, I could burn down the house and they wouldn’t notice.

Today, the fear is bad because it feels the most justified. It is the hardest emotion to attribute solely to my childhood experiences. As I speak out about my abuse, which was considered the worst offense in my childhood home, some consequences still seem realistic today. If someone is capable of the atrocities that my parents committed in my childhood, who is going to stop them from committing a crime now? There are some days that I am sure my father is standing outside of my house with a gun. Logically, I know that people who abuse children are cowards, but I still know what they did thirty years ago, and that is hard to ignore.

It may sound like I spend my days inundated with anger, sadness and fear, but that is not true. In the past few years, I have recovered enough to experience true happiness and even joy at times. I know that the worst part of my journey is behind me. I know that I can build that family that I longed for as a child. I know that it is up to me now … that I have the power to make my dreams come true. I know that I am no longer reliant on others to do the right thing. I am back in the driver’s seat and that is something I can be happy about.


14 thoughts on “Maybe In A House …

  1. I can relate so much to what you are saying, although anger is also hard for me–I saw what angry people did, and I never wanted to be like that. My trafficker-father was never really angry, never really any emotion. Just calculated.

    I comfort myself in remembering that, in their own way, my morally bankrupt parents are extremely lazy. Like yours, they can nullify any sense of threat by simply saying I’m lying or hysterical or emotionally unbalanced. What I think is really not personally very important to them. And there are other victims closer to hand that make better targets. I don’t delude myself into thinking they don’t have targets–I’m sure they do. But I am clearly such a poor choice now, so inconvenient, so difficult, and so not innocent or cute anymore.

    What really got my dad–his real passion–was corrupting others, preferably someone innocent, vulnerable, or unsuspecting. That is clearly no longer me. Because just as serial killers choose victims that fit a certain profile, my parents probably do as well. And I don’t think I fit it any longer. I am just no fun.

    Your parents may be much the same, and they may be unlikely to victimize you now because you have become the wrong kind of victim. For one, you are no longer a child. You are no longer completely dependent on them nor completely at their mercy. And that may mean you don’t fit their profile also.


    • Thanks Ashana. I agree. I am not the profile of their optimal victim at this point. I fell out of line with the plan and exposed the reality of our family. I think they are mad, but they are more intimidated. They just want to stay away from me now.


  2. It’s funny….anger is a feeling we just don’t ‘do’ (unless, of course its of the self-directed variety).

    Its just really sad to think how many kids are out there looking at all the pretty houses with ‘normal’ families, wishing they could be inside.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Your post does offer so much hope, though. That, life can get better in time and that abusers don't always win the battle for 'hearts and minds'.


    • Thank you so much. Survivors often have trouble expressing anger because abusers are quick to shut anger down in their victims. If a victim gets too angry at their abuser, they might just fight back, and that is not acceptable.


  3. I can so relate to this I almost cried. I have been grieving the family I wished I had. They are still alive and in complete denial. I am the problem/problem child in their eyes. They bash me. It hurts like hell. I’ve only begun feeling this in the last couple of years too. This week has been hard for some reason, I don’t really know why. It’s also hard to watch my Hubby call his Mom with all the happenings in our lives and I don’t have that. While his Mom and I get along, she betrayed me in a way I’m not over yet. Ugh. I hate crying and grief, too it was dangerous in my family as well. Only the father was allowed to cry and it was usually manipulative. Sorry you’re hurting too. We will grieve twice…now for the family we long for and when they die, because that solidifies it will never be. xo


    • Zoe, You are right. We will grieve when they die because some part of us will always be hoping that they will “come around”. When my ex-husband died, I felt that. However, it won’t be as bad as if we had continued to cater to them for the rest of our lives.


  4. Oh, wow. Stumbled upon this from Zoe’s recommendation and I can relate to it so much. Grieving parents that are still alive. Wondering if they will come at me with a weapon now to kill me.


    • I am so glad you found me. I look forward to reading your blog too. I can tell you explain DID so eloquently. I am very passionate about it because of my own dissociation.


  5. I really liked your blog. Emotions are scary when you have to shut everything down to survive, sounds like you’re using incredible strength to keep moving forward, even when it feels like you aren’t.


  6. Hi Elisabeth, I can relate to you very much. My step-father sexually abused me right under my mother’s nose and she did nothing about it. She has also lied about any abuse that has happened and just brushes it off saying that they weren’t perfect parents. I made the decision in May to cut them off permanently. There was definitely a grieving process and I still feel guilty about it at times. When I was little, I would day dream of being kidnapped. It sounds crazy now but my mother was abusive as well and might possibly be bi-polar or something like that so I wished for any possible way out. The difficult part, now, is that I didn’t act within the statutes of limitations for their states. I hope and pray that there will not be any more victims.
    Thank you for coming out with your story. I hope you are getting the peace and happiness that you deserve. 🙂


    • It sounds like our experiences were very similar. Thanks for sharing your story. I am looking forward to reading your blog. In my state, there is no longer a statute of limitations. Hopefully, your states will do the same thing soon.


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