I wonder if anyone else is estranged from a parent or parents? I am. It's a difficult path and it would be great to have some company with this.
You are not alone. Thanks for the message! I am pretty much estranged from my whole family, most of the time, for the last 23 years since I stopped drinking. I don't know your situation, mine has to do with I wanted a path of healing and recovery, and not one person in my family wanted the same. I was quite self destructive in my early 20's, until I began recovery/healing, and really, I often wonder if my family of origin would be more comfortable with me if I had continued to self destruct. I have two brothers who died way too young, one at 18 and the other at 42. Just in a nutshell, what I said before...me wanting recovery and I felt that to get that, I had to leave that family, for the most part.
I try to think of my close friends, and many people I have met in recovery meetings, even if I don't see those people or talk to them as often as my 3 close friends, as my family now. It is hard sometimes though. Some holiday seasons, (not all, but there have been quite a few) can be REALLY hard. Then there is fear sometimes, that old "you are going to die alone..." fear that people talk about (I also am single and no kids BTW) But when I DO go around family members, which is very seldom, I continue to feel bummed out afterward. I saw one of my remaining brothers the holiday season of 2005, after not having seen him for 7 years, and man, did it take a painful toll on me. Basically, even though I sometimes regret not being able to deal with my blood family, (parents included) it is so much more positive for me to engage and talk to my friends.
Just know you are not alone. Something that irks me is people telling me "there are lots of single childless people...there are lots of people without families..." I sure never see them or hear of many, if any. So just your brief post was supportive for ME to see, so I too, know I am not the only one...
this is a VERY slow board, by the way...but I still have it bookmarked and check it every so often for new threads. Thanks for posting.
I have been estranged from my family for 7.5 years. I felt like I would be sucked down a vortex of rage if I remained in contact with them. At this point, my mother seems to want nothing to do with me. Perhaps she would if I took full responsibility and let her treat me however she will.
I guess I had to recover from feeling I had to put up with being treated badly. It frightens me now to think of how it might be. My mother is older. I know she has had some issues. Wrote her a couple of notes saying I love her and door is open. No response.
It took a long time for me to admit the estrangement to others without feeling completely embarrassed. Now I see my family as something I survived and overcame. I am so different than my family. It is strange to me to think we are related. I'm sure it is strange to them as well. Of course, they have me scapegoated as the root of all evil.
Anyway, glad you have come to realize your worth and your limits. Me too. I will always, always love my family but my life doesn't hang on what happens next with them.
I am estranged from two sisters, but not my mom. I took care of my husband for 4 years, 24/7 who had Alzheimer's. When my sis who lives here found out I put him in a care home (because of my health), she started shifting my mom's care to me. My mother only lives 6 blocks from my Sis and only requires a couple of visits a week for groceries and meds. But I was almost suicidal and couldn't handle any more stress. My other sister sided with her. She said, my sister needed a break and I did 4 years 24/7 and I didn't?????
It's good to know I'm not the only one. I have spent years and years going back to my abusive father and my complacent mother hoping for something positive. I guess the need for acceptance and approval is the strongest one we have. I am no longer willing to go back for more abuse and craziness. Life is too short for toxic relationships. The fortunate ones who have loving, supportive familes just can't understand, and why should they?
I don't know if it is so unusual to remove yourself from your parents or if we just don't talk about it because most people don't get it.
If you've had to experience the pain of removing yourself from toxic parents to find peace, I'm sorry. But I want to encourage you to move forward and not look back (that's where the pain lies).
I have major problems with my mother. She was angry with her parents and took it out on me. My grandmother raised me for the first three years of my life because my mother refused to feed me. I'm half deaf from ear infections I had as a baby. I was old enough to remember being sent to live with my parents. My father treated me decent when I was young but by the time I was about 10 he began to be very hateful. He commonly refered to me as a lazy worthless bastar d. Made me wonder if he really was my biological father. As I grew older mom took to calling my employers and telling them I was a child molester. I lost count of the times I was fired without explaination. Not until I was in my thirties did I catch on and begin to hide my employment from my mom. My grandmother's sister put me in her will for a large sum of money. Mom threw the will out and spent about 30k or so trying to have me killed. I was clueless thinking the big black Ford truck trying to run me off the road was just another bad driver. Not until a couple guys showed up on my back porch on night did I understand that people were really out to get me. When the police followed me home from work a couple times I figured they were over staffed and bored. Finally everything blew in a strange confrontation at the local KofC hall. The father of one of the guys on my back porch was angry because I wouldn't hold still long enough to get hurt. He went off on a long rant and I for the first time learned the identity of my stalkers but not the reason. Later I would learn that mom had taken a large sum of money my father saved and I can only guess that she spent it on thugs.
These days I have a loaded gun in every room of my house. Makes me angry to see the assault rifle next to my bed but that is how I live these days. Things have been quiet the last couple years. Amazing what peace a loaded gun can bring. That an one of my stalkers is doing a 15 year prison term.
Estranged is a fair description of my relationship with my mother. Dad was not party to my mother's insanity. Mom's explaination is that she was angry with her parents and was hurting me to get back at them. Guess I was just born to the wrong mother. As it became clear over the years that my mother was being evil dad ceased to be angry with me. Don't know what line of carp my mom was feeding him but he was also one of her victims. Sometimes I see him when I'm visiting my sister and we have a amicable relationship these days.
I have to be glad all the evil things my mother did didn't turn me into a criminal. There were times when I was sleeping in my car and eating from garbage cans I considered stealing some money. At the moment I've held a steady job for over 7 years straight and live in a nice warm country home.
Something is probably brewing again. I found my front door lock busted this summer and mom has called twice in the last month. Not much I can do unti I find out who and why this time.
My sisters have been wonderful support. They were also affected by the disfunctional parenting and I make it a priority to be there for them. My life is ruined but at least they still have a chance to be happy.
Just to follow on to this issue, which I have, and have been helped by reading the other replies to this topic. I sure related to the poster who said their family is something they survived and overcame.
Just a follow on question, I was wondering how any others on this thread with these estrangement issues, feel about family during the holiday season, meaning, if you need to not go around your families, how is the holiday season for you? Is it hard for anyone else to be inundated with all the images of Norman Rockwell, squeaky clean, wholesome all american families which are all over TV and everywhere else during this time of year? I have made a commitment to myself, that for any programming I may want to watch from now until January, to RECORD it on the VCR so that I can bypass the commercials!! I am going to exchange gifts with a couple of close friends, seems that friends are more my family these days.
I'm new to this blog having just registered yesterday, but I can relate to the feelings expressed by others here, and I am moved by your pain. For mariaocean regarding the holidays, I would like to offer that the hardest part of separation from family is realizing that the positive encouragement you need lies within yourself and anyone else that is more "normal" than your family. That may sound like a cliche, but all the external messages from tv and other people you know, who seemingly live in a protective bubble, should not influence you to cut yourself off from even more of the world. Reality is harsh for some of us, but when we can find some qualities within ourselves that we are pleased with, it makes it easier to "go with the flow" of the season. I am not one of those new agers who thinks that we are God or that we have all the solutions within ourselves, but I do know from my own experience that when my self-talk is negative, I have a lot harder time relating to those with more normal backgrounds. When you have been beaten down, especially in your childhood, during development, it is very difficult to say positive things to yourself, but if you will just make yourself do it for a few days, or even a few hours, you'll find that you are telling yourself the truth, and it will make a difference in how you relate to the rest of the world. Does that make sense? Your negative experiences with your family do not have to set the tone for the rest of your life, unless you let that happen. They have caused you to see the world through a warped filter, but it is possible to change that. It isn't a magic bullet, but it is a small help that comes easier with practice.
I don't often tell my story because people just don't "get it" but in this forum, I feel a little safer to talk. I was raised by a minister who was, and is, a jeckyll/hyde type. I'm in my fifties, and I still feel the pain of his emotional abuse. The fact that no one would have believed me, and that my mother was not there emotionally to protect me or my sister, is just the way it was. Nearly every day of my life until I could get away at 16 years old, Dad raged and screamed at me that I was stupid and worthless, that I would never amount to anything, that everyday "You get one day older and ten days dumber". He often whipped off his belt and beat me, but my younger sister got more of the physical abuse, which I had to helplessly witness. He was, and still is, in his old age, mean and hateful to me, but is a pro at hiding his true self from those outside the household. My mother had evidently been conquered before I was born, so she was no help at all. I guess she had her own survival to deal with.
In the Methodist system in which we lived, we moved every couple of years, which was perfect for Dad and his brand of crazy. By the time anyone in the church may have been suspecting him, we were moving to the next place, which was always several hours away. You can imagine the problems I have with the church in general because he wasn't real, and nobody could see thru him. If he ever had any success in his ministry, I didn't see it. All the young people left the church soon after we arrived because he had nothing to offer them, but he got away with all of it for 35 years before retiring. I learned very early on not to make attachments to anyone anywhere because I would be moving away soon. There was no ally for me, or for my sisters or my mother. We lived several states away from any extended family. Growing up alone and abused is a terrible sentence for a child. This has caused me huge problems all of my life because I was looking through that warped filter that let me believe I was doing ok on my own, that I didn't need anybody.
I have had successes in my life in spite of my family, and the one I am most proud of is the fact that I have two beautiful children who are now adults. I managed, with the help of God and my husband, to break the chain of abuse that is so common in families. I told them every day that I loved them, and I still tell them often. No, I didn't get it all right. I went too far the other way, and was too permissive, but they would tell you they know they have always been loved and accepted. I learned more by giving them that gift than I could have imagined possible.
The holidays can be seen as an opportunity to try to lay aside your emotional pain and allow yourself the joy of giving to someone else, no matter how small the gift. Just a kind word can make a huge difference to someone you don't even know is hurting.
I hope you can find a way this Thanksgiving to be thankful that you survived the traumas of your life, that you can be thankful for your ability to realize your own worth, to know better than to live your life like some of your family. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Welcome periwinklechristy,and thanks for the provative comments. We do have a lot to be thankful for - even as we struggle through the rough times.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Welcome from me also, periwinklechristy....very sage advice. I was prepared for a rant and your words took some of the wind out of my sails....just not the time or the place.
Michael, was looking for your rant but as you said, that was a very thought provoking post. At the end of the day, your family is all that matters. When that "glue" hardens it takes a toll on your soul becaue each member is a part of another member. It's great though that the same thing that gives us the warm feelings about our families, also gives us the strenghth and courage to handle things when the to handle the adversities and be thankful for the good times.
I was raised by my grandparents from the time I was 9 months old. My mother, a single mom for reasons that are still cloaked in family myth, wasn't up to the task. She lived a continent away and sent letters once in a while. Aside from dealing with a sense of abandonment and rejection all my life, it was a blessing. I surely would have suffered constant mental and emotional abuse had I lived with her during my early childhood. She focused her destructive efforts on me in my teens and did enough damage during that time.
In later years she blamed me for our lack of a close relationship during a long period of time together packing my grandmother's apartment. I was floored. I looked at her calmly and told her that to have a relationship with a child you have to show up and that she didn't. End of discussion.
She rarely calls me, I return the favor. I am cordial but reserved in what I share. All I ever share is positive news, it gives her less material. Occasionally she remembers she has grandchildren. My kids know that my mother can't be counted on to behave like a normal grandmother. I'll take a so they have no expectations.
Thankfully my kids are happy, emotionally healthy, and feel well loved and appreciated. I'll take all the credit!
First, I don't intend to anger or irritate anyone on this thread. That said, my son and only child is 43 and the last time I saw him was at my sister's funeral over 4 years ago, and the last time I spoke with him was when my husband (not his father) died over 2 years ago. Recently I wrote to him in an attempt to open some level of dialogue, because I love him so much and miss him terribly. He replied to my letter with hostility and sarcasm, blaming me for everything that has gone wrong in his dysfunctional, judgemental, angry and insecure existence. He has never married because he feels "angry, guilty, worried, panicked and negative all the time," and that he doesn't "know how to even approach being happy."
This just breaks my heart. My husband died after an illness lasting 8 years, and I was his 24/7 caregiver while holding down a full-time job in the legal profession. His death threw me into an emotional tailspin in which I literally could not function, could not handle my job, could not go outside, could not get out of bed. I'm now getting help from a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a handful of anti-depressants.
My son was 12 when I divorced his worthless father, and that action began the descent into destruction. Even though he says I yelled at home, scolded him, judged him and abused him, it was during this period that I, on my own, sent him to a highly respected university where he earned a bachelor's degree and his master's degree. I was a single mother not making very much money, but I gave my son everything possible. His father did absolutely nothing. In fact, he promised to pay all the expenses while he worked on his master's, but that fell through. His father, the man I was married to for 13 years, couldn't pay for any of those expenses our son incurred. Instead, somebody made him a great deal on a Rolex! Yet in the eyes of my son, his father did no wrong, and I did no right.
I am in agony daily, and in spite of all the medication I take for depression, I am so sad and broken. I doubt he and I will ever establish even the most rudimentary relationship.
Sorry for the overly long post, but I simply wanted you to know that in some cases the pain on the other side is unbearable.
Im so glad to have found this forum. I have been estranged from my father for 10+ years, by my choice. Making the decision to eliminate him from my life was the best decision IÂve made for my emotional health (and physical, for that matter) ever.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand the benefit of estranging from a "toxic" person. Unfortunate because the world would be a much better place if enough people wised-up and left unhealthy relationships. Also, unfortunate b/c making the decision is extra tough (on those of us who are wise enough to leave) when society, most religions, and relatives believe that "family at all costs" is the best way to live.
I have met only a few people who have estranged themselves from a parent. Most have been in the uncertain stage when you think youÂre the only one whoÂs made this decision and youÂre not quite sure that youÂre strong enough to follow through. IÂm always glad to be there for those who realize that life is better without negative relationships.
At about 32, I realized that I didnÂt want to spend another 32 years dealing with my father. I now had MY family to consider. My poor husband had to deal with my stress and anxiety before, during, and after a visit with the man. I decided that I had many other people who warranted my time. Friends who I enjoyed being with; who made me feel good instead of crappy. I realized that with the limited amount of free time I had, it made no sense to waste it on people that I didnÂt want to be with anyway. IÂm so glad that I didnÂt have kids before I decided to exclude him from my life. Precious time would have been wasted on him.
Once I made the "big decision", I began ENJOYING the holidays. The "stress of the holiday season" is not part of my life anymore. ItÂs great! I spend time with people that I enjoy being with. It saddens me when I hear about family stress at holiday time. It is so unnecessary.
Too much emphasis is placed on "family". If more importance was placed on healthy relationships instead, the world would be a much happier place. Many people think that "blood" relationships are the be all, end all. This just completely dismisses adoptive relationships and I know plenty of those that are healthy and happy. Hanging around with someone b/c of their title (father mother sister brother) is warped and can cause many problems.
I am very proud of my decision to end my unhealthy relationships. My life is fuller and healthier b/c of it. I hope that others reading the posts in this forum will be strengthened to know that "you are not alone". I wish for everyone to find healthy relationships and foster those Â even the crappy people that we estrange ourselves from :-)
I can completely relate to barnmomÂs situation. I, too limit what I share with my mother so that she will have "less material". Yes, my mother is a negative issue in my life but thatÂs a whole other post.
As for the mother who wrote in, you sound like my father Â "poor me".
As for kaye820, you sound like my father Â "poor me".
I hope you all find your peace and have a great holiday season.
Poor Ana, as well. I, too, hope you find your peace and have a great holiday season -- with your "selected family." It must be awesome to be "chosen." Your sarcasm tells all and shows how bitter and shallow you are.
Ana, dear, you have not walked in my shoes. Do not presume familiarity.
It can work both ways to cause the estrangement....In my moms case she causes confrontation between the siblings because SHE has a problem but doesn't have the courage to stand up for herself and speak out. Most things could be solved if she did. All problems come from her children's spouses. (in her eyes).. I have one brother that has been divorced and single for the last 25 years and he never has a problem. When I was married, there was always crap coming up where she would bring my big brothers in to intervene. Since I have been divorced it's been pretty quiet, but now her focus has turned to the married ones. Accusations of spouses of her kids stealing from her. (and some very impossible scenarios at that.) As of now, the married kids have virtually nothing to do with her and the single kids listen to her gripe. It's not an easy thing to deal with.
Jo and I discussed about mom maybe being in a dementia stage a few years back, but I really believe in my heart that since she has been doing this for well over 20-30 years that it may be a chemical imbalance that was never diagnosed in her earlier years. Do I think that dementia is setting in now at the age of almost 89?...yes I believe it might be compounding things even moreso.
Barnmom said: "Thankfully my kids are happy, emotionally healthy, and feel well loved and appreciated. I'll take all the credit!"
Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Family estrangements continue from generation to generation. Your children have picked up on your distant relationship with your mother. Don't be surprised years down the road, when your relationship with your mother comes back to haunt you.
Kaye820, your response to Ana was right on; she seems to be very angry and self-righteous; this too will come back to haunt her in some form or another.
I was pretty much estranged from everyone but my mom for 10 years. Last Christmas, we got together, but it wasn't a rousing success. I was forced back into seeing them again this past summer, as my mother was ill and I had to go home to help out. It wasn't a bad experience, because I refused to let them get to me this time. I saw a lot of people I didn't really want to see, and now they can't understand why I haven't gotten back in touch with them since. Because I don't like them, that's why!
I'm semi-estranged from my mom, I guess, because I don't really care much for talking to her, but she's old, and I'm nice to her just because she's my mother.
Well, it is Christmas Eve, and I need some advice!
I am a twenty-eight year-old woman; have been estranged from both parents since I was eighteen - I briefly tried again with both a few years later, thinking it must be my fault, but only realized that no relationship can be had there. I have been to therapists, who have told me that my decision to remain estranged is the best decision, since my parents are toxic, selfish people. Put very simply, my mother is an alcoholic, as well as a hypocondric, and my father is a cruel, verbally abusive man.
I put myself through college and worked extremely hard for everything I have. I am nearly finished with my medical school education. I have been married to the most wonderful man for nearly three years. I remain close with my sister, who has no contact with our mother, but speaks with my father occasionally - this contact causes her much chaos and anquish, but since he claims to have liver cancer (though seeking no treatment), she feels guilty that he might die soon...
I was at the grocery store this afternoon, and a woman came up to me - she used to know my mother many years ago. Apparently, she saw me at my job a few years ago, introduced herself, and found that I have no contact with my mother. Now, years later - ON CHRISTMAS EVE- she came up, explained the prior conversation we had had, and asked again if I have contact with my mother. To make a longer conversation much shorter than it was, I said no, and nicely tried to tell her that it is, of course, a very hurtful situation, especially during the holiday season. She 'apologized' - but not really - kept going on about how awful this is - ('you don't even talk at Christmas?,' she asked...) (This woman went to the same chruch as my parents - I find that a lot of people who claim to be religious are nosy and deliberately hurtful - what hypocrites!) She then asked if I spoke with my father. I couldn't believe her nerve! I said no, only to get another 'look' of 'sympathy' from her and some more belated 'apologies'- and then I got curt, said 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' very pointedly, and walked away.
I am at the point in my life where I need help dealing with this type of person. My husband is well-known in our town, and I do not need this embarassment. Not only for him, but for me - I am beginning a profession and hope that my family is not a subject of conversation for local townspeople! Others seem to think it is so 'strange and awful' for a child to not talk to their parents - they rarely think of what the parent repeatedly did to deserve the estrangement. I feel that most people think I am the awful one, for not talking to these horrible people who happened to have given birth to me, but really aren't biological parents in any sense of the word! How do I deal with these hurtful, nosy questions? Should I just walk away?
It isn't a big deal with strangers - for instance, I was just at a dinner party and someone I didn't know asked if my husband and I were dividing up time over the holidays between family - I said yes, we were spending time with both of our families - without ever having to get into detail about my parents. How do I dismiss it, though, with people in the above-described situation?
Please help - I am so depressed-and upset...
I actually think you are handling the situations very well, considering. The details are none of anyone else's business unless they are in the profession to do so and at your request. I'm not ranting at all here. I just believe that this is a delicate situation and there is no easy way to address it. But, I think you have taken a very matrue approach by not belittling your family members and putting your business in the street. The ugly part is that gossip (and this is what it is if the "townspeople are speading the word), is paiful to those that are the subject of it. Hold you head up, and as long as you are respectable, as well as your husband, you will do fine. There may come a time when you may want to move away from it, but until you decide to make that a part of your plan, just continue as you are at the moment. They will leave it alone eventually. Remember, everyone has skeletons. Someone is going to talk about someone else's because they aren't going to talk about theirs.
Enjoy your holiday season as you choose and enjoy it with the family that you have made. Just be respectful and respectable.
I am so glad to have found this blog! I am also estranged from my parents and it seems I never meet anyone else who is. It is nice to know I am not alone!
I find holidays difficult, too. It used to be because it hurt so much not to have a family when all those Norman Rockwell images were being thrown at me. Now it's more the discomfort I feel when people ask me if I will be going home for the holidays, etc. I feel like I have some deep, dark secret I can't tell people because most people don't seem to understand. Plus I think they would rather not know anyway.
The reasons for the estrangement are very personal, or at least too personal to share with just anybody. My father molested me for years and my mother helped him. They both continue to put me down and be cold to me whenever I see them, which is now only at funerals. I go to family funerals only for my own sake, in order to have a sense of closure. And only if I actually liked the person who died.
Anyhow, it can be hard feeling like I can't talk about this very significant part of my life with most people.
On the plus side, I don't have to worry about what to do with my aging parents.My sister refuses to acknowledge that there is anything wrong and still sees them all the time. (With her children. Good idea to bring your little kids over to visit a child molester!)So she can deal with them when they get old.
I am very good at adapting myself to any situation. It may take me a few days, but I come out smiling. It's harder with family than friends. Family seems to have a strange hold on us. If my sisters and I were neighbor's or worked together as employees of a company....we could never be friends. Why do we expect to be friends when we are family. We love each other, but we don't like each other and that's a very important key to family relationships, to any relationship. I went to see my Mom and my sister from out of state was visiting there. I was having the best day I've had since my husband died. I was around my sister 20 minutes and she had brought me down to the worst day since he died and this time she brought out the worst in me. I called a couple of days later and apologize and not sure what for as we didn't fight, She said, thank you...you really hurt me. Then she went on and on and on about past grievances. I hung up on her. why do we keep trying in situations like???? I think with me it's wanting approval.
Yeah, it sure is hard. I'm sorry you had to go through that! It sounds like you ahve really good coping skills though, and I am sure those will pull you through in the end!
I have to fight that urge to apologize when I am angry or hurt by other people too!
It was very painful for me to accept that my parents were never going to love me and never going to give me the approval and acceptance I wanted so much. Especially since it was something I really NEEDED growing up, it's a developmental need, and I never got it.
They are just not loving people. It feels like a personal rejection but it really is not. This is because of who they are , not who I am. They have never cared to know anything about me.
They abused me, yet they feel sorry for themselves. Apparently I am the bad one who hurt them, even though I told them I might be willing to have a relationship with them if they got into therapy. (They refused.)
I guess if they were the kind of people who cared about other people's feelings they would not have abused me in the first place!They also don't care about honesty, truth, or courage. I would never be friends with them if they were my neighbors or something.
Finally giving up on them really helped me to heal. That way I was no longer banging my head against the wall, getting hurt and disappointed over and over again. It still hurts sometimes, but overall it has been a huge relief to just let go.
Now I think of them in the past tense, as if they were dead. Because they might as well be. And I am able to heal and learn new ways of thinking about myself without having them drag me down and make me feel like I am crazy and bad all the time!
Living well is the best revenge!
I think some family problems are caused by jealousy or by the fact that you have more money than the rest of them.
I thought Ana sounded pretty rational and honest about her feelings and I share them. I have chosen to focus on my children and husband and have not seen anyone except my mother in nearly four years and I am happier than ever! No more choking down meals on holidays with people who would rather focus on the negative than see the positive...no more jealousy over what I have chosen to spend my hard earned money on and complaining about never having anything because they don't make as much money. Instead we are surrounded by friends who love and support us, who are excellent role models to our children, and willing to work things out and move on rather than hold a grudge.
My neighbor was estranged from his brother for 20 years and upon hearing of his passing we discussed our choices and their consequences. He said that he does not regret his decision because he loved his brother enough to let him go. Their falling out was over many small matters and one large business matter- he said once he made the decision to not see his brother, his life became more calm and peaceful, life long friendships were formed, new joy came to him and he has enjoyed a quiet, happy life.
I am sad that we can't be one big happy family but since we can't I'll pick one small happy family over one big unhappy family any day.
I am relieved to see that there are other people just like me...I have not spoken to my parents in two years. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me and I have often felt embarrassed and alone. I feel ashamed at the circumstances under which they stopped speaking to me since it was not my fault. I struggle every day on how to deal with this situation.
I sincerely want to thank those of you who have so openly shared your experiences on this board. I can, unfortunately, relate to those of you who have chosen to terminate or severely limit exposure to parents and siblings who are continually hurtful. That is my situation too. It took many years for me to see what was going on in my family and acknowledge its effect on me. I am not happy about the situation. It is very sad when families are broken. This is not what I would have chosen but ultimately, it was a matter of saving what I could and getting out.
By the way, I am sure that when my family members talk about this with others -- if they do -- they are the victims and I have ruined everything. I don't spend much time feeling sorry for myself. There are other positive things in my life that provide solace. Also, I am so grateful for this awareness, which came at a time when I was still young enough to make good use of my life. No one knows what the future holds. I actually feel sorry for the members of my family and sympathize with them. People who act the way they do act that way because they have sustained some serious emotional wounds. It's very sad.
I am another who can relate to what many of you have said, though in retrospect, my experience doesn't seem to have been so bad! Nevertheless I'm in the process of transitioning out of a pseudo-fake-friendship relationship with my mom...she and my dad divorced a couple years ago (FINALLY!) and I've been her only family since then, but I'm tired of pretending I want a relationship with her, quite honestly. She cut off all her other relatives decades ago, raised a toast at the dinner table the night her mom died (I was around 10), and has half-joked for years now that when she retires she's going off to her summer place in Maine, where we'll have to dodge shotgun blasts if we ever want to "come get her" when she gets old & senile. Ha ha mom, real funny. Way to make me feel welcome in your life.
