A Letter to My Parents – Why I’m the Way I Am

Warning: this is a long, extremely personal letter, so get a drink and get comfortable. Also, the next post will give background on why I sent this letter to my parents now.

 

Mom and Papa,                                                                                          7-15-2016

I’m writing you so that there will be less chance of miscommunication between us.  And, let’s face it, if, or when, we meet in person there is the possibility of emotions getting in the way of actual talking.

You are saying that I’ve been unwilling to come and talk with you. It is true that over the past several years I have had no desire to talk about anything with you. Your standard reply, from about the time I was 11 or so, has been that you don’t know what I’m talking about, I have caused the trouble since I didn’t come to you first (even if you were the cause), I should “check my heart for sin”, and/or I’m confused, wrong, a liar. This is confusing behavior, since you taught me that when someone “has anything against you”, you must listen to them, sincerely apologize, think through what they said and make a change in behavior according to what was done wrongly. I have never observed this happen between us from either of you to me. I distinctly recall me apologizing repeatedly to you both after I brought my grievances to you, which isn’t right, since one doesn’t apologize for what others do or say to one. 

However, neither have either of you asked for any type of meeting, collective or otherwise, ever, that Chris or I can remember, until three weeks ago. Over the years you have sprung questions on me/us when they are least expected, in an attempt to catch me/us off guard, either by phone or in person when we’re alone. In any time that we’ve all been together and you wanted to bring something up, neither of you ever just came right out and said it, but beat around the bush using Bible verses and “lessons” to teach how we were wrong and what should be done to make things right, or just treated us with anger. At no time have either of you genuinely and clearly asked for a time to get together to discuss why I have said and done the things that I have.

I am not interested in tit for tat, so I will not list every single time that I have brought up a grievance – there are too many to remember, particularly when I was a child and living at home – or all the times when either of you acted like you were angry with us or seemed about to confront us on something (but never did). However, I will give highlights, starting with the most recent.

In February of 2011, after Daniel and Alaina announced their elopement, Mom called me and proceeded to rant and rave, shredding Daniel and Alaina’s character. She was understandably upset, but it is unacceptable to denigrate and tear down a person’s character, especially behind their back. I gently asked her, “don’t you remember what it was like to be young, impetuous, and in love, and make unwise decisions?” Her reply was that there was no comparison between the choice of Daniel and Alaina, and hers and yours. We were speaking of the time when you were both fresh out of high school, decided to have pre-marital sex and conceived me before getting married. I gently said there was definitely a similarity. Three days later she calls me back and demands to know what I meant by my statement. I answered that I meant what I said, just like you made unwise choices, so did Daniel and Alaina. However, we should show mercy, grace and love to people when they make choices we don’t agree with, especially since we all don’t have any stones to throw. Mom got mad at me, saying that I had no basis for accusing you two of what Alaina and Daniel did, and went on to bring up my childhood. She accused me of telling lies about my childhood to my siblings, to which I said I’d only told Alaina a little about my childhood and mostly about my courtship/engagement time. At no time did I lie about what took place when I was younger, no matter to whom I spoke. She also said I made Daniel and Alaina elope. How? I had nothing to do with it!

She then asked me to tell her the times when Papa had been inappropriate with me. So I cited all the times he would tickle me on my knees and thighs even when I asked him to stop, constantly wanting me to hug him front to front (making me hug him no matter what), whistling at me, having deep, intimate conversations with me after Mom went to bed, sometimes pulling me onto his lap and not letting me up; when I was 10 he made me drop my drawers, told me to bend over and spanked me bare bottomed (Mom, you were at work); he would humiliate me by talking about my personal hygiene habits or private confidences to the boys in the youth group (or anyone who was around), make fun of my choice of music (even though I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything else); day in and day out he would pry into my personal thoughts, dreams and ideas; required subservience, total and utter obedience – no questions asked; he treated me like a girlfriend – in fact he called me that once!; before I married he got me by myself and proceeded to tell me in explicit detail what to expect on my wedding night and what I could do for my husband (NOT your place!); after I married he called me and asked how my sex life was going. What I’m describing is Papa sexualizing our relationship, and from other women who’ve come and talked with me he made them feel the same way. He still does.

