Alright folks. This is it. By far the hardest damn post that I have ever written. I have been writing this one in my head since the beginning, and every time I write it I just start with this huge long apology, explanation and excuse for the people I’m going to mention. I am so terrified to tell this part of my story. My heart is pounding in my chest, and I’m so scared that I’ll be judged, hated, told I’m making it up. I’m afraid that it’s an explanation that turns me into the bad guy for telling the world (or the few people in it who read this) about my feelings and experiences relating to invalidation and emotional abuse. But I keep having to remind myself just that. They are MY feelings, and MY experiences, and I am speaking my truth. One that I need to speak of, because its eating at me, it feels like someone is constantly twisting my heart into tiny broken pieces and its not okay for me to make myself suffer further out of fear. I remember growing up it was this huge thing that I wasn’t allowed to tell my friends what went on in our house. I remember one of the fireplace talks involving this, (the only thing was that because I couldn’t talk to them, that left me with no one to talk to) which instilled me with this sense that me sharing family things that did damage, hurt me, that were hard, was the ultimate betrayal and would result in me losing them and being alone forever. If you are in my family there is a very very good chance you will not like this post, you may hate me, you may feel betrayed by me, you may feel guilty, sad, angry, who knows. Thats fine, but I urge you to please not make this about you. This, my dear lovely readers, is about my story. I ask you to listen with an open mind and an open, compassionate heart, and thats all. Watch any judgements, watch any assumptions. This feels like an enormous emotional risk to take, but I had to speak about it eventually. Just, don’t make this about you. Imagine its someone else if you have to, or don’t read it. My intentions of this are to help people who may have been in similar situations. Nothing malicious, negative, hateful or anything. Only love, and thats it.
I do know that the reason that things happened the way they did was because they were in pain too. I get that, I know they did their best, I know that love was meant to be communicated in all things good and bad. I hold no hate or anger for anyone, especially not in my family, though I do have wounds that have resulted in me needing to build walls. Walls that are getting in the way of letting me trusting other people.
See, friends, I am a very sensitive person. (You hopefully have picked up on this by now), I don’t necessarily function like your average person emotionally does. I am driven by my heart; by my love and passion, and boy is it a big heart. Almost to a fault. My love language involves, among other things, words, small gestures and acts of love. Words are to me like poems that hold so much meaning and sometimes if used in the wrong combination become a weapon that stings me without the assailant knowing. My communication and the communication of my family did not match up. I was so sensitive and no one really understood that or what to do with it. And I mean, look back a generation in most families and you can see people being taught that emotions are bad, don’t show them and don’t feel them. If you look back in my family you see a lot of abuse. Physical, emotional, who knows what else. Everyone passing down their pain because they were never taught what to do with it.
Okay, I’m going to stop delaying, and dip my toe in. This wont be everything, it’s terrifying enough to say this much.
When my dad died, the world that I knew slowly started to crumble around me, everything started to fall apart, and the one person that I needed to help me fell apart too. My poor mom was left with a toddler, and a baby on the way, and forced to move back in with her mom (who we have talked about was very emotionally abusive) and I’m sure that wasn’t an easy step to have to take. If it were me, I would have fallen apart too. So here we were, four broken souls living under the same roof.
I was never really allowed to talk about emotions, mostly I would be met with a phrase like “You dont even know what that feels like”. So I stopped, one day, telling people. I suffered in silence while being told in other ways that I wasn’t enough. Pain comes out at those you love the most right? I was told by the adults around me that I was too fat, too selfish, too needy, too sensitive and I never really felt emotionally safe. I felt like I was exploding on the inside, and that those around me were just encouraging me to fall. Truth be told, most of my childhood is a blur, something I don’t remember, it happened to someone else. Some things I remember very vividly: I remember one day my grandmother threatened to kick me out (I was about 6) because of my selfish actions in trying to tell my mom what my grandmother had done to me, and I was so scared (like…very very scared for myself.) I ran under the stairs outside to cry (my fort at the time). Some faceless adult (i dont remember who) found me, and just said “hey, hey, your dad wouldn’t want to see you crying, now would he?” Emotional invalidation was everywhere I went. Even if it wasn’t on purpose.