God this sounds so trivial...despite understanding a lot about her, I just really DON'T LIKE the woman! She had a really unhappy childhood, hated her mother, utterly despised her father, and spent most of my childhood telling me how she hoped the "poison" would dilute itself generation by generation. But she sure didn't do much to help things...she has a violent, childish temper that came out in screaming fights at least once a week--she screamed, my dad sat--and lots of broken items & punched-out walls. Every night after a fight I'd come downstairs to inspect what had been broken, so I wouldn't be surprised the next day. One time she picked up a chair and put the leg through the wall right next to my dad's head. Once when I was 7, she screamed at me she wished I was dead. I think I stopped calling her mom around then...she'd complain about it to people years later while I stood next to her, humiliated but mildly satisfied. When I was around 12 I told her she may have given birth to me but she was not my mother, and I've never felt differently since then.
She has never been a secure person; top of her field and yet almost pathetically surprised whenever she got any recognition...she used to say all the time about the least little thing, "oh aren't I clever" or "oh I'm such a genius!" or "aren't I smart?" etc. ad nauseum. And she wasn't joking! She's always felt a need to lord her success over people...I remember being humiliated on plane flights to Maine because she'd bring the fixings for lobster club sandwiches, then make a big show of making the sandwiches and passing out cloth napkins to my dad and I, while the other passengers looked on with stomachs grumbling. And she had no compunctions about public anger either...once after landing in Denver to begin another dreaded family vacation, she got irritated and walked through the airport yelling obscenities at the top of her lungs. I was 10 I think.
Plus she's very materialistic, self-centered, and self-righteous...very demanding and not respectful of other peoples' points of view, and it's hurt our relationship all my life. When I told her in college that I was bisexual, despite having raised me with all due "treat everyone with respect and don't discriminate" lectures, she acted like it was the end of the world, asked what they'd done wrong, said it felt like a medicine-ball to the gut, asked desperately about my financial future (wtf does that have to do with anything??) and has never forgiven me for it. When I said it sounded like she liked her dream of me better than the reality, she said she did. Ouch.
Years later, when I got married (yes, to a man), she was the only guest to pitch a tantrum over the lodging arrangements (because they were inconvenient for her). I also told her I was going to have a vegetarian wedding dinner because it's something I deeply believe in, so she informed me she would just have a steak in her room ahead of time. For all I know she did.
She used to be a star athlete in college, then one day hung up her spikes and said that's it. Now she's a 200+ pound blob who brags about living well and feeling great and still being strong, when she can hardly shift a 50 pound coffee table two inches. She talks about the virtues of simplifying her life, while speculating she should get rid of said $1,000 coffee table because she saw in some fashion magazine that matching furniture is no longer "in style". Not that she ever has guests, or friends to speak of...she taught me to be a social outcast really well--it was only in my late 20s that I learned what it meant to develop and maintain true friendships....
She doesn't drink (quite) enough to be an alcoholic, she was too predictable in her rage to be BPD, too blatently insecure to be narcissistic, to inconsistent and antisocial to be a "controlling" type...but a little bit of all of the above nonetheless!
Ug...anyway...I just find nothing positive in my interactions with her and even seeing her name irritates me nowadays...I feel bad for her but I also feel I've given her a lot of chances to be a nice person and it consistently fails. I don't miss her at all, because I don't feel I ever really had a mom to begin with.
I'm reminded of a song, "In the Living Years" that was so relavent when my father was alive. I tried to tell him how much he had hurt me, as the song says, while we were "in the living years." But we never settled anything between us. He died never having accepted me for who I am, but I was able to forgive him and move on. My mother is now facing the end of her life. She is partially paralyzed but her mind is relatively clear. She spends most of her time in one chair, just sitting. She thinks all day and is filled with much regret. Even though I had a very difficult and painful upbringing, I have been able to let most of it go, and can feel a lot of empathy for my mother. Forgiveness heals the souls of both people and allows the injured to rise above the pain! Here is part of the song that meant so much to me when my father was dying:
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door
I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years
Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
I'm afraid that's all we've got
You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence
Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye
So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It's the bitterness that lasts
So don't yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don't give up,
And don't give in
You may just be OK
I am on both sides of the fence. At times I have been estranged from my parents, sometimes siblings and now my son.
It's just the result of life growing up with severe dysfunction. Healthy life and relationship skills are few if any for all involved. Usually there is a significant family member that has been the cause. My father is a narcissist and my mother is emotionally detached. We all (4 children) grew up alone in too many ways.
I thought like someone above, that I was doing well as a parent, that i had 'diluted' the damage, but discovered that I was wrong. To my great sadness my son shares the traits of his grandfather.
I always thought that even if you make mistakes in a relationship, if you can keep the dialogue open, can be willing to accept responsibility that everything can be repaired. I finally know now that I am wrong. There are some personality types that cannot take any responsibility for their actions. Can never say they are sorry. Can never accept an apology either.
These are just genetic personality traits, like red hair, or being musically inclined, or any other positive and negative talents.
I think the people who land on these blogs are the ones who are reeling from the selfish and mean acts of their family members who are 'messed up' to say the least.
The hardest thing is that we are so misunderstood by the more normal (& i say this loosely) families. I'm guessing they just don't have red hair in their genetic code :) if you know what i mean. They are finding out more and more every day about the brain and how it responds to various situations. Some brains just don't work the same, some have no empathy. Without empathy, how can we relate healthily to each other.
So, it's very nice just to read these notes, to see others with the same types of situations.
I tell my friends that I think the reason that I can't find anyone out there with my sort of estrangement issues, is because they're generally deeply messed up, drugs or something. So they're not traveling in my circle.. I somehow landed with the 'healthy' people. Which - all in all - isn't that the best we can hope for with the family we were given?
I am estranged from my Father, Mother and only Brother. It involved divorce and alot of untruths. I am 57 and want to live out the rest of my life in peace. My Dad is in a nursing home now and throws things at me if I go see him. My Mom lies about major things all the time so I can't have a relationship with her and my brother cheats and steals. I have a good relationship with my daughter and son but that is the only family I have that will speak to me. My Mom saw to it that no one else will. Only people who have been through this can understand why you have to cut off relationships and I hesitate before I tell anyone. My Mom called our pastor at church and said I had threatened to kill her. I had not even spoken to her in over 2 years! That is why I can not even have a phone conversation with her. I am glad I am away from this abuse.
I wish there could be a formal ceremomy -like a divorce proceeding - that would just finalize it. Being around my mother is like taking a big hit of chemotherapy -you are just sick for days afterward. She is that toxic.
I stopped beating myself up about it a long time ago. Life is a very short trip and I have no more time to be anybody's victim. Christmas? Her birthday? Mother's Day? Nope, I'm not swallowing any more chemo for ANY occasion. Let the Norman Rockwell people have their postcard, I wear my survivor button proudly.
I've been no contact with my mom for 4 years. She's got mental health and substance abuse issues I could no longer deal with. I've offered to try counseling with her but she's refused. I've since had a beautiful child who she's never met. It's sad, but I am at peace. I can't have my child around someone who is so toxic. I put up with her abuse for years because I thought I owed it to her. Now I feel as if I've survived her. People don't have to stay in a toxic relationship just because they're related. Life is too short. I don't feel badly around the holidays because I have my own happy family right here in my house. If anyone asks me about it I tell them the truth. I have yet to meet someone who tells me I've made the wrong choice. Maybe some day my mom will get it together and accept counseling and we can find some common ground. Until then, though, I feel no guilt. It's my life and I'm living it.
Wow, Sadie you aren't alone! I just turned 25 this week and I haven't heard from my family since I was 19. They were alcoholics, and religious rednecks. They couldn't stand the fact that I'm gay and made it very clear that they would never be OK with that. I got so sick of them trying to control me and we had a huge fight. They were just dark, evil, controlling, and judgemental people.
I think I would miss them more if they had been decent people, but if they had been decent people, we'd still be speaking. I feel almost relieved and unburdened that I don't have to deal with them and their antics anymore. Sometimes it's hard, but I do have friends (and a sweet cat) and they are the family that I've chosen.
I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one!
I am only 19 but have been through a lot it seems sometimes. HRS has been called on my parents multiple times but being afraid for my life I never told them anything. My father or ***** donor as I say loves his beer. He works at merita bakery about 15 hours a day. On his may home he drinks a beer, he then drinks a couple more before he goes to bed, then when he wakes up he goes outside and downs a 12 pack. And the cycle continues my father always had a beer can in his hand even when he was asleep. He was the man who had to have the best and when it came to his kids we needed to give him the best. I have an older sister but she was not treated this way. And later I found a video explaining it all. My sister and father were sexually intimate. I made dinner and his lunches for work, the dishes, laundry, mowing I did it all. And when I didnt I got kicked and punched until I apologized to him. My mother is a codependent and downs just as much prescription drugs as she can to avoid the pain. She tried to be my friend but always told my father everything so I stopped trusting her. While living with them I stopped eating, heart palpatations, extreme head aches become part of my life. They thought I was faking because what elementry school kid has these problems. Since I moved out and into my boyfriends house all those problems have gone away. Only to arise when my parents poke there heads out of the wood work. I've tried keeping in contact with my half sister to keep my parents a little bit informed. But my sister in law twisted everything and made it a lot worse. They've made themselves look perfect and my in laws like monsters. My future mother in law has gone through what I have and tried to get me to work it out with my family. I'm not sure if I should since my family has never listened before. I admit even though my family has caused me a lot of pain part of me misses them. They think they've done everything they can to love me and dont understand at all what they did. They even told my poor grandmother my boyfriend drinks and drives, he does pot, and is always intoxicated. My boyfriend is not perfect no one is, he's drank and he's done pot. But he has never done pot while with me, he stopped smoking, and he only drinks for celebration because I don't like it around me. But out of nowhere she tells everyone how horrible he is. I've tried having my in laws come over for thanksgiving, my birthday, christmas all of it. But they faught it all. But now they tell everyone how they went out of the way and my in laws rejected them. They twist everything around to fit there need. I just feel like I'm the only one out there now. I had a friend who had a similar problem but as of last year he took his own life. It's scary some times my boyfriend has done his best to help me but it's hard when you have no idea what to do and have no experience in this type of situation.So your definitely not alone.
I am almost completely estranged from my parents, and am completely estranged from my only brother and extended family. I find it hard to find resources to help me deal with this, and am glad I found a forum with others who can relate. I tell very few people about this.
My dad was an alcoholic for most of my childhood, my mother is a cold, non-feeling type of person. I was under an incredible amount of stress as a child, often waiting up until 4 or 5am until my dad would come home. Several days a week. I remember laying awake in bed, worried sick that something happened to him. I was totally embarassed to have friends over, always worried he would show up drunk. Didn't enjoy any family gatherings such as Xmas because of his drunkenness. He made and broke promises all the time because he was too sick to go out and do anything. And the list goes on.
So that is how I spent my childhood. I was always tired, and miserable as a result. I see now how depressed I was back then as a kid. I was sexually abused by my friends brother. When I told my mother she said nothing, and did nothing. That in itself speaks volumes as to the type of person she is.
For years I just faked that I had a decent family. Went completely out of my way to hold Xmas gatherings, planned vacations, bought expensive gifts for everyone, etc. Always going overboard with things, trying to impress them. I graduated with honours from high school (which I quit in Gr 10 then had to go back to complete), and then honours from college. This was a huge accomplishment for me. My dad didn't even bother coming to the grad ceremony. My mother did, but it was not really a big deal.
Funny thing is I coped by drinking myself. I was able to quit on my own before it destroyed my career and life. And I wonder why my dad could not quit? Was I just not a high enough priority? To me he just wanted to party, and that was more appealing than kids and family life. I still feel it is a choice he made. I have been there, I had to make choices myself. We all choose our own path.
Then I decided I could not hold it in anymore and I tried to confront them about this, about my feelings regarding my childhood, and get it resolved for once and for all. So I did, I told them how I resented all the drinking, how I resented how my brother was always the one who got all the attention, but they said 'It could have been much worse you know, your childhood was not that bad.' As far as my brother goes, they get very defensive anytime I would talk about him and they just say that me and my brother are such different personalities, that is way we don't get along. Ya right, they just simplify it as that...! I thought I could fix this, fix myself emotionally, and we would be a happy '''normal''' family. When I say I talked about it, I mean with my mother. My father does not say much, and I never confronted him directly.
Yes, I know people have been worse than I did. But my parents lack of acknowledgement of what happened, and their lack of responsibility makes me so angry. The obviously could just forget about it, but it is something I could not get over.
My brother on the other hand, was, and still is treated like gold. Spoiled rotton. An example: My parents had little money, he would make them take him shopping and buy designer clothes!! I am talking $40 socks!!! He was the prize athlete, whom they adored and constantly bragged about. I also tried reconciling with him years ago, but he is so arrogant (and was made that way by my parents who put him on this high pedestal so he really felt he could do no wrong). He lived with me and my husband for awhile and nearly burnt our house down at one point because of his drinking, kept us awake all night, and basically had no respect whatsoever for us personally. We asked him to leave, and that is the last time I talked to him. I told my parents what happened, and they said they did not believe me!!!! Flat out thought I was lying. That event is what triggered the estrangement. And perhaps it was for the best. I did not have to deal with them anymore. So I didn't hear from them for almost 2 years. Then there was a death in the family, and seeing them at the funeral, we were in limited contact again. Which is where we are at now.
I had a hard time, left home very young, at 16, and made alot of bad choices through my teen years. In the end, it all turned out well for me, I found my own way. I have a wonderful life now, but I am still in therapy to this day dealing with the resentment, abuse, and feelings of (and great fear of) abandonment. I don't blame all my problems on my parents, but I can see how my lack of coping skills, lack of self esteem, and how I relate to other people relates right back to how I was raised.
I have given up. I will not confront them again about it, but chose to limit contact. Set boundaries. Right now, my mother has discovered email and emails me weekly on the mundane weather details, and details of her day to day dull existence, and boring facts about people whom I have not seen in 20 years. I know it kills her to not be able to talk/write about my brother to me, because that has always been her main topic of conversation, and what she lives for. These emails make me ill, and I rarely return them. But I do return them every once in awhile. I know she sends them as her way of keeping in touch with us, harvesting some info so she can pretend she is in touch with us and blab to the rest of the family. We talk on the phone about once a year, and they try to come and visit once a year, which I dread, and want that to stop too.
I must admit, since I severely limited contact with them, I am doing better. I like it this way. I still feel guilt, and am worried what will happen when they are older. I would like to cut off contact 100%, but have been unable to do so - especially with the emails.
All that being said, I do miss having family, I am leaning more towards accepting the fact that I don't have family, that I never will, and this is the way it will be for the rest of my life. I consider my husband, my husband's family and my friends to be 'my family' now. And of course my pets too. I have a good life, and wasted alot of time stressing about them, their hangups and things I could not change. They love my brother, they chose to favour him, my father chose to drink and they choose to continue to see no further than off the end of their noses. That is the way it is!
Xmas is especially hard with all the family oriented advertising and such. I hope we can be here for eachother through this season for support. Thanks for listening to my life story, and venting. I hope someone sees this and can relate even a little bit. :)
I'm 54 years old, happily married, and have two teenage boys. My father who is now 82 has always been a heavy drinker. He constantly brags about everything he has ever done, and never shows any interest in anyone else. As a father he regularly whipped me with a belt, slapped me on the head, and was verbally abusive. My mother was a cold, distant, critical person who did nothing to protect me or my brother from my father. My brother is now an alcoholic and compulsive liar. I actually tried to maintain family relationships, until my own boys became teenagers a few years ago. At that time I told my father he couldn't get drunk in front of my children anymore, because they were old enough to know what he was doing. My father blew up over this request and my mother defended him. This is what finally pushed me to realize that estrangement might be the only option. It's been hard to come to this point, but once I decided to be estranged, I felt a huge relief. It's still hard at times, but I just have to remind myself what I put up with for years, and I know I'm doing the right thing.
Dave_co, I feel a sense of relief making the decision too. It really is for the best, I know that too when I think about it, because my life is better without them involved in it-that is a fact. When I get twangs of guilt, I too just remember my childhood. I am glad things are working out for you. I hope more people will stop by and post through this holiday season.
sage121, thanks for the follow-up comments and support. One of the hardest things for me in deciding to become estranged from my parents was knowing if it was really the right thing to do. There is very little support to be found anywhere for making this kind of decision, and there are a lot of things out there that can cause me to doubt my decision. For me it's mostly been a process of elimination. After trying everything else I could possibly think of to get along with them, estrangement was the only option left. It's been encouraging to me that with time, I've become more confident that this is the right decision. With time it's also become more clear how harmful it was to me to be in a relationship with them. It was more difficult to discern this, while I was in a relationship with them. To all of you out there struggling with this, you are not alone. I hope that you all find the strength and discernment you need to find what is true for you.
i think we have an imagine ingrained in us about what a family is suppose to be. my family was that when we were young and busy but as we aged things started to go wrong. we turned into people we don't even know or like. it's hard to break away and there seems to be a void left where family used to be when we do. my decision happened over a period of years and i think that is less painful than a sudden stop. i see one of my 3 sisters, because she lives here and is the care giver for my mom, the other 2 live out of state. when circumstances throw us together we are civil. i am fortunate that i have the ability to get my mind off of it and get on with my life.
I am so glad to see people checking in here!! I must say I felt a little foolish posting such a long rant, spilling my guts out to the world. It has helped me to read others stories. Thanks to everyone who shares here.
Dave, You are welcome! Thanks back to you too, your words have meant quite alot to me, more than you know. I can relate, it is easier to see it is the right decision once you are distanced from them, and as time goes on, and as life gets better because of the fact that they are not involved, creating their havoc.
The whole issue on how family is 'supposed to be' is very much driven by the media, and is especially prevalent as the holiday season approaches. It gets to me. I still feel I missed out on family, and feel some jealousy towards people who do have a family. But I am making progress with acceptance.
Something else I really worry about is when my parents die. I know that sounds crazy, but I think about it often. Probably too often, and I need to get past it already. Do I maintain the estrangement and not even go and pay my last respects, just ignore it? I seriously think I would be OK with doing that, I am so deeply bitter against them, and my brother. Or do I go and just go through the motions with other family members angry at me for my lack of contact? Just wondering if anyone has been through this. Any feedback or thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks again everyone..
Dave, Sage, I can relate. It's really interesting to hear from the parents on the "Parents" forum because there is an estrangement thread over there (or five or ten) and it's mostly parent-centered. It gave me good perspective on how those parents feel about their children being estranged. I'm a parent, and estranged from my mother. A lot of what I got was that I must be 'spoiled' or 'unforgiving' or 'cruel' (projection?).
Sage, I worry about when my mother dies too. I'm so stressed under everything (my normal day-to-day reality) that sometimes I don't know how to release and really relax. I feel responsible for her. I love her. And I can't tolerate her behavior anymore. Were this a child I don't know what I would do. Be more forgiving probably. But this is a 60+ year old woman.
I think when your parents die you will know what feels right for you at the time. Going through the motions doesn't feel good. I wouldn't do it just for other people. Have your own ceremony, at a favorite location, with supportive friends. Bring something to burn. Let it go to the wind, and finally forgive and let go. At that time, there will be nothing but memories. And grieve. And now I'm crying. I LOVE my mom. And I can't be her friend. I don't know how to be her daughter. I don't know how to live this relationship.
Like Dave said, there is little support or understanding for adults who simply do not want to continue the pain of a relationship anymore. I wish you all the best,
Thanks for the feedback Silver, it is very helpful to me. I know that going through the motions doesn't feel good, in any type of situation - I have done that alot through my life in relation to my family, and it is against what I believe, and has only made me feel worse. I just think that maybe sometime I will have to do it just one more time in that situation. You are right, I will know at the time what I need to do. That is very good food for thought, I will think of that statement when I start worrying about the future. Thanks so much.
I tried to read various message boards that were from the parental perspective, as there seems to be alot of resources for parents of estranged children, but not vice versa. I have been accused of being spoiled, unforgiving, overly dramatic, too sensitive, unappreciative, and selfish by my parents directly. They have said these things to me over and over. I find that sort of 'tone' to be prevalent on the parent centered boards too.
But, now I can sort of see that this is just their own way of clearing their own conscience, convincing themselves they did 'the best they could'.(That statement in particular makes me very angry). My parents also used to say to me 'things could have been much worse, there are horrible stories on the news of child abuse, of children being kept in basements, tortured'. And that I should 'just be thankful things were not worse'. I think it is just terrible to not acknowledge their wrongdoing, and to twist it in that manner. Sick.
I don't feel love for my parents, and I still do feel guilty about that and maybe I always will. It is not 'natural', if you know what I mean. You are supposed to feel deeply connected to parents, love them, and feel love back from them. They did give me live, if for nothing else, I should love them for just that alone. But I don't.
Releasing and relaxing is something I struggle with as well. I learned how to do this more as an adult. As a child I was under alot of stress. So I didn't learn good coping skills and vented my anger in self-destructive ways - food, sex, drugs, isolation, I couldn't maintain friendships. Just realizing this problem (in therapy) was a relief, and learning how to relax gave me alot of peace.
Silver, at some point I hope you will come to accept the relationship. Don't blame yourself, it is not your fault. Remember you can't control what your mom thinks and what her actions are. Geesh, I wish I had some better advice, I don't know what to say other than 'I understand'. Crying is good, good to let out the stress. I wish you all the best as well in coming to terms with your own situation too.
Thanks for listening/reading everyone.
I know what you mean Sage. There really isn't any advice to give, is there? A heartfelt "I understand" is really appreciated.
What gets me is the constant statement that they were "good parents", and that the children did it for "no reason". They must have "loved them too much" and "given them too much". I think that's a load of you-know-what.
I think it's interesting that you mention love. Eskimos have something like 500 words for snow. We only have one word for love. But there are so many kinds of love... parent love, child love, friend love, food love, fun love, sexual love, appreciation love. I think maybe you are being too hard on yourself. You don't have to love anyone. And maybe love is the wrong word anyways because it is too narrowly defined. If you can be thankful that you are here and that they gave you life then when you think "oh, I feel bad, I don't feel love" maybe next time just turn it around to "I appreciate this day, that I am able to be here doing this. My parents made it possible for me to be here." It's silly, I know! But sometimes I have to talk myself out of my expectations of myself.
It sounds like you had a very difficult childhood. Mine was emotionally treacherous. I never knew where I stood. And I was expected to be very strong. I'm focusing on letting go of my resentment and moving forward but it is very difficult when there are reminders constantly. I know what you mean by not wanting friends to come over. I always wanted to live in another house. Mostly for the stability they seemed to have.
Glad you are here! I am thinking about these issues alot as the holiday season approaches. I tend to mull about them, and it gets me down. Nice to release some of the anxiety here by writing about it, trying to figure it out, and to relate to others who actually can understand.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. I think parents who maintain that they were 'good parents' even though they very obviously were not, are in complete denial. My parents are like that. I think they are incapable of dealing with their own guilt so they say "I was OK, I did the best I could." And then stuff away all the other associated emotions. A complete cop out. Nothing gets to me more than that, my parents complete disregard that anything at all was wrong. It might have helped if they acknowleged it, maybe apologized? Not sure how much that would have helped. But over the years when I was actually trying to fix our relationship, they never did admit any wrong doing at all. It is so insane.
I know what you mean, positive 'self-talk' is important, I do that quite a bit! :) I recall vividly being very worried and afraid friends would come over and see what went on at our house. I always envied friends, felt so peaceful at their house, not stressful - and I never wanted to go home.
When I was seeing a therapist I realized how much my childhood experiences formed how I deal with my emotions as an adult. In particular, rejection. I never felt loved or part of a family, so small rejections in adult life would send me spiraling downwards. It was a relief to realize this. I never connected the two until I sat and talked with someone about it. I don't blame them for everything wrong that I have done, I am cautious of doing that. But I see the affects a lack of parenting and abuse can have, and can see some connections to my childhood to how I deal with things now.
I have a very good life now, everything I could ever want. I am now 40, and it is time to let go of the resentment. It is just the hardest thing to do. But it is getting better.
Maybe it would have been better, more fulfilling/settling to hear from your parents "I'm sorry". My mom apologized to me, and I did my best to forgive her. Years later I realized her pattern. She is an energy vampire. It all has to go to her. The apology was more so that I would forgive her. I still, while acknowledging that she has a life and a history and hurts and feelings too; have no understanding how a grown person could treat a child as she treated me. And now she thinks we can just get past it. I did, but I didn't. Does this make me a bad person? for forgiving, yet not being able to forgive entirely? For understanding that she is human, yet not being able to tolerate her humanity? That's what really gets me.
There's nothing like seeing a lit window from the outside, is there? I would see other kids homes and feel so envious. And they never knew what they had.
How to let go? I was so afraid of abandonment that part of my issue is love/rejection oriented. I feel guilty, I feel responsible, I'm angry and bitter. I'm mad that I wasn't protected.
It's silly to be an adult and feel like this... still holding onto childhood. Still working through the issues, still trying to understand what happened and why.
I know what you mean about rejections and spiraling downward. I find myself entirely too sensitive, mulling over things, backtracking, regurgitating my words, others reactions,,,,, did I say it wrong, did I do it wrong, are they thinking badly of me... etc. When in reality the other person is thinking of what to have for lunch. Is this a trait of the abused? To overanalyze?
My parents are not the type to ever EVER say 'I love you' or 'I'm sorry' under any circumstances. Even if someone says the words 'I'm sorry', I think that if you don't feel the apology is sincere, it is hard to really forgive someone. That is just my opinion. How about not forgiving, but just accepting she is who she is? I battled with 'forgiveness' for a long time. Wondering why can't I just 'forgive and forget' as the saying goes and as it seems so many many people in the world are able to do. I can't. It is cliche' and something that I think alot of people say they can do that, but in reality cannot.
I can relate to all you are saying. I have learned that what you describe can be a trait of abuse, as I have, and still do go through that. A therapist explained it to me as follows:
When you are traumatized and stressed as a kid, your brain can't process that level of anxiety for long periods of time without someone being there to help you through it (ie a loving parent). Our brains/emotions were not developed to deal with that sort of thing yet.
I used to lay awake in bed all night until my dad came home because I was scared to death he had died. (I have related that extreme worrying to my incessant worrying as an adult, worrying to try to take some control the situation.) Not sure why I even cared if he ever came home after how he treated me. It was a catch 22 - I worried about him coming home and was so relieved when he arrived. Then I dreaded seeing him, and hated him being around, and was afraid of him. Confusing, conflicting emotions, and feeling of rejection, that created alot of anxiety for me as a kid.