I reminded you, Mom, of all the times I came to you from about the age of 11 or so, to ask you to make Papa leave me alone, quit tickling me, asking me prying, probing questions and give me some personal space. You always said you would talk with him, but Papa never stopped. Did you ever talk with him? Papa, did you just ignore my pleas?

I asked these things at a time when children need their physical space because they’re going through puberty – I was not being rebellious, troubled or difficult, but going through a normal developmental stage. You treated me as though I was deliberately being this way. I asked for space, respect and acceptance, but I was treated to room raids and given no privacy in mind and personal boundaries.

Mom, you immediately said Papa “didn’t do those things, I wasn’t there, he didn’t do that! You’re making it up!” But he did, and just because there wasn’t anyone around doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

He made me feel so unsafe that I was afraid he was going to rape me. When I was 14, we were in that house that only had one shower in the master bathroom. It was around 3pm when I got in your shower. Mom and I were the only ones home. I was in the middle of my shower when this thought hit me like a ton of bricks, “What if papa comes home and I’m still in his shower?! He’s going to rape me!” I suddenly heard him in the house and I was so scared that I immediately cut off the water, wrapped up in a towel and ran to my room.

In a family with healthy relationships, these thoughts and feelings do not occur. I did not share this at the time of this phone call, because I thought it was too much to tell you then, Mom.

I went on to describe how I was mentally and emotionally oppressed, hounded to think, believe, talk and behave as you two wanted, with no consideration of me as an individual. The Bible/religion was used like a mental club, to beat me into submission.I was told I was rebellious when I expressed different ideas and opinions than you, and being disloyal when I talked to people outside of you when I had troubles. Your doctrine taught me that I would never be right, or measure up, with either you or God. Through controlling where I went, who I could be around, my schooling (or lack of), my beliefs, actions, and thoughts (to a certain extent) you made it clear that you expected me to parrot you, be your sharpened arrow that you would shoot out and pull back, to be resharpened for the next attack on all those misguided, non-believing sinners out there in the wide world. You weren’t a parental guide (which you made clear you thought was foolish), but parental dictators, police, who wanted only to control me. You told me who to be instead of allowing me to be who God made me to be.

Mom, you demanded to know if I was accusing you two of abusing me, and I said, yes, of mental and emotional abuse. You sneered at me that it was surprising I could visit with you, eat with you, or stand to look at you. I responded that I could, only because I forgave you both and loved you. You hung up on me.

Whatever you said to Papa, he acted differently but never approached me about anything – again. Your very silence was telling.

Please note that I was not asked ahead of time for a meeting to discuss anything, and the call was done when I would be alone. You asked questions and I answered.

A few months after Sterling was born in 1999, Mom and I met at Newburn, NC for a weekend together. While there she suddenly asked me to explain to her what caused me to accuse you, Papa, of molesting me, back when I was 13. I could tell that you genuinely wanted to know why, Mom, so I told you pretty much the same as I said above; the tickling, hugging, verbal hounding to know my every thought, desire and dreams, private conversations, sitting on lap; that I had needed space, both mental and physical as well as respect, and he didn’t give it to me. No, he never touched me in private parts, but he made me feel uncomfortable, and sometimes I wondered, if I had been more pliable would he have done something more? You responded that you were worried about Papa, and wanted me to pray for you to know what to do.

What was happening at that time? What did you need help with? Was history repeating itself? You didn’t expound, and I was so shocked that you were actually asking me about things that you had previously shouted at me about, that I didn’t ask you to elaborate.

Again, please note that you did not ask me ahead of time to meet with you to discuss the past or anything particular. But you asked questions of me, and I answered.

