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May 18, 2008
Such hell...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Oh Amy, what you lived was pure hell, of that I have no doubt.

You said: "Both my parents were physically and emotionally abused as kids. I wish that was enough for me to realise and forgive them. But it's not." I understand this oh-so-very well. When I was a teen, I spend all my free time reading self help books, books that would help me understand what my parents came from so that I could somehow make sense of what they had done to me. But at the time, all it succeeded in doing was to make excuses for what they did to me. It was a way to avoid my own pain; although I didn't realize that until I had been in therapy for a time. My therapist taught me that I had to allow myself to feel the pain, and the anger and the deep deep DEEP hatred, without shame or guilt or remorse. What happened after I allow myself those feelings was completely unexpected: I arrived at the place I had been seeking inside the various self help books; I came to truly understand my parents. I couldn't have done that without counselling. And when I learned that forgiveness is something I would do for myself and not for them, I truly forgave them. Forgiveness is about saying "You (mother and/or father) no longer have power or control over me and my life. I no longer hate you because I will not allow another second of my adulthood to be marred by the horrible things that were done in my childhood."

But reaching the point of forgiveness can take time.

Amy, when a child witnesses the abuse of a parent by the other parent, when a child also becomes the battered and emotionally abused, when a child must parent a parent because of physical and emotional violence, the scars get deeper and deeper. I wished exactly as you wished; that my mother was putting her arms around me, telling me that everything was going to be okay, telling me that I was loved and that she would protect me. But it wasn't to be. My job—as was yours—was to provide comfort to a grown woman who was supposed to be my mother but who herself was still a child whose needs were never met. As I grew up, I had to learn to fill my own needs.

Amy, you are so amazingly strong. Now it's your turn. It's your turn to fill the needs for yourself that were never met by the very people who were in charge of protecting you and nurturing you and loving you, the very people who themselves were so broken that they left you, their precious little girl, to fend for herself.

You said that you now want to go talk to someone; be proud of yourself for that. You deserve to have someone listen to you and help you deal with the emotional trauma, and the heavy toll the appalling abuse has taken on your life.

As you read through some of the other stories on this site, Amy, I think you'll find many of the authors are kindred spirits. You really are not alone.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

May 19, 2008
Beautiful girl
by: Anonymous

Honey you poor thing, i think you are so resiliant and strong beyond your years. Good on you for being strong enough to tell your story.
Keep being beautiful and seeing the light.

May 21, 2008
Empathy...
by: Elaine

Dear Amy,

I guess I always tend to "home in" on stories that remind me of my own experiences. I, too, had a violent and physically abusive father. I also had a mother who did very little to protect me - if anything, she provoked my father further.

In a situation where you are the child of "damaged" parents, Amy, it is near impossible not to end up in the awkward situation you, and I, found ourselves in. When parents have their own problems, and cannot cope with them, they take this out on their children. This is NOT an excuse for their actions. Nothing is an excuse! Our parents should be adult enough, and responsible enough for their own actions NOT to be inflicting additional pain on their children. It is very sad when the child has to act as parent", providing emotional support for a wounded and needy adult. I know, it can pretty much "burn you out"!

DO seek help, Amy. It is good that you have recognised this need, and are willing and eager to talk to someone. Counselling may provide just the assistance you need - a supportive, unbiased listener whilst you "offload" your troubles, and someone to help you make sense of your past, teaching you effective ways to cope.

Right now, and always, you need and deserve people around you who care... people who are genuine, honest, loving and supportive. People to make you feel wanted and worthwhile. Believe me when I tell you that you ARE all of these things, and more. For someone to have survived your troubles, that person must have been brave and strong, patient and sensitive. That person is YOU.

I wish you all the very best in your moves towards a better life. Amy, I've described some of my experiences in the Open House (Elaine's room). You might feel comforted by reading these, and knowing you're not alone? Whatever you choose... Good luck.

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