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The Story of a Parentified 16 Year Old Girl

I’m a 16 year old girl and I had to grow up fast. I never really got to enjoy my childhood, at times I don’t mind because I like feeling as though I’m capable to do things on my own, but sometimes I feel as thought I should’ve been able to live a normal teenage life. My father was in the picture but he was never mentally or emotionally there for me.

My mom had to take the role of both mother and father, but that made me feel like I had to be more responsible, like I had the responsibility of being a parent which I didn’t like. I started working once I turned 15 and I’ve worked ever since.

As soon as I got my first job my mom stopped helping me with anything and always asked me for money.  I felt like I was the parent and she was the daughter. It really gets hard sometimes cause I feel as though she’s never played the role of being a mom. She kept a roof over my head and food in my stomach, but emotionally she was never there. I never got an “I love you” unless she did something really horrible towards me and felt guilty. I’ve never heard how was your day, how are your grades, how was school, would you like to talk about anything…none of these normal questions parents ask their kids. And it really hurts, I have just always wished I had an actual mom I could look up to.

Water And Strangers

When I was a little boy, only around four or five years old, we lived near a river in Colorado. My brothers and sister would swim in the river, sometimes diving off the bridge that was near our home. In order to keep me away from the river, my mother told me that there were alligators living in the water. Okay ma, there are alligators in the river.

We would take my dad’s work clothing into town to the laundromat. Now, I remember this day very clearly. We pulled up in our old blue truck, my Orange Crush clutched in my little hands. The day was warm and clear. Next to our parking spot was another truck with a very old man in the driver’s seat. As he got out, I noticed that he was missing an arm. I think I asked my mom why the man’s arm was gone. She said, “Well, that’s what happens to people who go swimming in the river.” I was shocked by this.

A few days, perhaps weeks went by, and mom decided that we would go swimming with my brothers and sister. She’d got a float tube for me. I don’t really remember much about the lead up, but as they pushed me out into the river, I remember clearly that I was terrified. I screamed and yelled to be taken back to shore. I remember that they were laughing as they took me back to the bank of the river.

I love the water, but to this day, if I’m in a river or lake, I can only swim for so long before feelings of panic begin to build up.

My mother, to this day, is terrified of strangers. I remember the first trip I went on with my parents to a big city. I was just ten or so. I was excited and curious, peering about at all the people, buildings and busy streets. As we pulled up to an intersection, the car next to us had some Hispanic people inside. My mother noticed that I was looking at them. She said, in all seriousness, “Don’t make eye contact with them! They will shoot us if you do!” This theme is recurrent in my childhood. Strangers are bad. Period.

Years ago, I asked my mom why she told me that story about the alligators. I explained that I couldn’t swim for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time without anxiety. She laughed, saying that she was just keeping her little boy safe. I really didn’t know what to say about that. I never really asked any more questions about it.

I have been deconstructing my upbringing, trying to find the ‘roots,’ as it were, to my problems. When describing my childhood to people, I would say that my parents left me to my own devices for the most part, making it sound as if I was afforded some kind of special privilege. Shedding the light of my current knowledge onto the events of my childhood, I was rather shocked to find that I was being neglected. I never really thought about it in quite that way, but it was quite the shock when I realized that.

Not that I blame them too much. They did what we all do – the best we know how. Apparently, the best my mother knew was to saddle her children with neuroses. The litany of fright that my mother used as a catechism to ward off harm, simply made it extraordinarily difficult for me to make any friends. After all, making eye contact could be deadly.

I make a conscious effort to not instill irrational fears into my children. Caution and skepticism about strangers, yes. Strangers as a likely source of murder, no. Caution and respect for water, yes. The lurking places of alligators …well, not where I live.

People, please don’t make your kids scared of life. The things that kids get from the adults in their lives, stick with them, right or wrong. We are omnipotent and omniscient to them. Guide them with wisdom, not fear!

My Deepest Condolences

Dear Ex,

You did not see it, but my confidence in you stopped growing on a daily basis. I told you that I knew what I was hiding from everyday. I didn’t tell you that I was hiding from you. I didn’t tell you how scared I was of you. I always knew that we weren’t meant for each other, and you wanted to argue.

It is so great to see that you have moved on. So great to know that I have been released. I finally have what I wanted with us. I no longer have to question what I’ve been told. I no longer have to doubt the motives of my kind and nice friends. I no longer have to inspect everyone’s motives.

