Abusive parents haven’t changed
Dear Annie: I’m in my late 50s. Approximately three years ago, because of my husband’s death, an auto accident and my loss of a job, I had to return to my parents’ home to recuperate and get back on my feet. This has been a very dark period for me.
A bit of background on my childhood: While I was growing up, there were daily beatings. There were weeks when my parents had to keep me home from school and inside so that no one would see the marks they left on my body and face. In addition, they allowed another family member to rape me on a daily basis. This happened until I gained a voice and an ally at age 13 (my first boyfriend, who was 36) to help me escape.
I worked very diligently to overcome their abuse. I went into therapy and gained a lot of emotional clarity and wisdom. I grew more compassionate and less judgmental. I had a good life and successful career. I owe much to my late husband. He was so very kind and loving.
When I made the decision to return to my childhood home, where all of this abuse occurred, I thought that my parents had aged out of their physical violence and were changed people. Unfortunately, they are the same.
The primary reason I am seeking your guidance is to learn how to cope with the emotional violence that my mom directs at me at every opportunity. She complains that I do not clean the house well, that I generate too much garbage, that I’m not grateful enough to her for taking me in, etc. These encounters are becoming more and more emotionally and physically draining. I have made efforts to set boundaries. However, her response is, “This is my house, and I do not have to acknowledge or respect your boundaries.”
It is becoming more difficult to endure these emotional verbal attacks. I still owe them money. As I’m working only part time, this will take a bit of time. I have sought full-time employment.
I hope that you can provide some guidance. I am amenable to anything at this point. — Still Suffering
Dear Still Suffering: There is much more here than I can unpack in the space of a column. I am so sorry for the abuse you suffered growing up. Given that history, your parents’ house is a toxic and unsustainable place for you to be. I know you said you have financial constraints, but I urge you to take steps to find another living situation immediately. Visit your local Social Security office to see what financial benefits you might be eligible for. I also encourage you to resume therapy.
Dear Annie: My husband and I were in a situation similar to that of the unsympathetic patrons described by “Where Is the Love?” — whose grandson has autism and makes loud noises. Though we had great sympathy for the family, we found the disturbance profound. We quietly asked our server whether we could be moved, and when that was accomplished, we requested that the check for the family’s meal be given to us. Quiet for us, a treat for the family — a win-win! — Been on the Other Side
Dear Been on the Other Side: What a fantastic way to approach the situation. Your letter gave me a big smile. Please keep spreading that love and positivity.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.