abusive parent | child within you | Terezia Farkas | depression help | Beliefnet

 

Stopping contact with an abusive parent might be the best thing for you. Yet, it’s one of the hardest things to do. First, there are the emotional hooks from the parent. Next, there’s the social shame and stigma of being a bad child, even though you are an adult. There’s also family connections that sometimes make it seem impossible to avoid the abusive parent.

Disconnecting with an abusive parent isn’t easy.

My dad was and is an emotionally abusive person. As a child, I was always told by my elders to respect my parents. So when dad was abusive, I as a child always had to forgive him. Or I had to make excuses so his behaviour would be really okay – dad was an orphan, he survived a world war, he immigrated to a new country and had to learn English.

Abusive parents have their hooks in their children at an early age. Abusive parents have their own survival skills, and they know how to manipulate others. It can be setting one sibling against another, or hitting your guilt and shame buttons. The parent won’t want to give up the power over you. After all, he or she has enjoyed power over you for years. It’s up to you to change the power dynamic. You have to stop looking at your parent through the eyes of a child.

You need to have a person to person relationship.

By the time I was an adult, the emotional hooks were in deep. I was ashamed of dad’s behaviour, but I’d make excuses for him. Whenever I stood up for myself, relatives and friends would shame me for being disrespectful.

After mom died, my relationship with dad stopped. He moved in with another woman, and I was happy not to visit them. It was the first time I felt free from the emotional abuse. But I soon realized dad had left many emotional daggers in me.

Memories of abuse linger.

Memories of abuse linger. Noises, places, situations, even other people can trigger painful memories. Certain triggers made me react in ways that were terrible and mean to others. I hated the sound of a door slamming. I couldn’t stand it when someone drank. Although dad was no longer in my life, I was still haunted by memories of his abuse. I had to release those hooks.

You have to stop seeing your parent as a parent. You have to see your parent as a person. See the person for who and what he/she really is. That’s all the flaws and good qualities. Recognize the emotional daggers, the manipulative skills, and the real deficiencies of the person you called mom or dad. Don’t ignore the good qualities. Yes, you are judging the person. But that’s a good thing. Is he/she someone can be friends with? Can you have an honest or fulfilling conversation? Will he/she be there to help you if you have a problem?

Your options regarding the abusive parent.

Your have many options. You can stay in the same power balance. Sometimes its difficult to get out of a relationship, especially one that is abusive. Even if you move out, the parent will keep his/her control over you unless the power dynamic shifts. If you set terms of behaviour, or conditions about respecting you and stick to it, then you’re shifting the relationship away from one where the parent has total control.

You can get a third party involved. This can be another family member or friend who’ll act as a referee. You can also get professional counselling. This is very expensive. And while you start healing, remember that your parent remains abusive. Don’t expect your parent to be understanding about your healing, or to be helpful or happy about it. You’re shifting the power dynamic, and your parent is resisting.

Disconnecting from your parent isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s the best thing.

Your parent has already lived his or her life. You don’t need to relive that person’s bad life experiences. You can make new, positive ones.

Stop all contact with the abusive parent. This is often hard to do. Holiday get-togethers can bring the abusive parent back into your life. Or a life event, like a wedding, might have the two of you in the same room. Just because you are in the same room doesn’t mean you must talk to each other. You can acknowledge your parent’s presence, then avoid the person. It’s not a mean thing to do. As an adult, you need to stand up for yourself and make this choice. You need to bring positivity into your life, and being around that parent isn’t positive.

I’ll be honest. It wasn’t easy breaking contact with my dad. But it was worth it. I’ve been able to heal myself and bring in lots of positivity to my life. It took time. It will take you time too. But hang in there. You can do it!

Find me on twitter @tereziafarkas

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