When I was thirteen, my father burst into my room while I was doing my homework, and demanded that I follow him outside. He lead me in the dark to the steep, empty hillside behind our house to point out that “some guy” could see right into my bedroom window. He then berated me for half an hour because my shades weren’t drawn. Never mind there was nothing back there. Never mind whoever wanted to spy on me would have to jump a fence, climb a hill, and navigate their way through trees and poison oak in the dark. “Somebody” could potentially do it, and I was in trouble for not preventing it from happening. As per usual, I absorbed the blame. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that the “someone” who would go to all that trouble to watch me through my bedroom window was himself.

My father did many sexually inappropriate things to me and around me for as far back as I can remember. He used to walk around the house naked when my teenage friends spent the night. He almost always slept naked with his bedroom door wide open. When I became a teenager, he obsessed over my “decency” and he acted constantly paranoid about what I was doing or not doing. He was constantly suspicious of me. I realize now that he was projecting all of his own behavior on to me, but this information does not make his shame-based messages and trampling of my boundaries any easier. “And where was my mother,” as my therapist is prone to ask? Enabling him.

Fast forward to today, mother is my stalker. After a dozen years of no contact, she still tracks down every address I move to. She knows the names and birthdates of my children whom she has not met and sends them cards  signed, “Love, Grandma” as if they knew who she was. She has manipulated family members into divulging information about me, causing me to severely limit contact with extended family as well. My mother recently sent my daughter a card detailing how she found pictures of her online, commenting on how she’s grown. My mother had to do some serious digging to find these images. My daughter is a minor and we take care to protect her online privacy as much as possible. I don’t know what creeps me out more- that my own mother would stalk my child or that she would write to my child and nonchalantly mention her stalking as if it were normal.

My entire life, my parents shit all over my boundaries. Even after doing everything I can to distance myself from them, I feel I can never fully escape their toxic behaviors. No one should ever have to explain to another adult, much less their own parent, what a boundary is and why it’s important to respect it. No one should ever worry their own parents are out to get them. No one should ever worry for their child’s safety because of their own parent. And yet, here we are.

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