I feel guilty when I hear my friends who have lost their parents talk about how much they miss them. It grieves me.
It grieves me because I am grieving the loss of my parents only not by death.
I am grieving by choice.
My whole family is still alive except I do not have relationships with them.
I have not spoken with my father in almost six years, same with his side of the family. I recently cut off contact with my mom and her family.
I don’t take this lightly either. It wasn’t a rash, reactive decision. It was one born out of years of abuse, neglect and abandonment that did not stop once I became an adult. I only realized the truth of what my childhood was once I entered therapy.
The reason I feel guilty is I technically suppose I could still have a relationship with them and somehow feel that my grief isn’t valid or “like theirs” because my parents are living and I am the one who chose to walk away.
Yet in a way my family is dead. They died when I realized that my father had been sexually abusing since I was a young child. They died when I realized that my mom in her narcissistic ways was using me and my trauma responses as a way to make things about her.
They ceased being my parents when they dropped me off at the ER and left me after I attempted suicide. When I think about all the years and times that I needed a solid and stable family and did not have that because they chose to leave me in a state where I had no one and no money and wound up in the state hospital.
When I had to flee my abusive boyfriend, four months pregnant with is child they accused me of taking money and smoking crack with it instead of hearing me when I said I had paid his rent at the motel we were living in. There was no offer of help there were only random phone calls and updates of what I was doing.
Looking back I needed to be on my own when I left Jeffrey because if my mom had been there I wouldn’t have done the things I needed to do my way and I wouldn’t be where I am today.
But when I moved home almost 9 months later with a three month old baby after not being home in almost four years I expected things to be different.
They weren’t. They were passive aggressively different and because I had my new Jesus life where I thought everything was great and I was forgiven I thought that things were going to be fine with my family.
In truth I had stuffed down the 900 pounds seething monster and moving back in with my parents brought that monster to life.
It took the next six and half years for me to really realize, one interaction with them at a time for me to realize that I was still an outsider and always would be. I may have come home with the first “prized” grandchild but I was looked at different. Suddenly no one knew how to talk to me when really all I wanted was for things to be normal.
They couldn’t and wouldn’t be normal, the years I was gone some terrible things happened and I had been on a lot of drugs. But I was clean and I wanted to everyone to know that.
I again tried so hard to get my parents to see that I was different, that I was clean and that I was a good mom. That I loved my daughter and that I was going to everything I needed to do to be a good mom. It wasn’t enough though. The approval that I was trying to gain from them wasn’t coming and I was tired of trying to win it.
When I got into therapy three years ago and started to dig deep and really talk about what growing up was like and what relationship with my parents was like now that’s when the realization set in that I hadn’t grown up the way I thought I had. That when diagnoses were given to me and the medications were thrown at me it was done to make my parents feel better, not to help me. My parents saw me as acting out behaviorally. I learned that what I was experiencing were trauma responses, fight or flight and what is now known as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
That is when things with my family started to change. I didn’t want to spend time with them even though they wanted to spend time with Abigail. For the most part I was okay with that until I started to notice things that she would say when she would come home. She would react to me in certain ways when they would drop her off. I started to become really uncomfortable with them spending time with her but cutting off ties?
There was a part of me, a wounded child part that knew I wasn’t ready. I already felt the loss of never having a mom. I would search out relationships with nurturing older women who could “mother me” because I needed that. I became attached to the majority of my elementary school teachers and the ones in junior high and high school that were kind I formed bonds with. Without a mother figure to look to I needed someone to fill that gap.
Things fell apart when I came home from Africa and found out how things had been with my mom and Abigail while I was gone.
It was bad.
Then I started to get ballsy and bring things up to my mom that I remembered from childhood and she point blank denied it and told me that I have deep psychological problems.
After that I was done. We didn’t talk much after that. I got sick and had surgery and had to lay down some pretty tough boundaries because me being sick is something they thrive on.
I stopped spending time on them unless it was necessary and when I did I was ignored, made fun of in a roundabout way for my “Jesus Beliefs” or just not made to feel welcome.
When Abigail said to me that she didn’t understand why my parents paid more attention to my niece and nephew than they do to her I realized that I couldn’t let Abigail grow up with the same abusive, passive aggressive manipulation that I was.
I cut off contact.
I blocked their numbers.
They kept calling.
One night Abigail got a hold of my phone and called my mom. I was sick and had the flu and had been sleeping for most of the day. Abigail brought me the phone and said my mom wanted to talk to me. I hung up. I wasn’t going to bring them back in my life.
Ten minutes later I had two sheriff deputies knocking on my door saying that my mom had called in a child welfare report. They deputies came in and checked everything out. Obviously everything was fine and I explained my situation with my parents. Turns out as the deputies were leaving my parents were getting off the elevator. They let them know they were not welcome at my house and they needed to leave.
This brings where I am now.
I don’t like grief; I honestly don’t know a single person who does. I have 32 years of a lost relationship to grieve and I honestly don’t know how.
I have never had that mother daughter or father daughter relationship that others have and I ache over that. I can’t even watch Disney movies with Abigail where there is a Father/daughter. It’s too hard. Everything about this kind of loss is too hard because it leaves me feeling unwanted.
That feeling of being unwanted translates to every other relationship in my life. Friendships, relationships, even people online that I do not know very well.
I still wish I had a mom and a dad that had wanted me that want me now and would love me the way I know I deserve.
I wish I had gone to a father daughter dance, or muffins with mom.
I didn’t and I have to grieve that. There is Jesus in His humanity to bear that grief with me and I am holding on to that tonight as I write this because I feel unwanted and unloved.
Trying to mother when you need to be mothered yourself is a tiring process. Making sure that Abigail has what she needs usually comes before me having what I need. By the time I am done I have nothing left to give for myself and I crash or zone out and watch TV. Sometimes it’s nice but it’s not very healing.
I want to heal. I want my grief to fall away like Christ’s grave cloths. I want to find the way to mother myself, to let God mother me and father me because I know he can do both. But when grief presses in and causes you to think that everyone around you doesn’t want you either it’s too hard to see God that way.
Grief is messy but it can be beautiful too. It’s beautiful because as the tears fall the healing comes. I realize that I am not only healing for myself I am healing for a little girl who deserves a healthy mom.
March 15, 2014 at 12:57 am
Bethany, this is so hard. I am grieving with you tonight. Know that you are not unwanted, and that you are brave and wise for protecting Abigail. ❤
March 15, 2014 at 9:51 am
I hate using WP on the phone. It keeps posting before I’m done. You keep showing up, doing the work, and taking risks. God will bless that.
March 15, 2014 at 9:52 am
Did you see my two posts before this? They were awesome.
March 15, 2014 at 11:30 am
I am so proud of you for being willing to face all this hard stuff and even prouder that you were brave enough to post it. I am proud of you for taking risks in relationship after being hurt and continuing to pursue and invest in friendship. God is going to restore the years the locusts have eaten.
March 15, 2014 at 11:45 am
I’m believing that. Trying to believe that. Even through the hurt right now.
March 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm
Grieving is exhausting and heavy, and my heart breaks for you. You deserve a better story than you were handed. Worlds better! You are strong to not let it silence you. I’m so glad you are taking these steps toward healing even though it feels like walking on hot coals. I love you.