Thou shalt not steal

My eating has been out of control. I have gotten girl scout cookies, and N has agreed to hide them from me, because otherwise, I have been on a thin-mint-caramel delight binge. She feels weird about hiding food from me, but it’s the only way I can exist in a home where cookies are around. Cookies are my own personal crack.

My eating has been shit lately. And I am starting to realize why.

I returned to my apartment, finally, after 2 months of not being there. I kicked my sister out, more or less, as we simply could not get along in the same living space. I had to relocate my cats to my ex-husband’s house in the interim, all my stuff was scattered everywhere, and I was so praying for March 1 to arrive so I could have my cats and N and all my shit in the same place.

It has not turned out as the little living-space utopia that I had wanted it to be.

As we all know, my parents do not appreciate my being queer. They are fundamentalist Christians. I came out to them in October. I have heard only the following from them: That they would no longer pay for my student loan, and that my share of the inheritance left from my grandmother would not be given to me. I was not invited to the shared birthday celebration in November for my sister, mother and I; I was not invited to Thanksgiving. I was not invited to Christmas, although some gifts did arrive on my bed, courtesy of my sister. I have reached out to them via email to offer support and assistance with a few family tragedies that have happened recently, and have been ignored.

I had great fears about them coming to my apartment in helping my sister move out. See, there has been a long-standing tradition in my family, which is that the kids’ space is a space to be violated. I am sure most parents’ engage in this. I would come home to find my room had been “dumped,” a process where everything in my closet, drawers and dressers had been unceremoniously tossed on the bed in a fit of my mother’s rage. I used to journal rather intensely; that stopped when I was in high school when I came home to find my journal left open on my desk, with passages offensive to my mother highlighted. Another time, I found a locked drawer had been broken open. It had contained my journal. I can’t journal to this day. What’s the point, I figure? I might as well make my writing public. Anything else doesn’t feel safe.

So I have never been keen on having my parents in my home. Home has become a fortress for me, of sorts. I have to “parent-proof” my  home whenever they do arrive, as well. I have to take down any sort of religious symbolism that doesn’t jive with their conservative beliefs — specifically anything that is pagan or Eastern religion oriented.

I worried a great deal about them coming into my shared apartment, especially now that they are specifically angry at me for being specifically queer. I postulated that they would steal from me. My mother has a tendency to believe that anything she has given to someone is still hers. Even if you potentially received it 20 years ago from her. Or from someone in the family — not even from her. But I put the thought out of my head, as I often do with such unpleasantries. What was the point? I would have my apartment back. I would move on.

The 2 months up to March 1 I had nightmares about my family and my queerness. Sleep is no easy feat for me. There are pills involved. There is a nightly ritual of making sure my bladder is perfectly empty, that I have the right pillow, that I start off by laying on my back, that I roll to one side first and then the other side. There must be some sort of white noise, and my feet must not be too cold or too hot. I don’t sleep well. Mania has taken that all away from me. I am deeply envious of those who can simply get into bed and sleep. It is not that way for me. The process of sleep is anxiety-invoking for me at best.

And so my sleep has been interrupted by these nightmares, nightmares where my family raged into my apartment and moved furniture and I screamed at them about the legitimacy of my love for N, and my right to be queer, my right to live as I want. I looked forward to having my sister out of my apartment so I could finally sleep without the nightmares.

But it is not so.

When I came back to my apartment on March 1, I saw that an antique lamp from my dead grandmother, one of the very few things I had left from her, had been taken. Purposefully, as they left the lightbulb and the lampshade. All of my pictures had been removed from the walls so the penny nails that I did not purchase could be removed. A few days later, N woke up to discover that a painting that had been on the floor, in between my bed and the wall, had been taken. It had been painted by my dead grandmother, and it means that someone had to go looking for it in order to take it. Other items discovered missing so far have been a 7-foot plank of scrap wood that my cats used to get from one side of a lofted living room to another, and a piece of weather stripping my sister put in my window to help keep out the cold. I only noticed that because when I opened the window yesterday, it looked like my cat had eaten it, and then I realized someone must have sat there and ripped it off in chunks because of course my cats had not been in the apartment, and my window had been closed up until I had opened it yesterday.

