Perpetually unhappy? Consider rejecting your parents.

It is my firm conviction that the number one reason people are unhappy in life is because they refuse to believe that when they were kids their parents either flat-out didn’t love them, or loved them in a way that was so deeply tweaked it amounted to the same thing as not loving them.

It’s also my belief that the reason people refuse to accept the truth that when they were kids their parents treated them awfully is grounded in the fact that as very young children they instinctively grasped how terribly vulnerable they were made by the fact that their parents didn’t love them.

We spend the first years of our lives utterly dependent upon our parents for virtually everything we need to survive. If they don’t choose to give us what we need, we perish. I think that’s a basic fact of life that all humans understand pretty much right out of the gate.

And so children born to crappy parents do virtually the only thing they can do, which is to immediately, absolutely and without question convince themselves that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, their parents really are good, caring people who really do love them.

Having parents who really do love you = an outstanding chance of you surviving.

Having parents who obviously don’t love you = you probably won’t make it.

That’s not much of a choice, is it? And so most (and I would even argue all) children “decide” that, come hell or high water, their parents really do love them. They cling to that conviction, despite all the information they’re getting to the contrary. In the choice between what is true and what for them really, really needs to be true, they inevitably choose the latter. They have to. Their survival depends upon it.

And so children born into unhappy families begin to build their lives upon a lie.

And as surely as one day follows the next, children who are forced to build their lives upon a truth they can’t possibly face turn into adults whose lives are built upon a truth they can’t possibly face. And so as adults people who had unhappy childhoods continue their life-long suffering: they’re angry; they’re forever imagining themselves victims; they’re easily upset; their relationships don’t work.

In short, they have no idea who they are. They don’t know who they are, because the core truth of who they are was lost in the lie they had to live — which is to say, very often, in the person they were essentially forced to become in order to as effectively as possible deal with the threatening dynamics of their dysfunctional family life.

Adults who are lost and unhappy in life have a simple, terrible choice to make. They must either accept the fact that their parents didn’t love them — which is tantamount to utterly and completely rejecting their parents — or they must continue to live lost and unhappy lives.

They either toss their parents off their shoulders, or they continue to sink with their parents strapped to their back. That’s the choice waiting to be made by every adult who was raised in a psychologically unhealthy family.

And what such people almost always choose is to continue to go down with their parents strapped to their back. And they make that “choice” for a perfectly understandable reason: it’s still in their mind — it’s still in their heart; it still defines the psychological paradigm of the only life they’ve ever known — that rejecting their parents means they themselves must be rejected. They’re continuing to operate within the context of their initial, original paradigm — the one that says their parents, to whom they are very close, dearly, and beneath it all, love them. And they are paying a very dear price for continuing to insist that lie is true.

If you are unhappy in life — if no matter what you do, say, think, or believe, you’re still dogged by the feeling that something fundamental just isn’t right with you or your life –then do yourself a favor, and give some thought to the idea that you have or had Genuinely Lousy Parents.

Consider the idea that maybe your problem isn’t you. That maybe it’s them. That maybe it’s always been them.

That maybe the reason you’re so burdened in life is that you’re carrying around weight that never should have been yours in the first place.

If you’re regularly dogged by a sense of unhappiness or anxiety — if you’re forever attending by what psychologists call “free-floating anxiety” – just try on the thought that your parents were pretty awful people who were in no way emotionally or psychologically prepared to have children.

Go ahead. Give it a shot. In the privacy of your own mind, really reject your parents. Scream at them. Blame them. See them for the sorry, selfish, self-obsssed dysfunctionals they were.

Banish them from your heart.

Walk away from them.

Let ‘em die.

Let. Them. Die. To. You.

Doing that will not kill you.

I promise it won’t.

When Jesus said that the truth will set you free, he wasn’t kidding.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://emphaticasterisk.com Lindsey

    Here's something else to add: That by rejecting the failings of your earthly father, you no longer have to reconcile the reality of "bad earthly dad" with "good Heavenly Dad"! It's hard for people to accept the father-love of God when you think of father-love as distance or cruelty or detached from your own needs. Once you realize that true father-love (or even mother-love) has nothing to do with what you experienced in your childhood, you can achieve a much greater intimacy with God.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yeah, that's so perfectly true. And very well said. That's it, exactly. It's so … weird, basically, how often people have so CLEARY based their conception and experiences with God on whatever experience they had with their parents. You've said it just right.

  • Vicki

    I understand where you're coming from on this, but still I have trouble accepting any type of rejection of parents when God plainly said "Honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the earth'. Can you continue to honor your father and mother after rejecting them?? Or do you mean to reject their actions….hating the sin, but not the sinner?

    I've experienced recently how God is the source of love and joy, not the earthly relationships I tend to rely on for my happiness. Maybe there's a better way to help those who are suffering from dysfunctional family life with bad childhood memories. I'm sure that's what you want to do, but your expressing it in this way makes me uncomfortable as a Christian trying to live a Spirit-filled and godly life.

    • Diana

      It's okay to honor them, even love them. Just love and honor them from over there.

  • FreetoBe

    I grew up with alcoholic parents, 5 siblings. I am a middle child. I was not a favorite. I accepted that they did not love me the way I wanted or needed and I let them go; I did not quit loving them, but I knew that it was unhealthy for me to continue any kind of close association with them. I loved them for as long as they lived. Since becoming a Christian, I have also forgiven them. Forgiveness is possible with Jesus. I think one doesn't necessarily have to understand the background, the "whys and hows", in order to forgive someone. Greta, I'm glad you understand and forgive your parents. And Lindsey, I agree, we have to convey that love and joy of God to others as much as we can. Thanks John, this seems to be a touchy subject with a lot of people.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yeah–and of course I knew it would be a touchy subject for a lot of people. I almost didn't publish this piece. But then I wanted to, in case it was something that someone who's unhappy might benefit from. So many people are just stuck in that whole, "My mom and dad were GREAT!" thing, when that isn't the case at all.

  • Ross

    I think Greta got it right – she realized that those who treated her badly themselves were treated the same and so on and so on back to Adam and Eve.

    My sister and I came from a dysfunctional background (original parents divorced, then both parents had divorces again). We both have "baggage" that is attendant to these situations. The difference between us now, (I'm 37/She's 42) is that I came to know Jesus Christ when I was 21. He gave me new life and showed me how to live a life of joy and victory (not that I have always followed His leading and honestly it's often a tough slog to do what he asks) and the older I get the more the baggage falls away and the character of Christ takes its place.

    My sister is bitter about her childhood and blames the travail of her adult life on it. I've tried to get through to her that I agree but the only solution is to forgive and move on. I've told her what Jesus has done for me and that He'll do the same for her, but she's not interested so nothing changes in her life.

    I also have 4 step brother and sisters; all with similar backgrounds to me and my sister. Everyone of them is broken in some way: Divorces, children out of wedlock, emotional problems, etc. To paint a clearer background, we came from an upper middle class family and most have a college degree. Looking back to the time right before I accepted Christ, any observer would have thought I would have been the least likely to succeed…and I would have agreed. But now, 16 years later, after having been a Christian all those years, I'm the only one that (at least from the outside) has a life that appears whole; Married 8 years with two kids teaching Sunday school at Church. The difference between me and them is Jesus. Strongholds have been broken in my life that remain in there's.

    John- I thought you're post was going to end with how only Christ can redeem the carnage done in child hood and was considering sending this to my sister, but when I came to the end and found no such appeal, I thought this is the last thing my sister needs to read. Perhaps there are others who are perplexed at the decisions that they repeatedly make and can see that there is correlation between their childhood and who they are now, but I don't that knowledge will be of any benefit unless they come to put it behind them…hopefully with the help of the Lord.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Thanks for another great post. But I came upon this truth while reading (almost reluctant to plug this again but it was really helpful and you and Steve Arterburn deserve it) MM4M.

    What concerns me most these days comes from the other end of the spectrum – why did I want children? Am I being the parent to them God wants me to be?

    Someday, will my children NEED to reject me – or just the memories of when I failed them?

    -Sam

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ross: I'm not sure why you felt this piece wouldn't be good for your sister; it seems to me it would be. Anyway, I didn't structure this dynamic in such a way as to make it dependent upon giving oneself to Christ because I don't think succesfully moving past your parents is dependent upon Christ. This is strictly PSYCHOLOGICAL work; it can happen without reference to any religion at all. Christianity can HELP one in this process, for sure: No one believes that more than I. But it's not NECCESSARY to the process. I think we're too often too quick to believe that only Christ can do for us what, in the end, we must each do for ourselves. You don't have to be a Christian to release yourself of the generations of pain inherited from your parents. It's EXCELLENT to have a religious faith to aide you in that very difficult process, but it's hardly necessary.

  • http://www.lifevesting.com/blog Andy Wood

    Wow. All this time I thought I was a narcissistic ass. And it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault! (Go with that..) It’s not my fault!

    It’s Mac’s fault.

    It’s so liberating to know I don’t have to be responsible for my behavior or thoughts any more.

  • Ross

    John- I agree with you that moving past your parents is not dependent upon giving yourself to Christ. I also agree that it is psychological work. I should have mentioned that sis has gone the therapist route as well and just the last year stopped taking anti-depressants because of weight gain. I guess the way I look at it is if either route, secular or Christian, has the ability to change one for the better, (although personally I have yet to know someone who has gone the psychologist route and come out the better for it, but that's just my anecdotal experience and I'm sure others have had different) for me, I would hope for conversion as it offers life eternal as well as present betterment. The best situation would be conversion followed by therapy with a Christian psychologist such as your buddy Arterburn.

    Would you not agree that probably most Psychologists/Psychiatrists hold to a framework that is incompatible with the Biblical view of man – mainly that he is sinful from birth and that all his problems are due to this fact as well as the fact that everybody that has been in his life from birth are sinful.

    Just remembered something. A year and half before my conversion, I myself was seeing a therapist. I needed help as my life was a wreck. I accepted Christ by myself in my room via a tract given to me. I knew something changed within me, so much so that I told the therapist during the next session that I didn't need to see her anymore although many of the things that plauged me continued to. I had a hope and something in me (Holy Spirit) that I didn't have previously. Anyway, the therapist never provided any effective help…Xanax included. I mean she did her best but the human mind/soul is beyond complex and the wisdom of man (or woman in this case) wasn't enough. Applying Biblical principles with God's help has served me well. In my case, religious faith WAS necessary in this difficult process.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    John, have you been watching some George Carlin?

    "•HONOR THY FATHER AND MOTHER.

    This commandment is about obedience and respect for authority; in other words it's simply a device for controlling people. The truth is, obedience and respect should not be granted automatically. They should be earned. They should be based on the parents' (or the authority figure's) performance. Some parents deserve respect. Most of them don't. Period."

  • http://northernleaf.wordpress.com Tuesday

    Well, this certainly made me think alot, anyway.

    I agree with you that some people need to simply let go of their parents – to sever physical and emotional ties, because they aren't getting anything positive at all from the relationship and likely never will. I might disagree with you (although it's hard to tell obviously from a single brief post) on the numbers and the extent to which this situation exists in our society.

    I think one of the things that people get hung up on is this idea of unconditional love. That is, people tend to see relationships with family, and parent/child relationships in particular, in a "they love me unconditionally" or "they don't love me at all" way. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this well at all, but basically I think if your situation with your parents is troubled, it might be helpful to throw out loaded and romantic words like "love". When I stopped wondering about "love" in our family and instead focused on the different types of bonds and attatchments we had formed (and I do believe almost every family, no matter how dysfuntional will have strong attatchments – it just happens when people are together for extended periods of time, though they aren't always positive or healthy), it helped me see things more clearly as well as feel better about where we are as a family.

    But anyway, yeah. I think we as a society hang on to this idea that there's something sacred, magical or mystical almost about family/blood. Family relationships are pretty damn strong, yes, but not for those reasons. If your family really is doing you no good, it's okay to acknowledge that and move on (and away from them). You don't have to, but it's a completely valid option.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Vicki: Of course it’s a matter that takes considerable spiritual, intellectual, and emotional discernment. The bottom line, I think, is to be sure to honor your parents, right up to the point where “honoring” them means dishonoring yourself. If you dishonor yourself, you dishonor God. So we all have to find where that line is, and be sure to walk it.

  • http://emphaticasterisk.com Lindsey

    Vicki: It’s about rethinking what “honoring” means. Honor doesn’t always mean acceptance or obedience. Take, for example, if someone has a parent who is an atheist and an alcoholic. How, then, are they to be honored?

    Part of “honoring” my parents, for me, is becoming as pure and holy a person as I can, even when at times that is at odds with the way I was raised and what my parents would request of me. I find it interesting that the commandment says “Honor thy father and mother that it may go well with thee.” If it’s not going well with thee, time to reevaluate.

    I think we can reject the way in which our parents raised us and reevaluate if they were giving us true love or selfish love without dishonoring them. It’s like if a friend offers you a dish you don’t like. You can say, “no, thanks” without rejecting your friend outright. You can still love the things they offer you that are good and honor the friendship. Grown-up love means loving your way around the flaws and rejecting the sin.

    (Sorry for cluttering your blog, John, this one just hits a sore spot!)

  • Andy

    I believe that the number two reason people are so unhappy in life is they fail to accept that their parents loved them deeply and made a lot of sacrifices for the sake of their children out of love. Sure, they made mistakes – haven’t we all – but my challenge to you, whoever is reading this, is to say thank you to your parents before it is too late. Tell them you love them and really appreciate all the times they’ve gone without, just so that you can have a nice Christmas present or a holiday. Accept them! Love them!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Andy: Very nice. That’s right: It’s just as important for us to acknowledge the good our parents have done us as it is to properly processs the … less good.

    Lindsey: I’m very grateful to you for “cluttering” my blog with your thoughtful, kind, God-centered comments. Clutter away here, please.

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    John, I agree to a point . . . however, there is another side! Three uncles sexually violated me….biological father deserted me and emotionally empty step-dad diminshed me with words like ‘stupid-never amount -to-anything’ predictions! Mother was seldom there…dressmaking for the rich ladies in the city. In my young head, men were mean! Women were indiffferent! Predictable conditions for raising a dysfunctional child, wouldn’t you say?

    When I turned 45 my mother told me how her grandfather had raped her many times, and beat and sodomized his son(my grandfather), into an angry wimp. When Grandpa’s sons (my uncles) were born, he did to them what his father had done to him, and they in turn did it to me.

    When I heard that story about those abusive uncles…..my heart broke with compassion for them. They had been acting out of their own faulty training/example when they tore me apart. Dysfunction breeds dysfunction. Somewhere in the generational line-up, there has to be someone with forgivenenss in their heart. Otherwise, why did Jesus die? I am so totally healed of the painful memories. They are still there, but there is no malice any more. And when I met my step-father’s people in the country from which he came, I totally understood why he was like he was…. forgiveness came easier…he was like he was, because that is how his parent’s acted towards him. For sixty years he rejected them. He went back only after they had died. He hadn’t learned or taken the time to understand the ‘why’s of their verbal mean-ness towards him and his siblings.

    That is my heart towards dysfunctional parents…they suffer from generational dysfunction! They need healing too…and forgiveness is the balm of peace they need. Blessings!

  • Taryn

    This post hit me hard. In college I decided to change my major (I ended up double-majoring). They were livid, and told me I was throwing my life away and they would not support me anymore if I decided to continue (I wanted to major in Children's Ministry). When this happened, I realized something. My parents have shown their love by buying things. They can be distant and unattached all they want, but when us kids needed something, they were right there to give it to us. Even now, I still think before I do something big, "Would my parents approve of this?"

    I thought my parents were good growing up, but through the years I've realized how distant they were. And I'm finally starting to realize I need to let some baggage off…2 bags of a dad and mom. Thanks for posting this…at least one person needed to read it.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Hey John, Thanks. I think so many go through so life thinking or believing that neglectful or abusive parents are loving and caring. Greta, I think is onto step 2 or 6 with forgiveness and yes, absolutely, I agree with restoration. However, I think your post is directed toward those who are still be in denial and as such may be passing the pain onto others.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yes, Ric, thank you: That is what I’m saying. I actually don’t think it’s possible to “forgive” anyone until you’ve utterly grasped the nature of their offense. I don’t find in any way incompatible thoroughly understanding (which is a term I prefer to “forgiving” ) what and why our parents did whatever they did, and refusing to accept their dysfunction as your own. I love my father, for instance. I’ve honored him. I’ve thanked him. If there’s anything in this world the man knows, it’s that I love and respect him. But at the same time, privately, in my own heart, I’ve made sure to ensure that what’s mine is mine, and what’s his is his.

  • Elizabeth

    Good point, John. I was born to teenage parents — very young, with very little life experiences when I came along. (For most of my childhood through young adulthood, I had all sorts of significance issues… I could never even accept that God loved me unconditionally — much less my folks. And I blamed myself for being the cause of their issues. It wasn't until seven years ago that I finally resolved that this was their issue, not mine. And once that was behind me, I think I could finally accept that I was loved unconditionally by others… and most especially by God.

  • Cheryl

    This is interesting, coming just after your own father's visit. Having read some of the earlier posts about your childhood, I imagine in the day or two since he's left, you feel like one of those old pinball machines — blinking and whirring as all sorts of good and bad emotions and memories ricochet through you. "Lost ball. A thousand points! Lost ball. Bonus time!"

    I am not a Christian … exactly … and sometimes read your blog to hone my internal debate about faith — but regardless of party affiliation, what you have written today will salve many wounds.

  • Cheryl

    This is interesting, coming just after your own father's visit. Having read some of the earlier posts about your childhood, I imagine in the day or two since he's left, you feel like one of those old pinball machines — blinking and whirring as all sorts of good and bad emotions and memories ricochet through you. "Lost ball. A thousand points! Lost ball. Bonus time!"

    I am not a Christian … exactly … and sometimes read your blog to hone my internal debate about faith — but regardless of party affiliation, what you have written today will salve many wounds.

  • http://belovedmama.blogspot.com Christelle

    Thank you so much for posting this! I needed to hear it!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, guys. These comments are fantastic: sensitive, articulate, honest. Wonderful stuff. I’m so sorry I haven’t had time to address each individually; they’re all so trenchant.

    Ross: Without question it’s true, as you suggest, that such affairs as we’re here discussing DO go better with God. A religious conversion followed by therapy with a Christian counseler (depending, of course, on the quality of the counselor) sounds positively ideal to me.

    Tuesday: Perfect. What a wonderful thing you’ve said. I’m really, really grateful to you for sharing this. It’s … exactly right.

    Taryn: Wonderful. Outstanding. It’s amazing the thought it’s clear you’ve already given all this. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to know you’ve already done so much of this kind of emotional work.

    Elizabeth: WOW! Another journey undertaken with courage and resloved with understanding. This is just … experience talking, you can tell. Thanks to you, too, for taking the time to share this with us.