We blamed ourselves for what was going on around us, deemed ourselves unlovable because of what was going on around us, tried to please people to be what they wanted us to be thinking that would be how we would be accepted loved, and became untrusting and unsure of others as a result. As an adult we have to re-learn healthy behaviors and coping skills that most people learn as they grow up. This made alot of sense to me, and gave me hope.
I feel very frustrated that I am still dealing with issues with my parents at my age. I think it is something that will always be there.
I was very envious of other kids. I actually made up stories that I had a happy home life, and I carried these stories into my adult life. I just pretended it was all OK. Stuffing the emotions far back inside myself.
Hope I am making some sense, I am rambling a little. Everyone has to find their own way. My intent is to just share some of what I have learned through therapy, I sure don't have all the answers. Wish I did. :)
Sage & Silver, you have both put into words so much of what I have been through or am going through. Unfortunately, there is no manual to refer to for these things. This forum is helpful.
What to do when they die? I've thought about this. I'm not sure what I'll do. I think I'll go to the funeral to see them put in the ground. I think that would be good for me. The downside of going will be listening to all the people who will say what wonderful people they were. That could be hard. Like Silver said, I think we will know what to do when it happens. Trusting that I will know what to do in the future helps me calm down in the present.
I've always been told I should have been thankful I had a roof over my head and food on the table. Any parent who has to say this to a child has already failed miserably. A therapist once told me that even orphanages put a roof over your head and food on the table. This and hopefully you don't have to worry about angry drunken men hollering at you and hitting you with no one else around to protect you.
I too have wrestled with what it means to forgive. For the record my parent's consider me a self righteous and unforgiving person, and have told me so. What I have learned is that there is a big difference between forgiveness and trust. I can forgive someone, meaning that I no longer hold something against them. Forgiving them, doesn't mean I trust them. Trust needs to be earned. A simple "I'm sorry" doesn't rebuild trust after years of emotional and sometimes physical abuse. Especially, when their bad behavior continues after they have said they are sorry. Given my parent's unwillingness to do anything to build any kind of trust, there is no way left for me to relate to them. Their claim that I am unforgiving is an easy way for them to make this my problem and not theirs. This is what they have always done. I'm not buying it anymore. And never will again.
Anyway, thanks for sharing so much on a difficult topic. I hope this Christmas season brings you all many gifts of peace and understanding.
"I used to lay awake in bed all night until my dad came home because I was scared to death he had died... It was a catch 22 - I worried about him coming home and was so relieved when he arrived. Then I dreaded seeing him, and hated him being around, and was afraid of him. Confusing, conflicting emotions, and feeling of rejection, that created a lot of anxiety for me as a kid."
Sage, take out father and replace with mother and you just put into words exactly what I did as a child. I still have "car wreck" mentality when people don't come home on time.
"What I have learned is that there is a big difference between forgiveness and trust."
"I can forgive someone, meaning that I no longer hold something against them. Forgiving them, doesn't mean I trust them. Trust needs to be earned. A simple "I'm sorry" doesn't rebuild trust after years of emotional and sometimes physical abuse. Especially, when their bad behavior continues after they have said they are sorry."
That's good. I never thought of those two words being connected. Trust. Forgiveness. I have compassion for my mother. I have forgiveness. I have no trust. And she, of all people in my life, has the ability to get inside me the best. It's frightening.
Hi Dave and Silver,
I have to say I am feeling very strange, but in a good way, as I read here. Grasping that there are people out there who can relate to me on this issue. Whew. Very comforting, and I am so grateful.
I agree re: trust vs forgiveness. Well said, so true.
We will know what to do at the time, thanks again, this statement alone has really given me peace. I don't need to think and worry about the scenarios of what could happen at this point in time.
I understand how the accusations they throw cut so deep. Funny how it is that way. My husband has told me over and over 'it is not me, it is them'. But what they say hurts, and how they view me hurts. They think I am emotionally unstable, and a liar and resent that is what they tell the rest of the extended family, whom I never see. Not sure why I care, it is just the principle of it.
And I know that what they say is untrue! Yes, I have had problems dealing with the past,I am a little damaged, but far from unstable. I have a great marriage, great job, friends and a pretty normal and happy life free of any major problems or worry. They do not have any of this and never have. So how can they accuse me? It has to be the projection of their own guilt.
Sage, they accuse you because it's easier than looking at themselves.
As for being damaged, we're a pretty inclusive club. I have yet to meet someone who is undamaged. I've gone in cycles. First, I hated my mother for what she did (when I was a kid/teenager. Then as a young adult I started to think of her "at my age" and think of what she was going through, what she'd been through and I had compassion and let a lot of stuff go. Then I became a mother, and she because more in my life than ever and I realized, hey, wait a minute. She was really damaging, and continues to be damaging. So what if she had a hard life. We all did. It's no excuse. And then I got mad. Mad because I feel tricked. Mad because I want to fold right back into my ignorance. But knowing I never really was ignorant, I just suppressed it. So a fake ignorance, if there can be such a thing. A defensive of my mom, always living 'two to one body' in my own conflict over her...
I don't know if that makes much sense. Basically I found it hard to seperate her from me. Especially since we did a lot together. She would dominate all the conversations, all the people. I never had a chance to develop my own relationships with people because she was always there... being the star. I would be relegated to the "kid" constantly. She'd correct my grammar, my ideas, my everything. And then she'd look good. And I'd feel bad.
I am a parent estranged from my daughter so I read this thread to gain some insight and to ask you for advice.
Substance abuse, mental, physical, sexual abuse, abandonment and the like are all legitimate reasons for disassociating yourselves from your parent (s)no decent human being would argue with your choice if your reasons were known. If I had committed any of these crimes, I would certainly expect my children to have nothing to do with me.
My daughters reasons for the estrangement are mostly due to different expectations of the adult child/parent relationship. Like most parents, in raising my children, I retained what my parents did right and tried to correct the things I felt they did wrong. For example, my mother was nosey, never allowed me to age beyond thirteen, and made gift-giving unpleasant (rarely did she like what I bought for her). So, I dont pry into my adult childrens lives, I have treated my children as adults from the time they turned eighteen, and I do not put pressure on the receipt of gifts. My daughter interprets these actions as a lack of interest in her life, lack of respect for her opinions (I dont comment on or criticize her assertions if I disagree with her), and disdain for holidaysnone of which I intended at all. But, assuming she was holding nothing back from me, these are her chief reasons she gave for cutting me out of her life. This happened a month ago.
From my perspective, I have spent thirty years loving and adoring my daughter. I made mistakes, of course (parenting is fraught with a myriad of opportunities to say or do the wrong thing), and I have tried apologizing to her for anything I may have done to hurt her. Nevertheless, she wants no contact from me.
So, here is my question: This is my first Christmas as an estranged parent. All of you know that the holidays carry a huge emotional freight. Do I honor my daughters wish for no contact? Or, if I fail to contact her, would that be worse?
Thank you for your advice.
Hi Silver and Sage,
I agree that the accusations are a convenient way for them to avoid any responsibility. At some level they must know how crushing it would be to realize what they have done, and they just can't let themselves ever go there.
I still find it annoying and somewhat embarrassing that my parents can still provoke so much emotion out of me. I keep thinking after all these years it should be gone, but it's not. I guess that just shows how deeply buried they are in my psyche.
For many years I was very angry about feeling damaged. It seemed so unfair. I think I've spent most of my life trying to be good enough so that I can avoid ever feeling like that small, hurt, lonely, angry, worthless child I was growing up. Of course, there is no escape. Lately, I've tried to stop running away from this. I'm trying to learn to be friends with the child I was. I actually have conversations with him, I listen to him, I let him rant and cry, I comfort him, I let him know that I care. Doing this has helped me calm down, and stop trying to run away from my past. I think this also helps me see myself as a more separate person, no longer desperately needing their approval just to feel OK.
There is also another side I've found in being "damaged". While it has its painful side, it's helped me become someone I wouldn't have become otherwise. I had a very successful career in part because of my ability to read other people. I know I wouldn't have known how to do this, if I hadn't grown up the way I did. Having said this, I still would not recommend anyone go through what I did to learn this.
I just want you both to know that hearing what you both have gone through and are still going through is so very helpful for me. I don't feel as alone and unsure of myself.
"I still find it annoying and somewhat embarrassing that my parents can still provoke so much emotion out of me. I keep thinking after all these years it should be gone, but it's not. I guess that just shows how deeply buried they are in my psyche."
What, are you reading my mind now!!!??? LOL!!
Ashton, I wish I had advice for you.
"...lack of interest in her life, lack of respect for her opinions (I dont comment on or criticize her assertions if I disagree with her), and disdain for holidaysnone of which I intended at all."
Have you explained why you went so far the other way? Because you resented the way your mother did it? Told her that you understand, and that now that you know she wants you to be more involved you'd love to be there?
I find it hard to believe that this is the real reason she estranged herself. Did she one day just say, you're not interested in me, so leave me alone?
I'm sorry for anyone who is estranged, but from my experience it takes a lot of building up before the final cut off. I'd do some soul searching to see if you're missing anything that could have had something to do with this.
Silver, I can relate, everyone has hardships in life, as did my parents, but to put children in the crossfire of their own 'problems' is just not fair. Sounds like your mom was very repressive and controlling of you. I am sorry for that. As Dave said, separate yourself from 'the child'.
Dave, I agree that parents are buried in our psyches - that is the natural order of things, at least that is how I see it. I think it will always be there, but we can make it less painful with time and choose to not allow it to affect our present lives.
I can relate to 'trying to be good enough'. I still struggle with perfectionism and feelings that I am not good enough - but they are subsiding as the years go on. Thanks for bringing up the positive side. I can see how I achieved alot career wise and personally due to my 'drive' to be good enough, and the resilience that I have as a result. Yes, not a recommended method of success..lol At least I can see it now (most of the time), whereas a few years back, I was always extremely hard on myself. Glad you are able to utilize such a special skill and be so successful in your career, that is great to hear! I think seeing some positive coming out of it all is so healthy for us.
In therapy I recall what you describe as contacting that 'child', sitting with that 'child', and grieving for that 'child'. Separating yourself from that child is the first step, as you are not the same person anymore. That also gave me an immense amount of comfort, and was a turning point for me on the path to starting to let it go. Before that point, I could not speak of my parents without crying. Now I can. Funny, I was just thinking of that today and was going to share it here.
Ashton, This is my 2 cents. You seem to view substance abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse etc as crimes that are so much more severe than emotional abuse/emotional neglect - and as the legitimate reasons for children to cut ties with their parents. But in my experience, feeling that my parents were emotionally not there for me has by far been the most painful and damaging, and a big reason for my cutting ties with them. In my opinion, no 'decent human being' would distance themselves emotionally from their children. Nobody expects parents to be perfect. Remember that most people here are parents themselves! As stated in an earlier response, there is a big difference between just saying 'I'm sorry' for mistakes made, and regaining someone's trust. Your daughter obviously does not agree that there was 30 yrs of only 'love and adoration' going on between you and her. This is strictly my own personal opinion. I hesitate in posting this, because I am not interested in debating this topic, only expressing my opinion. This is a place for support and I would very much like to keep it that way.
Nothing about your situation sounds remotely like my estrangement from my parents.
I agree with Silver that something about your description of your estrangement from your daughter doesn't add up. It seems likes something else is going on. Something you may or may not know about.
Without more insight as to what is going on with you and your daughter it's hard to say what you should do. I'd recommend getting a better understanding of this situation, if you can.
Thank you for your response.
My daughter never gave me the opportunity to explain. She told me that she wasn't interested in any explanations because she "saw things clearly." And you are correct; this has been building since last Christmas.
My daughter entered therapy a couple of years ago. On the surface, she appears to have everything--a wonderful husband, a loving family, a great job, a new home, etc. but clearly she wasn't happy; thus, the therapy.
My older sister successfully raised three daughters. My sister theorizes that my daughter needs someone to blame for her unhappiness. Children keep a careful accounting of all wrongs committed by their parents. Ive noticed that my daughter embraces the worst possible interpretation of these slights.
I imagine that like most parents who are in my situation, every non-working moment is taken up with soul searching. Believe me, our heads spin with endless questions ranging from "Is my daughter losing her grip on reality?" to "What on Earth did I do?" When she finally enumerated the reasons you referred to, it was not with measured words rather she screamed them at the top of her voice. And when she cut off contact, again she was very angry.
Im incredulous that she would take such an extreme measure. I have not raised my voice to one of my children in ten years (they are now 30 and 27) nor would I ever emotionally blackmail them (she has told me to seek therapy or she will never speak to me again) or threaten them (she informed me that she would summon security if I ever approached her at work).
All of this is exacerbated, given the timing--it is Christmas. And Im left with trying to figure out what is in the best interest for my daughter. For all of you on this forum, perhaps you will take comfort that maybe your parents are a little like me. I desperately want to do the right thing.
I would never suggest that emotional abuse/neglect is not serious. It is always tricky when enumerating things which is why I included "and the like."
Im not here to gain sympathy or defend myself. Im here because you all share at least one thing in common with my daughteryou are estranged from your parent (s). As stated, Im hoping to learn something from all of you so that I can better understand my daughter. I have posted on the parents forum which is fine for commiserating, I suppose, but I am more interested in what you have to say.
Thank you for your input.
I cannot even wrap my mind around your story; my heart goes out to you.
A few more thoughts about your daughter. She seems to be experiencing a lot of pain that she associates with you. Rightly or wrongly. She also doesn't trust you and is very angry with you. You seem interested in getting to the bottom of this.
You said she wouldn't talk to you unless you went to therapy. Would she go to a therapist with you? Would she let you come to her therapist with her? If this is possible, and you really want to help your daughter, you should do it.
While your daughter may be the one who has lost it, you have to consider that you may have some blind spots in your parenting abilities. If you could both be in therapy together, you might figure out what is going on.
You also said she has a sibling. Can you get any insight on this situation from your other child? What about her father? Can he help sort this out?
I hope you can resolve this. I would prefer to be able to work things out with my parents, but in my case, that doesn't seem possible.
Thank you for your interest, Dave.
I offered to see my daughters therapist. My daughter declined. The reason she gave my ex is that she is afraid Ill confront her therapist. Im no sharp-tongued, confrontational, heavy-weight so my guess is that her therapist is probably pretty young. On the other hand, if I were convinced that someone was messing with my daughters mindwell, you are a parent, Im sure you understand.
My son (age 27) and I share an excellent relationship and yes, he has provided me with some insight. However, her list of grievances has been accumulating for at least a couple of years. For example, one thing we share in common is our profession and I have a tendency to talk about work rather than probe into her personal life. I respect her privacy but she views this as disinterest on my part.
Both my ex and my son believe that she is overreacting and will eventually come around.
Naturally, I hope they are right.
Thanks for listening,
I would have prefered to work things out as well. As we know, it is not easy, and I can't imagine anyone making the decision in haste. Sometimes the pain and stress make it a necessity. Glad others are posting here who can relate, particularly with the Christmas Season approaching. I feel this is going to be the best Christmas I have had in years! I am feeling some peace of mind with this issue. Thanks once again to everyone who shared their story.
I forgot to mention, re: Silver's comment on 'mind reading'.
Silver, and Dave, I have felt you were BOTH reading my mind!! lol So weird to be in communication with others in the same situation, it is very foreign to me, and it still sort of has me in shock! You have both really had a huge impact on me. Very helpful, thanks.
"And Im left with trying to figure out what is in the best interest for my daughter. For all of you on this forum, perhaps you will take comfort that maybe your parents are a little like me. I desperately want to do the right thing."
That's the hard thing for me. My mother does want to do the right thing. I'm sure of it. But no matter what her intentions are, there's this damaging aspect of our relationship that I have a really hard time dealing with. She thinks she is doing the right thing. She cannot see the impact it has on me (or she won't see).
Example: My best friend just sent out an email to several of her friends. My mother was on the list (my mother has always been close to my friends). My BF alluded to an event. My mother called my ex-husband to ask him about it. Didn't call my bf, didn't email my bf, didn't call or email me... So he called me and I had to explain and combat her assumptions that she made (lies? or assumptions?) to him. Then I emailed her and told her everything, in a very nice way, didn't call her out on calling my ex and making a big deal about anything. She responded with talk about other things. No mention of what she had done, or the event at all. She keeps calling my ex-husband, telling him things, telling him she loves me, etc... while telling him lies about my circumstances.
She thinks she is doing the right thing. He has bought it hook, line and sinker. Everyone feels sorry for her. Often we think we are being nice and doing the right thing while others are not of the same opinion.
Have you considered going to a therapist on your own, then asking your daughter if she wants to see your therapist? If you are not allowed to go to hers, and she doesn't want to go to yours, then "you going to a therapist" as a condition of reconciliation is a moot point.
"I respect her privacy but she views this as disinterest on my part."
Could it be that you are thinking "I'm respecting her privacy" and she's thinking "but it's not private, so it's not respectful to ignore me"?
People see things in such different ways. It's hard to know what is going on in the mind of others.
"Children keep a careful accounting of all wrongs committed by their parents. Ive noticed that my daughter embraces the worst possible interpretation of these slights."
I think people do this in general, not just children. I know my mother keeps a careful accounting of wrongs done by everyone, not just by me. And I think perhaps your daughter just isn't experienced enough in life to realize just how HUMAN everyone is. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone slights other people. It's a product of maturity to be able to turn things around the other way.
It has taken me so many years to be able to see the difference. I'm still working on being able to have it come natural. Some people can see something that a person does that's "off" to another person and when it is pointed out, say something nice and encouraging "I'm sure when Sue did that she was just so proud of her daughter" instead of "did you see Sue make an a** of herself".
Finding the best possible reason for a person's actions is something that comes with age and experience.
Silver, I can see how you struggle with this, it seems like your life and your mother's lives are interwoven, making consideration of this issue twice as hard. Hang in there.
Ever suspected your mother has a mental illness and is in complete denial about it? I think that about my own mother as I myself just can't see how she could be so emotionless, and misinterpret things so severely. I have been accused by my mother of lying about events that have happened, and even if I have credible witness's, she will deny the facts, and skew them. Her way of dealing with conflict? It used to infuriate me, I felt such injustice for her calling me a liar, accusing me of exagerating. Perhaps I should feel pity for her? It is disturbing to me. And if she does have clinical mental issues, of course I feel sad for her, and particularly sad that she was too stubborn to get help. But it was her responsibility to get help at some point. She was the adult, not me. I still don't know what to think about it, and probably never will.
My mother skirted any issue that involved talking about feelings. Yes, some people are more reserved than others, but complete repression is unhealthy to yourself, and to those around you. Especially kids. In our house, it was more like things were made light of, joked about, if it was anything that was supposed to be serious. Sick.
As far as 'slights' go, I agree that adults certainly do keep their own accouting of wrong doing done to them by not only their parents, but by other people. I think children hold onto the feelings moreso than adults. As the saying goes: People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Another thing is that a wrong doing can be seen as nothing major by one person, while another person can be affected by it quite severely. I think it is impossible to know what someone else thinks.
For example: My dad many times came home drunk on Xmas Eve. While my mother would brush it off by saying 'at least he came home', and pretend that nothing was wrong the whole evening, I was traumatized by it. Disgusted, embarassed, horribly disappointed - but at the same time relieved he was home. My mother's non reaction and disregard for my own feelings caused me to resent her. She did not validate my feelings, or even try to understand my point of view. It was never talked about. Rather, she accused me of over reacting (again), being unappreciative, being weak for showing emotion, and unstable emotionally-geesh. Now that I think about it, I am just baffled.
This is just once instance, there were more - some way less severe, and some hidiously unspeakable. They all have an affect. Everyone has their level of tolerance of wrong doings, before they 'crack'. Some people are more sensitive too.
My parents are very distant, and unemotional. Never ever discussing anything at all that was remotely personal, I have felt closer to business associates than to my parents! I always remember them being that way. And I didn't really notice it until I would observe my friend's families. After I was out on my own, and had relationships, a career, I really struggled with it. Opening up, being close to someone, showing affection and basically trusting people. It is something I was not exposed to growing up, I had to figure it out as an adult and it was not easy. But not impossible either.
I paint quite the picture of my parents, but you know what? From the outside, you would never suspect anything. My parents were professionals, active in the community and appeared to be middle class '''normal'''. I always felt like a fraud.
Sage...I did consider that my mother has an illness. I consider it to be NPD. But it's never been professionally diagnosed. What you said really hit home with me:
"But it was her responsibility to get help at some point. She was the adult, not me. I still don't know what to think about it, and probably never will."
Funny that your parents were distant, unemotional and impersonal. My mother was in my face, completely emotional and extremely personal! LOL! Just goes to show that there is no basis for doing things right or wrong.
I always had a problem of showing too much emotion, getting too involved, thinking things had too much to do with me. I felt uncomfortable around others because I always felt too exposed. They could hide their emotions more.
This is very weird. Like a mirror reflection. Yet, from the outside it was the same. Perfect example of a family. Educated, intelligent, fun, well liked parents, well behaved children.
I was thinking back today, and I realized my childhood was very unhappy. It wasn't "bad". I had a house and a bike and went to school and had enough to eat and wasn't beaten. But it was horrible. In so many ways. That no one could really understand unless they were there.
Petty? Maybe. Childhood is very ego driven. They do not know any better. And it takes a while after childhood I think to get a good perspective of the events. For me, it was having a daughter of my own. I can see the terror that I went through only by knowing her at the ages in which the events happened. I think, by the time I was her age...
Silver, Could be NPD. From how you describe her, she sounds very very controlling and arrogant. That would be difficult and frustrating. I can see how it would be so hard to break ties. Maybe you could start by just creating some distance. Setting boundaries for yourself. I don't think you are being petty at all. The feelings you have are real.
Yes, they do seem opposite,and I find it weird too, but revealing and insightful at the same time! But it is funny how the same feelings emerge. I have learned that balance is the key to everything in life, everything. I always try to keep that in mind. So I guess they both could have tried to strike some sort of happy medium, and not have been so extreme.
I had the basic necessities of life too, and that has been used against me by my parents. By them saying "things could have been alot worse" just invalidates my feelings, like I had no right to feel the way I did. I look at children the same way, I think 'at that age I was..'. And sigh, it blows my mind to tell you the truth.
They have accused me of being spoiled, unappreciative, overreacting, overly sensitive, unstable, and jealous and looking to blame something for my being unhappy with life and choosing my childhood. Therapy has helped me realize I was none of these things, and just because I am accused of them does not make them true. I was just screaming out for some help, understanding, support and love when I was a kid, but didn't get any.
And even when I was older, maybe if they just said 'I understand your anger and why you felt hurt'. Maybe that would have been enough, and maybe things would be different today. Again, I will never ever know.
I see things alot more clearly as time goes on. For years I didn't deal with my hatred and resentment I felt towards my parents, I just carried on with a smile on my face, was nice to them, tried to impress them constantly, pretended it was all good. Once I was established in my career I bought them lavish gifts and paid for everything when they would come and visit. I would hold Christmas at my house and go all out with everything. I regret that now.
Another big part of my resentment is the fact that they favored my brother. That always hurt, and still does. During the years when I was trying to impress them, they talked non-stop about my brother. While it always irritated me that they talked about him so much, I never said anything in the past. But I had a falling out with my brother and the last thing I wanted to hear about was him, how could they not see that? I used to just smile and nod, but I guess I reached my breaking point. Eventually I just said to them - STOP! I blew up at them completely and said I was not interested in hearing about him, or seeing any more pictures of him. I said to them, "Don't you understand why?". My parents had absolutely no understanding of why I would be so upset.
After the blow up, it seemed they had nothing to say as he was always the first topic of converstation. It made them very uncomfortable, but how come nobody cared about making me uncomfortable?
For god sake, this is what happened with my brother: My brother nearly burned my house down when he was drunk. Wrecked things around my new house in his drunken stupor, and our house was brand new, we were so proud of it. We let him live with us for awhile, for free, including food, not including liquor although he helped himself when I was out of town on business. And to think I was excited about him staying with us, I thought that finally I have family and will fix it by growing closer to him and as a result, closer to my parents.....that was a mistake.
I found his diary, and read it. I learned that he felt really brazen for 'having the nerve' to phone me, his sister, asking to live with us after not seeing us for so long. And the one and only reason he did it is because we live near the mountains and near world class ski areas and he wanted to do some skiing (oh, and I guess living for free was a bonus). He wrote that, they were his words, nothing for me to misinterpret there. Fate that he forgot his diary one day on the kitchen table? I think it was!
He would get drunk and wake us up at 4am (hmmmm, that was reminiscent of my childhood, and probably triggering for me, which is why I was terribly upset). It was a real disaster. And he did not even apologize. And to top it all off, my parents did not even believe it happened, even after my husband verified that it did happen and that I was telling the truth. My brother is an Archeologist, and athlete. I admit, that is impressive, quite an accomplishment and parents have the right to be proud of their son. I know that. But they had him on such a pedistal, they could see no wrong whatsoever. I was the faulty one, a liar. If they were impressed by academia and career, why were they not proud of me? I did all that too!? Rrgh, it hurts, enough about that. Not sure why I had expectations?
Well, no more fakeness now, only reality! It is freeing and I can see that I have always been an honest and decent person, no matter what my parents say, or how they portray me to others in the family. I am glad I faced the feelings. Took a very long time.
I went for lunch with a friend yesterday, not a really close friend, but when she asked me what I was doing for Xmas and I told her the truth. I told her I was estranged from all my family. While I was embarrassed, to my surprise she was understanding. Turns out her husband also is, but they never tell anyone.
I apologize if I am repeating myself, and ranting. Writing here has been a real release for me. Thanks to everyone who is reading.
Sounds like your brother has a bit of his dad in him. It may be easier for your parents to relate to him because it sounds like he's in denial like they are.
What you said was very eye-opening. You tried and tried, smile on, hand out, heart open... until finally your giant pot of yuck finally spilled over. No one wanted to help you clean it up. Everyone acted like you cooked it up and spilled it on purpose.
Many times I hear that "I was a perfect parent, we had a great relationship, and the ALL OF A SUDDEN..."
