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How it impacts the kids to stay w an A

Old 11-22-2013, 01:44 PM
  # 61 (permalink)  
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Great thread. I stayed for all the reasons the OP stated. I also minimized how damaging the situation was and was far too willing to believe all the lies and manipulation because all this crap just couldn't be happening to "people like us." There is that whole terminal uniqueness.

My D9 has lots of anxiety too and NEVER talked about her feelings. Lots of physical complaints, she would come home from school with big holes in her clothes from picking at them all day. Since leaving she has started therapy and is now beginning to express her feelings. I hear less physical complaints and I'm not reaching for the sewing kit every other day. She is learning resiliency and building her confidence. One of the most heartbreaking things was watching her check up on her daddy when we were still living there. She would hear the squeek of the garage door and go running to see what he was doing. It also got pretty difficult to explain his frequent absences. It was so difficult not to fall into the trap of bad mouthing him when I was living in the middle of his sh*tstorm.

My D5 does not have tantrums anymore and is busy making friends and going about the business of being a kid. When we lived with AH she would have massive fits and refuse to participate in activities at school. Just this week her teacher told me she is a great listener. It's an amazing difference.

Things aren't perfect. I can tell my girls are anxious that I will leave them too and they are watching closely to see if my actions and words match. They need lots of reassurance and my oldest still has some anxiety. But I can give them consistency, love, and a peaceful home. I have so much more time for them now that I am not focusing on my AH.

Last year at about this time I remember begging and pleading to get AH to come to the girls holiday programs. He would either be a no show or show up late and drunk. Its nice not to waste my energy on that now.

It is so helpful to hear the perspective of the ACOAs. It reinforces that my decision to leave was right for us and strengthens my resolve not to fall for the lies and go back to him.

It took me a long time to leave. I received a call from a counselor working with AH and I saying GET OUT it is no longer safe. Leave with only the clothes you are wearing if you have to. And I am ashamed to admit it still took me a month to leave. A month of hell. Leaving or staying is a very difficult, personal choice and for me it happened when I was ready.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:58 PM
  # 62 (permalink)  
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I really value the shared experiences of ACOAs. This last year has been hard because at least some of my children say that their lives were better when Stbxah and I were together. DD13 and I talked about this today. She said that even though AH and I barely had a relationship, at least then she had two parents and a heck of a lot more money.

I know time will tell but it hasn't been easy when my children are unhappy that I got their father out of the house and won't ever let him back in.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:30 PM
  # 63 (permalink)  
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I'm still having a lot of issues with my resentment towards my grandmother and other family members who just sat by and watched it all happen. Or who pushed the abuse because, after all, she was my mother. I should just shut up and take it, and stop being a spoiled, ungrateful brat. Yeah, this is a sore spot for me. Any place would have been better than being in that hellhole. Which is why I tried running away a lot as a teen. I wanted to be anywhere but in the same state as my AM.
I feel this too. I was the family scapegoat and I'm in my thirties and only just starting to realize, internalize and understand that maybe I wasn't a "bad" kid, maybe I lived in a bad family system. It was brought home this past month when my sister and I got into a huge argument and she basically said outright that she liked being the golden child and that I was a crazy loser who should leave the family, even if my leaving the family would "break Mom's heart." (What?) I realized for the first time that she would do anything that would keep her at my parents' side, and I realized what my mom's manipulation and triangulation have done to damage my relationship with the family. Some recent conversations here on SR and really hammering it home -- I thought about it all last night.

One of the grossest things I discovered is that when my mom's emotional abuse of me was the worst, she turned my other family support away from me by telling them that I was a bad kid, that she couldn't parent me, and that it was all a mystery -- I was just inherently bad. The truth was that I was raped as a kid and she and my dad chose to deny me care for it and pretended that nothing happened. It began a downward spiral that lasted through my teen years, and ended when I got pregnant with my son at 18. I turned my life around, but no one trusted me or believed I could do well. They abandoned me financially, or held all their help and support over my head. My job was to graciously receive all their support as favors, and to scrape and bow in thanks. I was trained to accept crumbs and call them love. They accepted my son and rejected me. They stopped inviting me on family vacations, and left me out of gift exchanges, and then resented me for not participating. I also found out recently that that was also my mom's doing, and that my sisters were told I didn't want to participate.

This is the one real area I can't seem to get over, abandonment of children by their parents. Abandonment of me by my parents. You should see me get verklempt every time I read or see a story about children being saved and protected by adults. I regret all the time and energy spent trying to make them love me when they were not able or willing to see and accept me -- and all the time I spent sabotaging my own life when they didn't.