    Christelle: Thank YOU! (You’ve got a great blog, too; I went and visited it. It’s got a really sweet vibe.)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, guys. These comments are fantastic: sensitive, articulate, honest. Wonderful stuff. I’m so sorry I haven’t had time to address each individually; they’re all so trenchant.

    Ross: Without question it’s true, as you suggest, that such affairs as we’re here discussing DO go better with God. A religious conversion followed by therapy with a Christian counseler (depending, of course, on the quality of the counselor) sounds positively ideal to me.

    Tuesday: Perfect. What a wonderful thing you’ve said. I’m really, really grateful to you for sharing this. It’s … exactly right.

    Taryn: Wonderful. Outstanding. It’s amazing the thought it’s clear you’ve already given all this. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to know you’ve already done so much of this kind of emotional work.

    Elizabeth: WOW! Another journey undertaken with courage and resloved with understanding. This is just … experience talking, you can tell. Thanks to you, too, for taking the time to share this with us.

    Christelle: Thank YOU! (You’ve got a great blog, too; I went and visited it. It’s got a really sweet vibe.)

  • mhogue

    That's harsh, John.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mhogue: Wrong. Read it again.

    Cheryl: Thank you. For what it's worth, I didn't write this on the heels of my father's visit because I'm in any way conflicted or unresolved relative to my feelings about him–though of course I knew it was absolutely bound to seem that way. Instead, I wrote this because I know a lot of people DO have unresolved issues around their parents. I've been honing this Theory of Relativity since I was about eight; my wife and I have been working on it for 25+ years. I would say that knowing this stuff–this particular stuff–is some of the hardest won, most precious knowledge I have. I figured this was a good time to share it. You toss it out; the wind blows it away. Still. I figured one, maybe two people might hear it. Good enough.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mhogue: Wrong. Read it again.

    Cheryl: Thank you. For what it's worth, I didn't write this on the heels of my father's visit because I'm in any way conflicted or unresolved relative to my feelings about him–though of course I knew it was absolutely bound to seem that way. Instead, I wrote this because I know a lot of people DO have unresolved issues around their parents. I've been honing this Theory of Relativity since I was about eight; my wife and I have been working on it for 25+ years. I would say that knowing this stuff–this particular stuff–is some of the hardest won, most precious knowledge I have. I figured this was a good time to share it. You toss it out; the wind blows it away. Still. I figured one, maybe two people might hear it. Good enough.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Amen.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Passed this post on to my wife and she seemed to have an epiphany of some sort. She sent me an e-mail back followed by a "thanks" with exclamation points.

    Meanwhile, we "reject our parents" – where does that leave someone? Free – but for what? What or who do we base our self esteem on?

    It's just in our nature for most not to be comfortable with how we view ourselves and to try and base our esteem outside ourselves.

    My thought leads to the only being greater than my parents – God.

    God's love for me and desire for relationship seems the closest to unconditional love and acceptance as I can find.

    To me, that in turn leads to a "healthy" self-esteem where I am "in touch with my inner loser" and yet know I have value in God's eyes – and I need that. Everyone needs that.

    Thanks again, John.

    -Sam

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Passed this post on to my wife and she seemed to have an epiphany of some sort. She sent me an e-mail back followed by a "thanks" with exclamation points.

    Meanwhile, we "reject our parents" – where does that leave someone? Free – but for what? What or who do we base our self esteem on?

    It's just in our nature for most not to be comfortable with how we view ourselves and to try and base our esteem outside ourselves.

    My thought leads to the only being greater than my parents – God.

    God's love for me and desire for relationship seems the closest to unconditional love and acceptance as I can find.

    To me, that in turn leads to a "healthy" self-esteem where I am "in touch with my inner loser" and yet know I have value in God's eyes – and I need that. Everyone needs that.

    Thanks again, John.

    -Sam

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  • http://html PenIee

    Look, mine did not have TV, were post-war, did the best they could for a couple wrongly matched and since becoming a born again Christian have forgiven totally. Good subject John it will always get a good response.

  • Anne

    This article is serendipitous, very affirming on my thoughts for today. I just completed a series of emails with a very good friend about how sad I feel without positive responses from my family every stage of life. Now as a grandmother, I still feel sad about the distant relationships we have together. Little effort is put into building relationships in my family. There were dysfunctional roles in my family (absent, hypercritical, or uninvolved father and sibling, with an alcoholic mother). When I was less than 12 yo, I regularly prayed for different parents because I needed attention and love. I was starving and knew it. No self-help reading was done, no soap operas to watch and suggest to me, no TV show talk hosts educating me as to what healthy families look like. And yet, I knew – and I knew it was not me that needed replacing. Didn’t get my prayers answered, by the way. Learned the 10 commandments, live by them, and get the bottom line of the article to be – stop the self-centeredness about others behaviors and their thinking is somehow about me. And since I cannot change others but myself, then I need to quit trying to change the past. My parents lacked the tools and skills to raise me. They did housekeeping duties, that’s it. So, my happiness will come when I change my perspective (it doesn’t have to deny reality). No wonder I don’t understand my relationship in the family – we don’t have one.

    I believe in me; and what will make me happy. Taking a perspective that does not make me suffer, helps.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Who is Vicki? And what are you afraid of?

  • http://candleday.wordpress.com Tomas

    The picture of you proves your mastery to shave indeed. Unfortunately that was the only joy. It was fearful to read your call to reject our parents. Jesus never taught us so. Therefore let me thank dear Vicki here She left the wonderful comment under your post.

    • http://johnshore.com Christine Conti

      "…I came not to send peace but a sword…and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Matt. 10:34-36 KJV

  • http://candleday.wordpress.com Tomas

    The picture of you proves your mastery to shave indeed. Unfortunately that was the only joy. It was fearful to read your call to reject our parents. Jesus never taught us so. Therefore let me thank dear Vicki here She left the wonderful comment under your post.

    • http://johnshore.com Christine Conti

      "…I came not to send peace but a sword…and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Matt. 10:34-36 KJV

  • Laila

    It was yesterday that I realized that my relationship with my father has been NOTHING more than abusive from his end–physically, emotionally, spiritually. The man is poison. And he never loved me. There was no "sacrificing so that Daughter could have something"–quite the reverse! He would sometimes leave for weeks at a time, no idea where to, without leaving my mother a cent for groceries.

    Analytically realizing this to be the case, it nonetheless hurts like the devil. It has left me mournful.

    It's true that most people have no idea how to parent. Most people never read parenting books or attend classes; they never even work out for themselves their own parenting philosophies. And they never discuss with whatever partner is present how parenting should proceed with the both of them as parents. They usually parent as they were parented, or as a reaction to the way they were parented.

    It is hence my belief that most people are screwing up their children in some way or other.

    Incidentally enough, a psychologist with Florida State University as recently published a study which finds that having children makes people more unhappy than it makes them happy. (This idea is not new in psychology.) Having children is hard.

    I think most people shouldn't have children. I am reminded of a quote by Blaise Pascal: "The more I see of Mankind, the more I prefer my dog."

  • Laila

    It was yesterday that I realized that my relationship with my father has been NOTHING more than abusive from his end–physically, emotionally, spiritually. The man is poison. And he never loved me. There was no "sacrificing so that Daughter could have something"–quite the reverse! He would sometimes leave for weeks at a time, no idea where to, without leaving my mother a cent for groceries.

    Analytically realizing this to be the case, it nonetheless hurts like the devil. It has left me mournful.

    It's true that most people have no idea how to parent. Most people never read parenting books or attend classes; they never even work out for themselves their own parenting philosophies. And they never discuss with whatever partner is present how parenting should proceed with the both of them as parents. They usually parent as they were parented, or as a reaction to the way they were parented.

    It is hence my belief that most people are screwing up their children in some way or other.

    Incidentally enough, a psychologist with Florida State University as recently published a study which finds that having children makes people more unhappy than it makes them happy. (This idea is not new in psychology.) Having children is hard.

    I think most people shouldn't have children. I am reminded of a quote by Blaise Pascal: "The more I see of Mankind, the more I prefer my dog."

  • Stacy

    I lost my mother when I was 15 years old. I tried to stay connected with a family that I had nothing in common with for 24 years. My earthly father isn't a godly example. My brother and I were physically and emotionally abused growing up. I don't think he is a christian. My step-mother is a christian. Finally when my earthly father told me he didn't like me being involved with my kids in sports, my job, and my church I felt like I was being rejected. He thought I should stop everything but my job. I chose to stop going to family gatherings. I also don't call hardly ever. They don't come to any of my childrens events except when my daughter played in the orchestra. He talks bad about me because I won't take my children over to their house. He calls me a hypocrite. They don't visit my children in my home. It has been almost 2 years since I broke away from the family. I actually felt like my family died again. It was so traumatic for me and my husband. My daughter- which is 17 now -has been over there twice. She says that she hears 2 stories. I can't stop her from going over there, but I can't protest her if she does. But I am responsible for her. I pray for my earthly father ever day. I know that God can move mountains and turn problems like this around for His glory. It was strange to read some of the responses on this page because it in a way confirmed what I thought God was telling me. (Reject everything so God can arrive). I have no desire to communicate with them. My husbands family are christians and are very supportive. God has been there for me all of the time. He has taken that void away that my parents left. My husband and I quit having so many arguments and are communicating better. I am trying to surround myself with christian people. God has also used me since then to help others. My earthly father didn't know how to raise me and my brother. It wasn't his fault, but that doesn't mean that I have to subject me and my family to verbal abuse-anymore! I was raised to listen and not talk back-EVER!. Also that children were weant to be seen and not heard. Fortunately my husband was raised in a christian home and with Gods help has shown me how to be a better parent. I thank God for that every day!

    I can only say that I have a love for my earthly father the way my heavenly father would have me to. "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" Thank you-I still have a ways to go. Its hard togo through the teenage years with your kids and have problems like this. I am learning to give it to God. I told my stepmother that I was willing (or I think I am ready) to meet with them at a food place if there were no bickering and hollaring. I don't want to go to their house because it is my earthly fathers turf where he is king. If something was said and done I would be afraid that i would do or say something that would be harmful. If you have any comments I would appreciate them.

  • Stacy

    I lost my mother when I was 15 years old. I tried to stay connected with a family that I had nothing in common with for 24 years. My earthly father isn't a godly example. My brother and I were physically and emotionally abused growing up. I don't think he is a christian. My step-mother is a christian. Finally when my earthly father told me he didn't like me being involved with my kids in sports, my job, and my church I felt like I was being rejected. He thought I should stop everything but my job. I chose to stop going to family gatherings. I also don't call hardly ever. They don't come to any of my childrens events except when my daughter played in the orchestra. He talks bad about me because I won't take my children over to their house. He calls me a hypocrite. They don't visit my children in my home. It has been almost 2 years since I broke away from the family. I actually felt like my family died again. It was so traumatic for me and my husband. My daughter- which is 17 now -has been over there twice. She says that she hears 2 stories. I can't stop her from going over there, but I can't protest her if she does. But I am responsible for her. I pray for my earthly father ever day. I know that God can move mountains and turn problems like this around for His glory. It was strange to read some of the responses on this page because it in a way confirmed what I thought God was telling me. (Reject everything so God can arrive). I have no desire to communicate with them. My husbands family are christians and are very supportive. God has been there for me all of the time. He has taken that void away that my parents left. My husband and I quit having so many arguments and are communicating better. I am trying to surround myself with christian people. God has also used me since then to help others. My earthly father didn't know how to raise me and my brother. It wasn't his fault, but that doesn't mean that I have to subject me and my family to verbal abuse-anymore! I was raised to listen and not talk back-EVER!. Also that children were weant to be seen and not heard. Fortunately my husband was raised in a christian home and with Gods help has shown me how to be a better parent. I thank God for that every day!

    I can only say that I have a love for my earthly father the way my heavenly father would have me to. "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" Thank you-I still have a ways to go. Its hard togo through the teenage years with your kids and have problems like this. I am learning to give it to God. I told my stepmother that I was willing (or I think I am ready) to meet with them at a food place if there were no bickering and hollaring. I don't want to go to their house because it is my earthly fathers turf where he is king. If something was said and done I would be afraid that i would do or say something that would be harmful. If you have any comments I would appreciate them.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Nima: I'm going to present your story to my readers, and ask them to pray for you. I'll be doing that tommorow morning. Thank you for having the courage to so openly and honestly share your heartbreaking story with us. That you've survived what you have, and are having these "epiphanies" is an inspiration to us all.

  • Nima

    Dear Mr. Shore,

    I found your article about rejecting your parents through a random web search about parents rejecting their children.

    I had no choices in my childhood, was dragged all over the country by a mother who was desperately chasing my father, and a father who didn’t want us. My mother cut off from her family and so did my father. I never knew their families and only met my mother’s later in my life after finding them.

    It has taken me many years of admitting my parents just didn’t like me and lost out on a nice child, and the last 3 years have been so revealing. I have been living my life on more automatic reactions rather than really thinking about why I do the things I do and who are or are not my friends. I finally stopped and looked at it all and it was terribly painful.

    I was so discouraged from making friends, keeping friends, finding the truth and knowing who I was that I fell apart in adulthood. I was set up with no coping skills or success in anything for life. I was SUPPOSED to fail. So I could, I guess, reinforce for them, that life is hard and you cannot win. Then I was mentally beaten by a God that loved me ON CONDITION that I did what HE wanted or ELSE. The love of God was spouted out as some kind of paneacia but when I tried to learn about his so called unconditional love I was thumped for having assumptions that I might actually be a good child rather than a waste of space or just a servant.

    My parents always made me feel it was my fault for my problems. Everything is MY FAULT because I didn’t react correctly or I just “misunderstood” what them meant, even though they changed the rules again and I missed the memo. That is tiresome and I reject it. It is my parents fault for giving me nothing to succed in this life. I had to go around them and learn all I could so I could at least function. Everything I learned I learned alone through books and observation. I have been pretending to be normal but in reality I feel lost and undesirable.

    For years I have to correct everything my parents did to me, both physically and legally, and for two summers I have had epiphanies as to why I have reacted to the world as a hostile place that does not love you or ever will. I learned to hate myself before allowing anyone else to hurt me with that same attitude. That way they didn’t have to constantly beat me up mentally and really demolish my soul.I did it for them.

    I have had to reject my parents compleatly, their idea of a God that loves you ONLY IF….. I tired of hearing how it was all my fault.

    I was only trying to protect the shreds of my self esteem and inner person they didn’t get a chance to rip apart.

    Since their deaths, which freed my soul from having to pretend to be whatever they wanted, which would change every time I thought I figured out what they wanted in a daughter, I am completely ready to forget them. I feel like lousy Christian because I cannot find anything about them to honor. They taught me to fear, to hate myself, and gave me no encouragement on how to interact with others in this world. They destroyed all my attempts at a better life till I finally left my home state for many years.

    I felt used by them for their needs mostly. It is very hard to trust anyone who has tried to kill you as a four-year old child because it would be better to send you back to God. It basically leaves you unsure of your place on on this earth or if you have a right to survival at all. Desparately pleasing them was a survival trait I learned. Don’t ask too much or get out of line.

    I am trying very hard to forgive them, but more I would rather reject them and run toward something better. They are dead now, I must admit I am so glad I don’t deal with them any longer. I had to burn my mothers journals because she said NOTHING good about me in them. She once told me I wasn’t good enough to have children, so I’d better not. I granted her wish. My body stressed itself into disease, so that I could never get pregnant.

    I have felt very lonely for years although I am married to a very understanding man. He has seen this kind of ill treatment through his job and has a lot of patience. I spent years in emotional distress and physical illness and wondering if I had the right to be alive. My parents instilled in me that I was worthless to them, so I always wondered what good I was on this earth. I am working towards self love, which is NOT SELFISH. I need to love myself enough to stay alive and not give up. I do fairly well most of the time, but sometimes I get very depressed when I really need to talk to someone to make sure my feelings are natural. I am afraid to reveal my vulnerablility to others because they can use it as leverage later when they turn on me.

    I keep having “epiphanies” as to why I am doing things I do, and that I no longer have to work in survival mode, but can choose what to do or how to react.

    I have only one other sibling who was not there for the major beatings I had to watch my mother endure or the alcoholism I had to witness as my father went into womanizing and anger.

    I don’t think my brother knows how deeply it has affected me but I know he has been deeply hurt too. He admitted to me that he has been harshly judgemental toward others because that is all he experienced as a child. No love, just judgement. Neither of us thought we could ever please our parents. He is doing better than I am. Maybe because they gave him more time or he was the “boy” and I was not as valuable.

    I must say I do not like my parents. I am trying to return to God but I really need some Christians to show me that unconditional LOVE does exist. That it’s possible for someone not to judge you because you are different, unsocial or had a rotten life, and for them not to fear who I am might “rub off on them.” I can’t say I have met many Christians of this kind. Mostly I hear from them how everyone outside of their little sect is going to Hell and wrong. In the four years I have been living in our town I have had ONE Christian person reach out to me unconditionally and lovingly. I was like a starving skeleton eating food for the first time in thirty years. I didn’t think Christians wanted anyone new around them or anyone so hurt they cannot seem to understand how deep it goes. I wonder if there really are Christian who care anymore. Not in my town I guess. Only one person at all, I guess.

    I guess Christians have become too frightened to reach out to others in need. Somehow a sick wounded bleeding person is supposed to crawl to a church and beg for a little help. I wonder if Jesus would have slunk back and kept his mouth shut because others might punish him for sharing the gospel. I guess not because he died for us. I am trying to relate that to me.

    I pray that God will help me to forgive my parents but I must admit I would like to just put them out of my mind for the rest of my life. I wonder if we see these people in the afterlife? I would much rather see my cat who loved me unconditionally and understood all my moods and just snuggled me when I was down.

    I wonder if animals are not God’s way of showing we the rejected that there is some kind of Love out there for us too. Sometimes I wish I had been born a cat or dog without the hate and anger and hurtfullness of humans. But that is probably selfish to want as well.

    I think I am looking for my place in the world and feel cut off and lonely. I understand it when someone who looks perfectly normal and happy on the outside then manages to commit suicide and then the rest of the people around them say, I don’t understand, he/she seemed so happy, what happened? Then the obvious clues start to become clear and everyone realizes they could have done a little more, said a kind word or actually maybe tried to help the person so wounded that living becomes harder than dying.

    I pray that God can come to me and I can let him in and I can forgive my parents. it is going to take time and it would help if others would understand me. But I don’t look for that anymore. I just would like to feel that complete overcoming of the holy spirit everyone talks about and I can find the ability to forgive and forget and move one. I feel like the sick person who has to heal herself alone.

    • D

      I could have written your story. Four years ago I "rejected" my mom and my older brother after years of abuse and manipulation (my dad had died years before). I haven't gone to hell yet. We have this one life, honey: God doesn't want our only life to be so unhappy. I pray that you're epiphanies continue; it sounds like you're at the start of a liberating journey.

