Four Years Later

Vico Whitmore
5 min readDec 19, 2023

I cut contact with my parents on Thanksgiving day of 2019. At the time, I had no idea it was the end of our relationship. All I really wanted in that moment was to take some time to collect my thoughts before responding. I thought I just needed a day or two, just until my next therapy session, to sort everything out. In the interim, my parents sent an onslaught of texts and voicemails, rapidly cycling through their system of gaslighting half a dozen times before finally falling silent. Seeing that pattern laid out in writing stalled me further, and by the time I got to that next therapy session, I knew that I was done.

What they did that day was nothing special in the long history of their abuse. They’d gaslit me before. They’d laid blame at my feet before. They’d been clearly ashamed to have me around our extended family before. It wasn’t that I was especially hurt or even surprised by their behavior. The problem was the pattern and the fact that I could finally see it.

Four years later, and the pattern is still the problem. I’ve forgiven them for every abuse, large and small, in the interim. What I cannot forgive, and what keeps me from reaching back out to them, is the fact that they chose to hurt me, again and again, after decades of being told that their behavior was doing me injury. They chose to keep hurting me after I asked them to stop. They chose to keep hurting me even after parents, teachers, and community members pointed to my obvious woundedness. They chose to keep hurting me, and because I have no reason to believe they’ve ever stopped choosing my pain over their comfort and control, I’ve stayed out of contact.

What I hoped for in the first months of being out of their reach has come to fruition for me since then. In the initial aftermath, I saw the first flickering potential for peace and happiness. By not spending so much time and energy trying to nurse our sickly relationship to some kind of stability, I could reinvest in myself and my own well-being.

It’s taken years, and I’m still fighting my way through pieces of it. I would be lying if I said otherwise. Cutting contact with my parents was not some magic bullet that solved every problem in my life. That said, everyone who knew me then commented on how much lighter I seemed just a few months later. Every anniversary since I’ve noticed more clarity, more contentment, and more acceptance of the situation. At this point, I’m no longer mourning the loss of a parental relationship. It’s not just that I don’t miss my parents. I also don’t miss or yearn for the parents I should have had. I’ve found community with people who have been forced to make similar choices, and while it’s not quite the same as having parents, it does feel like family.

At this point, I no longer tell people about my family unless I’m talking to someone I’ve grown quite close to. I don’t mind lying by omission when people ask about my name or what I’m doing over the holidays. As far as most of my co-workers are concerned, my life started the day I moved to California. Anything preceding that isn’t on the table for discussion, with very few exceptions.

After so many years of therapy, research, and writing my way through it, I finally feel like the abuse my parents dealt me is in the past. It doesn’t creep up on me anymore. I don’t find myself thinking about them on Mother’s or Father’s day. Their birthdays come and go without any aching on my end.

Despite all that, I do still wish things had ended differently. It’s not that I have regrets. As ugly as it felt, I cut ties with my parents in the way that was emotionally and physically safest for me. I do wish that at some point over the thirty years that they knew me, they’d looked up and corrected course. What I see, four years removed from them, are all the opportunities they had to be the parents I needed. There were so many moments that someone pointed out to them that I was clearly not okay, so many moments that I was clearly begging for their affection, that they simply walked away from. In many ways, my childhood and early adulthood are both a long straight road with a dozen or more forks my parents could have taken to make our relationship viable in the long term.

It’s that refusal to change course that I can’t forgive. It’s not the beatings, it’s not the stress positions, it’s not the starvation, or the emotional abuse. What I can’t forgive is the fact that they were told, in no uncertain terms, that I was hurting and they chose to keep hurting me. They consistently defended their actions and ploughed ahead, never expecting for there to be consequences. I wish things had ended differently. I wish they had taken any of those opportunities to reflect and do better. What I know four years later, though, is that I can’t change the fact that they didn’t, and I can’t change them. Giving them more opportunities wouldn’t have altered the outcome.

In the end, all I could do four years ago, and all I can do now, is focus on healing from those decisions. It was never my job to fix my parents or our relationship, and in fact, they made it impossible for me to do so. What cutting contact did was free me from the obligation to keep trying. It let me put my energy into my recovery and my happiness. It’s a little bittersweet to know that the first big step I had to take toward that happiness was giving up hope that my parents could ever be who I needed them to be, and to accept that I’d cut contact for me and not to try and shake them awake. Now, so much concentrated work later, I can finally feel the freedom of that decision. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I made it.

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Vico Whitmore

Trans CSA survivor leaving a trail as I stumble my way toward healing. Support me on ko-fi! https://ko-fi.com/vicowhitmore