I don't have alcoholism in my immediate family, but there is a ton of untreated and/or under-treated mental illness in my family, including narcissism, anxiety, and depression. This, I think, more than anything, lead me to be the kind of person who was permissive about AH's alcohol abuse, willing to live in denial about friends and family members unacceptable behavior, and willing to blame myself as per their using manipulative emotional abuse. When I got serious about my AH's situation and committed to getting myself out, I also got very serious about treating my own depression and anxiety and becoming free of this abuse. I know my mental health has affected my children, especially my son, but I plan to do everything in my power to be the best parent I can be from today forward, to parent with transparency, to be honest and loving and kind, and to kill the dysfunctional methods of parenting that I inherited. I will no longer joke that "I'll pay for their therapy later." No more family secrets, no more kowtowing to family lies, no more angry outbursts because I'm parenting on an empty tank, no more ignoring my kids because I want to crawl in a hole and disappear. This is how it used to be when things were at their worst, but I don't want to live this way anymore, and I can't do that to my kids. This is how my childhood worked, and I don't want it to be this way for my children.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:50 PM
  # 64 (permalink)  
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florence,

i totally get it. i had similar experiences as a child. A family therapist once told me to get the hell away from my family and don't come back. they were all ****** up. i was shocked by this as we had talked to this man when i was a teenager and my dad got remarried. i saw him 20 later as one of my post exa therapists. he told me my family was always screwed up but he couldn't say anything back then.

i am kind of slow at times and need things spelled out for me.

i understand now why i chose an alcoholic partner even though i didn't know about the alcoholism for a long time. the unhealthy and unpredictable dynamics i was familiar with from childhood remained with me as an adult. that crap really has been eye opening for me with respect to almost all my major life choices.

I am with a sweet man now who i love, but don't need. i still watch myself for any hint of repeating patterns, but know that i would leave the moment i saw any of that toxic behavior and i would be totally fine.
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:26 PM
  # 65 (permalink)  
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From an adult child of an alcoholic's perspective (my husband also is an ACOA), don't think that you, as the non-alcoholic parent, will get a "free pass", if you continue to enable and ignore what the alcoholic is doing to your family. My father-in-law died of his alcoholism at the age of 59. My MIL enabled him through it all, but cried to her children constantly about her "victimhood". Now that we are adults, the kids are scattered all over the world. (5 children) We haven't seen three of my husband's sisters in over a decade. They don't want to see each other because it reminds them of the memories of their childhoods which are too painful. My MIL still acts like those were the "happiest days of her life, raising her kids" but her children do not see it that way at all. None of them are close to her.

My mother has turned into an alcoholic in recent years. In the beginning, I tried to show a lot of love and support to my Dad, but he has done nothing to help the situation. He talks a good game, but then he enables her and buys her martinis every single night. He does not attend Alanon or show any effort to help himself with this terrible situation. So, I am left with no choice but to completely distance myself and my family from their dysfunctional life. My dad is missing out on a lot of fun activities with his grandchildren because of this. I don't feel sorry for him anymore.

Please know that your kids can't do anything to protect themselves now, but they will protect themselves when they are adults. And if you enabled and forced them to enable a sick, dysfunctional, abusive parent and forced them to stay in a sick dysfunctional situation without any help or ability to help themselves, they will fly far and free and you will lose any hope of a loving relationship with them when they are adults.
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:24 PM
  # 66 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by PippiLngstockng View Post
I really value the shared experiences of ACOAs. This last year has been hard because at least some of my children say that their lives were better when Stbxah and I were together. DD13 and I talked about this today. She said that even though AH and I barely had a relationship, at least then she had two parents and a heck of a lot more money.

I know time will tell but it hasn't been easy when my children are unhappy that I got their father out of the house and won't ever let him back in.
A lot of that "I wish you had never split" is peer pressure, and some of it could even be her own (unfounded) guilt. Kids tend to take on the responsibility for everything that goes wrong in the family. I remember when I was a kid, I always thought that if I got better grades, had better friends, was better at singing/painting/the piano, then everything would be fine. It would all be right if *I* did better. That was most of my family garbage talking, but I didn't know any better. I'm not saying that's the case with her, but I will bet she knows deep down that being out of the alcoholic environment is better. She's at a tough age where image is everything.
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:54 PM
  # 67 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by NWGRITS View Post
A lot of that "I wish you had never split" is peer pressure, and some of it could even be her own (unfounded) guilt. Kids tend to take on the responsibility for everything that goes wrong in the family. I remember when I was a kid, I always thought that if I got better grades, had better friends, was better at singing/painting/the piano, then everything would be fine. It would all be right if *I* did better. That was most of my family garbage talking, but I didn't know any better. I'm not saying that's the case with her, but I will bet she knows deep down that being out of the alcoholic environment is better. She's at a tough age where image is everything.
As another ACoA I second this. So much of what is happening is out of the kids' control. I didn't understand it wasn't my burden. That need to control came out in a lot of ways, many of which were masked as achievement orientation. LOOK I GOT THE LEAD IN THE PLAY, MA! SO NO NEED TO GET ANGRY ANYMORE, EVER, RIGHT? Sigh. I also developed an eating disorder for a time in an effort to take some control over my insane life.

