Six months ago today, I left my abusive family and gained my freedom.
I had no idea what my future would hold. I left everything that I owned (with the exception of two bags of clothes and shoes and my computer) and everyone that I knew and loved to move somewhere completely new and unknown to me. I had low expectations. I was scared that I would not be able to make it very far on my own. I realize now that those beliefs were part of my programming. I was made to believe that I could never thrive, or even exist, apart from my ‘family’.
But I have existed, and I have thrived. And I couldn’t have done it without therapy. It’s amazing how much time I’ve spent in therapy just in the last six months. Over 50 individual sessions and two six-hour sessions of group therapy, with thousands of dollars spent. I wish I could send the bills to my family. Even though it is a significant financial strain on me, I can’t be without therapy, so I make things work.
During my therapy session yesterday, I told my therapist that I expected more…I didn’t even finish my sentence. My mind got lost for a minute and I told her “nothing, never mind.” She asked me what I was going to say. I told her nothing. “I don’t know how you would finish that sentence,” she said, “because you’ve done so much. You got a great job within weeks of being down here, you’re starting grad school in two weeks, you’re building an organization and helping people. You’re doing awesome.” I knew that already, but that wasn’t where my mind was heading. I expected to have closure.
I didn’t approach dealing with my family in the way I idealized it in my head. I wanted to confront them somehow, but I didn’t. I never even sent the letter I had written to my mother before I moved. I wanted to get everything off my chest. I wanted my parents to admit to what they had done. I wanted them to be sorry. My therapist quickly reminded me that, even if my parents did admit their wrongs (which itself is a stretch), they would likely never be sorry.
She was right. My mother is a narcissist who never believes she does any wrong and my father is just…I don’t even know. They’re both too fucked up for words. I have to tell myself that I will never get what I need from them. I never have before, so why would I now?
I decided to celebrate my six months of freedom in my own way. After work today, I went to the movies and then went for ice cream. Then I stopped at the Disney store and picked out a dinosaur toy (one of my littles is dinosaur-obsessed – s/he hasn’t stopped talking about dinosaurs for days now).
I went to the bookstore and perused the children’s section for an hour looking for some books. I found a book on courage, but in a quick scan of its content, I noticed it mentioned being with mom, and quickly put it back. Then I found a book about feelings. It was really colorful and described all of the different feelings and reasons and all that good stuff. Feelings are something that I struggle with and I imagine the inside struggles with as well due to our upbringing. It seemed like a good book to let them know that it’s okay to have feelings and to talk about them. I also found a book about not being afraid to be who you are, even when people say or do mean things to you. I just want them to know that they are safe now. I hope getting these books will help us all just a little.
I am looking forward to tomorrow. I have a lot of sleep to try to catch up on. I am going to stay in all day and try to do fun things – color, work on puzzles, write – all of the things I haven’t had much time to do lately. I’ve been ignoring my parts. My therapist has been encouraging me to reconnect with them, so I’m trying to do what I can. It’s exhausting just to care for myself, and I often neglect those parts of me when they may need me the most. I’m still learning. I’m not perfect. But I am going to be okay. We all are.
[For the first time, I am going to share my blog on my regular social media account. I realized that, in a weird way, I still felt like I needed to protect my mother and my family’s image by hiding the blog from people that know her and I. But why am I protecting her? She doesn’t deserve my protection. I should not be the one hiding. She can’t hurt me anymore.]