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Imagine this. Your significant other starts manipulating you early in your relationship. You don’t recognize it right away because you trust this person. They haven’t done anything to you that you recognize as harmful. You just notice that once in a while, they make you feel guilty for hanging out with your friends instead of them. Then, things get more intense. They start lying to you, and when you finally get the courage to confront them, they turn it around on you, making you question yourself. Making you not trust your own instincts. They start calling you all the time and getting upset when you can’t answer right away no matter if you’re working, if your phone is dead, or if you’re doing something important for yourself. Your feelings don’t matter. You don’t matter. You’re there as a tool for your significant other to use to help feed their own ego.
Now imagine what’s been described above isn’t your significant other. The actions described are your parent.
Society has brought us up to believe that our family is the only constant in our lives and we should consider ourselves lucky to have them. We should put up with all sorts of behaviors we normally wouldn’t allow because they are our family. “Blood is thicker than water” has become code for “I’m your family and even though I’ve disrespected you way past your boundaries, you should brush it under the rug and move forward.”
My experience with this comes from my dad. Ever since I was young, he had been manipulating and controlling me. Starting with small decisions and leading all the way up to the degree I would eventually earn. He tried to make me believe behaviors such as calling me 20 times in a row if I didn’t answer was acceptable. He tried to get between my husband and I, trying to get into my head and constantly reminding me that he was the first man in my life. He would get offended if we didn’t invite him on trips such as our first year anniversary trip and punish me by giving me the silent treatment. I could go on and on with the bizarre behaviors.
Eventually I had enough. I cut ties with him and it was a struggle. Every day I wondered if I was making the right decision. Feelings of guilt for doing what was best for me had been engrained in my brain since day one.
But one day, things changed. I stopped constantly thinking of him. I stopped constantly regretting my decision. I started feeling like myself. My anxiety, although not gone, has decreased significantly. I’m learning to stand up for myself, and the happiness I have in my head and heart is nothing I can compare to from previous years when I allowed my dad to be in my life.
Parents are supposed to take care of you. They are supposed to support you and then when you’re an adult, they are supposed to guide you but also respect your boundaries. No matter your boundaries, they are yours. They should be respected.
Just remember that you know yourself. Remember your worth and don’t let anyone, no matter what role they play in your life, question that.