Yeah, right. All of a sudden. It's like the drunk driving down the road. Everything's great for years and years and then all of a sudden a kid on a bike veers out in front of you. Whoops. Everything was great up until that rasty kid who didn't know how to ride fell into your lane. Stupid kid. Never considering the dent on the bumper from hitting the mailbox the year before, or the scratch from the bushes, or the stink from where you threw up on the seat.
Sometimes, we don't know that enough is enough until it's past enough. And then "what happened" comes into play. When someone is abusive for so long they take for granted that another person will always be there to take their abuse. It is very shocking when the victim walks away.
Of course, the victim played their part. They could have said something sooner, etc. But there is so much wrapped up in a parent/child relationship. We depended on them for food, shelter, love, security. Utterly devoted to our protectors. One could say it is genetically inherent in children to be forgiving of their parents. Until our survival is not dependent on them anymore. Then the picture becomes clearer.
This may be just a bunch of hogwash, I don't know. Sometimes I think I look into it a little too deep.
You said you're not sure why you had expectations. If your parents were anything like mine (and I know they weren't, but I think they may have had a lot in common too!) they placed a high value on education. It was the right thing to do. You did what they expected. You thought once you did what was expected you would get the carrot of affection. Guess what? There was no carrot. Just the stick with the empty string, moving out there ahead of you in abstract land. Perhaps your brother ate it!
Your brother does not demand their personal accountability. You do. Who wants to be around someone who holds up a mirror? It's a lot easier to bury their heads in the sand. Sonny boy isn't an alcoholic, you, the one with jealousy and lying issues, you must be telling stories again.
My mother had a reality of her own. I was her biggest, fiercest advocate. A little mini-me. When I got old enough, I saw that I didn't always agree with her. In fact her view was pretty off base most of the time. It became really difficult to separate my true feelings from her indoctrination. I felt like a half person. Who am I, what do I really think...
Silver, I can see how a smothering relationship with your mother would have caused you to not have a good sense of self. Mothers need to be mothers, not best friends, hey? I can't really relate to that, but I do understand and see how it would be so confusing. Have you heard the term 'boundaries'? You need to set strong boundaries for yourself when dealing with people like your mother. Maybe she regretted her own life and wanted to live her life through you? Just a thought.
That is a good point about my brother. They must like the fact he is an alcoholic, and in denial, because it makes them feel better. I never thought of it that way. He also does not question anything, and just goes with the flow, leading my parents around by the nose in the process-just what he likes, so he can get whatever he wants.
My mother told me once that he used to phone them at 3AM, and they would talk to him, and talk to his friends too, and she thought that was sooooo niiicce. Holy s*it! That is insane, my brother and his friends were drunk and acting stupid and making phone calls like idiots. My brother also mentioned that to me when he lived with us. It deeply disturbed me; both sides, not sure what to make of it. It is whacked!!
You mentioned "the right thing to do". That is what my parents lived by, what others expected, the status quo, and by what others would think. It was all very fake and superficial. I guess that is what I mean by emotionally distant, anything hurtful was just brushed under the rug, never ever talked about. Or it was joked about. Laughed off. Flakey.
It bothers me that I failed at fixing the relationship. I really did my best to put the past behind, suck up my pride and cater to them - my parents and my brother. I wanted family at one point. In hindsight, I can see how it was not realistic, it was a pipedream of sorts. Guess that is OK that I failed, at least I tried.
Thanks for the insight, whew. It is a relief to see things in a different light, just helps me to cope a little better.
ps My brother would take that carrot even if he didn't want to eat it - he would just take it off the string and throw it in the garbage, just because he is a jerk!!! lol lol
Hey! Wait just a minute Sage...
"...It bothers me that I failed at fixing the relationship."
You are taking way too much responsibility. You did not fail. You succeeded. You made an attempt and your attempt worked. It showed you that some things are not within your power to fix. This is a magnificant success!! Now you can let go of the "if I just tried harder" mentality that plagues adult children of dysfunctional families.
Yes, that is true, and deep down I do know that. Some days I get to thinking about it too much. I am getting better at dealing with it, and looking at it from a logical perspective, rather than all emotional, and know I was fighting a losing battle. Thanks for your words of encouragement! :)
Sage & Silver, I've been off-line for a couple of days. You guys have put a lot of good words on here. You both continue to articulate so many aspects of my life..being blamed for creating all the conflict in the family... the externally perfect family... trying to impress and win my parents admiration... a manipulative alcoholic brother... controlling arrogant parents. It's all so true. It's sad to me that someone else has had to go through this too. It's so painful, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. However, if this is how it is, I'm glad I found you in this forum. Thank you for helping me feel less isolated and weird because of these experiences.
When I reflect on my relationship with my parents the central theme seems to be that it always was, and still is, all about them. What they thought about, what they felt, what they liked or didn't like, what they felt like doing or not doing, what they wanted to talk about or not, these were the only things that mattered. It was as if I didn't exist as a person at all. I was just some possession of theirs that they could treat however they wanted. What I thought, or felt, or liked didn't matter. It still doesn't.
It took me a long time to really feel like I mattered and was entitled to my own thoughts and feelings. Silver, I think you used the words "energy vampire" to describe your mom. That's perfect. My parents were "vampires" who just sucked the life right out of me. They still would, if I was around them.
The odd thing about this is I believe they think they are perfectly normal and rational parents, and that there is something terribly defective in me, because this arrangement didn't work for me.
Sage, regarding brothers, while my brother was the beloved, handsome, athletic, charming, outgoing favored son, I wouldn't trade places with him. His closeness to them just meant they got their claws deeper into him than me. I think this has a lot to do with his life being one long messy train wreck. Be thankful you weren't the favored one. It could have turned out very badly.
It's been awkward going through all this with elderly parents. My dad is 82 and my mom is 78. For a long time I kept up the pretense of the happy family, because "they were old". Now that everything is out in the open, I'm glad I told them what I thought before they died. I'm not sure they are, but I wouldn't want to live the rest of my life knowing I never told my parents what I really thought. This toothpaste is squeezed out of the tube, and it's not going back in very easily.
Anyway, thanks again for being there. Be good to yourselves during the holidays.
glad to see you're back...
"For a long time I kept up the pretense of the happy family, because "they were old".
Ha ha. that's exactly what I kept telling myself. And then I realized, that my mom is 60. Can I endure another 20 years of this????? NO!!
20 more years would be unbearable! Good for you!
When you mentioned you thought your mom had NPD, I google NPD and found this link.
I thought it had some interesting insights into "Ns":
"...narcissists are predators who aren't fighting others: they are EATING others. They target easy prey, not anyone they have any reason to attack. They do it because hurting others makes them feel good = they like hurting others. And they are wanton about it. When they have you down, they start kicking. They start pouring it on where normal people would start letting up. They aren't satisfied till there's nothing left of the other party at all."
I've often felt like that if I had stayed in a relationship with my parents and brother, that there would be nothing left of me today. A frightening thought.
I honestly don't think my mother enjoys hurting people. I think she is just so caught up in herself and her opinions that she has absolutely no room for consideration of others. Absolute ability to be right, impossible to change her opinion or consider an alternative reality.
People around her turn into shadows in her light. Having a personal opinion that differs will not work because she is so educated and so well versed in absolutely everything that there is no way to share another opinion. She trumps everything.
I'm sorry your parents sucked you dry too. It's really hard to build it back, isn't it?
Thanks! It is hard to build it back, very. But also very worthwhile. Of course given the alternative of not doing it, it didn't seem like there was much of a choice involved, was there?
"I honestly don't think my mother enjoys hurting people."
It seems like you still might be defending, your mother to some degree. She needs to be right at the expense of others being wrong. It sounds like she is getting something, if not pleasure, out of defeating, hurting?, others.
It also sounds like your mother uses her education as a weapon. My mother is a high-school drop out, but she endlessly criticizes others, and considers her opinion and beliefs superior to everyone else's. It has nothing to do with how much knowledge our mothers have. A predator is a predator, educated or not.
I'm guessing your mother would like you to believe she is using her superior knowledge with only your best interests in mind. It sounds more like a trap to try to keep you her victim. Just a wild guess. If this isn't true, forget I said it.
It sounds like you have gotten away from your mother and can protect yourself better than you used to. Keep your guard up. She sounds very dangerous.
Sage, Silver and Dave and everybody else on here...I am so glad I found this forum. There is so little resource or support, like you say for estrangement from parents. I left home at 16, after years of emotional and physical abuse from my mother. My father did nothing. He was also emotionally and physically abused by her and possibly still is. Berated over the years, used to bang his head against the wall often so my mother would stop. I was only little when all this started. I think I have lived most of my childhood in stress, on red alert as my therapist put it.
The day I left home,my mother claimed, drunk, that my boyfriend was with me as he wanted to be with her. There was no truth in this. I packed my bags and left. She became very competitive with me when I hit puberty and was a complete emotional terrorist. I never feared anyone at school as I knew what was waiting for me when I got home. I had confidence outside of the house and ended up doing well in classes, in exams too as it was an escape...writing essays, doing art, being with friends. I know what you mean when you say there is nothing like looking through lit windows. I often felt sad at not having the harmony of my pals home lives but at the same time happy I was there in them with that moment, even for a few hours sharing it with them. At least their homes gave me a glimpse of what life could be like.
When I left I became very driven. I put myself through University and got a top grade. I really threw myself into everything. At the same time pushing deep inside me and not really dealing with anything that had happened to me. I saw my parents sporadically over the years. When I was about 22 I was at their house, when my mum lost it for no reason like she used to, threatened to hit me. I told her I would hit her back this time and this is the first time I had stood up to her. She broke down and said she was sorry. She talked for hours about her childhood then, how hard she had it etc. and I felt sorry for her. All about her really though. But I needed this at the time, I wanted to have parents, a loving family and I tried from that day to see them more. To have a relationship. I moved to another city though so contact became limited, and was always still strained. She never talked about anything again. I got a great job and then one day, I just started to get really down. I think everything came back and bit me on the ass. I'd been self analytical for years. Constantly grappling with why my mother was the way she was,wondering if it was because I was a bad kid (I wasn't) and this got worse and worse. I saw a therapist and ended up telling him things I had never told anyone and then I started to get really angry and bitter and just really really sad. I limited contact with my mother. She is a complete energy vampire and any phone conversations would always be about her or depressing stories about the bad luck of friends and neighbors, which she seemed to get off on. Depressing.
Anyway at 29 I went home last Christmas for a few days. The first night I see friends from Uni for an hour. She turns up proceeds to get really drunk and is just a nightmare. The next day she is sheepish and doesn't really talk to me for the rest of the stay. I see my father, see pals and generally feel on edge. I am due to leave to go to my boyfriends on the last day and she comes into my room and wakes me up. Tells me everything I got when I was younger I deserved and threatens to kill me. So I pack my things, in tears and tell her I will never speak to her again and I leave. I thought I am almost 30 - I don't have to take this anymore. My dad calls and tells me I am selfish and should apologize...what for I am not sure he never says. So it has been a year and I have more therapy and I feel like a different person. In good and bad ways. The year has been hard and I get upset from things like reading this forum, seeing family images, feeling like I don't belong anywhere and sometimes feeling quite lost in the universe but I am proud I finally broke ties with them both. This time of year is really hard. To not belong anywhere even if the somewhere that once was wasn't so great.
I am glad I don't have that negative energy in my life now. I'm getting married next year and I think it is sad, and maybe weird to other people my parents won't be there. I don't want them there but it's like a taboo I find, being estranged from your parents. It's hard to explain in one sentence. I get asked 'are your parents excited about the wedding', 'are you going home for Christmas'. I just say 'yeah' because its easier but there is that constant reminder and sadness because actually it's a 'no'. Finding this forum has really helped me. i have been looking for a while for something I could relate to. Thank you so much for reading this and thanks for sharing your experiences too.
Wow Vanessa. I'm sad reading your post. And I feel like you're in my head too "...I think I have lived most of my childhood in stress, on red alert as my therapist put it."
RED ALERT. HYPER-AWARE. VIGILANT.
That is exactly how I felt but I've never been able to put words to those feelings before. Thank you.
I can relate to the "taboo" feeling too. So many people ask, and there is nothing to say, or too much to say. I can't go into it. No one, and I mean no one, would understand. IRL, I mean.
If/when I do say something I get...
"Let it go, it's not that bad, she's your mom, just call her." Blah blah blah. And I end up feeling invalidated, selfish, childish and idiotic. Until I wake up again and say *wait a minute. I can't let these people make me feel like this. They have no idea what I've been through.*
And then another will ask a seemingly innocent question, and I'll answer honestly and round and round I go again.
Now, I just smooth right over it. Yes, my mom's doing great, she's loving living in _____. Yes, she was a big help and we miss her. I know she's great, isn't she...
Barf. But at least it ends within a few sentences and I don't leave the conversation feeling like I got hit by a truck.
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I'm thirty myself, and think sometimes it's the change of life. At thirty we are truly adults- regardless that we've been on our own since 16 or 18, it gets more stable and things start to really settle in our minds at this age. I have a lot more confidence in my choices, although I still waver!!!
Hi Vanessa, It sounds like you've been through a lot. I'm glad you found this forum and that it's given you a place to find some support. I know it's helped me not feel like such an alien, because I'm estranged from my parents.
I think a part of me will always be sad that I'm estranged from my parents, but estrangement is so much better than all the insanity, drunkenness, and emotionally destructive behavior that went on with my parents and brother.
I've worked hard to create my own life, and I'm doing my best to stop all the craziness, and not pass it on to another generation. While I was driven academically and in my career like so many of us were, my greatest accomplishment to date is having a great relationship with my wife and two teenage boys. This has done more to heal me from my parent's abuse than anything else I could have imagined.
I wish you the best in starting a new life in your upcoming marriage. While you can't undo your parent's bad choices, you have your whole life to make a lot of really good choices for yourself and your future family.
Hello Dave, Silver, Vanessa, and others, so glad I found this forum, particularly at this time of year. It is very comforting to know I am not alone.
Dave, I am glad you are back too! You are right, it was all about them-how they feel, how they look to others, and how they think they know me and what is wrong with me, how they can brag about how accomplished their son is. They like to brag. And even into my adulthood, they would go on and on and on about my brother to me. Geesh.
AND that is how they raised my brother, as a self-centred knob. It was all about him his whole life. I am not exaggerating either. I have memories from when I was 4 yrs old, all of them sitting on one sofa together, close and cozy...and me on the loveseat. I remember starting to cry, saying nobody liked me and ran to my room crying. It was just laughed at. I was told I was ridiculous. I also used to cry myself to sleep alot, and actually say ¡¥nobody likes me¡¦ to my mom, and she would just brush it off. This used to happen alot ¡V little seemingly trivial things, I know, but they were devastating at the time. You would think parents would comfort a little kid if they actually said this and expressed their feelings? It was very hurtful to me, I always felt so unloved and alone.
My therapist once told me that I may have missed out on early bonding with my mother, and that is crucial. I think the favouritism shown to my brother was a huge part of my estrangement. I actually have more resentment for this than the alcoholism and other abuse I endured. Could they not see what they were doing? They just had to have known what they were doing. My brother was 4 yrs younger than me, and he didn¡¦t have to go through as much as I did as far as the alcoholism goes. So maybe he grew up a more pleasant child. I also think sometimes that they didn¡¦t want me to begin with; or they wanted a boy, not a girl. Why couldn¡¦t they have just pretended to be interested in me and what I did just a little bit? That might have made a difference.
I never thought of my parents of ¡¥energy vampires¡¦ before, but they are in a way, good term. When we were in touch, and they would phone, it was like someone had punched me in the stomach. While they are not the type to always ¡¥trump¡¦ me, they are the type to babble on endlessly and avoid any sort of real conversation about anything. My mother would go on for a half hour about what the weather was doing. That drives me up a wall. Oh, and then it was about my brother and the details of his wonderful life.. Actually, I see how they lost themselves in my brother. They really centered everything they had ¡V personally and financially - around him, and let their own interests go. Sad in a way.
Dave, I am worried I will not tell my parents how I feel before I die. They know bits and pieces from the arguments we had over the years, so I guess they know ¡¥why¡¦ I am so upset, even though they don¡¦t get it. I am just afraid of their reaction, because it would be all denial, and would just make me so frustrated and angry as it has in the past. I just do not want to go there. Maybe someday I will ¡V but I seriously doubt it. I would like for them to read this forum. Maybe I should send them a letter. My parents are in their 60¡¦s.
Vanessa, Nice to see you here! Welcome, and I am glad you shared your story, but sorry for all you had to go through. I left home at 16 yrs old too, and moved far away. I couldn¡¦t take it anymore, and was so depressed. My father accused me of being a prostitute, which I was not, and was so offended. He couldn¡¦t understand where I was getting money from. I WAS WORKING AT A RESTAURANT! Anyways, it was not easy. I look at 16 yr old girls now, and can¡¦t believe it ¡V it takes my breath away and I just sigh, it is far too young to be on your own. You dont¡¦ know enough about life yet. I did fall in with some bad people, did some terrible things, but I pulled myself out of it. But it was better than being at home, that is for sure. And maybe I became a stronger person for it. I eventually went back to school, and worked my way through school. Of course my brothers education was paid for by my parents. And I have had a successful career. I broke ground in a male dominated industry, worked my way up into management, and perhaps I would not have been strong enough to do so if I did not have all the challenges that I did growing up. I am proud of that. I threw myself into school once I went back too. It is an escape, but at least it is a healthy escape! º I know what you mean by the avoidance though. I did that with school, and then with work, I was a chronic workaholic. And when the issues with my parents and brother came to a peak, I was also at the top of my career. It was overload. At that time I was suppressing alot of emotions, and it was killing me and I got very depressed.
I wish I would have gone to see a therapist earlier, it helped alot, but I didn¡¦t. Ah well, better late than never I guess. I was in denial myself I guess. Didn¡¦t want to admit to it, or deal with it.
Good term ¡¥red alert¡¦. I was the same way, and it continued into my adulthood ¡V stressed always. I have made some progress with letting go, but still working on it.
I had to go home a few year ago for a funeral, my grandmother, I felt I needed to go. I was seeing a therapist by then, and I had to psyche myself up. Turn my brain off. I looked at them from the perspective of observing what they do and say, and not letting them get to me no matter what.I had a signal to my husband when I had to get out for some air which was a couple quick blinks. Lol I know that sounds silly, but it worked! My brother and I managed to not say a single word to eachother the whole time. I also flew in, rented a car, and stayed at a hotel so I could have some alone time, and get away from the m when I had to.
Way to go standing up to your mother Vanessa, that must have been a big relief and took alot of courage. And congratulations on your upcoming wedding, that is exciting. It will be fine without your parents there, it is better than going through the motions and pretending everything is OK. Unfortunately, I say this from experience, as that is what I did at my wedding, which was 17 years ago and I regret having them there. At that time I was still trying to fix things, and was in a state of denial pretending everything was great, working to fix things and striving to get their approval. So go with what you truly feel you need to do.
You are not alone, I can relate to your feelings of not belonging anywhere, particularly around this time of year when everything is so family oriented. I usually lie when asked what I am doing for Xmas, and if I am going ¡¥home¡¦, and when the talk goes towards family. But I am starting to tell some friends the real situation, not the details, but just that I am estranged. This is something I never ever did before. And that feels good too, to just say it.
I am still in very minimal contact with my mother. I have not spoken to my father for about 2 yrs. My mother has unfortunately discovered email, but if there is a positive to that, it is better than phone calls I suppose. I know she just drops me a line every couple months to do her motherly duty, her obligation to convince herself that everything is just great. And also to collect data, as she likes to tell family what I am doing, although I share minimal information about ourselves, and I rarely respond to the emails. Her emails are very light with alot of talk about the weather and relatives that I have no idea of who they are, and gossip. What burns me the most is they always end with ¡¥love, mom¡¦. She has never once told me she loved me, not ever.
Now, it is a week before Christmas and they decided to email me to tell me they would like to come visit us!! They have done this before, leaving everything to the last minute, knowing we would have plans already. And that is just what I said, we are busy. It triggers me, and I get very upset. It makes me feel ill and I have developed this irrational fear that they just show up at my front door!!!!!! I have been having dreams (nightmares) about that! I doubt that would happen. I know she does this and says to herself ¡§Well, at least I tried.¡¨ I am very close to cutting contact 100%.
Thanks again everyone for being here.
Sorry for the weird symbols in my previous post! I typed my response in Word and copied it over here - won't do that again!! :)
It sounds awful the way your parents treated you relative to your brother. That has to leave a lot of scars. It wasn't that blatant with my brother, but he was definitely the favored son. My brother is 4 years younger than me too. When I graduated from high school I bought my own car, left and never looked back, while they bought him cars, motorcycles, stereos and paid for his college. I'm wondering after all that attention your brother got, if you think his life turned out very well?
I can related to all the blabbing your mother does. That's my mother. She would talk endlessly about friends of hers I hardly know and their children, about vacations they went on that I'm not interested in (along with showing me a gazillion bad out of focus photos), about her views on everything. And of course I don't think she could name one of my friends, has any idea what I do with my time, or knows what I think about current events.
Don't worry about telling your parents everything, if you aren't ready. If its going to happen you will know when you need to do it. I don't think you can force it.
Sorry to hear about your parents attempted plan to visit :( It sounds like you let them know they can't come. Good for you! I also know how upsetting this is. A letter or email from my parents can make me feel like someone plugged me into an electrical outlet. It makes every cell in body go berserk. All the more reason for me to stay away from them.
Be good to yourself, stay close to people who really care about you, have some fun.
Thanks Dave for understanding. Yes, I told them no, they can't come and visit - again. I have been doing this for several years now, so I think they might be getting the point. They try to come out about once a year, for a day or two, and it is always this last minute thing. I think they want it to not work out. The last time they were out for two days, and it was very uncomfortable, alot of silence around the table, and talk about the weather and work. I think that was about 2 years ago now.
Your mother sounds just like mine, I am surprised as I always think it is just me. My mom does all that, with the pictures, and on and on. The pictures stopped awhile ago though since I told them to shove it with talking about my brother to me. Before that time she would show me hundreds of photos of him, and it would drive me crazy. And well, since he IS their life, there are not pictures of much else. They must be Narccisists (sp?). Maybe all of our parents are?
My parents were the same with my brother, bought him everything he ever could want. More than my parents could even afford. My dad was out of work for a period, and I remember one time I was at home and my mother took my brother shopping for very expensive designer clothes. I mean ridiculously expensive...! It made me absolutely ill. He was 23 yrs old at that time!! And there I was flat broke, struggling to pay off my student loans, which I did.
I have always felt like my brother's life turned out perfectly, even though he drank, and was an ego maniac, I always thought he had it all and I admit, I did feel some jealousy. I also used to feel so bad when my mother would email me and tell me they were going to my brothers for Xmas. I don't care about that now, I don't want them here ever.
Re-thinking things, my brother has to have guilt, for what he did to my husband and I when he stayed with us, and for his whole blatent taking advantage of our parents. Thanks for giving me another perspective, I guess he really didn't have it all when it comes to what matters in life. At least my morals are intact. And in the end, he is the one who will be taking care of my parents. I will not. So it will be payback time for him for his charmed life he was handed! I know that sounds nasty, but that is what I feel right now.
My parents already know my basic feelings, that came out years ago. And right after the major blowup I had at them, I did not hear from them for about 2 years.....that was a horrible time and I had alot of mixed feelings, questioning myself and what I did. I can see now how right I was.
It turned out that the only reason we were came in contact with them again is because I had to see them at a funeral, then the minimal contact was re-established since then. And as usual, nothing was discussed, everyone just acted like nothing had happened even though 2 years had lapsed by. They didn't even inquire as to what I had been up to. It was very uncomfortable. And still is.
And whether they ever know all the details, I don't know. I just can't handle another slap in the face and listen to their denial of everything, and them defending my brother. It seems useless to try to tell them. But time will tell, you are right. Maybe someeday. This is another thing not worth worrying about in the present. I have to just let it go already...!!!!!
Again, thanks for listening/reading, I know I am being long-winded and repeating myself a little bit!
Be good to yourself too, and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Your kids are so lucky to have you! :)
Thanks for the comment about my kids. If I do nothing else in this life, I want to raise a generation of this family that doesn't repeat all the craziness that seem to have been going on forever.
Don't worry about being long-winded, or doing repeats. This forum is good for that. I think we all have a lot to get off of our chests. Sometimes it helps to say it a few times.
You say, "my brother's life turned out perfectly, even though he drank, and was an ego maniac". I don't think I've ever met someone who drinks heavily and is an egomaniac who I believed was very happy. They might put on a good public appearance, but at the core, things can't be that good. It seems people who drink heavily don't like they way they feel sober; they drink to get away from how they feel sober. Egomaniacs? How could they really have close, warm, supportive, healthy relationships? For what it's worth, this just doesn't seem like a good life to me.
You mentioned your mom never has said she loved you. Growing up, the word "love" was never used by my parents. As adults they would say it, and write it. The problem is the word doesn't mean the same thing to them as it does to me. To them, saying "I love you", seems to mean I want you to meet all my needs without me having to be concerned about your feelings at all. I think they genuinely feel bad that I don't want to do this anymore. But I don't think any of this has anything to do with "love". This was very confusing when I was younger. It took me a while to figure this out. It can still trip me up. I just have to remember to judge them by what they do, not what they say.
Now my parents will now write that they "love" their grandchildren, my two teenage boys. The last time they were here, when my boys were younger, I suggested we all go to a Disney movie together. My mother agreed to go the movie theater with us, but wanted to go to a different movie that "she would enjoy". Can you believe it? She would only see her grandchildren once a year for about a week, she couldn't carry on a conversation with them, and she wouldn't even go to a movie with them, but now she's upset, because I keep her beloved grandchildren away from her. Our younger son never liked her anyway, because when he was a toddler, she would make him stop sucking his thumb, even after I told her quit telling him this. I eventually told our son to ignore what his grandmother was telling him, and that it was fine that he sucked his thumb. I think she just uses the word "love" to try to keep people around that she can use to meet her own needs. It's taken me a long time to be able to tell people I "love" them, because of the way my parents used this word.
Well that's all for now. Stay strong. Have fun. Thanks for being there!
Thanks for the support. This forum sure has helped me alot. I am so thankful for everyone here.
