Choosing to Deny Abuse, Instead of Acknowledge and Heal it, Makes it Worse

by Loolwa Khazzoom • March 10, 2010 • Family Secrets

I have not seen my dad for most of 20 years. I saw him a few times by accident – once when he saw me, and I took off, and the rest when he didn’t see me. And then I saw and talked with him last year, when my mom was in the hospital.

My dad is in my brain constantly. I have, in fact, been tormented by the dilemma of my dad, to the point that I have been left severely and frighteningly depressed. As in, hide-anything-that-can-be-an-instrument-of-death depressed.

That’s because my dream is to have a loving, nurturing, healthy, close relationship with my dad. But because of the choices he has made, that has not been possible for me.

I took my dad to therapy for five years, during high school and college. And over the course of the past decade, I sent him numerous letters pouring out my heart, desperately seeking healing and wholeness between us.

The thing is, my dad is unwilling to acknowledge or make amends for his abusive behavior. When I have shared with him my pain, he has responded with statements like, “I will not be your whipping boy” or “I will not be put on trial.” Never has he responded with care and interest or with an attitude of self-reflection and mutual discovery. Never has he, heaven forbid, thanked me for seeking closeness and authenticity with him or for sharing with him honestly, instead of running from him and cutting him out.

And so, ironically, I have had to cut him out, which has broken both my heart and his. To be in my dad’s life, I have to pretend things that happened didn’t happen. I have to defer to his delusions. I have to rotate my life around his needs. I have to conform to his point of view. I have to betray myself.

I cannot live a lie. I will not live a lie.

When I was in my teen years, my dad told me that when I was eleven years old, I said, “We are living a lie.” He said it like it was a bad thing. But it made me proud.

It has taken me a decade to put pen to paper and write about my dad in a public forum. That’s because as long as my dad is unwilling to acknowledge the reality of our lives, and as long as he builds his life around a whole host of illusions and denial, my writing about my life threatens to shatter his world.

I do not want to shatter his world. I want my dad to be happy. Really, genuinely, smile-in-the-sunshine, skip-to-my-lou happy. With an ice cream cone in his hand and a dorky smile on his face. Which is why I have deferred to his public reality, at my expense, all these years.




2 Responses to “Choosing to Deny Abuse, Instead of Acknowledge and Heal it, Makes it Worse”

  1. mulderfan
    Sep 18, 2010

    You do not have the power to make others happy. You are only responsible for your own happiness. Time to step off the hamster wheel in your head and find peace.


  2. mulderfan
    Sep 18, 2010

    I should also say, that denying abuse is just another form of abuse.



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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

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Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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