Breaking Free: Sheldon’s Story
HA note: Sheldon blogs at Ramblings of Sheldon. This is an original piece that Sheldon wrote for Homeschoolers Anonymous.
In December 2013, I cut my abusive parents out of my life once and for all.
It took quite a bit of emotional strength to do it, but when I finally did, I felt worn out, but I realized that all feelings for my parents that once had were no longer there, they felt dead to me, they were living human beings of course, but I no longer felt any love or affection for them anymore, still don’t.
What led to this point? Well, that’s a lot of details to that, and hopefully I can explain it without writing a book. There was plenty of abuse in my childhood, but besides the effects of the isolation from homeschooling which still cause issues for me to this day at 25 years old, what really got me was how I was treated as a young adult by them.
It started when I tried to attend Southwest Baptist University as a Political Science major. I just couldn’t adjust to being 250 miles from home, going from isolation as a homeschooler to an actual classroom experience, dealing with people on a regular basis, and actually being able to make decisions for myself on a regular basis, from the mundane to the major.
I didn’t realize at the time that I was dealing with depression, and panic attacks started with a vengeance, I lost count after a while of how many I had, but in a 10 month period, I probably had around 15-20 major attacks, with many smaller ones, and that combined with extreme fatigue and hopelessness from the depression, I could no longer function.
Everything came crashing down around me, all my hopes and dreams that led me to become a political science major. I ended up having to face the reality that I could no longer continue attending Southwest Baptist, and was brought home after the end of the freshman year.
Most parents would would do their best to help out their child at a time like this, console them, help them to put their life back together, and emotionally support them. Not mine. My father understood what had happened, but he wasn’t the one who ran our household, my mother was, and to her, the depression was the result of “sin” and “not having a right relationship with god”. Her idea was to punish me for what she saw as recklessness and misbehavior.
I was forced off of medication for depression that I had started upon coming back home (after realizing what the depression actually was), and was treated like a rebellious teen.
I was controlled and emotionally abused to the point that when I tried in desperation to leave with enough of what I owned to fit in my vehicle and a few hundred dollars in my bank accounts, I was convinced that I had to leave, or it would end up leading me to end my life. She personally barricaded the doorway to stop me from leaving, threatening violence, and telling me that if she did attack me, I would deserve it.
I kept fighting, and just saw this as a temporary setback, I worked, saved up money, and finally a bought a house. She did help me rebuild the house, along with my father, but her dark side was showing up again, her controlling and hostile ways. I finally had enough, and told her no longer wanted any help on the house if she was going to act that way. She called me an “ungrateful brat”, I didn’t care anymore, her guilt trips did nothing to me by this point, I told her never to show up at the house again, and I would bring back dad’s tools to them.
I knew, based on the past, that something drastic could happen, so I went out, and bought new locks, and was in the process of installing them that night, when she showed up, I knew it couldn’t go well, I shoved the door shut quickly, with the lock in it half done, it was a fortunate occurrence that the lock jammed because it wouldn’t been properly installed yet, because when closed, it wouldn’t allow the door to open.
I could hear screaming, and her pushing and shoving the door, and futilely trying to open it, she was trying to force her way into the house.
I had enough, I called my town’s police department, and when the officer finally showed up, I went out the back door to talk with the officer, and my mother started the victim act, lying to the officer, claiming that this was all because I didn’t “want to help them work on the house”. My own father, who used to run interference to protect me and my sister as children tried to punch me in front of a cop.
His betrayal that day (along with his increasing habit of trying to cover for her and make excuses for her in the year leading up to that time), is really what got to me the worst, my mother is who she is, and I doubt she will ever change in her lifetime, but for him to turn into a carbon copy of her was shocking.
It’s been severals months now since that day, and it’s been hard, I’ve had to give up the social circles that I had, since most involved the church I was in, along with my parents (it was bound to happen eventually anyway, I couldn’t keep my change in beliefs a secret much longer), and I had to stand my ground with the manipulative pastor of that church who tried to guilt me into accepting my parents back in my life, despite me personally telling him what they had done, both then and in my past.
Enough of that, I’m tired of being forced to be someone I’m not, to please people who won’t accept me anyway. I’ve had a lot of new experiences, I’ve learned what’s it’s like to have the simple freedom of walking around in public with a Pink Floyd or Sons of Anarchy shirt, and not give a care in the world.
I’ve learned how to work on my house myself, I’ve started coming to terms with the fact that I don’t really feel masculine or feminine emotionally on the inside (I recently changed the gender status on Facebook to “non binary”). I’ve found a great Unitarian Universalist congregation where I can be me, and be accepted as one of the group anyway.
Life now can be challenging, but it’s worth it, there’s no going back.