When Elizabeth was born, I dropped everything to come be with you all. The day after I got there, Papa asked me to go to the grocery store with him. If you remember, the store was at the end of the street. In the short four minute drive there, Papa shredded Chris’ character, calling him a bad leader, saying he wasn’t a Christian, that we were in sin for not having children right away, that we wouldn’t be blessed in marriage, that it would surely fall apart. He said all these curses under the guise of being “concerned” for me. By the time we arrived I was so hurt, confused and angry that I just got out of the car and walked home without saying a word. I knew this attack on Chris was premeditated, so that I wouldn’t have the protection of my husband and he wouldn’t be able to defend himself. It was hammered into me that I was to respect my elders no matter what, listen to and obey them, that being under “authority” was my only protection from attacks by satan, sinning, or temptation. I was married now, so my “authority” would be my husband, not my father. But here was my previous “authority”, my elder, tearing down my love. I foolishly thought my father would preserve the sanctity of marriage. I didn’t say anything, because 1)you, Mom, needed me, 2)I had already learned that confronting either of you didn’t work (everything was my fault), 3)I knew it wouldn’t make a difference, and 4)I didn’t have my support, Chris, with me.

So, again, you pounced on me when I was alone, didn’t give me prior notice that you wanted to discuss anything, however, I was young and hadn’t learned how to deal with you as an adult yet, so I didn’t confront you back. Shortly after this trip I started counseling sessions to work out the manipulative head games you had been playing and continued to play with me every time I was around you. I found out that I was experiencing panic attacks (which had plagued me since I was 9), that I was borderline schizophrenic (which also plagued me from around age 9), and that I had been battling depression since around the age of 13.

In my thirteenth year, suicide was never far from my thoughts, and several times I got out the implements and almost used them, once going so far as to get in the tub with a knife, laying it on my wrist and wondering how deep I needed to cut to make it work. However, I was repeatedly swept under the rug, told it was my fault, that I must have sin in my life, I let satan in since I was out from under my father’s authority and his “umbrella of protection”, as well as other cult teachings by the abuser, Bill Gothard, that you put us under. In fact, in one of those private one on one talks of Papa with me,(with the lights turned down and you repeatedly asking me to tell you what was wrong, me saying I just wanted to be left alone, you: why do you want to be left alone?, I just need privacy, you: why do you need privacy?, will you please leave me alone?, and on and on, until I was so exasperated) when I grudgingly spilled that I had almost committed suicide that past year, your response, Papa, let me know that you didn’t really care what I thought or felt, only about yourself. You said, “Oh, me too.” You went on to tell me why you had thought of suicide, which included how difficult I was being. Again, you were putting an adult’s responsibility on a child’s shoulders and telling me that I was responsible for how you felt and acted. Shame on you!

I eventually took medicine for depression and the panic attacks, in addition to years of counseling.  And, yes, in case you’re wondering, the voices quit yelling at me around the age of 25.

One time you confronted Chris with false accusations and slander. This was a day or so before we moved to Oakbrook, IL, Gothard’s headquarters. That evening you made me give a talk to the youth group about courtship being the right way versus dating. Another embarrassing event. On our way down Frank and Gloria’s steps, you stopped Chris and told him how he was usurping you to counsel me outside of your authority, talk with me secretly, that Chris had no authority over me, and you basically told him he was a man of bad character. Chris’ response was a quick, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” before you ran off to leave, never giving him a chance to defend himself. He had never counseled me, talked or been alone with me, and Chris was, and is, a man of honor and Godly character. Evidently you didn’t stop there, but also told these tales to other families in that church. You decided what was what without ever getting to know him or validating your information.

Later that year, Chris tracked you down to confront you about all you said, Papa. He told you none of it was true and wanted to know why you said those things. There was some resolution and Chris wanted to know what all that courtship stuff was.

Another time when I didn’t confront you, but you accused me of things and told people outside of the family, was after I told you God told me I was going to marry Chris. Once again I foolishly thought I was being a good, trusting daughter by sharing my heart with you. What you did next, Papa, broke my heart and any trust that I had left for you.

