Honour thy Father & Mother

ImageHonour thy Father and Mother” is something we seem to have programmed into our early core beliefs.  Anything outside that box can feel completely alien.

Anyone who is at odds with this belief can hold considerable amounts of self-blame.  If our relationship with our parents was abusive, it can lead some of us to believe that we are the bad ones and even deserving of the abuse.

Often, we will make excuses for their behaviour and find ourselves secretly wondering, “was it all that bad?” or “maybe my behaviour deserved it – perhaps I instigated the anger and violence”.

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Other people can assure us, “we are not to blame” as often as they like, but somehow it makes little difference.  We need to arrive at that conclusion through a long process of self-searching and psychotherapy.  I am still striving for that peace.

ImageEven after my sister and I left home, Mum would always interfere.  If we stood our ground – now fearless of violence – she adopted a new tactic, passive aggressiveness.  We were always to blame for her unhappiness.  Little did she realise, but her new tactic would come back and bite her right on the arse!

When I moved 500 miles, I began to see the situation for what it really was.  The extraordinary painful memories of an abusive upbringing came flooding back.  Rather than “absence make the heart grow fonder”, the distance created tremendous anger and resentments.

Before long, the decision finally came to lose contact with them altogether.  This was remarkably easy to do.  Our parents believe that it is our responsibility to make contact and visit them.  When Mum didn’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, she enters another passive aggressive mode.  This is when it bites her ass…

I welcomed Mum’s passive aggressiveness for the next 10 long years!  She had also heard my mental health was at an all time low.  If it wasn’t about her, she normally didn’t want to know.  The great divide startedImage

When you go against the grain of “Honouring thy Father and Mother”, most people frown.  Immediately they assumed it must be something wrong with me.  Not only did I sacrifice a relationship with my parents, but that decision also affected relations with my aunt and sister.

I did feel incredibly guilty, but stood my ground.  I needed time to claim my own life.  It was a time of self-acceptance, of acknowledging that the abuse really did happen.  Finally, I could see that my parents were responsible for what they created.

About two years ago, my sister started making contact.  We were always close as children and while she does hold the same beliefs as I do, she would never dare challenge our parent’s behaviour.

This is where the current inner conflict originates.  Yes, I am glad we are in touch again.  ImageThere are healthy boundaries.  Our contact is occasional and always via text.  The incredible guilt I carried no longer exists.  I will always keep them at arm’s length.  It might not be what some would recommend, but it is me who needs to live with it.  I do not want to be bitter and abusive as they were to me.  Limited/distance contact keeps me in the right.  Underneath that anger I have for them, there is a peace of mind that I’m doing the right thing.

I have not seen or talked to my Dad for over 13 years.  The strangest part is that my family do not think this is unusual.  To be truthful, I don’t even consider it strange.  This is just Dad.  He is a man of few words and no emotions.  I do not know anything about him or his family.  That is just the way it is. Very odd!

After all these years, it still feels blasphemous to admit, I do not like my parents.  They are extremely judgemental people who truly believe that they are better than everyone else is.  “Fur coat, no knickers” comes to mind.

ImageOver the years, they seem to have developed a belief that they were model parents, “we came from a good loving home”.  I felt like punching them the day I heard this. They are upstanding members of the community, with big responsibilities within their Christian church.

I cannot see what other people see.  I am furious at their delusional parental beliefs.  Their company is repressive and extremely boring.  Time spent with them always results in deep depression.  They are almost 80 years old.  Talking to them about any of this is out of the question.  Apart from their age, it would not achieve anything.  That is not where I will find inner peace.

This is the longest post I have written.  It is one of those that doesn’t feel quite right; maybe one that should not be published.  It is full of repressed rage.  A resignation of the intense hurt and anger that I need to work through when therapy begins in the autumn.

Honouring thy Father and Mother can be a heavy cross to bear.Image

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36 thoughts on “Honour thy Father & Mother

  1. brokenbutbeingrepaired

    Am pleased you did click on the ‘publish’ button, Cat.
    What you’ve written is clearly from the heart and is full of insight.

    I’m pleased you made that move, for your sake. Like any other abusive relationship, cutting those ties is so important for survival….whether that be a violent partner, parents, siblings, whatever. It was your survival instinct in action.
    Am more pleased that your relationship with your sister while fragile is strengthening.

    Hope I’ve made sense, Cat and sorry if not.

