Author | Photo Caroline Hernandez

After years of misery, I chose to disconnect from my parents

When I was a child I didn’t have the power to control anything. I grew up feeling scared, neglected, abused, and miserable. I wasn’t blessed with parents who knew how to parent or take care of themselves. I wasn’t given the love that every child is meant to receive from their parents. I grew up feeling powerless, like I was forever going to be a victim of my parents’ trauma. From as early as I can remember, I felt doomed. It took me almost thirty years to learn how to start saving myself. Choosing to be parentless wasn’t a decision that came easily or without consequence. I lost out on my childhood but being an adult means I can now choose to give myself a good life.

Hurt people will hurt people, unless they are willing to change. Unfortunately my parents weren’t able to. Although some might view my intentional distance from my family as a punishment, it isn’t. It is an act of love towards myself. I don’t wish harm on them; I’m sad that they couldn’t change. I spent years trying to make something with my parents work. I agonized over whether or not I could survive without the facade of a family. I went to all kinds of therapy. I made lists, I wrote essays. I cried. I pretended I didn’t care, I hurt people, I indulged my addictions. I had horrible fights with my mother. Eventually, I was done. I couldn’t tell you what changed in me, but something did. I couldn’t do it anymore. Being alive and carrying that much misery stopped being an option for me.

We all carry both an adult and child version of ourselves through life. I’ve come to understand that the pain I carry through life is something that belongs to the child inside of me. My outer-self, or the adult that is me, is perfectly capable, strong, and brave. I’ve built myself that way over time and with lots of work. When the child in me feels scared and aggressive, the adult in me can take control and act effectively. Ideally, it’s the adult part of us who calls the shots and makes decisions.

There is a little child inside of all of us who remembers it all. As adults we will try to forget them. We push them away because it’s painful. We convince ourselves that the little voice inside of us, the younger version of ourselves that we carry through life, is something to be silenced. But it isn’t, you were there. You saw how it all happened. You hold so many memories that have changed your genetic material. A whole world of just feelings, no logic. I can’t live there full time though; it’s a place where my mind and body are in a constant state of panic. I’ve had to find a way to remember all of my pain but not let it control me. To let it influence my decisions but not rule my outcomes. Coming into my adult power has meant being my own parent. Every day I get to choose how my adult self is going to do better for the child in me.

For so long I believed that there was something inherently wrong with me. I thought I had done something to deserve the absence of unconditional love. The truth is, my parents were unwell people who were trying their best. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. I deserved more.

Today I am an adult and I have the power to give myself more. I get to know better. Every day I choose to give myself the space and freedom from my family to heal and grow. I don’t have to be the person I was, or the people who raised me. I am allowed to break the patterns that hurt me. I am allowed to choose me.

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