“You turned out O.K.” he stated with great satisfaction. If I heard this once, I heard it a million times. I tried to have minimal contact, because it was so stressful, upsetting and relatively painful. But my (then) husband thought it was wrong of me to not have a relationship with my parents, so he pushed me to continue to see them fairly frequently. Had I been left to make my own choices, I would not have pursued or continued that relationship. But my husband thought they were both nice, wonderful people. He thought I was wrong about them. He didn’t understand why they were so hard for me to be around. Of course, a large part of his lack of understanding was calculated. He didn’t want to hear anything about my abuse-filled past or the things they had done to me. He didn’t want to know my pain or hear the cries of my heart. So I continued to have very difficult and problematic encounters with my parents. Because my ex required it. And as I was such a disappointment to him, I wanted to do what little I could to please my poor, long-suffering husband. If that was possible at all. My parents used to come to visit occasionally and my father always took everyone out to lunch; Mr. Magnanimous because that’s the image he wanted to cultivate. During those lunchtime encounters, he inevitably, predictably told me that he was proud of me and that I “turned out O.K.” Internally, I would rankle at his observation. I halfheartedly smiled at him in response, but inside I was screaming and my emotions were churning. I wanted to shout, “Stop congratulating yourself. I did NOT turn out O.K. You just don’t want to know or see how broken I am. I’m so screwed up, so hurt, you have no idea! I’m a disaster, a total horrible disaster…thanks to you.” But I held my tongue. There was no point in saying it. He wouldn’t have heard me anyway. He saw what he wanted to see; heard what he wanted to hear. So I ate in silence, taking the path of least resistance, practically choking on my food. He said it to reassure himself; to pat himself on the back. He wanted to continue to believe that the years and years and years of sexual abuse hadn’t done me any damage. It made him feel better that I was fairly successful in business and outwardly seemed together. It proved he was a good father who had done his job well. I continued to make him look good, trying my best to please. That was who I was. That was who he made me. My job was to fulfill my parents, make them appear normal and healthy, fix their lives, fill up the empty places, make up for the disappointments. I didn’t, but I tried. Hard. Diligently. Stupidly. I tried to please my husband too, but I never could. My internal resources were limited. With his rejection breaking me down more as time went on, it got harder to fake it as the years went by and eventually, I couldn’t even pretend. I was not acceptable and I couldn’t perform to an acceptable level. I was a failure. Worthless. The very core of who I am was not good enough. Additionally, I couldn’t keep up with the house. Working insane hours zapped all my energy, so I had nothing left when I got home. (Note: I was the breadwinner, but he justified this by telling me I was the only one who cared about having enough money and a few nice things, therefore, it was all my fault that I had to work so hard to support us.) I couldn’t stand to go out much. I was too tired to put on the “happy Robin” face and keep up the facade around other people. Plus I was too embarrassed by my appearance…I gained a lot of weight over time and couldn’t seem to do anything to lose it. I could barely function, really. I dreaded going to the store, getting gas for my car, running errands. Eventually, my husband took over a lot of those types of chores and he resented it every moment of our time together while I felt shame and embarrassment at being so unable to do what I should be doing. It was, of course, more evidence of my total failure as a wife. And he was right…I failed. But again, not for lack of trying with everything that I had to work with. My greatest shame was that I didn’t seem to have enough to work with. I was ashamed of who I am even more than I was ashamed of what I failed to do. My parents thought my marriage was wonderful and that my husband was incredible. An answer to prayer. My husband did a great job of making it seem like he cared about me when we were around them. Our solid marriage was yet more evidence that they had done a good job as parents. But there was no solid marriage or loving husband. There was no successful, well-adjusted Robin. It was all an illusion; one that was very difficult to maintain and that zapped all of my strength. It took every ounce of willpower I had just to get up each day and keep going. There was no one behind the facade. Just me…a nothing and a nobody. Broken, shattered, struggling, failure that I was, I limped along, trying my very best to keep up, falling further and further behind. Eventually, I couldn’t even pretend to be O.K. But as luck would have it, my parents died before I reached that ugly breaking point. My husband left me, having fallen in love with another woman, a few months after my mother died (my father preceded her in death by about 4 years). That’s when the facade crumbled. That’s when the illusion was destroyed. Had they lived to see it, there would have been no question about my “O.K.” status. I wasn’t. Not at all. I reached a place where I could no longer hide my brokenness. The fruit of their parenting, plus years of being rejected by the man I once loved deeply and gave my heart to, was finally unveiled for all to see. The abuse took a mighty toll. A staggering toll, in fact. I’m still trying to figure out how to live in this unending wasteland inside of me. There doesn’t seem to be any oxygen in the air, so I’m not sure life is actually sustainable. No shelter. No love or safety. Too much is lacking. I’m trying my best to put one foot in front of the other and to keep going, but I fear I’m mainly wandering in circles in the debris. I’m lost and terrified. And alone. The truth is finally revealed. I’ve never been O.K. I’m honestly not sure I ever will be.