Posted by: Marie | September 21, 2012

(715) I want what I can’t have

Post #715
[Private journal entry written on Friday, October 28, 2011]

Today, I wrote an email to Edward. But, I didn’t send it. Writing it was a way for me to try to make sense of my feelings. Writing helped, but the words don’t feel ready to be sent. So, I just saved the text. Maybe I’ll share it with him later.


Hi, Edward –

I’ve been processing our latest conversation . . .

I think I know what is happening when I become paralyzed and lose my voice when attempting to stand up for myself to my dad . . .

I learned at a very young age that it is injurious to try to speak up for myself to my dad. Not only did it result in physically painful punishment, but it also resulted in judgment and profound rejection. So, I learned to not try it. And, I learned I was helpless to change how my dad reacted to my attempts.

Now, as an adult, I find it is injurious and hopeless to speak up for myself when I’m dealing with people who are self-righteous in the name of God (like my dad). I no longer experience the physical punishment, but I do experience profound rejection. Their minds are closed. I can beat my head against the door of their reasonableness but it will not open the door. It will only bloody my head. So, I don’t do it.

Photo by Martin Chen

I don’t even do it in the context of a conversation with an imagined version of my dad because that causes me to relive the rejection I received from him. Trying to imagine a different outcome won’t change what actually happened. Even if he were still alive, the outcome would not change.

I can have all kinds of pretend conversations where he would show up differently, but it doesn’t change what actually did happen. He rejected the real version of me. The aftermath from that is what I’m processing now.

In the current time, there is no room for conversation with most of my family members about my spiritual beliefs and about my experience of being molested. There is no room for conversation with people in my childhood church family about how incredibly wrong it is to punish a child through abuse. And, there was no room for conversation with my former therapist about respecting my choices in spiritual matters.

I have accepted this is the way it is for me – I will never have emotionally intimate relationships with the people with whom I would prefer to have the most emotionally intimate relationships.

Their minds are closed. Talking to them will only cause me to experience rejection and judgment, and my inability to change that brings great frustration. So, I don’t do it. I don’t even try to do it. Instead, I have those conversations with other people who have open minds.

The emotion I feel when I try to “stand up to” my dad and to other self-righteous people is a quick flash of frustration and anger, which is quickly replaced with intense hopelessness about the situation. Then, a bit later, after I have the conversation I always have with myself about “just letting go of the hope it will ever happen”, I experience profound sadness.

But, I don’t experience lasting anger towards my dad and towards the other self-righteous people because I believe they are doing what they truly believe is best. They are doing the best they know to do.

To be persistently angry with them would be like being angry with a three-year old child for being selfish or with a large boulder for blocking my hiking path. I can’t bring myself to be angry with the “offending” party because they are doing what they believe is the best thing to do.

I can empathize all too well because I’ve been there myself. Many years ago, I routinely and ferverishly stood up for what I believed relating to various topics and situations. I would fight and defend my position, even when it was painful to do so. At the time, I believed I was right.

And now, looking back on those times, I can see that my beliefs have shifted and that I believe something different now. But, believing something different now doesn’t diminish the conviction I felt back then.

So, now, I am unable to hold anger towards the people who are/were doing what they feel/felt is right. I’ve trained myself well to not allow that because I can’t fault them for doing what they believe is right, even if I disagree. And, I don’t care to start generating and holding onto that anger.

I often feel frustration at the closed mindedness of the self-righteous people around me. I don’t want them to take on my beliefs, but I do wish they would allow space for my beliefs and my conclusions about my own experiences to be valid, even if they don’t agree. I wish they wouldn’t hold such a black-or-white view.

And, I feel persistent sadness and grief about the relationships that will never be and about the injury I sustained through the ignorance and emotional immaturity of the self-righteous.

Maybe we can use those emotions in this healing journey.

– Marie


  1. I for one think you can use those emotions on the healing journey.

  2. Those emotions (grief/sadness) are far more accessible to me, for sure!

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