One week ago I said goodbye to my parents. They decided to move to a small town out of state and I am happy for them. Happy they will live a slower pace of life in a town that holds special memories for them, with people they hold dear to their heart. They said “this is our time now to do what we want” and that is true. It’s just sad for me their happiness is located over a thousand miles away.
I don’t care who or how old you are – every child desires unconditional love from their parents. It is something that naturally exists inside us no matter how much we might deny it. I don’t think it’s wrong – but if you’re not careful it can become unhealthy. Like a dog chasing its tail.
I said goodbye to my mom and my dad separate from each other. I’m not sure how that happened but it was probably for the best. I have very little to no contact with them so this just added a whole other level of sadness and pain. How did we ever get here? Will it ever be different? Do they miss me? Will they ever have the courage and determination to fight for what we never had? I don’t know.
They are both victims of abuse too but that is their story to tell. Stepping back looking at our family history we were set up to fail. I just believe we still have a chance to rewrite the ending.
They say knowledge is power. I shared the truth with my mom in the hopes of repairing our relationship. A first step. It wasn’t well received. I understand it isn’t easy to hear but where does “not talking” get us? We’ve mastered that route and look where we are? I will continue to have hope with zero expectations.
My dad is another story. He hasn’t spoken to me in many, many months. That is hurtful in itself but it’s a thousand times worse when you see him almost every day. Do you know what it’s like to say “hello” to someone who ignores you? Acts like you don’t exist and runs out of a room when you enter it? It is the most crushing pain I’ve ever experienced. I’ve run the ladder of emotions regarding this – and in the end I realized “it’s not about me – it’s about him”. Unfortunately this knowledge doesn’t take away the pain. It still hurts.
The anger in being ignored was starting to change me. My “right” in being “wronged” was causing me to become bitter. God would remind me of the image he gave me of my true self and she wasn’t a bitter person. It took all my strength to let it go and forgive him EVERY TIME. I’m not gonna lie – it has been very hard, but possible.
Imagine my surprise when he asked to come to my house to speak to me. I didn’t know what to think but I agreed. Soon after he arrived he asked for my forgiveness. I asked “for what”? He paused and said “for not talking to you”. So I asked “may I ask why you stopped talking to me”? It was clear he was very uncomfortable discussing it but pushed on. He gave me the reason and I was shocked he couldn’t tell me this before. Really? This is why I’ve been shut out? He went on to say why he came over to talk to me and I was floored. I realized none of this was for me – it was all for him. I didn’t know what to say. So I asked the one question I never wanted answered “Why can’t you love me”? I looked in his eyes and waited for the answer. He said “I don’t know”. It was the first time he ever admitted it to me and it felt like a punch in my gut. I hoped he would say “of course I love you” or “what do you mean I don’t love you”? But instead he opened his mouth and told me the truth. He did say that he remembers loving me as a baby. Then he said “I want to feel joy when I look at your face and I don’t”. How do you respond to that? Many months had passed in silence and now when he speaks he says this to me? It was hard to process it. All of a sudden wailing and tears began to flow out of me and I couldn’t stop it. My worst fears had become true and my internal dam burst.
When I regained composure I shared a story with him. It took place shortly after I learned my parents had befriended my abuser uncle and his wife. They took them in and financially supported them. I was living far away and was shocked when I learned about it. How could they take in the person who destroyed my life? I called them on the phone to demand to know what was happening. My mom blamed my dad, my brother told me to get over it, and my dad told me he could do whatever he wanted and hung up on me. It felt like a truck had just run me over. What he never knew is this event triggered something in me and I had an emotional breakdown. It felt like my body and mind betrayed me and took over control. I scared myself and Robbie too. He made a few calls and I was back in therapy the next day. I also had recurring dreams of taking a handful of pills and quietly drifting off to sleep. It wouldn’t go away and it scared me because it was all I thought about. Through the grace of God and the love of my husband I am here today.
I continued to share with him the dark period of my life because I realized that this had been MY silence. I needed for him to know how his betrayal shook me, but also how I fought for my freedom. Along the way this freedom required forgiveness. I shared that I will never give up hope that things will one day change between us. I forgave him for everything. I just can no longer put myself in a position to be rejected and hurt. He asked if he could give me a hug and then stood up to leave.
I walked him to the door and watched him walk away from me and my heart broke. Will I ever see him again? Is this how our story ends? It was the perfect picture of our relationship and I cried for the rest of the night. A week later I’m wondering which is better: silence or hearing the truth? My answer keeps changing.
I can see now that my healing cannot depend on their choices. I love my parents and that will never change. My love and respect for our relationship now exists inside the walls of healthy boundaries. Does that mean it is free of disappointment and sadness? No. It’s just that now disappointment and sadness can no longer rule over me. It has also encouraged me to look inside myself and look for areas where I can be a better parent or grandparent. Writing a new ending for our family for generations to come.