Emotional Incest, Part 4: The Pain

In Part 1 I discussed the definition of emotional incest, in Part 2 I discussed its relationship with the stay-at-home daughter dynamic of the Christian Patriarchy movement, and in Part 3 I discussed other ways emotional incest can occur as well. I am now going to turn to the problems and pain emotional incest causes.

Emotional incest causes a multitude of problems, but I’m only going to address the three I see as most significant: first, it creates a relationship triangle between the parents and the child; second, it makes the child responsible for the parent’s well-being; and third, getting out of this situation can have the same effects as a really, really nasty breakup.

A Relationship Triangle

In the case of father/daughter emotional incest, a sort of relationship triangle forms between the father, the daughter, and the mother in which the mother can become shut out. The father can find affirmation and emotional fulfillment in his daughter rather than in his wife, and the father can make his daughter, rather than his wife, his partner in plans, dreams, and hopes for the future.

In Christian Patriarchy, the husband is in charge and the wife acquiesces. In this sort of a situation, it is not uncommon for the husband to have very little respect for his wife’s intellect and judgement. Furthermore, wives in patriarchal relationships aren’t always completely happy with their situations, even if they believe it’s what God has commanded, and this can lead them to chafe at being under their husbands’ authority and to nag or resist in little ways.

Daughters in Christian Patriarchy, however, were generally raised with these ideas from the very beginning. Thus the friction that may be present in the parents’ relationship will often not be present in the relationship between the father and the daughter, and the daughter will instead adore her father and think of him as perfection itself. Furthermore, a daughter can offer her father the chance to shape and create his ideal woman, complete with intellect and the heartfelt adoption of his goals and dreams. (Think of the Botkin sisters.)

The result is that the father may make his daughter his confidant, and prefer to bask in his daughter’s adoration than to face his wife’s discontent. In this way the daughter can come between her parents, and even replace her mother as her father’s confidant and as his partner in dreaming and planning for the future. Speaking from personal experience, this ranges from awkward to extremely guilt-inducing.

An Unfair Responsibility

Next, emotional incest results in the child feeling responsible for the well-being of the parent, and in the parent’s well-being becoming dependent on the continued affirmation of the child. The result is that the child becomes stuck. The child must continue to feed the emotional needs of the parent, or else risk hurting the parent and feeling responsible for doing so. The ability to destroy the parent is placed in the child’s hands.

In Christian Patriarchy, parents believe that it is their job to shape and mold their children, not simply to raise them to become independent individuals. (This dynamic is not unique to Christian Patriarchy, of course.) When a daughter – or a son – raised in a family in the Christian Patriarchy movement begins breaking out of the old and forging her own way, she can suddenly appear to be completely broken and ruined. It’s as though a perfectly chiseled statue comes to life and, and by moving out of the pose it had been set in, dashes the hopes and dreams of the craftsman who created it.

And now I’m going to be personal for a moment, because I was one daughter placed in this situation. In my case, when I began questioning his beliefs and refused to conform to his ideal my father responded by withdrawing into his shell. It was one of the most painful experiences in my life. Watching the horrible pain I had caused him by stepping out of his mold and refusing to be his ever-adoring confidante was quite simply excruciating.

For a time, I felt incredibly guilty about the pain I had caused. What I felt perhaps most guilty about was leaving my mother and siblings with the aftermath of the pain my defection had caused my father. I felt bad that they had to pick up the broken pieces and clean up the mess I had so unwittingly helped create. But somewhere deep inside of me I knew that my father’s emotional well-being should never have been in my hands in the first place, and that what had happened was not my fault.

Going through a breakup

When emotional incest occurs, for a child to get out of the situation she – or he – has to essentially break up with her parent. I realized recently that the dynamic between my father and I when I return home is not unlike the dynamic between a couple who were together for years and then experienced a nasty breakup, but still have to see each other at certain functions. There’s the knowledge of what you used to have together, but also the memory of the painful breakup and of the hurt that accompanied it.

Of course, for this analogy to truly work you have to remember that the relationship that was broken off was not one between two equal adults. Imagine a relationship in which an older partner feeds off the adoration of a younger partner and requires conformity and obedience. Then, when the younger partner resists this obedience and conformity, a long and painful breakup ensues, beset by emotional manipulation and attempts by the older partner to get the younger partner back by whatever means possible.

