I’ve been having weird thoughts/feelings lately, concerning my parents. I desperately cling to the idea that one day, just maybe, they’ll wake up…or listen to me, or hear me out. Or just hold me and say “it’s okay.”
It’s not happened yet. Sometimes it comes close, but it’s always at a cost…and I’m resigning myself to the fact that I’ll never have parents who are proper parents. I watched everyone at graduation last week; parents walking behind their child with proud, beaming smiles…taking pictures at every opportunity. I felt a pang of sadness and jealousy, and hated myself for it. Of course I felt happy for them, and glad they had such a lovely family. But I know I’ll never have that. Even if my parents are here for my graduation, whenever that may be, any ounce of pride will be tainted by the shadow, or even a show. There will be tension. There will be sadness. And there will undeniably be pressure of some sort…
My Dad bounces between listening to me and hearing me out, to denying all knowledge of any kind of abuse…even the emotional. He’ll jump between saying I’m crazy, and my mind is too much of a mess, and that he won’t believe I was abused and that I shouldn’t hold grudges and should get back in touch with my grandparents….to saying that he acknowledges that there was at least emotional abuse. I grant him this; he has blanked memories too. But he does know there was abuse. And for him to deny it to my face and tell me I’m just basically losing my mind, and to stand by his abusive parents…it’s a constant kick in the teeth.
And today I realised. I can’t handle this pressure anymore. I can’t take however many more years of wincing everytime the phone rings in case it’s another “I think you should think about getting back in touch. It’s very difficult for me being in the middle. They didn’t mean what they did; they had your best interests at heart.” I can’t be doing with the guilt. I can’t be doing with the pressure. Regardless of what he’s actually done to me…the bit that saddens me the most is his pressure to make me “get over” what happened.
More importantly, how can my little sister ever learn that the pressure is wrong, if I cave into it every time? She needs to see me going “No. Boundary crossed.”
So I write this blog as a promise, that people can hold against me if they wish 😉 the next time my father applies any kind of pressure, and won’t hear me out…I will write him the following letter. Because frankly, enough is enough. He’s not 4 years old anymore; he’s a father. The pressure is stopping me from recovering, and keeping me in some kind of warped hold. Time to be brave…
This is incredibly hard and scary for me to write, especially publicly. But this way I know I’ll stick to it, and not give them yet another chance. It’s also extremely sad; despite everything, I do love my father. I do. I wish more than anything he could see reality for what it is, and accept it, and stand by me. The idea of cutting off all contact is terribly upsetting…I just want a dad 😦 but I can’t be put below the needs of abusers…
So…here goes nothing…
I’ve had enough. I guess/know you’re only trying to protect yourself, but the truth remains that I am your daughter and as your daughter, deserve your protection. You continue to put my needs below the needs of your abusive parents, and this I cannot stand for, even if I actually wish I could. I don’t deserve it, and will no longer accept behaviour that I don’t deserve. The pressure you apply, whether it’s projected pressure from them or actually your own genuine feelings – I neither know nor care at this point – is very damaging for me, and extremely hurtful.
I can’t spend the rest of my life praying that one day you’ll go “Jade. I believe you, how can I help?” The process of increasing hope, to only have it shattered – that is very hard, as I hope you can understand. You are my father and I love you for that…but that alone is not enough for me to let you hurt me.
I need to recover. I need people around me who believe in me, so that I can properly learn to believe in myself…after all, the abusers you know and defend have crushed my self-belief. Each time you defend them and tell me it was in my “best interests” and they were doing what they believed to be “best” and didn’t mean to cause harm is a huge betrayal. It feels like a massive kick in the teeth. I don’t know on what grounds you can excuse any level of abuse, or pass it off as in a child’s best interests. You have at least agreed that there was emotional abuse…and yet you will defend their actions. I will agree that people get angry sometimes and say/do things that they later regret, but the fundamental difference here is that they do NOT regret their actions. They have never shown sign of regret or remorse, and will instead blame the children for their behaviour. “The children were naughty, they pushed us into it.” You told me not so long ago that we are not bad children, and so contradicted yourself…if we are not bad, then on what grounds were we “naughty”? Irrespective of this, no child deserves abuse. That is a simple fact. I don’t care how much money they spent, or how many lovely trips they took us on, or however many more materialistic stuff they provided – I of course won’t deny them that. But to have everything materialistically does not mean it’s okay to abuse someone “be more grateful, look what they’ve done for you.” They bought me everything…and abused me. Frankly I would be happier with nothing, if I was safe and in a stable environment.