You took us all the way up to Gothard’s headquarters to supposedly have a job interview. On our last day there, just before leaving, Gothard called me into his office, where you all had been meeting. Apparently you had been busy telling him how disobedient, rebellious and disrespectful your daughter was, and lying about Chris and me. You told him Chris had been meeting me secretly and helped me sneak out of the house, that Chris was an unGodly young man who wanted to lead me astray, that I was disobeying you, Papa, by even speaking to him. How do I know these things were said? Gothard repeated them to me and you didn’t correct him, so I assume they were your words. So you watched and condoned as Gothard made me kneel at his couch (where he sexually harassed and molested countless young ladies, myself included just the fall before this meeting), told me to “confess and repent of my rebelliousness and disobedience, ask forgiveness of God and recommit myself to being under my father’s authority and to courtship.”

This was none of Gothard’s business and I had done nothing wrong, except tell you what was in my heart, which God put there. You accused Chris and me of false things and made me ask forgiveness for them, firmly trying to put me back in my place. I felt betrayed and realized that I could never tell you anything ever again, that you weren’t to be trusted. I did and said what I had to in order for life to be bearable, but unfortunately for you both, you never took the time to get to know me, to approve of me, to love me unconditionally or even just a simple liking. If you did, then it was not apparent to me.

 

Before this, in August of 1991, Gothard called and wanted me to come work as his personal secretary. I was age 16. That alone should have set off alarm bells. The next alarm bells should have come when I begged not to go, that I didn’t like him, something was wrong with him. But off I went, Gothard paying the bills, to stay in a house of girls, work closely with Gothard, be sexually harassed by him and submitted to his prying, inappropriate questions. He made it clear that I was no longer under my parents’ authority, that I was to tell him everything and answer all his questions, that he was my counselor. He especially honed in on how my relationship was with you, Papa, and if I’d had any boyfriends and what I did with them sexually. He went on, over the two months that I was there, to manipulate and pry into my private thoughts. He told me it was best if my parents didn’t know of everything we talked about, so you wouldn’t be worried for me. We would clear things up in my life, just between the two of us. He loved to full body hug, hold a girl’s hand overly long while staring into her eyes, play footsie under tables and sit very close – thighs touching. According to the law suit against him, I was fortunate to have him only do these things to me. Others were not so fortunate.

I know you’re sitting there saying that I should have come to you, so that none of it would have happened, however, 1)before going I tried telling you that I thought something wasn’t right about the whole thing and that I didn’t want to go – 2)after I returned, I did tell you about his behavior – in fact, I told the Beckers, families here in Augusta, and anyone who would listen that it wasn’t safe to send their daughters there – 3)a parent is responsible to think of their child’s safety first, since they are, presumably, the mature one with more experience of life. For whatever reason you ignored me, put Gothard on a pedestal, and continued on.

During this same time, I came into the kitchen where you, Papa, had just gotten a drink of water, or something. You had spilled water on the floor. You told me to clean it up and when I did, you immediately criticized how I was doing it, telling me how I should be cleaning it. Well, that day you pushed me too far, so I thrust the mop at you and told you, “if you know how to do it better, then why don’t you do it yourself?!” You grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me, saying something about children should respect their parents so life would be better. I shook you back and told you fathers shouldn’t provoke their children to anger. (Eph. 6:4, Col 3:21) We each went our separate ways, nothing resolved. You seemed to delight in pushing me to the point of frustration, when I would then blow up and get emotional, you would put the blame for it on me. I see you still do this. I know you treated me this way every day that I lived at home and I’ve observed you treat the other kids this way. This is the behavior of a narcissist. (Please keep in mind that these are just snapshots of different times, but this type of behavior was what I was subjected to every day.)