I have to keep repeating these things to myself because somehow, I keep not understanding that these things are real. That this is really my life. That my family actually is so angry and potentially hates me this much that they have stolen things from my apartment. That someone stood at my window and pulled weatherstripping off, even though it was such a hassle it came off in chunks. It boggles my mind.

And so, after I learned of the painting, I sent my family an email, using lots of I feel statements, like a good therapy-school student. My sister responded, justifying her actions and stating that my mother had gone through the apartment and taken what she saw fit. As for my parents, they did not respond. I did let them all know that I would file a police report should they come to my home and take anything else, as my sister continues to retain a key; she is still paying rent for her half until our lease is up.

After another night filled with nightmares about people breaking into my apartment, or my parents and sister coming into my dream to yell at me about being queer, I have decided to seek therapy. I don’t know for what. Acceptance that I don’t have a family? I mean, I know that there is all sorts of stages parents and families go through when they learn their child is queer. I get that. I know I need to give them time. But there is something so, well, unforgivable to me about stealing from your own child from her own home. It crosses a line, and I am so exceptionally hurt and angry, I am not sure — if they ever do come around — that I would want a relationship with people who would think this is an acceptable response to something they don’t like. I mean, there are plenty of things I don’t like in life, but I don’t go around violating people’s living space as a result. I don’t go actually breaking Commandments that I purport to live by. Thou shalt not steal? Remember that one?

I know I need to not live in this apartment anymore, but I am waiting until the lease is up — only 3 months away. I feel so violated and unsure of what to do next. I feel trapped in a certain way, and I am not used to feeling that way. I don’t know how to move forward. Everyone I know has come out ages ago, in a different stage of life; these issues aren’t relevant for them anymore. I am eating so much crap right now because I feel so out of control emotionally, and yet affect-wise, I appear so blunted, so flat.

It’s days like these where I wished I still smoked. Somehow, that always made me feel like I had things under control: 10 minutes to deal with my shit and move on. That’s what smoking gave me. Instead I am sitting here at work with 4 boxes of girl scout cookies staring at me awaiting a call from a therapist so I can talk about how my parents suck. Regression. What a beautiful thing.

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41 Comments

  1. Ashley said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I’m so sorry you have to deal with this crap. But why not call the police now about the thefts that you know happened? That’s what I’d do.

  2. Telle said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Change the lock. Part of the problem is that you know they actually have the ability to sneak in when you’re not there (through your sister). Change the lock and remove the possibility. You will feel much safer.

    *lots and lots and lots of hugs*

  3. GoingLoopy said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    There are probably few words that could even comfort you in the face of shit like this. All I can say is – take comfort in your relationship with N and know that you cannot change other people. They are wrong, what they have done is wrong, but you cannot blame yourself and your choices. All you can do is embrace the things in your life that are good and know that you deserve them, you deserve to be happy. Seeing a therapist will help, and that is a positive step you’re taking for yourself.

  4. mrsmillur said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I’m not sure why I comment, when I know there are no words adequate to address any of this. It would be terrible enough that anyone would treat you this way, let alone the people who are supposed to love you.

  5. kristin said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    How awful. My heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have cherished memories of your grandmother stolen, let alone by your own family. The calculated removal of the petty possessions from your home is equally terrible, though in a different way. I hope that speaking with your therapist will help you get some sleep.

  6. Karen said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I had a shitty, shitty, shitty relationship with my mother. Not the same as yours, I wouldn’t have stayed in the house under circumstances you describe, but I do understand about being desperate with parents who abuse you emotionally. And what you describe is desperation. What I did:

    I calmed myself down before I spoke with them. Once I was calm, I refused to be baited into speaking about anything but the issue at hand, in this case, I’d say the vandalism and the theft. I stated facts simply and without embellishment. And I did not leave room for negotiation. If I were in your shoes my statement would go something like this: “Things in my apartment and my space belong to me, not to you. They are mine, not yours. Taking them is theft. You will return them immediately. If they are not returned immediately, I will be filing a police report detailing what was taken, that you have admitted to taking them, and that they may be found with you.” Then, any objection they had would be met with the following statements: “I will only pursue criminal charges as long as you persist in criminal behavior.” “Things that have been given to me are not yours and taking that which belongs to others is theft.” “If you destroy that which you have stolen, you are still guilty of having stolen it.” If after a few step, repeats you are making no progress, get up and file those charges. The key is, Don’t give them any emotion to deal with. Don’t get roped into explaining yourself. The only thing you need to explain is that it is yours and they took it without permission. This is theft. Theft is against the law. I can’t guarantee you’ll get it back, but you will have set a healthy boundary. You seem to have given up on getting it back anyway, the least you can do is start the boundary setting.