Honesty from any adult would have made a world of difference to me. Being told it wasn't my fault, that it was really happening and I wasn't just crazy for thinking it was all effed up...all of the adults in my life were very invested in protecting the image, not the kids. Even if my dad couldn't have gotten me out of there, I wish he would have been straight with me instead of encouraging the idea that if we were all just better, Mom wouldn't have to get so angry.

I find this thread such a relief and an inspiration. Thanks to WTBH for starting it and to all for contributing to the dialogue.
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Old 11-23-2013, 03:45 AM
  # 68 (permalink)  
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Reading all these posts has been so eye opening. The voices of ACOA's, those of Aeryn and Florence whom I am convinced are my long lost sisters since our mother sound like one in the same and the voices of everyone who has posted really help me continue to understand why I am doing what I am. Ironically as I posted this, xAH has since wanted to talk about spending holidays together this yr to keep things stand for the girls and give them normalcy and pointed out (my Achilles heel) that he images it would be hard for me to be away from
them for some of each day do why not share.

Let me tell you that I had to step away and read and re read my own reasons here in this thread for why being around him is bad for our kids bc like a true codependent or just plain nut case I actually entertained the idea for a moment and thought "gee it would be nice to play happy family for holidays wouldn't it?"

So you see even when I have left and know it's best to be gone and love being apart and appreciate all the peace it has brought I STILL got suckered into emotional thinking in the moment.

So anyone who is on the fence or who wants to leave and knows they will or should but isn't there yet I do truly get it.

It took me years from when I started to think about leaving to actual do so.

Again thanks for everyone who has shared their undoubtedly painful memories and stories on this thread. Every word I have read has helped me in some way. So thanks.
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:36 AM
  # 69 (permalink)  
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My daughter has thanked me more than once for getting her father our of the house when she was eight. She is now 22. That helped alleviate the guilt I had of bringing her up in a "broken home". In addition, her father paid more attention to her after the divorce than he did in the first eight years of her life. He never went to her school events or teacher conferences or even knew basic things about her until AFTER we got divorced.

She has a good relationship with him, and understands what he is and what his limitations are as a human being because of his alcoholism. Sometimes she still gets hurt by his selfishness and lack of ability to see how his behavior affects others, but it is not unexpected and she is able to move forward.

I am 100% certain I did the right thing by getting him out of our home.

This past May she graduated from college. Her father and his significant other (a woman I like), the gf's daughter, my mother, my daughter and her boyfriend all went to dinner afterwards. She later said it was the best dinner she ever had, both foodwise and the people at the table. Her dad gradually got drunk, but it was expected by everyone at the table and there was no conflict about it. She wasn't embarrassed because her boyfriend, a pharmacist, already understood that her father is an alcoholic and is smart enough to know about alcoholism. My ex's girlfriend, at 60, has been in codie relationships before and is well aware that she's in one now but was comfortable knowing that everyone at the table knew that he would get drunk that night and didn't care, and I was happy because the food was great, my daughter was happy, and it was somebody else's job to get the mofo back to the hotel, not mine. He was cheerful and happy as he got drunk because he's cheap as dirt and I'd agreed beforehand to split the tab with him, so it was all good. But the important point is that it was a milestone event for my daughter and it wasn't ruined because everyone involved knew what the score was and the alkie wasn't going to be allowed to mess anything up because of the way WE handled it.
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:43 AM
  # 70 (permalink)  
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Seeing a thread like this reminds me why I stick around. The kids are the victims here and the sober parent has a great responsibility to stop the cycle. Spoken from the perspective of a AOCA, thanks WTBH for helping to carry the message.
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:10 AM
  # 71 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by SparkleKitty View Post
I find this thread such a relief and an inspiration. Thanks to WTBH for starting it and to all for contributing to the dialogue.
^^^ THIS ^^^ absolutely.

