Do I owe anything to my abusive parent?

"You owe nothing to your abuser. You owe yourself compassion, patience, self-knowledge and creativity in finding ways to be at peace."



July 8, 2020 - 9:41 AM

Dear Carolyn: My family of origin is broken. My siblings and I were emotionally and physically abused as children. My parents would of course dispute the word “abuse.” They did the best they could, but they didn’t have good parenting skills.

Carolyn HaxCourtesy photo

Fast-forward, decades. The “kids” all live far from a place we never call “home” and rarely visit. Sole surviving parent has a wide circle of friends but has become increasingly quirky and difficult to be around. As a result, elderly parent gloomily spent the last Most Important Holiday alone.

I feel torn between: A. a sense of responsibility to ease another human’s pain by visiting during Important Holiday; and B. protecting myself from a person and place that causes me anxiety and crushes my sense of self.

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