    I understand using the “I feel” statements, but the idea of using those is that the people you are talking to actually care. Whether they really care or not, they are unwilling to display any care, so using the statements accomplishes nothing.

    It took me awhile to get all this, and my mom ignoring a suicide attempt. And when I say “ignore,” I mean she looked at me and the cut on my wrist, yelled, “Don’t blame me for your problems, go away,” and promptly forgot it ever happened. That’s right, it was so inconsequential to her that SHE FORGOT. No justification, just not even worth remembering.

    Its not the same, it never is, but, seeing someone mistreated in the name a family values, the least I can do is offer my tools so you can decide if they will help. If this isn’t the tool for you a good therapist should be able to help you find on that is.

  7. Shinobi said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I am Shinobi’s barely contained rage.

    Want me to go steal your stuff back? *Fat Ninja Skillz*

    That kind of behavior is just unnacceptable and disgusting. If you have any records of the things you owned that they took you could sue them in small claims court. A big pain in the ass, but at least you’d call them on their childish behavior.

    Dan Savage (I know, I know) said on his podcast once that when you come out you really have to “parent” your parents. It seems you need to teach them right from wrong in this case. GRRRRR

    (Also, for the record, my parents never went through my room, or if they did they didn’t let me know about it. Shit would have gone down.)

  8. Colin said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    *shakes head* parents.

    My mom once called me a “sonofabitch.” It would have been funny, ‘cept that it wasn’t funny.

  9. Amy said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    “See, there has been a long-standing tradition in my family, which is that the kids’ space is a space to be violated. I am sure most parents’ engage in this.”

    Uh, no. Most parents don’t steal, or vandalize. And, trust me, most people understand that your family’s behaviors are totally unacceptable, no matter what ‘stage’ they may be going through with regard to your queerness, or their own anger. You are not the problem. You have never been the problem. Your emotions, the outrage and fear, are appropriate — your parents are being outrageous and scary.
    Get therapy, if it helps. Change the locks.You might be able to get out of your lease early, if you explain to your landlord that you are being harassed (landlords tend to be wary of being held responsible for problems that occur on their property, and ongoing theft/vandalism of a tenant’s stuff is a problem).

  10. Areem said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Oh. My. God. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this outrageous behaviour.

    If it’s any consolation, I’m planning a move soon because of milder-but-not-entirely-dissimilar behaviour on the part of my landlady. (No religion or sexuality issues in this case, just classism, sizism, and her conviction that owning the house means that she rightfully has absolute control over me and all my thoughts, actions, and possessions — culminating in theft, screaming fits, and a denial of my right to keep or consume any food in the house. (And, like you, I also wasn’t invited to my own joint-birthday party.)

    It sounds like the religious and homophobic ‘rationales’ for your mother’s actions are a cover for much deeper rage/ego/psychiatric issues. I know it’s hard, but try not to take it personally — if it wasn’t you, and wasn’t (ostensibly) for those reasons, it would be somebody else, for (ostensibly) some other reason. Psychological abusers will target anyone they think sufficiently vulnerable. And, living here, I’ve also taken to (secretly) eating boxes of cookies at a time. 😦

    Good luck with things in the coming months. And enjoy the cookies guilt-free — no one deserves them more than you!

  11. vesta44 said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I am so sorry you have to deal with this, and from family to boot. I hope that therapy helps you. I don’t know why families think they have a right to trample on us when we don’t meet their expectations, but a lot of them do (been there done that).

  12. beckduer said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Please, please file a police report now. For the things they’ve already taken. Don’t do this to yourself! If you need to, request a restraining order. I know it’s a harsh thing, but (saying this as a “fundamentalist” born-and-raised), this could rapidly spiral more out of control to the point of assault/battery. Even if you don’t think your parents are capable of it.

    My heart is just breaking for you right now. I would be 20 kinds of devastated if someone did that to my home, my things. I know they are “just things”, but they are my/your things and we each attach a certain value to our “just things”, whether it’s intrinsic or emotional.

    Please, at least consult with a legal someone about it? Just to be safe?