Is this just another cry for misplaced sympathy? Or is it an attempt to hurt me? The questions are irrelevant. You made sure of that when you abused my love, my trust, my friendship circles, my mind. They are, by far, not the worst forms of abuse that I was put through, but the persistence of them made them the most common.

I told you that you didn’t have to lie. I would stay by your side no matter what. I told you that I would forever hold a place in my heart for you. You tore that place out of my grasp when you decided to work with your friend to abuse me together. You looked at my kindness as a weakness, not for the strength that it is – the strength to give to those that are worth it, the strength to help anyone to heal from anything. My friends will forever be in my life, until death do us part.

I can and have always been able to achieve my dreams. That was the most terrifying part of your abuse, that you had no reservations in ripping all of them away from me, so that you could hurt me. I watched you spiral downward, into an abyss of vindictiveness.

Do you even remember why you started the abuse? Do you remember why you decided to let your dreams fall from your grip, and get fired from the job that you wanted since you were a child? Your abusive attitude lost you that job. It got you fired because you were more interested in self piety than in achieving something great, and being recognized for that.

To this day, I still blame your experiences as a child. I am guessing that no one paid attention when you did the right thing, but the moment you were crying, everyone was looking your way. Being starved for attention does that to a person. It’s not your fault, it is how you were raised. That is what you were taught was right.

I can only hope that you break the cycle of abuse, handed down to you by your mother, before our baby lives a life of toxicity, venom, and a lack of morals. I hope that you choose to change what you believe, and instead, aspire for attention for greatness.

You watch t.v. How many people watch when someone goes for gold in the Olympics? How many people are watching when the finals of X-Factor are shown? Do you want that, or do you want the hollow attention of someone that will forget you in a year’s time? I will forget you soon.

I forgot how it feels to love you a long time ago. I can’t even remember when I last had the desire to help you succeed. It could have been after you destroyed your own dream, the one I tried so hard to build your confidence to try. I hope you haven’t forgotten how to try. If you have, it’s no big deal because I don’t sympathize with you anymore. That is another thing you lost when you went on your vindictive, plague-fueled attack of my life.

You know you should have told me that you were “smiling and happy, bouncing off the walls,” that you had an amazing time, and he really made you feel special, the night you cheated on me. Instead you wanted to play the victim again. You wanted sympathy for the guilt of your actions.

Why did you feel guilty? It made no sense to me. I would have forgiven you, if you had been honest. I could not forgive you for playing the part of the victim when you broke my heart, like I was the one who did something wrong. Lying? Cheating? Your story never added up. The other guy’s story was consistent. You are the only one who can’t face what happened. You are the only one who claims to be the victim. You lost a lot of your friends because of your lies. You lost the last speck of my trust for you.

I felt my heart die when I finally accepted that I was in denial, and there was no reason to believe what you were telling me. I was ashamed that I let you control me again. I was ashamed to the point of not wanting to face life. But I got through it, and you didn’t hold me once. You didn’t sit by me, look into my eyes, take my hand, and say you were sorry, that everything was going to be alright. You withholding compassion, out of fear of the truth being exposed, was the worst part of your abuse. You knew you were lying from the start.

It will happen again and in the years to come. You will repeat the cycle of hiding the truth. You will repeat the pattern handed down to you by your mother. Your life will go back to Square One, and, like your mother, you will be unwanted by everyone.

Yours is the only dream I will not make come true. You fought it too hard.

My deepest condolences for the loss of your heart, empathy, compassion, a happy future, a life filled with people that will love you.

May they all rest in peace.

The Hidden Monster

I always knew there was something wrong with me. Other kids didn’t understand why I acted the way I did around adults. I spent my entire childhood wondering what the hell was wrong with me, afraid to say or do anything, afraid to interact with other people.

30 years later …I know that the problem really wasn’t me. It was the monster who calls himself my father. The beast in me wants vengeance for him handicapping my emotional and psychological well being …vengeance for leaving me afraid to have my own children …vengeance for being afraid to get married for fear I’d end up marrying someone like my father. But this same beast has given me a voice. This same beast gives me the courage to stand up to those who try to use me as a doormat. This same beast drives me everyday to heal the deep wounds and to unlearn all the nasty crap that was beaten into my head as a child and teenager.