    • Susan

      I too could have written your story, Nima. I understand how you feel and admire your strength in persevering and having learning epiphanies. It helps very much to know that you are loved by God, but if you can, it would be great if you could find a therapist who understands and specializes in Complex PTSD, which is the condition most abused children are left in. Like you, I did much work on my own for many years, but it is really helpful to find a non-judgmental therapist who understands the type of psychological damage an abusive childhood can produce and who can walk you through the steps to reintegration and recovery. A good book that helps in understanding the therapeutic process for people like us is The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie and Robert Pressman. (I hope links work on this blog). At $36, it's expensive, but I have found it very useful in coordination with therapy.

      Take care and God bless.

  • Nima

    Dear Mr. Shore,

    I found your article about rejecting your parents through a random web search about parents rejecting their children.

    I had no choices in my childhood, was dragged all over the country by a mother who was desperately chasing my father, and a father who didn’t want us. My mother cut off from her family and so did my father. I never knew their families and only met my mother’s later in my life after finding them.

    It has taken me many years of admitting my parents just didn’t like me and lost out on a nice child, and the last 3 years have been so revealing. I have been living my life on more automatic reactions rather than really thinking about why I do the things I do and who are or are not my friends. I finally stopped and looked at it all and it was terribly painful.

    I was so discouraged from making friends, keeping friends, finding the truth and knowing who I was that I fell apart in adulthood. I was set up with no coping skills or success in anything for life. I was SUPPOSED to fail. So I could, I guess, reinforce for them, that life is hard and you cannot win. Then I was mentally beaten by a God that loved me ON CONDITION that I did what HE wanted or ELSE. The love of God was spouted out as some kind of paneacia but when I tried to learn about his so called unconditional love I was thumped for having assumptions that I might actually be a good child rather than a waste of space or just a servant.

    My parents always made me feel it was my fault for my problems. Everything is MY FAULT because I didn’t react correctly or I just “misunderstood” what them meant, even though they changed the rules again and I missed the memo. That is tiresome and I reject it. It is my parents fault for giving me nothing to succed in this life. I had to go around them and learn all I could so I could at least function. Everything I learned I learned alone through books and observation. I have been pretending to be normal but in reality I feel lost and undesirable.

    For years I have to correct everything my parents did to me, both physically and legally, and for two summers I have had epiphanies as to why I have reacted to the world as a hostile place that does not love you or ever will. I learned to hate myself before allowing anyone else to hurt me with that same attitude. That way they didn’t have to constantly beat me up mentally and really demolish my soul.I did it for them.

    I have had to reject my parents compleatly, their idea of a God that loves you ONLY IF….. I tired of hearing how it was all my fault.

    I was only trying to protect the shreds of my self esteem and inner person they didn’t get a chance to rip apart.

    Since their deaths, which freed my soul from having to pretend to be whatever they wanted, which would change every time I thought I figured out what they wanted in a daughter, I am completely ready to forget them. I feel like lousy Christian because I cannot find anything about them to honor. They taught me to fear, to hate myself, and gave me no encouragement on how to interact with others in this world. They destroyed all my attempts at a better life till I finally left my home state for many years.

    I felt used by them for their needs mostly. It is very hard to trust anyone who has tried to kill you as a four-year old child because it would be better to send you back to God. It basically leaves you unsure of your place on on this earth or if you have a right to survival at all. Desparately pleasing them was a survival trait I learned. Don’t ask too much or get out of line.

    I am trying very hard to forgive them, but more I would rather reject them and run toward something better. They are dead now, I must admit I am so glad I don’t deal with them any longer. I had to burn my mothers journals because she said NOTHING good about me in them. She once told me I wasn’t good enough to have children, so I’d better not. I granted her wish. My body stressed itself into disease, so that I could never get pregnant.

    I have felt very lonely for years although I am married to a very understanding man. He has seen this kind of ill treatment through his job and has a lot of patience. I spent years in emotional distress and physical illness and wondering if I had the right to be alive. My parents instilled in me that I was worthless to them, so I always wondered what good I was on this earth. I am working towards self love, which is NOT SELFISH. I need to love myself enough to stay alive and not give up. I do fairly well most of the time, but sometimes I get very depressed when I really need to talk to someone to make sure my feelings are natural. I am afraid to reveal my vulnerablility to others because they can use it as leverage later when they turn on me.

    I keep having “epiphanies” as to why I am doing things I do, and that I no longer have to work in survival mode, but can choose what to do or how to react.

    I have only one other sibling who was not there for the major beatings I had to watch my mother endure or the alcoholism I had to witness as my father went into womanizing and anger.

    I don’t think my brother knows how deeply it has affected me but I know he has been deeply hurt too. He admitted to me that he has been harshly judgemental toward others because that is all he experienced as a child. No love, just judgement. Neither of us thought we could ever please our parents. He is doing better than I am. Maybe because they gave him more time or he was the “boy” and I was not as valuable.

    I must say I do not like my parents. I am trying to return to God but I really need some Christians to show me that unconditional LOVE does exist. That it’s possible for someone not to judge you because you are different, unsocial or had a rotten life, and for them not to fear who I am might “rub off on them.” I can’t say I have met many Christians of this kind. Mostly I hear from them how everyone outside of their little sect is going to Hell and wrong. In the four years I have been living in our town I have had ONE Christian person reach out to me unconditionally and lovingly. I was like a starving skeleton eating food for the first time in thirty years. I didn’t think Christians wanted anyone new around them or anyone so hurt they cannot seem to understand how deep it goes. I wonder if there really are Christian who care anymore. Not in my town I guess. Only one person at all, I guess.

    I guess Christians have become too frightened to reach out to others in need. Somehow a sick wounded bleeding person is supposed to crawl to a church and beg for a little help. I wonder if Jesus would have slunk back and kept his mouth shut because others might punish him for sharing the gospel. I guess not because he died for us. I am trying to relate that to me.

    I pray that God will help me to forgive my parents but I must admit I would like to just put them out of my mind for the rest of my life. I wonder if we see these people in the afterlife? I would much rather see my cat who loved me unconditionally and understood all my moods and just snuggled me when I was down.

    I wonder if animals are not God’s way of showing we the rejected that there is some kind of Love out there for us too. Sometimes I wish I had been born a cat or dog without the hate and anger and hurtfullness of humans. But that is probably selfish to want as well.

    I think I am looking for my place in the world and feel cut off and lonely. I understand it when someone who looks perfectly normal and happy on the outside then manages to commit suicide and then the rest of the people around them say, I don’t understand, he/she seemed so happy, what happened? Then the obvious clues start to become clear and everyone realizes they could have done a little more, said a kind word or actually maybe tried to help the person so wounded that living becomes harder than dying.

    I pray that God can come to me and I can let him in and I can forgive my parents. it is going to take time and it would help if others would understand me. But I don’t look for that anymore. I just would like to feel that complete overcoming of the holy spirit everyone talks about and I can find the ability to forgive and forget and move one. I feel like the sick person who has to heal herself alone.

    • Susan

      I too could have written your story, Nima. I understand how you feel and admire your strength in persevering and having learning epiphanies. It helps very much to know that you are loved by God, but if you can, it would be great if you could find a therapist who understands and specializes in Complex PTSD, which is the condition most abused children are left in. Like you, I did much work on my own for many years, but it is really helpful to find a non-judgmental therapist who understands the type of psychological damage an abusive childhood can produce and who can walk you through the steps to reintegration and recovery. A good book that helps in understanding the therapeutic process for people like us is The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie and Robert Pressman. (I hope links work on this blog). At $36, it's expensive, but I have found it very useful in coordination with therapy.

      Take care and God bless.

  • http://www.davidrochester.wordpress.com davidrochester

    … and in contrast to the last comment I made on your site, I think this post is incredibly astute.

    Another reason why it's important to wake up to the crappiness of one's parents is that until you do, you're likely to perpetuate that same crap on your own kids, because it's what you unconsciously associate with "loving" parental behavior. Which tends to create generation after generation of emotionally abused, depressed alcoholics, among other things.

  • http://www.davidrochester.wordpress.com davidrochester

    … and in contrast to the last comment I made on your site, I think this post is incredibly astute.

    Another reason why it's important to wake up to the crappiness of one's parents is that until you do, you're likely to perpetuate that same crap on your own kids, because it's what you unconsciously associate with "loving" parental behavior. Which tends to create generation after generation of emotionally abused, depressed alcoholics, among other things.

  • http://your-first-time.com Magali

    I read so many articles about coping skills for parents with bad kids, but no one ever addresses the fact that there are awful parents out setting their kids up for years of misery. Great article.

  • Brenda

    I also found your website by doing a Google search, and have jumped over here from another subject to re-read the posts on this one.

    I am just about to finish the denial stage in dealing with my family. I have been making a lot of excuses for them, because I want to believe that they are mean because they don’t “understand”. I have told myself it’s how they have always done things, blah, blah, blah.

    I can tell my thought processes have changed, even in the last few weeks. I am a lot more ready to accept that they just did not like me. My dad did, though. He was just so passive he would never take my side. When I was a little kid, I could sense how much my mom hated me–if I heard the stairs creak at night before I went to sleep I was sure she was coming up to kill me with a butcher knife. Once she told me no one would ever like me. They loved me, she said, only because I was their child, but no one else would.

    I can’t help feeling badly/guilty when my dad who is ninety years old sits in his chair and cries and says he just wishes we could all get together like we used to and that he wishes things could be like they used to be. Sadly, it still feels like manipulation, because it involves me doing what they want, no matter what the cost might be to me. The real me wants to rise up and say, “The way things used to be is the problem. Since you won’t listen to my words, I am telling you in the only other way I know, by staying away from this toxic family, that things need to change!”

    The real me also has no desire to go there with them anymore. It’s a lost cause. Why can’t they realize that and leave me alone? They have no desire to get to the root of the problem, because they would have to change. They just want things to look okay on the surface so their Christian friends will quit talking about how I don’t come to visit them, etc.

    I feel sad because I know my family is not in the ideal relationship, however, there was an incident eight years ago when something “snapped” for me and I was just done. No desire to try anymore. To keep the door open, just in case, I told them I would try to work things out if they were ever willing to meet with an objective third party. It hasn’t happened, but when there is an event they want us to appear at, they summon me, and try to act like things are “normal” whatever that is. I don’t avoid every event, but I don’t go to all of them, either. I don’t let my family make my decisions either way.

    I try to honor my parents. I give them money, food, call them on the phone, but I don’t do what they want most—pretend that things are fine with my brother and myself, and I don’t spend time with all of them at the same time unless my husband is there, too. I feel that I am honoring them as much as I can, given our situation.

    Sometimes I feel like telling people in our community the truth about how I grew up. I guess the way I honor my parents the most is by not embarrasing them by telling that story to anyone who knows them.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Brenda: Amazing. What a story. Heartbreaking. Sounds like you know what you're doing. These are such hard life lessons, aren't they? This is the kind of wisdom that comes at such a price.

  • Brenda

    I also found your website by doing a Google search, and have jumped over here from another subject to re-read the posts on this one.

    I am just about to finish the denial stage in dealing with my family. I have been making a lot of excuses for them, because I want to believe that they are mean because they don’t “understand”. I have told myself it’s how they have always done things, blah, blah, blah.

    I can tell my thought processes have changed, even in the last few weeks. I am a lot more ready to accept that they just did not like me. My dad did, though. He was just so passive he would never take my side. When I was a little kid, I could sense how much my mom hated me–if I heard the stairs creak at night before I went to sleep I was sure she was coming up to kill me with a butcher knife. Once she told me no one would ever like me. They loved me, she said, only because I was their child, but no one else would.

    I can’t help feeling badly/guilty when my dad who is ninety years old sits in his chair and cries and says he just wishes we could all get together like we used to and that he wishes things could be like they used to be. Sadly, it still feels like manipulation, because it involves me doing what they want, no matter what the cost might be to me. The real me wants to rise up and say, “The way things used to be is the problem. Since you won’t listen to my words, I am telling you in the only other way I know, by staying away from this toxic family, that things need to change!”

    The real me also has no desire to go there with them anymore. It’s a lost cause. Why can’t they realize that and leave me alone? They have no desire to get to the root of the problem, because they would have to change. They just want things to look okay on the surface so their Christian friends will quit talking about how I don’t come to visit them, etc.

    I feel sad because I know my family is not in the ideal relationship, however, there was an incident eight years ago when something “snapped” for me and I was just done. No desire to try anymore. To keep the door open, just in case, I told them I would try to work things out if they were ever willing to meet with an objective third party. It hasn’t happened, but when there is an event they want us to appear at, they summon me, and try to act like things are “normal” whatever that is. I don’t avoid every event, but I don’t go to all of them, either. I don’t let my family make my decisions either way.

    I try to honor my parents. I give them money, food, call them on the phone, but I don’t do what they want most—pretend that things are fine with my brother and myself, and I don’t spend time with all of them at the same time unless my husband is there, too. I feel that I am honoring them as much as I can, given our situation.

    Sometimes I feel like telling people in our community the truth about how I grew up. I guess the way I honor my parents the most is by not embarrasing them by telling that story to anyone who knows them.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Brenda: Amazing. What a story. Heartbreaking. Sounds like you know what you're doing. These are such hard life lessons, aren't they? This is the kind of wisdom that comes at such a price.

  • http://fUny1.blogspot.com fUny1

    I am writing on this board as a form of therapy for myself and with the hope of reaching out to others in my predicament.

    My father and mother were both the youngest children of their families but were in their mid 20′s when they met and were married 2 years later and started our family.

    My father grew up never knowing his father who passed away when he was only 6 month old. He went to college in the US with a fellow countryman and friend of his and after his return from the US my father found out that his friend had died in mysterious and possibly criminally violent circumstances. He met my mother at her brother’s funeral since her brother was a friend and classmate of my father.( I am the embodiment of the reverse Grandfather paradox in Physics in that going back in time and saving my uncle would imply that I never come into existence if there are no parallel realities and I do not do a back to the future hook up of my mom and dad)

    My parents experienced lots of hardship in their mid 40′s to help our future by escaping war and immigrating to the US with only 10 grand in money to help us. Many times they regretted their decision and wanted to go back but they were usually in opposition on their decision more often than in agreement and I believe this was always the case since my father’s mother had tried to get them divorced mere months after they got married.

    There was always argument and sometimes the kids had to bear the brunt of the verbal terror from my dad which would turn into rare outbursts of physical violence( mostly slapping on the face).

    We grew up terrorized from our dad even though we loved him.

    I’ve been carrying a burden of supporting my parents ever since I was 7 years old when our family experienced financial hardship when my dad lost his high paying job in a single income household with a stay at home wife who left her job to raise 3 children. He continued to build his construction project and spend his money on that( with heavy levered borrowing of course) while we had to go by on the bear minimum of food, school, and hand me down for clothes.

    This lead to our immigration to the US when I was 12 since war and the corruption it created had decimated my dad’s construction project money making ability.

    I just turned 34 and I have been supporting both my parents and older sister with half of my 100k income until my DoD IT contract ended and I was laid off on my birthday(1/365 probability) I had been working 50-70 hrs a week like a rented mule traveling almost every week all over the US and the world so I can save money and help my family since my dad’s real estate income has plummeted to zero one year after my mom retired from her work to help my sister at her private chiropractic practice. My parents helped my sister fund her practice and so did I. The only problem is some of the help came from credit card debt and home equity loans and to top it off my dad destroyed any retirement money he would have had speculating on stocks after I had made him pretty good gains in the late 1990′s when I was between jobs and was doing good research on tech stocks in my IT background.

    My Mom’s retirement money is all she has after helping fund all of our education( she helped me the least since I knew she could not afford for me to go to a prestigious Technical College away from home and take on debt. My younger sister had her part time work pay for her school close to home with the help of my mother. I chose to pay 1/10th of the rate per class credit to study towards a B.S in Physics first at the local community college and then at a local state University. My Parents could not afford to send me to a room and board college and I hate incurring that much debt especially in a field where starting salaries for PHD’s is 25k until they pay their dues.

    I decided to get into IT since I had a passion for computers and computer gaming and it was the wise thing to due for the the since I got in early on the late 1990′s IT boom( I’ve always believed that GOD guided me to this field since I was mocked all the time for spending too much time and money on my hobby which I ended up mostly learning on my own aside from learning some in technical schools which is also the only time my dad ever paid for my education)

    The career that sprung out of that $1300 investment has helped him my mom and my older sister to the tune of more than 50k just in the last 2 years. All other investments in his kids’ future and all his dealings and even the money he made from Real Estate have not amounted to this so this is why I feel that it was GOD who led me to this field since it was the only thing that would save our family from going into poverty especially that my sister’s practice has closed due to the economic depression that we have been going through.

    My dad tried to do Real Estate as a second income to support all the debt he would incur from a reduced income in his primary work and still be able to gift my younger sister a large wedding gift and pay for half her wedding day.

    I did not want my mother to work past 63 especially since my dad’s mother had never worked a day in her life and was technically retired and using her children as her retirement account. Moving to a 100% travel job allowed me to cut my spending at home and increase my pay by 50% and add 10% more due to tax free per diem and saving cost of gas of commuting.

    After taxes and helping my parents, I saved about 15% of my earnings and had been doing full time technical trading in the market for 2 years since my IT work was on Thur-mon. So technically I was working 2 full time jobs. The most work I did was 150 hrs in 9 days and 370 hrs over 30 consecutive days for an average of 12.5 hrs 7 days a week.

    I have neglected my social and personal life in order to try to help my parents and older sister who are in need and also help my younger sister and her husband who has a beautiful 13 month old son whom am I his Godfather.

    I own a home equally with them otherwise they would not be able to afford it. I have been trying to save enough money to buy my own home so I could relax from the constant pressure of bad business decisions and bad luck(If it wasn’t for bad luck I’d only have the worst luck ;-) and find me a good woman to share my life with so I can move on and maintain my physical health and more importantly my sanity.

    I did not plan on using the rest of my savings to continue to support them in living beyond their means even though they do not live extravagantly.

    Now I am forced to since my father has been constantly making big decisions for himself and our family without asking for my advice or even having me around since in the end I am bearing the responsibility for those financial decision.

    I have searched and searched to figure out why this is my burden in life but still I believe that this burden is less than the burden of sexual, physical abuse and neglect that has been mentioned on this board so I continue to strive to do whatever I can to help.

    I wonder if I should continue or wean myself off this unhealthy addiction of trying to save a sinking ship?

    I’ve always feared that If I left my family and moved on, that God’s wrath will be upon them and something terrible might happen to them so I have stayed with them ala LOT to prevent judgment( financially at least)

    My mother constantly prays and has read the bible since my grandparents taught her. My dad’s widowed mother never introduced God’s word into my dad’s life. He recently told me that he never even read the bible until I got him to do so. they had always gone to church but he never read the bible.

    I have reasoned with him in vain for the last 17 years to try to read the bible to understand how GOD wants him to live his life( ex. proverbs) and to use it to conquer his constant doom and gloom fears( ex: Psalm 27)

    When I was half my age, he thought I had lost my mind and where going mentally insane when I begged him to get right with GOD and read the Bible more. He would pay me lip service in reading it half heart sometimes and ignoring it and scoffing me most of the other time.

