ACONs · Adult Survivors of Emotional Child Abuse · Emotional Child Abuse

The Secret Grief of an Adult Survivor of Emotional Child Abuse

grief-adult-survivors-of-child-abuse
[photo credit: flickr user Robert Terrell
“I wonder if others feel the tremendous amount of loss and sadness I feel at not having the ‘healthy’ parent experience,” writes an Invisible Scar reader in a recent email.

“It’s heartbreaking and my heart is definitely broken,” she continues. “But, it’s an overwhelming amount of grief to process and yet, it has to be processed and felt to really move on into a new way of living and perceiving your familial relationships. So, I thought it might be interesting to talk about grieving, how it’s OK to grieve and how we need to grieve this relationship that we were so entitled to and so desperately needed, and of which we were so painfully deprived.”

Ah.

Breathe in, breathe out. Find a safe, comfortable place to read this post. Maybe pour yourself some peppermint tea. Because, yes, we do need to talk about grief.

Grief Need Not Be Feared

After years of being held emotionally captive, a freshly awakened adult will find strong, unexplored emotions—such as anger, confusion, panic, fear—whirling in his heart. Dark and heavy in the maelstrom will be grief.

That grief may not be seen clearly at first, for the enormity of the loss may not be fully understood at this time.

“Grief is the psychological-emotional experience following a loss of any kind (relationship, status, job, house, game, income, etc.).” (Dr. Will Meek, Psychology Today column, Note to Self)

In the agony of the time following adult survivor’s awakening, the adult survivor may overlook this grief. He may find himself rushing through different emotions. He may mistakenly believe emotions can be approached in order as if on a list or think that all emotions will be experienced separately rather than in the entanglement that they usual are.

Mostly, an adult survivor will seem to try and hurry through the grief in a desperate attempt to get the state of being emotionally healthy.

After all, no one likes being on the healing journey. Everyone would much rather be healed instantly.

Adult survivors may lack self-examination or ignore therapy in their urgency to forget the past. They may shove their darker, messier feelings—those complicated knots of emotions—under the bed to gather dust and never emerge again. They want to be happy and feel safe NOW.

However, grief must be felt, endured, and gone through to get to a healthy place.

To not recognize the loss, or rather, the myriad losses, of an abusive childhood is to prevent oneself from being wholly healed.

Grief is not generally considered a disorder but rather is viewed as an adaptation to a loss. In this respect, the process of grieving is similar to the process of healing. It involves working through the stages of grief…

“The resolution of grief requires accepting the reality of the loss, cognitively and emotionally, and reorganizing the facets of life in spite of the loss. However, resolution is not a return to the ‘old self.’ One never really returns to his or her former self. Instead, one incorporates the experience into what eventually becomes a new self. Reaching resolution requires working through grief, which takes time.” (William F. Doverspike, Ph.D., “Grief: The Journey From Suffering to Resilience“)

What Are Adult Survivors Mourning?

Grief for adult survivors is a complex emotion because so much of the loss has been built up over time and adult survivors have long learned to adapt to the constant loss of an abusive childhood.

“Victims’ grief is delayed because most abused children learn how to adapt to even astonishingly difficult circumstances in order to survive, but they do pay a price,” states Dr. Sandra Bloom in her study The Grief That Dare Not Speak Its Name. “A later crisis or loss in adult life may unmask an underlying vulnerability that has been lurking beneath the apparently normal surface of their lives for years.”

A vague sorrow follows adult survivors who have not come to grips with the reality of their childhood abuse. The dark and heavy feeling has been with them all their life. Perhaps as children, they sometimes felt long stretches of sadness that had no specific identifiable cause to outsiders. The child may have had the physical necessities of life, may have had a family that appeared outwardly stable and loving, may have even willed himself to believe the facade.

And yet….

Something was not quite right. How could everything have been right when the child felt a sorrow dogging his heels, casting a shadow on a life that everyone else said was sunny?

“For adult survivors, the losses that accompany child maltreatment are cloaked in silence, lost in the shrouds of history, and largely unrecognized,” Bloom states. “But these ‘little deaths’ linger as unremoved splinters in the survivor’s psyche for decades.” (Dr. Bloom)

Much later, when they awaken, they recognize that feeling as a grief for the loss of so many things.