During the summer I was thirteen, about to be fourteen, Aunt Rhoda and her girls came to stay with me while the two of you went to Canada for a few days. While there, one night Michelle and I were talking like girls do, and she started telling me about her friend who’s stepdad was molesting her (the friend, not Michelle). The little she described made me wonder if Papa was molesting me, since I felt so uncomfortable around him and he wouldn’t leave me alone. So I swore her to secrecy and told her I thought Papa might be molesting me, but that I wasn’t sure. She, as was right, went to her mom, who in turn went to you, Mom. I won’t ever forget you confronting me about this. We were in the car, Papa was driving, and we had just gotten into it. Mom suddenly whirled on me (I was in the back seat) and started yelling at me. “How dare you lie and say that your father is molesting you! How could you do this to us? You are a rebellious brat who’s making things up and you’re going to get us (meaning you and Papa) in trouble! You will apologize right now and explain yourself!” Papa, you never said a word or looked me in the eye during this whole tirade. What an unnatural response from both of you, unless you were afraid it was true.

I apologized through my tears and said that I just needed Papa to give me some personal space, I didn’t think Michelle would tell. That wasn’t all that was said, but I don’t recall anything else. At no time then or ever, Papa, did you ask me what you had done to cause me to feel this way, or say you were sorry. In fact, you’ve never talked to me about this ever. And, Mom, you have only talked sincerely and nicely to me about this once in my life.

The outcome of the charge against you, Papa, was that I went to Child Protection Services, after having to bare my entire life story to perfect strangers, and took a mental aptitude test to supposedly clear your record. Did I hear a word from either of you about any of it? No, in fact, Mom spent three months not talking to us.

From the age of fourteen I mostly gave up on either of you two taking responsibility for anything that you said or did in regards to me that was negligent, hurtful, humiliating, disrespectful, bad and mean. It was apparent to me through observing how you treated others, as well as me, that you thought you were always right, never wrong, everyone else didn’t know how to do anything without your spiritual insight and instruction, and because you used the excuse that “God says” then you believed you were irrefutable, had the authority and power of God to do and say whatever you wanted. My conclusion was that it would be futile to go to either of you with any concerns, questions or grievances, so I didn’t.

From the age of about eleven or so, I remember going to you, Mom, asking you to tell Papa that I didn’t want to be tickled anymore, to please quit making me hug him or sit next to him whenever he was around. I even remember a few times I asked you to talk with him about constantly asking me probing questions. You said you would talk with him. Nothing ever changed. At first I asked almost two to three times a week, but as time went on I became more and more silent. Did you ever talk with him? Papa, did you ignore what was asked of you? (A common courtesy that we teach our kids is that, when someone asks you to stop what you’re doing or saying, you do it right away.) I do remember asking you directly, Papa, to stop tickling me, from the earliest age of about five.

As far back as I can remember, it had been driven home to me that I was a sinner, not good enough, I would never measure up to God or to you, I must search the Bible for help to root out all my sin, when there were problems it must be something I’m doing wrong, when I would go to you with something that you said or did that troubled me then I was told that I needed to search my heart for what I was doing, thinking, or saying that was wrong, unbiblical, and/or rebellious. Lesson learned: I can never do anything right, be good enough, think properly. I have to do exactly as you want, say exactly what you want to hear to sometimes measure up and be considered a good daughter.

When you’re frequently told these things, feel like you’re annoying Mom all the time and was her slave around the house (I did most of the cleaning, prepared a lot of the meals, was expected to ask if she or my dad wanted anything before I could get what I wanted, every time), and Papa would want me to share my every thought, dream, whatever with him almost every day at “family time” or Bible time, then the mind shuts down to protect itself and begins to give the abuser what they want.

Now for some things that I’d like to bring to your attention, beyond what’s already been talked about. Some of them are lessons your actions and words taught me.

As you know, the April of 1990 I visited with Popo and Grandpa for two months. What you may not have known was that if the accusations of molestation were true, I was going to stay with them. They questioned me quite closely the day I arrived. While I was gone, you two decided that you were going to obey God and have more children. This was a shock to me, since from the time I was five Mom would tell me that she couldn’t wait for me to grow up and move out, so she could do what she wanted. I always felt like I was an unwanted piece of luggage, dragged around because you had to have it, but didn’t really want it. I, and other people, heard you say you didn’t want any more kids. All of a sudden you want them – I found it hard to believe you. I always figured that I was a disappointment to you both, so you were going to start over and do it “right” the next time.