Dave, I am awestruck at what your mother did to your kids in regards to the movie! Wow, that is selfish. NPD for sure. I am so sorry about that, it is sad. Not to mention the fact that she now thinks you are unfairly keeping her grandchildren from her. You know your kids are much better off without her influence in their lives, right?
Yes, you are right about my brother. There is something wrong when he feels the need to drink that much, plus that he has such disregard for other peoples property, feelings and well-being. He is cold and I imagine still is that way.
Do you think this lack of feeling loved is what has been so damaging to us? The fact that nobody ever said 'I love you and care about you'? Did we miss that crucial nurturing period? Seems alot of people have mentioned this. I don't know, I have had my therapist tell me various things that can be related to a lack of bonding with your parents. Perhaps my parents were incapable of showing love because of how they were raised, but I just don't buy that as an excuse. They could have tried. Someone has to break the cycle, why could it have not been them?
Maybe if they just a couple times would have put their arms around me while I was crying and said, we do care, maybe that would have made the difference. I remember when my aunt was babysitting us, and my dad came home drunk, I was crying in my bedroom. She did come in to console me, and that always meant so much to me. It was only that one time, but I will always remember it vividly.
I think in my parents case, saying 'love, mom' in letters is just her way of thinking she is doing the 'right' thing, she is doing her part and duty as a mother to show me unconditional love by keeping in touch with me. And she thinks writing mindless emails diligently every month is keeping in touch. I am very sure that is all it is to her. It makes her feel better. She does it to make herself feel that she did her part to make me feel included in the family and '''loved'''. Again doing the best she can - as she has always maintained. Never taking any responsibility. After all, as they have said many times, things could have been alot worse.
I do think my parents feel sad about the situation too, but they don't feel it is anything they have done. I can't think of anything more offensive than when you tell someone something and they tell you right to your face that they don't believe you. Nothing on earth is worse, or offends me more. To me that just means that I am not trusted, that there is something wrong with me, that I am a liar. I am not.
My dad never says a word, or writes. He feels he is the victim, that I am a screwed up person, and the little he has said to me, I just get this feeling of disappointment from him, and blaming me for being so unforgiving towards him, and my brother. That I am just overreacting and being difficult as he has always accused me of being. He is quiet now, doesn't have much of anything to say to me when I do see him every few years. You see, he quit drinking after I left home. So my brother did not have to endure it for as many years as I did, and he was very involved in his life. My brother was 11 when my father quit. I guess maybe my brother being so spoiled was a way for him to make up for lost time. I never thought of that before...hmmm. I have no doubts he has some regrets about his alcoholism, but he would never say it.
I am feeling pretty good about Xmas this year, despite how bitter I sound in my rants! I really don't feel bad about telling my parents we were busy, and being quite blunt about it. Nobody in their right mind invites themselves over 1 week before Xmas expecting us to change our plans and be thrilled.
Thanks for listening, and sharing, and you stay strong too!
Hi Sage, You are right, my boys are better off without my mother's and father's influence. And yet, it's still sad to have to tell my own children that their grandparents aren't very nice people.
"Do you think this lack of feeling loved is what has been so damaging to us?" Yes! I think as young children we learn to think about ourselves the way others, particularly our parents, think about, and treat us. If we are treated as though we are unworthy of love, and that what we think and feel doesn't matter, that's the way we learn to think about ourselves. We grow thinking we aren't worthy of being loved, and that we really don't matter. When I was around 17, I still distinctly remember my mother telling me that no one would ever marry me, because no one could stand being around such a selfish person. Nothing like a little motherly love is there? ;-)
Spoiling your brother to make up for what they did to you? That could have been the case with my brother too. When I left, they knew things were bad, maybe they tried a different approach with my brother. Who knows?
I don't hear much from my dad either. I see him as this big, pouty, arrogant, hot-headed kid who isn't getting his way, so he just ignores me. Being ignored works out OK for me.
You don't sound bitter when you write. You sound like someone who has been deeply hurt, and who is trying to make a good life for herself. Glad you are enjoying the holidays! I am too!
P.S. I'm offline until Friday. High School Band fundraiser tonight, tomorrow is a ski day, Thursdays I volunteer at Habitat to build houses.
I'm wondering if anyone is just estranged from one parent? My main problem is with my step-mother, but I'd love to have a good relationship with my father if this is even possible. I thought I'd see if anyone was in a similar situation before posting my entire story - it's long and sordid...
Hello Dave, and welcome JP. I hope someone here is in your situation so you can relate to them closer...but this is a supportive group, so post if you feel like sharing. I just found this group a few weeks ago and it has helped me alot.
Dave, You are busy, that is great, sounds like you have made just a wonderful life for yourself! :) My dad sort of plays the vicitm. He pouts too. I think he is depressed, but he acts like it is him who is so hard done by, and me who is so unreasonable. I think he wishes I would just pretend it is all OK like I used to. It was easier for him then.
I had a terrible day today. This is what happened:
During one of my mothers emails, Xmas was brought up. I sent a message back saying let's just exchange Xmas cards, save your money. She sends a parcel at Xmas. I was nice about it, and I assumed she agreed. We are in contact so little, of course the subject was not brought up.
Well, guess what? She completely disregarded my request, I got a parcel from her today. Stuff I already have, because we are not in touch with eachother and they have no idea what we do or what we have, or what we even like. No idea. I think I will donate it to charity.
I guess it is her desperate attempt to hold on to contact with us and make herself feel better. Anyways, it set me off and my first instinct is to send a sharp email saying "Thanks for disregarding our request to just exchange cards this year. But I suppose you are doing what makes YOU feel best." But I don't know if it is even worth the effort.
Maybe this is the final straw? I am livid. Very typical of her, and a Xmas card with love love love all over it to top it all off.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful. See, I am torn again. I don't want to be ungrateful, and feel like I am sounding like a spoiled child. But why would she just go ahead and do this? This is what she does, and I feel deep resentment towards her. I don't know what to do.
You're not required to feel grateful. Be gracious, thank her for the gift and move on.
I resent my mother for weird little things too (hopefully you don't take that the wrong way!), like calling me by my childhood name rather than my real name even though I've been asking for 20+ years not to call me that and everyone else in the family seems to understand EXCEPT FOR HER!!!!! So every time I open an email it's "Hi (idiotic name that I hate). I can't figure out if it's intentional or just ignorant. Either way I can't stand it.
Shake it off. Let the sh*t roll off your back, as someone told me the other day. It's not worth it.
And if you can figure out how to do that, let me know!! I'm so boiling I could stew tomatoes!
JP hope you find someone too. If not, it seems to help to put your story in words out here. You will have a sympathetic audience.
Hi Silver, glad to see you back. I don't blame you for being angry. My mother just set me off again too. (See below)
Hi Sage, Your mother ignoring your request. That seems to be a common thread in this forum. Parents who completely ignore how we think and feel. They do this all our lives. This is toxic to anyone's sense of self worth. Yet they act as though it is harmless, and then blame us for being injured by this. I guess they expected to have bulletproof children.
Your experience is a little freaky because, I just had a very similar incident. A week ago I responded to an email from my parents and told them not to send a package for Christmas. But that's not the end of it. (A little background first. My wife is an only child. My wife's parent's live 25 minutes away, and we always spend Christmas day with them. They are wonderful people who have become my adopted parents. They treat me like an adopted son. I've know them for 22 years now.) Anyway, this week my mother calls up my mother-in-law and tells her she thinks I've become mentally ill and that this runs in the family. She says being jealous of my brother has triggered this episode. She then tells my mother-in-law she is sending my family's Christmas package to her, and tells her to put the gifts in our Christmas stockings on Christmas day, so that it will be a surprise. Of course my mother-in-law tells us everything. The package from my parents is going to charity. No thank you notes will be sent. Can I feel more disregarded and violated by my own mother????? Jeezzz... is there no end to this??? What did I do to deserve this?? Whatever it is, I'm really sorry, and promise never to do it again!! Just make it stop!!!
Anyway, enough with the rant. (deep breath) I'll calm down again. I always do. Having this forum helps.
I hope you all survive the torments of your parent's, and have some fun despite their best efforts to make you miserable this holiday season. I will.
Maybe we could arrange a parent swap. I'm really tired of being tormented by my parents. Being tormented by someone else's parents might be a refreshing change. ;-)
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I know what you mean, and no I don't take it the wrong way!! ;) I know it is a small weird thing, and I feel so petty and flakey even complaining about it - but you would not believe how it sets me off!!! I am livid.
Maybe it is misdirected rage against them, I hate them for so many things that any little thing makes me explode.
Why do I care at all? Why can't I just not care, let her do her thing, and just ignore it? Maybe this is the time to lose contact 100%? And next time they send something, I have decided that I will send the parcel back to them.
She has always completely disregarded others, and just forces herself on people. Like she is forcing herself on us. She is in her own world in a way, seems like an altered sense of reality where everything is wonderful and she just carries on her merry way as she always has.
I hate how it effects me, and how she can make me so sad, and I resent her for not taking my wishes to not exchange gifts into any consideration at all. And I am mad at myself for letting it happen, letting her get to me. It IS up to me to NOT let her get to me.
I don't know if she does it to make herself feel better and make herself feel that she is "doing her part", to make us feel guilty for not buying them gifts, or maybe it is just plain and simple stupidity.
Sending an email saying how I feel would just be twisted back at me to make me feel flawed, or it would be completely ignored, and the next day I would get an email about the weather. She would deem me unappreciative. I do feel I need to let her know that we are not pleased that she disregarded our wishes to not exchange gifts this year. Maybe she doesn't get it? I was very clear about it, and nice about it. So far I have done nothing, and not sure if I will. Maybe just complete loss of contact is due. There seems to be no reasoning with her, and all they do is upset me, and my husband, every time there is any contact. That is no way to live.
Just when I was feeling better about the season, and handling it fine, she has to do something to ruin it. Not the first time. I wish I could let it roll off my back, but I have not figured out how to do that yet myself! I certainly will let you know if I do figure it out! (Hey, make some sauce with those stewed tomatoes!! lol)
Hang in there, it will get better as we learn how to cope.
Wow, I don't even know what to say re: Your mom contacting your mom-in-law. That sounds exactly like something that my mom would do, but never thought of it before. Maybe that will happen next year? Including the part about being mentally ill!
I know we don't know eachother, but I am pretty sure you are not mentally ill, and I know for a fact that I am not mentally ill - and it is becoming obvious our mothers definitely are the ones who are mentally ill!!
I am close to my in-laws too, and have known them for many years too, 15+yrs. I always considered them my parents, as they felt more like parents to me.
I am so amazed that you are going through the same thing with the Xmas parcel. I thought it was just me, and to tell you the truth I felt bad about posting yesterday. I felt so petty, but she makes me feel that way, and always has. My husband is my rock, and he always says to me that it is not me, not my fault - it is her. It helps that he sees it too and understands.
Thanks for relating, and yes indeed, a parent swap might be so fun! lol lol What do you get in your parcel? I get completely meaningless junk. I hate to say that, but it is the truth. I also am donating my parcel from them to charity. I am not even calling them 'gifts' anymore, because gifts have meaning, the stuff she sends in her parcel has no meaning.
*Snicker* A parent swap! I'll throw in a box of guilt and a sprinkling of irritation just to make it even, because it sounds like your parents are more "fully loaded" than mine!!
Calling someone to tell them your diagnosis of their child-in-law's mental health is not exactly sane, IMO. Like my mother calling my ex-husband to tell him strange (completely untrue) stuff about me. Ummmm... even though we aren't friends, he still likes me a heck of a lot more than his ex-MIL!! LOL!! Something she doesn't seem to "get" at all.
Take your MIL's response (disbelief of your mother, communication with you about the call) as the gift in this situation. Hold it dear. There are many who would eat nails to get this kind of MIL relationship.
"Maybe it is misdirected rage against them, I hate them for so many things that any little thing makes me explode."
I know this feeling. Like my pilot light is constantly on, ready to burst into full flame at the flick of a faucet. The little snowflake that starts the avalanche. And then you're cast into the role of overreactor.
You over-reactor, you! It's so hard for others to understand!!!!!!
Have a great weekend everyone!!!
Hi Sage, Our mothers do sound a lot a like. Let's hope they never meet and compare notes on how to make us crazy. I think they missed their calling. The should be working for the CIA developing new ways of torturing people into talking. No one would last a day. No one.
Thanks for your vote on my sanity! I feel reasonably sane, my wife and 2 boys think I'm sane, my in-laws and friends think I'm sane. I'm not too concerned about my mother's diagnosis.
The parcel coincidence is still pretty weird. What do I get in my parcel? Usually a bunch of crap nobody wants. She would usually send me a shirt or sweater that was a size "LARGE". I'm an XL. Each year I would tell her she sent the wrong size and that I'm an XL. To which we would say, "You are about the same size as your dad and he wears a LARGE, so I'm sure it will fit." My dad is 5'10 at 175 lbs., I'm 6'1' at 195 lbs. The clothes never fit. Imagine that, she knows better than me what size clothes I wear. My wife is amazed I grew up with this, and didn't end up a psychotic. I tell her my mom hasn't given up yet.
Good insight on the gifts vs. parcel! I agree.
Hi Silver, My parents are definitely the fully-loaded, deluxe, limited-edition, with lots of after-market customization. But I still, I'll make you a good deal on them. ;-)
You are right, my MIL is a gift. And I do hold it dear. She is an angel. She's looking out for me, which is more I can say about my mom.
Dave, Silver, I am so glad we can have a little laugh about this. Whew...I just stew and stew about it, and get really down - and I know in my heart that it is not worthwhile, it is a real waste of time and energy.
Silver, Very true and well said. I don't want to be cast as the over reactor anymore, nothing makes me more mad. And when I get mad, they think I am unstable, and disturbed. That is why the last time I saw them, I made sure they did not get any reaction from me whatsoever. I was very careful (and it was not easy). I was proud that I could do that. I feel it is like beating my head against a brick wall anytime I try to reason with them. That is why I think I should just ignore the parcel, not react, and just send it back next time.
Dave, The parcel coincidence is really weird! REALLY weird! lol I get the same stuff. Crap from the dollar store, christmassy stuff which I can't stand like santa bowls, decorated towels, etc., clothes that do not fit, overly scented candles (which I absolutely cannot stand and she knows that), and terrible sweets.
It is impossible to buy a decent gift for someone you do not know. Impossible and completely meaningless. Plus it is such a waste of money. She should save the shipping cost, and the cost of the items, and make a donation to charity. This is something she would never do. I swear she buys, just for the sake of buying something, anything, to send. And I swear she feels that she is doing her part to show she cares. She thinks it is a wonderful Xmas tradition that she partakes in!
My husband is amazed as well that I ended up somewhat normal after putting up with so much insanity! lol He just can't believe what my parents and brother do. He thinks they are very strange. He has been through it all with me, and is so supportive. It has not been easy. But on the plus side, the issues with them are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
It still burns me that she totally disregarded my request. What do you think I should do; remain silent? Or send a short note that I was not pleased that my request was ignored - just in case she doesn't know? (I feel she needs to know what she has done - and then ignore her twisted response, which would just open yet another can of worms - been down that road one too many times).
Or......be completely fake and gush over how surprised and thankful I am for the '''parcel'''. This is what the expected response is, and her imagined response, I am sure of it. This I would not do. I am being sarcastic.
Or......send them the link to this forum!?!?!
What did you do Dave? Did you respond to her at all regarding the parcel?
I think we have had to make our own families via in-laws, friends, neighbours, co-workers. And that works for me. I like being surrounded by people who really love me, who are not shallow flakes, and people who don't do things to hurt me. People with whom I can have a conversation, and know they are being honest and realistic.
Thanks for being here everyone..
Hi Sage, Laughing helps. :-) One thing I've noticed about my mother is how humorless she seems to be. :-( Not good.
A supportive spouse is the best thing I could have. Otherwise, I would be psychotic.
A side note. My mother's name is Rose Mary, some people call her RM which I prefer to "mom". She doesn't deserve to be called a "mom". Besides to me RM means "Really Mean". This is one of my little inside jokes. When I was a child RM wouldn't even let me call her "mom", she insisted I call her "mother". What the hell was that all about??? Is that weird or what???
Anyway, you asked what I did about the parcel. So a week ago I told RM not to send it, or I would give it to charity. Then she decides to send it to my MIL, along with her opinion of my mental health. My wonderful MIL clues me into this. Below is the letter in its entirety that is in the mail to RM. Julie and Gordon are my in-laws. Paul is my brother. Lisa is my wife.
Letter from me to RM:
"Well, I had an interesting discussion with Julie this week. Apparently you decided to call her to tell her:
* You think that Ive become mentally ill.
* This started when I found out you flew Paul home for Christmas last year.
* You are going to send her gifts that you want her to put in our Christmas stocking at her house.
I guess you forgot to mention to her that Dad has been getting rip-roaring drunk around our boys for years and that you thought this was fine. It seems you also forgot to mention to her that when the boys became teenagers and I asked you both to put an end to this, you both became incensed. Only after I badgered you both about this for weeks, did you both begrudgingly apologize. It seems you also forgot to mention that Paul is an alcoholic and a compulsive liar who I asked you not to discuss with me anymore, and when you ignored my request, I became rather annoyed. When after all this, I told you I dont trust you, your response is to refuse to discuss this.
Well I guess I can understand how you might forget to mention all this to Julie. But fortunately I was able to fill her in on the details. You know, in the past I dont think youve made the best impression on Julie and Gordon, and now youve gone and convinced them that you are both lunatics. Way to go. You guys are just too much. Of course Julie will give us your package unopened which I will do with what I said I would.
You would be doing yourselves a favor by leaving Julie and Gordon out of this. They love Lisa, me and the boys dearly. They treat me like Im an adopted son. They have known me for 22 years and tell me regularly how happy they are to have a son-in-law who is such a good father and husband. Ive spent more time with them the last 22 years than I have with you. You calling them up with a ridiculous theory about me being "mentally ill" just makes you both look like foolish old people.
Given that the only explanation you can come up with for me feeling the way I do is that I have become "mentally ill", its apparent you are incapable of believing anything you have done or said could have possibly caused me to feel the way I do. If thats the case, please dont bother contacting me or my family in the future. We have nothing to discuss."
I write these letters more for myself than for RM. I say this because my experience is that she is incapable of seeing anything from my point of view. It helps me to say what I have to say, even if she can't hear it. I tend to get a little snarky, maybe more than a little, when I write to her, because for one, it's just more fun that way, and two, I've learned being civil is wasted on her.
Since I've pretty much said everything I could say to her, several times over, I'm very close to the point of just not responding to her at all.
Thanks for being there. It's nice to find others who can understand what I'm going through. Peace.
"Hi Silver, My parents are definitely the fully-loaded, deluxe, limited-edition, with lots of after-market customization. But I still, I'll make you a good deal on them. ;-) "
Dave, you made me laugh so hard I cried. The kind of heartsick, hystarical, out loud, deep belly laugh/cry. It lasted about 30 seconds. And I feel a lot better!!!
"When I was a child RM wouldn't even let me call her "mom", she insisted I call her "mother". What the hell was that all about??? Is that weird or what???"
I got the opposite. I had to call my mom by her first name. No mommy for me!! We're equals, relating on an equal level. Of course, that wasn't true, but...
I write letters to my mom in my head all the time. So weird. I end up talking to her, carrying out both her side and my side of the conversation. Kind of crazy to admit, but it helps me work through some of my emotions.
Sage, can I ask... are you single? I think it's kind of ironic that neither Dave nor I are single, yet here we are...
Silver, I am happily married, we have been together for 15 yrs. I find it so helpful to relate here because although my husband understands (because he has known my parents for many years too, and witnessed the absolute insanity), he himself has not experienced it first hand. He had a pretty ''normal'' upbringing, nothing at all like mine. He knows all too well how frustrating and completely unreasonable they are, and without his reassurance over the years, especially a couple years ago when things were really really bad, I don't know what would have happened. He is very supportive, and his family is my family. I found this forum by simply 'googling' adults estranged from parents. There are few resources out there.
Silver, I don't think you have mentioned your in-laws, are you close with them?
I think it is very strange that your mother had you call her by her first name, but as you said previously, she seemed to think of you more as a sister, than a daughter. That is immature and irresponsible of her.
I write letters to my parents too - both in my head, and on paper. But I have never sent them. I have told them face to face how I feel about them, my childhood, and the issues with my brother, years ago. I have exploded at them, and one time I kicked them out of my house when they were here. I asked them to just leave, right now, and cut their visit short. I lost it that time.
They just simply don't believe what I say, and they defend my brother to the point of ridiculousness, and just don't get how I could be so upset over things that happened long ago. They also think that because things have not been discussed for so many years, that I am the bad one for causing trouble by bringing up old issues. They say that it is me being unforgiving and holding a grudge. Geeez, I am just honestly trying to heal myself, and give myself some peace of mind, and was hoping at one time to heal our relationship. I don't lie, my husband does not lie. I think they are in their own little fantasy world with my perfect brother high up on a pedistal. A therapist once said to me that in certain instances, I should try to feel sorry for them for being the way they are, if they are that blind and bullheaded. I have a tough time with that.
At times I have found it therapeutic to write, as it puts things in perspective for me. Other times it drives me crazy because I can't stop thinking about it, I think about their past responses to me that never seem to really make sense, they are irrational, and without emotion...and I just want to scream!! I hesitate to say or send anything because I fear those frustrating responses that are always pretty much the same.
Dave, Oh my, that is ridiculous and yes, weird, about your mom insisting on calling her 'mother' rather than 'mom'. I am not sure what is up with that!? I called my mom 'mom', but now I have a hard time saying that word, and I never write it in emails, I actually never ever have.
I think it is great that you sent that email, it is well written and concise. And thanks for sharing it. I have been composing one myself over the past couple days, being careful to make it very clear, so there is no room for misinterpretation. I am not sure I will send it yet. I am leaning more towards sending it, than not. In any case, I will share it with you guys too once I have it together. I am trying to make it short, as I could go on and on and on, but it is of no use. *sigh* I know what you mean, eventually you just have to speak your mind, and then be silent. You cannot change how people think.
Peace to you my new friends. Thanks for hearing me out, it has helped so much to be here.
I just wrote a reply and then lost it!!! My in-laws are deceased.
I'm really going through it right now, my dd is with my mother for the holidays. It's mostly because there are several relatives who are very ill and will not make it another winter. I want my daughter to have memories. I trust my mother to take care of her, but at the same time am anxious. There are a lot of family members there, and the situation is very different than when I was a child, but I still have issues.
When a bad parent is a good grandparent, then what?????
I don't want to over-post, or re-post, so I've attached a link to my thread when I really discovered what was going on with my mother. If you're interested in the background, check it out.
I find this site to be wonderful too, because I don't overwhelm my friends and husband with my inner prattling when they can't understand. They are sympathetic, but really don't get it. I had one good friend tell me the other day to just call my mother. Uh huh. Cause that would fix everything!!!
Hi Silver, Glad I can help you laugh about this. Humor seems to be part of the antidote for all this parental toxicity.
Call me "mother", call me "first name", this all seems to be part of the same game of creating weird, unhealthy relationships. They should have told us to call them what they are, "NutJobs". Too bad my mother's name isn't Nora Jane, then I could call her NJ. *chuckle*
"When a bad parent is a good grandparent, then what?????" That's a tough one. My parents made this one easy and turned out to be just as crappy GPs as they were parents. I can see it would be hard to keep your mom away from your daughter, if you saw her being a good GP. How do you handle this?
Thanks for the link. Lots of good insights on NPD there. Pretty much confirms my experience. NPDs don't change. Relationships with them are one-sided and painful. Distance or estrangement are the only rational responses to an NPD in our lives.
Sage, Thanks for the support on my letter.
"At times I have found it therapeutic to write, as it puts things in perspective for me. Other times it drives me crazy..."
Yep. I know what you mean. I've been writing to them lately and I'm starting to feel like I need to stop. While it is satisfying to put my thoughts and feelings into words and send it to them....I know before I send it that they are incapable of hearing it.
"I should try to feel sorry for them for being the way they are...". I don't know if this helps or not. If could do this, and still remember they are, and always will be, incapable of hearing me, maybe. What seems to hurt me is to just barely hang on to some small thread of a belief that somehow they will learn to hear me. When I can completely give up hope on them, I feel much better.
Anyway, thanks to you both for continuing to post on this forum. I really enjoy having someone to chat with about all this. Peace.
Yes, good info on NPD, thanks Silver. Although my parents didn't have me call them by their first names, I think this is defnintely a trait of NPD. Or perhaps they didn't want to be mothers in the first place and didn't want to be called 'mom' as a result? I feel this is the case with my mother, that she really did want me.
I suspect some NPD in my family too. The fact that they don't take anything into consideration except what is best for them, and the way the always have their head in the sand thinking that everything is wonderful, that they are wonderful parents, brag about their son, and doing ALL they can, and the very best they can with dealing with 'me'. It is complete arrogance. And my brother, he is NPD for sure. He has a real superiority complex with himself. But that is how he was raised, to do and get anything he wanted, no matter who he had to step on in the process.
I have been writing an awful lot the last few days. Too much. And I have been feeling I need to stop too. I don't know if I will send a letter to them. I just know they will view it as me bringing up the past, over-reacting and it will give them more fodder to convince themselves that I am the problem, and everything would be OK if only I was more forgiving and would quit being such a drama queen already. Anytime I have confronted them in the past, that is what has happened. They always say "That was the past, forget about it." And the old standby..."Things could have been ALOT worse." rrgh
Maybe my silence and lack of contact is action enough. Maybe I really don't need to send them a letter outlining why I am upset. And maybe explaining myself any more than I already have over the years is just a complete waste of time as they don't want to understand. I do know that it is not me with the problem, it is them. Isn't that enough peace of mind? Can I be satisfied with that? Because I am afraid that I will not get any more out of them. They are not going to come down off their high horse, fantasyland world and understand. They think I am unstable, and terribly flawed.
I am not sure I could take their response to a letter, because it is always so incredibly unreasonable, and makes little sense. Deep down I have to believe that they know why I am so bitter, they know what really happened, they know the situation with my brother, and they have to think every once in awhile that maybe I was telling the truth, and maybe they feel bad about it. Not that they would ever ever admit that out loud to me.
That is alot of 'maybes', I know..!