The Sorrows of an Adult Survivor of Emotional Child Abuse

 1. The loss of a childhood that never was

The resiliency of children is what keeps them together enough to make it through to adulthood. And so, they often tell themselves that they are really not abused, no.

Everything’s fine. My family is loving. Everyone’s great.

Despite everything in children telling them that they are being abused, they cling to the belief that all is well.

That’s because the reality of their abusive childhood can be too stunning, far too overwhelming for a child to completely grasp. And so, they cushion their heart with the belief that their parents aren’t that bad, that the child is “just being too sensitive,” etc.

When the adult child awakens to reality, they have this lie of their childhood torn from them—and the loss cuts to the quick.

2. The loss of what childhood should have been

“There’s a feeling of being ripped off,” an adult survivor of childhood neglect told me recently. “You didn’t get what you were supposed to get in childhood.”

The right of a child is to have a parent’s unconditional love.

After all, “a child is not something owed to one, but is a gift,” states The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Good parents love their children, listen to them, spend time with them, encourage them, laugh with them, help them grow into kind and good people. Good parents equip their children with what they need to have healthy, safe childhoods. Good parents respect the personhood of their childhood.

“The relationships within the family bring an affinity of feelings, affections and interests, arising above all from the members’ respect for one another. The family is a privileged community called to achieve a ‘sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children’s upbringing.'” (226 CCC)

Waking up to the realization that you needed so much more than what you were given emotionally is grief-inducing.

3. The loss of the people who never were

Once an adult survivor awakens to the truth, he will, through therapy and prayer, come to see the truth of who his parents are. And this realization, the unmasking of abusers, is shocking and hard.

The adult child may have seen his father as “strong, loving, doing what needs to be done” and excused aberrant behavior out of a filial love. Despite any evidence to the contrary, the “loving parent” persona has been a fixture in the adult child’s life.

But now… an adult child loses the people that never were.

Snow is on the ground
but this is not my landscape now,
where I find myself without you.
Oh I never knew you from the sun.”
(Karen Peris, “I Never Knew You From the Sun” song)

4. The loss of the present

Once awakened, an adult survivor is changed.

He may want to go back to the pre-awakening life. He may reject what he has discovered. Or he may embrace his new knowledge and run toward a new life. He may dig deep into understanding what was endured, what was taught, what can be done to live an emotionally healthy life.

Whatever the choice, the fact is that the adult survivor is different by being awake. And that means that what was has changed. An awakened adult will lose her slippery grasp on imagined people and on her hopes for the present.

Life’s different now. And that fact might be very difficult for adult survivors to face. Some even may try to go back to the old ways. But for those who remain strong and fight the hardest battle, they may grieve the present because they know hard work and a different path are now ahead of them.

5. The loss of the future

An adult survivor may have thought about his future at some point, one that included his parents. Or at least, that included his perception of who his parents were. Perhaps he imagined taking care of his parents in their old age and reconnecting emotionally—wishing, perhaps subconsciously, for his parents’ old age to bring a reconciliation or something deeper and kinder than what is.

Or perhaps an adult survivor may have imagined his parents as grandparents, perhaps helping out with the grandchildren, pitching in financial or emotional support. Despite the adult survivor’s gut feeling that everything will be as it was with him, he clings to the hope for a better, emotionally safer and healthier future.

But that’s most probably not going to happen.

And so the imagined future, with older parents who aren’t abusers, dies.

The grief digs deep into the heart.

6. The losses felt by their younger selves

An awakened adult survivor will have post-traumatic stress disorder—the trauma triggering it being “childhood.”

Memories of the past will not feel the same. Now, you’ll see the past through a clearer, longer-reaching lens. In looking through the new lens, you’ll find yourself full of deep sympathy for your childhood self. Many adult survivors even refer to themselves as “little Cary” or “little James.” And they’ll feel that sorrow, almost re-experience it, as the child once more.

You’ll be far more connected to your younger self, who has found his voice.

All these griefs can feel overwhelming and heavy. You may find yourself scared and panicked and confused at times. Or you may want to crawl back to your unawakened days.

Grief can make you want to mollify it with drugs, alcohol, sex, food binges, etc.

But there are healthier, safer ways to get through the grief.

