************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Way He Says Her Name

"I was thinking this was like being in shock -
its how I remember feeling after being in a car acciedent.
Everything is moving in slow motion.
The world is muted, undefined around the edges.
I am going through the motions but there's no meaning to any of it.
I suppose it's grief."
              - Email to my therapist, this morning.
It is really sinking in, lately.
There's nothing wrong with me.
There has never been anything wrong with me.

Oh, I've done things that were not pretty and perfect, but so often I was reacting to things beyond my control. I was a child long after my body grew to adulthood....
but recently, I have noticed that I don't feel like a child anymore. I am gaining a sense of who I really am, and with that I am falling out of self-blame.

And, oddly enough, that is what is making this feel so hopeless.

Some part of me has always believed that the things I heard as a child were true: that it was my fault; that if I could only be good enough, my father would love me as he does my sister. I keep remembering my mother telling me that I could be "the apple of his eye," if I just...

My father would always put a condition on any offer. When he held things back from me - even things he freely gave one or another of my siblings - he was careful to tell me which of my imperfections was "forcing" him to punish me in this way.

See - if that were true - if it was some fault in me - then I could fix this. But now I know it isn't true. My father rejected me. I could come up with a lot of reasons why that might be - for instance, my father was gone for the first year of my life. No biological bonding? Another issue is that (as much as I do not like to admit it) of all of his children, I am the most like him. As a parent, I know how hard it is to see your imperfections reflected in your children. I believe some of it is his own guilt that he sees in me at every turn - guilt and shame over things he will never admit, things that were certainly no fault of mine.

Regardless of the reason, there is nothing I can do that will ever change how he feels (or doesn't feel) about me.

When that first started to register, yesterday afternoon, I tried to fight it. My mind was racing and I went through every possible thing I knew that might help me 'fix' it. Then, sometime yesterday evening, this quiet hopeless sense washed all that away. The new sadness isn't raging and out-of-control. There's no panic or thoughts of hurrying to find relief. I feel calm, almost dead, inside, except for this bleak sense of hopelessness.

And so we come to God. The word God was something that sent me reeling, not all that long ago. Any mention of religion or spirituality and all I thought was, I'm out of here. 

But, after a lot of work and a lot of redefining all the terms that used to trigger that in me, I've finally begun building a a God of my understanding. Meditation and prayer had become an important part of my every day life.

However, recently, I've been avoiding meditation. I've been avoiding God because I didn't want to look inside at the the hot, red pain that was waiting there.

At my therapy appointment on Monday, my counselor used the word "rejection" when she spoke of my father.
It burned like acid.
Since then, little snippets of my past have been flooding in, making themselves known against my will.

My father  let all my siblings drive their cars. He even paid for their car insurance, but he told me I was on my own. I would never drive "his" cars and if I wanted to learn to drive, I'd have nothing to drive anyway - so I didn't bother.

It was as if I was a prisoner.

When I was sixteen, my father stopped buying my clothes and shoes. I was doing my part in this game we played. I was refusing to go to school.

So he said, "You have a job. You can pay for your own things. And if you don't go to school, you'll start paying rent, too"
I did start going to school... sometimes. On one occasion, my coat was stolen right out of my locker. When I told my parents, my father said it was my fault and refused to buy me a new one. So, I didn't have a coat that winter. I met my husband that February, and he clearly remembers that I had no coat. Regardless, my parent's continued to buy my younger brother's clothes and shoes until he was well into his twenties.

But I didn't resent my kid brother. Of my three siblings, only my sister had that honor.

The way his face softens when she enters a room... 
The way he says her name....

My father told me that if I wanted to go to college, I would have to stay in his house and obey his rules. My older siblings had both gone away to school, but the rules were different for me. And through it all, I was convinced it was my fault. It was something I'd done or should have done that was bringing this on me.

The word rejection, started a chain reaction inside me. Yeserday, I finally made the choice to sit with it, to look inside and see what was real. The outcome was the realization that there is nothing I could have done and nothing I ever can do that will change how my father feels about me.

