Libby Anne's blog, "Love, Joy, Feminism" has been a go-to for me for awhile. She's one of those people who can take issues that I'm in chaos over, and give them clear definitions. I don't necessarily always agree with her, but she has a personal history that resembles my own in some ways. She often writes on subjects that are personally important to me, but that I've never actually thought about. He blog is a really useful asset, and I thought today's post was pretty interesting for those of us who have a complicated relationship with their parents.
Maintaining a Relationship with Difficult Parents
August 5, 2015 by Libby Anne
Over the years, I have sometimes gotten emails from readers wanting advice on how to deal with controlling and manipulative (if not downright abusive) parents. As my regular readers will know, I have maintained my relationship with my parents in spite of the no good very bad treatment I received from them as I came of age. My parents’ actions—their efforts to control and manipulate and guilt me into being the daughter they wanted me to be—were emotionally abusive. Why did I decided to keep them in my life? How have I navigated my relationship with them over the years?
The pain I suffered the last summer I spent at home was excruciating. When you are in a dangerous situation, your adrenaline spikes, giving you a fight or flight response. Children who live in abusive homes experience this daily—every time their abuser walks in the door. They have to be constantly on guard, constantly ready. My parents never hit me—and never threatened to hit me—but it didn’t matter, the effect was the same. The constant rush of adrenaline, that feeling of being imprisoned with your abuser—it was there. As a society, we have a much better understanding of physical abuse than of emotional abuse, but I would argue that the effects of emotional abuse can be worse and longer lasting.
What made my situation so odd was that I had had a fairly good relationship with my parents up until this point—my mother was always up for baking cookies or working on a crafting project, and my father involved us children in his various carpentry projects around the home and was always happy to play a game of Risk—but things fell apart when I was in college as I exerted a will of my own and began making decisions they disagreed with. It’s not that things were perfect when I was a child—my parents expected immediate obedience, didn’t tolerate “backtalk” (and by that they meant any attempt to explain oneself), and practiced a heavy dose of corporal punishment—but they weren’t like this.
When I left at the end of the summer, I told myself I wasn’t going back. But then, I still had ten younger siblings living at home, all under 18. I had been a second mother to many of them, and I loved them dearly. I went home for Thanksgiving, and home again for Christmas. I tried—so hard, I tried—but it was too much. That Christmas things reached a head when my father yelled at me in front of my siblings, calling me terrible things in an enraged voice that was so unlike my usually quiet father, and all I wanted to do was flee. I was 20 years old.
(The rest is on Libby Anne's blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/l…th-difficult-parents.html)