    He’s a man of this world but he is not an evil man nor does he prosper from infliction of others.

    I told him he cannot succeed by his means if he wanted to be an honest man without being a man of GOD.

    I have pleaded with him to at least take one day off a week( preferably the Sabbath) to rest his mind and body from 20 years of being a constant busy body.

    He has supported his wife and family financially but neglected his wife’s needs since he’s rarely around other than to eat her food and to get some rest.

    I have recently have been thinking of how GOD is supposed to punish children for the sins of their fathers so I explained this to him and he felt bad about it but I told him it was not all his fault since he was also wronged as a child but he can redeem himself if he starts with 3 things:

    1) Observe the Sabbath( we are “Christian”) since it is God’s commandment for him to rest and respect and it will do him some good to rest. The only rest he gets is by going overseas to our birth country but lately I cannot afford to send them without a safety net of having a job since I am the last safety net for the family.

    2) Stop coveting other people’s success and thinking that his life is total misery when compared to others who sometimes have more hardship than him.

    3) Read the proverbs to learn right from wrong according to GOD’s will to rewire the thinking in his brain for the better and get rid of garbage self hating thoughts od misery and hopelessness. Read Psalms for times when fear strikes him.

    I am hoping this will lift God’s wrath from him since he is the head of our family even if I file as head of household. I believe full heart that the easiest way for the devil to reach me and effect me negatively is by praying on my spiritually clueless father all these years ala “Death of a Salesman”‘s Willy Loeman type thinking and the Matrix style agent possession of a person’s thoughts and actions.

    I told my father to give it one month and try my advice and see what GOD does for us because I believe it in my heart that he will do wonders in bringing us out of our miserable bondage if we get it right with him starting with my dad.

    I feel I have much potential in my life to help others and I want to be able to help a lot more people but it starts with getting things right for my family.

    I’d like to help as many people as I can escape the enslavement of this modern world but I would rather do it without being in the limelight and with little fanfare so I can do it right.

    That is my goal.

    Thank you for your time if you have gotten to the bottom of this long winded post.

  • http://fUny1.blogspot.com fUny1

    I am writing on this board as a form of therapy for myself and with the hope of reaching out to others in my predicament.

    My father and mother were both the youngest children of their families but were in their mid 20′s when they met and were married 2 years later and started our family.

    My father grew up never knowing his father who passed away when he was only 6 month old. He went to college in the US with a fellow countryman and friend of his and after his return from the US my father found out that his friend had died in mysterious and possibly criminally violent circumstances. He met my mother at her brother’s funeral since her brother was a friend and classmate of my father.( I am the embodiment of the reverse Grandfather paradox in Physics in that going back in time and saving my uncle would imply that I never come into existence if there are no parallel realities and I do not do a back to the future hook up of my mom and dad)

    My parents experienced lots of hardship in their mid 40′s to help our future by escaping war and immigrating to the US with only 10 grand in money to help us. Many times they regretted their decision and wanted to go back but they were usually in opposition on their decision more often than in agreement and I believe this was always the case since my father’s mother had tried to get them divorced mere months after they got married.

    There was always argument and sometimes the kids had to bear the brunt of the verbal terror from my dad which would turn into rare outbursts of physical violence( mostly slapping on the face).

    We grew up terrorized from our dad even though we loved him.

    I’ve been carrying a burden of supporting my parents ever since I was 7 years old when our family experienced financial hardship when my dad lost his high paying job in a single income household with a stay at home wife who left her job to raise 3 children. He continued to build his construction project and spend his money on that( with heavy levered borrowing of course) while we had to go by on the bear minimum of food, school, and hand me down for clothes.

    This lead to our immigration to the US when I was 12 since war and the corruption it created had decimated my dad’s construction project money making ability.

    I just turned 34 and I have been supporting both my parents and older sister with half of my 100k income until my DoD IT contract ended and I was laid off on my birthday(1/365 probability) I had been working 50-70 hrs a week like a rented mule traveling almost every week all over the US and the world so I can save money and help my family since my dad’s real estate income has plummeted to zero one year after my mom retired from her work to help my sister at her private chiropractic practice. My parents helped my sister fund her practice and so did I. The only problem is some of the help came from credit card debt and home equity loans and to top it off my dad destroyed any retirement money he would have had speculating on stocks after I had made him pretty good gains in the late 1990′s when I was between jobs and was doing good research on tech stocks in my IT background.

    My Mom’s retirement money is all she has after helping fund all of our education( she helped me the least since I knew she could not afford for me to go to a prestigious Technical College away from home and take on debt. My younger sister had her part time work pay for her school close to home with the help of my mother. I chose to pay 1/10th of the rate per class credit to study towards a B.S in Physics first at the local community college and then at a local state University. My Parents could not afford to send me to a room and board college and I hate incurring that much debt especially in a field where starting salaries for PHD’s is 25k until they pay their dues.

    I decided to get into IT since I had a passion for computers and computer gaming and it was the wise thing to due for the the since I got in early on the late 1990′s IT boom( I’ve always believed that GOD guided me to this field since I was mocked all the time for spending too much time and money on my hobby which I ended up mostly learning on my own aside from learning some in technical schools which is also the only time my dad ever paid for my education)

    The career that sprung out of that $1300 investment has helped him my mom and my older sister to the tune of more than 50k just in the last 2 years. All other investments in his kids’ future and all his dealings and even the money he made from Real Estate have not amounted to this so this is why I feel that it was GOD who led me to this field since it was the only thing that would save our family from going into poverty especially that my sister’s practice has closed due to the economic depression that we have been going through.

    My dad tried to do Real Estate as a second income to support all the debt he would incur from a reduced income in his primary work and still be able to gift my younger sister a large wedding gift and pay for half her wedding day.

    I did not want my mother to work past 63 especially since my dad’s mother had never worked a day in her life and was technically retired and using her children as her retirement account. Moving to a 100% travel job allowed me to cut my spending at home and increase my pay by 50% and add 10% more due to tax free per diem and saving cost of gas of commuting.

    After taxes and helping my parents, I saved about 15% of my earnings and had been doing full time technical trading in the market for 2 years since my IT work was on Thur-mon. So technically I was working 2 full time jobs. The most work I did was 150 hrs in 9 days and 370 hrs over 30 consecutive days for an average of 12.5 hrs 7 days a week.

    I have neglected my social and personal life in order to try to help my parents and older sister who are in need and also help my younger sister and her husband who has a beautiful 13 month old son whom am I his Godfather.

    I own a home equally with them otherwise they would not be able to afford it. I have been trying to save enough money to buy my own home so I could relax from the constant pressure of bad business decisions and bad luck(If it wasn’t for bad luck I’d only have the worst luck ;-) and find me a good woman to share my life with so I can move on and maintain my physical health and more importantly my sanity.

    I did not plan on using the rest of my savings to continue to support them in living beyond their means even though they do not live extravagantly.

    Now I am forced to since my father has been constantly making big decisions for himself and our family without asking for my advice or even having me around since in the end I am bearing the responsibility for those financial decision.

    I have searched and searched to figure out why this is my burden in life but still I believe that this burden is less than the burden of sexual, physical abuse and neglect that has been mentioned on this board so I continue to strive to do whatever I can to help.

    I wonder if I should continue or wean myself off this unhealthy addiction of trying to save a sinking ship?

    I’ve always feared that If I left my family and moved on, that God’s wrath will be upon them and something terrible might happen to them so I have stayed with them ala LOT to prevent judgment( financially at least)

    My mother constantly prays and has read the bible since my grandparents taught her. My dad’s widowed mother never introduced God’s word into my dad’s life. He recently told me that he never even read the bible until I got him to do so. they had always gone to church but he never read the bible.

    I have reasoned with him in vain for the last 17 years to try to read the bible to understand how GOD wants him to live his life( ex. proverbs) and to use it to conquer his constant doom and gloom fears( ex: Psalm 27)

    When I was half my age, he thought I had lost my mind and where going mentally insane when I begged him to get right with GOD and read the Bible more. He would pay me lip service in reading it half heart sometimes and ignoring it and scoffing me most of the other time.

    He’s a man of this world but he is not an evil man nor does he prosper from infliction of others.

    I told him he cannot succeed by his means if he wanted to be an honest man without being a man of GOD.

    I have pleaded with him to at least take one day off a week( preferably the Sabbath) to rest his mind and body from 20 years of being a constant busy body.

    He has supported his wife and family financially but neglected his wife’s needs since he’s rarely around other than to eat her food and to get some rest.

    I have recently have been thinking of how GOD is supposed to punish children for the sins of their fathers so I explained this to him and he felt bad about it but I told him it was not all his fault since he was also wronged as a child but he can redeem himself if he starts with 3 things:

    1) Observe the Sabbath( we are “Christian”) since it is God’s commandment for him to rest and respect and it will do him some good to rest. The only rest he gets is by going overseas to our birth country but lately I cannot afford to send them without a safety net of having a job since I am the last safety net for the family.

    2) Stop coveting other people’s success and thinking that his life is total misery when compared to others who sometimes have more hardship than him.

    3) Read the proverbs to learn right from wrong according to GOD’s will to rewire the thinking in his brain for the better and get rid of garbage self hating thoughts od misery and hopelessness. Read Psalms for times when fear strikes him.

    I am hoping this will lift God’s wrath from him since he is the head of our family even if I file as head of household. I believe full heart that the easiest way for the devil to reach me and effect me negatively is by praying on my spiritually clueless father all these years ala “Death of a Salesman”‘s Willy Loeman type thinking and the Matrix style agent possession of a person’s thoughts and actions.

    I told my father to give it one month and try my advice and see what GOD does for us because I believe it in my heart that he will do wonders in bringing us out of our miserable bondage if we get it right with him starting with my dad.

    I feel I have much potential in my life to help others and I want to be able to help a lot more people but it starts with getting things right for my family.

    I’d like to help as many people as I can escape the enslavement of this modern world but I would rather do it without being in the limelight and with little fanfare so I can do it right.

    That is my goal.

    Thank you for your time if you have gotten to the bottom of this long winded post.

  • Casia

    fUny1, in case you are still monitoring, I recommend you read the book "The Millionaire Next Door" by Stanley/Danko. This book addresses the issue of financial co-dependence between relatives. While there are books out there that address the issue of guilt associated with success among Christians, women and whoever else falls into that trap, I have found this book to be a huge help in the situations I have found myself in.

    John Shore, I found your article to be inspiring. I recently had a fall out with my parents. After many years of respecting, and 'honoring' them, I finally told them 'No'. For years, I have given them unconditional love and allowed them to make me feel guilty about every choice I made in life, only to discover I was soon abandoned after, ironically, helping a relative that they did not approve of. The day I explained to my mother that I had worked hard, earned the right to make my own decisions, and would not alter my relationships simply because she requested it, was a day of freedom for me. I knew this would change my relationship with my parents, but I feel like an adult now. I would not go back for anything.

  • Casia

    fUny1, in case you are still monitoring, I recommend you read the book "The Millionaire Next Door" by Stanley/Danko. This book addresses the issue of financial co-dependence between relatives. While there are books out there that address the issue of guilt associated with success among Christians, women and whoever else falls into that trap, I have found this book to be a huge help in the situations I have found myself in.

    John Shore, I found your article to be inspiring. I recently had a fall out with my parents. After many years of respecting, and 'honoring' them, I finally told them 'No'. For years, I have given them unconditional love and allowed them to make me feel guilty about every choice I made in life, only to discover I was soon abandoned after, ironically, helping a relative that they did not approve of. The day I explained to my mother that I had worked hard, earned the right to make my own decisions, and would not alter my relationships simply because she requested it, was a day of freedom for me. I knew this would change my relationship with my parents, but I feel like an adult now. I would not go back for anything.

  • Sharon

    This is powerful. My story is similar to Brenda’s. My mother absoultely despised me (I was blamed for every problem my family had), my dad was in the Navy, and was gone. I do have a great relationship with my Dad, but it was only after finding out the truth. My Mother used to tell me that I was just like my father, like it was a genetic failure. A few years ago I went to visit my mother, and found out that, first, when I was a baby, she wanted to get rid of me (because I had a severe childhood illness). She always made me feel like I was nothing but a burden. When I was married to my exhusband, he molested our daughter (I left him and he was not allowed to see her). My Mother took his side and acted like my daughter (who was just a very small girl at that time) were liars, even though we were the ones telling the truth. I have another sibling who my mother hated also. My oldest brother died. My other sibling, my dad, and I were not mentioned in the obituary at all.

    I came out of denial from how she hated me. I decided to “divorce” myself from her. Now, when I think of how she told me I was just like my father, I guess I am. She divored him, for an alcoholic. My dad remarried to a wonderful christian lady who loves me and my other sibling dearly. To me, when I honor my mother and father, I think of Dad and his wonderful wife. As far as my biological mother is concerned, she got what she wanted. She wanted to get rid of me when I was very young, now her wish is granted.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Sharon: Wow, what a powerful, powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. Nice.

  • Sharon

    This is powerful. My story is similar to Brenda’s. My mother absoultely despised me (I was blamed for every problem my family had), my dad was in the Navy, and was gone. I do have a great relationship with my Dad, but it was only after finding out the truth. My Mother used to tell me that I was just like my father, like it was a genetic failure. A few years ago I went to visit my mother, and found out that, first, when I was a baby, she wanted to get rid of me (because I had a severe childhood illness). She always made me feel like I was nothing but a burden. When I was married to my exhusband, he molested our daughter (I left him and he was not allowed to see her). My Mother took his side and acted like my daughter (who was just a very small girl at that time) were liars, even though we were the ones telling the truth. I have another sibling who my mother hated also. My oldest brother died. My other sibling, my dad, and I were not mentioned in the obituary at all.

    I came out of denial from how she hated me. I decided to “divorce” myself from her. Now, when I think of how she told me I was just like my father, I guess I am. She divored him, for an alcoholic. My dad remarried to a wonderful christian lady who loves me and my other sibling dearly. To me, when I honor my mother and father, I think of Dad and his wonderful wife. As far as my biological mother is concerned, she got what she wanted. She wanted to get rid of me when I was very young, now her wish is granted.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Sharon: Wow, what a powerful, powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. Nice.

  • Nora

    Oh, Lord…I was the child my mother was never supposed to get pregnant with — I was alternately God's punishment or God's joke on her. She never got tired of telling anyone and everyone who would listen about how I was the result of "Vatican Roulette".

    My father was one of those cold, austere, misogynistic Irish Catholics who thought women were a necessary evil. I didn't even register on his radar. I was my mother's to deal with, while he lavished attention and praise on his sons. I was told to keep silent at the dinner table, that only the males were allowed to speak, and that it didn't matter what I was interested in, my only job was to get married and have children.

    Fifty years later it's always there — that horrible sense that maybe I am God's big joke, or an instrument of his retribution, and its' still hard to shake the feeling that I don't matter, that my only worth involved my ovaries and uterus. It's been especially hard now that my husband and I are empty-nesters. I actually found myself saying the other day, after I noticed a troublesome mass on my thyroid had gotten larger all of a sudden, that it wasn't worth the bother and expense because I'd had my life.

    I'm only fifty — no one should feel that way at fifty!

    Funny how we are so very much our parents children, for better or for worse, no matter how old we are.

    OTOH, who knows how our children will remember us, eh?

  • Nora

    Oh, Lord…I was the child my mother was never supposed to get pregnant with — I was alternately God's punishment or God's joke on her. She never got tired of telling anyone and everyone who would listen about how I was the result of "Vatican Roulette".

    My father was one of those cold, austere, misogynistic Irish Catholics who thought women were a necessary evil. I didn't even register on his radar. I was my mother's to deal with, while he lavished attention and praise on his sons. I was told to keep silent at the dinner table, that only the males were allowed to speak, and that it didn't matter what I was interested in, my only job was to get married and have children.

    Fifty years later it's always there — that horrible sense that maybe I am God's big joke, or an instrument of his retribution, and its' still hard to shake the feeling that I don't matter, that my only worth involved my ovaries and uterus. It's been especially hard now that my husband and I are empty-nesters. I actually found myself saying the other day, after I noticed a troublesome mass on my thyroid had gotten larger all of a sudden, that it wasn't worth the bother and expense because I'd had my life.

    I'm only fifty — no one should feel that way at fifty!

    Funny how we are so very much our parents children, for better or for worse, no matter how old we are.

    OTOH, who knows how our children will remember us, eh?

  • Christine

    the best thing I ever did was to accept that my dad just didn't love me…..it was painful but man did it bring freedom. Thank you for this post John. I think it was the letting go of my dad that helped me to see him as a broken human being that needed God just as much as me…..and consequently needed love and forgiveness and I was able to forgive (NOT say "its ok" or have a good relationship with) my father and let it not define me. I think I am a much better person for it.

  • http://theskinhorse.wordpress.com theskinhorse

    I think my parents have an issue that a lot of parents have: they love their image of me, not who I really am. They love my accomplishments but not my failings. They love my feminine side (and would like to see me emphasize it more), and they become troubled when I express my masculine side. They love the fraction of me they wish to see, and they deny the rest. They do this with my brothers as well. It is only when a Reality they MUST deal with (an addiction that lands one in a hospital or jail, a choice that amounts to bodily scars or radical life changes) comes crashing in on their world that they allow themselves to see us for who we are. After the matter is "dealt with," delusions and denial often regain some control of their minds and behavior.

    Thankfully, they are getting a bit better. The revealing of each of us as individuals rather than "their children" is increasing with each year.

    Family is one of those concepts that I believe is heavily romanticized in our culture. We're coming out of that as generations move away from a "traditional family" with clear gender roles, the necessary reproduction amounting to 2.5 kids and the demonstration of wealth with the perfect house with the perfect picket fence. Though the images change, the illustrated feeling or concept of Family is still romanticized. And this may still be to the detriment of the Individual or Freedom. "The ties that bind" are a cultural/societal phenomenon more than a biological one IMO.

    Great post. I see a lot of truth and empowerment in it. I'm glad someone said it.

    • Diana

      "Family is one of those concepts that I believe is heavily romanticized in our culture. We’re coming out of that as generations move away from a “traditional family” with clear gender roles, the necessary reproduction amounting to 2.5 kids and the demonstration of wealth with the perfect house with the perfect picket fence. Though the images change, the illustrated feeling or concept of Family is still romanticized. And this may still be to the detriment of the Individual or Freedom. “The ties that bind” are a cultural/societal phenomenon more than a biological one IMO. "

      This is so true.

  • http://theskinhorse.wordpress.com theskinhorse

    I think my parents have an issue that a lot of parents have: they love their image of me, not who I really am. They love my accomplishments but not my failings. They love my feminine side (and would like to see me emphasize it more), and they become troubled when I express my masculine side. They love the fraction of me they wish to see, and they deny the rest. They do this with my brothers as well. It is only when a Reality they MUST deal with (an addiction that lands one in a hospital or jail, a choice that amounts to bodily scars or radical life changes) comes crashing in on their world that they allow themselves to see us for who we are. After the matter is "dealt with," delusions and denial often regain some control of their minds and behavior.

