Deep in grief
My name is Sarah and I am the adult daughter of a life-long sexual addict, which I didn't know until 5 years ago, when I was 23. When my mom told the kids about Dad's problem (compulsive pornography use, and various acting out behaviors) and I began to realize the implications of this, my heart and life shattered.
My mother was broken by my dad's years and years of emotional abuse and she was so relieved that her children could now share her burden, that her boundaries completely disappeared. She used me as her best friend and told me horror story after horror story about her marriage. I didn't know I could say "no" to her. What I saw in front of me was someone I loved in tremendous amounts of pain, pain that I could help diffuse. I didn't realize at the time that helping Mom kept me from grieving for all I had lost. I got better at holding my own boundaries over the next year or so and now, five years later, I realize I need to grieve. I have been giving myself time to do that, but it hurts. It hurts so much.
I mourn for the home I thought I had. I grew up in a religious home and it hurt immensely to realize the depth of my father's hypocrisy. So much of what I built the foundation of my identity on turned out to be an illusion. I lost a father I could believe and trust. I lost the perception of my mother as capable, and instead came to see her as a woman who couldn't stand up for herself. I ache for her and am angry at her at the same time. She was in such a terrible and confusing situation, but I feel she should have protected me by keeping to herself some of the things she told me. I know things about my dad that a daughter should never know and I will never be able to forget.
Looking back, I see the signs of dysfunction in my childhood. Dad was always disconnected. Mom was depressed. This made for a burdened childhood, and I grieve for that too. I did more parenting than should have been required of an older child and young teen-ager. I was very responsible and was thus overlooked because my parents saw me as being able to take care of myself. But I desperately needed parents. I needed their love, their support, and their involvement in my life.
From the time I was a small child, I didn't feel there was anyone in my life who would protect me. My parents' actions left me feeling unimportant and as if no one will ever help me... perceptions I still struggle to shake of.
I don't have much of a relationship with my dad. I have told him how his choices have affected me and after that he never made much effort to have a relationship. I sometimes attempt to reach out and he responds well, but he does very little reaching of his own.
Despite repeated conversations with my mother about how much I need her support in my life, she has over and over shown she is incapable of even a once a week phone call. When I realized she simply isn't able to be a parent to me, it was as if something inside me died. I feel like an orphan. I have two living parents and I feel like an orphan.
Sometimes I have hope that things will get better, that I can work through the pain and leave it (or at least most of it) behind. I have seen myself make progress over the last several months, which is encouraging, but I still experience intense waves of hurt and sadness. I struggle to believe that someday I will truly be healed, because the pain has been there for so long. Knowing that others have experienced similar losses and have recovered reminds me of what is possible.
Hope and healing to all of us who suffer.