I used to worry that everyone was right when they’d say, “You’re just like your father.” I now realize that I’m NOTHING like my father.  I just managed to pull myself out of a fucked up mess of a “family.”  IT HAS BEEN HELL!!! Forty years of being told that I am nothing, being emotionally neglected and abused, told repeatedly that people don’t like me, told that I don’t deserve friends, that everything I have belongs to my father, that I am a pet to be kept at his discretion, rewarded for good behavior or punished for failures.

There was nothing that I had that he could not take away, everything I had and everything I was, according to him, originated with him and therefore was his to control and do with as he pleased. If I tried to express my feelings I was greeted with anger. “It’s not okay to cry. It’s not okay to show your feelings. It’s not okay to express your opinion. In fact, you are a child – be seen and NEVER heard.”

My father would hit or grab and shake my mother when she did things he didn’t like. He still does.  He only ever spanked me twice. When I got to be a teenager he’d just shake his fist in my face.  I never understood this. Ultimately I think it was because he was afraid if he hit me he’d end up exposing himself publicly. If I were to report him for child abuse, or if one of my teachers, seeing unexplained bruises on me, would have brought his “I’m the perfect husband and father” public mask crashing down.

I didn’t start to understand what my father had done to me until I graduated from college. The more distance I put between us, the more I understood that I wasn’t the problem. This was wrong. Abuse isn’t just about getting physically beaten, it can also be about getting the emotional and psychological stuffing beaten out of you everyday.

Thank the gods for my grandparents who looked out for me and sent me to college. My father made no bones about refusing to work. He said he “had a problem with authority,” and that no one had the right to tell him how to do his job. When I was 7, he was fired from the only job he’d had. So my father forced my mother to get the paying jobs, and then promptly got her fired from every one of them. He’d try to tell her bosses how to run their businesses or he’d tell lies or exaggerated truths about her boss around town. No one would stand for it, and my mother paid the price.

When I was 5 or so, my father got into a fight with his parents. I didn’t see them again for many decades.  I only know who my relatives are because I see them on my family tree, there are only two or three I would even recognize if I was face to face with them. The ones I do know are narcissistic just like my father, so I don’t mourn the loss anymore. Most of them are just as toxic to my well being as my father is.

My father’s mother, his brother and his wife came to our house on the day of my high school graduation. My father’s mother said, “Here is a card for you. We’re going to your cousin’s graduation.” With that, she and my aunt and uncle turned their backs on me, got in their fancy car, and left me standing there.  They were just there to rub it in my face that my cousin was more important than I was.

My father is a saint in the eyes of many people.  He gives lavish gifts and bails people out of financial trouble, when he can ill afford to do it himself. He invites strangers to holiday family meals and springs it on us at the last possible moment. Meanwhile, utility bills go unpaid, disconnect and repo notices arrive.  In the past, if he couldn’t scrape the money together to do these “humanitarian” things that people “love” him for, then he’d send my mother to beg from her family. Later, he would demand the money from me. The last time he did this to me, I threw him out of my home, returned the last of the “gift” money he had given me for Christmas, and told him never to come back.

My father has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  He blames his abuses of my mother and me on PTSD, for which he is considered disabled by the VA, but the truth is, my father is simply a manipulative, truth stretching, self-centered, self-serving, “The world revolves around me, I will live my life anyway I see fit, I don’t care if it’s legal, I’m never wrong, everyone is entitled to my correct opinion, the sun and the universe revolve around me” NARC!!

A huge weight has been lifted from my life. I still find myself wanting to cower when someone gets in my face or publicly criticizes me. Sometimes I have to take anxiety meds, but I can get angry now.  I can scream and yell. I can say no and not cave later. I can cry. I can laugh. I’m learning slowly how to love. The anger reminds me that I am a person. I’m not someone’s possession. I’m not a doormat, and I deserve better.


I Am A Golden Child

Both of my parents are narcissistic. I was their golden child, which was terrible for me. My whole life, I suffered with guilt because I love my sisters and could see how my parents were neglecting them. I punished myself for having more than they did. I gave all of my money away to my mother and sisters. My life was crap. I worked like an animal my whole life, and have absolutely nothing to show for it, no money, no family, no life, nothing.

Since my breakdown, I realized that my sisters had something very important that I don’t have: they can deal with our mother. They don’t fear her. They just lived their lives with a normal sense of what was right or wrong. Since I found The Band and others sites, I can see why.  I recognize that I have suffered the most damage of all of us. While my sisters live their lives, I am in a kind of limbo. They have their children and their experiences while I just struggle for acceptance and survival. I could never relax and have peace. I feel like I have gone nowhere, like my life was a black box. I was not there.