Good point Dave, and I agree, I feel better when I just think about giving up and now working on letting it all go. That we take the high road, and let them wallow in their own guilty consciences. I don't think at this stage my parents will ever change, or change their views on me, or how the situations played out in their own minds over the years. They are pretty adament that I am wrong, and that I am a lier. They are too arrogant and stubborn to change and would never admit they did anything at all wrong. I think a letter would just make them view me as more unstable, they would feel sorry for themselves, and tell everyone that their daughter snubbed them again, this time with a crazy letter, and they have absolutely no idea why because they try so hard!?!? Poor them.
In any case, I have the letter ready, and will decide whether I will send it in the next week or so.
Thanks for being here.
It really sounds like you might be done sending letters to your parents. After I sent the last letter to my parents, I'd like to stop communicating with them for the foreseeable future. Nothing I've said has been heard. All my parents have done with my letters is decide that I'm mentally ill, and have started pestering my mother-in-law. Not exactly what I had in mind, when I sent the letters. It did get some satisfaction just putting my thoughts and feeling into words. But that's not enough to keep me writing to them. Overall, it's been emotionally draining. I'm ready for a break. Take care.
Don't send the letter. Don't send the letter. Don't send the letter.
Read it out loud "to them", but in an empty room. "Tell" them exactly how you feel. Really make sure they understand. Then burn the letter. Once you put it "out to the universe" you will feel better.
In my experience very few people understand how I feel, even if they really want to try to understand.
I'm sorry you're going through this. Perhaps talking to a tape recorder will help? Instead of writing, you can pour your heart out, and then walk away. I think writing is a great remedy. But I think, based on what you've written, that getting into it with them again, trying to be understood, will only make you feel worse.
Thanks Dave and Silver,
I know you are right, I know that is what I should do, just forget about it, and be done with mulling over it. They can die thinking what they think because me going over it again and again will not do any good - nothing at all will change their minds, how they feel about me, my brother and past events.
Dave, you are right, that is what they will do to me too, just accuse me of being mentally ill, over reacting etc.
BUT..A part of me just thinks that maybe they will understand this time, I could be hanging onto unrealistic hope - but I want them to know the reasons why I am bitter. Lay them out clearly, and as short as possible. Of course not covering everything, but just a couple things that have really really hurt me deeply.
I have written numerous letters, and burned them - but have never sent them a letter before. Never. Every other time the confrontations have just been verbal - either in person or over the phone. And it has always been heated, and I was always very emotional, crying, and so mad. I initiate them, they never do, and I doubt they would respond if I sent a letter.
I just want to lay it out for them one last time!!! Maybe if I write it, they can sit down and read it and think about it this time. I have a deep desire for them to see this. I don't know why, I am feeling a hell of a lot of anxiety about it the last couple days though.
I need to let it go for the rest of the holidays/new years so I can enjoy myself. Dave, You deserve a break as well, it has been emotional for you too with your in-laws being drug into the scenario. Frustrating!
Not sure what I am going to do. I think this might me my last straw with them. I want to break ties 100%, and if I send the letter, I know that would do it for sure. And if I don't send the letter and just continue to dodge their attempts to call and visit, that is no good either.
Last time we had a heated arguement I didn't see them for 2 years, or hear from them. They made absolutely no attempt to contact me. It was my fault for allowing them to re-establish contact after I saw them at a funeral. It was a mistake, because during those 2 years, I was happy and relieved.
I feel torn. But I don't have to decide today.
Thanks again for your feedback and understanding, it means alot to me right now. I really am feeling pretty content and excited about plans for Christmas celebrations this year! Hope you are doing the same. Take care of yourselves...enjoy time with your loved ones! :)
Ok. That's understandable. Crying and emotional on the phone is easily dismissed as "acting" ___________ (insert word here).
In that case, you know what? I think you should send it. Let them know that this is your last attempt to get your feelings across to them and how important it is for you to feel heard, if not understood. Then you will be able to let go.
It's two days until Christmas. I don't know if you and your family celebrate it, but regardless the new year is coming and this is a perfect time to start new.
I feel for you. I'm really sorry you're going through this at this time. Any time you need to vent, go right ahead!!
thanks for posting on a different thread the link to this site. I've been posting on several of the threads regarding estranged mothers/parents, etc. Actually, I think someone deleted posts from bucyn and even one of my posts where I responded to you. I don't know why.
I'm reading some of the posts here on this thread now. I've been estranged from my mother (although I prefer to keep in touch with her by letter) and both of my older sisters, so I can empathize with a lot of what people are writing here. I'm going to keep on reading before I post, but thank you for the link to this site. For the record I do not think that you are intentionally trying to hurt anyone....I think some people are just very wounded and react as if you are trying to attack and I in no way feel it is intentional or deliberate. (Just my two cents).
No problem. I agree that people are wounded. Sometimes it's difficult to see that other people are hurting too when one's own pain is so great. A lot of the time the people who are saying they are feeling attacked are the quickest to attack others. Defensive instinct, I think. I welcome any dissenting opinions here, or on any other threads because I have no idea how to handle my issues, that's why I'm here!! I think the difference on this thread is that the people who are frequenting it are really seeking what can be done, and venting, but very little is self pity (although we do wallow once in a while).
I didn't realize that you have never sent a letter to your parents. Having sent a dozen or so over the last few years there are some advantages to doing this.
- You can say everything you want without being interrupted. (I never got to do this growing up.)
- You can edit it, and think about it as long as you want, before you send it. (It's hard to do this hollering on the phone.)
- You don't have to worry about blowing-up in the middle of a conversation. (I've done this, which is OK, but I never got to say everything I wanted too. All I remember is saying something to my mother about being a cold-hearted b---h, and not much after that.)
- You can tell them what you will do, if they respond inappropriately. (Of course they will still be shocked when you do this. At least you will know you warned them.)
- You can set boundaries. "Don't send me anymore parcels, or I will put them in my wood chipper."
Anyway, if you've never done this, you might get some satisfaction from it. Just don't expect any satisfaction from their response. Peace.
Oh my goodness Dave. Thank you for the laugh. You could seriously be a stand-up comedian for adult children of crazy parents. That is some funny stuff. And so true to the heart!
Thanks Silver, Since nothing I've ever done has changed things with them, I'd rather laugh than cry about this. I've cried enough. Peace. Dave
Ok, so now what? Let's say you are able to "change" your parents and have them "admit" to the world, the community at large and the family that they were crap for parents and nothing more than cold hearted biatches and self centered jerks, now where does the relationship go?
If you decide this year we will send gifts, then we will send gifts. If you decide this year we won't send gifts, then we won't send gifts? If they are good and do exactly what you say you will allow them to see you. If they don't do exactly what you say, well too bad for them.
What is it exactly that you want? And how do you see the relationship going ahead after you have got what you wanted?
I don't know to whom you were asking this question, but I'll answer for myself.
"Now where does the relationship go?"
Personally, my mother has apologized, and yet she keeps doing the same things. For me, even if she apologized again, I don't know where it would go. I don't trust her or her motives. I don't particularly like her. But I love her. She's my mom.
Your second paragraph indicates that you think the estranged children on this board are making arbitrary decisions and then expecting our parents to jump through our hoops.
I think you're posting in regards to Sage's post and Dave's post about the gifts. Not answering for them, but this is my take on it: Once again, there was a discussion about gifts and an AGREEMENT or understanding that no gifts would be exchanged. Then there were gifts sent. And not the thoughtful, 'I know you had a sweater like this and it got ruined so I found one and replaced it' gift but a box of meaningless junk. What this says is 'I know we agreed, but I don't think I should be held at my word and you should now be grateful'. It's basically a F-you from the parents.
Think about it this way. If you had a friend for umpteen years and you agreed not to send gifts this year, and then you got a box of junk from her... what would you think? Oh, Mary went off the deep end? Would you call her up and say, WTF were you thinking, I thought we agreed? Or would you throw the box out? I don't think it would take many more of those blatant disregards for agreements before you said, that Mary is loco, I don't think we're really friends anymore.
I personally want to know how to handle my crazy, mixed up stomach feelings that I get whenever my mom is in my life. I want to know how to have a reserved, civil relationship with the mother who carried me for nine months, fed me for my childhood, kept me relatively safe and warm and horribly psychologically mistreated me to the point of me being so mixed up about signals and innuendos and relationships that I feel like I'm walking sideways most of the time.
Well hello there Colleen, Something hit a nerve? Are your children not behaving well? Are you feeling a little abused by them?
"What is it exactly that you want? And how do you see the relationship going ahead after you have got what you wanted?"
Believe or not, I would prefer to have a relationship with my parents. But I don't know how to do that with them, or anyone else really for that matter, if everything I think or feel that offends them can only be attributed to me being defective.
I don't know how to have a relationship with them, or anyone, who thinks I am infinitely interested in every detail of their life, their friends lives, relatives-I- never-see lives, and who could probably not name one of my friends, simply because they never ask.
I don't know how to have a relationship with them, or anyone, who as a guest in my home thinks it's just good fun to get falling down, glassy-eyed, slurred-speech drunk in the middle of the day in the presence of my teenage boys.
I don't know how to have a relationship with them, or anyone, who when I confront them with this behavior, they accuse me of being selfish, unforgiving, overreacting, and finally "mentally ill".
I don't know how to have a relationship with them, or anyone, whose solution to all this is let's just pretend everything is fine and never talk about it again. (I actually tried this for a while, it just didn't really work for me, unless I was willing to be medicated the rest of my life.)
So yeah, if we could get past some of this, maybe we could have a relationship. In the meantime, keeping my distance seems to be the only way to maintain some kind of sanity on my end of this situation.
I hope your family can find a better way to work this out than mine has.
Hello Dave, Silver, welcome Colleen,
Silver, Thanks for clarifying the gift fiasco - that is exactly how I feel. I would have felt pretty much the same if a friend did that to me - but I just can't imagine any friend doing that! WTF, yes WTF! That is exactly what I said! lol I was clear about the gift exchange, it is not like they forgot, or misunderstood me - that would have been impossible. It is so bizarre.
Dave, Once again I can really relate to all you say, and thanks for your advice about the letter. And the chuckles too! They are needed! lol
Very true, there are indeed alot of benefits to writing over talking on the phone. I can collect my thoughts and present them without interruption, so there is no room for twisting the story as I speak, which often happens, at which point I get so upset and frustrated. I decided that I will send a letter after Xmas. If they don't get it on the first read, they can re-read it, and maybe think about it. That is the only hope I have, really the only expectation I have.
I don't expect anything to change or our relationship to be magically fixed, because this has been going on for alot of years. Nothing I have said in the past has changed anything at all. I guess what I am getting out of this is the peace of mind knowing that I tried to get them to understand my side, so that I know they have heard me, and they are not making these assumptions about why I feel the way I do. They have a very twisted view of things, it is so frustrating and unrealistic.
I have tried to talk about it with them over and over again, for years, and they either don't believe me (the ultimate insult), or skew the events to suit them, or completely disregard what I say. I feel bad acting fake all the time when dealing with them. It upsets me every single time I have to deal with them. No more.
I can't even begin to tell you how I wish things were different. The lack of relationship with my parents and all the turmoill has been traumatic for me and affected every aspect of my life. I tried for years to fix things and always wanted some closeness with them. But a person can only be knocked down so many times before they give up. Things did not turn out the way I would have liked, so it is time for acceptance now. As the song goes...you can't always get what you want...
And I will only send them the one letter. I doubt they will respond, and I would not be surprised if they will continue to send me emails about the weather, and gifts at Xmas, as though nothing happened. But who knows, only time will tell.
Hope everyone is having a nice Christmas Eve, is in good spirits, and spending the evening with those whom they love! All the best friends, and thanks for being here and hearing me. I know I am sort of long winded on this subject!
Wishing you Joy, Love and lots of Peace, we do deserve it!
Well Dave, I would like to think I even have a single nerve left anymore. Whatever.
But back to you Silver.
I think you are somewhat like me, in that in your quest to learn about yourself, you are looking for the one "thing" that could answer all your questions.
Here is a book I have just recently found that answered many of my questions. "Father's Daughters" Maureen Murdock.
"A father's daughter embodies her father's potential future. She will make him whole. She will carry his youth, his whimsy, his intellect, his unrealized dreams. She will continue his life because he is her hero. Because he is her hero, the father's daughter is the "chosen one".
IN order to sustain his approval, protection, and love she often distances herself from her mother and rejects her feminine nature."
By identifying with her father soley, her development as a woman is arrested in daughterhood."
I don't think we have much in common parent-wise if this is your relationship with your father. I didn't reject/distance myself from my mother at all. My father and I have a very good relationship, but I don't feel I have to "sustain his approval, protection, and love" by rejecting anyone.
My dad isn't my hero, and I am not chosen. We see one another as adults, and we value one another as the people we are. It took a lot to get here, but we both were willing to look at ourselves and make the changes that were necessary as I became an adult and he was less "necessary" (as a provider of food, shelter, etc).
I'm also not looking for a "thing" that can solve all of my problems. I'm looking for effective ways to deal with/relate to people. People like my mother. People who refuse or are unable to see things as they are. To see me as I am.
I think you express yourself very well and I am sure everyone here sees you as you are...
The problem is it's often the very people who point out the faults in others that do not see their own. You say you are looking for "effective ways" to deal with/relate to people like your mother. That was pointed out to you in the parents side-in fact (not the exact words) but that you relate to "the parents" as if they are your mother.
None of us are your mother...and reading posts with that thought in mind may be why it is so difficult for you to see our efforts, and our misery...Because unlike your mother, we care and we are saddened by our children's estrangement.
You are like us-in that you too are searching and you too would like your loved one to care. To care enough to fight to win you back into their arms...
You won't be able to find an effective way to deal with/relate to your mother with anyone except your mother. Yes, we are all "mothers"-but what would work for one will not work for another.
I am so sorry your mother doesn't fight for you. I am sorry she is not on the "parents" site stating she has tried counseling, begging, whatever. I wish Peace for you, Peace just like all of us "mothers." It seems the people with the hurt hearts aren't abundant in number in these families...I guess those genes skip a link or two.
Oh, and none of us have ever said we were perfect-we can't-we aren't we we can't be...it's all about forgiveness and love but it takes two and it looks like a lot of parents and children are standing by themselves...and that is to bad and very, very sad.
I hope your mother opens her heart, just like the children on the "parents" side. Just think how different the whole world would be...Peace On Earth...
Yes, I agree with you and notice too that the people who say they are feeling attacked are the quickest to attack others. I also agree that when people are so mired in their own pain they cannot see how wounded others feel, or even how they retaliate and hurt them.
You are probably right about it being a defensive instinct, I think, but not a great skill for problem solving. In fact, I think it's very destructive. I don't mind dissenting opinions either, so long as they are not dismissive. There's a huge difference to me. I think a little venting is healthy, so long as one is seeking solutions to problems. The self-pity thing I have mixed emotions about, because it can be used as a negative label, when one is genuinely in a process of searching for solutions. (I'm not saying that you meant this or do this). That label was used on me and the "you're too sensitive" and it sent the message that it wasn't okay for me to talk about my feelings. It sounds very much like no one gives a damn about you...I'm the only one with feelings. I can't feel close to anyone who places those restrictions on my feelings or who demonstrates so little empathy towards my emotions.
I've been posting on the other sites, but I think I have a lot in common with the posters on this thread (Dave, Sage and others).
I maintain a relationship with my mother by writing her. This has been easier for me and reduces my stress levels and it helps me to maintain my sanity. It is a way to keep in contact, without saying much, but including her. I don't get interrupted, criticized and its harder for her to twist my meaning (although she can accomplish this as well). I wish it was not this way, but I don't see how it can change without her participation and I doubt that will happen.
To make a long story very short, my mother became depressed after my father died. I think she was always a slightly depressed person, but she refused to get help. Unfortunately she's the type of person who feels "depression" is a stigma and it's to be overcome with keeping busy and "positive thoughts". This is accomplished by denying emotions. Aside from that she always labeled her daughter, "me" as "sensitive". The "role" of the crazy one, "mentally ill one" and "too sensitive" was their label for me (my sisters too). She refused to get help and her depression was left untreated. It turned into a full blow psychosis (with paranoid delusions). She was institutionalized against her will. She's now in a facility where she has to take meds. So, to manage my relationship with her, I would call, but then write more often, because I just couldn't deal with her crazy behaviors and self-involvement. She seems like she is doing better now and I called her a few weeks ago, the first time since last January. I do write her, but it is less often than I initially did. I needed a break and also had so much going on in my life--chronic pain from an injury and surgery, so I had to focus on that. She has called and left messages, but I don't return her phone calls. I do write though. I'm certain she feels hurt, but I just couldn't cope with her behaviors and she will not listen. My sisters made the whole ordeal worse. I do want to see her as I haven't in a long time (8 years). I didn't want that much time to lapse, but my injury and health stuff prevented that and I would like to feel stronger physically before dealing with her emotionally. It's draining just to have one conversation with her. Prior to her slide into mental illness, I always found her emotionaly unavailable. She could make connections, but she always seemed preoccupied and self-absorbed. It was like talking to a wall. She just wasn't able to hear me, or to see me. She doesn't even know her daughter and that has not been from my lack of trying to get her to see or to hear me. She doesn't see me as I am, just her version of how she thinks I am or how she thinks I ought to be. She always seemed to focus on what was trite, petty and superficial. She'd get fixated on stupid stuff, like my hair. She was hyper-critical of that I wore it in a simple way--long and straight and she wanted me to change that. She'd focus on stupid, petty stuff and ignore all the big ways that would make the relationship feel more balanced, healthy and happier. She's not that way though, and I cannot say this to her. She focuses on what is petty and stupid. I tried to talk to her, and she refuses to listen. She reacts with hurt and anger and then her resentment pours forth in abundance, while she lashes out and in deeply destructive ways. It's difficult to grow up feeling like you parented your crazy parent and that you are dealing with an emotionally stunted person. It really becomes burdensome. I've resigned myself to accept that this is probably how it will always be. It's not a happy outcome, and I wish it were different, but I just don't have much hope that it will change. How she sees herself and others and the roles are fixed in stone.
Despite what other people may say to you, I think you express and write very well...I can empathize with what you say more than you know...
So much of what you says resonates with me too.
"I don't know how to have a relationship with them, or anyone, whose solution to all this is let's just pretend everything is fine and never talk about it again. (I actually tried this for a while, it just didn't really work for me, unless I was willing to be medicated the rest of my life.)"
I actually wrote about this on another thread (the pretending) and have provided the link below. I posed a question to others in the parents forum if Estrangements could be healed, or even if it was a good time to heal them over the holidays. I wonder what your take would be on some of the responses and silver's and sage.
This part really kills me, because I've experienced the same behaviors and destructive comments in my own family and it rings so true (unfortunately).
"I don't know how to have a relationship with them, or anyone, who when I confront them with this behavior, they accuse me of being selfish, unforgiving, overreacting, and finally "mentally ill"."
My sister never wastes an opportunity to let me know how mentally ill I am. It's very convenient for her to dismiss my respones to her inappropriate hostility as "too sensitive". I didn't want to be medicated for the rest of my life either, and found that having supportive, good friends to talk with (although that has not been easy either) and removing myself from the crazy-making behaviors helped. I also did find a therapist to talk too, because I never would have survived my own destructive in-laws (MIL was a rageful, self-absorbed, emotionally abusive alcoholic), and injury during my own mothers slide into psychosis. Despite everthing that has happened, removing myself and limiting these destructive interactions has helped me to deal with it better and I don't need medication.
It's crazy-making when people are exposed to family members who consistently dismiss their feelings and don't want them to talk about how they feel. No wonder there are so many depressed people in need of medication, when everyone around them tries to stifle their process or the honest expression of how they feel.
Well I just want to thank you for being so open here, because it has helped me to know that there are other people out there that can understand how it feels to deal with crazy-making parents and inlaws.
Hi Sage, It sounds like you have developed some clarity about sending your parents a letter. I'm glad for you. I hope this will be another step in your journey of trying to find your peace with them.
Hi Flower, Welcome to this thread. It sounds like you have been through a lot with your family and have arrived at some of the same conclusions, and have developed some of the same coping skills that I have.
I can really relate to your comments about a mother that "is preoccupied and self-absorbed", "focuses on what was trite, petty and superficial", "fixated on stupid stuff like hair", "reacts with hurt and anger". Are you sure you don't know my mother?
I'll check the link you mentioned, when I have more time.
When I think about my situation, it seems I was born into a family, (not of my choosing, at least not that I know of), in which I was placed into a struggle over who owned my thoughts and feelings, me, or my parents. If I concede this struggle to them, then I am become a depressed, worthless, nobody. I lived like this for a while, and decided it wasn't for me. If I claim ownership of my thoughts and feelings, then they accuse me of being overly sensitive, selfish, unforgiving and ultimately, mentally ill. In all these years, I have not found any middle ground in this struggle, nor have I found any way to broker a truce in which I could remain emotionally intact.
And so I end up estranged with some occasion (usually unpleasant) contact through letters.
While this situation with my parents has created a wound in me, it is a wound that has healed some over time, and I expect that it will continue to heal. And despite this wound, I get up in the morning and feel good about my life. Overall, things are good :-)
Thanks for joining in. This forum seems like one small way we can all help heal each other. Peace.
Hi Dave, Silver and Sage,
I'm glad to have found this forum and only wish that I'd found it sooner. I was writing over on the parents forum on estrangement, but while reading through your posts--it brought tears to my eyes and I feel that your experiences are similar to my own. I've been reading all of your posts and when I do I'm overcome. I feel such a relief, all of you being so honest and expressing your feelings. I appreciate that each of you has been so honest here. I've experienced the same feelings--everything resonates with me, and very deeply. I don't talk to other people about it as I've learned from their responses that they do not have the capacity to understand, and maybe don't want too.
I was just looking for someone who may be able to connect with what I've been going through and that is how I found the parent estrangement board, but it was more parent centered, and from that experience and not the other, so I wonder how beneficial it may have been for me to write there or if anyone is truly listening.
I still struggle with estrangement and whether or not it was the right choice. I get particularly vulnerable this time of year to doubts, but they are not so strong at other times. I find the holidays a very difficult time of year to get through and I feel annoyed at times that I still feel these thoughts cropping up. I just feel that the desire for family is so strong in all of us, and so we feel the loss very deeply, and even more so this time of year with the emphasis. It gets difficult for me at times to manage my moods. Just being able to talk about it gives me a type of release, and even more so when there are people who understand and have similar feelings. Hearing your words is helping me to not feel so alone in all of this. Your words are mine, giving voice to my thoughts and feelings.
For me estrangement and dealing with my family and also my husband's family is a cycle that is always there. I do better sometimes than others (the holidays with the emphasis on family) being particularly difficult. But for me the holidays coincide with some anniversaries too, so that makes it all the more emotionally laden.
Dave, I don't think our families are of our choosing (I don't know how that could be, although I know particular religions have that type of mindset). I don't think anyone would want to be born into families feeling UNLOVED and not cared about, to parents who routinely dismissed or ridiculed our feelings--who would want that.
I can really relate to your comments and know exactly how you feel when you write this, "If I concede this struggle to them, then I am become a depressed, worthless, nobody. I lived like this for a while, and decided it wasn't for me. If I claim ownership of my thoughts and feelings, then they accuse me of being overly sensitive, selfish, unforgiving and ultimately, mentally ill."
I, too haven't been able to find the middle ground, or as you would say "broker a truce in which I could remain emotionally intact." I've had all the same issues too with the "forgive and forget". Some of the most abusive people I've ever met, like to manipulate others by demanding forgiveness.
That is why I chose to write my my mother. I've been in therapy the past 3 years, as I would never have survived everything, had I not. Three years ago I was contemplating suicide--that was when the downward spiral of her mental health culminated in her being institutionalized. This all coincided with some major health issues for me (6 months after I went through major surgery) and dealing with chronic pain issues from an injury. I'm doing better now. During this time too, my MIL (a rageful, hateful, emotionally abusive, narcissistic alcoholic) was in and out of the hospital and died 6 1/2 months following my surgery. She was another extremely self-absorbed person. There's even more that happened, but I would be writing for months on end, if I told all those stories.
I just decided that writing her (my mother), rather than talking to her was the best course of action to take. I just couldn't deal with her abusive tirades. She actually screamed at me over the phone that I was "totally useless". Of course, she made excuses and never took responsibility, and this was all occuring during my health issues. I didn't even call her about my surgery, because she is just too self-absorbed and focused on all of her own stuff. She has always minimized anything that happens to me, so why bother to tell her.
I read the letters that I write to her to my therapist and I read the one's she sends back to her as well. She says that I don't really say much (and she doesn't either), but then that is how I've learned to cope and manage the situation, by really not saying anything, because it is emotionally safer to not reveal anything, so it doesn't get twisted into what it is NOT. At one time I tried to write her how I was feeling, but I always felt it was useless. Her responses were always inappropriate, even when she wasn't descending into madness. She would respond asking me what I wanted, like she was annoyed. She just didn't seem to get that I wanted a loving, empathetic response, which would indicate to me that she understood or had compassion towards her daughter. She was just so focused on her self and wanting me to respond to her and take care of her needs. Then her mental health started on a downward spiral. I got involved with NAMI, but I also found there too, that my situation was so unique that it was difficult finding people who could understand or relate to what I was going through. It has always felt that way for me. I've always felt so alone.
I, too, know that this has created a wound in me and I have done some healing, but I wonder if it is anything that any one of us will completely heal from or if there is such a thing. Feeling good about us and our life is important and there is much we can all do in this regard. I wonder though how one truly just gets over the loss of family...
Thank you so much for your kind words of support, for responding and lending an ear...I think this forum a good place and a small way that we can help heal each other too.
Wow. You've been through a lot. Crazy in-laws and a wacko mom. Chronic pain and health problems. Suicidal. My heart goes out to you.
The link you posted was about healing relationships over the holidays. I don't know the answer for this in general. For my family it's not a meaningful question. My parent's idea of healing the relationship is for everyone to pretend like nothing bad ever happened and that everything is fine. They call this being forgiving. I think they see themselves as rather saintly because of this. My idea of healing the relationship is to talk about what has happened in our family to help us start to understand and trust each other. Any suggestion of this produces an angry tirade from my parent claiming I am unforgiving, overly sensitive, hanging on to the past, and finally that I must be having some kind of mental breakdown. So, the holidays (or any days for that matter) aren't really a good time for reconciliation in my family.