I worked on childhood issues for a period of time years ago, then kind of drifted away w/a lot of unfinished business. Now working w/SR and Alanon, I had been working on A-related issues more. This thread has helped me see that I need to tie the two together if I hope to recover fully.

Thanks especially to those who shared about their own childhoods in A or otherwise dysfunctional homes and how that has affected them into adulthood. I'm remembering a LOT and have my "Alanon glasses" to help me see it so much more clearly than before. My biggest feeling is how I've wasted years, energy and opportunities b/c I simply had no clue how to go about making a life, having friends, learning, growing. I had no role models, no idea....well, thanks to SR, I'm starting to get some of BOTH!

May I live long enough and well enough to make up for that wasted time!
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:58 PM
  # 72 (permalink)  
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I think in our case the children were not aware of the drinking that much, as AH hid it pretty well and it wasn't discussed, really.

What was disturbing overtly to them were some big fights. And they saw ME angry, more obviously many times than AH. AH was subtle and cruel in his abuse and often intentionally upset me in a way that was not obviously his fault.

They were aware of me being upset, me being scared, me calling the police.

And Dad blaming everything on me and crying when things happened like his going to jail for being violent. But he made himself the object of everyone's pity and so I liked like the bad guy.

All very confusing to everyone but one person. AH.

They don't feel free of these problems because their father is still behaving badly and worse with them than before. He is ignoring DS16, and now targeting DD13. He is withholding money, attention, care. With us so far away the children don't give him much narcissistic supply so he isn't as keen on being involved.

I don't think there was any possible choice but to get out. But it is too soon to say the children are benefitting from the separation. I am suffering. And their father is working overtime to convince them and everyone that he is not an A, just a nice guy who misses his kids and is being abused - by me.

My poor angels. I don't know how they are ever going to figure any of this out. I just love them extra hugely and tell them that a gazillion times a day and try to keep things as happy and honest and stable as possible. Hoping that will see them through. I can only control - me.
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Old 11-23-2013, 01:06 PM
  # 73 (permalink)  
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In more direct response to the thread topic: i propose that staying with an A feels more stable in a high functioning A household and looks normal and money issues are easier. But underneath the A household still has a rotting foundation and above a leaking roof. It isn't ever going to be healthy without the A majorly in recovery.

But a traumatic divorce can feel even scarier than the A household. The children lose the comforts of a two-parent family, including the happy family image that everyone wants to believe in.

I can just hope and pray that after divorce will come safety, stability and peace! I live for that day.
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Old 11-23-2013, 01:12 PM
  # 74 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by PippiLngstockng View Post
But a traumatic divorce can feel even scarier than the A household. The children lose the comforts of a two-parent family, including the happy family image that everyone wants to believe in.

I can just hope and pray that after divorce will come safety, stability and peace! I live for that day.
I think this is where that phrase I see mentioned here fairly frequently comes into play: Long-term gain for short-term pain. One has to believe the truth about the A will eventually be revealed as things inevitably deteriorate. Thankfully, when that happens, you and yours will be at a safe distance from the flaming crater....
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:39 PM
  # 75 (permalink)  
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This is a little broader, and have not had a chance to look through it, but may be a very good discussion related to this topic >>>>

Health Presentations - Home

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:26 AM
  # 76 (permalink)  
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Thanks for the link Hammer. That's eye opening. Wow.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:36 AM
  # 77 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by PippiLngstockng View Post
In more direct response to the thread topic: i propose that staying with an A feels more stable in a high functioning A household and looks normal and money issues are easier. But underneath the A household still has a rotting foundation and above a leaking roof. It isn't ever going to be healthy without the A majorly in recovery.

But a traumatic divorce can feel even scarier than the A household. The children lose the comforts of a two-parent family, including the happy family image that everyone wants to believe in.

I can just hope and pray that after divorce will come safety, stability and peace! I live for that day.
It may feel more stable for the adult to stay in a marriage with a "high functioning" alcoholic but I don't think that is the case at all for the kids (and I only recently changed my thinking about this-- previously I would have argued that staying put and having financial stability was maybe better)....

I had to attend a child impact seminar that my state requires for all parents with minor kids who are divorcing and at it we were inundated with research and studies and facts about how long term studies of kids from divorced homes where there is at least one parent who can provide calm and stability fair MUCH better long term (academically, emotionally, substance abuse likelihood, truancy, legal trouble etc...) than kids who are raised in high conflict homes where kids are subjected regularly to conflict. And I don't think there is a one of us who can argue that life with an A, no matter how high functioning or not, is conflict free.