  13. beckduer said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Also, let you think I’m being overly dramatic, see if you can get your hands on a copy of Gavin DeBecker’s “The Gift of Fear”. I’ll send you my extra copy of you’d like!

  14. Halle said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    the “highlighting” of your offensive journal entries absolutely stabs my heart. my mother did the same kinds of things. Privacy? I did not deserve it in her opinion, and tho I was not queer, I was weird, and that was unforgivable. as if i did it only to spite her. I am sending you my softest and safest thoughts. so sorry you are having to go through this.

  15. lynnie said,

    March 11, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    That sucks! Will the landlord allow you to change the locks? I can understand not wanting to file a police report, but I agree with some of the other posters who encouraged you to let them know any further taking or destruction of your property will be reported to the police. They need to know there will be consequences if they do this again. It may also make them see how far over the bounds they have stepped. It’s so petty and vindictive and bizarre! Did they think taking away your weather stripping would make you straight?!

    I think therapy is a great idea. You cannot change your family, but you can learn ways to deal with them and to love yourself no matter how they treat you.

  16. Lindsay said,

    March 11, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Guh.

    I’m sorry you’re going through that, and if we’re ever in a spot to share drinks, the first round’s on me. Wish i didn’t know what it was like. 😛

    Have you thought about getting a small storage locker to put away your more precious valuables until you get your own place? I find the prospect of living in an effectively empty apartment to be remarkably depressing, but i imagine it might be a step up from being afraid it’s going to go missing if you’re away from your place for too long.

    Don’t knock therapy. It’s saved my life on more than one occasion. I highly recommend it.

  17. Liz said,

    March 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Your parents are and were abusive. What you have lived through is abuse.

    Many many many hugs.

  18. Rachel said,

    March 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Oh, wow. How completely horrible and awful. I agree that this is abuse, perhaps even more crippling that had your parents physically abused you.

    My father used a credit card of mine years ago without permission and racked up some debt that he refused to pay. I didn’t file a police report either, because he’s my dad and I still love him. But, he continued to use me and use me. I never did file the police report, but if I had, perhaps he wouldn’t have continued to use me or my credit later on. It doesn’t sound as if your parents will ever come around, so if this is the worry as to why you aren’t filing a police report – that this may negatively affect your chances of reconciliation – I’d think long and hard about it.

    At the minimum, you can ask for a police officer to supervise while your sister moves out. I worked at a police department for a short while and this was common practice between divorcing spouses. At least that might make your parents think twice about stealing or destroying your things.

  19. OTM said,

    March 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Reading the account of your parents violating your space feels like being punched in the stomach – that is just beyond awful and I am so sorry that you have to deal with such nonsense. The advice to change locks and file police reports is good, if you feel up to it. That is a good thing to discuss with your therapist – concrete actions you are willing and able to take. And if you are not ready to take those actions? That is okay, too. You come first.

    And I know this is my answer to everything, but as for the inheritance – if you think it would be worth it money and hassle wise, consider talking to a probate attorney. It might be impermissible for them to without the money/property from you and you might be able to get a court order requiring them to comply with the terms of the will.

  20. shoutz said,

    March 11, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    As someone who never had a parent invade my space, this is breathtakingly shocking to me. I am utterly enraged on your behalf! And I’m very, very glad you’ve decided to see a therapist. You are not required to deal with people who continually treat you in such a fashion… you’re just not! I agree with several other folks who recommend filing a police report now, and potentially seeking a restraining order as well. I appreciate that you may be trying to preserve a family relationship – after all, you’ve reached out on several occasions even after being “disowned.” But I have to say that I believe that is a family dynamic that you may best be free of! Look at how they have made your life hurtful and chaotic, how they have refused to embrace the fact that you are happy, how they continue to plant land mines in your life. Clearly they have destroyed any sort of healthy family relationship you could possibly have had – and they did it years ago!

    Move your things if you can, change the locks if you can… but most of all, sleep if you can. Love your partner. Get help. It will make all the difference.

  21. beansa said,

    March 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    That is so heartbreaking. Good on you for going to therapy, it sounds like you have some grieving to do.

    I second the comment above – not all parents violate the privacy of their kids. What your parents are doing is NOT normal, or ok in any way. I hope you find the strength to do what you need to do, to take care of yourself.

