I am ready to discuss your lengthy comment of 15 September.
This blog is not static; it represents my thoughts at a given point in time; I fully understand that healing is not a linear process. In keeping with my personally held belief that everyone is entitled to a second chance, I heard what Ed had to say, and I gave him almost a year to take responsibility for what he did. That was the right thing to do, for me. Forgiveness, in the true sense of the word, was impossible from the start; child abuse is unforgivable, and I never sought peace through a relationship with Ed – I sought answers. Answers I found.
I did not further vilify Pat through correspondence with Ed; I learned to separate MyAbusiveParents into Pat and Ed, my abusive parents. I didn’t know, for example, that Ed was unaware of Pat’s penchant for abandoning her children, so I held him collectively accountable along with her; he may not have played the abandonment card himself, but for decades I believed he supported and condoned this action – therefore, to my mind, he was complicit in her actions.
Pat is someone I know very well, and have for the whole of my life. For everything I share on Silence Shattered, there is much more I don’t share – or at least haven’t shared yet; Pat vilifies herself, as does Ed.
The decision to distance myself from Ed now is based in the anxiety I feel when I am with him. This anxiety is palpable, and it makes my wife and children extremely uncomfortable. The bottom line: Ed has not changed, he has merely grown older and better at manipulation. I don’t want to be alone with him, and I certainly would never leave him alone with a child.
When I was first diagnosed, my psychiatrist was insistent that I revisit the past; feel everything I had never allowed myself to feel before – this in order to gain understanding and acceptance of my own thoughts and feelings, thoughts and feelings that had never mattered a damn to Pat and Ed; it was hell, but I did it. This therapy, though highly beneficial, was incomplete; it had been more than thirty years since I had seen my parents, and I had never confronted them in a constructive way – never had a chance to find all of my answers; what I have done with Ed this past year allowed for Post-Traumatic Growth, and for me it was necessary.
Although I did give Ed an opportunity he did not deserve, I never felt an emotional connection to him, or pull to find one; he is and ever will be the father who beat and neglected me. He is the man – no, the monster, who sexually molested my sister’s friend – and if my sister is to be believed, the repugnant, depraved father who molested her.
But I was at a place where I had to know … and now I do. The abuse in my family, at least on Ed’s side, is multi-generational; it is part and parcel of being Shockley. It is insidious and pervasive – and worst of all, it is simply accepted. No one talks about it, no one seeks to examine or change anything; no one breaks the cycle. The damage is so deep, and so much a part of their genetic legacy, they are, in many ways, inhuman; incapable of empathy, understanding or insight – Ed lacks the ability to simply feel.
I found my peace many years ago; first when I married my wife and became part of a functional, loving family, and later when I became a father and discovered a complete love I never knew was possible. In breaking the cycle, I became whole. Healing and consistent recovery in dealing with Bipolar Disorder required that I evaluate my childhood — peace will never be found, for anyone, in a world in which Pat and Ed are a part; I knew this when I decided to give Ed a chance, and I knew it when I realized that with Pat I could never even go that far.
I’m sorry you know firsthand the necessity of estrangement from your parents, but trust this means you have some idea of the complexities that lead to its inception, and the need for it to continue. There are layers and layers of thoughts, feelings and emotions at the core of this issue – none of it is easy to sift through and make sense of; hence this blog represents my thoughts and feelings at a given point in time; it is abstract because abuse and its aftermath creates an abstract world for survivors. Conclusions are reached – but they aren’t what we are conditioned to believe they should be; a child is not supposed to be better off without his parents in his life … and hurting their child should be inconceivable for any parent; sadly, societal truths are not my truth, nor are they truth for any survivor.
It is what it is, and survivors deal with the aftermath in unique and individual ways. For most thinking, feeling human beings, it is difficult to see our parents, or anyone, as inhuman; incapable of emotional connection, love or empathy. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t shake their head in dismay when they learn that I haven’t seen my parents in decades … we are conditioned to expect the best in people, sometimes even though we know better. For what its worth, I have never been surprised that my parents didn’t reach out – they were happy to be rid of their children; we weren’t wanted to begin with, and we were a link to a past they wanted no one to know of. I make a liar of Pat and Ed in the eyes of everyone who knows them … Did I expect that Ed had changed? No. Ed was put into the position of having to reach out, this blog did that. He has a life he wants to protect. There was no sincerity in his actions, and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.
I am not jaded or cynical; I am a realist; pragmatic and resolute. My parents taught me very well who and what they were, and always will be.
I wish you a happy and fulfilling outcome, whatever that may be for you.