    Thankfully, they are getting a bit better. The revealing of each of us as individuals rather than "their children" is increasing with each year.

    Family is one of those concepts that I believe is heavily romanticized in our culture. We're coming out of that as generations move away from a "traditional family" with clear gender roles, the necessary reproduction amounting to 2.5 kids and the demonstration of wealth with the perfect house with the perfect picket fence. Though the images change, the illustrated feeling or concept of Family is still romanticized. And this may still be to the detriment of the Individual or Freedom. "The ties that bind" are a cultural/societal phenomenon more than a biological one IMO.

    Great post. I see a lot of truth and empowerment in it. I'm glad someone said it.

    • Diana

      "Family is one of those concepts that I believe is heavily romanticized in our culture. We’re coming out of that as generations move away from a “traditional family” with clear gender roles, the necessary reproduction amounting to 2.5 kids and the demonstration of wealth with the perfect house with the perfect picket fence. Though the images change, the illustrated feeling or concept of Family is still romanticized. And this may still be to the detriment of the Individual or Freedom. “The ties that bind” are a cultural/societal phenomenon more than a biological one IMO. "

      This is so true.

  • AboundingJoy

    Amazingly insightful…again. Thanks for sharing your gift, John. You are, indeed, a blessing.

  • AboundingJoy

    Amazingly insightful…again. Thanks for sharing your gift, John. You are, indeed, a blessing.

  • Julie Mitchell

    Iv read some of these posts with tears falling down my face, i found this site by accident , awake at 4am!

    feeling i am about to break free from the torment of rejection and abuse iv experienced from my mother and father since a small child, youngest of six, broken, disfunctional. i became a christian at 16 years old, rescued quite literally from the jaws of hell.

    i can relate to the emotional pain people have described here, and enough is enough, no more of this kind.

    iv learnt that love has to be accepted from god and then directed at myself.

    iv tried for so many many years to get my mother to love me and accept me, and sometimes it would seem like she did briefly but it always was highly conditional manipulative , it never lasted and the more i loved God the worse she was, some sometimes i would compromise even my faith to please her. i would forgive her over and over and then reject myself and launch into self destructive behaviour. i have been in this cycle for years, the last grenade she threw at me 5 years ago was to move town, stop speaking to me, lie to all my siblings about me so they all hate me. shes rejected both of my kids too. christmas holidays and birthdays i find hard to cope with. so iv cancelled my birthdays for good. i dont need the reminders im not loved and never have been by my parents, my mother is on her 3rd marriage now, in her 60s.

    you know i agree sometimes its too much we have to accept the truth rather than keep holding on to a dream. let go let god love me and try to love myself instead of feeling like im gonna die any second . i just wanna get on with my life despite what shes done or not done to me.

  • Julie Mitchell

    Iv read some of these posts with tears falling down my face, i found this site by accident , awake at 4am!

    feeling i am about to break free from the torment of rejection and abuse iv experienced from my mother and father since a small child, youngest of six, broken, disfunctional. i became a christian at 16 years old, rescued quite literally from the jaws of hell.

    i can relate to the emotional pain people have described here, and enough is enough, no more of this kind.

    iv learnt that love has to be accepted from god and then directed at myself.

    iv tried for so many many years to get my mother to love me and accept me, and sometimes it would seem like she did briefly but it always was highly conditional manipulative , it never lasted and the more i loved God the worse she was, some sometimes i would compromise even my faith to please her. i would forgive her over and over and then reject myself and launch into self destructive behaviour. i have been in this cycle for years, the last grenade she threw at me 5 years ago was to move town, stop speaking to me, lie to all my siblings about me so they all hate me. shes rejected both of my kids too. christmas holidays and birthdays i find hard to cope with. so iv cancelled my birthdays for good. i dont need the reminders im not loved and never have been by my parents, my mother is on her 3rd marriage now, in her 60s.

    you know i agree sometimes its too much we have to accept the truth rather than keep holding on to a dream. let go let god love me and try to love myself instead of feeling like im gonna die any second . i just wanna get on with my life despite what shes done or not done to me.

  • Martha

    John, you may be my new hero. I came across your post on the Huffington Report and I am glad to read you now, particularly this post. This is exactly the work I am doing 1:1 w/my therapist, right now. Exactly. My mom is was an emotionally and physically abusive drug addict and alcoholic who abandoned my 4 siblings and me for good when I was 12. My siblings & I were products of affairs (and 1 of us from a one night stand, Mom didn't catch the guy's name) so there were no fathers in the picture, ever. And yet I still find myself saying things like "it wasn't so bad" and "lots of kids had it worse than me" and "I should just get over it already". My mom is 80 and in very poor health b/c of years of self abuse (when she dropped alcohol & drugs she took up overeating). She came to live near me so I could reconnect w/her and take care of her. I felt bad that she had been abused as a kid and wanted to forgive the wrong done to me and help her heal the wrong done to her…lofty goals. I became unbelievable depressed and couldn't care for her or even visit her. I never thought I would be THAT person, the person who lives in the same town with their elderly, sick mother and would not go to see them. But I am that person and I am learning how it is a healthy good thing for me with the help of a wonderful therapist. I'm 48 years old and am still learning about what was/is true for me, my core beliefs. Facing this truth has made me look at other truths in my life and I'm still going through this process. I feel more worried than liberated at the moment but I do see how brave I am for keeping up the exploration for truth and authenticity. I see that I am brave – that is a positive thought about myself. They are, happily, become less rare. I'm glad to know you and read you. And thank you.

  • Martha

    John, you may be my new hero. I came across your post on the Huffington Report and I am glad to read you now, particularly this post. This is exactly the work I am doing 1:1 w/my therapist, right now. Exactly. My mom is was an emotionally and physically abusive drug addict and alcoholic who abandoned my 4 siblings and me for good when I was 12. My siblings & I were products of affairs (and 1 of us from a one night stand, Mom didn't catch the guy's name) so there were no fathers in the picture, ever. And yet I still find myself saying things like "it wasn't so bad" and "lots of kids had it worse than me" and "I should just get over it already". My mom is 80 and in very poor health b/c of years of self abuse (when she dropped alcohol & drugs she took up overeating). She came to live near me so I could reconnect w/her and take care of her. I felt bad that she had been abused as a kid and wanted to forgive the wrong done to me and help her heal the wrong done to her…lofty goals. I became unbelievable depressed and couldn't care for her or even visit her. I never thought I would be THAT person, the person who lives in the same town with their elderly, sick mother and would not go to see them. But I am that person and I am learning how it is a healthy good thing for me with the help of a wonderful therapist. I'm 48 years old and am still learning about what was/is true for me, my core beliefs. Facing this truth has made me look at other truths in my life and I'm still going through this process. I feel more worried than liberated at the moment but I do see how brave I am for keeping up the exploration for truth and authenticity. I see that I am brave – that is a positive thought about myself. They are, happily, become less rare. I'm glad to know you and read you. And thank you.

  • Wrensis

    How about we reject our self centered, emotionly abusive children who work at causing pain because they percieve less than perfect childhoo?
    At 47 it is time to grow up.

    • Diana

      Wrensis: How about we reject our self centered, emotionly abusive children who work at causing pain because they percieve less than perfect childhoo?

      At 47 it is time to grow up.

      There's less than perfect and then there's down right abusive–and there's someplace between the two. I suppose there are "adult children" who are "self-centered and emotionally abusive" because their parents turned out to be, God forbid, human. But the majority of the stories I've read in this post, including the one Wrensis commented on, seem to be from people whose childhoods were closer to the "downright abusive" side than the "slighly less than perfect/human" side.

  • Wrensis

    How about we reject our self centered, emotionly abusive children who work at causing pain because they percieve less than perfect childhoo?
    At 47 it is time to grow up.

    • Diana

      Wrensis: How about we reject our self centered, emotionly abusive children who work at causing pain because they percieve less than perfect childhoo?

      At 47 it is time to grow up.

      There's less than perfect and then there's down right abusive–and there's someplace between the two. I suppose there are "adult children" who are "self-centered and emotionally abusive" because their parents turned out to be, God forbid, human. But the majority of the stories I've read in this post, including the one Wrensis commented on, seem to be from people whose childhoods were closer to the "downright abusive" side than the "slighly less than perfect/human" side.

  • Susan

    John and Martha — and everyone reading this who was abused as a child — don't let anyone bully you out of owning your own reality and doing the hard, hard work of recovering from damage done to you when you were too young to defend yourself or even understand what was happening. As my therapist informed me, coming to the realization that your parents did not love you is HUGE. John has done a masterful job of explaining why.

    To those who cite the Bible quote about honoring your father and mother, here are a couple more, straight from Jesus:

    Mark 10:29 Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life

    Matthew 12:47-50 Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

    Something to think about.

  • Robert D. Meek, Jr.

    First, let me say that the man I grieved for, who died at age 77, when I was 39, was not the man I grew up with; nor was the mother I grieved for, who died at age 76, when I was 40, the woman I grew up with, either.

    That said, in childhood, father disdained me. I was not athletic enough to suit him. Mind you, he took scant part in raising me, deeming this mama’s job to the point that it was she who had to teach me how to throw a baseball, swing a bat, & she who had to take on my sex education, as well.

    They did not have a good marriage, although the “typical” things were absent from the negativity of it. He was a good provider, did not drink, & was not physically abusive, but there were moments of questionable fidelity, & we grew up realizing he did not honor, nor love, our mother, as we expected him to do.

    Consequently, throughout my teenage years, & 20s, I hated him, with a seething rage. I did all I could to be anything but him. He drove Chevy, GM, Olds, then I drove Ford, Nissan. He had Sears credit, I had J C Penney. On it went, nothing but our shared name, which did not thrill me at all.

    I was never capable of disowning them, despite efforts.

    Nor should I have, as they were truly loving scared parents, terrified about their son’s eternal destiny, & reacting with panic.

    Not that I didn’t try, more than once.

    In my 30′s, after his apology, I learned that I truly did love my father, that I could, did, & wanted to forgive him for those years of snide derision & put-downs.

    This December 5, it will be 14 years father has been gone. This August 4, it will be 12 years mama has been gone. This past March, it became 7 years that my one and only sibling, sister, has been gone.

    Some days it seems like yesterday.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

    Birthdays, and holidays, I miss them more. Not so much so on the anniversary of their deaths.

    • Diana

      "First, let me say that the man I grieved for, who died at age 77, when I was 39, was not the man I grew up with; nor was the mother I grieved for, who died at age 76, when I was 40, the woman I grew up with, either."

      This is such an important truth. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Robert D. Meek, Jr.

    First, let me say that the man I grieved for, who died at age 77, when I was 39, was not the man I grew up with; nor was the mother I grieved for, who died at age 76, when I was 40, the woman I grew up with, either.

    That said, in childhood, father disdained me. I was not athletic enough to suit him. Mind you, he took scant part in raising me, deeming this mama’s job to the point that it was she who had to teach me how to throw a baseball, swing a bat, & she who had to take on my sex education, as well.

    They did not have a good marriage, although the “typical” things were absent from the negativity of it. He was a good provider, did not drink, & was not physically abusive, but there were moments of questionable fidelity, & we grew up realizing he did not honor, nor love, our mother, as we expected him to do.

    Consequently, throughout my teenage years, & 20s, I hated him, with a seething rage. I did all I could to be anything but him. He drove Chevy, GM, Olds, then I drove Ford, Nissan. He had Sears credit, I had J C Penney. On it went, nothing but our shared name, which did not thrill me at all.

    I was never capable of disowning them, despite efforts.

    Nor should I have, as they were truly loving scared parents, terrified about their son’s eternal destiny, & reacting with panic.

    Not that I didn’t try, more than once.

    In my 30′s, after his apology, I learned that I truly did love my father, that I could, did, & wanted to forgive him for those years of snide derision & put-downs.

    This December 5, it will be 14 years father has been gone. This August 4, it will be 12 years mama has been gone. This past March, it became 7 years that my one and only sibling, sister, has been gone.

    Some days it seems like yesterday.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

    Birthdays, and holidays, I miss them more. Not so much so on the anniversary of their deaths.

    • Diana

      "First, let me say that the man I grieved for, who died at age 77, when I was 39, was not the man I grew up with; nor was the mother I grieved for, who died at age 76, when I was 40, the woman I grew up with, either."

      This is such an important truth. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/mssiskiyou_channel Thorn

    Today my FATHER was yelling @ me

  • Robert Meek

    I had a Significant Other who was molested as a child. It affected everything he said, did, and thought. All of his life. To say he had "trust issues" is an understatement. He felt vulnerable to everyone, everything. He did the "consider yourself an orphan" idea per a psychologist. It didn't work. Every Mother's Day he would writhe in guilt that he was being a bad son by not going to his mother, despite his past with his family. He even literally stomped on while raging at his father's grave. His exact words were "It did no good."

    I believe some people cannot heal.

    I have a dear friend who seems happy in drama, and misery. She has forever wailed and whined about her mother's inadequacies, her father abusing her, and so on. An adult of 40, I listed to her howl about why couldn't her mother be like her mother-in-law. This woman, in her 60s, she thinks suddenly should, could, will, change? No, but she howls about it, and rages.

    I find her doing exactly what she criticized her mother about, with her kids. I confront her. In fury, she says, "Well, that's how my MOTHER did it!" as if that makes it all of the sudden okay, this woman whom she is excessively critical of, as her mother, for what she deems a horrible childhood.

    We have gone round and round and round on these things, over the years.

    Worst of all, to me, for me, is when she rages "I must be meant to be unhappy!" She literally blames God, and when I confront her how dare she say such a thing, her excessively tart snarl is, "Well, I am (that miserable)!" Therefore, she deduces if she is that miserable, that is proof that God means for her to be miserable, that He has condemned her to a life of misery.

    My point, again, some people are so damaged….they cannot heal.

  • Robert Meek

    I had a Significant Other who was molested as a child. It affected everything he said, did, and thought. All of his life. To say he had "trust issues" is an understatement. He felt vulnerable to everyone, everything. He did the "consider yourself an orphan" idea per a psychologist. It didn't work. Every Mother's Day he would writhe in guilt that he was being a bad son by not going to his mother, despite his past with his family. He even literally stomped on while raging at his father's grave. His exact words were "It did no good."

    I believe some people cannot heal.

    I have a dear friend who seems happy in drama, and misery. She has forever wailed and whined about her mother's inadequacies, her father abusing her, and so on. An adult of 40, I listed to her howl about why couldn't her mother be like her mother-in-law. This woman, in her 60s, she thinks suddenly should, could, will, change? No, but she howls about it, and rages.

    I find her doing exactly what she criticized her mother about, with her kids. I confront her. In fury, she says, "Well, that's how my MOTHER did it!" as if that makes it all of the sudden okay, this woman whom she is excessively critical of, as her mother, for what she deems a horrible childhood.

    We have gone round and round and round on these things, over the years.

    Worst of all, to me, for me, is when she rages "I must be meant to be unhappy!" She literally blames God, and when I confront her how dare she say such a thing, her excessively tart snarl is, "Well, I am (that miserable)!" Therefore, she deduces if she is that miserable, that is proof that God means for her to be miserable, that He has condemned her to a life of misery.

    My point, again, some people are so damaged….they cannot heal.

  • Cath

    I hope to stop struggling with these issues in my head. Last year I stepped away from contact with my parents to take care of myself. My parents are elderly which made this very hard for me to do as I am in a "caring"profession and am a compassionate person. Unfortunately the dysfunctional and abusive basis from which the family has always operated is vibrant as ever. Father's history is that of physical and verbal abuse, thinly veiled inappropriate sexual innuendo and actions toward me as child and adult with forays in and out of alcoholism. He is a retired policeman who is very savvy in his use of terrorizing, threatening, gun-toting, bullying practices. My mother is the perfect frightened vic, (rightly so under his reign of abuse) who has spent a life-time presenting the lovely family dog-and-pony-show front to satisfy her abusive husband while losing any self respect and confidence she may have had over the years. Ironically everyone in the small town we lived in as "family" was aware of his abuses and kept mum – he was a cop afterall. I spent many nights as a child trying to drown out the sounds of my mother being beaten in their bedroom and her begging for him to stop. I was forced to witness him beating my sister relentlessly because I tattled on her innocently as a little sister might in a normal family for doing something as mundane as riding my mom's bike in the driveway. These are just an example of many terrorizing incidents involving cuts, bruises and broken bones. We were all very afraid of him. I stood up to my father finally when I was 37 and married. He let himself into our home at night and scared us all while were were watching a movie in our media room. This is a man who would shoot an intruder in his home. He thought it was no big deal – of course he has never respected anyone else's privacy, etc. Completely shaken, I told him we'd appreciate the courtesy of a phone call before he came over (which is absolutely expected at his home) & that he had scared us. His response was that he would come over whenever he d…. well pleased or never come again. Well since I did not concur he disowned me my son and husband for the next several years. He also retaliated by sending a letter describing my sister and I as whores and stating he'd not mind seeing us both dead – this letter was filed with the local PD. I did not hear from these people again until my husband was dying seven years ago. I was vulnerable and let them back in. During this "reunion" it came to my attention that they did not accept my son as part of the family. My mom did not consider my son her grandson and really wasn't interested in any involvement with him . How does one process that? I adopted my son at age 1 and raised him – he is MY son. He was my husband's biological son. My husband's first wife and my son's biological mom died a month after my son was born of breast cancer. When the criticisms, manipulations, indifference to my son, surveillance of my phone calls, demands that I check in with them (I'm 56 yrs old!) inappropriate sexual comments when mom was out of the room, telling my mom she can't go on planned outings with me the day before when I've arranged time off, bought tickets, etc, hearing her tell me how awful he is to her still and her unwillingness to do anything about it – he is absolutely dependent on her for everything now, I had to back away. Nothing I do is enough. One minute my mom is telling me how horrible he is (like she always has) and the next minute she is bragging about how many years she's been married and how everything is "just fine!" I gave her all the information I could find regarding resources for abused women in the community and told her I had to severe contact for my own mental health. These are people who consider themselves Christians!

    YET – I feel guilty for "abandoning" them and am always looking for ways to make this better. How long will it take for me to GET I can't change them. I want to be happy!

    Thank you for this chance to speak I'm trying to remember a famous quote from an Auschwitz survivor It is wise to forgive and remember

    It is a fool who forgives and forgets…

  • Astrid

    Everything you say in this article is true. I know. I've lived it. I know the pain of growing up with 2 totally self-absorbed, self-righteous, alcoholic, mentally, emotionally, and occasionally physically abusive parents. I have never in my life heard a kind, supportive word from either of them, but I have heard lots of condescension, sarcasm, and mean digs. When I left their house at age 18, I was rewarded by a few months of stalking and death threats because I had the nerve to stand up for myself and leave.