  22. ecogirl73 said,

    March 11, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    In regards to therapy – my sense of what you will get out of it is the opportunity to grieve the relationships with your family – they are not what you need, and that is something that would make anybody sad. When I first started in therapy, I really wasn’t quite sure why I was there, and when my therapist brought up grief in our very first session, I couldn’t get past the idea that I didn’t need to grieve – nobody had died. But, after several years, it has become more clear to me than ever that I had deep, deep grief that I needed to work through – the kind of grief that comes from the loss of safety, acceptance, and love. Therapy was extremely helpful in getting me from a point where I needed to “do” something – e.g., explain myself better, be better, be smaller – to the point where I can just feel the deep sadness that still comes up over relationships lost (and without needing too too many cookies! Please have some compassion for yourself on this one – you are going through A LOT). However, on the “doing” – I agree with many previous comments that changing your locks would be a good step.

  23. Seattlejo said,

    March 11, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, I’m so sorry for what you have been through. While I’m not sure calling the police is effective while your sister is still a tenant, you might want to add some extra security to your space.

    Is there a family friend who could mediate when your sister moves the rest of her things out?
    And this is going to sound crazy, how supportive unsupportive is there church? Could you ask the pastors assistance in mediating between you and your folks or perhaps another church elder?

    I’m horrified at horrible they have been, I’m very sorry.

  24. Bri said,

    March 11, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Their behaviour is disgusting. Please file a police report now. This (and the past behaviour) is abuse and stealing is a crime. I am so sorry you have had this happen.

  25. iiii said,

    March 11, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    CHANGE THE LOCKS. DO IT TODAY.

    Sorry for the yelling, but these are not reasonable people. They will keep invading your space and taking what’s yours. Stop letting them in.

  26. Tari said,

    March 11, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Gods, this is heartbreaking. How can people do this to other people, regardless of interpersonal issues? Especially their own children?! This is criminal!!!

    I hope you will take care of yourself – either by taking concrete actions to prevent additional conflict or to redress what’s already happened (changing locks, police reports, restraining orders, probate attorney, all reallyreally good ideas)….or by cutting your losses, walking away, and getting whatever healing you need.

    I’ve never been through something like that with family, but I had a landlady who crossed similar lines. She stole from me and wound up keeping a couple grand on top of it….all of which I’d have paid twice just to get the fuck out of that situation.

    Sending you lots of supportive warmfuzzy energy….

  27. Piffle said,

    March 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    How absolutely awful. My parents never violated my space like that, and the rage involved in “dumping” your room as a teen just goes to show that their response to your coming out is part and parcel of their personalities, not something you caused. Parents do come in kids rooms sometimes, but my experience is to clean up or put away clothes; not to make a mess or snoop. Hope N helps you feel safe in your space, though it will take time to learn that lesson after your parents’ violation.

    Change your lock, now. Give the landlord a copy of the key, and tell them that no-one is allowed in unless you are there. Tell them why, you are afraid of theft by your family–that way s/he’ll be on guard against sob stories. Pack up your sister’s stuff yourself, and have it in boxes by the door when she comes to get it. Do not let her in.

    Get a lawyer and see if you can get your inheiritence back.

  28. kira said,

    March 11, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about this! I can hardly believe that parents and siblings could do this to family members. I agree with others who said above that this goes beyond just anger at you for coming out. You described your mother breaking into your room to read your journal or rifle through your drawers – this is indicative of someone without boundaries, who’s not respecting your personal space. My mother read my journal a few times, but would never have taken stuff of mine like this. It’s very controlling.

    I’m very glad to hear that you’re going to see a therapist. He or she can hopefully help you get through this difficult situation, and – as someone else said above – grieve the functional loss of your family. They’re not there for you.

    I also want to counsel that you think seriously about whether or not to change the locks. At the moment it may sound like a good idea. But I went through a similar situation with a very controlling ex-boyfriend. When he moved out he kept a key, because he was crashing with a friend and couldn’t bring all of his stuff with him. But the next time he returned, he stole a bunch of stuff that was mine – I got angry and changed the locks, but that just made him angrier. The next time he came over I wasn’t home, and he managed to tell a sob story to a locksmith and get him to let him in, then he took even more stuff and got violent with me. I tried to report the stuff as stolen, but without receipts proving the items were mine it was just my word against his, and he was a talented liar…the police refused to do anything about it. Given your mother’s apparent need to control you, and her breaking into your locked drawer to get at your journal, I’d worry that locking her out would have the same amplifying effect on her that it did on my ex.