I can't believe I never saw it before.
It is.
End of story.

People often give God credit for the good things that happen... so when something bad happens, how can they not blame God? Are we, on this Earth, so evil and awful that we constantly bring out the bad faster than God can fix it? If God is everything, then isn't he just as much the abuse and the abuser as he is the peace and the savior?

I can't even say I'm confused at the moment. Maybe I am, but I don't feel that way. I feel a dead-calm, resolute sense that this is hopeless. As an infant, I was born with the need for my father's love. I was not only denied this love, but was then shown, over and over, exactly what it was I could never have.

The way his face softens when she enters a room... the way he says her name....

To make sense of this, someone told me that "lessons" like this are God's way of bringing us to him. If this is God's plan, it seems cruel - as cruel as anything my father has done. Maybe in time I'll come to see it differently, but right now, my belief is shaken to its core.

Closing a Door


  1. goodness shen, you are dealing with some very painful feelings and memories right now. reading this sparked many reactions and responses in me. i think for one thing, that you are dealing with multiple things all at once. different layers of grief. grieving the love you never received from your parent, the hope that things could change, and their upcoming death. someone said to me once, "it's exhausting to live with the belief that other people's love for you is conditional, isn't it?" pondering that question and all the ways expecting love to be conditional, that it's something that must be earned, illuminated much for me.

    another thing that struck me, when you wrote: "there is nothing I could have done that would have changed how my father felt about me. He did not love me."

    i thought also, maybe there is nothing you could do to change hos feelings towards you because perhaps his feelings are not connected to you. my father hated my brother from the moment he was born and nothing my brother did could earn my father's love. it seems clear to me that there are reasons that have nothing to do with my brother but my father projected onto my brother. it makes no sense otherwise why a parent favors one child over another. they must be acting out their own undealtwith issues right?

    i say this not to excuse your father. and my insight may not be accurate to your life. but i think no matter what you are off the hook. you shouldn't have to earn your parents' love and the fact that you felt you did shows a failure on their part not yours.

    it's confusing and painful having to learn to be our own parents and give ourselves what we always needed.

    sending hugs and peaceful wishes your way and for your inner child too. sounds like she really needs a hug today. and a nice warm coat. ((safe hugs))

  2. oh and i think your anger at your parents is very valid. feeling abandoned, rejected and hurt when you should be loved and cared for is abuse. and i think it makes sense you would feel anger at god while dealing with anger at your parents. i would imagine those feelings would overlap. i think our spirituality sometimes can reflect the deep feelings we struggle with.

  3. Painful, yes, although right now I feel nothing. I don't know when I've ever been so dead inside.

    You are right, his feelings are not connected to me. I feel no blame for any of it. Not anymore.

    But in a way, that is the sad part. If this "unlove" on his part has nothing to do with me, then there is no way I can fix it. I will never be enough... because it isn't about me at all.

    I don't think he meant to be how he is. I don't think he set out to pick one child not to love... But that is what happened. He probably didn't know what to do with it. He blamed me because there was no one else to blame.

    I see it all very clearly now, but I hate the way it has deadened me.

  4. Yes, I can see that you would feel nothing. You learned a long time ago to tame down your feelings... as did I.

    Life taught me in many a cruel way that feeling stuff was not worth it.

    I find it interesting that now that you've freed yourself from the illusion of your dad's love, you've started to second-guess the illusion that there is a loving God.

    I'm no prophet, but I wouldn't be shocked if as the need for your dad's love disappears, so will the need for the love a god. That's exactly how it happened to me.

    In a nutshell, I spent my whole life trying to make my mom love me. Then in church they made me feel as if something was horribly wrong with me, that I had to change, so Mom could love me.

    In a lucid moment, I decided to give my mother the finger. After that, my faith in god lasted just a few months.