I adored my father so much growing up that I frequently said I wanted to marry someone just like him in every way. I literally thought my dad was perfect – as in, I thought this when I was 17, not just when I was 7. I gave him everything and practically worshiped him. And then I lost him. The moment I started questioning the beliefs he had taught me, he closed himself off from me. Our relationship ended that day, and all that remained was anger, manipulation, and guilt.

It’s funny, the purity culture teaches that girls are supposed to give their hearts to their fathers for safekeeping. This way the girl will not give her heart away to some boy and have it broken, or so the argument goes. There is never any consideration that a girl’s father might break her heart.


I should point out here that some of the problems listed above – such as a parent’s pain at a child choosing a different path – are not necessarily connected to emotional incest. This is true. But what happens is that the unhealthy emotional attachment makes this pain into something much worse than it should be. It makes it into a betrayal, a breakup leaving scattered broken hearts in its wake.

The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
A Matter of Patriarchy
Why I Take My Kids to the UU Church
Red Town, Blue Town
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Kevin Alexander

    Libby, you talk about the pain that you caused your father and the guilt in disappointing him but I think that you are too hard on yourself.
    It’s perfectly natural to blame when something bad happens, you blame others or yourself but the reality is that usually it’s the situation that’s to blame. It’s like crashing your car on an icy road and then blaming yourself or someone else for the crash. You never think to blame the ice.
    Neither you or you father consciously chose the way things turned out, you wouldn’t have if you could foresee it.
    It’s vital to understand what happened but blaming is useless so why do it?

  • Sophie

    That’s hardly accurate, Kevin. Her Father (and Mother) could have chosen a different parenting philosophy and could have chosen to love their children unconditionally. Libby Anne was too young to understand how they’d “set things up” before it was too late and she found she was in a situation that would ultimately leave her emotionally scarred.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Thank you for this series of posts. This was hard for me to read. The family I married into had emotional enmeshment on many levels–between a mother and son, between that son and his own daughter, and between siblings. I married one of the siblings and it was extremely, extremely hard to come into that family without other siblings treating me like dirt because I was ‘taking away’ their sibling. I still cry thinking about it sometimes.

    I’m ashamed to say they drew me into the enmeshment pattern for awhile. It was indeed like a breakup letting go of it.

    Thank you. I thought no one else understood.

  • Lauren

    Way to go, Kevin Alexander. Blame a child for destructive and emotionally crippling child-rearing paradigms that the parents foisted on her.

    It’s perfectly natural to blame when something bad happens, you blame others or yourself but the reality is that usually it’s the situation that’s to blame.

    Behaviors you inflict on others are not “situations.” When actors causes harm, blame them. That’s the basis of personal responsibility.

    It’s vital to understand what happened but blaming is useless so why do it?

    Holding people accountable for their actions (i.e. “blaming”) is useless? Why would anyone ever alter a “bad” behavior if there were no unpleasant consequences resulting from it? Blame is the beginning of social pressure to change.

    • Kevin Alexander

      Lauren, Sophie, you didn’t get what I said. My fail, I’m not very persuasive.
      I’m not blaming anybody and I’m suggesting that Libby shouldn’t either.
      You can’t say for sure that her parents could have chosen differently. You have no idea where their heads were, where they came from or what the pressures on them were. Everyone’s path seems to fit a tight groove. You know how hard it is to quit smoking or to keep on a diet. You just don’t have as much free will as you think you do. Neuroscientists and philosophers argue that you have no free will at all but I wouldn’t go that far.

      “Why would anyone ever alter a “bad” behavior if there were no unpleasant consequences resulting from it? Blame is the beginning of social pressure to change.”

      I understand what you are saying and I feel the same way. But my feelings are wrong. It just doesn’t work that way in reality. If punishment altered bad behaviour then no one would go back to prison. What happens instead is the blaming goes back and forth forever. It’s called vendetta and it’s the human condition since the beginning.

      You can’t change the past, you can only prevent the future from being more of the same. It’s what Libby is doing here and why I appreciate her so much. She can’t save her father and she can’t undo the damage that was done to her. What she can do is stop beating herself up for something that she didn’t choose and then get on with the job of warning others not to make the same mistakes that her parents made.

