You never know how much someone can mean to you until they’re gone.

My son and I were discussing #StanLee and his impact on the world, and realized he’s affected us as well. Every holiday that we went to the movies – if there was a Marvel movie – that was our choice, and it became tradition for us to look for Lee in the film. And so there we were about 20 minutes ago, blubbering in my son’s room, wiping some light tears from our faces for a man we never met.

Now, accepting that my son and I were misty over Lee may help you realize why you became so attached to someone in your life in such a short time. Ultimately, it’s never the length of time that you know someone that matters — it’s the quality, the meaning that they bring into your life that matters.

How to stop talking to your father. With a smile.

Laugh or you'll cryThere’s no need to stop smiling! Father’s Day should be a time for happiness and sunshine, barbecues and laughs. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, we have to deal with abusive fathers and what they did – or still do – to us. While I would love to ignore creepy, negative people, I still have to deal with them, and I believe there are a few of you who must as well, and so I’m here for you! Keep a smile on your face, keep your dignity and good spirit, but remove the Crazies.

A brief background on why I like to help
My father was physically present, but emotionally absent. He allowed my mother to be a mediator between himself and his daughters, and because of that our family was torn apart. My mother – a sociopathic narcissist – lied to him about our thoughts and actions. In return, he beat us. This placed her as the head of the family – exactly where she wanted to be.

“…if you showed a sign of independence as a child they took it as losing control, they must have absolute control.”

The family friend who wrote that in an email to me was absolutely correct. And even now I’m shocked how accurate his words were. I had a choice: live a suppressed life according to abusive, unstable people, or be happy and be what numerous teachers and coaches knew I was: intelligent and very capable.

So after years of therapy, I’m finally at peace and live a very happy life. With the exception of Father’s Day. It’s a constant reminder of how my father was absent during the times we needed him the most. Fathers should be authoritative and help steer the direction of the family. Instead, he handed-over authority to an unstable, manipulative mother. And even to this day, he allows my mother to fabricate untruths about anyone who attempts to dethrone her.

Because of this, I’ve had to completely disconnect myself from my own family. I found it extremely difficult to do, and every Father’s Day that passes is a reminder that I’ve both done the right thing as well as exactly how alone I am in regard to having a family.

Weak people gather like vultures at a carcass.

If you’re struggling with an abusive father and desperately want to disconnect, these things helped me. I’ve done the following:

1.) Completely cut ties
After years of limiting communication, I finally completely cut ties. I block phone numbers, I block email addresses and I do not give out my mailing address. The psychos in my family needle people until they give in (unfortunately, it has worked on aunts and uncles who have heard entire stories of our abuse).

I refuse to bend. Abuse is still abuse. Even after trying to “work it out” with my parents, they still continue to create fresh ways to destroy their children. As one sister pointed-out, “If it was just that event years ago, I would have forgiven. But they continue to try to hurt me, and for that I’ve had to get them go.”

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2.) Donate all items from the abuser
I’ve had to donate all memories including clothing, sneakers, shoes, gifts, furniture, jewelry. Basically, I’ve had to create an entirely new life for myself.

Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be? Who have I always wanted to be, but couldn’t because of abusive dipshits?” Think of it like this: there are a lot of people out there who will be thankful that you’re giving away dressers, beds, armoires, earrings, necklaces, photo albums.

This is a war, my friend, and you are going to win. You will be happy.

3.) Put away photos
Old photos are in a box in my closet. I don’t take them out unless my son asks about our heritage. That’s it. Other than that, the box stays where it is. I don’t marinate in old memories because it causes negative energy. I don’t need that. As a collective experience, you want to stay as positive as possible – seeing images of a destructive time in your life will not help. Put them away and keep them there. The only reason I would not completely destroy the images is if you need to send one to a lawyer for an Order for Protection. Hey – you didn’t choose this life, they chose it for you. All you can do is work your way out of it the smartest way possible.

4.) Do not respond to shenanigans
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to email, reply, or post about how insane my abusers are. There’s gobs of articles and proof on the internet alone about how their actions are insane and possibly illegal.

But responding will only continue the flow of negative energy.

So while it’s clear that these people thrive on negative reinforcement, negative attention, you will not. In order to end the bullying you’ve got to ignore the bully. I find this infuriating because – to others – it looks like the bully is correct if no one corrects them. But ultimately, you can’t reason with a crazy person, and that’s what they are – crazy. So don’t waste your time on them. You’ve already given enough of yourself to their insanity.

5.) Embrace the fact that your father is a putz, and that you’ll have to do it on your own
This is difficult for me because I don’t think it’s that hard to be a good dad. And so the shock is constantly there.

“Why couldn’t he…”
“Why didn’t he…”
“Why won’t he…”

But I try not to marinate in the disappointment of it. I’ve found other people whom I love to show me what good fathering is. I watch them, embrace them and accept the fact that the universe put me in this position to learn something. And so I shall. And so will you.

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Your Life Won’t Suck Now

IMG_0059-0.JPG Sometimes it’s exhausting hearing people say, “You did the right thing.” Because besides not being involved in a toxic, unhealthy relationship, I’m forever alone. And while I love me – and quite honestly can’t think of anyone I’d want to break into my happy little reverie that I’ve got going – sometimes it would be nice to feel rewarded for tough decisions I’ve made with something other than “Your life won’t suck now.” Sometimes that consolation prize just doesn’t cut it.

