an HP you can rely on

Lately I’ve been thinking about living so far away from family and what I would do if tragedy were to strike here on the other side of the world. My brain can’t help but go down all the worst possible paths just to give me some equilibrium in the present. And when confronted with the worst possible scenarios, my immediate thought is almost always, “I’d want to be close to my family.”

Then I take a deep breath and realize how ridiculous that is. The unavailable family support system is one of the many contributing factors to my ability to live almost anywhere in the world. There was almost nothing to tie me down until I met D. and started a family with him. Still, I think rather longingly, “I’d like to be close to my family.”

Throughout my early adulthood, I always had the thought that no matter how much I messed up, my dad (the HP) would be there for me. This was rather backwards on my part, since every time my thoughts did not align with his, I was treated to open judgment, silent treatments, and other signs of lack of support. When financial needs arose, he always said he wished he had the money to help me but he just didn’t have it. Something in me still clung to the thought that he was there for me, that he was always there for me, because when my mother finally left him when I was 12 or 13 (I’ve never been able to work out when it really happened), he was there and she was not. He has always been there physically, just not emotionally or psychologically. For a few years I was the one taking care of him, washing and ironing his clothes, cleaning the house, and cooking the meals.

While it’s tempting to look at the past with rose colored glasses, seeing my father was present in my life, I have to constantly remind myself that he was not a person I could rely on and he would not be reliable today. I don’t even want to think about which of my parents, HP or not, would be more present for me in an emergency. Thoughts I can’t bear to follow.

A question for you other Children of Hoarders: did (do) your parents also create the myth of being always there for you but never really reliable? How hard has it been for you to accept the reality of their availability?

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