    Is there any way you can get out of that apartment prior to the lease? Even if it costs you a penalty to break the lease, it might be worth the expense in order to preserve your sanity.

    Take care of yourself! Know that there are lots of us out here supporting you!

  29. Cindy said,

    March 11, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Jesus.

    Sweet, distant, unresponsive Jesus.

    Do whatever you can to stay sane, safe and functional.

    I came out to my Christian parents in 2001. I had my bags packed. My story, though, was so much happier. It hasn’t been easy. But it has been 13 years. My “marriage” has outlasted my big sister’s.

    I wish I could somehow give you the loving acceptance my parents’ gave to me when I told them. Theirs was a true Christian response. I was amazed and humbled.

    Jesus.

  30. Jen said,

    March 11, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    It is not normal for parents to vandalize their children’s bedrooms in fits of rage and steal from their kids. Not. normal. Change your locks if at all possible and if you feel up to it demand the return of your things. Let them know without a doubt that if they ever steal from you again that you’ll take legal action. The best thing would be to stop them from being able to get into your apartment in the first place.
    Sending you warmfuzzies and security.

  31. ShannonCC said,

    March 11, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    No, it’s not normal for parents to do that.

    I also suggest changing the lock. And a police report too. Because even if they can’t get your stuff back, if they do it again, they already have something on record.

    I’m sorry. That really sucks.

  32. apricotmuffins said,

    March 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Change the locks, file a police report, do everything in your power to show your parents that their behaviour is completely abominable… I cant really say anything that hasnt already been said – other than I am so SO sorry that you have suffered at the hands of such disgusting behaviour.

    and this coming from a christian – their behaviour is as far removed from ‘christ like’ as it gets. They have no excuses, nothing to fall behind. You can do nothing to initiate any kind of reconciliation between yourself and your family – it has to come from themselves and they are blinded by rage, hate and many of their own problems. Leave them to it. I beg you.

  33. N said,

    March 11, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Seconding what Jen said. I don’t know you, and I just read this blog through the FA blogroll, but here’s hoping your week gets better from here on out.

  34. Deniselle said,

    March 11, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    How horrible! I’m so sorry and hope the therapy helps you. Your family sounds emotionally unwell. I’m still in the closet, so unfortunately I can’t really offer any advice, but surely professional help is the best way to go. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you eat too much either – it’s normal to react in physical ways to pressure like this. Hugs!

  35. Sandy said,

    March 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I know your pain. I am straight…but my mother has never approved of any decision I have made in my life. When I moved out of her house, I could not take everything with me. She would tell me to come get the rest of my stuff on x day at x time and she would always be sure to be gone, doors locked (she changed the locks the day I left and nailed the windows shut) not to return until late. She gave away many of my things to neighborhood kids (many things of which I wanted). I have yet to receive the bible that was on a wreath at my great grandmother’s funeral…that was presented to ME.
    The rest of the stuff she decided to put outside on her porch…and told me 3 days later it was there and to come and get it. Much of my belongings that I had left was ruined from rain and weather.

    She has constantly lied about me (and my sisters) whenever she is pissed at us for some reason. The latest one about me that I know of is that I stole stuff that she GAVE me (DH is my witness!) all because I wouldn’t stay with her when we visited my family a year ago (my family lives 800 miles away). I have tried NOT to speak to her since.

    It is very very hard to deal with these things. You expect unconditional love from your parents and try hard in many ways to accommodate them when they feel you are in the wrong about things. Then comes a day when you realize that you can never have that ideal family like you see in the movies and read in books…or even an imperfect family like you friends have. You can’t even have cool civility with them.

    And it hurts.

    Bad.

    I am going through the same process myself. I have many many anger issues at my mother for all the shit she put me through emotionally through my life. I have a hard time dealing with the fact that I pretty much have no mother, only a woman that gave birth to me. I am almost in tears writing this, because I KNOW. I know the place you are at right now.

    I am in it too.

    You aren’t alone.

    *hugs*

  36. Jae said,

    March 11, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    There are no words for how saddened I am to read this…I want to just go over there right now, grab your stuff, and yell some sense into these people. No one deserves this kind of treatment, but you by all accounts seem to be such a lovely person…it’s unthinkable.

