“Why isn’t there a commandment to “honor thy children” or at least one to “not abuse thy children”? The notion that we must honor our parents causes many people to bury their real feelings and set aside their own needs in order to have a relationship with people they would otherwise not associate with. Parents, like anyone else, need to earn respect and honor, and honoring parents who are negative and abusive is not only impossible but extremely self-abusive. Perhaps, as with anything else, honoring our parents starts with honoring ourselves. For many adult children, honoring themselves means not having anything to do with one or both of their parents.” (emphasis mine)
― Beverly Engel, Divorcing a Parent
I saw this quote online and felt like there is someone out there who understands!!!! I cut myself off from my family a long time ago (2003?) and I remember immediately feeling better. Just like I had when my dad died. For those of you who might not understand, imagine that your whole life you had been carrying around a 100 pound backpack, and that you had never had any say in whether or not you would be carrying the backpack. It just was. It was your normal, because you never knew another way. Now, imagine the backpack falls off one day. You feel relief and joy because this extra weight that you never even knew you were carrying is gone. I wrote before that I regret being back in touch with my mom. I feel better when we don’t email and we don’t talk. The last email I got said something about the weather and the forecast, then basically, I gotta go. It was maybe four sentences long. Why even bother?
The part of the quote that I highlighted says it all for me. If I had met my mother some random place, we would never have become friends. I would have thought that she was too negative and critical, and that she wasn’t very friendly. So, then, how am I supposed to have a relationship with her now? The other thing that hurts a lot about her is that all those years that my dad was saying cruel things and making me uncomfortable, she never once went to bat for me. I once told her that he was staring at me and my friends and that we were all really uncomfortable and she yelled at me. She told me shortly after I re-established contact that she had had no idea that any of this shit with my dad was going on. Because of deafness, I guess??? You could hear people fart in their room in our house. Thin walls, no privacy, abusive names and words being said and she had no fucking idea.
I think about the instinct to protect offspring that exists in the animal world. I think about how much loving bonds outside of family create that instinct, as well. I think about how strong that instinct is in me and how protective I am even of my dogs. In Santiago, a stray dog bit me in the ass because I was trying to protect Ripley from him. I thought really, really long and hard about getting some dog treats, treating them with poison and giving them to that fucking dog. My mom would have let me get bitten if I had been Ripley, then later said something like, “I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know the dog was going to bite you. I can’t make a dog do anything!!! It’s a dog!!” You know, just like, “he’s your father.”
I need to work this out, because, like the body stuff, this issue is causing me to be stuck. I don’t quite have the tools for this, and I honestly don’t know if I am willing, right now, to be the adult and try not to be resentful. The adult, been through therapy side of me knows that she did the best she could at the time and maybe didn’t know better, but the other side of me is still a kid that didn’t get mothered properly.
I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t feel emotionally safe with her, or even from her emails. I feel like every bit of contact is another stressor, and I can feel how tense and ready to be hurt I am every time I see an email from her in my in-box. I guess what needs to get worked out is how not to have the fear response.
Feh. Blah. Poop.
Word of the Day:
cor·y·ban·tic frenzied; agitated; unrestrained