How to Handle Grief

The weight of all this grief may feel too much to bear, but know you are not alone. Other adult survivors of emotional child abuse have felt similar emotions are yours, and they have learned, through time and therapy and prayer, to trim those sorrows into smaller, more bearable pieces. The sorrow will not go away completely, for those griefs have already been carved into your heart… but they will no longer threaten to stop it from beating.

You can live through this sorrow. You can come through it stronger than you could have imagined.

  • Go to therapy.
    You need someone to help you through your memories, to help guide you through the grief, to know if you are fixating on sorrows, to note how much you have grown and learned. The right therapist will be your guide to a healthier, emotionally stronger you. Seek this advocate in your life. You deserve it.
  • Share your sorrow with a safe friend.
    Make sure you confide in a trustworthy friend, and know he/she really cares about you and wants you to be a healthier, stronger self. You’ll need a confidante, and you’ll also need a friend to pull you out of the sorrows now and then and share the gift of laughter.
  • Read about emotional child abuse and how to heal from it.
    Don’t just read about the damaging behaviors or the abuse itself… Also, read about how you can heal from your grief.
  • Pray.
    Pray for strength and courage to work through your grief. Pray for healing. Pray for all other adult survivors of emotional child abuse who you know or who read The Invisible Scar. Pray with words or music or tears. Pray in silence, just a mindful quiet in the presence of He Who Loves You Most in the World.

Know you are not alone.

Know you matter.

And know that you can be healed.


 

Veronica Jarski is founder and managing editor of The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors. She has extensive editorial experience and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her work has been featured on myriad publications, such as Kapost, Loyola Press, MarketingProfs, and Ragan.

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38 thoughts on “The Secret Grief of an Adult Survivor of Emotional Child Abuse

  1. Yes, there is a light at the end of this long, thorny tunnel. And it’s sad to look back at myself as a child, and it’s sad to view my parents as who they really are. What has helped me is feeling empathy for my parents. My dad was treated far worse than he ever treated me. And my mother was constantly pushed aside in favor of her sibling (and that is what my mom did to me all my life). Seeing it for what it really is has helped me heal. I awakened several years ago and it could have been called ptsd. The hardest part was when my second child was born, and not a single family member came to visit her. That was my final push to overcome their behavior. In the first year of her life I have managed to heal. Then I realized my mil was treating me much like my dad had and I had never said anything to her about it. And suddenly, she hears that I disaggree with her over something small and she starts yelling at me, swearing, and telling me what she really thinks of me. It was so bad that my husband got involved to tell her to stop. The problem here is that before I awakened, I would let other people treat me like my parents did. It’s a continuous cycle until you awake. But when you do, it’s freeing. It’s sad too, but you become stronger. I believe the people who have behaved in such a way towards you for so long have the hardest time accepting who you have become and try hard to get you back to your old self. Stand up, be strong, be brave, and keep moving forward.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thanks for your insightful comment.

      And yes, adult survivors, who are not aware of the truth of their childhood abuse, often repeat the pattern and establish relationships with “unsafe” people. The good news is that once awakened/aware, adult survivors can stop committing that same mistake.

      Onward and upward

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I believe the people who have behaved in such a way towards you for so long have the hardest time accepting who you have become and try hard to get you back to your old self……

      Gosh, that was spot-on! Our old self is the person they force-moulded us to be. The person “we-have-become” is actually our true self, free at last.

      And both cannot inhabit the same body. I tried being 2 persons because I was too scared to hurt my parents by being who I really was. I had tried it before, and the punishments of weeks-long cold treatment, poisonous missives, and endless diatribes, was too much to endure. But wearing a mask for them messed me up badly too.

      In the end, already having other heartaches in my life, I decided I’d go one less.
      And so, I went No-Contact.

      I explained it to a friend I had deemed close. She asked me, Do you want to be a stumbling block to your parents’ happiness in old age OR do you want to be their stepping stone?

      I knew then, that even that friendship had to go.