    It's hard for some people to accept that lots of people have kids for the wrong reasons. Some people have kids to fill a whole in themselves, or for unconditional love and affection from a cute little kid-but when the kid grows up it's "you're on your own buddy". I've lived it. My parents were never lovey dovey, but when I hit puberty they turned on me like I did something wrong. All of a sudden I was a piece of garbage that was there only to serve them.

    It's amazing to me how Christians only read the first part of that command "honor thy father and mother" and TOTALLY ignore the second part: "parents don't provoke your children".

    Parents are supposed to give their kids a strong foundation to start their lives from–and when they don't do that because they are too selfish, we owe them NOTHING.

    I ran for my life from my dysfunctional family. I threw the yoke off my neck and bobbed to the surface-and I'm healing. I have 2 siblings who are still tied to them-and they are miserable and their lives are crap because being around people like our parents can poison anyone's soul.

    I have no regrets. Well…….only one really; that I didn't walk away sooner.

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  • Bitsy

    I’ve got news. It has nothing to do with accepting that your parents don’t love you. When I was 6, I used to have recurring nightmares about my parents turning into monsters and trying to hurt me, and I believed in my heart, that my parents were impostors, criminals, monsters whose purpose it was to destroy my little child-heart.

    I agree that there is a sickness about insisting your parents love you when they don’t (and it’s entirely socially unacceptable to say or believe that they don’t), but admitting they don’t love you is not going to magically make you happy. I was so young when I perceived and understood they didn’t love me and I have always maintained this, especially to the deluded people who kept insisting to me that they did love me – people who know neither me nor my parents insisting to me that they loved me!

    What makes you unhappy is specifically the FACT that they didn’t love you (and all the treatment and behavior that accompanied that) – admitting they didn’t love you is merely like an alcoholic admitting he has a problem. Once he does that, he can seek to fix the problem.

  • Bitsy

    I’ve got news. It has nothing to do with accepting that your parents don’t love you. When I was 6, I used to have recurring nightmares about my parents turning into monsters and trying to hurt me, and I believed in my heart, that my parents were impostors, criminals, monsters whose purpose it was to destroy my little child-heart.

    I agree that there is a sickness about insisting your parents love you when they don’t (and it’s entirely socially unacceptable to say or believe that they don’t), but admitting they don’t love you is not going to magically make you happy. I was so young when I perceived and understood they didn’t love me and I have always maintained this, especially to the deluded people who kept insisting to me that they did love me – people who know neither me nor my parents insisting to me that they loved me!

    What makes you unhappy is specifically the FACT that they didn’t love you (and all the treatment and behavior that accompanied that) – admitting they didn’t love you is merely like an alcoholic admitting he has a problem. Once he does that, he can seek to fix the problem.

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  • alwaysagoodkid

    Well let me start with a fork in my neck whe I was 7 years old… I was never smart enough. So ugly and stupid and I was just like my father. How gross am I? Apparently he had taken a million dollar life insurance policy out on her in the 70s (well at least this is what she says every time I am around or she is drunk) He also screwed her until she didn’t like it anymore and some how 28 years later I am to blame. I am not quite sure what I have to do with any of this but I have spent my life paying this crazy alcoholic liar. NOW she has destroyed my family. Did I call the cops when I found a crack pipe when I was 8? No… Because if she got caught guess where I would be? You guessed it. With the ugly stupid guy that liked to have sex with her until she didn’t like it any more. I am 32 years old and ready to kill myself. My mom has recently destroyed my relationship and has cost my fiance over 50,000.00 in lawyer fees. She called his ex wife to tell her we had a house, a car, and even worse a child. The most beautiful boy I have ever seen my son. I would die for my son. I am sitting on my psychotic mother’s couch thinking about the quickest way to die.

    • Diana A.

      First, I want to say, I’m so sorry that you are in so much pain. No one deserves to be in this much pain.

      Please don’t kill yourself. I know the pain seems completely unbearable but please don’t kill yourself. There are resources for people in pain. For instance: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

      offers empathy and reasons to stay alive, as well as links to therapeutic resources.

      If you’re on Facebook, you can link to this page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Help-for-Adult-Children-of-Alcoholics-ACoA/138030376229341

      There are a lot of us Adult Children of Alcoholics out there and I was quite surprised to find out how many traits about myself that I thought were just the result of my being “terminally weird” were things I had in common with other ACOAs. If you’re not on Facebook or don’t feel like linking to that page, you can also link onto this page: http://www.drjan.com/

      Dr. Jan Woititz wrote several books on ACOA and this page provides links to these, as well as other resources.

      Anyway, I don’t wish to overwhelm you with too much information, but I hope that you will decide to live. Please check out the metanoia link above if nothing else. What I am saying so clumsily here is said so much more clearly on that page. Thank you.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Diana: I emailed this girl the moment I got her comment (they come to me in email form); she wrote me back. She’s fine. I invited her to tell her story, and that I’d then run it as a blog post, so that she could get input just like you’ve offered here. Because I was dealing with her directly, I FORGOT that her comment was (also) here on the blog itself. Anyway, bless your heart for this great response to her. If she does in fact send me her story, then …. then you’ll see it as a new post here! Thanks again. People like you make blogging worth doing , for sure.

        • Diana A.

          Thank you, John. I’m relieved to know that she’s okay.

  • alwaysagoodkid

    Well let me start with a fork in my neck whe I was 7 years old… I was never smart enough. So ugly and stupid and I was just like my father. How gross am I? Apparently he had taken a million dollar life insurance policy out on her in the 70s (well at least this is what she says every time I am around or she is drunk) He also screwed her until she didn’t like it anymore and some how 28 years later I am to blame. I am not quite sure what I have to do with any of this but I have spent my life paying this crazy alcoholic liar. NOW she has destroyed my family. Did I call the cops when I found a crack pipe when I was 8? No… Because if she got caught guess where I would be? You guessed it. With the ugly stupid guy that liked to have sex with her until she didn’t like it any more. I am 32 years old and ready to kill myself. My mom has recently destroyed my relationship and has cost my fiance over 50,000.00 in lawyer fees. She called his ex wife to tell her we had a house, a car, and even worse a child. The most beautiful boy I have ever seen my son. I would die for my son. I am sitting on my psychotic mother’s couch thinking about the quickest way to die.

    • Diana A.

      First, I want to say, I’m so sorry that you are in so much pain. No one deserves to be in this much pain.

      Please don’t kill yourself. I know the pain seems completely unbearable but please don’t kill yourself. There are resources for people in pain. For instance: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

      offers empathy and reasons to stay alive, as well as links to therapeutic resources.

      If you’re on Facebook, you can link to this page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Help-for-Adult-Children-of-Alcoholics-ACoA/138030376229341

      There are a lot of us Adult Children of Alcoholics out there and I was quite surprised to find out how many traits about myself that I thought were just the result of my being “terminally weird” were things I had in common with other ACOAs. If you’re not on Facebook or don’t feel like linking to that page, you can also link onto this page: http://www.drjan.com/

      Dr. Jan Woititz wrote several books on ACOA and this page provides links to these, as well as other resources.

      Anyway, I don’t wish to overwhelm you with too much information, but I hope that you will decide to live. Please check out the metanoia link above if nothing else. What I am saying so clumsily here is said so much more clearly on that page. Thank you.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Diana: I emailed this girl the moment I got her comment (they come to me in email form); she wrote me back. She’s fine. I invited her to tell her story, and that I’d then run it as a blog post, so that she could get input just like you’ve offered here. Because I was dealing with her directly, I FORGOT that her comment was (also) here on the blog itself. Anyway, bless your heart for this great response to her. If she does in fact send me her story, then …. then you’ll see it as a new post here! Thanks again. People like you make blogging worth doing , for sure.

        • Diana A.

          Thank you, John. I’m relieved to know that she’s okay.

  • Karen Lyn

    As the child of a suicidal alcoholic, I know exactly what you’re getting at here, John. I spent my childhood believing that somehow, someway, I could make my mother stop drinking. If I got good grades and kept my room clean and helped out around the house then she wouldn’t be stressed out, then she wouldn’t drink, and, ultimately, she wouldn’t lash out at me (such as telling me she wished I had never been born). I, at first, believed the counselors at her various rehabs when they told us it was not her that did the terrible things she did, it was the alcohol.

    Then I came to a point, in my early-teens (after she tried to smother me under my own mattress…that’s right), when I took a step back and really looked at my mother, and I hated her. Finally, when I was 16, my dad (with whom I have a very good relationship, not perfect, but I know he loves me) had had enough and he divorced her. Still, as much as I hated her I still had this idea that I could save her; and for a brief period she stopped drinking. It was in that period that I really learned who my mother is; the counselors were wrong,. She wasn’t mean and selfish because she is an alcoholic. No. She is an alcoholic because she is mean and selfish. That’s who she is. She can’t help it. The world exists to do for her and her alone, as if somehow she is the only person suffering and therefore the world owes her. For example, when I got married she refused to come because I wouldn’t let her use some of the money my dad and step-mom provided for the cost of my wedding to pay her cable bill. I got married without my mom…I admit, it still stings a little, but I am getting past it.

    I haven’t spoken to my mother in nearly six years, until my grandmother’s funeral last summer. After the funeral, I realized that it was the first time in over 16 years that I can remember looking at my mother without wishing a meteor would fall on her (or some other peril would befall her); I also realized, that I do not miss her. I do not even miss the mother I never had; the one I created in my head, who didn’t get drunk and throw things, and who hung my ‘A’ papers on the fridge and bragged about how smart her daughter is. I have, after years of hard work, finally laid to rest both of my mothers: the real on and the dream one.

    I am married to a wonderful man. I have an awesome son. I am working my way toward grad school. I have a great relationship with my dad and step-mom, and my sister (who is still struggling with all of this, but is making her way to a healthy place). I have my hang-ups, like never letting my son see me even remotely tipsy. Yet, despite all of the pain she caused, her actions at least taught me some valuable lessons: I never make a promise I don’t intend to keep, I am not afraid to make a mistake because I understand it’s an opportunity to learn, I don’t fear that over which I have no control, I know I can survive anything life has to offer (if I can survive knowing my mother didn’t love me as a mother should, there’s nothing I can’t face).

    That was longer than I intended it to be, but I hope the young woman who posted on the 19th of January will read this and realize that she is not alone. My mother is a horrible person. I used to wish I was dead too. Then I realized that it’s not me. It’s her. It has always been her. I was a good kid, and I’m a good woman. I really hope you know this about yourself…It was NEVER you, it was ALWAYS her. She sucks. Move. Change your number. Walk away from her. It’s hard and you’ll feel guilty at first; I did. But I promise you that a little time and space away from her will give you a new perspective. You’ll get to know who you are without her bringing you down, and I bet anything you’ll learn to love yourself because you’ll no longer see yourself through her warped vision. Please, be strong.

    Much love and concern,

    Karen

  • Anonymous

    I know you are referring to parents who are really awful. But please allow me to speak up for parents who do not do horribly abusive things to their children and are still rejected. I feel I come from a place of authority because I had a very abusive father who has since passed away. So I know what it means to want distance from a hurtful person.

    But I also know that people who marry are sometimes immature themselves. Not fully developed and unfortunately their children get to go on that ride of maturing with them. A person may be a really good parent, but too immature to see their own mistakes.

    If there isn’t clear abuse and criminal harm being done, please try to go to counseling with your parents. It’s worth a try. Because any more many people are losing the love of their children due to problems and misunderstandings that can be worked out with time and patience.

    I know because I did this with my mom. And I finally quit blaming her for my unhappiness and accepted her for who she is. At that point I found inner peace and a renewed relationship with someone I thought was a stone cold narcissist. It turns out she was hurting so badly she coudn’t figure out what to do in our releationship. But we figured it out and now things are great.

    Just wanted to say these things, even though I know they do not apply in all cases.

    • Anonymous

      PS… By the way, I did resent my mother for many years. And did not want to talk much to her. But her health forced the issue. At first it was hard. She was still in her old mode of making me feel terrible. But over time things changed as I began to really listen to her. And imagine what it must have been like for her to go through her trials with my father and other people.

      Then I would trade with her. Listen to her and then tell her how I felt about her situation. Offer understanding. And tell her how I could relate. That allowed her to listen to my experiences. At some point in time she started to do the same wth me.

      It took years, but eventually we figured out we had been experiencing many of the same things. But in different ways.

      And I would not trade the bond with her now for anything. I am so glad this happened. It was extremely difficult for a long time. But it was worth it.

  • Anonymous

    I know you are referring to parents who are really awful. But please allow me to speak up for parents who do not do horribly abusive things to their children and are still rejected. I feel I come from a place of authority because I had a very abusive father who has since passed away. So I know what it means to want distance from a hurtful person.

    But I also know that people who marry are sometimes immature themselves. Not fully developed and unfortunately their children get to go on that ride of maturing with them. A person may be a really good parent, but too immature to see their own mistakes.

    If there isn’t clear abuse and criminal harm being done, please try to go to counseling with your parents. It’s worth a try. Because any more many people are losing the love of their children due to problems and misunderstandings that can be worked out with time and patience.

    I know because I did this with my mom. And I finally quit blaming her for my unhappiness and accepted her for who she is. At that point I found inner peace and a renewed relationship with someone I thought was a stone cold narcissist. It turns out she was hurting so badly she coudn’t figure out what to do in our releationship. But we figured it out and now things are great.

    Just wanted to say these things, even though I know they do not apply in all cases.

    • Anonymous

      PS… By the way, I did resent my mother for many years. And did not want to talk much to her. But her health forced the issue. At first it was hard. She was still in her old mode of making me feel terrible. But over time things changed as I began to really listen to her. And imagine what it must have been like for her to go through her trials with my father and other people.

      Then I would trade with her. Listen to her and then tell her how I felt about her situation. Offer understanding. And tell her how I could relate. That allowed her to listen to my experiences. At some point in time she started to do the same wth me.

      It took years, but eventually we figured out we had been experiencing many of the same things. But in different ways.

      And I would not trade the bond with her now for anything. I am so glad this happened. It was extremely difficult for a long time. But it was worth it.

      • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

        Obviously, this only works if the parent is willing to take some responsibility for the situation.

        The ones John (Shore) is talking about are the ones who believe it is only their kid who is messed up.

    • Carolyn

      I was thinking the same thing. Often, it is not abuse, but simply misunderstanding. In these cases, accepting that our parents are not perfect, letting go of the need to receive understanding from them, and accepting them where they are at are the keys to moving forward. Again, this is not applicable to cases of true abuse.

  • John

    You can’t possibly be serious about that last bit, there is a good amount of kids who want to walk away but it’s not a possibility because they don’t have the money to move out they’ve convinced themself that staying at home is beneficial in the long run because of saving money or whatever but the psychological grit of it all isn’t worth it..

    • John

      Seems a little more difficult with fathers too because they are the last that want to come to turns with their thoughts, nonetheless actually tell you any of them.

      • John

        I don’t think alcoholism has to be the core problem to everyones unhappiness, there is also a considerable amount of cases that involve neglect. People who have grown up to loathe themselves only to have kids, but their kids realize they don’t have to hate themselves for whatever reason actually try to be happy but can’t attain that happiness because they always see how miserable their parents are. So the easiest thing to do is put the blame on their parents. Is it not my fault, for figuring this out sooner?

        • Diana

          It's okay to honor them, even love them. Just love and honor them from over there.

        • John

          for not figuring*

  • John

    You can’t possibly be serious about that last bit, there is a good amount of kids who want to walk away but it’s not a possibility because they don’t have the money to move out they’ve convinced themself that staying at home is beneficial in the long run because of saving money or whatever but the psychological grit of it all isn’t worth it..

    • John

      Seems a little more difficult with fathers too because they are the last that want to come to turns with their thoughts, nonetheless actually tell you any of them.

      • John

        I don’t think alcoholism has to be the core problem to everyones unhappiness, there is also a considerable amount of cases that involve neglect. People who have grown up to loathe themselves only to have kids, but their kids realize they don’t have to hate themselves for whatever reason actually try to be happy but can’t attain that happiness because they always see how miserable their parents are. So the easiest thing to do is put the blame on their parents. Is it not my fault, for figuring this out sooner?

        • John

          for not figuring*

  • Shaw

    hey john,

    i know this is an old one. but a number of times in my life i have said “you know, i’m not a christian, but i read this one christian writer/blogger, and he wrote this article and you really gotta read it” and i have sent them the url to this article.

  • Shaw

    hey john,

    i know this is an old one. but a number of times in my life i have said “you know, i’m not a christian, but i read this one christian writer/blogger, and he wrote this article and you really gotta read it” and i have sent them the url to this article.

  • wolfanddragon

    I ‘left home’ emotionally when I was about 6 years old. However I kept (sort of) trying. The last straw was when my bother over-dosed and I was calling mom every day to see how she was doing. The third day she told me she never wanted to talk to me again she would grieve for my brother until the day she died. Two years later she called to say she was thinking about me, I asked her why and reminded her of what she said. She has not contacted me since and my brothers widow is stuck.

    I am successfully self-employed (I still laugh when my brother said “I forbid it…”) aviation entrepreneur AND software designer. I married someone like me and was able to tell him quickly (after counting my fingers between the wedding and the birth) that NO his father did not love him and it was only when the old guy was dying did he realize he screwed the pooch and how special his son really is.

    Ok so it’s an old article, but you should dust it off every so often and maybe even so a seminar on it.

  • wolfanddragon

    I ‘left home’ emotionally when I was about 6 years old. However I kept (sort of) trying. The last straw was when my bother over-dosed and I was calling mom every day to see how she was doing. The third day she told me she never wanted to talk to me again she would grieve for my brother until the day she died. Two years later she called to say she was thinking about me, I asked her why and reminded her of what she said. She has not contacted me since and my brothers widow is stuck.

    I am successfully self-employed (I still laugh when my brother said “I forbid it…”) aviation entrepreneur AND software designer. I married someone like me and was able to tell him quickly (after counting my fingers between the wedding and the birth) that NO his father did not love him and it was only when the old guy was dying did he realize he screwed the pooch and how special his son really is.

    Ok so it’s an old article, but you should dust it off every so often and maybe even so a seminar on it.

  • Preacher’s Kid

    John, I came from a dysfunctional family: My father was a Southern Baptist preacher who ran our home like a drill sergeant. My mother was forever at his side, even if it meant abandoning me and my siblings. Both parents were ALWAYS at the church for meetings, so that gave my brother plenty of opportunities to sexually abuse me and my younger sister for years. And we ALL married and left home as teenagers because we couldn’t WAIT to get away from our SOB father.

    All of us kids have suffered from one addiction or another. We’ve all been either divorced or in terribly unhappy marriages. We’ve all had problems finding careers in which we felt competent, appreciated and understood. And we’ve all had unimaginable emotional problems and estrangements from each other and/or our own kids.