      • Kevin Alexander

        Sorry about the bold, I screwed up the HTML

      • Lauren

        Kevin, if nobody shows disapproval for a behavior, there is no impetus for the bad actor to change it.

        For example, my sister-in-law would occasionally explode with “effing ni88er,” but no one ever said anything because she is so unpleasant when crossed. Finally, one time I responded, “I don’t appreciate racist epithets and from now on I will call you on it every time in front of anyone.” One person seconded “yeah,” and another clapped quietly. Since that one-time multiple disapprobation, none of us has heard that from her again. I’m sure she still thinks it, but she can’t say it anymore now that her cover is gone.

        Libby Anne alone is unlikely to drive any change in her parents’ attitudes. I’m saying that societal “blame” is what will move them, and that wouldn’t happen without individual blame by Libby Anne and other victims. The victim has to call attention to the problem, and there must be enough seconding by others from the perpetrators’ social/familial support structure to make continuing the attitude painful to them (the perps).

        We are herd animals, and not many of us will buck social norms. Libby Anne is trying to change attitudes and social norms by removing cover for emotional incest. You seem to advocating the status quo by excusing and enabling the behavior of the abusers.

      • emma

        Kevin, for her entire childhood Libby-Anne’s father dominated every aspect of her life and personality, showing indifference, if not outright hostility to any expression of her own personality or feelings that didn’t fit with his view of her. He eventually made it very clear that his love and approval were contingent on her subsuming her own feelings in favour of his version of how she should be.

        Now she has taken the step of publicly expressing her own feelings about her own experience don’t you think she could probably do without somebody else telling her what she should or shouldn’t do or feel about it!??

        “Neither you or you father consciously chose the way things turned out…”

        Do you actually know this? If not, or even if, the wording has somewhat of a condescending, “I know more about you than you do” tone to it.

        “…blaming is useless so why do it?”

        Perhaps because she wants to and it makes her feel better!
        (btw I hadn’t noticed that she was doing much in the way of blaming, considering how she’s been treated)

        “I’m not blaming anybody and I’m suggesting that Libby shouldn’t either.”

        Who appointed you arbiter of what Libby should or shouldn’t do? Where does she say “please tell me what to do”?

        After having someone else’s version imposed on her for years Libby-Anne is reclaiming her voice, her feelings, her story – only for you to immediately try to impose your yours!!

        It’s not all about you, Kevin!!!!

  • http://tanitisis.wordpress.com Tanit-Isis

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, Libby Anne, and I really hope that writing about it and explaining it helps. My own father is so emotionally distant and reserved that this entire scenario is really eye-opening to me, so thank you, once again, for introducing me to a world I never knew existed.

  • Beck

    Libby, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about the damage your parents did to you.

    Although I don’t think there was ever any emotional incest in my family dynamic, what I’m going through right now with my mom is exactly like a bad breakup– one where you can’t get away from your ex, so when you see each other you both pretend that everything’s great and you’re still friends, but things always devolve from there.

    Kevin, if Libby was talking about how her parents used to beat her, would you still say that it’s the fault of the situation? That there’s no use assigning blame because hey, these things happen and we don’t have much free will?

    Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. And your assertion that her parents couldn’t help themselves is nonsensical. A 3-year-old child cannot help herself, because she doesn’t have the brain development necessary to understand actions and consequences, or personal responsibility. Adults CAN. I am sure her parents felt their actions were reasonable within their frame of reference, but that is NOT an excuse, nor does it relieve them of responsibility for the damage they inflicted on their daughter.

    As human beings, we have an ethical responsibility to control our behavior to avoid harming others. When we do harm others, it is a failure of responsibility. I was raised in an abusive household, and taught that violence was the way to get what you wanted. When I was then put in charge of my little siblings, I hit them to get them to do as they were told. Was I influenced by outside pressure? Was my head messed up? Yes and yes. But it was still MY actions that harmed my siblings. I have had to accept that I am, in a large portion, responsible for that.

    I don’t mean to rant at you, but the idea that we shouldn’t call people out for bad behavior is simply ridiculous. As Lauren said, people who aren’t called out on bad behavior will never change their behavior. We aren’t talking about “punishment” but about understanding that actions have consequences. Good intentions count for exactly nothing in the real world.

