Parents who emotionally neglect their children create a powerful bond. Read More
How does an adult child who grew up in an abusive home let go of this fantasy of parents who care? How do they stop longing for a mom and dad?
That is a great question to which there is no easy or single answer. In my experience people come to that understanding in their own time when they are ready. That doesn't mean, however, that loving friends and family (and perhaps mental health professionals) cannot gently challenge and question someone's unhealthy and/or illogical beliefs. Ideally, the person doing the challenging will not appear to have a vested interest in the outcome other than the best interest of the person.
There is no cure. You just love your own children and break the cycle.
As a kid and as a teen I tried hard to be good enough for my mom. It didn't work. One day, when I was 16, I heard a conversation that I wasn't supposed to hear, she said: "I never wanted kids, especially not a girl.". And believe me that sentence came from the heart, like something she'd always wanted to say, but had never allowed herself to say. And since there was no way she knew I was there, I know she didn't just say it to hurt me intentionally. She just really meant it.
For some reason, that sentence freed me. At that moment, a light turned on: "It's not about how good or bad I am, there is nothing I can or cannot do, she doesn't want a girl, no matter who that girl is. No girl can ever be enough".
I didn't heal instantly, but I stopped wearing the burden of being the reason she wanted to kill herself, or scream, or break stuff, or hide in the basements for weeks without talking to anyone. My brother and dad, still thought it was me making her react, but I knew she was reacting to me being a girl, not to me, me.
I left home 1 year later. I visited a bit a first, and then less and less, until 1 day after driving 3 hours only to have her shot the door to my face because apparently I was a bit early, I decided I'd had enough and at 27 I just stopped all communications.
I have been free ever since. It's been over 10 years... It took time to leave completely because, I needed to know that I didn't just give up. I needed to know I had tried everything I could find in any book. Believe me, I tried a lot of different things! The only thing that did work for a time (2 visits and a half), was going to visit with other people. She could not be mean to me in front of 'strangers'. However, on the 3rd visit, she called me on it.
I'd say, even if you don't know what the little piece of missing information is in your case, read about any abusive situation, and you'll notice that it's not about you (the abused), it's about them (the abuser). It's always about them, what they expected, what they wanted or didn't want and how they couldn't/can't find a way to make peace with what was and what is. It's about how they fight it with all their soul. It's their fight, not yours...
I'm pretty sure my mother is still fighting it: "How could I disappear like that, blah blah". It doesn't matter, she'd fight if I were there, she's most likely fighting when I'm not there. At least, I no longer have to fight it with her.
I hope you find a way to make peace with what was and what is. There are great advantages to coming from such a hard environment. Once you have found your ground, your center, your peace, it takes a lot to get you off balance... and when you do get off balance, you know how to give yourself space to heal, because nothing is ever harder than healing from years of being innocent (ignorant), dependant and over powered.
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Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D., researches parental alienation and children of divorce.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?