    And yet, in spite of all this, I do not blame my parents for any of it. Not one thing. It has nothing to do with my not wanting to accept that my parents didn’t love me, because my parents DID love me. Maybe they didn’t love me like YOU, John, think they should have loved me, but they loved and parented me the best way they knew how.

    You see, my father was one of 13 kids who were the children of a moonshine still-operating alcoholic who abused their mother on a regular basis. They were poverty-stricken before there were such things as food stamps and welfare. My mother was a sweet, life-loving woman who truly believed her principle calling in life was to be her husband’s helpmate in carrying out his ministry. An outdated way of thinking, perhaps, but in those days women were taught to believe those kinds of things about themselves.

    I haven’t always refused to blame my parents; in fact, I went through several years of placing the blame for my unhappiness on them, although it did me no good. But as the parents of grown children, I know now that my parents did the best they knew how to do, just like I did. My husband and I love our children dearly, and we tried our damndest not to make the same mistakes in raising them that our parents had made. But guess what? We made DIFFERENT mistakes, and they’ve all been angry as HELL at us at one time or the other. But they, too, will make mistakes in raising THEIR children, no matter how hard they try to be perfect parents.

    In spite of its being the most important thing we’ll ever do, parents are not given any kind of formal education in raising children. The only training we get is on-the-job training and, of course, we often DO raise our children like we ourselves were raised, no matter how hard we try not to. How can we be expected not to make some really big mistakes raising our kids?

    So, John, it is absolutely WRONG for you to encourage people to rid themselves of their parents, because as Christians, we are to forgive. There is no forgiveness whatsoever in casting people out of our lives because they are human and make mistakes. Thank GOD the people in my life still love me in spite of my not being perfect.

    • glork

      Except that for some wrongs, God may not so forgive. Punishment exists for a reason as does justice.

  • Preacher’s Kid

    John, I came from a dysfunctional family: My father was a Southern Baptist preacher who ran our home like a drill sergeant. My mother was forever at his side, even if it meant abandoning me and my siblings. Both parents were ALWAYS at the church for meetings, so that gave my brother plenty of opportunities to sexually abuse me and my younger sister for years. And we ALL married and left home as teenagers because we couldn’t WAIT to get away from our SOB father.

    All of us kids have suffered from one addiction or another. We’ve all been either divorced or in terribly unhappy marriages. We’ve all had problems finding careers in which we felt competent, appreciated and understood. And we’ve all had unimaginable emotional problems and estrangements from each other and/or our own kids.

    And yet, in spite of all this, I do not blame my parents for any of it. Not one thing. It has nothing to do with my not wanting to accept that my parents didn’t love me, because my parents DID love me. Maybe they didn’t love me like YOU, John, think they should have loved me, but they loved and parented me the best way they knew how.

    You see, my father was one of 13 kids who were the children of a moonshine still-operating alcoholic who abused their mother on a regular basis. They were poverty-stricken before there were such things as food stamps and welfare. My mother was a sweet, life-loving woman who truly believed her principle calling in life was to be her husband’s helpmate in carrying out his ministry. An outdated way of thinking, perhaps, but in those days women were taught to believe those kinds of things about themselves.

    I haven’t always refused to blame my parents; in fact, I went through several years of placing the blame for my unhappiness on them, although it did me no good. But as the parents of grown children, I know now that my parents did the best they knew how to do, just like I did. My husband and I love our children dearly, and we tried our damndest not to make the same mistakes in raising them that our parents had made. But guess what? We made DIFFERENT mistakes, and they’ve all been angry as HELL at us at one time or the other. But they, too, will make mistakes in raising THEIR children, no matter how hard they try to be perfect parents.

    In spite of its being the most important thing we’ll ever do, parents are not given any kind of formal education in raising children. The only training we get is on-the-job training and, of course, we often DO raise our children like we ourselves were raised, no matter how hard we try not to. How can we be expected not to make some really big mistakes raising our kids?

    So, John, it is absolutely WRONG for you to encourage people to rid themselves of their parents, because as Christians, we are to forgive. There is no forgiveness whatsoever in casting people out of our lives because they are human and make mistakes. Thank GOD the people in my life still love me in spite of my not being perfect.

    • glork

      Except that for some wrongs, God may not so forgive. Punishment exists for a reason as does justice.

  • Cindy

    I did what you did, John. At the age of 7, I asked my 1st grade teacher if I could live with her. I told her my parents did not care about me and that I loved her more. She tried to convince me that I loved my parents. “No, I love you.” I spent more time with her than I had ever spent with my parents. She had showed me more love and affection than they ever had. She asked me if I would miss my sisters and brother. That one brought out a yes….. So she told me I could not go home with her, but she loved me, and remember how much I loved and would have missed my sisters. It was the best she could do for me. It helped, for awhile. Amazing that as a little kid,I tried to get away from my parents. I knew they were not good for me. I would have left with her that day and never looked back. I survived by some miracle. Kids know if they are loved or not. I do not love my parents, and you are right about constructing a fantasy of parental love in order to survive. I did that for years until I finally admitted…..it was a fantasy of a child in order to survive the neglect and abuse. I am an adult and let the fantasy go around the age of 25 to 29. Hard as it is to face the truth, it helped me heal and build a better life for myself.

  • Cindy

    I did what you did, John. At the age of 7, I asked my 1st grade teacher if I could live with her. I told her my parents did not care about me and that I loved her more. She tried to convince me that I loved my parents. “No, I love you.” I spent more time with her than I had ever spent with my parents. She had showed me more love and affection than they ever had. She asked me if I would miss my sisters and brother. That one brought out a yes….. So she told me I could not go home with her, but she loved me, and remember how much I loved and would have missed my sisters. It was the best she could do for me. It helped, for awhile. Amazing that as a little kid,I tried to get away from my parents. I knew they were not good for me. I would have left with her that day and never looked back. I survived by some miracle. Kids know if they are loved or not. I do not love my parents, and you are right about constructing a fantasy of parental love in order to survive. I did that for years until I finally admitted…..it was a fantasy of a child in order to survive the neglect and abuse. I am an adult and let the fantasy go around the age of 25 to 29. Hard as it is to face the truth, it helped me heal and build a better life for myself.

  • Latoya

    I’ve grappled with this issue since age 9, when I first attempted suicide to get away from my mother who used her children as a way to extract cash from our fathers. Her affection went to the sibling whose father made regular contributions. My father as luck would have it is extravagantly wealthy but didn’t acknowledge me so when I was 9 my mother tried to force me to do a press interview where I and I alone would say I was looking for my father. An uncle intervened to stop me talking in telly to the entire nation. She then said that I was the reason she lost her beauty and basically never even provided me with meals. I went to school without breakfast, had no money for lunch and had to ask for dinner. I am anorexic and bulimic now, because I didnt develop fully in puberty and had a distorted body image. I am not accustomed to looking “healthy” now that I can afford to eat. Relationships are impossible because I have no sex drive due to the eating disorders and refuse to talk about my parents and a decent man will want to know everything about me. I have no friends either. That’s the only way I can be happy: not sharing this crappy aspect of my existence with others. If you don’t want children, abort. Never put them through this. When she was pregnant with my sisters she never told me even when she was showing. An aunt visiting us was kind enough to tell me that my mother was actually married to the man living in the house for a year! I didnt know his name and I didnt know what to call him for a year!!! By the way, in an interesting twist of fate, I’m fully subsidizing my mother’s life now: she has a juicy pension investment plan, an investment portfolio, life insurance, comprehensive health insurance that I manage and her bills are fully paid. I’m the only one of her children who is employed! I look after her because otherwise she will tell everyone who will listen that I’m obliged to do so because my father is rich and I destroyed her body!!!!

    • ddh

      Hi,

      Thanks for the post. I really understand what you were saying about abortion. I never thought of it that way, though, until now. I always just wished they would have just killed me. I pray you can find happiness in this life. I can tell by your post you are a smart, sensitive woman who deserves to be loved in spite of being born to loser parents. God bless you, dear one.

    • Kay Lowe

      Latoya, who cares what she tells anybody?

  • Latoya

    I’ve grappled with this issue since age 9, when I first attempted suicide to get away from my mother who used her children as a way to extract cash from our fathers. Her affection went to the sibling whose father made regular contributions. My father as luck would have it is extravagantly wealthy but didn’t acknowledge me so when I was 9 my mother tried to force me to do a press interview where I and I alone would say I was looking for my father. An uncle intervened to stop me talking in telly to the entire nation. She then said that I was the reason she lost her beauty and basically never even provided me with meals. I went to school without breakfast, had no money for lunch and had to ask for dinner. I am anorexic and bulimic now, because I didnt develop fully in puberty and had a distorted body image. I am not accustomed to looking “healthy” now that I can afford to eat. Relationships are impossible because I have no sex drive due to the eating disorders and refuse to talk about my parents and a decent man will want to know everything about me. I have no friends either. That’s the only way I can be happy: not sharing this crappy aspect of my existence with others. If you don’t want children, abort. Never put them through this. When she was pregnant with my sisters she never told me even when she was showing. An aunt visiting us was kind enough to tell me that my mother was actually married to the man living in the house for a year! I didnt know his name and I didnt know what to call him for a year!!! By the way, in an interesting twist of fate, I’m fully subsidizing my mother’s life now: she has a juicy pension investment plan, an investment portfolio, life insurance, comprehensive health insurance that I manage and her bills are fully paid. I’m the only one of her children who is employed! I look after her because otherwise she will tell everyone who will listen that I’m obliged to do so because my father is rich and I destroyed her body!!!!

    • ddh

      Hi,

      Thanks for the post. I really understand what you were saying about abortion. I never thought of it that way, though, until now. I always just wished they would have just killed me. I pray you can find happiness in this life. I can tell by your post you are a smart, sensitive woman who deserves to be loved in spite of being born to loser parents. God bless you, dear one.

  • Marcey

    All it takes for a parent to love a child for who they are (instead of who the parent want them to be) is for that person to lose a child. After that, a parent realizes he/she could love the child crying on an airplane, handicapped, deformed, a vegetable, anything just to be able to hold the child and love. I also think it helps us understand that our parents, really, did their best. This is the love the Father has for us. He gave up his only begotten son. He loves us with all his heart.

    • glork

      Sorry , but this is hardly true……many people are cold, unfeeling individuals who do not process loss unless it affects their material/ physical realm. They simply lack the capacity and there is no revelation or change possible for these kind. We all know people such as this who should not be parents just as we all know people such as this who should not be in relationships. Not everyone is worth saving or nor does everyone “do their best”.. Some people choose the darkness, and for those, it is, indeed, better that they remain where they are best suited. Some do not process”loss” as an opportunity to restore themsleves and their life choices, and that speaks volumes about their character and their choices.

      Those are the ones we warn OUR children away from.

  • Marcey

    All it takes for a parent to love a child for who they are (instead of who the parent want them to be) is for that person to lose a child. After that, a parent realizes he/she could love the child crying on an airplane, handicapped, deformed, a vegetable, anything just to be able to hold the child and love. I also think it helps us understand that our parents, really, did their best. This is the love the Father has for us. He gave up his only begotten son. He loves us with all his heart.

    • glork

      Sorry , but this is hardly true……many people are cold, unfeeling individuals who do not process loss unless it affects their material/ physical realm. They simply lack the capacity and there is no revelation or change possible for these kind. We all know people such as this who should not be parents just as we all know people such as this who should not be in relationships. Not everyone is worth saving or nor does everyone “do their best”.. Some people choose the darkness, and for those, it is, indeed, better that they remain where they are best suited. Some do not process”loss” as an opportunity to restore themsleves and their life choices, and that speaks volumes about their character and their choices.

      Those are the ones we warn OUR children away from.

  • Harry

    My mother used to beat me with wooden sandals or a leather belt since I was about 4… I remember being beaten almost daily once I changed to a new skindergarden due to a teacher who rejected me at the one I used to go. My mother didn’t protect me, and didn’t accept my opinion, and let the teacher expell me from the kindergarden. I didn’t like the new one, but my mother forced me to stay, and afterwards I went a school where most children leaving that kindergarden used to go, just to be humiliated by other children until I was 13.

    My father is a sex addict, and used to have sex with multiple women outside of marriage. My mother knew he was a sex addict when she got married to him. But even when she chose to have a guy with that kind of issue, she kept complaining and arguing with him every single day, until my father got tired and left home, when I was 7. My mother used me and my sister to control my father emotionally, and after he left she went on doing that, although without much result. Then she stayied 5 years unemployed, desperately crying about the loss of my father (for 5 years) and using me as a step, as her psychologist – a 7 years old boy – or, as I concluded recently, as her little husband – a solution to being an adult female loser unable to think and act as an adult, and unable to maintain a serious relationship, even though able t0 get new boyfriends/sex partners.

    I was tormented and unhappy for years. And I still have a lot of pending issues in my mind. But I have been healing little by little after deciding to reject my parents.

    I actually am now divorced. My ex-wife was too psychologicaly similar to my mother – although she hid that very well until after marriage.

    I’d like to advise all people who have no perspective of a future to give up on having children, ever. If you are a loser, please live and/or die alone. Period. Don’t bring someone to life in order to get a receptacle for your bad karma.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Harry: YIKES! I’m so sorry you had such deplorable parents. That’s just … awful. But it’s inspiring what you’ve made–and are clearly making still–of all that’s happened to you.

  • Savannah

    When I was growing up, my mom was always watching some program on tv. I wanted her to talk with me and interact with me. If I wouldn’t be quiet during her stupid program, she would get up and grab her shoe and hit me repeatedly with the heel of it. I stopped going around her when she started doing that since she made it clear that her programs were more important than I was. When my dad got frustrated at me whenever I was about 5, he grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me as hard as he could back and forth. Afterwards, I had huge headaches, and still felt strange, but I didn’t know how to put that into words. Also, when my parents would get mad at me, instead of talking to me about it and telling me right from wrong, my dad would go and get the strongest leather belt that he had and throw me down on the floor, and beat me over and over with it. My mom would stand by him watching as he did that. because of all this abuse, I have had seizures since I was about 9 due to the severe shaking back and forth whenever I was younger. When I got older, I mostly stayed to myself because of medical problems, and since I didn’t drink, smoke, or do illegal drugs, I turned to eating. I developed high blood pressure, sleep apnea, manic depression, acid reflux, and am now in the process to get gastric bypass surgery. I really had no idea that abuse like this could cause such problems that can last a lifetime and then lead to more and more…I feel like neither one of my parents like me, muchless love me from how they treated me and think that I don’t remember it. We don’t have any kind of a close relatonship, and I am trying to look for a new family through friends, but it’s very hard to tell them why I want to do this without having to explain my situation. I am still very hurt by this and have very little to do with them if anything. They really don’t talk to me and I have slowly tried to move on in my life without them in it. Sometimes I miss them and wish that things could have been more peaceful and loving with them, and we would actually have a relationship with each other now. But then other times, I can’t help reminding myself that I never want to see them again.

    • Jill

      Savannah, this is horrifying that you endured such cruelty. You did not deserve to be treated so poorly. And yet I hear in your words and your frankness that you are owning your life and taking charge, in spite of all the pain. That is SO powerful and wise!

      This is what survivors do– we face where we’ve come, we assess the lingering damage, we get the professional help to unburden our lives, and we take what miserable lessons we’ve learned to build a better way. Creating good out of bad (evil, horror)– this is true strength.

      If I can drop 1 word of advice– put your ‘missing them’ energy into missing (& loving) yourself. Let YOU find yourself, and worry about relating to others after you’ve got the self-love thing figured out. Seriously, it’s the best thing I learned from my therapy. Game-changer.

  • Lost But Found

    Have you seen Fireproof, the movie? “You can’t love her because you can’t give what you don’t have.” How many people marry and find that they cannot manifest what they know is possible – because they can’t give what they don’t have? Whether or not they walk away from the marriage, their children are also – in spite of their parents’ efforts to give what they don’t have – being raised in home devoid of active love.

    John, you quoted Jesus: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But in essence, your article promotes continuing the cycle of lovelessness. You neglect the fifth commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” That this commandment is one of THE 10 commandments had baffled me for many years. I never thought of it this way, but, “it has been said that the fifth commandment is pivotal, for it is between the commandments teaching us to love our Creator, and those admonishing us to love our fellow man.”

    I now understand this commandment as the “humanizing” commandment (I realize that for many of us, honoring our parents requires supernatural assistance). Most of us have parents who tried to love their children; that loved them from the well of their hearts and souls and minds. The ones who failed to give the love that children needed to feel known and loved and accepted: are they despicable losers who deserve banishment? Is THAT love? The child who grows up to realize that they grew up in a home devoid of true love: will he continue this legacy?

    No, John, I think not. How many times did Jesus say we must forgive?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I’m gathering from your quoting from the King James Version of the Bible that you’re a fundamentalist?

    • Christy

      Someone wiser than me, and with more credentials, said: “Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing.” (Gordon Livingston, in “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart”)

      John has outlined a step on the path to recovery – acknowledging what is. Looking reality square in its painful beady eyes and calling it out and walking away from it so it can’t hurt us anymore: taking the monkey off our back.

      You’ve jumped to expectations of completion…an unfortunate Christian counseling method. Forgive, or else be guilty of breaking #5 of THE BIG TEN. Because. It’s expected of you.

      One cannot get to a place of compassion for those that have harmed or wronged us without first acknowledging what is true. This is the truth that sets us free. It may eventually lead to a place of compassion. To a place of forgiveness. To attaining a meaningful level of healing. But acknowledgement must come first. Surrendering to what is instead of fighting against reality in vain.

      Forgiveness first doesn’t accomplish this. It ignores reality. It glosses over the truth. It more deeply suppresses what is. It is not a path to healing. It puts off true recovery, and often frosts that cupcake with a heavy layer of guilt.

      Livingston writes: “Widely confused with forgetting or reconciliation, forgiveness is neither. It is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves. It exists, as does all true healing, at the intersection of love and justice. To acknowledge we have been harmed by another but choose to let go of our resentment or wishes for retribution requires a high order of emotional and ethical maturity. It is a way of liberating ourselves from a sense of oppression and a hopeful statement of our capacity for change. If we can relinquish the preoccupations and pseudo-explanations that are rooted in the past, we are free to choose the attitudes with which we confront the present and future. This involves an exercise of consciousness and determination that is a certain antidote to the feelings of helplessness and anxiety that underlie most of our unhappiness.”

      Learning to let go of resentments requires first an acknowledgement of reality. Sometimes that reality is that parents were and are despicable losers. The (totally made up to make my point here) Urban Dictionary lists the definition for Despicable Losers as: Extremely flawed and broken people, likely the victims of harm and lovelessness themselves, who left in their wake a path of devastation and destruction.

  • kait

    OMG thank you for writing this. XD Haha just had a crazy change in perspective. When I was little, my parents told me I was “a difficult child” and thus, they resorted to this shitty parenting method, taught in the book “Growing Kids God’s Way.” But now I’m thinking, maybe my parents were just too overwhelmed and stressed due to their own problematic relationship, depression, and loneliness, that they couldn’t take care of my siblings and I the way we needed. Perhaps it wasn’t… My fault at all. What if I was an awesome, bright kid, full of love and truth? Omg. Maybe.

