HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kierstyn King’s blog Bridging the Gap.  It was originally published on April 28, 2014.

I’ve had really vivid dreams lately, probably due to getting over the lingering effects of a cold (it was a horrible cold, and I’m mostly better but still dealing with minor sinus issues). My dreams have been weirdly stressful and tend to feature my family and I wake up feeling like I haven’t slept, but last night…last night I dreamt that my dad was shooting at me. A lot, constantly, I was trying to leave and he was just shooting and shooting and following me and shooting, and that’s the first time that’s happened. The last time I had a similar dream, my dad was a bear trying to eat Alex and me…

…This is the first time there were guns.

Which makes sense, my family has at least 3.

A few weeks ago I sent my family an open letter, addressing the things I knew they were upset about (my hair, my sexuality, my lack of pregnancy, telling them once and for all that I’m an agnostic), and telling them things about me that they probably didn’t care to know, and ending it by telling them to stop using me as a bat on my siblings, and to leave me alone (with the caveat of, if they ever get over themselves and decide to accept me as a human and get to know me and not just spy for creating-drama purposes, to talk to me instead of going through other people). Considering all my family really cares about is using me to create drama, I think that my letter shut everyone up about me like I thought it would.

My theory was that by giving everyone the same information about me they wouldn’t have anything to gossip or speculate about or reason to use whatever means necessary to spy – since I answered all their questions/issues and took the interestingness out of it.

It’s been radio silence and I hope it keeps. It’s weird, you know…my parents said they wanted nothing to do with me until I apologized to them in 2010, but then conveniently forgot that when it suited their purposes (I’m assuming, to make them look good in front of church people – it’s what they do). I unfriended everyone on my mom’s side in November and the family freaked out when they realized it, but I’ve never once been asked, genuinely, how I am, no one has tried to get to know me in five years, they’ve only been intent on spying and using me as a tool to inflict guilt on my siblings and that’s just wrong. Every contact I’ve had with them has been silently self-serving, done of obligation, or not-so-subtly implied that they wished I was who they wanted me to be and approved of and not who I am. I don’t have time for that.

I will never live up to what they want me to be, and sometimes that hurts a lot more than I want to admit.

I put up a strong face – I throw up brick walls the way Elsa made her Ice Castle, bury the pain inside the mortar.


It’s easier to be callous and cold and numb, than angry, and vulnerable, and hurt. So I act like it doesn’t bother me, Fuck them all is my mantra, but it does bother me and I wish that it wouldn’t.

I wish that I didn’t feel as though the most abusive people in my life mean something. Because I feel like they shouldn’t. I wish I didn’t feel sad because I know that by merely existing  I’m letting down the people who spent my entire childhood neglecting me and usingme.

Sometimes I feel like the Hulk and my secret is that I’m always angry.

Because I am angry.I’m angry at how they get off scot-free, I’m angry at how the world thinks we need to revere parents even when our parents are the bullies we couldn’t escape. I’m angry that they can keep on manipulating people and lying and living with no guilt or remorse, with aid from family, and keep people on their side and looking up to them – as people with Narcissism and Borderline are really good at doing.

My family is looked up to in churches, cited as examples, people seek out my parents to ask them advice about homeschooling and child-rearing (and other things), they think the fact that my mom has destroyed her body having kids is awesome and noble.

No one sees the dark underbelly of what it looks like to grow up with them and their life choices, no one registers the fake smiles, no one sees past the masks.

And I get to pick up the pieces.

I can’t look at an infant or pregnant person without feeling ill and stressed out. I panic every time I see a stroller, or an entitled parent at a restaurant. I get to be condemned for not having or wanting kids, for not doing anything for mother’s day, for doing what I need to do for my sanity and quality of life that involves cutting out the toxicity that is my family. I can’t leave my apartment without being bombarded by triggers, I can’t talk to any nosey old person without being patronized about my existence, the general consensus of the world does everything in it’s power to tell me that everything about me is wrong and flies in the face of what is approved of and wouldn’t it just be easier if I killed everything-that-is-me and conformed?

I’m planning out how to help my siblings after they reach adulthood because my parents thought it was unnecessary for half of my sisters to have identification, and everyone born after 1999 is unvaccinated.

This is the aftermath of growing up with abusive and neglectful parents and extended family who enable them. You bet your ass I’m angry.

And also crying.

Because no one fucking deserves this.

3 thoughts on “Parents

  1. Laurel May 9, 2014 / 12:19 pm

    Your posts bring me to tears. Tears because I know the pain I caused my children ( in different ways than your parents but none-the-less wrong) and that you have experienced trauma from your parents. Your anger is so legitimate. Human hearts, no matter what age, do not flourish under manipulation, shame, disapproval, fear, anger, domination, harshness, neglect, control… I am sorry you have experienced this in your home, your church and the homeschooling community. ( we have NCFCA background, I can’t picture your family in my mind, but if I saw you maybe I would do an “aha”)
    I am angry too. Angry that we adults have been so blinded by religion, performance, “perfection”, fear and pride that we have failed to love, treasure and nurture the beautiful souls entrusted to our care. You have a lot of guts to face this head on with your family. Way to go! You are fighting for the right things. I think your Grammie would be very proud of you, I know I am.


  2. Andrew May 9, 2014 / 1:51 pm

    I felt the same way a few years after leaving my home. I also left them with a letter of all the ways I hoped they would raise my siblings. I unfriended my mom and relatives as well during that time. I’ve since come to grips with my past,my family, and my own philosophy and view of life. My parents have changed too, it’s not a hopeless cause. People actually do change, but you will have to work with them and give them time. To all homeschooled alumni, there is hope. Your family may change over time, and real love may come out of a legalistic oppressive past. It is possible, but it may take a long time. In my case it took 9 years after I graduated high school. Never give up hope on your family!


  3. Jay May 10, 2014 / 11:31 am

    Kierstyn, your upbringing was harder than mine, and I’m so sorry for that. However, I do identify with having to speak up when parents start mentoring. That was the original impetus for me confronting my mother for the first time – she was starting to meet one-on-one with new mothers who were interested in homeschooling, and used me and my siblings as her success stories. I couldn’t bear it. It’s been a long, long road since then (she no longer meets with potential homeschoolers, instead now she tells anyone who’ll listen about how she was “the worst parent ever” and “did everything wrong,” which is ALSO incorrect…) but we have experienced healing. It sounds like you’ll have a tougher journey with your parents, but I deeply admire you for wanting to help your siblings. Remember that you have a community behind you and supporting you. Even though you may not feel that you are resilient, you are, and that is admirable.


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