What Not to say when your daughter invites her friend to Thanksgiving dinner

IMG_0646.JPG Here’s a Thanksgiving story that’ll make you want to hug your family: Years ago I invited my best friend to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner because, for various reasons, the rest of her family was unavailable. After hanging up the phone my father asked who I was speaking to. I told him who it was and that because she was alone on Thanksgiving, I invited her to our family’s house. My father then flipped-out on me and within his tirade said, “If you ever invite anyone over for another holiday meal I’ll fucking kill you.” I then called her back and uninvited her, telling her I wouldn’t be eating there as well. I left the house and my family of six – none of whom defended me – and went to the movies. To this day two of those siblings are still in-deep with my parents. Two of us escaped. Sometimes “the orphanage” is the better option. In the years since leaving both my parents and my similarly-mannered ex-husband, my Thanksgivings have been the most beautiful I have ever imagined. And I owe it all to me.

My soulmate

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My son and I laugh a lot. He brings me tissues when I cry. He helps me whip new marinades for pork that refuses to cook correctly and he always waits patiently without complaining. Recently I’ve been comparing a lack of positive personality traits in ex-boyfriends to those my son does have. It has verified that the happiness I seek isn’t in a lover like my unstable mother manipulated me into believing. My happiness can be anywhere. And sometimes I can find it shining brilliantly in my son’s laughter.

I have a problem

I have a problem accepting weak people. I get this from my father – who’ve I’ve most recently discovered is the mother of all wimps.

Years ago I left my husband while my son was still in diapers. I was terrified. I was scared I was going to die as well. My ex-husband had hunting equipment – including a gutting knife. But the thing that I feared the most was that my son would grow up living in a toxic environment and not learn what healthy love is.

I have a problem with fathers that dont have the same fear. I have a problem with these men because they dont defend their children. They’re so wrapped up in their fear of living alone that they allow the children to live in unhealthy and sometimes dangerous environments.

My father was the epitome of this kind of coward. While he safely went to work every day, his children were left alone with a passive aggressive psychotic whack job, and he allowed himself continually to believe that we were okay.

Years later the most atrocious facts were revealed to me that made my own sad outlook on my mother pale hideously in comparison. After struggling to process the newest information, one thought formed: my father never saved us. He could have saved us at any time, but he never did. As twenty-somethings we joked about how my father put his head in the sand whenever there was a problem with the family, but it ran much deeper than that.

I was dating a great guy with a wife who sounded similar to my mother. After months of brainwashing by her, he’s now walking in my father’s shoes. He’s not saving his kids.

As a child of psychological abuse, it’s devastating to know children may be in similar situations, and I so desperately want to help them. But I’m nobody in their lives. At this point I can only pray that he finds his strength again before his children end up like my father’s.

But I have a problem sitting back and waiting to see if that day will ever come.

How My Mother Made Me Desperate

We often wonder why some girls are desperate and needy. You would think it’s an inherent need, but sometimes it comes from the folks who are supposed to protect them the most. Case in point:

“We’re going to marry you off to the old widower down the road,” my parents would joke, adding, “Except, we’ll have to throw in some chickens as well” – a clear sign that they didn’t think I was worth anything; they had to “sweeten the pot” with a farm animal. So essentially I was worth less than a farm animal.

This was just one of the many not-so-subtle ways that my parents expressed their view of my value. I had to be married to be worth something, and that no one would want me as I was. I wasn’t good enough.

Eventually all my sisters “found someone,” and I was “left.” I dated here and there, but as nothing panned out, my mother would ask in horrified voice if I was a lesbian, and would introduce me as “the last one left.” Imagine how I felt when – in social circles – she would say, “Oh, and here’s my daughter, Kate. She’s the last one left.”

The last one left? It indicated that I was – in her eyes – the last one of her daughters to do the right thing: obtain the golden ticket and get married. So to my mother, all my other achievements – Deans List, MVP, Captain, Who’s Who of Junior Colleges – twice, Editor In Chief of the college newspaper and Student of the Year – all paled in comparison to being someone’s wife. It was another statement that pissed me off – but being a dutiful daughter, I let it slide. Why? Because my other sisters had issues with my mother! My mother also very artfully manipulated me by saying, “It doesn’t matter what we do to you, Kate, you’ll always come back to us. You’re the good one.” She was a master manipulator.

So those statements, along with dozens of other similar messages, created a need for me to find a husband – even before carrying out my own dreams. But ironically I didn’t radiate desperateness. I wasn’t a slut. I wasn’t “with” every guy I met, and I didn’t want every guy to marry me. I actually had some discrimination. Some.

Sadly, when my dysfunctional mother introduced me to her friend’s equally dysfunctional son, I went for it – hook line and sinker – because of a few things: 1.) I was tired of waiting for a quality guy that I actually wanted to spend the rest of my life with 2.) I was completely intimidated by quality guys 3.) It was a preordained match made by my dysfunctional mother 4.) I was taught my entire life to think that my parents had all the correct answers, and wasn’t ever allowed to question them. So if this guy was my perfect match, I wasn’t about to question it.

Thankfully, the story gets better.

A foundation of years of therapy enabled me to eventually leave my alcoholic husband in a somewhat “Sleeping With the Enemy” style. I call it “The Evacuation.” After my husband left for a long weekend with the boys, I gathered friends at my home to pack my things. Did I tell my mother? No way in hell – I was a clam in the months leading to the evacuation. Twice prior she had convinced me to stay with the alcoholic, so I knew that it was a turning point in my life – she wouldn’t be making any more decisions for me, and I didn’t tell her anything about the evacuation. Needless to say, when I did inform her of the move, she was shocked and tried to convince me to return to him.

I feel like 1 Year of Single is my final phase of the evacuation. Since leaving my ex-husband, I’ve had to completely sever ties with my mother – and I want to rip the control completely out of her hands by not dating for one year. I want to do it on my own terms. And I want to take everything back from the Mother who made me desperate.