In Sickness and In Sickness

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After years of dysfunction and abuse, my alcoholic, narcissistic father and my enabling, codependent mother divorced. I was in college at the time. My mother hid behind “staying together for the children,” even though we didn’t want her to. I suppose she couldn’t use that excuse any more when we weren’t there. When she left him the first time, my father called me, upset. He didn’t see it coming. He insisted it was completely out of the blue and without reason. Ha.

During the first time they were separated, I was attending a school that I knew I needed to leave. I made plans to move back to my home state and transfer to an in-state university, though it meant having to move back in with my mom for a short time. I had some hope it might not be too bad since she was finally facing some reality and had left my father. About a week before I was due to arrive, she moved back in with him.

It was awful. Worse than when I had left the first time, and I had graduated a year early from high school so I could leave home. A couple months passed, and she made plans to leave him again. She put a deposit on an apartment across town. We had a move out date. Then she found out she had cancer. She had been hemorrhaging for a few weeks and lost so much blood that by the time she got to the hospital, she flatlined and had to be revived with CPR and several pints of blood.

I was in class at the time. Later that day, my father told me what happened. He then launched into a self- pity rant about how my mom would be out of work for a long time, so now I would now have to quit school and get a job to support him(!) and not only that, but horror of horrors, now he couldn’t buy the new boat he wanted. I yelled a few choice words back and left.

Needless to say, my mother was in no condition to leave him. I visited her in the ICU. While lying in her hospital bed, she told me that if she died, she wanted my dad to have his boat. I stared back at her, speechless. On my mind was the same question I had been asking myself all my life. What the hell is wrong with these people?!

A few months later, I left for college again, and I never, ever made the mistake of moving back “home” again. They divorced while I was away. They remained divorced for over 15 years. And then, they remarried. To. Each. Other. I had already gone no contact with them by that time, but I received an email from my mother about it. She informed me that she wanted me at the wedding, presumably so she could pretend to show others that our family was normal. She quoted Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord,” as proof that I was obligated to do what she wanted. She knew I had become a Christian a few years prior, so sometimes she sent bible verses as a manipulation tactic. First of all, I am no longer a child. But what’s most ironic about this verse are the lines that immediately precede it and come after. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Hmm, it seems she may have missed the whole point of Colossians.

So guess what? I didn’t go to the wedding. Why on earth would I? Sometimes, there is no saving people from their own bad decisions. I am not okay with my parents’ relationship with each other, but if they want to continue to enable each other in their sick and twisted lie, so be it. I have learned the hard way that I can only save myself.


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