A lot of people are asking me why everything I’m saying must be public. Why not just go to counseling, why not sort it out privately?
We have tried. I’ll go into more detail later. In short, as my little sister explained it today: “mom and dad believe the way to solve their family problems is if they can’t control a child anymore, they kick them out and won’t let them back unless we agree to more control.”
My first sister was kicked out in the early 2000s, and at 18 years old she was given the option to live in Kevin Swanson’s basement, having counseling sessions with him and my parents every night until she succumbed to their authority, or to leave and never see us again. She lasted for two weeks before she couldn’t take it anymore, and I didn’t see her for three years.
My second sister was more abused than any of us, and she just hopes we can all get along. The most healthy thing she did for herself was literally move to the other side of the world. She’s very torn over me going public, so please, if you have the urge to contact somebody or ask questions, message me or Alicia or Lydia. She doesn’t need the extra pressure.
When our parents kicked Lydia and me out last year, we saw the pattern for the first time, and thought perhaps we were wrong to feel abandoned by our older sisters. I tried to confront my parents more than once, and it always ended with me in tears, feeling guilty and ashamed for ever seeing anything wrong with them. Mom and dad found a counselor last month who we planned to go see, but then they took the liberty of spending two long sessions telling their own story to this counselor before inviting Lydia and me to join the conversation, and asked us to write an essay about our top three grievances so they could deliver these to the counselor secondhand.
We gently informed them that we thought they were controlling and cared too much about their reputation, and they said they disagreed. We said there was physical, emotional, and financial abuse, and they didn’t reply. We backed out – there were too many red flags surrounding the attempt to reconcile. We later found out that this counselor was recommend by a family friend who gave Christian counseling to both my sister Alicia and me (conflict of interest), and who made me distrust therapy in general for a long time.
Lydia and I received messages from my dad saying we would not be allowed to visit our family until we followed their demands to reconcile on their terms. Both of us heard the phrase “Our love is unconditional, but our welcome is not.”
This abuse and dysfunction has been going on for the two dozen years since my parents met – and my mother abused my older sisters before my dad entered the picture. My parents chose to make everything public when they put us on TV, happy and smiling, to demonstrate how great our family was. Extended family knew about it, observers noticed hints of it, nobody did anything. My youngest brother is three years old, so if nothing happens, my parents will continue doing this for at least another fifteen years. My older sisters didn’t have a voice. I’m using mine now.