"I wonder if it is anything that any one of us will completely heal from or if there is such a thing"
I don't think I will ever heal in the sense that the painful and the hurtful memories vanish from my consciousness. Having said that, I don't believe I am condemned to a life of endless pain and hurt either. I heard an analogy some time ago that helped me with this. Imagine we live our life in a room with only one window in which to view the world around us. If that window is small and cloud comes by, it covers the whole window, the whole world looks cloudy to us, and we are sad. As we go through life, if we can discover ways to make our window larger, the clouds will still drift by, but then we can see they are surrounded by brilliant blue sky, colorful birds, the warm bright sun, and wonderful limitless broad horizons. The clouds don't go away, but they don't effect us the same way either. Over time I've found things that enlarge my window on life. Of course, there are still some big clouds that can cover my window. But those don't come all the time. I'm still aware of the pain and hurt from my relationship with my parents, it just doesn't dominate my life as much as it has in the past. And now there is more room for joy and peace in my life.
I don't mean this come across as overly simplistic and naive. I've suffered a lot over the years, and still do at times, because of my relationship with my parents. The clouds can be devastating in the amount of excruciating pain they cause, and in how long they can last. And yet, after endlessly considering every alternative available to me, the only thing that seems to consistently help is to find ways to enlarge my window on life.
Anyway, I'm glad we all have found each other on this thread. I find myself encouraged and comforted, whenever I read your posts :-) Peace.
Thank you for what you say here...I'm doing better than what I was. I still have physical pain, but I'm working hard on that--it's interesting what that brings up emotionally. I've just had a few set-backs these past few months, but I'm hopeful. I am not feeling suicidal like I was (that was really only a response to feeling so overwhelmed by the situation compounded by my health issues). To say it was a overwhelming is an understatement. It helps to be able to talk openly and honestly about my feelings, instead of feeling stifled, dismissed and judged--behaviors that encourage people to stuff it all or bottle it up. People respect stoicism, but I find it difficult to strangulate and numb my emotions in order to win their approval of my silence. The cost is too great for me.
I'm feeling comforted and encouraged reading your posts too. I've been searching for a long time for people who may be able to relate, or even that can be honest about their feelings in a healthy (non-destructive) way. It's difficult finding that balance. In my life, Ive found people to be very self-focused, so they do not respond as you do, or they offer clichés or worse, judgements and criticisms.
I provided the link for the thread because there were some posts which followed that were interesting (some people who had similar views to yours and mine). It became an interesting discussion for some participants (not others). Also I wrote about pretending there too, which you mention in your posts. I agree with you that for some families it is "not a meaningful question, because the idea of healing the relationship is for everyone to pretend nothing bad ever happened and that everything is fine."
"They call this being forgiving." Yes, I can really relate to that and I hear this so frequently with abusive people and what is sad is that there are so many people who have absolutely no idea of the problems that help this type of thinking. Pretending is not forgiveness. It doesn't lead to closeness or healing.
And yes, I can so relate to this observation too, "I think they see themselves as rather saintly because of this."
I agree 100 percent with this comment, "My idea of healing the relationship is to talk about what has happened in our family to help us start to understand and trust each other. Any suggestion of this produces an angry tirade from my parent claiming I am unforgiving, overly sensitive, hanging on to the past, and finally that I must be having some kind of mental breakdown."
I see this in my family and my in-laws. (There are similar issues, but expressed in different ways, although I think in his family the pathology is even greater). My husband sees them occasionally and goes along with the pretense, "no talk rule" and social mask, so as to "not rock the boat" and just to feel that he has a family. It is his choice. It hasnt been a healthy choice or outcome for me. I would have preferred a different outcome, but you cannot control other people. Likewise, the past few years Ive really had to focus on my health stuff and my moms issues, which has been overwhelming enough.
I like your analogy and no, it does not come across as either overly simplistic or naive. Everything that Ive read about dealing with emotional abuse suggests enlarging ones window. For the most part Ive tried to do this in my life too. Embracing life to me means not ignoring what is unpleasant, but acknowledging both the negative and positive and trying to find the balance. Its not an easy dance at times, but a worthy one. I dont know how well I do this. I think what is important is that I try. I recognize that it is a cycle. Dealing with my health situation and chronic pain made me feel far more emotionally vulnerable and it limited my participation in life as I would like, but there is hope on the horizon. Likewise, the past 5 years for me have been extremely emotionally devastating and that hasnt completely obliterated my being able, at times and through the darkness to find joy, even in sometimes the most unlikely places.
Like right now, Im finding comfort, encouragement and yes, even joy in talking to you. I see similarities and that helps me to feel less alone. The sort of emotional pain that youve experienced I would not want to wish on anyoneI know I've been there and I'm still dealing with it. What I also see in you is a survivorsomeone with strength of character, courage, and empathy and that is beautiful to me. I find hope, comfort, encouragement and joy in that, and that is no small thing.
So glad to see so much support here and new people. This forum has helped me so much too, especially through this time of year which is always the worst for me. Nobody can understand the depth of this situation unless they have been there themselves. And I have not been able to relate to anyone else on this issue, other than just recently, finding this place, to those who are here. I am still amazed I found other people who can understand! It gives me hope that I will be able to deal with this.
Flower, I can relate to so much of what you say. And as you and Dave both said, this pretending is a very big factor in the relationship with my parents too. I hate it, it has been going on for a very long time and it is going to stop. I just can't pretend anymore, it makes me feel terrible inside.
I can also relate to the suicidal thoughts as I have also been there. And alot of it was related to the situation with my parents, I felt so alone and abandoned, and my feelings were never validated at all. Therapy has helped. I have not gotten to that low point for a long time now. I brought in emails from my mother to my therapist to discuss, and it helped to talk about it, so someone else could see the craziness of the blunt, impersonal relationship.
Corrospondence has been very light with my parents too, for a long time, because anytime anything related to feelings or emotions would come up, they would explode and blame me for being over dramatic, too sensitive and on and on. So I had to keep it light to keep my own sanity. I never got the feeling that they ever even tried to understand.
I have this letter to send them that says alot, not everything because that would take a memoir!!! But it covers some of the major points and events that have happened and my feelings surrounding them. I limited myself to one page. Now I know this is going to open me up again to their crazy interpretations, their judgement of me, backtalk to the rest of the family - but most likely it will just be met with silence and I will never hear from them again. I am prepared for that now.
I have been feeling ridiculously self absorbed about this letter the last few days, and it gets me down, I am thinking about it too much - but I think that will subside once I send it. I am going to send it via email.
Just wanted to pop in and say hi, and I am still here and surviving the season quite well for a change!! Thanks everyone for being here.
I get the feelings of abandonment and aloneness as I've had it too, so I can really relate to that. I've been reading your posts and Dave's and Silvers, so everything you've stated I can pretty much relate too.
I, too felt that they never tried to understand....just labels and judgments and blame of being "too sensitive," so I know that routine very well. I realize that it's all about them and their issues and deficiencies. I know this, but that doesn't mean that the resulting relationship and situation doesn't hurt. My father died, but prior to that I did talk with him and wrote him, but I was also not close to him for many reasons. I only write my mother. I do not have contact with either one of my older sisters. They just want to ignore and blame and not take any personal responsibility. I think their issues with me have to do with my mother and what they perceive as her "favoritism" towards me. I am the youngest. I never felt "favored". They poured forth their resentment towards me about the perceived "favortism" and I later learned that they accused her of it as well. My mother isn't the best communicator, and of course now mental illness has completely changed her. I asked her once about "favoritism" and she responded that she thought she did favor me. That annoyed me and I asked her for clarification. Her response was that she felt closer to me because she felt I had more empathy and compassion. Being in that position didn't bode well for me. I see both of my sisters as aggressive, angry and insensitive towards me. I don't know what kind of social mask they have with others. I've told them both that they are insensitive towards me and gave examples, but they would respond with how it was only a problem for me and that their friends didn't view them that way. Well, their friends didn't grow up with them and the relationship dynamic is very different. Their friends receive very different treatment and are not the target of their anger, rage and cruelty. BIG DIFFERENCE. It's easy when one is on the outside looking in, under the guise of being "helpful", to make all kinds of inappropriate and untrue observations, when one is not on the receiving end of cruel behaviors. These people know nothing and are not helpful, but she loves to cite them, because it solidifies her position of that she is right and I'm wrong and therefore "too sensitive" and it helps her to make her case that the problem is me and that I'm "emotionally unstable" and "mentally ill". When I call her on it her response is to play innocent and claim no memory and then she gets angry and accuses me of living in the past, being mean, being unforgiving and whatever else she can throw at me. So I totally get where you are all coming from. Been there, done that.
My one sister told me that I was always trying to get my needs met and be heard--she would always judge my feelings as "too sensitive" whenever I would take responsibility for what I was feeling and try to tell her what I was feeling. This one would always try to correct my emotions and interrupt other people's responses to me (when I knew how I felt about their behaviors and told her what I was feeling) to correct my emotions. In a letter she wrote to me about how I was always trying to be heard, she responded by saying in the next paragraph that she always experienced my feelings as nubulous. I she wonders about why I would always keep trying to be heard???
So, this is long-winded but I really, really can relate to what you are saying about never getting the feeling that they ever even tried to understand. Oh, I so get that!
I told my sister that I was going through the motions and she responded how hurtful and cruel that was. Well, if someone experiences your emotions as nubulous and judges your emotions as "too sensitive," it makes logical sense to me that one would feel that they conversation and relationship was quite limited and hence one would go through the motions. What else would one do. Then they attack me about my "perfect memory," if I ever try to revisit the past by offering examples. I experienced that type of sarcasm as cruel and undermining--it didn't help the situation.
The pretending and going through the motions feels horrible. I wrote about that on another thread (on the parent estrangement site). The post was titled can you mend relationships during the holidays, but the ensueing discussion took another course about pretending. If I'd known about this site I would have been writing here earlier, because I can relate so much to what you've been writing about.
I think it good that you are writing the letter. It's an important step for you, despite how they respond. I was hopeful at one time when I wrote letters, but my sisters and mother didn't respond in ways that would promote healing or understanding. In order for that to happen, they would have to be willing to take a good look at their own behaviors, instead of denying any responsibility on their part. One of the last times I spoke to my oldest sister, she screamed on the phone..."..you want me to say I'm sorry, then she screamed, alright I'm sorry." Then she hung up the phone. I mean do you really think that kind of comment was sincere or helpful. Who are these people anyway--the one's that figure "love means never having to say you're sorry" types. Do they really think love thrives when one is not accountable. They're just going to keep on sweeping all the dirt under the rug and ignore the herd of elephants in the living room. I don't feel close to these people. I have a hard time understanding anyone who would. I don't see myself as unforgiving. I know the difference between an apology, backed up by actions, that demonstrates sincerity. Forgiveness is possible under those circumstances
My SIL (a very manipulative person) wrote an email to her brother...her motto was fix it or move on...She does't fix anything. She always moves on--one relationship after another and the men are always framed as the problem (she can't find appropriate men). Her life choices relfect a perpetual cycle of repetition...a broken record (not just with men, but with everyone. The trouble is her relative don't confront her about it). She does't fix anything and it is always a case of "too little, too late". It's really a sorry state of affairs. Every one pretends in that family.
So, I think it good that you wrote the letter and you are not being self-absorbed. Send it for you, and you only, because you deserve it.
Hi Flower, You must be a very strong person. You've had so few allies, and so many negative people and situations to deal with. I'm impressed with what you have been able to survive.
"I've just had a few set-backs these past few months, but I'm hopeful. I am not feeling suicidal like I was..." I am really glad to hear that you are hopeful, and feeling better than you have. It seems that parents/siblings like ours create such a dark outlook on life. We all need a little hope, and a few glimmers of light to heal and encourage us.
"I find it difficult to strangulate and numb my emotions in order to win their approval of my silence." I know of nothing more deadening to me personally than this kind of silence. I need to tell people how I think and feel. If I don't it's as though I don't exist.
"Pretending is not forgiveness. It doesn't lead to closeness or healing." This is so very true. I'm not sure if or when I will ever write to my parents again, but I'm going put this in the letter.
In the past, all of this pretending and fake forgiveness felt like I was slowly being suffocated to death. No more. I speak my truth during our infrequent communications. Of course they deal with this by feeling sorry for me that I'm mentally unstable. So be it. While this relationship with my parents is still pathetic, speaking my truth is better than feeling like I'm being suffocated. While this isn't a pleasant situation, it's a more workable situation for me. Now I just feel like more of an orphan who was raised by a really lousy foster family that doesn't have control over me anymore. And I'm free to do and say what I want.
Hi Sage, "I have been feeling ridiculously self absorbed about this letter the last few days..." Yeah, I tend to compose letters in my head to them for days. Sometimes I send the letters just so I can stop thinking about them. I hope you can find some satisfaction in saying what you know to be true, and not letting their response, or lack of response, get you down.
Hello Flower and Dave,
Flower, I agree with Dave, you must be a strong person. You have been through alot, and you should be proud you are getting through it all! Your sister sounds like she has her own issues, that was not very nice what she did to you on the phone. Sounds like she can't deal with her own emotions at all. As the saying goes "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger." I think that is true in all our cases.
I am glad you can relate (well not 'glad' you have the same problem, but you know what I mean...). It is comforting to me and makes me feel alot less isolated.
Somethimes I think: What is wrong with being a little bit of a sensitive person anyways? They make is sound like it is a bad thing. I am alot more sensitive, empathetic and caring than they are. I feel that they are incapable of love. I am glad I am not like them because I know I can love. It is a heck of a lot better than being a cold, hard, unfeeling stone. That is how I feel my parents are. They can never come off of their high horses even for a minute and be caring, to try to put themselves in my shoes,or anyone elses for that matter. My whole life they were racists, chauvanists (even my mother), shallow and always making fun of people. For example, disabled people. And unkind to animals, something which always hurt me so deeply, because I have always, and still do, have a close connection with animals. They are crude, yet look down their nose at everyone. Except my brother that is, they think he is just great. Sick, sick, sick.
Dave, I feel the exact same way about the pretending part. I can't do it anymore, and standing my ground, stating my case by sending the letter and dealing with whatever their reaction is, is alot better than what has been going on. And what Flower said about the silence - I can sooo relate to that. It is deadening. I am a very open person - well, I mean that I am that way with everyone I know except my parents, because I gave with them, and have been pretending for a long time. It kills me to keep things inside.
Thanks for the support surrounding my letter. I am sending it. I am STILL mulling over it. I am trying not to go on any tirades, because I easily fall into that mode with them. I think it would just give them reason to label me as nuts. So I am just being matter of fact, and making some statements. I allowed myself one page, but now it is two. No more than two pages though!! Two pages is enough! lol I feel stronger now, and know it is the right thing to do. I want to do it before it is too late.
"Pretending is not forgiveness". That was well said Flower. I have been going through the motions for a long time. I always felt an obligation, because they are my parents. I struggle with that. But then again, I am their child, and they didn't really show me any consideration EVER. So why should I feel obligated? I am feeling less and less so as time goes on.
I have not heard a word from my parents this whole holiday season, a phone call or email. I am thinking that maybe my mother sent that parcel against my wishes knowing it would piss me off. Is she trying to end this for once and for all? Maybe. I guess I will never know what she was thinking. But knowing them, they are feeling sorry for themselves that their daughter is so selfish, she doesn't even phone to say ''thanks for the gift''. Ahh well, I should know by now that there is no winning with them. I have accepted that.
Hi Sage, and Happy New Year to all!
I can really relate to much of the way you describe your parents, "incapable of love...cold, hard, unfeeling stone...racists, chauvinists (even my mother)". What has confused me in the past is that my parents would say that they "love" me, but what it felt like is that they just wanted to manipulate me to meet their needs with complete and total disregard for what I feel and think. When I would tell them I didn't feel loved, they would blow-up, and conclude I was mentally defective. No one needs to be loved like this. It will make you crazy.
"I am their child, and they didn't really show me any consideration EVER. So why should I feel obligated?" This is exactly how I feel! This is one of the main reasons that I have walked away from my parents. It seems that every relationship can be broken. If a spouse is unfaithful, a friend cheats us, a co-worker stabs us in the back, these are all grounds to end a relationship. If a parent never shows us any consideration, I think this is grounds to end this relationship too.
Good luck with your letter. I don't know if you will ever know what they are thinking. When my wife asks what I think my parent's are up to, I just say I quit trying to figure them out a long time ago. Peace.
Hi Dave and Sage,
Thank you for what you say here, "You must be a very strong person. You've had so few allies, and so many negative people and situations to deal with. I'm impressed with what you have been able to survive." It means more to me than you know.
The few people who have acknowledged my strengths have been a few counselors/therapists and one friend. I find most people very self-absorbed and focused on getting their needs met. I'm beginning to think that estrangements are not so uncommon from reading other posts on this site (the parents forums). I'm not really all that surprised, given how poorly some people treat one another. What is really sad, is that I think some people are so self-focused that they probably don't even recognize how poorly they do treat others and feel entitled to do so. They probably have help from "excuse makers" and enablers as well.
I agree and can really relate to what you say here, "I know of nothing more deadening to me personally than this kind of silence. I need to tell people how I think and feel. If I don't it's as though I don't exist."
I do too. Being able to honestly talk about what you feel is vital for healthy relationships. Without that what does one have--superficial relationships. I've often used the phrase that I feel that people who treat me this way make me feel like I don't exist--why would anyone desire to have a relationship with people like that. One can talk about how they feel with empathy and compassion. My family, and my in-laws tried to dictate my reality (my sisters do this, and my mother does too). My MIL just ignored me as if I didn't exist. She wouldn't even mention my name to my husband, in an effort to bury the problem, because she couldn't face herself and her own thoughtless, selfish behaviors. My husband was fine with pretending, because he didn't want to face her anger and aggression, or be the target of her rage. So he went along with placating her emotionally abusive behaviors. He saw her infrequently and never felt close to her. He does the same with the rest of his family, because their way of dealing with problems is to ignore them and deny ugly, cruel or thoughtless behaviors. They make a lot of excuses.
I agree about pretending and fake forgiveness. It does feel like one is slowly suffocating to death. Your parents demeaning you as "mentally unstable" is cruel and untrue. I've dealt with the same demoralizing comments from my family. They have consistently done that to me, dismissing my feelings and truth as "too sensitive" and my sisters never waste an opportunity to refer to me as mentally ill, because I was honest about experiencing clinical depression. That's extremely negative behavior on their part and very cruel. They can't look at themselves and you know they operate by the "best defense is a good offense". Their ego's are so fragile that they can't even look at themselves, so they launch cruel, viscious attacks to cover up their own inadequacies and deficiencies--they can't face the truth. I personally feel behaving this way towards someone is evil. I understand how it feels to be on the receiving end of this type of demoralizing treatment. I feel for you and my heart goes out to you, but I feel pity for them for never knowing their son.
I've often felt like an orphan too set adrift, without family, without anyone. That's not a good feeling, but the alternative is far worse. Some relationship dynamics and the roles family members want you to play are truly life obliterating. I read a lot of books and that has helped me. It offers me a type of solace, even if my situation will not change. It has helped me. Still I have my moments of sadness. I think it a huge loss, and that stays with one.
I've been sick the past few days and still have a cold/flu,so that's why I didn't respond earlier. I wanted to pop in and respond. I'm still here...just recuperating and trying to get well.
Hi Flower, Sorry to hear you have been sick. I hope you start feeling better soon. I really meant what I said about you being strong. I've been through a lot with my parents/brother, but I have a very supportive spouse, and my in-laws are very kind and thoughtful people. I also have lived 2000 miles away from my parents for the last 35 years. Physical as well as emotional distance has helped a lot. It just seems like you don't have many sane people on your side. It's just hard to imagine going through what you have been through, without more support from others. I admire you for finding the strength to survive this. I don't think I would have done as well.
"I find most people very self-absorbed and focused on getting their needs met." Very true. I think having been raised by people like this, it is very easy for us to spot these people. Don't give up looking for the good ones. I think it is harder for us to see good people, because it is so foreign to what we grew up with. I mean really, how are we suppose to find and trust good people, if the people who are suppose to be good to us, and who we are suppose to trust the most, our parents, completely and totally violate our relationship with them? I mean really, how are we suppose to do this??? And yet, we need to figure this out. It's been a struggle, and I have made progress.
"Some relationship dynamics and the roles family members want you to play are truly life obliterating." I guess this is what it comes down to. They have forced us to chose between being being obliterated in a relationship with them, or having a life estranged from them. In many years of trying, I have found no middle ground here. Given this choice, I want my life.
I hope you get well soon. Peace.
As I write this, teary-eyed, I wish more and more that I could simply turn off the feelings I have for my mother and younger but 20 year old sister. At age 26, and getting ready for my wedding this month, I am amazed that my mother and sister will not be attending. My parents divore, unspeakable actions and lies, and my sisters ignorance, have nearly destroyed any sliver of what relationship we may of had, or could possibly have in the future. Believing I chose my stepmom and my father, my biological mother is nonchalant when it comes to my life, and hurtful towards my father and me whenever the opportunity rises (even though shes the one who had an affair with a guy nearly my age whom she met on a computer game). My sister, immature and living with my mother at age 20, is discovering the unappealing "roots" of my mothers family and embracing a very abnormal and dysfunctional lifestyle and value system. Believing that humans are disposable, and constantly trying to force blame and hurt on myself and others, my mother and sister are two peas in a pod, living a very prideful existence. so why do I even bother caring? I can't let go of these toxic relationships that I know are unhealthy for me, that I know I do not want my future children to be a part of, and yet I fixate on this hole in my heart when I should be embracing the positive aspects and people within my life. My family is large, loving, I have my MBA and am in the process of completeing my law degree, I have a fiance who I know loves me more than anything and yet I fight with him and nag about stupid things that I know are a result of these misplaced feelings in my heart and in my mind. I need to let go. I need to heal. But I need to do this in a manner that will not cause me to breakdown when I need to be strong for my own family. I know I have done everything possible, I know I have extended the invite to my wedding only to be hurt with all the rhetoric that develops, and yet a feeling of loss consumes me and a negative energy rests inside me. Perhaps I'll write again, perhaps write a book even, or use a journal, or perhaps I'll muster up a way to swallow the hurt and digest it for another decade or so hoping things will go back to the way they used to be when I was younger. This of course will never happen..hence my dilemma.
So Dave, let me ask you a few questions. And, pardon me if I am leary of most people, most especially you.
How do you garner information about people?
What is your favorite colour?
What is your favorite book and why?
Colleen, You insult me, then ask strange questions. Too weird. No thanks.
I would have responded sooner, but I've been sick. I'm starting to feel a little better each day.
"I really meant what I said about you being strong. I've been through a lot with my parents/brother, but I have a very supportive spouse, and my in-laws are very kind and thoughtful people. I also have lived 2000 miles away from my parents for the last 35 years. Physical as well as emotional distance has helped a lot. It just seems like you don't have many sane people on your side. It's just hard to imagine going through what you have been through, without more support from others. I admire you for finding the strength to survive this. I don't think I would have done as well."
Thank you. I appreciate hearing that more than you know. I have felt very alone at times and isolated. That has not been for lack of trying to communicate to others. I think many people lack emotional honesty and are very poor communicators. I live about 2,000 miles from my family too, as does my husband. Even when we lived in the same state, we lived about a 4 hours drive away. I agree that physical distance is helpful. I know for certain, if we had not moved away from his family--our marriage would have ended, like all their relationships and the family pattern.
I read a few of our communications to each other (the last two) to my therapist. As I read it to her, I cried. She recognized how much it means to have someone, who has also been through it, finally get it (and she said, gets you). She understood the flood of relief one feels. It's like a wave of relief washing over me. I feel that I can be honest and say that she feels it's a good thing. (Of course, she recognizes that not all people who would respond in this forum would be either empathetic or appropriate).
"I think having been raised by people like this, it is very easy for us to spot these people. Don't give up looking for the good ones. I think it is harder for us to see good people, because it is so foreign to what we grew up with. I mean really, how are we suppose to find and trust good people, if the people who are suppose to be good to us, and who we are suppose to trust the most, our parents, completely and totally violate our relationship with them? I mean really, how are we suppose to do this??? And yet, we need to figure this out."
So true and I agree. It's been a struggle for me too, and I am making progress. Unfortunately, my husband has not been very helpful. He was not that way intially. I think it easier for him to frame me as the problem, than to face his own issues. He finds people that are like his parents (manipulating, controlling, selfish) and then the same issues resurface--the pattern to repeat. I've sought my own friends, which made him feel left out and abandoned. We are working on this.
"I guess this is what it comes down to. They have forced us to chose between being being obliterated in a relationship with them, or having a life estranged from them."
John Bradshaw wrote a book about family roles and relationships. I don't recollect the exact name. Parent's chose roles for their children and in some families those roles become fixed and rigid. If someone wants to leave that role, then the family becomes unstablized and unbalanced. It doesn't matter how unhealthy the role may be...That isn't life--that's a cell and a prison sentence--these parent's who feel that their children owe them. Didn't they have them because they wanted them?
I spoke about estrangement issues with her and she said because of the self-focus of the parents that she didn't like family couseling. The parent's focus is always the self--they want their children to understand them (it's all about their needs). The children then say, but I was the child and you were/are the parent. These parent's treat their children like they are emotional benefits.
What you said to Sage, and what she says, I can really relate to that description too, "What has confused me in the past is that my parents would say that they "love" me, but what it felt like is that they just wanted to manipulate me to meet their needs with complete and total disregard for what I feel and think."
You are right it is crazy-making and no one needs to be loved like that--concluding that you are mentally defective, when you tell them how their behaviors feel. It is crazy-making.
One wonders what they get out of it--their ego's are so fragile--they can't face the truth about themselves, so they displace it to others. I'm doing a bit better and I will probably write more tomorrow...
I don't get why you are insulting Dave, or your questions? What is that about?
Hi Flower, I'm glad you are feeling better.
I hope you can work things out with your husband. I know my upbringing made it difficult for my wife and I to get along at times. She had a few issues too. We've talked through a lot of these issues and how they were manifested in our relationship. It was very painful at times, but we stuck with it, and I believe we are better off now having worked through a lot of this. Getting along well with her helps keep me sane in dealing with my parents.
I really agree that this forum helps us not feel so alone with our parental problems. I know it helped me stay strong through a difficult time I just had with my parents during Christmas. I'm glad I found this place.
