I wrote a blog post a few days ago called “Parent Child Relationships ~ When Loyalty costs too much, about parent child relationships and when my parents split up, that triggered a few new things in me. I intended to write about how my mother leaned on me when I was 12 years old, because my Dad left us and my intention was to focus mostly on her actions and how they affected me and how dysfunctional our mother daughter relationship was. BUT I found myself getting really angry at my father. In some ways I feel like I never really had a father and I’ve known for a long time that whatever smidge of a father daughter relationship we had, it wasn’t much. Writing that post however was emotionally draining and I knew that I needed to process the feelings and anger that was coming up for me. Memories and feelings were coming at me from all different directions and so as I have learned to do, I sorted them out and separated them from each other in order to get a better understanding.
Here is how it played out;
~I was angry at my mother (in that instance) because she made me feel responsible for the outcome of her. But the anger at her self centeredness and selfish behavior came up too. I have always felt guilty for feeling that way.
~I was also angry at my father for moving her and us so far away from everyone that could have supported my mother. I had not really thought about his part in it to this degree before. With the anger came many other memories and flashes of memories that I had never thought about in this depth before either. Sometimes I tend to think I only have to look at the “REALLY” bad stuff in order to move on but this is not true.
Mixed in with both of those realizations was the deep down suspicion that I might have been able to save their marriage… that maybe if only I had been a better kid ~ and all that type of stuff. I felt like I had failed my mother somehow, and my father never noticed me anyway, which I thought must have been MY defect. I thought that if I had been “different” or “good enough” he would have noticed me for sure.
Right away I reminded myself that the defect in our father daughter relationship was HIS. He didn’t try. His lack of interest in me had to do with him as a father. Not with me as a daughter.
Next thing I did was get the “my fault stuff” out of the way by looking at the truth about the marriage breakup itself and assure myself that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I asked myself these kinds of questions:
~What was MY part in the event? ~ Well actually it had nothing to do with me (other then my pain of my parents splitting up and getting a divorce) and this was a truth that I never considered before. I had NO failure or responsibility in it at all.
~What could I have done differently? This is a question that I heard in 12 step programs since I was 18 years old. I took it out of context though and used it to hurt myself, reprimand myself, and reaffirm the belief that I always had a choice and the outcome was always something to do with me. In this case, there WAS nothing I could have done differently. I could not say to my mother when I was at the age of 12 ~ “MOM, do not make me responsible for your life. I will not support you in this way, you need professional help.” I didn’t understand any of that back then; I didn’t even have any context to put it into. But in the mind of a child, I thought there must have been something that I could have done, and I somehow failed to figure it out. I believed that this was my downfall, my defect ~ that I could not figure out how to fix things or stop things that really I had NO control over, but when you are made to feel like you are always responsible for the outcome of everything, and if that outcome is a beating or sexual abuse or being ignored, your ideas of what you can “do differently”~ get warped. I carried that old belief with me into my adulthood. I had to start taking this information into consideration and I had to become aware of it, in order to change my belief system.
It’s like there is this missing space between childhood and adulthood that needs to be looked at. And this works to the controller or abusers advantage too. We don’t fight them when we are kids, and as soon as we are in our twenties, (sometimes younger) they start preaching at us that we are adults now and our outcomes are our choices. Our messes are ours. It is SO dang hard to sort out!
In this case there were several things that I needed to look at separately; the anger and disappointment in my mother, the anger and disappointment in my father and what I believed to be my failure. In looking separately at the mother daughter relationship stuff and the father daughter relationship stuff and separating it all out from my failure stuff, I was able to get a clearer picture of all three and where my belief system worked against me. This helped me to get a clearer picture of the whole truth, the real truth and it also exposed the false truth that I had accepted all those years since I was 12.
I hope that I have been at least semi clear in illustrating how confusing this whole thing is to unravel. This has been just one snapshot of how I take something apart in order to see the truth, and how many other things get in the way of doing that. Please share your thoughts.
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time.
Note: I had these same deep down beliefs about the sexual abuse, emotional abuse and parental neglect; that I should have been able to figure out something to STOP them. Up until about 6 years ago, I never believed that I had “no choice”. As an adult I was taught and accepted that I was accountable for the events and the results in my life. I applied that teaching to my childhood and to the past without realizing it and it automatically reinforced the belief that I had since childhood that it was my fault, that I had a choice and that I was responsible. Several years ago I realized all my adult struggles resulted from the child hood events that molded my belief system and that I HAD to figure out the missing pieces of the puzzle in order to recover!