      Today, it’s been more than 2 years of No-Contact, prayers & faith formation (I’m a Catholic) and I’ve finally found LIFE.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. “I knew then, that even that friendship had to go.” I think we get to the point where we know some people will never understand, but we’re not going to start making excuses either. Good for you. We’ve already sacrificed our childhoods.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this. It has been nearly 2 years since I went no contact with my narcissistic mother and adoptive father. I have been struggling with the aftermath-guilt, grief, and division of relationships brought about by my mother’s need to tell people her version of events (in which I am the ungrateful daughter who has ripped her grandchildren away from her for no reason). Describing the realization of understanding that your childhood and parental relationship was not right as “an awakening” is exactly what it feels like. Suddenly everything IS different and there is no going back to the way it was. Compounding things for me was the fact that I met my biological father finally and initially he seemed to be all the things that I wanted and needed in a parent. However once my narcissistic mother was “out of the picture”, the effort he put into being the attentive and caring parent figure he presented himself as initially decreased exponentially. I feel such an enormous sense of loss and sadness and at times anger. Due to financial constraints I have not sought counselling to move through these feelings. This post was very timely because I think that grief is a very important and necessary part of this process. It is so overwhelming to be an adult with children and still reliving the sadness of loss of your own childhood.
    My greatest wish is that if all of this can help me to be a better and more loving parent to my own children, than perhaps these experiences have served a purpose in my life. I do think it’s easy to underestimate the importance of allowing oneself to grieve, and that it is a necessary part of moving through this process to come out on the other side. Right now my best defence against the onslaught of all of this is being no and low contact with my family, but while this minimizes some of the stress it certainly doesn’t deal with the root. Thank you for this well timed post and to the reader that requested it.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Andrea,

      I’m sorry to hear that you have gone through such difficulties. Thank you for sharing your story, though, so that others may not feel alone in their struggles… and I pray you know you’re not alone either. (hug)

      Yes, adult survivors can most definitely overcome their childhood abuse and be good and loving parents. Many adult survivors unfortunately have this fear of repeating the pattern, but it need not be so. Awareness, learning parenting skills, and honest communication can stop the family pattern and prevent the abuse from going to another generation. (FYI: I’ve been researching this topic for a future article; this specific concern comes up a LOT.)

      You’re welcomed. And thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Peace to you.

      p.s. I deleted your last name as you requested. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much your kind words (and for the last name edit 😄). It is actually the first time I’ve ever admitted it in writing, and there are very few people that I have openly talked to about it at all. (It’s been an “eventful” two years-the above being the tip of the iceberg.). For me there is a certain amount of shame and sadness in awakening and realizing that I had been putting so much effort into an illusion of normalcy. What has been most helpful for me is reading other people’s stories and articles such as this one. I have a lot of admiration for the strength and resiliency of others with similar experiences-it really does help to know you are not alone.
        An article about avoiding perpetuating the cycle of abuse would be wonderful. I look forward to reading it and thank you so much for compiling so much valuable information! This website has my best source for information (and reassurance!) over the past year and I am so glad to have found it.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Andrea, just being aware of the danger of perpetuating the cycle of abuse in your own home….. learning to be wary of other “wolves in sheep’s clothing”…..admitting the abuse you suffered from….letting yourself grieve…..I humbly believe those are the makings of a beautiful parent.
      And that’s you.
      I didn’t go to therapy myself as there’s none where I reside, but I had at least 3 wonderful people praying for me, and I’ve come so far with that. So, I’m going to do just that for you, Andrea.

      God bless and keep you safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so glad that you have some support-it can definitely be hard when therapy is not an option (location wise or financially). Positivity and prayer are very powerful and I am so glad that you have plenty of both. Your prayers are very much appreciated…I pray you continue to find peace.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. wow, this is a very good piece. very well-written, approachable, and understandable. i wish i had read this when i was a young adult, first leaving home. i was so angry, fierce-i used it as my fuel to reach my goals. but then i still had it, and it slowly turned into extreme sadness as i suffered from depression ( i knew not why) for years, only recently beginning this path of healing and recovery. i wish i had started sooner, but i will still get there yet.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Kat, I agree with you so much. I’m 29 now and as a young adult I used my anger to fuel my goals as well. Now I’m dealing with depression also, with bouts that lasts for 2 months at a time. I thought I had dealt with my childhood, always very aware that what my mom was doing was wrong, I’d been through therapy. I’ve acknowledged what happened to me. But this constant depression started making me think that maybe I’m not finished dealing with my childhood yet. I feel like it has handicapped me in so many different ways, I hate weak men like my father. I hate babies. Getting hugs make we cringe. I strongly distrust women so I have no female friends. I know all of this stems from my childhood. But how do you move past it.

