But something can be done. The key, I believe, is to fully accept that you were not at fault. A child should not have to win a parent’s love nor compete for it as one might compete with a coworker for a promotion. That your parents didn’t love you is simply not on you. It’s on them.
How much were they at fault? It could be difficult to say. While as the adults in the situation, they should have known better, they may have been enacting a psychological pattern that they did not invent or fully control.
It may also help to remember that if your relationship with your parents was ambivalent, they likely had some affection for you, albeit not the kind of pure well-wishing and love one might hope for. Indeed, a bad parent’s love for a child — which frequently exists alongside bad parenting — is often more personal than that same parent’s toxicity.
The gaslighting may have psychological triggers that have nothing to do with you; you are just the victim. Your mother or father became abusers to fulfill a dark psychological need, and there you were a perfect target. Whatever love they may have felt alongside this, by contrast, was for you.
I am by no means suggesting that grown children ought to forgive their parents. While true forgiveness is therapeutic, and we do sometimes, upon reflecting on abusive parents’ circumstances, discover reasons to take pity on them and to forgive, adult sons and daughters may or may not have it in them to forgive. Neither is forgiveness ever owed by victims to abusers, whatever the abusers’ circumstances.
In her novel The Judge, Rebecca West writes, “Every mother is a judge who sentences her children for the sins of the father.” Perhaps we can add that, eventually, every child becomes a judge too, one who sentences his or her parents for their own sins.
For more essays by Iskra Fileva, check out her column at Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/iskra-fileva-phd
 Burroughs, A. (2008). A Wolf at the Table. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.  Ibid.  Yalom, I. (2012). Love’s Executioner & Other Takes of Psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Written By Iskra Fileva Originally Appeared On Psychology Today