Self-Diagnosed Stockholm Syndrome

I grew up the oldest of four kids. My dad loves us, but I think he loves us too much. Is that possible? I think so. My dad never wants us to leave. He wants us to live at home forever, and just be home constantly. My dad sometimes makes the remarks that he wishes we could all just live in a one bedroom apartment and never leave because that would make him happy. He has told me time and time again that if I ever tried to move away he’d track me down and bring me back, whether I was eighteen or eighty. When I was eleven years old he told me that if I ever got pregnant he’d find out who the father of the baby was, and kill him because nobody is ever allowed to touch one of his kids, consensual or not. He constantly reinforces the idea in our heads that we aren’t like other kids we don’t get crushes, and don’t want relationships. He says that other kids sneak out, do drugs and have sex but not us. Because he raised us right. My siblings disregard him. All the things he says that regard him wanting us to stay go in one ear out the other. They are confident they can successfully move on and prosper. I can’t. I had the opportunity to move out last summer, and I did. I lived three states away from my family. I had amazing friends and an amazing life. I was incredibly happy. I was losing weight and feeling so good about myself. Yet, somehow I found myself back under is roof in only six months. Not because he forced me, but because I felt too guilty to continue living far from him and my family. I felt so bad for them, and for him. I felt awful that I was making him cry at night and making him sad. I knew that if I came back, he’d be happy, and that line of thought brought me back. But, as the plane took off, and I started my journey back home I cried. Because I knew I’d never be free, I knew I’d never live the life I wanted.

If it was up to me I’d move to Alaska, or New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, or maybe all those places. The world would be my oyster. I’d travel so much. My dream job is being a journalist, and to travel as a journalist would be an amazing life for me. I would be a vegan, and I’d run every single morning and evening. I would report to nobody. But instead, I’m almost 100 lbs overweight, I eat meat at every single meal, I never ever write anything journalistic and anything I do write is completely out of whack and my opportunity to do it is few and far between. I am planning to become a nursing assistant. Why? Because being a journalist is a joke of a job to him. It is a waste of time, effort and money. So, I decided to become a nurse. Because my second choices of becoming a lawyer, or athletic trainer were idiotic to him as well and my mom always wanted to be a nurse, so why shouldn’t I? His reasoning exactly, so I smiled and decided that was my choice. Until he told me he wasn’t going to pay for it, and since I was not expected to ever move out, I didn’t need money so it was a waste anyway. After I pleaded he said I could become a nursing assistant. But, I think he’s planning on talking me out of it. If he tries, I’m going to let him it won’t be worth the fight.

He tells me I’m the oldest child so it’s my responsibility to help raise the kids. Apparently that means cook dinner, bathe them, do their homework with them, take care of the dogs, do laundry, dishes, yard work, and a ton of other stuff so he and my mom can relax because they work.

My siblings are told the same things he tells me but they don’t care. So he gives them that freedom I desire. He doesn’t look at them with disgust when they make mistakes. I wish I had that. But I don’t because in my desperate efforts to make him happy I just make him expect more from me, causing him to be even more disappointed at each mistake.

When I had the opportunity to move out of state I did. He said no at first, but I begged. I felt so guilty. But, said that it was doing it for me. He constantly said he didn’t want to make me feel bad, so he said nothing. But I knew he was angry at me because my mom told me in not so many words. I knew he cried. I knew the laundry wasn’t getting done. I knew my dog was locked in a kennel 24hrs a day. So I came back when the panic attacks got too bad, and the day I told him I was returning was the day the floodgates poured out and he assured me I’d be forgiven for being so selfish and finally making the right decision. He said he knew I’d come to my senses and that friends were useless I didn’t need them, who cared if I was fat.

I have my acceptance letter to a journalism program at a school in Boston. But, I declined it based on the fact that I was too embarrassed to tell him, knowing he’d be upset I’d applied in the first place. When I finally did tell him, he asked why I applied, and then said he was proud of me for declining it.

I am numb, I don’t feel love. I protect my siblings, make sure they eat, have friends, and let them sleep in my bed every night. I don’t want a boyfriend because I’d be ashamed to tell my dad. I’d be too ashamed to bring him around or talk about him. When my sisters think about their wedding day they think about their dresses, and color scheme. I think about the humiliation I’d have of getting married in front of my dad, because at that point he’d know I’d be having sex at some point that day or the near future and that would destroy me. I think of how when they say “you may now kiss the bride” his look of disgust at me.

I know that if I ever have a baby he will bluntly mention the fact that he knew what was necessary to get pregnant and instead of congratulating me he’d be freaked out, and in turn I’d feel guilty.

I know that every time I try to diet that is when we start having dessert every night, and eating out, and making dinner plans. Because when I say I want to lose weight he laughs and asks why, he jumps at the opportunity to shove an ice cream or cake in my direction.

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

But I can’t leave because he’d hate me. I know he would. I know he only does it because it’s his way of showing love. I have everything I need. I eat at the best restaurants, we live in a big city in a nice neighborhood, have good friends, a good church, and nice cars. I know I need to learn to appreciate what I have some kids have nothing.

I confronted him about something that he upset my mom about and she wouldn’t speak of for herself. My mom just said to leave him be, and cried in the room. When I mentioned it, he tried to kill himself in front of me, he told me to go away and threw rocks at me. He never apologized, and I never expect one he was hurting and I shouldn’t have confronted him. He is on happy pills and goes to a doctor now. I’m happy for him. I wish I could have the same, but if I said I was depressed he’d laugh at me and say I’m just spoiled so I refuse.

A few days ago a friend of his asked him why I wasn’t working or have my license. He said I didn’t need it, that he could drive me and people leave home because their allowed independence, he’s not going to lose me again. His friend asked him if he cared whether I had self worth or a sense of accomplishment. My dad looked puzzled, he said no, I didn’t need those things. Self worth and a sense of accomplishment were a joke, all they inspired was independence and as he stated before we shouldn’t want that. His friend looked at me and asked if I agreed. I wholeheartedly wanted to scream and say no. But instead I immediately smiled and nodded yes, my dad was absolutely right. I’m just a kid who doesn’t know any better. My dad is always right. He looked at me with a little less disgust than usual when I supported him and I smiled inside.

I am his perfect child. He will always love me. I will never leave him. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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