At 50 years old I am struggling with abuse by my parents starting from young childhood and continuing into adulthood. I “kick myself” for not having dealt with this much earlier in my life — in many ways, I’ve suffered so much and I’ve lost so much time. I kick myself in quotation marks only because I know I’ve done what I could do. My journey has been long because the conditions weren’t right for me to address my abuse more fully until now.
I don’t see my parents now. I know I need to stay away in order to heal. But even though there is space and silence between us, I still feel the toxicity of the old emotional connection.
I feel frustrated when I visualize my father. Who I “see” in my mind’s eye is someone who dismisses me readily. He is mostly infallible in his own mind’s eye: from his perspective, he acknowledges minimally that he has been abusive to me in the past but mostly he can do no wrong. And he is placated by the rest of my family. And I am left on the outside. If I want to be “in,” I must placate also; I must obey him and the status quo. I believe this is a common story among many adults who were abused as children, particularly if they were the scapegoat in the family as I was.
I know that in order to heal, in order, to “know”, really know in my bones, that I never deserved to be abused and that I’ve always deserved to have the very best in life, I know that I must put myself first and not focus on my father at the expense of myself. This is the way it always should have been, of course: my parents should have protected me as the vulnerable child that I was and it never should have been the other way around.
But it’s challenging to really stand up for yourself and to truly put yourself first when the patterning to protect the abuser has been so strong for so many years. And it’s challenging when, in order to protect one’s self, it becomes necessary to go against our biological imperative to belong in our family.
However, if I sit with the image of my father long enough, with his dismissal, and if I sit with my own knee jerk reaction to it, wanting to placate, I can see that that comes from a younger place. When I was a little girl I needed to belong to my family for my survival. My father’s dismissal of me was a direct threat to that. But I don’t need to placate him now, not even in my mind. What I need to do is to hold that little girl who so desperately needs to belong. What I need to do is tell her how much I love her and how much she belongs — with me — and tell her that I can take care of her now. She doesn’t need to be with an abuser. She never deserved to be with an abuser. There is someone much better for her. Me.