With a crazy, engulfing, malignant mother I could not breathe. I could not rest. Nothing was ever enough, she always needed more. She was never satisfied unless my life was miserable from all of her complaints, from drawing all my energy, making me feel bad about everything, and destroying my self esteem. She poisoned me with her “misery.” My mother had tried to give me her roll taking care of my sisters. I was just a child! All the manipulation and loss of myself eventually made me sick.

It hurt me a lot that she could never ask me how I was doing. One day, I confronted her. I told her she was never there for us, and she gave us no more love and care than if we had been houseplants. She wouldn’t look me in the eye when she answered. Her excuse was that she was always working. While yes, she did work a lot, she was also out having fun, partying like hell! She had plenty of friends, was engaged in politics, and was out all the time, but she wants me to believe her life was a mess because of us. Motherhood was a burden for her.

For the first time in my life, I had the courage to confront her with questions. I didn’t ask her everything I wanted because I was still afraid of her, but that was still a big step. She changed the subject right away, telling me she needed money. I could not believe it! That’s the way it always is with her, she wants my money. Seeing how I have no money, I’m useless.

For four days, I was so upset I couldn’t sleep. It felt like she had grabbed my insides and ripped them out. It took me several days to recover, and I was sure I never be able to face her again. I am ashamed of how weak I am in front of her.  

My baby sister supports me and understands me. She really loves me. My other sister became aggressive and horrible, just like our mother. And like our mother, she tries to make my life hell. We have one hell of a dysfunctional family.

Thanks to The Band, I now know why my life is the way it is. Now, that I know what it means to be a golden child, I can finally permit myself to look after me instead of everyone else.  I can see now how much care I need, how lonely I’ve been. And best of all, I know now that I deserve it!

“I’m Sorry”

I have spent a lot of time in therapy working on the issues surrounding the sexual abuse I was subjected to by my father. What he did is pretty clear cut. It was wrong. It was horrible. No one could (or should) ever think of saying what he did wasn’t wrong.

A bigger, more insidious issue, however, is my mother. She looks like a good person. It is hard to point directly at her actions and say there is anything fishy going on, but if you look at the totality of the picture, she is almost as bad as my father.

Two weeks ago, my mother was in a pretty serious car accident. She was conscious after the accident, but we were hearing diagnoses of “broken spine.” To me, that means paralysis. In that moment, I truly wished that my mother would die. That seems harsh, but there was no way in hell I could take care of her and I did not wish that on my sister.

Broken spine translated to two cracked vertebrae. She would not be paralyzed, but would require a back brace for 8-12 weeks, which she could not put on by herself because she also broke her arm and a couple fingers. My sister lives closer, and is her medical power of attorney, so she agreed to bring Mom into her home and care for her.

There is no way I could have done that. None. It was hard enough for me to feed my mother jello in the hospital. She was totally defenseless. And while she is not a violent person, it was hard for me to see her like that, knowing how she can be.

I found out that I’m her financial power of attorney, and the next day, I went to work getting the information we would need and notifying all the necessary people. One of the first calls I made was to her car insurance agent, also a close friend from what mom told me. I called and told the woman my name and my mother’s name and what had happened. The woman got really quiet, then said, “Do you have a sister?” I said yes, I had a sister, and told the woman her name. The woman said she had HIPPA guidelines to follow, but then said my mother had never talked of another daughter. She had told the woman of my sister, but never mentioned me.

I was shocked, to say the least. I spent quite a bit of time feeling terrible over that. After talking to a friend of mine who knows my mother, he reminded me that she, just like my father, groomed people. It was not for the same purpose, but it was grooming, nonetheless.

I am not wealthy or tremendously successful in the typical way that society values, and my sister is no slouch either, but for my mother to talk about me, she has to tell people what I do. “My daughter writes about the sexual abuse she endured from her father, that I knew about.”

She says she did not know, and she is sorry. I told her, she did know. And when I told her, she admitted she thought something had been going on. He was prosecuted, not so much for what he did to me, but he went to prison. This was not a case in which I never said anything. I told lots of people, my mother was just the first in line.

She was too scared, too in love, too worried about what others would think, too whatever to do anything.

So, now, after 30 years since the start of my abuse and telling, she says she is sorry and she did the best she could. In the present, though, she isn’t sorry enough to tell people she has two daughters.

You’re right mom. You are sorry. Not for your actions, but you are just generally a sorry person.