    Personally, I don't see your post as a sad one. I see it as a new beginning for you. I see a woman who was carrying a huge, unnecessary load and now has dropped it and set herself free.

    All the power to you. Keep walking, honey. It gets better.

  5. good morning, shen. i was thinking more about this last night and i was thinking that when parents are abusive, of course they are not seeing their children for who they are. as independent beings with feelings of their own. if the parent could see and empathize with the child, they would never abuse them. it's as though they have a huge fog before their eyes. they are self absorbed. and their children are objects to them. objects to be used.

    i'm glad you don't feel like it's your fault anymore. because i don't believe it's ever the fault of a child that it's parent was abusive.

    but as for your feeling dead and numb right now, maybe this is just one layer of grief. perhaps it is part of your mind protecting yourself from your feeling. perhaps you are in shock. perhaps this struggle for your father's love has so consumed your life up to this point that letting go of it has put you in a new place emotionally that you don't recognize. i don't know.

    i just hope each day that passes gets better for you, shen.

    sending caring thoughts your way~

  6. Lorena,
    thanks for coming by and posting. I left a comment on the post you linked to at your blog.
    "It gets better"... yes, I hope so. I have gone through cycles like this so many times, but this one is different in two ways.
    One is that I have been given a lot of tools to deal with this kind of emotional crap and I am actually remembering to use some of them, some of the time.
    The other is, this feels like the biggest thing yet... it feels like the end. Admitting that there is no reality to my relationship with my father - that is the last step in what has been a marathon.
    The other thing that struck me is that you use the word "dad" and for yourself, you use the word, "mom".
    If you go through my blog, you will never find me using the word "dad" in referance to my father. Not once. I hadn't realized that I always refer to him as "my father" (not even just "father") until my therapist pointed it out to me, months ago.

    thanks again. thank you for the well-wishing. I appreciate knowing you are there. It's going to be hard for a while. I need all the support I can get.
    I stopped by your blog yesteday... and will be back again.

  7. That's interesting, that you call him "father." It does show that you feel distant from him.

    And I do call her "mom," true as well. It is quite possible that I have a closer bond with my mother than you do with your father.

    That makes a lot of sense. I had a brother who played the role of your sister. He was "god" to her. I, however, held a special place because I was her "A" student child.

    I have a sister who was treated like you did. I wish she would look for psychological help like you did. I wish I could help her somehow, but she hates me. And I can't even blame her for that.

    This is Lorena, by the way. I have another blog that I use for personal issues that aren't related to the "god" thing too much.

  8. Actually, when I'm with him I don't call him father. I don't call him anything. I step around the need for using a name in any way I can. When I refer to him, I say "my father". Not "father" or "dad". When I am talking to my siblings, I have a hard time, since it sounds very awkward to say "my father" or "our father." If I have to refer to him, I call him "Pop." In my teens, it was probably the least reverant name I could think of, and that is what stuck.

  9. I hear the pain. And I know you are struggling.

    Just be careful about the denial. That's a place you want to watch out for. It can get crazy-making.


  10. Paul, what denial are you referring to? I feel like I am seeing things more clearly now, but your comment has me worried that I'm missing something.

  11. You wrote: "It is really sinking in, lately, that there's nothing wrong with me. There has never been anything wrong with me."

    This can be both a healthy statement, if meant in a certain way.

    But it jumped out at me as something else. Maybe just my impression.

  12. I'm glad you brought that up,because I think this is important. What I meant by "there has never been anything wrong with me" is this:
    In the past, I have been convinced that I was in some way innately flawed. I was certain that my father did not treat me like the other kids because there was something wrong with me, something I couldn't see. I have spent my life with this sense of being "less than" and with determination to fix whatever it was.
    As all of this escalated, throughout my life, I have developed some traits that are NOT okay - not things I want or admire or feel are "right". To me, this was further proof that I was indeed flawed.

    The realization I had this week is that my father would not have felt differently about me no matter who I was. There is nothing that would have changed how things are.

    I hope that makes sense.


Please feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.