      Maybe going back and grieving will help. I hope it helps. I am exhausted with dealing with this grief. I don’t want working through a childhood I had no control over become the focus of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Dawn's Nights and commented:
    I remember exactly feeling what you describe in the first paragraph: It wasn’t that my dad was violent, my nose was just too sensitive, that’s why it bled so easily. It took me 30 odd years to realise it and be able to say this. I’m over that grief.
    I am still mourning what childhood should have been. I was sick last week and realised how much I wished someone would be here to take care of me. Because no one ever had, not even as a child. I’m almost over this one.
    Mourning the people who never were… well, my dad changed completely, and it is great to see that he became the person he never was when I was a child. However, I am still mourning having the mom I should have had, I deserved. This is quite difficult, because, as a mom myself, I know that she did the best she could. It just wasn’t enough.
    I am happy that I am different by being awake, so that grief is done too.
    The grief for the future… I’m there right now. My dad made it unnecessary by changing. I still have trouble accepting the relationship with my mom the way it is…
    As for the losses felt by my younger self… I still hurt on some, but I have overcome most I would say. It was indeed triggered by childhood, that of my children. When they were around the age I suffered a hard emotional blow, I dove back into depression, even experiencing a physical reaction to a memory that needed to come back from my subconscious. This happened every time I had a child around 18 months of age…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for addressing this. May I please add this link so that readers know where they are at http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/
    The ‘awakening’ may be hard, but it makes us wiser & more aware of any controlling personalities we may come across or hear about. It has also changed my philosophy & outlook on my own life. I have accepted that in the grand scheme of things, I was probably not meant to have healthy parenting, so that I could be a more compassionate one.
    My freedom was taken away, so that I would set my own children free.
    My voice was curbed, so that I could appreciate free speech & learn the importance of listening to others.
    It was so that like a grape that produces fine wine, we too go through the processes that make us want & give true love.
    Sending you all healing energy & light.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. @Titanium,
      That was so very beautifully written. It certainly takes out the last bit of ugliness from the abuse I experienced. We suffered hurt to be able to love others differently and beautifully. Thank you for that insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When a childhood is expropriated from a child by a parent(s) for *any* reason, that which was stolen can never be restored. Period the end. There is Accountability for the Perpetrator(s) and the task of Grieving for us. I have been NC for 30+ years and I do believe there are vestiges of this loss that will remain with me until my death-and I’m OK with it. In my younger years I felt like a Refugee with no place to call “Home.” I had itchy feet and travelled where my work took me and as a result I’ve had an opportunity to live in different places with different cultures and ultimately chose where I would put down my roots. I will die here by choice, not chance with the “family” I have created over decades. So it’s not all bad 😉
    Grieving has been the most challenging task of this journey for me. There was no internet, no books, no one I would really talk to about the experience of childhood (and adult) parental abuse years ago. As you described, I also went back and forth through the various Stages of Grief: Each new memory after the onslaught of Remembering would sting, not as harshly as the Initial Awakening but still disconcerting. It’s also been the most demanding and exhausting part of this journey. It seems to me ACs are Displaced Persons looking for our place in this world, a place to call “Home.” The decades of anguish prior to NC were actually Anticipatory Grieving: By the time I initiated NC, it was with some sadness but more a feeling of, “Yes, it’s too bad but she has clearly demonstrated to me behaviorally she does not love me nor like me-or even have a clue who I am.” And she never will. This most fundamentally was HER CHOICE as maifested over decades: That I “formalized” the natural consequences of her pattern of behavior inherently required that anticipatory grieving, that “death by a thousand paper cuts” was already in progress. We don’t have to “try” to Grieve: As an AC scratch the surface and find it’s footprints back to your earliest memories/experiences.
    Thank you for an excellent article.
    TW

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “It seems to me ACs are Displaced Persons looking for our place in this world, a place to call “Home.” I’ve come to this conclusion also. I’ve been NC for two years, and I don’t have any regrets, but I do have a lot of grief.