  • Kevin Alexander

    I’ll try again. I’m not saying that bad behaviour shouldn’t be pointed out. Of course it should as Lauren and Beck have said. That’s how we learn. That’s why I praise Libby for doing it.
    What I’m saying is that we need to try to see the difference between saying to someone ‘You made a mistake that hurt someone’ and saying ‘You did an evil thing’
    The difference is in the emotional reaction of the person that you’re saying it to and the practical result that you’ll get. Think about how the Pearls reacted to the news that their teachings end in the deaths of children. They went into complete denial so there’s no chance that they will change.

    I’m not saying ‘Let it go’ I’m saying ‘Let’s figure out what happened and try to learn from it.’

    As far as my saying that people should be forgiven because they don’t know what they’re doing, I think that I have a pretty good authority on that.

    • Maureen

      Actually Kevin, your comment made ME feel alot better about my situation with my father, which is similar to Libby Anne’s, so I thank you for them.

  • machintelligence

    Why should ignorance be an excuse — especially after it has been pointed out to the offending party? Sufficiently advanced ignorance is indistinguishable from malice.

  • jay

    I’m having trouble distinguishing this from just a child wanting to please her parents. I am also a former evangelical christian and I felt just terrible when I told my parents, that I let them down – I still feel that way. There wasn’t much emotional manipulation but if I’d been younger there probably would have been more pressure (I’m in my 40s). I feel like if I had approached my parents with my doubts as a college student I would have gotten the same response as you. And I always felt that I was responsible for my parents’ mood/feeling good and that I need to feed the emotional needs of my parents. How is emotional incest different from just a kid trying to please her parents?

    • Jeremy

      As someone who was in a pretty similar situation to Libby’s with my mom, I would say that the difference is in how badly the parents need to be pleased. Lots of kids want to please their parents, but they should never feel as if their parents whole wellbeing is depending on their being pleased by their kids. That’s how I felt, and when my mom decided I wasn’t pleasing her any more, she descended into depression and kind of fell apart — and blamed me for it. It was terrible.

      The difference isn’t in the kid’s behavior, it’s in the parent’s reaction. Parents may be supportive or disapproving of nonconformity, but when the parent allows herself to be “broken” by the child — and blames the child for doing it — it’s clearly emotional incest.

    • ElyssaElizabeth

      I think part of it is how much responsibility you’re given. Maybe older children have to deal with this more (just a guess)? My brother wants to make my parents happy, and he tries hard (with sports and Boy Scouts, especially) to make my father proud of him. But he doesn’t feel guilty if the house is dirty, and if my parents are angry or sad (not with him), he doesn’t feel responsible or like he needs to fix it.

      Emotional incest happens when a child is given an adult role. It can happen emotionally–my mother making me her confidant, feeling like I was responsible to help my parent’s marital troubles. (Mom would say she felt like Dad didn’t appricate her, so I’d tell Dad that Mom needed encouragement…Dad would get mad and say he aways told Mom but she didn’t listen, so I’d tell Mom how much Dad loved her, etc.) I knew all about our financial troubles, worried constantly about them, and tried to keep my brothers from asking for things, or for wanting things myself.

      It happens with role-reversal, as well: I felt (still feel) responsible for keeping the house clean, meals on the table, shopping done, mail organized, kids in line, etc. All things my mom should have done. When you want to please your parents, you help. In my situation, it was all my responsibility. I was the Mom.

  • Jeremy

    Well, said, Libby, and moving. I’m still curious as to how one heals from this sort of thing — in my experience, imperfectly and with a lot of pain going forward. I’d like to know whether there’s a better way.

    • Contrarian

      One solution is to just stop giving any shits about what the parents think. They’re adults, so it’s time for them to deal with their children as fellow adults. Easier said than done, of course, but grown children are their parents’ peers, not subordinates, and so all the options and attitudes adults have in their relationships with other adults are — or should be — available to grown children in dealing with their parents.

      • minuteye

        One of the reasons I think adolescence is so painful for many people is that it’s the beginning of renegotiating a relationship with your parents. Going from a child-adult relationship based on caretaking, to (hopefully) a peer-peer relationship based on mutual respect. It’s no wonder those in Christian Patriarchy often claim not to “do teenagers”, they believe that the relationship shouldn’t be renegotiated at all.