The anxiety my kids had daily because of never knowing what to expect, bc no one could talk about daddy's absence, mood, behavior etc... was unbearable. The rules of the alcoholic household apply no matter how high functioning an A is and I decided for my own kids that fell into "high conflict" enviornmnet and they weren't going to stay a part of it.

I think that the changes that come for us (financial, loss of friends, community support, worry about money and the future) keep us with A's sometimes. I know those things kept me with my AH. Financially I am in ruins bc of my divorce. But I prefer that over having my kids emotional health be in ruins. I had to choose one. Finances can be repaired. I'm not sure the damage done to kids who grow up in toxic homes can be. I wish my father would have taken my siblings and I and gotten us away from my mother years ago. At 41 I am just getting my act together and finding a sense of self worth.

I would have been happy to have noting material as a kid and to have had a peaceful life with a sane parent. The "stuff" I had bc my parents stayed together and maintained one household instead of two didn't help me grow to be an adult with emotional health.

I didn't want my kids looking back and feeling like I do toward my parents one day.

They have a lot less and we will have to make do with even less still as time goes by but they have been much more okay with that than I expected they would and I think the person who initially had a hard time with the financial changes was me-- not them... And my worry that they'd be impacted by the financial upheaval kept me with the A much longer than I should have stayed...
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:33 PM
  # 78 (permalink)  
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Do you all have any idea how grateful you are helping me to feel? I was devastated when my XA left our home. I had stayed with him for the same reasons that most of us stayed. I am through the hardest part of my grief now (I hope so. It's been 4 months.); and I'm able to hear things now that would have caused immense pain back in July/August. I knew logically at the time of the breakup that it was for the best, but I just couldn't really feel the gratitude that I'm starting to feel. How amazingly wonderful is it that if I had to be abandoned by someone I loved that he did it before he had done to much damage to our one year old? So amazingly wonderful. My son is really starting to imitate the ways that adults and older children act. I am so fortunate that I have never had to see my son act any more angry and violent than a typical toddler would.

Things are hard as a single parent. The grief was/is immense. I still miss the man my X used to be/the man I think he is under his disease. I miss my dream. Still, once I got past the worst of it, I really think our lives are better and will be worlds better in a few months.

Thank you all for helping along my journey. I really wanted do the big group hug icon, but can't seem to do it from my phone.
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:52 PM
  # 79 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by PippiLngstockng View Post
In more direct response to the thread topic: i propose that staying with an A feels more stable in a high functioning A household and looks normal and money issues are easier. But underneath the A household still has a rotting foundation and above a leaking roof. It isn't ever going to be healthy without the A majorly in recovery.

But a traumatic divorce can feel even scarier than the A household. The children lose the comforts of a two-parent family, including the happy family image that everyone wants to believe in.

I can just hope and pray that after divorce will come safety, stability and peace! I live for that day.
Thank you for this. As an ACOA I never realized the damage that I suffered in my FOO until I started my recovery from my time with my AW. I was journaling as a way to let my emotions out, stop stuffing them and begin to heal. I was shocked at the anger and hatred that came out towards my parents on some of the pages. Things that I had buried for my whole life up to then.

I hated my father for the way he treated me, destroyed my self esteem and more or less terrorized my life. I hated my mother for letting him do it. I also realized that I was raised in such a way that my chances of marrying an A and desperatly clinging to that marriage was nearly 100%.

I am much better now and can see how my childhood affected my decisions as an adult. I have repaired my relationships with my adult children and have made amends to both of them.

From my experience staying with the A is not doing them any favors at all.

Your friend,
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:12 PM
  # 80 (permalink)  
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I can tell you a few years out that my children are so much better off without their father in their lives.

I can also tell you that the first couple of years when they were court-ordered to spend time with him were sheer hell. My therapist ensured me that it was better for them to have one stable, healthy home even if they were forced to spend time with AXH in a very unhealthy one as well. I sure as hell didn't feel it when I had to send them there, when they would call crying, and when he would refuse to let them leave because He Had A Right To Have His Children.

I still get anxious just typing about it.

The only thing I regret in relation to my children is NOT LEAVING THEIR FATHER SOONER.

We can tell ourselves all those things WTBH said. But the truth is you can't recover from living with a pathological circumstance while you're still living in it - especially if you're a child.

I left when I was able. I know that. Even so, even thinking that I have forgiven myself for not being able sooner, there are times when the guilt is overwhelming. I cried myself to sleep last night after a standoff with one of my teens where she behaved like a carbon copy of her A father.

I hate myself for choosing an addict for a father for them. They were forced to grow up too fast. And i wish I had left years earlier than I did.
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