The Day I Left

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. It was originally published on February 3, 2014.

February 6th three years ago marks the day I packed all of my meager belongings and left my family’s house.

It was almost exactly two weeks after my dad had kicked me out. He had walked into my room, told me I wasn’t worth his time anymore, he was tired of dealing with me, then proceeded to blame me for all of the issues he was having with my siblings. After his little speech, he told me I had two weeks to leave, if I needed help finding a place, I could ask, but basically I was on my own. He looked around my room and pointed out the pieces of furniture I could take or what had to stay behind. I was only allowed to take my trunk, my desk, and a dresser I had just happened to buy.

I left that house and never looked back. 

I believe my therapist was right in telling me I had cut ties with my family years ago, but leaving that day was the final string. My dad celebrated that night by taking my family out to dinner, a very rare occurrence. I was asked if I wanted to come as if I was already no longer part of the family. My siblings were confused, here was their dad telling them about how much of a rebellious and bad girl I was. I was an extremely bad example all because I had chosen the man I was going to marry and wasn’t going to back down no matter how much my dad abused me and tried to manipulate me.

I was finally standing up to his vicious anger and this was the consequences.

I fought for my siblings, it was me who held them together, only, no one saw that until I was no longer there. My siblings couldn’t see that, they couldn’t see what I had been protecting them from all of those years; the man behind the mask who grew more and more manipulative and abusive as the years passed. I have never really processed the emotions that went with this event. 

I often feel burning anger towards my dad and also great sorrow because I can see how blinded and truly sick he is.

*****

Recently my younger sister Emma has been starting to find her voice.

She is speaking out about what it was like to grow up, and I am proud of her for standing up to the man whose sperm just happened to be part of creating us kids.

She is calling the bullshit as she’s seen it and she is not skirting around the real issues.

It does my heart so good to see her taking the steps I have taken before her in what will hopefully be a healing journey for her.I am going to stand by her and lift up her words because more of us need to speak out.

It struck me the other day how often the abusers get a free pass. I see the discomfort cross faces when I bring up what my dad has done and how I’m working through it. I hear the sorrow in their voices and see it in their eyes when I say I will not allow my dad to go anywhere near this child of mine. It isn’t sorrow for me so much as it is sorrow that I don’t have the daddy-daughter relationship I’m somehow supposed to have. It’s sorrow and discomfort because my life hasn’t gone the way people would rather have seen it gone. Very very few people I have interacted with in regards to my dad’s abuse has actually had what I consider the right response. Very few people have actually gotten angry, upset because of what he has done. 

Abuse is not something to just brush over with “grace” and “pray for your persecutor.” 

Abuse in any form is worthy of anger and worthy of being stood up against.

I remember when I first started sharing my story and starting to peel back the layers of pain hardened emotions to find the wound holes. No one seemed to understand why I needed to speak. It was all “hush, hush, you shouldn’t say that, it’s slander.” By keeping silent I was allowing his abuse to continue, I, the victim, was being told my story didn’t matter, it wasn’t appropriate to share. 

“Protect the men and their egotistical reputations at all costs!” is apparently the unspoken mantra in the circles I grew up in.

Girls, families, I had spent a lot of time with no longer speak to me, I can’t stand going to reenactments because of running into those people and having to deal with the sad pitying looks they give me because I am the black sheep, I spoke out against the abuse I have suffered, I chose a good, good man to marry and all they saw was a rebellious girl thumbing her nose at the authority “God had placed over her life.”

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

A friend of mine wrote a post about “Rage and Grace” recently, and I really can relate to her words.

It is difficult to find the balance between not answering the abusers, the tormentors, with how they have approached us, and with being appropriately angry and upset about something we should be upset about. Abuse is never something you should brush off. Yes, the abusers are strong, they are used to getting their way and crushing us.

But just as a little flame can turn into a raging fire, so can our words and our taking stances about abuse, speaking out, and healing from our abuse make a difference.

*****

The day I left was a significant day.

That was the day I stood up and said no more. My mom kept telling me I could appeal to my dad, she seemed desperate to keep me at home. But my heart had already left, this was simply my body making it’s departure from the family I had grown up with. 

I will never stop defending my ground as a survivor and continuing to put up healthy boundaries to protect the fragile healing my heart is still undergoing.

I will never stop standing up and doing my best to aid the siblings who come to me for help. It has taken time, but I believe they are starting to see I am not the bad sister my dad has made me out to be. Not talking with my dad is my choice and it is not a sad choice. It is not something worth your sorrow. It is the choice I have made to protect myself, protect my marriage, and to protect my child. He is a dangerous man and it is not worth placing myself back until his toxicity just for the sake of making people feel like I am showing him “grace.”

I am content and very happy with my life, so please be happy for me?

My life is not about my family. My life is about me, Phil, and my little boy.

See those other survivors who are struggling with family relationships and friend relationships? Be happy for them with the life they have chosen. Be willing to set aside your preconceived ideas about what family relationships should look like, and be happy for us when we share an exciting discovery in our healing or our own personal ventures.

We need you to stand beside us and to be angry at the abuse and celebrate the good.  

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