  • Contrarian

    Emotional incest is a very interesting case study for how people think, make decisions, and react to other people’s actions. Thank you for having the guts to post your story for the world to read.

  • ElyssaElizabeth

    Thank you so much for writing these posts. I’m often moved by what you write, and you put a voice to things I’ve been thinking for a long time.

    My family situation was different from yours (though my parents are both conservative Christian ministers). My father encouraged me to disagree with him–he often takes the opposing view of whatever I say, just to make me think out my position from all sides and learn to argue it well. I will always be greatful that he taught me to be a rational, logical thinker from the time I was a little girl. (It used to drive my mom nuts, because Dad would make me argue for anything I wanted–like, if I wanted to go to a friend’s house, for example–and he would change his mind if I was convincing. Mom just wanted immediate obedience, and eventually they instituted a “one argument” rule…I got one shot at disagreeing–and she promised to be open-minded–but after that, I had to obey without question or grumbling.) So that was good.

    But I definately struggle with problems steming from the emotional incest I went through, with my mother. (My therapist thinks it’s why I’m so codependent now.) I was my mom’s “wife”. She confided in me about everything, even finances and her marriage, from the time I was little. I was the oldest girl, and when Mom had to go back to work to support the family when Dad lost his job, I became the house Mom. I’m sure a lot of people from quiverfull families can relate–by the time I was nine, I could make a meal for the family, was responsible for keeping the house clean, and minding my little brothers. I was homeschooled, so they didn’t have to pay for day care–that was me. My schooling suffered because I was in charge of that, also…Mom bought the books, but by sixth grade, I was creating my own lesson plans, going through the work, and grading my tests. I didn’t learn Algebra ’till college, because there was no one to teach me, and I couldn’t learn out of books.

    Daddy called me “The Wendy” (from Peter Pan), taking care of all the Lost Boys of my family. I learned to anticipate their needs. I knew how stressed out Mom was (she told me, in detail) so I tried to take as much pressure off her as I could, keeping the boys in line, keeping the house picked up, cooking, even helping her with her work at the church. I was terrified when I went off to school–who would be there to help at the house? And it didn’t do any good for my brothers…they never learned how to cook, or clean (other than basic picking up), and they all have an entitlement complex a mile wide.

    I feel guilty all the time, still. I feel guilty for not being the woman my mother wanted (first, when I realized I was a lesbian, then, when I stopped believing in God). I feel guilty that I can’t help Mom at the church when she’s overwhelmed (because they don’t want my help, even with simple clerical things, because I’m an atheist). I feel guilty when I’m sick and the house is dirty or the family eats hot pockets. I’m working with a therapist to not fall into other relationships where all I do is caretake…but I still feel like that’s my duty in life, and taking care of my own needs is incredibly selfish.

    Emotional incest is devestating. I’ve been the third party in my parent’s marriage for as long as I can remember. I’m almost 26, and I can’t imagine moving away from them. I know, it’s sick, but right now, I feel like I’m going through a long and devestating divorce.

    Thank you so much for your writing.

    • emohoarder

      Thank you for writing. Reading your story and others has made me realize that I in the past, was a partner to my sister and was involved in emotional incest driven by emotional manipulation. Understanding that my relationship with her was not normal or acceptable really helps me to feel less guilty about who I am today. I know (through a friend) that since I left her, she has become a lot closer to her husband. He used to be the bad guy. Wow, this feels amazing! The truth will set you free!

  • Huytonwoman

    I had next to no religious upbringing – Mum was a very lapsed Catholic, Dad was an atheist – but this was how our family was – divided in two: I was Dad’s “wife”, emotionally, my brother was Mum’s non-sexual” husband.”

    The end of my closeness with Dad came when I had a breakdown and became agoraphobic. He never could stand people with mental health problems. He wasn’t aggressive or name-calling: he withdrew, emotionally. I suppose I became too frail, mentally, to support him. This was some version of religious kids rejecting the gender-role assigned by faith, I suppose.

