Every night when I get to work, I have a routine. I get report from the person on before me, and when they leave, I turn on Pandora radio and set about checking Facebook, email, etc. Last night, my routine had a nasty interruption. Upon logging into Facebook, I found that I had a few messages. One of them was from my father (emotional abuser), with whom I cut off contact almost two years ago.

The message itself was not anything “bad,” it was basically a “Hope you are doing well, miss you” message. When I saw his name, I immediately started crying and felt like I was going to be sick. My visceral reaction was to want to reply to him and open up contact again. Cutting off contact with an emotional abuser is very hard, because you constantly doubt your memories. My father is a master at gaslighting, and I have often felt completely insane in the past. Am I remembering things that did not really happen? That programming is still going strong in my brain. So it takes a lot of willpower for me to resist the urge to run right back into that relationship.

After I read the message, I noticed that my brother was logged on, so I chatted him. He did a good job validating my decision to not be in contact with our father and reassured me that I am not a horrible person. The longer I thought about the fact that he had messaged me and the platform on which he chose to do it, the sketchier it seemed. Why would he not just email me if he wanted to try to get back in contact? I then realized that when you message someone on Facebook, it shows you the date and time that they read the message. Also, if you are not friends with someone on Facebook, any messages you send automatically go into their “other” folder, which many users don’t even know about or look at…UNLESS you PAY for it to go into their regular folder. That message went into my regular messages, so I know that my father paid to send it and know when I read it. It seemed like an innocent message at first, but I can see that it was a manipulation.

This is SO HARD. I truly do miss my father. Along with the abuse, there were good times. I try not to believe that anyone is all good or all bad, and my father, while abusive, is certainly not all bad. He has his own issues including a personality disorder, and this can account for some of his behavior. However, while this may be a REASON for his behavior, it is not an EXCUSE. And it certainly does not mean that I have to subject myself to it. I am an adult. I make my own decisions. I protect myself. I can resist the urge to dive back in.

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