My mother’s abuse was more difficult for me to pinpoint. She used what I call “manipulation with love”. She would make me feel like her only friend in the situation and then ask me to protect her or save her or whatever. I often felt like the parent. It took awhile for me to realize that she wasn’t actually shielding us. She was asking us to shield her.
I was actually being manipulated into taking the abuse for her so she could feel safe and then she would turn on dad and use what he did to us as a way to try to bring up all the issues going on. She was very good at it too. She refused to talk to anyone outside of the family, so I was often her confidante. And she always told us that “This doesn’t go outside the family”, “No one needs to know about this”, and her favorite lie was “I’m just trying not to rock the boat”.
The boat needed to be rocked. And hard. But she would interfere in things that prevented the boat from rocking. It kept me ‘safe’ in some ways, but also left me at the mercy of my dad because it undermined my attempts to gain some control of the situation. I was never allowed to be myself around either parent. I had to be their idea of perfection and make them happy. That was it. That was my role in life.
And because I had no power to do so, they hated me. Because I had no power to change the way things were, I hated them. I used to wish my father would go to a war zone and die there. Then we’d be free of him. Or that my mom would have the guts to leave him. But that never did happen. In fact they’re still together. Its been over ten years since mom said she wanted a divorce. Instead they bought a house together.
I really just wanted to get out of the situation. I didn’t care how it happened, as long as it did. I wanted away from my siblings that no longer included me in things. I wanted away from parents that neglected me unless they could do something to hurt me. I wanted out.
So when I decided to go to college at eighteen I was so very relieved. But it didn’t set me free or anything. Distance didn’t solve any of the issues or provide healing, so here I was falling through a shattered world and getting cut on every surface.