I also thought your decision to have more children came because you were listening to Gothard’s teaching that, to be in right standing with God, you must have as many children as He would give you, no matter what. His fundamental, patriarchal teachings say that the man is the head of the house, he hears from God for his family, the wife is under his authority and has to submit in all things, the children are under the mom but ultimately must obey the father in all things and at all times, if any family member gets out from under the father’s authority (aka – family member disagrees or does something differently from what father wants) then that person is to be chastised and disciplined (aka – punished) to bring them back under authority. Gothard’s program was supposed to cure all evils, make children behave exactly as he said the Bible says they should, basically the magic steps to having the perfect godly family. All in an intensive 3 day seminar! And taught by a man who had never married, had/has no children and still lived with his parents at 54 years old. What his program actually did was attract verbal and/or physical abusers like moths to a flame, and put “God” as an endorser of their vile behavior to their wives and children.

His teachings, most of which you had already been teaching me from a young age, set children (and adults, particularly women) up to be the perfect victims of manipulators, narcissists, verbal abusers, rapists, molesters, etc. Gothard, along with his dad and brother, set his whole “ministry” up to provide himself and his brother a steady supply of victims, mostly young ladies aged 16 and up, starting in the year 1970. They would routinely bring young ladies that came from troubled homes in to “work” closely with them. The mental manipulation, verbal and sexual abuse were all happening in this cult. In the early 1980’s Bill’s brother, Steve, was finally kicked out, but only after he sexually harassed, as well as forced sex, on secretaries, or would ruin their lives. There were even sex orgies at the Northwoods Conference Center. And this was supposed to be a Christian organization. You joined it through the Basic seminar in 1986 or ’87, I believe, then submitted me to Bill’s further indoctrination through his homeschool program in 1988. The homeschool program was/is a crock. We had to supplement every subject because the “Wisdom” booklets were a joke and the academics were laughable. But they sure did push his patriarchal doctrine and make sure that all the dads put everyone in their rightful place, beneath the man’s authority.

I recently studied Gothard’s teaching on how to deal with assault and abuse. Here’s a link if you’re interested in looking at it yourself:  http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/04/there-is-no-victim-a-survey-of-iblp-literature-on-sexual-assault-and-abuse/

In a nutshell, by splicing and taking out of context Bible verses, Gothard teaches that 1)there are no victims (we are called to suffer as Christ suffered); 2) the victim must go through the proper “chain of command” (of which the police are the last to go to, even though we’re talking about assault and abuse) by first making an appeal to the offender, next go to person’s parents followed by family members, then church leaders and finally police/government; 3) wait for response from offender, and while waiting the victim is to search their (victim) heart to make sure that they weren’t out from under authority (aka-had the right motive and attitude) and brought the attack on themselves, oh, and while the victim is making sure they are following all the rules they aren’t to do anything for themselves; 4) the victim is also to consider any suffering (aka-abuse) as designed by God for glory, and in thinking of any consequences of not being “in right standing with God,” they must have the right motives,” i.e. be concerned for the abuser’s reputation. The victim must ask themselves, does this situation call for an appeal? Am I being required to do wrong? Is my life threatened? Is ministry endangered? Have I been submissive? What are his intentions? Did faults in me or my appeal cause it to be rejected? Am I called to suffer? Is it wise to flee? (Basic Seminar Follow-up Course  How to Get Under God’s Protection: The Principle of Authority,  worksheet)

In further studying about those right motives or attitudes I found out that parents were being taught that “a person can be obedient and yet still have a spirit of rebellion. He obeys on the outside but reacts on the inside. This spirit will manifest itself by the number, purpose, manner, length, and spirit of his appeals to authority.” Another bad motive or attitude taught was a spirit of resignation, where there is blind obedience and the person ceases to think for themselves or take responsibility for the actions that they are told to do. There is so much wrong with just this one teaching of Gothard’s, but that would be for another discussion.