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  2. Cerridwynn

    I struggle with the whole concept that parents naturally protect and care for and want the best for their children. Not all of them do. My adoptive mom told me that having children is one of our most selfish acts. I was apalled at first, but really if you think about it, the choice to have children really is all about what we want, and how we imagine it will make us feel, until the kids are there and suddenly you’re suposed to become utterly selfless. Some people take on the role of caretaker and nurturer as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Some of us have high aspirations, but at the end of the day are just glad we could keep the kids clean, healthy, and alive. Other parents remain self absorbed. Neither of my biological parent are ever welcome in my life or my children’s lives. They are toxic people. I don’t think they even care anymore that I want nothing to do with them.

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  3. Charity

    Hey Cat,

    As you know, I’m right there with you on this. I think we often excuse someone’s behavior because they’re blood or mom and dad. However, shouldn’t that person that hurts us be accountable for his or her actions more so than anyone else because he or she is our parent or close relative?.

    As you also know, I’ve decided that after forty years of abuse, manipulation and control, I will no longer tolerate this because of my children’s safety. They don’t need any more exposure to such oblivious and neglectful people simply because they’re my kids’ grandparents. Nor do I want my children think that it’s healthy and normal for their mother to subject herself to such abuse, because it’s not. More is caught than taught. Children learn more by what they see mom and dad do then what they hear when we speak.

    I wish you all the best. Here’s to good health, clarity and peace.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, Charity, thanks, I do know you are right with me. I think you are at the stage I was at 10 + years ago. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves in order that we may grow as individual people.
      Blessings!

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  4. RisingSong

    Cat, I am so glad that you were able to lay these words down! I know that you, like I, were struggling with this. Admitting and acknowledging our true feelings regardless of what society deems appropriate is so conducive to healing. This post is so full of raw honesty; I hope it did you well to write it.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi RS… I wish I could say writing that post did help. For some reason, to me, it is the worst post I have ever written.

      Many thanks for commenting

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  5. A Gay Mentalist

    Hi there, by the sounds of one or 2 things you’ve written there, you have made some good progress, for eg. that incredible guilt you mentioned is no longer there. Sometimes a post filled with repressed rage is good, did you feel any better after typing that? Best wishes

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hey GM… I usually feel better for writing about whatever is troubling, but this didn’t help quash the anger and resentments. I suppose it is another step closer to the ultimate healing-goal and I should be grateful.

      Thank you for reading & commenting

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  6. Susan Irene Fox

    Cat, I heard it once said that holding on to unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. As others said on your post on forgiveness, and as you have intimated here, forgiveness isn’t about the perpetrator; it’s about you letting go of the past so that you can move forward (sometimes only possible with the grace of God). Hold onto your strength and dignity, which is so evident in your writing, and don’t allow that ugliness to hang onto the hem of your shirt any longer. The forgiveness in your heart – because your parents so shamefully, ignorantly, hatefully, hurt a beautiful creation of God – elevates you to a level of humanity that will help others do the same.
    Bless you, Cat. You are lovely in your struggle.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Susan, those are lovely words of wisdom and encouragement. Today, the have come at a perfect time. I’m struggling a little with depression. It’s probably a direct result of processing all this muck. To have the words “strength” and “dignity” applied to me is encouraging, thanks.

      It’s nice to know you have taken the time to read some of my blog and add your thoughts… appreciated!

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  7. Cate Reddell

    Honouring my parents is something I struggle with too. I can honour one but not the other. And my upbringing was such that I should be sot for such thinking. A 10 Commandment after all. But someone said to me (I think as a comment on one of my posts) that parents have to be honourable to deserve to be honoured. That might not be quite the exact words but the thinking was that parents need to deserve to be honoured. It’s not just an automatic right. I can live with that. That said I’m finding as I get older and my parents age too, that it becomes an almost bigger issue because there is this societal expectation that we will support out elderly parents. That’s really hard to do after a lifetime with them. Oh, and one final thought. Your father sounds like my mother. :\

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    1. Cat Post author

      Cate, you say exactly what I am struggling with. The trouble is, yes, I do recognise my parents have changed. At one point many years ago, there were some apologies made, albeit with some – what they see –“justifications”. There were even comments like, “I wish I had done some things differently”. While some might take comfort from this, it only fuels my anger and frustrations because, quite honestly, apologies are not what will bring about my healing.

      I do have concerns about my parents ageing. If I left them to “rot”, I would be every bit as abusive as they were. At the end of the day, I will need to live with that on my conscience long after they are gone. It’s important for me to do what I FEEL in my heart is the right thing to do.