      Like

  7. This post articulates a lot of what I’ve been feeling for awhile now. It’s sad, illuminating and encouraging at the same time. I had no idea that what I’ve been feeling is grief, but I did know I had been changed, that I could never go back…

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thank you for this beautifully written piece. Recently i have felt like i am trying not to implode. Someone who is so strong and copes with whatever life throws at her…..a survivor. There is always a chink in that armour though that you wear. I recognised something was wrong and have started counselling… grief yes i can definately relate to that. So many different kinds. I feel drained.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it can be very overwhelming. For me, the chink in my armour gets larger as I grow older. When I was younger, I barely thought about it. Counselling will definitely help the grief process. .

      Like

  9. I am struggling with WHY I have to deal with the grief. Diagnosed with CPTSD due to childhood sexual abuse and neglect (by my sister and my mother) last year, my therapist has commented on how highly functional I am-married 30 years, three wonderful, reasonably well-adjusted adult children, 16 years at the same job. I’ve let go of the guilt/shame from my sister sexually abusing me. If I am doing so well, then what function could addressing the neglect fulfill?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for writing this, it really spoke to me. The “Victims’ grief is delayed…” quote reflects my own experience of escaping my situation, trying to get by without grieving, then years later realizing I still had not allowed myself to grieve for childhood losses. I wrote a post about my own lingering grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m in tears, but I know this is a really, really good thing. I’ve never felt more alone, confused, scared, freaked out, or lost in my entire life. I’m overwhelmed, but I now know just how necessary it is to sit with this “Yuckiness.” No more avoiding… It’s time to walk through the fire. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for posting this. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think I am at the beginning of this long journey. I am still having trouble accepting the reality of “what is,” even though I know that the truth is I grew up believing in the illusion of the family I thought I had. I just thought they were weird. It was no big deal…until I had my own child, now 10, and realized how much damage had been done. I am a classic child of a Narcissist: my mom. I’m still working out if she is Narcissistic or Borderline Personality, or maybe both. We’ve never been close, although she likes to believe we were. I know better and feel immensely sad for the relationship we could have had. She still has a large hold over me, and there’s a lot of fear and guilt there, which I now realize was put on me by her and I never even understood or saw it. The big thing for me, in the last few years as my “awakening” (great way to put it!) has come about and I find I am no longer able to tolerate the things they do, is that my Dad has revealed himself to be almost as bad as my mother. They secretly plot behind my back, and in recent conversations, my dad has been the angry one. I don’t know if it’s because his role as Enabler is so strong, or if he was never really the dad I thought he was all along? I can’t answer that question yet and the grief I feel from realizing neither of my parents have my back, and never really did, is overwhelming sometimes.

    My awakening started when I met my now boyfriend and we began the process of merging our families together. I had been a divorced single mom before that, and relied largely on my parents, which I now see was a big mistake. I had one daughter and he had three children plus a baby he had basically adopted since her dad abandoned her. My boyfriend and I had MANY discussions as to why these kids (which could all become my parents grandchildren) were never treated the same, and when it was brought up, there was just a litany of excuses aimed at us, blaming us for not making my parents feel welcome in our lives. I now see…since my mom could not really do the scapegoat/golden child correctly when I was growing up because my brother is autistic, she decided to make my daughter the Golden Child, and pretty much everyone else, me included, was a scapegoat. I think if she could have gotten away with it, she would have tried to take over as parent to my daughter. She even threatened Grandparent’s court at one point. My boyfriend helped open my eyes to all of this, slowly over three years time, as it became very apparent that my parents were fixated on my daughter.

    It’s been an absolute nightmare. No matter what happens and no matter what clear evidence I can produce to back up my claims that my parents are toxic, are in no way able to be around my children due to their sneaky manipulations (“Oh, it’s ok, it’s our little secret,” was one thing my daughter ‘tattled’ in a good way to me after I told my mom my daughter was not allowed extra sweets that day – because we had a special dessert for later, and she went ahead and gave her some anyway!) I have three years of documented examples, and the problem is…unless you understand Narcissists and the tactics they use and how insidious it all is, it truly doesn’t look that BAD on the surface!! I still have a hard time with my mind trying to convince me…”She’s your mother! She just loves you and wants to be involved. Why are you being so cruel to her?” etc, etc. So on top of grieving the loss of the parents I thought I had, I am also fighting the anger and wrath that comes with them telling me I’m taking their granddaughter away from them! (What about the other kids? They’re an afterthought…) It’s escalated in recent months as they’ve lost more and more control over what I think, say, and do, to the point where they’ve openly verbally attacked my daughter in front of people because she doesn’t want to be their Golden Child, and says being around them makes her feel weird. I refuse to subject my daughter to that, it’s not healthy for her, but the awful repercussions of this decision just keep coming.