Equally, to make the same “mistake” continuously over a period of years is not excusable; they were not making a mistake, they were very aware of what they were doing. To forbid us to talk at school because “we don’t want to be put on some register” strongly suggests to me that your parents knew fine rightly that they were abusing us. To punish me so incredibly every time I did speak out at school also suggests this. Why, if there was no problem, did you not all sit me down and ask WHY I felt there was? Why did you not gently ask me to explain why I felt as I did? Why did your mother so clearly despise the fact I saw a counsellor? What was her fear? Never did you give me a chance to speak. You all just screamed and shouted at me, and whatever else…until I was silent. Any protest from me resulted in punishment. My right to speak for myself was completely ignored. Their need to protect themselves was the priority. Well, frankly, they should have thought more about their behaviour if they were so keen on protecting themselves. I will put children first, always. You always say “Jade should think about what she says to people, about what the consequences would be.” Maybe you should say to your parents “you should have thought about what you did before you abused my children. You should have thought about what the consequences would be.”
A child is never to blame for ANY kind of abuse. EMotional, physical or sexual. And there is no “oh well that’s only a small amount of abuse.” They are all exceptionally damaging, and take a long time to recover from.
You are so desperate to believe that my head can make this stuff up. Tell me this, if there was no abuse in simply that household, then why have three children suffered from various mental health issues since leaving? I am the other side of the country; they can’t be learning from me. In actual fact, it was Jason who struggled first, if you remember. I am sure there are witnesses I can find to back this up if you should need it. Then I went off the rails, and now Jasmine is struggling too. My whole life had been leading up to my degree – that was the dream. WHY if nothing had happened would I get so ill with PTSD and DID (dissociative identity disorder – only happens as a result of abuse) and have to give up my degree? Why would I be plagued with flashbacks, nightmares, depression and anxiety? Why would my feelings of self-worth be so low? Why would I feel so ashamed to cry? Why would I be so jumpy of people getting too near me? Why would I feel so ashamed to say “I was hurt”? If I cry I deserve a hug, and that’s fine…and yet it’s taken me over a year to realise properly that CRYING IS OKAY. Silence is not. How could my flashbacks be so powerful it takes a group of adults to restrain me…? There’s no acting here, I have hurt myself in flashbacks more than I could consciously, and the adrenaline due to what I’m re-living is so powerful that four adults have at times had to restrain me. Think about that, next time you wonder if my flashbacks can simply be made up or my mind with an “overactive imagination.”
Let me tell you this, I am unsure as to whether you know or not. This February, I attempted suicide and ended up being admitted to a psychiatric ward for three weeks. I didn’t tell you because I feared you’d be angry with me, or tell me I was being ott, or that I was jeopardising your parents’ health by being such a mess. There was other stuff that tipped it, but the aftermath of my past was ultimately the cause. Whilst in hospital, I met other patients who’d gone through abuse…emotional, physical and sexual. All of them said the emotional scars were the most damaging, because they are invisible. All of them shared my symptoms. In there I realised I was worth more, and didn’t need to live in the shadow. I realised I deserve to be comforted, and have a right to speak out. I did not enjoy it in there, and I did not want to go there, but I was ill enough as a direct result of what’s happened to me, that I had no choice. I will NOT go back to that place. So I cannot afford to have people in my life who defend those that hurt me.
This is very hard for me to write. I am crying. Because, you are my Dad. Of course I don’t want to just give that up. But you leave me with no choice. Unless you can put your children first, rather than your parents who have caused a significant amount of damage, then I cannot have any further contact with you. The tools and control are all in your hands to fix this; there’s nothing more that I can do. Of course you think the easier option would be if I went “okay, I’m over it” and welcomed your parents back into my life with open arms and we can all play happy families. I don’t think you realise, or want to realise, the damage that they have caused. I don’t care, frankly, whether it was intended or not – though sincerely doubt it was all “stressed pensioners”. The fact remains the damage was severe, as witnesses both from my school and university can vouch for – including mental health professionals. The damage will take a long time to heal, and on a daily basis I struggle with depression and PTSD. If you seriously expect me to bounce back into the life that caused me such damage, then I’m afraid I will disappoint.
You can continue to blame me for the upheaval in your family if you wish; I know the truth, and deep down so do you. How can you blame the damaged one, who was damaged as a child? They are grown ups, able to make rational and conscious decisions based on what is right and wrong. They caused the damage, and I’m now having to recover rather than live my life how I should be. Blame me if it’s easier, but they are the reason for this. Not me. For me to just pretend nothing happened means I’m no longer in reality, which is wrong, and I will not cave to any expectations of living in a false reality.
I am a survivor of abuse. That is who I am. Funnily enough, I don’t like it either. But I had no choice in the matter. And I cannot have people in my life, especially those who are supposed to protect me, try and convince me that my head is making it up and that my grandparents were perfectly reasonable in their behaviour. I have a right to recover and be soothed for what happened. I have a right to be listened to.
I’m sorry it has to finish like this; I know we both tried on several different occasions to somehow make it work. But I just bend to your needs every time, which in turn is bending to my grandparents, and so denying myself the right to recovery. I cannot have any further contact with you, for the sake of my mental health – which is severely damaged. If you do love me as you say you do, then please please protect me now, and let me recover…
I genuinely wish you all the best, and I do love you. I just can’t stand for this anymore. You made your choice, and it puts them over me. I have to put me over them, and so I need to walk away now.
Jesus God that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I sincerely hope it’s never needed, but I think it will 😦