I have felt alone everyday since I can remember. I remember feeling like a parasite, even my family seemed to think so, (thats how I was made to feel anyway) their language of telling me shifted as I grew up. At one point when they’d get home from work there would be phrases like “i should have just driven into the lake”. Again, I wasn’t good enough to even come home to. I’d run around terrified trying to make sure the house was in perfect order, but it was never certain. I tried my best to hide all this from my younger sister, I let myself take all the abuse so that she would never have to feel as alone as I did. This, in turn, along with her personality being so much more similar, made her the favoured child. She was simpler, less complicated, spoke the same language. I was happy to see this, because I wanted her to be happy.
In high school I was suicidal, and the principal called home. The person who found out didn’t speak to me that night, or the next as far as I remember at all, and never mentioned it agian. I had broken their heart. Again.
I can’t do anymore for now. I keep feeling like I don’t deserve to say this, I don’t deserve to have this voice, or a voice at all. Just as I didn’t then. I feel like I deserve to be alone, because I was never good enough to be loved like I wanted to be. I don’t remember much, but this is all true, yes its one side, but I did try and make it clear that I’m not meaning to make anyone out to be the villain, I’m only speaking my truth. I know what pain can do to people, I know it breaks down every part of you, including the logic brain, and that it often will come out at those you love. It just so happens that I was that person, the sensitive one, for my whole family. Guilt, manipulation, shaming, and emotional walls ran rampant in my family.
Please, as always, don’t hate me.
In case you you’re interested I was listening to Agnes Obel’s album Philharmonics while writing this. Damn, so beautiful. I don’t know how to link it, so look it up your own damn selves.
Okay, thanks for reading. I’m so sorry. I dont know why, I’m sorry for my emotions, I’m sorry for my pain, I’m sorry for any pain reading this causes. But I’m not sorry I said it. It had to be said, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope that it helps even one person to read it, and know theyre not alone. Abuse, even when its involuntary, is something we have to start being open about. Brutally honestly open. Otherwise we will never heal, victims and abusers alike. We will keep repeating the same cycle, never able to make our own happiness, never allow ourselves to have a voice.
4 thoughts on “(Involuntary) Emotional Abuse”
I hate to comment with editorial feedback, but your post is lovely enough to deserve constructive feedback. I think, “Guilt, manipulation, shaming, and emotional walls ran [rampant] in my family,” is meant instead of ‘ramped’.
This is absolutely beautiful. I’m not even sure why, as the topic is heavy and perhaps it shouldn’t really be described in this way. But I’ll say it anyway because that’s how I feel after reading this: it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s real. It’s truth. It’s unfiltered. Your words have deeply touched me. You DO NOT need to apologize, I understand why you feel that way of course, but you’ve apologized for long enough. By writing this, you’re taking your own emotions and giving them legitimacy, you didn’t get that from your family, but look how much you’ve grown in your own right. It shows in that you’re strong enough to reflect upon your story, that you value yourself enough to provide yourself with the space and time to work through these feelings.
We often look to others to legitimize our feelings, but no one else feels what you do the way you do. It’s personal.
You’ve grown to the point where you can legitimize your own emotions, where you can look at your own story and question those life experiences. In reflecting on our personal stories and acknowledging them as OURS, we can release the negativity. That’s the start. That’s the path towards happiness, loving yourself, and appreciating your own self worth. At least it has been for me, I’m no expert and I’m not there yet, but I’m learning what the path looks like. Keep writing, this is your space, and if others don’t like it, they don’t have to come here.
Keep going, please. The world needs people like you!
Thank you so much for your kind words. I will be rereading them for sure. Thanks for taking the time to read, and for your love and support. It was amazing to meet you last night, looking forward to more of those events!