    I just want so badly to live in a world where I have two healthy parents who care about me and want to be happy for be because I’m happy and that I found a great man and have five great, healthy children in our blended family, and I grieve the loss of that fantasy the most, I think.

    Thanks for allowing the space here to comment on this. I have read hundreds of articles and blogs on the topic, but never commented before. I come read these articles when I feel lost, sad and emotionally weak, which sad to say is often.

    Like

  13. This post puts into words so well the process and the grief involved. Its taken me years to understand my somatic PTSD symptoms are complex buried grief and anger over very covert neglect and invalidation and responses to the hurt it is painful to face but must be felt and faced to be released. Some days ai am overwhelmed by sadness but i have more better days now ive found a good therapist…

    Thank you so much for sharing I found your site today and some of the posts moved me to tears.

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  14. I’m not feeling grief about something I never had, a loving and validating mother. She died 6 months ago.
    I am angry and disgusted that I put up with this dreadful, awful person for 63 years. Had i realized what she was earlier in my life I would have gone totally No contact. As it was, I saw her as little as possible.

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  15. Thank you for writing this. I am 43 years old and it’s been about a year since I made the decision to free myself. I entered therapy a couple of years ago and by the grace of the Universe, had a wonderful therapist clued in enough to help me SEE that my parental unit (Mom, Dad, Stepmom) are in order: Borderline, Enabler/Narc, and Covetous Sociopath- I was being targeted by this one currently (Stepmom) for the last few years. I was told that if I decided to maintain limited contact with them (Dad & Stepmom), I could not tell them anything important about my life- that it had to be tea party talk in order to stop being abused by them, which I have done. They are 100% tea party people anyway, armed with boundaries to the hilt, so it was very telling/terrifying how the nasties came out when I stopped feeding them my life force. I have been implementing this (instructions of my therapist) for 10 months (avoided all their bait and weird attempts at communication)- they haven’t called me once, BTW, and then received an email about a complete separation from them last week out of the blue. When I didn’t respond to them, they sent it again a few days later and so they are attempting to force an ultimatum on me. The other punishment for my limited involvement was not being informed of my Grandmother’s funeral- the whole family was there. I can only imagine what excuses were made for me….probably best I don’t know.
    My Mom I cut off years ago because she was an abusive alcoholic (physically/verbally to me as a child) and I realized she was never going to change and she had been sabotaging my sister and me our whole lives- my sister cut her off as well.
    In a nutshell, I am grieving a family I never had. My 43 year denial-spree constructed some sort of placebo family in response to the abuse. I look back on how many psychiatric labels I was “tagged…you’re it! with” and medication cocktails I was force fed in my childhood, and then resolved to for my whole adult life like a wrongful sentence. I think it was easier to accept that I was mentally ill or innately flawed than to face that my parents needed me to be. The other realization was that no matter what I did, that was my role for life because it’s what served them best. It stood out how they made a point to mention in their separation letter how all they have ever wanted was the best for me.
    A life of anxiety, panic attacks, depression….(maybe all under the umbrella of PTSD) were their parental contribution. Their parental demands and expectations not only minimize, invalidate, deny, and cloak their role as the real perpetrators but to the extent they will damage their children to maintain that pretense: the orchestration of it all……this was the unconditional gift to their children, not the love.
    I know I am doing the right thing by rebuilding my life even if only a couple of people/animals are in it- I get comfort from nature, birds, trees, wind when I feel the need to cave and go back to my role. I think I grieve that placebo family because I am not fully in touch with how I feel about being a victim of chronic child abuse and neglect.