Apparently I fell under the “spirit of rebellion” for the number, purpose, manner, length and spirit of my appeals. Never mind that I was a child whose parent wouldn’t respect a boundary that she asked of an adult. So this explains why I was ignored. It doesn’t explain what was going on in your mind, Papa, or how you viewed me, your daughter, to sexualize our relationship. I’ve heard it’s called mental incest.

I was also taught that I can bring lascivious thoughts and lustful actions out of all males, but I could avoid it by not being a “stumbling block” or causing evil by not looking boys or men in the eye, make sure to wear clothes that are baggy and long, speak quietly, demurely, be careful of what physical activity I did in front of them (bending over to pick something up, running, skipping, jumping, walking), basically hide my femaleness. I was to be careful so I didn’t incite any male to be attracted to me and have lustful, lascivious thoughts. My dad told me all males only want one thing from a girl – sex. I was made to think I was responsible for another person’s thoughts and actions, which is ridiculous. And, if you study what rape/sexual victims’ behavior is, you will find that it looks exactly like what I was taught being modest is.

At age 10, I broke a house rule when I let my Korean friends come over when you two were gone. Papa came home early while they were there, so I had to be punished. He made me drop my bottoms, underwear and all, to be spanked. This made me feel dirty, humiliated, shamed. Lesson learned: don’t trust Papa, something’s wrong

Around ten I started hearing voices in my head. When I closed my eyes, I would see faces of different people, all yelling at me what a horrible person I was, that I was no good. This would happen randomly for the next 15 years or so. I also started to experience panic attacks, although I didn’t know that’s what they were until, as an adult, I described them to my doctor. Mom, you may remember my first panic attack, since you were home. I fell to the floor and couldn’t breathe. I had intense pressure on my chest and couldn’t draw a full breath. I remember almost blacking out. Mom, you thought it was an attack by satan, so you tried casting him out. I look back now and see that I had them under high periods of stress. Also, by the next year I began to suffer from hypoglycemia, but that too was undiagnosed and I had to figure it out myself. I remember falling from blacking out several times. Also, right as I turned 15, you made me do a seven day fast with you. I did not want to do this! By the 5th or 6th day I started vomiting and I had lost fifteen pounds – which I didn’t need to lose (I weighed 85 by the time we finished the fast). This was extremely unhealthy for me, and the effects on my health were that I became lactose intolerant, caffeine intolerant and had a hard time digesting regular foods after that. Lesson learned: your parents will do anything to avoid seeing doctors, spending $ on me to help was out of the question, and whatever your parents want to do, they will do no matter what.

At age 9 in Korea, on my own every day, I was expected to do my school, clean the house, fix dinner. Lesson learned: even though you are a child you’re expected to act like an adult with the responsibility, but without the respect.

At age 9 in Korea, within days of arriving, I was left overnight with a strange family we just met, so that you two could go celebrate your anniversary. I watched the old horror flick “War of the Worlds” with them, and their daughter, who was my age, molested me by performing oral sex on me and making me perform it on her. She threatened me and scared me to silence. I had no way of knowing how to deal with this, how to contact you, or even what had happened to me. Lesson learned: you’re on your own, your safety isn’t a priority, I thought I’d get in trouble by speaking up.

As a young child, from about 8 until you home schooled me at 12, I spent my afternoons after school and my summers without much adult authority or interaction. Even if I was supposed to be under an adult’s care (in California yes (maybe?), in Korea no, in Arizona no), I wasn’t around adults much. For instance, in California I hardly ever went to one of my classmate’s home after school like I was probably supposed to do. (I have no memory of being told to stay at this person’s house until Mom or Papa came to get me. Mom, you worked until you home schooled me, so most days I was left to my own devices.) Because no one was home after school and during summer, I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I would go down the hill to the public wharf and to the local arcade by myself almost every day. While there one time I felt that someone was watching me, so I looked around and found a man watching me across the room. I knew he wanted to harm me. A woman was walking by with her kids, so I joined them, keeping them between him and me, slipping out a door and running home. I was only 8. Lesson learned: you’re on your own, your parents don’t care where you are or what’s happening to you.

