I’d Like To Share Something Personal…

Trigger Warning / Content Warning – This blog post deals with mental health, psychological abuse, and trauma.  Given the recent influx of social media posts pertaining to #BellLetsTalk, and prompted by recent personal events, I felt I needed to share this information.  This particular post is not necessarily aligned with Bell’s campaign – I understand that not everyone necessarily agrees with Bell’s Let’s Talk Day as some believe that it merely contributes to issues surrounding mental health.  That being said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to encourage people to discuss mental health issues.  I have been contemplating writing a post like this for some time and I feel that because of all of the buzz on social media I might be able to reach more people with my story at this time.  More specifically, this was the kick I needed to actually share my thoughts on a difficult and personal subject.

There is something that, for a long time, I felt like I was the only one who had to deal with it.  Yes, I have experienced depression and anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide, but it was the cause that I thought was unique to my situation.  My relationship with my father.  For years, whenever I mentioned him to others, a lot of people could not understand why I did not want to have any form of communication with him.  I was being made to feel guilty about what was going on – the assumption was that because he is my father I had an obligation to maintain a relationship with him and that eventually I would come to my senses and forgive him.  That is not how I felt.

He and I never had a good relationship to begin with, and for the most part he was psychologically abusive towards me and other family members.  Quite a bit of what I have experienced has affected me in some way so I decided to take steps to improve my mental health.  For the past few years I had been slowly phasing him out of my life until 2 years ago when I cut off all contact with him.  I felt that what I was doing was the right thing for my mental health and well being, but I was still being questioned by people who did not necessarily know the whole story, people who thought that I had to forgive him and/or maintain a relationship with him simply because he’s my father.

That is not a valid excuse.

If someone abuses their own family member, the victim is not obligated to forgive them simply because they share DNA.

There have been times where I have feared for my safety and mental well being.  In the past, I have had to delete a social media profile because I was being stalked.  I have had to block his number and email address, yet he would still call me from unfamiliar phone numbers in order to increase the chance that I would answer the phone; now I am wary of every unknown phone number because I do not know who will be on the other end.  I was terrified of running into him in public, and the one time it happened I hid in a book store for half an hour afterwards.  I have moved a few times over the past couple of years and made sure no one told him my address.  Yet, I once spent and entire weekend locked inside, with all the blinds drawn, because I heard he just happened to be in my neighborhood and I was worried he would find me.  I have been brought to tears by gifts and cards sent to me because they were not sent out of love – they are a form of manipulation to try to persuade me into re-establishing contact.

I have felt very alone through most of this as I felt that no one else understood what I was going through.

I was wrong.

Somewhat recently, I have noticed more and more friends posting articles on Facebook addressing the issues surrounding relationships with abusive parents.  Reading these articles, I was relieved to learn that the thoughts I had surrounding my own personal situation were not abnormal – there are other people out there who have been experiencing similar issues.  I have also gotten into conversations with other people about complicated relationships with parents – although the circumstances are all different, I have spoken with people who are either trying to navigate shaky relationships with parents, or who are contemplating cutting contact with a particular family member.  Although I wish no one else has to go through what I went through, it is good for me to know that I am not alone. And most importantly, I am in a relationship where my partner respects and supports my decisions, and I have friends and family members who understand my actions.

And I hope that maybe there’s someone that this information will help.  It is very tough to make the decision to cut ties with a toxic family member, and it is even tougher to go through it.  But it helps to have someone on your side, whether it’s one person you can trust, or a whole group of people who are there for you.  It helps to find a creative outlet to help you sort through your feelings and emotions (like knitting, or writing a blog).  And as long as your actions do not harm others, it helps to put your mental health and well being first.

Thanks for listening.

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