I have dedicated an entire chapter of my book to this subject.
It was a term I discovered about two years ago at a counselling session. I had never heard of it before then. I researched it on the internet and was referred by an American columnist to read a book devoted to the subject*.
It was very revealing to say the least. I wished I had found out about it sooner. I realised my relationship with my father centred around emotional incest.
After my mother left, my father needed a replacement. In all honesty he had replaced his emotional connection much earlier as he regularly vented his problems to me. But when my mother was out of the picture, I was the source for his complaints about life.
He had no close friends or normal relationships with other adults. He felt he did not need that; he had me. I filled that void.
His controlling ways had just switched from my mother to me. He used emotion to play on my feelings. He was the “lonely betrayed man”, abandoned by his wife and daughter. Initially, I was the only one who made him happy. I gave him a reason to live. He would often repeat this to me during the divorce; it’s no wonder I felt swayed to live with him.
This is emotional incest. Using a child to fulfil adult, emotional needs.
He was needy and clingy with me. I was not allowed freedom away from him. I had to keep him happy and feeling good. If not, I was the reason he was upset or depressed. I hadn’t met his needs.
I was the “chosen child”. I was hand picked by him to have the privilege to be his confidante. He told me I gave him more than his wife ever did. I gave him “comfort”. He would tell me to never leave him; when I got married he would build a separate flat within the house I could live there with my husband; no mortgage, nothing.
I felt invaded by him. It was like an obsession.
It is incredibly hard to recognise when it is going on, but please, if you want to find out more, the book* I read was:
“The Emotional Incest Syndrome; What to Do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life” by Dr. Patricia Love.
It is absolutely worth looking into if only to feed your curiosity.
And of course – keep reading the blog.