    I had to hate my parents so I could get the force of will to leave home. Now I can see they were just decent people who did their best, the only way they knew. My partner grew up in a similar sort of dynamic. I pray we have the enlightenment to escape these pitfalls. I can only hope.

  • Ellie

    Libby Anne, thank you – your posts have been so meaningful for me to read as I have been searching for writing on this subject from point of view of a daughter for a long time. I have a question for you but first let me tell you where I am standing.

    I was once a strong and independent woman who became a mother of three babies in 23 months. I gave up everything to care for my children and they were my whole world and greatest passion.

    There were many problems with my husband and I found his behaviour so
    confusing. I always felt on the back foot with him, and could never predict
    where the next rage would come from. With me, he was vitriolic, demanding, ungiving and unfair in the most insidious ways; with others he was charismatic, a leader in the business world and a ‘funny man’.

    For years I believed the power of love could change the problems and I worked harder and harder to solve them and also to find workable ways to stand up to him. Too late I understood I’d married a man who has many narcissistic traits.

    The more I called him on his unfair and emotionally abusive behaviour, the more I became isolated and lost my standing in the family. I watched my husband cultivate and elevate his relationships with my children, especially my daughter, an extremely beautiful and talented girl who brings a lot of pride to our family. Triangulation and what I understand now to be emotional incest occurred and I felt I almost lost her. I was deeply unhappy, but I couldn’t tell anyone because that felt disloyal to the family and the wrong direction to go in if I was fighting to save my marriage. My sister and friends tell me now that no one had a clue – we seemed like the perfect family.

    I thought it was better for the kids if I stayed. Then, as they became teenagers, I recognised they were in great pain – the boys were starting to emulate their father’s disrespectful attitude towards me, and I could only imagine how troubled my daughter would one day feel when she looks back on the time when she usurped my position in the family, though not by her own fault. For what daughter could not adore her daddy, who confides in her, buys her roses and acts like a goofy teenager and her best friend.

    When I finally recognised that it was unhealthier for the children if I stayed, I drew a line in the sand and gave up fighting for the relationship. It was the most heart breaking and best decision I’ve ever made. It took me two years of careful planning and help from Women’s Refuge to engineer a ‘mutual and amicable’ separation (which it is not at all, but I needed it to appear so to protect myself and the children) and get myself in a position where I could give them a home with me as well. We share custody now, live 5 minutes apart and the children are free to come and go as they please.

    It’s been 15 months since I left. I am growing strong and independent again. I love my job and my focus is still very much my children. I cannot express how my relationship with them has changed for the better. Usual teenager behaviour aside, the boys are respectful and helpful; and my daughter is so very loving. But there is still an atmosphere around the subject of her father; she is afraid to hug me in front of him; she is secretive and sometimes feels angry but doesn’t know why.

    I know he confides in her about his online relationship with someone who lives
    overseas. I’m not supposed to know about this, though it wouldn’t matter to me as the only sadness I feel is for the new lady. I don’t wish to break the confidence of the person who told me this; and I can’t tell my daughter the truth about why I left her father, for I know how important it is that every child has a positive image of their parents. I imagine she will figure things out one day, for she will judge us all on our actions, which is where I keep my focus.

    I want to tell her that I understand completely how this has happened to her, and that I don’t blame her at all. I love her so very much and all I want is for her to be happy and have a healthy relationship with her own partner one day. I’m so afraid she will be damaged by this experience and that I haven’t done enough to prevent this. I should have left earlier; but as I had no money it would have meant leaving my children, and I could never do that.

    My question to you is this:
    As a daughter, what would you have wanted your mother to do? What can I do or
    say to her while she is still so enamoured of her father that would be helpful
    to her? She is only fifteen.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Ugh, that’s a hard one! I guess I would say, just be there for her. Be there for her and build her up, as a person. I think if you try undermining how she feels about her father, that may backfire. But if you make it clear you believe in *her*, as a person, that will help her grow stronger in herself. I’m glad you’ve gotten out of the situation and that you’re happier now. :)

      • Ellie

        Thank you! That’s helpful. All the best to you Libby Anne :)

  • Syd

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been working through issues from my dad’s emotional incest with me for years now and am only just now beginning to grasp that it’s real. It’s a bitch, but I know I want to do as much as I can to heal, and I’m glad others are speaking out about this.