[ENG] Save Yourself

I don’t live here anymore. But they don’t call me the departed. I took the red pill and it was feathery.


There is a dichotomy about abusive relationships that is not brought up a lot in conversations. Relationships, abusive or not, include family connections – relative, or primary.


We are instructed, rightfully to quit any harmful relationships. But, how to walk away  from a parent and liberate yourself, as so often preached?


Navigating toxic parents, when the proof, the scars, the story and the baggage are invisible, is an excruciating battle even when not currently immersed in a traumatic situation.

We are told to appreciate our parents, to love them, to be grateful, to treat them with respect, to take care of them. And by any means, we should do so.


‘’It’s your mom, you should forgive her”.“You only have one mom”. “You must have done something to upset her”. “You should make up and enjoy the good times”. “You’re her only daughter. “Your mom loves you”. “Put yourself in her shoes”. “You’ll understand when you have children of your own”.


This sort of input point out that you are indeed, as told by a tormentor, inconsiderate and insensitive. They, them and their commenters, are trying to tell you how good I have it. That someone else has a right on your body and your mind. And now, weight has been added for doubting and second-guessing  an experience, memory and the validity of a trauma.


Would you tell that to someone if it was about their partner instead of their parent?


In some situations, they are the victim and you are the perpetrator. Whatever happened, you did it to them and you did it to yourself. The story gets changed, twisted, we hear about things that did not happen and events that did take place were pure invention by your means. It is not a case of tough love or being rough around the edge — everything is always on edge, sharp and you are constantly gaslighted out. For cases developing outside of the spotlight, concealed by a polished, flawless public image lead by a charismatic leader, people tend to take a side that is not yours. And if you are prone to tolerance and damage control, it’s a lonely battle, even in your own circle and among your peers.


As a result, it becomes a course of excusing your own behavior and proving that you are not careless. This is an incredible load of emotional labour to carry. Your shoulders may cave in and your demeanor will suffer.


A blame does not take away from the rest, including for the good. It doesn’t mean a person is not nurturing, that they physically neglected you, that they did not want the best for you and that you did not inherit amazing things from them, drawing inspiration from their history, or that their opinion does not count.


Let’s face this as ratio. It comes down to grabbing and holding on tightly to the bits, to the days of sun. Looking for something that is extremely rare in supply, not to say impossible to find. IRL, it’s called being delusional and never giving up on the possibility that things may change, that things will come to an end and it will be a happy one. This mending and healing has been forever delayed. Everything got so much worse through time, although you, by yourself, started to do better. You can tell everyone that it is hard to get better when an unbearable weight is dragging you down.


You are caged in the idea of a happy childhood. The concept never left you, and you are still chasing it, trying to make sense of the course of the events. Genetics in cause, you look like your antagonist, you carry physical traits and a personality, you unconsciously reproduce behaviors for having been exposed and having these reiterated as performed by the main human, woman, adult figure you had in your life. The fear of repeating mistakes is plaguing and extremely worrisome. What if you couldn’t escape it?


Attempts of installing new communication and new foundations fail miserably, on countless accounts. And it was held against you. Everything is held against you. Everything will always be held against you. You have the right to remain silent. Abuse is not always something of the past. Not all overcome or survive. It is ongoing and you are never allowed freedom. You did not inspire the concerned parties with the positive you made room for in your life. With your success and happiness outside of the tragedies. Instead, for choosing another path and blooming, you alienated yourself from these people, which on their point of view, is absolutely not good news. And honestly, chances are that they are never going to get it. It appears to some that you are not closing the door. You are just letting it fall behind you, after years of trying by any means to keep it open, arms and legs stretched until they ache, fingers forevermore crushed from a faulty move, still trying to get every tip about getting more strength in my limbs, in despair even using your head and heart in order to keep it open.The door still works. The doorwoman retired and her leave is not covered. I’m always a step away – a phone call away from falling back into a spiral.

Sadly, love does not save and conquer all at all. It’s not true, it never was, it never did. All one can say is admit the facts: failure.  You can tell anytime the reasons that cost you your relationship with your parents (mental illness, toxicity, psychological violence, etc). You are always a phone call away from spiraling back into old, well-known dynamics. That’s why it is hard to leave, even when it is necessary. It can take several, painful attempts to quiet, not talking about agony of the rest.


Truth is that often, there is no retaliation.Life, simply, goes on. You find comfort and love elsewhere. For free. Everyone has priorities. Mine, at least are turned towards my amazing life.


Still, you are left with a hatred of who you are, for you could never please that person. It goes back to saying that you suck at life, for you did not succeed at making them happy.


If you feel better when they are not around, that speaks volumes. It’s not about holding grudges — they are probably forgiven, after all. It’s about hoping to find healing and new ways to go through life that are healthy. We are better in truth, even if it hurts.


If you’re reading this, hi, I love you, we can go for ice cream if you want.


- Christelle Saint-Julien


Illustration: Eve Gaboury

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