Covert Incest is Real — I Lived It

I see you, child. And you are loved. I wish I could scoop you up now and tell you it?ll be okay. Me, almost about 2, 1989.

Thirty three years it took for me to realize how dangerous my mother was to my health. There were many times in my life where I knew something was terribly wrong, but I didn?t act. Just like an abuser, even if I got angry and threatened, there was always a way to reel me back. Especially with money. My mother financially ruined me in order to keep me close. She never expected I would walk away.

Covert incest is essentially the act of a parent treating you like a spouse or significant other instead of a child.

I would have to give her back rubs because her back hurt so badly.

She took me out on outings that felt more like dates than family get togethers.

She taught me about sex and sexuality at way too early of an age. She made bad sexual jokes. She let me watch movies that were sexual in nature. I watched Pulp Fiction when I was seven. I watched a lot of adult things before ten. I didn?t really know much about 90?s kids things except for the stuff you couldn?t ignore like Beanie Babies and the Spice Girls. Other wise I don?t think I ever watched an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? And I hated the Rugrats because they were ?beneath me.? I watched Carlito?s Way and The Big Chill with my mom. Who needed cartoons? A CHILD. That?s who needed cartoons. And she would sit here and tell you I watched kids things and I did. But I wasn?t invested. I was invested in ER and Seinfeld. I was invested in films that were rated R. I knew what sexual acts were before junior high school age.

But then I lost my virginity at 13 and she was surprised. She shamed me. She dragged me to the gynecologist and sat in the office while I got the exam and talked shit about me in front of me with the doctor. It was like I cheated on her. She took me to the movies after she found out even though I begged her not to go and I could feel her in the theater seething the entire time. She called the kid?s parents. She embarrassed me. And for the rest of my life with her she would joke about how much I love sex. Even though I had nothing but monogamous relationships. She had called me a slut once. Said she was joking. She would deny it now but as I have quoted, ?The axe forgets, the tree remembers.?

She ignored all red flags of alcohol and drug abuse just so she wouldn?t piss me off. The only thing that made her mad, it seemed, was that I lied to her. And she would be hurt as if a spouse cheated. My sister sat in the background begging for her to take me to rehab before I was too old to say no. She never did. She was more upset that I betrayed her trust. What teenager doesn?t lie? I would ask. I never got an answer. I was lying to HER and that was more painful than a child drowning themselves in alcohol. The alcohol she unknowingly(?) provided.

She found out my boyfriend at age 14 was 23 years old. She found out I was doing MDMA every weekend in the same journal entry. Because I was not allowed boundaries. My door didn?t even have a proper lock; it was a hook and eye v that she would open with a toothbrush to try to catch me doing things in the middle of the night. Anyway, that boyfriend wasn?t arrested, he was moved into the house. And I had a permanent drinking buddy in my basement and I slept with him and missed my prom and all sorts of high school things because he was too old to come with me. And all that MDMA I did for a full year destroyed my serotonin levels and now I am on medication to stay mentally afloat. And she did nothing. She fostered it. It was my longest relationship in fact. Almost five years. And when I dumped him on Christmas Eve 2006, she still had him over for Christmas.

She brought herself into my relationships all the time. She suckered my boyfriends into telling her where I was and what I was doing. The last boyfriend I had that she liked held me by the throat over the stairs. My roommate called my mother frantically and said that something needed to be done. My mother just told her that he was depressed and it would be okay. She called him to make sure he was okay. The abuse I endured was never important enough to her. She just needed to know where I was at all times.

She told me I shouldn?t have children. That I was an alcoholic. Never mind encouraging help way into my twenties. Instead she just continued to pay for it.

She hated my ex-husband and my current husband because, let?s face it, they saw through her bullshit. She hated a lot of my friends. She said it was because they were trouble. But there was more to it. I trusted them. I trusted their parents. And she felt I was constantly trying to mentally run away and call other people mom. And I was. And I did. Because my family as a whole was dangerous. She was the ring leader. Everyone else was a bigoted ignorant monster or a silent bystander who knew my life was not good.

And then there was the money. The credit cards in my name that she held. That she used to pay her own bills. The bills she would pay and not tell me anything about them. I just found out when my phone bill was due because I broke away from her. When the hammer came this week, it came down hard. I had not realized what a terrible position she put me in. I have to get my own car insurance. I have never in my life done that. I wasn?t taught about that. I was fed money that in my younger years fed a dangerous addiction to alcohol which kept me subdued while she paid my rent and I stayed either quitting jobs or unemployed.

She complained when I did work. I wasn?t suppose to work while I was in school. I wasn?t suppose to work while my husband worked. I wasn?t suppose to work when my daughter was diagnosed with autism. I never learned a strong work ethic because I was constantly told that I didn?t need to work. But I tried anyway. Because something deep in me knew that the day would come when I had had enough.

These are just a few examples of just how locked in I have been my whole life. It took the last few years to really sort it out, though there were outbursts before. There were times I knew it had to end and she would just remind me of all the things I would lose if I let go of her. I would have been homeless in my twenties.

She consistently denied any wrongdoing. She always said she was just helping and that she wants nothing more than for me to get on my feet. Well, why didn?t she encourage that? Why didn?t she tell me, okay, that?s enough? I don?t believe her denials. Is it possible she did this without realizing? That she treated me like a partner and not a child out of some of her own trauma? They say that sometimes parents don?t realize what they are doing is covert incest. But I don?t know if I believe that. I think the damage that she did in my childhood was enough to see she wasn?t doing things right. She blamed my father leaving on my outlandish behavior but to be honest I didn?t even know him. I don?t know how a man I didn?t know was the cause of me trying to commit suicide at nine years old.

No one would have believed any of this. Parents like my mother are very charming. They are very good at being the nice parent that everyone likes. Everyone assumes that she just wants to help. But she is living beyond her means in a house she can?t afford, retiring from a job that could have kept her going for years, and will do anything, scrape two pennies together, to keep me under her wing.

I am finished with her. I am finished with her but sadly I am in a terrible position financially because of it, which was my fear. But if I didn?t do it now, when would I have done it? I have nightmares about her. I have nightmares about her pushing in my face that I don?t have money. I have nightmares about her watching me having sex or other really gross things that no child should be dreaming about.

I am being brutally honest. That?s the only way to be in order to show others through my pain that they can break away from those that hurt them. I have a long way to go. I have a lot of rebuilding to do. And I am terrified. But I feel better being terrified on my own than being trapped and connected to someone who has hurt me for so long.