Being a latch key kid from the age of 7.5 (California) on up, my lesson learned: I’m not really important, life’s tough, suck it up

Age 5 on up – I would be done with Papa tickling me, but he wouldn’t stop when I asked him to. As I hit puberty I didn’t want to be tickled any more, but Papa didn’t respect that, tickling me anyway, almost anytime I happened to sit next to him, or making me sit next to him so he could tickle me. Lesson learned; I have no private space or personal respect shown to me.

Age 5 on up: I wished I was a boy, so Papa would be happy to just have me, since he said a lot how he wished he had more kids, especially a boy who could carry on the Parmer name. As I hit puberty, I wished to be a boy so he would quit showing me sexual attention, like whistling at me, calling me his girlfriend, making me sit next to him, hug him, tickling me, pulling me onto his lap, having quiet alone talks with me at night. Lesson learned: I’m not sexually safe, Papa has a lust problem.

I think I was about 4-5 and I was spending my days at this woman’s house. She kept me and other children, along with her own kids. One of the kids was a little older than me, he wasn’t nice`and would get us in trouble by daring us to do things, or saying we did it when he really did it. She would whip us with a belt. I was afraid to tell my parents because I was always told that if I got spanked/punished by an adult while in their care, I would then be spanked at home too. Lesson learned; fear adults, do what they say so you won’t get punished twice and your parents aren’t going to believe you; also, anyone authoritative can treat you how they want.

I share these things so you can see how a child’s mind is shaped by those around them and by what happens to them, despite what you might have intended. It was my understanding as a child that I was not really wanted or liked by Mom, that I had better figure things out for myself and become self sufficient quickly because my parents didn’t really have time for me, I was a sinner, would always be a sinner and could never measure up or make things better, and, as I went into my teen years, something was wrong in the family but it would never be acknowledged or made right.

I’m surprised even now that you want to hear from me. I expect that you think I’m wrong about everything I wrote, however, these are my memories of how my life went. When we get together, most times you seem to tolerate me, and some of my siblings are following your lead. I dealt with all the past through a lot of counseling, the Grace of God and the love of Chris. I’ve forgiven you both, however that doesn’t give you the privilege of my trust.

About four or five years ago you began to take your irritation out on my kids (Mom), and try to teach your doctrine to them (Papa). Mom, you have used cutting, belittling language when telling my kids to do something. My children are precious to me. I will not sit idly by and allow anyone to mistreat them by humiliating, bullying, and trying to be their “spiritual authority”. There have been several instances of these things happening to my two oldest. Things like, they’re told to do something, given no help or explanation, then their efforts criticized, belittled, and no words of thanks offered. (I was taught by you that please and thank you were mandatory. They are a common courtesy.) They’ve been subjected to your doctrine, as though they are your children, without Chris’ or my consent. You seem to be under the impression (as do your children) that you have the right to teach my children whatever you want without asking first. Well, you don’t! I have never tried to teach your kids anything because I know it’s not my place. You would hate it if we, or anyone, did that with your kids. Casie has been bullied more than once for her faith, even told she’s going to hell. Yes, Chris and I confronted those who have overstepped their boundaries and told them to stop. We will not apologize for it. We have done our best to treat you all with love and kindness, despite our disagreements and misunderstandings.

So, if you’ve been confused, may you be so no more! Please stop making comments like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with Alexa. We’ve tried to talk with her and she just doesn’t want to.” I tried talking to you on and off since around eleven years old. By fourteen I thought it was no use anymore, but when I was asked, I did answer questions. You never asked to sit down and talk about everything, only made me understand that no matter what I said, my words would be twisted, you would never accept responsibility and apologize, and I would always be wrong. So why try? I’m tired of the half truths, innuendos, and the impression that some people are spying on us and reporting back to you. I’m tired of the head games you play, so me and mine won’t be playing any more. Quite frankly I don’t see what there is to discuss. Just because I forgave you both doesn’t mean I forget it all.

Your Daughter,

Alexa

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6 thoughts on “A Letter to My Parents – Why I’m the Way I Am

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