I’m writing this in the hope that someone who needs to read it, one day, will. I’ve come to a realization over the course of my latest trip back to NH: only the best people change, the worst ones won’t.
I grew up in the shadow of a mentally ill mother, and it has taken me a long time to learn how to function in a way I’m proud of as a result.
My mother’s mental illnesses have gone untreated for as long as she had them. I attribute it to being born in the 70’s, and then being raised in an era that didn’t talk about mental health. This doesn’t excuse her behavior, or that she doesn’t recognize the pain she has inflicted. It just helps me to know why she is the way she is.
I am no longer interested in any sort of relationship with her. After twenty two years, I’ve seen enough. I’ve handled, put up with, and gone through enough. She is no longer my responsibility, and I wash my hands of her. This sounds angry, but really, it feels good to know I don’t have to put time and energy into the relationship anymore. I won’t go into the details, but her distance, disdain for me, and inability to accept responsibility for anything have lead me to this place.
To the child of a mentally ill parent or parents, no matter how old you are:
Parents who hurt you, physically or emotionally, are not good parents.
You do not have to forgive them.
You do not have to keep them in your life.
You do not have to be open to reconciliation whenever they come around.
You get to decide who is in your space.
Just because you put up with it before doesn’t mean you’ll put up with it now.
It is okay not to want a parent in your life anymore. No one gets to tell you otherwise.
You’ve got this. You’ve handled worse.
HOTLINES AND RESOURCES
National Child Abuse Hotline:
1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), press 1 to talk
National Sexual Abuse Hotline:
Call 911 if you’re injured, or if you fear you will be harmed