    Please, for your own safety, change the locks and speak to the landlord (if you have a decent relationship) about what has happened. I would also strongly consider filing a police report. I know that can be a hard thing to do, an extremely hard thing in fact, but you need to put yourself first here because they clearly won’t.

    I’m glad you have N and many sympathetic ears; it doesn’t erase the pain, but it can help to cushion the blows. All of my good thoughts are with you.

    (((hugs)))

  37. Twistie said,

    March 11, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Your comment about the sense of control smoking used to give you is telling to me. That’s what this is all about really, isn’t it? Who controls your life. The answer is you do. It’s your life to live in whatever way you choose.

    Your family is trying to take away any sense of control you have. They have stolen from you. They refuse to acknowledge you, but feel free to invade your space and remove your possessions at random.

    THIS IS NOT NORMAL! IT IS NOT OKAY!

    In fact, this is quite literally criminal.

    You have more control than you realize in this situation. You have the option to file a report with the police. You have the right to bring a lawsuit against them. You have the right to request a restraining order. You have the option to ask the landlord for permission to change the locks – something (s)he may be more amenable to than in the normal course of things since you would be making the request in light of a criminal act committed on the premises.

    Therapy is great. I think it will be helpful to you in dealing with the consequences of this act of abuse and in working out which of your options you choose to pursue.

    Remember, you have practical options available to you. Your mother is not all-powerful. She is a pathetic, sick woman who needs to be shown that she is not in charge of your life. You are in charge. Not your mother, not the cookies, but YOU.

    What’s more, you are more than capable of making the right decision for you. Anyone who has survived the childhood you describe as whole as you are is going to do just fine, as soon as she takes her power. So take it, and don’t ever give it back.

  38. Cordelia said,

    March 11, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I am so sorry you have to go through that…. I agree with the rest of the commenter’s… do what you need to do to feel better and safe. Therapy is really great and gives you the outlet to vent what you are going through, and what they did was abuse truly… not to mention against the law… and I am sorry you had to do that.

  39. Orodemniades said,

    March 11, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    First of all, your parents, Fundies or no, are crazy. I haven’t read the rest of the comments, I’m just going out on my own here. Most parents do not, in fact, go through their children’s belongings unless they are searching for something along the lines of Teh Drugz, or maybe sexual paraphernalia, or what have you.

    Your parents have violated your trust repeatedly – I’m surprised you’re not an extremely controlling person. They had absolutely NO RIGHT to do what they did in your apartment, no right whatsoever. Personally, I think you need to break ties with them for however long it takes *you* to become comfortable/less anxious/less afraid. I think you also must realize that they may be incapable of giving you what you need, whatever that might be. I wish I could say something bright and uplifting and make this all go away, but from what I’ve read above, I think in this case you’re on your own.

    Therapy is definitely the right track. If that alone can ease your anxiety it’s well worth it.

    I’m sorry you have to go through this.

  40. hotsauce said,

    March 12, 2008 at 2:02 am

    i don’t know what to say except that i’m sorrier than i can say with words. my chest physically hurts right now reading this. it is so unbelievable to me what you’ve been through, and unacceptable doesn’t even begin to describe what your family has done to you. i’m glad you’re seeking therapy. i was going to suggest you do that, but then i got to the bottom and saw that you were, and also 30something people told you to do so : )

    i want to second/third/fourth these particular urgings: change your locks, file a police report (don’t wait until they do it again — they’ve already done it before, and judging from this i don’t believe they deserve advance warning), and talk to a lawyer about the inheritance. the money from your grandmother is not theirs to decide and they are violating her memory by using it to punish you for something they have a personal problem with. seek out a pro bono person if necessary. here’s a site where you can find free help: http://www.lawhelp.org.

    also, in addition to therapy, i would suggest looking into some kind of martial arts class if that’s possible. i’ve always found that physical movement helps me, and with this you can channel your rage in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone, including you. much better than a punching bag too, because martial arts focuses so much on control and breathing.

  41. Liz said,

    March 12, 2008 at 7:57 am

    I also wanted to say that there are lots of resources to help recover from abusive relationships. Most abused women’s shelters provide therapy on a sliding scale and, while they often focus on spousal abuse, recovery from parental abuse is also something that they specialize in. I don’t know what locality you’re in, but I’m sure there is an abuse hotline in your area that can connect you with a local organization.


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