My best friend is a few years out of a bad marriage that she went into in order to escape from an abusive parent. Several bloggers I read struggle daily with depression that stems from a childhood spent in a toxic family. And these are women who have recognized the problem and actively sought help --they continue to struggle even with that help.
I can't imagine trying to navigate all the intricacies of daily life while also constantly battling this past influence on your emotional and mental state. But these women do that all the time. Some of them have been lucky enough to stumble on partners who make life better through their support. Some of them, not so lucky.
When I was 17, I got involved with a guy who was a few years older than me. He was emotionally abusive, but I didn't realize that until I was too invested in the relationship to leave. When he moved from my hometown for a job in South Carolina, I went with him. I'll never understand intellectually why women like me can get trapped in that situation, but I know from experience that it happens. It took a couple of years, and important support from a friend, to make me realize I needed to leave, but I'll always remember being welcomed home by my parents.
I sometimes joke about how Emma will probably never leave home. A few years ago, before her knowledge base had increased a bit, she wanted to build her home across our driveway in our paddock. Now, at 12, she sometimes talks about how she doesn't understand how kids can go away to college, or live in their own apartment.
I'm hoping that by 17 she'll be feeling a tad more comfortable with the thought of a just a bit more physical space between her and us. :-)
But I'm so grateful that she feels that home, and her parents, are the safe and happy place to be. She doesn't need to risk everything to escape. Instead she can take smaller risks, and be happy to land here again each evening. Rob and I grew up that way, and it isn't until you're well into adulthood that you realize what a blessing it is to have the luxury of growing up in that environment. Childhood has such a lasting effect.