      Recently, I’ve been battling with recurrent depression. I know it is probably a result of remembering all this, but it is an important journey. I appreciate people taking the time to read and offer their thoughts, thank you.

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    2. lynettedavis

      Cate, I think this is very significant. The problem is that most people assume that all mothers have been honorable and are deserving of honor which is not the case more often than we would like to realize. Thank you for this reminder.

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. K. Aldaya

    This was hard for me for a long time because I was raised Christian and the abuse was perpetuated under the guise of religious belief. My father believed that “Fear is respect”; just as people must fear God. Another few that I loathe are “Spare the rod, spoil the child”, and “Children should be seen and not heard”. In my opinion these sayings are archaic and vulgar and perpetuate child abuse and victim blaming.

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  9. Gel

    From my perspective this post is amazing and very helpful to me. I’m so glad you wrote it and shared it here. Perhaps you wrote what I feel like saying but haven’t yet at least in part.
    I could probably contemplate each paragraph you wrote and derive depthful meaning. This one: “Other people can assure us, “we are not to blame” as often as they like, but somehow it makes little difference. We need to arrive at that conclusion through a long process of self-searching and psychotherapy.”…..After initially hearing and getting it that we are not to blame” for the abuse they did to us…..it’s not really helpful to be told that over and over. Because the undoing of the damage still has to be done and it’s not like you can just push a button and you drop all the pain and shame.
    Thanks for writing this. I’ll be mulling it over for a while.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Gel. For some odd reason I have been regretting posting that. I’m guessing it all just makes me feel uneasy (to say the least). It is difficult to revisit some of these childhood memories, but the journey is important to me. Maybe I’m looking to exorcize those demons. It means a lot that you take the time to read and comment, thanks

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      1. Gel

        Could the regret be partly because you are in the middle of the process….some layers are coming off, raw feelings are coming to the surface, but not fully discharged yet…something like that? Maybe there is more to come and it’s not clear what will come….
        what ever it is I appreciate how you write.

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    2. lynettedavis

      “It’s not really helpful to be told that over and over.” I think because hearing the words are like seeds, but it takes time for the seeds to germinate and then grow strong and sturdy.

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  10. athenabrady.co.uk

    Hi Cat, a good post that explains succently how complicated relationships are with abusers. It particularly interesting how you talk your anger. People who are abused, often deny themselves the right to feel angry. Feeling as you say it was their fault, that they somehow brought it upon themselves. This is never true, the abused should not take reponsiblity for what an abuser has done. Try writing a letter to your parents, not one to send but one that will let you express your anger in a safe way. At first it will no doubt upset you but later you will feel unburden as you let that anger out in a safe way. Just a thought, you know where I am if you need me.

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    1. lynettedavis

      We also weren’t allowed to feel or express anger because it was considered being ‘disrespectful’ to our parents, which then brought on being “ungrateful,” and other unpleasant labels.

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      1. Cat Post author

        Yes, usually ending in violence or some other punishment like grounding. That was the worst for me, being made to stay at home with them for a night, although I NEVER once sat in the same room

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  11. Hawkruh

    You are moving forward and taking care of yourself. It’s always sad to see family relationships that are hurtful. For myself, my father struggled with depression – but never sought treatment or acknowledged it. I know I inherited a predisposition from him. I realize that my parents did the best they could with what they had. I know they love me deeply, and my mom feels guilty and that she wasn’t a good mother. It is what it is. I think the hereditary component was the strongest aspect of my mental illness, circumstances just enhanced it. My biggest fear is that I passed it on to my son, though it doesn’t appear to be so, so far. I can only hope!

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    1. Cat Post author

      It does tend to run in families. My mum still suffers, as does my sister.

      Many thanks for taking the time to read through my blog. It really means a lot to know people are sharing in my journey.

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  12. lynettedavis

    Yes, for some of us, “honouring thy Father and Mother can be a heavy cross to bear.” I’m so glad you posted this despite your reluctance and the “blasphemous” feel to it. This, I suspect, is why so many of us suffer from depression–we have no outlet… Thank you.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Wow Lynette, you have certainly taken me back in time with this one, Sept 2013, which was long before I knew anything about narcissism and was maybe still struggling with the acceptance of the abuse, or speaking the truth. I hope I have come a long way since then and I must admit, the writing did make me cringe… I hope that has improved too! Many thanks for your support today.

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      1. lynettedavis

        Cat, I could really relate to your posts. Thank you for having the courage to write your feelings and sharing them. Reading your posts is so validating–much needed in my healing process.

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