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  16. I’m flooded with grief for the little girl that still lives in my mind. Reading this article brought to mind a searing memory of physically being pulled out of my mother’s car every morning in second grade by the school principal. Every morning I would have stomachaches and sometimes nosebleeds because I dreaded going to school so badly. By the time we got to school I would be worked into a full on lather and the principal would be there waiting on the sidewalk to take me out of my mother’s car screaming and crying and my mom sat there crying too. I could not stand for her to be out of my sight because I was afraid my father would beat her to death before I got back home from school. I had no siblings and my father had moved us to the other side of the state away from all of my mother’s family, my mom and I had no one but each other. My father would beat her mercilessly almost daily and every time he would leave the house I would go in my room and pray he would have a wreck and die before he got back home. Then I would cry myself to sleep feeling like a freak because what normal little girl wants her father to die. I am 43 years old and sometimes my nose will catch a certain scent or the sun will casts its rays a certain way across the lawn and for an instant I’m that skinny little knobby kneed girl standing in front of my dad while he screams at me for not coming fast enough when he called my name and I stand and don’t dare move a muscle even when the urine starts to run down the insides of my legs and fill up my shoes. My little friend I’m playing with stands watching with her mouth hanging open and as my dad starts to spank me for wetting my pants she starts to cry and runs up the street toward her house. I had on little green shorts with pork chop pockets and a little silver buckle. I hate my father for not being sorry for the things he’s done.

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  17. Abusive parents and abusive siblings. Going no contact several years back has led to an outpouring of grief, seemingly unrelated to the past, yet I know it is related. A parent with dementia, hospitalized, unable to fend for themselves. Yesterday I was there, witnessing a child/parent’s loss of function. She does not remember, her mind is in her childhood now and she does not know me. I can accept that, I lit a candle at the Vatican for her, and it continues to light my way through all of this.

    When I went no contact, my siblings, angry and ascribing blame, chose to not tell me what had happened to the parent with dementia. That she had gravely injured herself, was in hospital. These are the same people who offered a person with dementia alcohol when they were drinking, so they could ‘all’ drink and smoke together. Over time another weaned her off alcohol, and sent her to an alzheimer’s ward. She is forgotten, and forgets from minute to minute who and where she is. Now is the time for me to forgive myself, and to process it all. In my concern for her well-being, comes my forgiveness and my letting go of the past. It defines me less, and I am stronger.

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  18. I read so many blogs, so many facebook followings, so many books, I’ve done the therapy (11 X) and have been on and off of medicine. I have been diagnosed with PTSD way back when I was 20 and several times throughout my life. I’m in my 40’s now. This whole grief and sadness, and depression seems never ending. My 23 year old daughter is still so angry with the so called relatives that we have…. When she has spent time with some of her friends and has gone to family get-together’s, she is overwhelmed with anger and sadness.. I feel so bad for her. I feel guilt from coming from such a Fu$ked up family. Both my daughter and 13 year old son are really alone and know that all they have is us, their mum and dad. I know this was more than what I’ve ever had. I tried to cover and be both grandparents, aunts, etc., to my kids. It became and is exhausting. Yet my family of origin , ‘play’ connected family with my half siblings and other cousins. (I’m not my stepdad’s real kid, although he adopted me at age 15 months.) My siblings have the Christmas, holiday, go to birthdays, graduations, and anything-everything get together’s. My kids, unbeknownst to me have grown up feeling that something must be wrong with them. Where are their grandparents, where are the aunt’s and uncle’s? We have tried so hard. This is a battle that I and my husband have fought from day one. I want to know how does one live life knowing that we are so alone. Yay for getting away from the asylum, I ache tremendously for the emptiness I feel. Being a military brat, and taken away from my own grandparents and home country, and then marrying someone in the military, where is my/our home? Where are my/our roots? How can I fix things I can’t possibly fix?
    I once saw a segment on the t.v. about adult’s that wanted to be adopted by loving parents, Some people commented and said this was stupid, for me, I thought, I so understand this. Imagine how many adults are looking to belong to a family, to have their own family included in family. Parenting doesn’t just stop at age 18, it’s a life time of a relationship that evolves. I’m sorry I sound defeated and frustrated. Sometimes, I just want to know, after the turmoil and going NC, and after many years of trying to make something out of nothing, how or when does it get better???

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