    I can say this without freaking out, because I’ve kind of processed everything my parents did to me at counselling, and somehow have managed to forgive them. But I think the first step to forgiveness is to acknowledge that something was actually wrong. They said they loved me, while hitting me, while ignoring me, while treating me in unloving ways. But they were wrong to do so, and were not showing me love at all.

    Thanks again. :)

    • moodytwoshoes

      Hi i think you’ll really like pathwork lecture no 99 :)

  • Mara

    I am still a little messed up freak at 25. I have gone through abandonment, abuse, abandonment, abuse, depression, madness and a whole lot of awful things most people only see on t.v

    I keep blaming my parents for my unhappiness and it’s not getting me anywhere. I have talked to them about this, about how I have always felt. I really only want to hear one thing. I want them to apologize for everything they did and didn’t do. Is that too much to ask? Instead they keep denying and denying that they did anything wrong. And they had the nerve to blame it on my grandfather.

    It sucks to know that you are not loved or wanted. I never felt warmth, affection, love. Still trying to move on from the past but every step takes me two steps back. How do I go on like this?

    • Elizabeth

      Mara, that’s just horrible. You keep going on because you must. Because God wants you here, and you want to be here enough you reached out instead of melting into a puddle of pain. You might get some solace from others like you here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2013/05/11/mothers-day-raised-too-alone/. And you might heal yourself and learn tools to break the cycle here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/7-reasons-women-stay-in-abusive-relationships/. It’s written with marriages in mind, but it applies equally to relationships with toxic parents.

    • S.

      Mara, ((hugs)) it’s okay. You’re not alone. There’s lots of us struggling with the same burden. And it’s hard to let got of that feeling just by wanting to, since we’re built in a way that means our emotional identity is only HALF “rational thinking” (if that much!) and really, mostly made up of the spoken and unspoken messages we get as we grow up. There’s some very cutting edge research that shows feelings are stored in our brains and bodies in ways that can be accessed only with therapy that addresses both of these parts of us. Some of those therapies are EFT, NSA, and IBP. Some friends of mine and I have used NSA and EFT to help ourselves release the old, unloved feelings (EFT is the cheapest route, and you can search and find websites that help you do it for yourself) and a friend of mine is a therapist who uses IBP (Integrative Body Psychotherapy) to help clients from unbearably screwed up families/abuse find peace. I’ve also found a truly loving and supportive community in the Al-Anon support group. Lots of us come from families where our parents were stunted and distracted by whatever personal demons, and sought solace in drugs and alcohol….and this meant that they ALWAYS loved/needed themselves and their next fix more than they needed or loved their children. I walked in to my first meeting feeling like a piece of damaged and rejected goods…and left with a tremendous weight lifted. I wasn’t alone! It wasn’t just ME. There were smart, kind, funny, successful people in my meeting that felt just the same way- and they survived! So, just maybe, so could I. Between EFT therapy and Al-Anon, I found that, just maybe, I could accept that God loved me. And maybe I could actually be loveable. The day I actually used EFT to work off the pointed leaden weight on my heart that my parents were messed up, stunted people who simply didn’t/couldn’t love me, and I found the way to shake off that pain and find peace…was a great day. I’m here to tell you it’s there. You can reach it too. You are loveable. We welcome you and pray for you, and know God already loves you more than any of our parents could. ((hugs))

  • Mara

    I am still a little messed up freak at 25. I have gone through abandonment, abuse, abandonment, abuse, depression, madness and a whole lot of awful things most people only see on t.v

    I keep blaming my parents for my unhappiness and it’s not getting me anywhere. I have talked to them about this, about how I have always felt. I really only want to hear one thing. I want them to apologize for everything they did and didn’t do. Is that too much to ask? Instead they keep denying and denying that they did anything wrong. And they had the nerve to blame it on my grandfather.

    It sucks to know that you are not loved or wanted. I never felt warmth, affection, love. Still trying to move on from the past but every step takes me two steps back. How do I go on like this?

    • Elizabeth

      Mara, that’s just horrible. You keep going on because you must. Because God wants you here, and you want to be here enough you reached out instead of melting into a puddle of pain. You might get some solace from others like you here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2013/05/11/mothers-day-raised-too-alone/. And you might heal yourself and learn tools to break the cycle here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/7-reasons-women-stay-in-abusive-relationships/. It’s written with marriages in mind, but it applies equally to relationships with toxic parents.

      • cal

        With bad parents it’s even more important to stay away from religion.

        It’s their nonsense (honour thy mother and father) that is a big part of the problem. We are brainwashed as kids not to challenge parents and expect more from them.

        Look for evidence not nonsense.

        Do not accept abuse of any kind.

        • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

          That’s true, Cal. We are brainwashed not to challenge parents or other authority figures, which often includes God. “Our Father” and all that.

          I feel Christianity in my heart and mind. Frankly, my mind is the stubborn part. My religion doesn’t condone abuse. That’s people not God you’re rejecting, and good for you.

    • S.

      Mara, ((hugs)) it’s okay. You’re not alone. There’s lots of us struggling with the same burden. And it’s hard to let got of that feeling just by wanting to, since we’re built in a way that means our emotional identity is only HALF “rational thinking” (if that much!) and really, mostly made up of the spoken and unspoken messages we get as we grow up. There’s some very cutting edge research that shows feelings are stored in our brains and bodies in ways that can be accessed only with therapy that addresses both of these parts of us. Some of those therapies are EFT, NSA, and IBP. Some friends of mine and I have used NSA and EFT to help ourselves release the old, unloved feelings (EFT is the cheapest route, and you can search and find websites that help you do it for yourself) and a friend of mine is a therapist who uses IBP (Integrative Body Psychotherapy) to help clients from unbearably screwed up families/abuse find peace. I’ve also found a truly loving and supportive community in the Al-Anon support group. Lots of us come from families where our parents were stunted and distracted by whatever personal demons, and sought solace in drugs and alcohol….and this meant that they ALWAYS loved/needed themselves and their next fix more than they needed or loved their children. I walked in to my first meeting feeling like a piece of damaged and rejected goods…and left with a tremendous weight lifted. I wasn’t alone! It wasn’t just ME. There were smart, kind, funny, successful people in my meeting that felt just the same way- and they survived! So, just maybe, so could I. Between EFT therapy and Al-Anon, I found that, just maybe, I could accept that God loved me. And maybe I could actually be loveable. The day I actually used EFT to work off the pointed leaden weight on my heart that my parents were messed up, stunted people who simply didn’t/couldn’t love me, and I found the way to shake off that pain and find peace…was a great day. I’m here to tell you it’s there. You can reach it too. You are loveable. We welcome you and pray for you, and know God already loves you more than any of our parents could. ((hugs))

    • InaCat

      Ah, but Mara… only loving and responsible parents ever admit that they might have been able to be more loving, more supportive, better teachers and protectors…and then there are parents who would have been better off leaving their infant to be raised by opossums… (of course, they were often raised by awful parents themselves, and have only a vauge inkling of just how incapable they really are, since they are better than the bastards that raised them…)

      so what you are doing is not letting go of them – it’s screaming at them to be better parents, which almost never works.

      I recommend ‘for your own good’ by Alice Miller – she’s studied this for years, and is quite clear on these things.

      afterwards? well, I found a lot of what I needed in literature, and by learning to be a better person, and by refusing to sign life-altering paperwork (like a marriage contract) until I could prove to myself that I could be as good a spouse as I deserved to have, and could recognize one when I met them.

      • moodytwoshoes

        one book that I read over and over that describes the toxic relationships between 3 generations is “The Way of All Flesh”” by Samuel Butler

  • a lonely girl

    My parents Are such losers I don’t understand. I don’t know what to do. My dad was in and out of jail for years I didn’t see him for 10 years. My mom ended up with a another man when I was 5 he became my step dad. when I turned 9 I had my first period. My breasts started to grow. One night while I was sleeping my step dad came in my room and was touching my breast. I suddenly woke up. He said he was grabbing a pillow. At that age I was scared and didn’t Tell anyone. This guy is the father off my three siblings. I didn’t want to destroy the family. When I became A teen I finally told my mom she didn’t believe me :( I noticed I wAs being treated different then the rest of the kids. I couldn’t eat the snacks that were bought for my sibs. My mom always abused me throwing pots of soup at me. Hitting me on the head with glass cups. Kicking my head into doors. Later on she said to my siblings the only reason she was tough on me was because I didn’t have MY father in my life…WTF? I was never given money for school so I walked everyday. When she bought me clothes I would have to bring it in through my bedroom window or not let my step dad see it. I became depress suicidal crazy. I started working part time at 17 I needed money I wasn’t getting it from my mom. She decided to charge me rent?? Really? This women had section 8 she only paid 200 for rent but she charged me 300 and I was only getting paid 8 bucks an hour. Sad right? I finally moved out. Whenever holidays or birthdays came I gAve gifts to everyone in the family I didn’t get anything in return. When I borrowed my mom money she charged me interest, really? Or when I needed a ride she would charge me. My so sick of my mom. Wtf is a mom for? My step dad beats her, she says she’ll leave him and he is back the next day. My bring her to the hospital at 3am mind you I have work at 8am and she is right back with him. a couple weeks ago there was a bbq I came with my lil bro. All I said was hi mom and she went crAzy ghetto. Yelling at my aunt and me. I was fed up I told yer and my step dad yall are some F’ing losers and dumdasses. Lol it felt good sticking up for myself. Why waste my time. Now that I’m older my mom calls me fat I’m 180lbs she does it everywhere she sees me like the other day at my little sisters middle school graduation, I didn’t Say anything just stuck up my middle finger I didn’t Say a word to her I’m just done. Whatever happens to her don’t call me. She goes out every night like she’s 21 and never have time for family. My step dad told my mom and siblings he never liked me really? What a typical step father. I don’t want Anything to do with her. As for my real dad he came out of jail I told him whAt happened to me when I was younger he wanted to kill my step dad. I told him no its fine its been a while. I thought I hAd my dad back wrong he got a 19 year old pregnant mind you I’m 25 and now she’s pregnant with their 2nd child. I’m so done all the Adults in my life aRe losers. Thoughts??

  • a lonely girl

    My parents Are such losers I don’t understand. I don’t know what to do. My dad was in and out of jail for years I didn’t see him for 10 years. My mom ended up with a another man when I was 5 he became my step dad. when I turned 9 I had my first period. My breasts started to grow. One night while I was sleeping my step dad came in my room and was touching my breast. I suddenly woke up. He said he was grabbing a pillow. At that age I was scared and didn’t Tell anyone. This guy is the father off my three siblings. I didn’t want to destroy the family. When I became A teen I finally told my mom she didn’t believe me :( I noticed I wAs being treated different then the rest of the kids. I couldn’t eat the snacks that were bought for my sibs. My mom always abused me throwing pots of soup at me. Hitting me on the head with glass cups. Kicking my head into doors. Later on she said to my siblings the only reason she was tough on me was because I didn’t have MY father in my life…WTF? I was never given money for school so I walked everyday. When she bought me clothes I would have to bring it in through my bedroom window or not let my step dad see it. I became depress suicidal crazy. I started working part time at 17 I needed money I wasn’t getting it from my mom. She decided to charge me rent?? Really? This women had section 8 she only paid 200 for rent but she charged me 300 and I was only getting paid 8 bucks an hour. Sad right? I finally moved out. Whenever holidays or birthdays came I gAve gifts to everyone in the family I didn’t get anything in return. When I borrowed my mom money she charged me interest, really? Or when I needed a ride she would charge me. My so sick of my mom. Wtf is a mom for? My step dad beats her, she says she’ll leave him and he is back the next day. My bring her to the hospital at 3am mind you I have work at 8am and she is right back with him. a couple weeks ago there was a bbq I came with my lil bro. All I said was hi mom and she went crAzy ghetto. Yelling at my aunt and me. I was fed up I told yer and my step dad yall are some F’ing losers and dumdasses. Lol it felt good sticking up for myself. Why waste my time. Now that I’m older my mom calls me fat I’m 180lbs she does it everywhere she sees me like the other day at my little sisters middle school graduation, I didn’t Say anything just stuck up my middle finger I didn’t Say a word to her I’m just done. Whatever happens to her don’t call me. She goes out every night like she’s 21 and never have time for family. My step dad told my mom and siblings he never liked me really? What a typical step father. I don’t want Anything to do with her. As for my real dad he came out of jail I told him whAt happened to me when I was younger he wanted to kill my step dad. I told him no its fine its been a while. I thought I hAd my dad back wrong he got a 19 year old pregnant mind you I’m 25 and now she’s pregnant with their 2nd child. I’m so done all the Adults in my life aRe losers. Thoughts??

  • lonely

    I am now married for 26yrs but feel very alone. My husband always hated his father and always cuddled his mother in front of me. Before we married he mentioned to me that he was ill-treated and wanted me to keep away from his family. After we got married he rejected me and began paying more attention to his parents and siblings. He does not have a close relationship with any of our three children. He is always disrespectful to me when speaking. Recently I found out that he comes from a dysfunctional family. His father left them for another women when he was young. He also has deep burn marks on his chest and abdomen and when I asked as to how he got them, he said that he was lighting the stove at the age of seven and the milk slipped and that is how he got burned. He blames me for everything that has happened in our marriage whereas he allowed his parents and siblings to interfere throughout our married life. He lies a lot to me and keeps things from me. When I question him about his wrong doings, he gets extremely upset with me. I want to get out of this marriage but do not want cause heartache to my children. I come from a strong loving family and I desperately need that in my life.

  • Roz Stone

    Wow, this is a beautiful article.

    I am 34 years old and have been unhappy, anxiety-ridden, and generally thrashing about in life since the age of 13. I’m single, lonely, and frustrated all the time. I have a hard time making friends or good decisions for myself.

    My parents are both emotionally unavailable and have no friends or any interests outside of TV. My sister used to be my best friend, but now she’s just like my dad, so I really can’t and have no desire to try to relate to her anymore. My parents divorced when I was 11. Neither one has ever been happy or encouraging in any way. They did the best they could (both came from emotionally unavailable families as well), but it has taken a heavy toll to expect so much from them only to be frustrated by their lack of involvement. They’re never gonna fully be there for me because they don’t like themselves.

    Realizing they’re losers and it’s not my fault is like a weight has been lifted. Time to put some distance, pick up the pieces, and move on.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Great. Thank you, Roz.

  • cal

    Bravo John.

    I understand why people find it so hard to face the reality of rubbish parents.

    Society is all about family, love and honour your parents we are told … breaking with that propaganda is one of the few remaining taboos.

    It took me until I was 35 to finally realise those people were bleeding me dry and had nothing to offer me.

    My life has not turned out well but it would have been a whole lot worse with them in it.

    Be honest with yourself, forget the propaganda, examine the evidence and check if your parents were ever of any use to you, and what the realistic prospects are of them being of any use in the future.

    You don’t owe bad parents anything.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Very nicely said, Cal. Thank you.

  • Cat Monkeywoman

    Mine were total rubbish. Alcoholic father left when I was 5. Mother who never fed me, held me, or said the words “I love you” then married an incredibly disturbed, abusive step father when I was 10. She refused to believe my sister and I about his abuse, so we were labelled “liars and instigators.” I never believed any of them ever loved me. At least I was clear on that. She was sure to let me know that I was “a mistake”. At 20 I drove 3000 miles away and never looked back. At 45 I still have trouble forming relationships and feel emotionally blocked. The suicidal depression is finally gone, thanks to an incredible ayahuasca trip. I feel thankful to have never married or procreated. Ten years performing in the theatre helped with my self-esteem. So did owning and riding motorcycles. I turned out all right but it’s been one hell of a nightmare. It’s never something one can share with others either. People think there must be something wrong with you if you don’t love your mother. They cannot conceive of a mother not loving her child. So you keep this burden to yourself. Anyway. Thanks for the opportunity to share. Blessings to all those out there like me. We’re not as alone as we think. xo

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    Harry: YIKES! I’m so sorry you had such deplorable parents. That’s just … awful. But it’s inspiring what you’ve made–and are clearly making still–of all that’s happened to you.

  • Jill

    Savannah, this is horrifying that you endured such cruelty. You did not deserve to be treated so poorly. And yet I hear in your words and your frankness that you are owning your life and taking charge, in spite of all the pain. That is SO powerful and wise!

    This is what survivors do– we face where we’ve come, we assess the lingering damage, we get the professional help to unburden our lives, and we take what miserable lessons we’ve learned to build a better way. Creating good out of bad (evil, horror)– this is true strength.

    If I can drop 1 word of advice– put your ‘missing them’ energy into missing (& loving) yourself. Let YOU find yourself, and worry about relating to others after you’ve got the self-love thing figured out. Seriously, it’s the best thing I learned from my therapy. Game-changer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    I’m gathering from your quoting from the King James Version of the Bible that you’re a fundamentalist?

  • Christy

    Someone wiser than me, and with more credentials, said: “Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing.” (Gordon Livingston, in “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart”)

    John has outlined a step on the path to recovery – acknowledging what is. Looking reality square in its painful beady eyes and calling it out and walking away from it so it can’t hurt us anymore: taking the monkey off our back.

    You’ve jumped to expectations of completion…an unfortunate Christian counseling method. Forgive, or else be guilty of breaking #5 of THE BIG TEN. Because. It’s expected of you.

    One cannot get to a place of compassion for those that have harmed or wronged us without first acknowledging what is true. This is the truth that sets us free. It may eventually lead to a place of compassion. To a place of forgiveness. To attaining a meaningful level of healing. But acknowledgement must come first. Surrendering to what is instead of fighting against reality in vain.

    Forgiveness first doesn’t accomplish this. It ignores reality. It glosses over the truth. It more deeply suppresses what is. It is not a path to healing. It puts off true recovery, and often frosts that cupcake with a heavy layer of guilt.

    Livingston writes: “Widely confused with forgetting or reconciliation, forgiveness is neither. It is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves. It exists, as does all true healing, at the intersection of love and justice. To acknowledge we have been harmed by another but choose to let go of our resentment or wishes for retribution requires a high order of emotional and ethical maturity. It is a way of liberating ourselves from a sense of oppression and a hopeful statement of our capacity for change. If we can relinquish the preoccupations and pseudo-explanations that are rooted in the past, we are free to choose the attitudes with which we confront the present and future. This involves an exercise of consciousness and determination that is a certain antidote to the feelings of helplessness and anxiety that underlie most of our unhappiness.”

    Learning to let go of resentments requires first an acknowledgement of reality. Sometimes that reality is that parents were and are despicable losers. The (totally made up to make my point here) Urban Dictionary lists the definition for Despicable Losers as: Extremely flawed and broken people, likely the victims of harm and lovelessness themselves, who left in their wake a path of devastation and destruction.

  • moodytwoshoes

    Hi i think you’ll really like pathwork lecture no 99 :)


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