"...these parent's who feel that their children owe them. Didn't they have them because they wanted them?" I know for a fact my mother got married because she was pregnant with me. I'm probably more a result of drunken lust, than true love. Maybe that explains some of this. Still, they act like I exist only to satisfy them and their needs and wants. And it does become an emotional prison. No thanks.
So gradually we start figuring out that we were raised by crazy-people, and then we have to try to figure out what normal is so that we don't turn into crazy-people ourselves. This isn't the easiest thing to do is it? But it's got to be better than following in their footsteps.
I hope you continue to get healthier. I'm not going to be back on-line again until Friday. I've got a lot going on the next few days. Peace.
Hello Flower, Dave, welcome Infynyty,
I posted a message before I left, but I see it didn't post after all! Anyways, I was away for a few days, just got home from a little holiday. A nice break, and time to clear my mind. I am so glad the holiday season is over! I know that sounds Grinchy, but I am relieved it is over and I survived! Actually, it was the best Xmas I have had for quite a few years. And I have not sent my letter yet, but I will.
Infynyty, I can relate to what you say. I hope this forum will help you come to terms with your relationship with you mom and sister. It helps to read what others have gone through. The emotions run so deep and I can relate to your sadness and frustration. It is such an individual thing, and we all must find our own way to deal with it. I don't think it is ever entirely possible to just turn off our feelings towards our parents....we just have to learn to deal with the feelings in a way so that what they say and do does not so negatively impact our own lives. Setting boundaries for yourself. Keep posting and hang in there, things will get better.
Flower, Glad you are feeling better. I didn't get sick this Xmas, as I do nearly every single year, I think it is because my stress level was lower than usual this year. I tend to get ill only when I am stressed. I sure agree with the fakeness, and pretending issues. And my parents are major ego maniacs. Good point. They can't look at themselves, not even for a second, so they just attack. And well my brother is all about being superficial, so they just adore that and get lost in that fantasy land.
Dave, I am glad I found this place too. It has helped me immensely through this most difficult time of year. My mother actually did get married because she was prego with me, I know that for a fact because I figured it out one time on their anniversary, compared it with my age (!), I remember being shocked, it was when I was about 10yrs old and I questioned them. They said they were going to get married anyways. Ya right. Maybe that is part of why we never really bonded? I have thought about that from time to time. I think that some people have kids because they feel that they want/need someone to take care of them when they are older. It is out of fear and it is so selfish. Obviously, I was unplanned, so that was not the case! ...sigh...
To tell you the truth I did not realize how 'crazy' my parents were until I was close to 30 yrs old. I just was always trying to please them, and gain their approval, I was being fake myself by pretending everything was just great, I went through the motions, and I was positive I could fix things and make them better. I stuffed my own emotions over this time, which was years, and that nearly killed me. I was doing what they did, avoidance and pretending, which is sad and makes me angry. But at least I do not do that anymore.
My husband never spoke negatively about my parents or my brother, or ever snapped at them as I have. He is ultra patient and always kept his cool when everyone was flying off the handle. But just talking to my husband about them, reflecting on what they have done, just honestly going through the events that transpired, made me really realize how nuts the whole situation with them has been for so many many years.
Good point Dave, I say that all the time about not ever wanting to be like them. I refuse and it disgusts me to even think about being like them. I am proud that I can say how I feel, I can say 'I love you' to those I care about, I genuinely care and am sensitive to the needs of others, and I can confront problems head on and not just avoid things that were not pleasant as they did.
I have had my share of difficulities in relationships as well, particularly with a fear of abandonment, and it is often irrational (at least I can see it is irrational now, for a long time it was just fear). I know that stems directly from them. I never felt loved, included, or worthy of anything. I have just struggled and struggled to gain their approval, without ever getting it, and feeling like a failure. Some of the issues I have are directly related to my upbringing and the way my parents treated me, it took me a long time to believe that. I guess I did not want to believe it, as I spent a long time hoping it would change, and continuing to try to make things change. Hard to cope with life when your parents coping methods were so lame, and that was all I had to learn from. My parent used drinking, avoidance, and making everything into a joke as methods of dealing with any problem. This I did not see until I was in therapy, and it was a weight off my shoulders when it finally made sense to me. I don't blame them for everything, but some things are so directly related, it is hard to deny. It has not been easy, but it is not an impossible thing to overcome. I still have a long way to go, but I can see how I have made some progress with it.
Take care friends,
"I am so glad the holiday season is over! I know that sounds Grinchy, but I am relieved it is over and I survived!" No, it doesn't sound Grinchy. I'm usually happy it is over with too as it can be stressful. I've always thought it would be fun to travel somewhere and experience something new and different. I'm not really a winter person either. I don't like the short, dark colder days and much prefer--sunshine and longer days--of course, it was really cold where I live.
Sometimes Xmas just seems very commerical, manufactured and phoney...I think, if someone were to get me a gift that I'd rather have it be spontaneous and truly given from the heart, rather than feel it is an obligation with little meaning. I know many people who feel the same--one friend in particular left Xmas eve to go on a much needed vacation. He does't like the phony pretense either and feels a growing estrangement towards his wife and daughters. It has to do with money issues that have come between them all. So I think many people may feel that Xmas is too commercial and stressful. I'm glad that you had a good holiday though and that you got through it okay. That is something positive.
I've done my share of trying to please my parents, husband, siblings, his family and even his associations. It never worked. I started to believe that my feelings mattered and that it was more important to be true to myself, rather than have them all try to dictate my reality and feelings for me. No thanks. You cannot please people like that anyway--they would rather steal your soul, than offer understanding, compassion and empathy-- being the emotional vampires that they are. Forget it.
There is nothing wrong with being a "sensitive" person. I view sensitivity as being aware, and as far as I'm concerned it would be nice to encounter more people who behaved with emotional intelligence and awareness towards others. This isn't the case (I've seldom encountered it). Oh, sure people want you to be sensitive towards their needs, but they do not reciprocate. These types need to be ditched and dumped and I've taken a zero tolerance approach towards the most offensive variety. My husband, in particular has befriended quite an assortment of mindless dolts (inferior quality people) who don't take responsibility for their behaviors, lack appropriate problem-solving abilities and in general mistreat others. These are selfish, inconsiderate lame people who manipulate and take advantage of others. One acquaintance of his tried the old "she's too sensitive," when his wife and now him were clearly in the wrong, rather than meet half way, hear me out or take responsibility. So, he's been banned and excused from futher contact. I don't see why I should have to be exposed to such emotionally primitive people and they will no longer be the recipients of my sensitivty and kindness, since it would be wasted on mindless, clueless fools. I'd prefer to surround myself with quality people who merit my time and attention, rather than the undeserving people who wouldn't appreciate me.
I can really relate to what you said here too, "I have had my share of difficulities in relationships as well, particularly with a fear of abandonment, and it is often irrational (at least I can see it is irrational now, for a long time it was just fear). I know that stems directly from them. I never felt loved, included, or worthy of anything. I have just struggled and struggled to gain their approval, without ever getting it, and feeling like a failure."
I completely understand where you are coming from as I've been there. There are some people that I've felt quite happy and relieved to see them go--these were negative inputters, exactly like the types I mentioned above. I struggled with these issues due to my upbringing, but I believed I deserved and merited better treatment. My husband was not so supportive and remained stuck in unhealthy dynamics. Sadly, he framed me as the problem as "not liking our friends," rather than recognizing their poor treatment or even tolerating my desire to find more fulfilling relationships. These are long stories, but I do see it as being his issues from his family and the difficulties I had with mine. I've made a lot of progress with it too. I will close for now, but wanted to respond to you, before too much time got away from me....
Good idea taking some time off!
"I am so glad the holiday season is over! I know that sounds Grinchy, but I am relieved it is over and I survived!" Doesn't sound Grinchy at all. While I have learned to enjoy Christmas with my wife and children, it's also a time that's hard to escape memories of the past emotional pain and darkness of my relationship with my parents and brother. Each year, I shift more towards the positive and away from the dark past. Nevertheless, when it's over, there is still a sense of relief, and that I've survived it.
"I just was always trying to please them, and gain their approval,...". Yeah, at one time I would imagine how impressed they would be, with a promotion I got, or with my financial success, only to become depressed, when they showed no interest in what I done, and went back to bragging about themselves. It was sad how long I hung on, hoping for approval and admiration from them that never came. It was hard to break away from this, but fortunately, very fortunately, I've been able to move on from there.
It sounds like your husband has really helped you. I can say the same about my wife. It just really helps to be around someone who didn't grow up with all this craziness. I don't think I could have dealt with all this alone.
"It has not been easy, but it is not an impossible thing to overcome." I agree! And while I would never have signed up to go through all this, having gone through what I have, I feel like I have a perspective on, and an appreciation of life, that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
Hi Flower, "Sometimes Xmas just seems very commercial, manufactured and phony..." It is and this can be very depressing. I know people who go places like Vietnam or Patagonia over the holidays just to avoid everything. I've also found that I can make my own meaningful Christmas traditions with people I'm close to, and that this has helped me deal with this.
It doesn't sound like a good situation with some of your husband's friends. I know I'm very selective about who I spend time with, and how much time I spend with them. I just don't have time for negative, emotionally draining people. I figure my parents used up whatever tolerance I had for this kind of behavior, so I have no tolerance left for anyone else.
I hope you can find some kind of peace regarding your husband. I know how hard it has been dealing with stress and tension with my parents. I don't think I could handle it, if I also had a lot of stress and tension in my marriage. As I've said to you before, you don't seem to have many allies, and you seem to find the strength to keep going. I'm impressed.
Hello Flower, Dave,
I can relate to what you both say about trying to impress your parents. Dave, I used to think the same thing regarding my career. I used to look forward to telling my parents about what I had accomplished with raises, promotions, recognition etc, only to always be let down, as they never really cared. It was always about my brother. OK, maybe his career really is more interesting and exciting than mine, but so what!?!? I resent the fact that they were always so obsessed with him. It is hard to break away from that cycle, I know I have made the break too. It is empowering, because I don't (and never did) 'need' their approval to be happy.
My husband and I have become much more selective on who we let in our lives too. We have no patience at all for people who are critical, unsupportive of us and our business, or just general jerks who are dishonest and not kind to others - 'buzz kills' (as we call them - is that an 80's term?!? lol lol).
My fuse is short with that kind of behavior that Flower describes. It simply is not worth it to have toxic people around and my husband and I have talked about that many times. We 'cut them out' asap now.
In the past, it seemed like I almost attracted these toxic people into my life. And, in hindsight, it seemed like the same cycle as with my parents...I was always trying to help them (too much), fix things for them, I was too giving of love, patience, sometimes even money, I wanted to impress them in a way, and I always ended up getting hurt, used, disappointed, felt abandoned. Hmmmm, it is weird.
Flower, I know it is not easy when it is your husbands friends...it is his choice as to whether he allows these friends to be part of his life...so I hope will someday see the damage they can cause. In the mean time all I can suggest is to keep your own boundaries strong and don't let them affect you too much. And talk to you husband calmly and openly about it if you can.
We have talked about getting away on a tropical vacation for Xmas many times, but have not done it yet. I sure would like to do that one year. Actually, Xmas 2007 was the first time we went away by ourselves. The situation with my parents was really getting me down, it was bad, I was really depressed. So we rented a nice suite out in the mountains, went hiking and then went out for a Fondue for Xmas dinner, and it was really nice. AND the restaurant was packed!! We were surprised. lol In a way I felt like I was running away from it, but after we got there it was great! It felt strange at first, but we had just a fantastic time. I think it is a great idea to use it as a time to travel a little, and most importantly spend time with those who you love. This year we spent Xmas at home, had some friends over through the season, but just spent Xmas day by ourselves and it was nice too. I felt more peace this year than I have any other year. I think it is because I reached the end of my rope with them, and made the decision to cut ties.
I agree Dave, a person has to start their own traditions. The media makes us believe it is ALL about family and extended family..but it is not. Hard to break away from that mindset though, it is deeply ingrained in society. Xmas has no religious signifigance to us as our beliefs are more based on spirituality. But making the holidays special in your own way is OK. It is better than avoiding the season, and being depressed about it. I know, it is easier said than done, and I still do get down....but working towards changing their own mind is all a person can do I suppose.
Flower, I am impressed by your strength too. I know the damage my parents caused me really affected my self esteem and all aspects of my life, and has pushed me at times to the point of breaking down. Without my husband for support, I am not sure I would have made it. All marriages have ups and downs, and I hope you will come to common ground on the friend issue - it is important, because those types of friends can cause alot of tension in your own relationship.
Dave, Flower, Silver, I just want to toss out my email address, just in case this board ever disappears. So, if you wish, please drop me a line. And if you do not want to, that is OK too. :)email@example.com
Have a great weekend friends! Sage
"In the past, it seemed like I almost attracted these toxic people into my life." Yeah, me too. In retrospect when I was younger, it seemed like my lack of feeling much self worth, or having much self respect, resulted in me pursing risky, wreckless, self-destructive, activities and relationships. It's hard to say what really pulled me out of this. I tell my wife I must have a guardian angel. Fortunately, my wife didn't meet me until I was 31 years old and the worst of this was behind me.
"Xmas has no religious significance to us as our beliefs are more based on spirituality." One thing that I believe has helped me become more sane is in growing spiritually. In an earlier post I wrote about "enlarging our window" in which we view life. Growing spiritually has helped me acknowledge and deal with the pain in my life, without letting it blind me to the joy that is also there.
I was hoping I was done hearing from my parents for a while, with the holidays over, but I wasn't so lucky. My mother, staying in top form, sent my wife a package for her birthday which is on the 13th this month. This wasn't just any package, this was a package with every photograph we have sent my parents since 1993, when our first child was born. Also included in the package were photos from my childhood, and post cards I had sent my parents from all over the world. My mother said, she thought my wife would like to have all these for scrapbooking. Of course my mother writes a pleasant note and makes no mention of our estrangement. My mother knows we only sent her duplicate pictures. So the message she is sending is that she doesn't want any of these photos in her house, and sends them to us, even though we have the originals. And she does this while acting as though she is being helpful. And this is a birthday gift for my wife. I'm not making any of this up. Really.
I've decided this time not to respond to this. In this case it seems the best response is no response. In the past things like this had the potential to make me crazy for several days. I find this event unpleasant, but not enough to cause me to think about it very much. More than anything, she continues to provide evidence that being estranged from them is the best thing I can do. They are both completely nuts.
Anyway, I hope all is well. Peace.
I agree, the reckless behavior is related to a lack of self-worth. I really put myself into some bad situations in the past and I don't know what pulled me out of it either. Pure survival instinct I think. I sometimes say the same thing, I must have had an angel on my shoulder. I always feel lucky and appreciative to have regained control of my life, and developed self esteem to be able to enjoy the great life that I have now! I didn't meet my husband until I was past all of that either, thank goodness!
My spirituality has helped me in many aspects of my life, and in particular in dealing with the hatred I feel towards my parents. I tend to get very self-absorbed and depressed about the past when I stress about it too much. It smothers me, and I have a hard time detaching myself from it. My spirituality has helped to give me alot of peace and perspective to see 'the bigger picture' and enjoy what I do have in the present, instead of having so much resentment about the past.
Oh no, sorry to hear about the parcel Dave!! I can't imagine what she was thinking when she packed up those pictures. What she did is bizarre and disturbing, and it is good you recognize that. I agree, the best response is no response. I think you are doing the right thing. And good for you for not letting this get under your skin and upset you for days on end. Not worth it! I have adopted that stance too, I am not going to react anymore. Hang in there...
How do you think I insulted Dave other than the fact that he said I did and that I was too weird for him? Now, if Dave doesn't want to answer my completely innocuous but revealing questions that is something else entirely. This turned out just about exactly how I guessed it would.
Thought some of you might find this site interesting-I did!
Hello Dave & Flower,
"I hope you can find some kind of peace regarding your husband. I know how hard it has been dealing with stress and tension with my parents. I don't think I could handle it, if I also had a lot of stress and tension in my marriage. As I've said to you before, you don't seem to have many allies, and you seem to find the strength to keep going. I'm impressed."
Thank you for what you say here. It has been difficult. I would have responded sooner, but I've had a relapse (cold/flu)--it's been dragging on. I've asked my husband many times to see a counselor with me and he has refused. He was angry and resentful towards me claiming that I was asking him to do all the changing (never thinking about what he was asking of me). I felt that I was being pro-active in my relationship and that to seek counseling was a positive step, as well as a loving one. I know he has regrets. I'm trying to work through this. I've just felt overwhelmed with health issues, chronic pain issues and then dealing with my mother and my MIL died a few years ago now. It has been overwhelming. My health issues alone were overwhelming and not feeling that anyone around me was either sensitive or supportive, but instead self-centered, thoughtless and unreasonable.
I only have so much time and energy to deal with issues, so I made a decision to focus on my health (it really wasn't a decision or choice, but a necessity and something I had to do) and take care of myself. I also made a decision to not socialize with his selfish, negative associations. The way I decided to approach problem-solving is that I've declined any contact with his associations. That is a current solution, but doesn't mean forever. I just can't deal with more issues stemming from his inability to set boundaries on other people's inappropriate and selfish behaviors. If he refuses to be supportive and address the situation, I feel I have no other alternatives. I do not think it unreasonable to ask him to participate in problem-solving, especially when it involves people who he has brought into my life and even more so when these people are negative, angry, thoughtless and irresponsible and when they refuse to take responsibility for their inappropriate behaviors. It's been a very difficult situation for me. I get very tired of the "I didn't mean too," or "I didn't intend too," response to behaviors which are destructive and clearly unreasonable.
Yes, these people have caused a lot of tension and he is aware of that, but he is unwilling to take steps to resolve it, or look at his own issues. Under the circumstances I really don't know what else I can do, because he makes excuses, or offers reasons as excuses. That doesn't help solve a problem. One still has to deal with the behaviors and it causes tension and emotional distance. I'm selective about people, he isn't and it starts to feel emotionally abusive being exposed to chronic situations around negative people. He just seems to attract people like his family and keeps replaying some of those issues.
Early on I started some of our own Xmas traditions and that helps. I think I would still prefer getting away and immersing myself in something else. Last year, his sister and father (recently divorced for the 3rd time) invited him (only him) to join them in Hawaii for Thanksgiving. He declined, telling me that he wouldn't leave his wife for the holiday. That was good, but I wish he had the emotional strength to stand up to them and tell them how he feels. To be honest, it is very hurtful that he doesn't. It's hard to explain the situation, but he'll walk a mile to avoid any type of conflict or confrontation, and not learning how to stand up for oneself or learning how to deal with conflicts is self-destructive and foolish. He always wants me to do it for him, so that all the abuse will be directed towards me and people will think he is a "nice guy". That places me in a horrible situation. He can't even say NO to telephone solicitors.
Since his mother died, he seems less angry, unhappy and less difficult to live with. The stress and stain of dealing with someone--so selfish, angry and abusive was devasting to everyone. I have difficulties with my own family, but their behaviors were more openly hostile and targeted towards me and not him. His family targeted me as well, but he would not talk to them about it and would cave into their demands. Perhaps I should write more fully about what his mother did, but right now I cannot bring myself to do so. I may not be saying this well, but of the two families (his) really caused a lot of chaos and their behaviors had a much greater and far reaching negative impact on our lives. My mother has her issues, but her downward spiral into mental health issues was more recent (unfortunately).
Yes, I'm strong, but I also have my vulnerabilities. I've been prone to episodes of depression, especially under stress and that has felt chronic and debilitating. I have one friend who tells me how strong I am (he lives miles away) and he says that he feels that anyone else would not have been able to survive and be the person that I am. I hold this close to my heart, because I just don't hear it and I've felt far too alone and misunderstood. It has as you would say left me feeling like I had no allies or understanding people in my life.
I will post this and write more later, I'm still here and didn't want too much time to go by before I posted again.
"Of course my mother writes a pleasant note and makes no mention of our estrangement. My mother knows we only sent her duplicate pictures. So the message she is sending is that she doesn't want any of these photos in her house, and sends them to us, even though we have the originals. And she does this while acting as though she is being helpful. And this is a birthday gift for my wife. I'm not making any of this up. Really."
This sounds like cruel behavior and I can understand how you would find it hurtful. I know I would. I agree with Sage, that is is disturbing and bizarre behavior and I'm glad that you recognize it for what it is. It sounds like she is very childish, emotionally immature and filled with resentment. It's hard to know what she was thinking when she packed the pictures up. I do regret the pain that she is causing you. I think your response is the best response given the situation. A good many people go through life oblivious and clueless. I doubt confronting them about their behavior would yield productive results (on their end) as typically they would probably deny or make excuses and would not address situations honestly. I've learned this with most people and I wish it were not so.
"More than anything, she continues to provide evidence that being estranged from them is the best thing I can do. They are both completely nuts."
I agree and would probably deal with it in the same way. It's definately very alienating behavior. I'm glad though that you have adopted the stance that you have and see the behavior for what it is. I'm glad you have this forum to talk about it, because I know it helps. Take care and I'll probably post more tomorrow....
Sage, "My spirituality has helped to give me a lot of peace and perspective to see 'the bigger picture' and enjoy what I do have in the present, instead of having so much resentment about the past." I've had a very similar experience. It's helped me be less angry about the past; it's helped me not agonized over things I have no control over; and it's helped me appreciate the good things I do have in my life.
Sage & Flower, Thank you so much for the support and understanding regarding my mom's crazy package. Sage you are so right that it is, "bizarre and disturbing", and Flower, saying she is "very childish, emotionally immature and filled with resentment", describes her perfectly. I feel like I'm making progress, when things like this don't send me into an emotional tailspin. In the past I would have been very upset, felt compelled to write to her, to tell her how I felt, only to have her respond in a way that would set me off all over again. The only way to stop this, is to stop reacting to her. The support and understanding I have gotten in this forum has helped give me some of the insight and strength I needed to do this. Thank you so much!
Flower, Sorry to hear your cold is getting you down. I hope you can get rid of it.
"I've asked my husband many times to see a counselor with me and he has refused." It must be very frustrating to want to improve your relationship with your spouse, only to have him reject your effort. He must know at some level that if he goes into therapy with you, he will have to deal with his own stuff too. Apparently, he's not ready to do this. It unfortunate that he doesn't just say this, instead of trying to make it all your problem.
"I only have so much time and energy to deal with issues, so I made a decision to focus on my health..." This sounds like a very clear and rational approach, and I agree health needs to be our top priority. Other things can wait. I am glad to hear you are setting boundaries with your husband's friends. This should help you focus on getting healthy.
It sounds like it would be good for you to get away on the holidays. I bet if you did, you would probably find more people like yourself who are thinking the same thing. This sounds like it's worth giving serious consideration.
"Yes, I'm strong, but I also have my vulnerabilities. I've been prone to episodes of depression..." I feel overwhelmed just reading about all the stress in your life. I think I would be more than prone to episodes of depression. I think I'd be in a fetal position, and not functioning at all. And yet you find a way to keep going. My heart goes out to you. Keep finding ways, to keep going. Peace.
Flower, Your health comes first, and I am glad you have put that first. Take good care of yourself. I give you alot of credit for continuing to remain open and honest with your husband. But you cannot make up his mind for him, and I know you know that, he himself has to be ready to seek help.
I can relate to your husband in respect to attracting destructive people, and it is indeed related to patterns which he is copying from his own family history. I do believe it was the same case with me. I can relate to the fear of even considering going to therapy, the fear of admitting you have a problem to deal with, and fear of having to bring up and deal with all the emotions from the past. I put off going to therapy for years and years. And suffered.
The destruction is not something you really see while you are in the midst of the mess with toxic people around you. Only in hindsight you can see just how bad it was. I am not defending your husband, because I think he needs to wake up and see the hurt he is causing you. So I hope he will see what is happening, for your sake, and for his own sake too. Hang in there, take care of YOU and find your own way.
Dave, lol "Crazy Package". Good name for it! Because that is what it is. I can really understand how disturbing that must have been, but I am glad you are taking it for what it is worth and not letting it get to you. I wonder if I will get a package like that someday? I would not be surprised if I did...that is something my own mother would do.
And speaking of pictures, I have to share this. Last time I was at my parents house, which was years ago, when I went home for a funeral, I went into the living room and there was this huge collage hanging on the wall (5ft X 3ft at least, maybe even bigger) of pictures of my brother, and his wife. I walked up to it, put my hands on my hips, and felt my jaw drop...and my mother saw me. But of course she said nothing. And well, neither did I. By that point I had already for the most part given up. It wasn't even jealousy that I felt, I don't know what I felt. I sat down on the sofa and saw this little picture from our own wedding on a corner coffee table (a poorly lit corner!), picked it up, smiled, and put it down. She said nothing and then proceeded to babble about the weather, or something like that. Ha ha ha. Oh my, that just says it all, doesn't it? I forgot about that. It is so unbelievable, but it is true. At the time I dwelled on the thought of that day for quite some time, too much time. I can see how crazy it is though, and how blaring the message was that was sent out by the events of that day. At least she saw me looking at the shrine. She must have felt silly, or maybe not(?) ....sigh... Knowing her, it was probably killing her that she could not go on and on to me about every single picture and brag about her son's wonderful life. That is probably all that was going through her mind. It is just weird.
Have a good day, take care,
It's hard to imagine what your parents were thinking when they so obviously, and blatantly favored your brother, knowing that you had to be aware of this. I don't know how parents do things like that. Prominently displaying a huge collage of your brother's pictures, and doing nothing for you, is just so over the top.
Growing up, when I would be upset with my parents, they would brush it off, and say that when I was a parent, I would understand why they did what they did. They lied to me. I have two teenage boys now, and I can't imagine under any circumstances doing to my boys, what my parents did to me and my brother. All I've come to understand is that they were selfish, angry, cold, cruel, harsh, disrespectful people who didn't deserve to have children. I cannot possible understand, under any circumstances, why they would treat their own children the way they did. I don't think that's what they had in mind when they said, "I would understand, when I became a parent".
Anyway, I'm glad you have gotten away from this painful situation with your parents and your brother. Good for you!
I'm going to be away from my computer for a couple of days, I'll check back in again on Friday. I hope your week is going well. Peace.
Xanax is one of those medicines which help in relieving anxiety and depression, but this medicine should only be used for small duration as this is habit forming drug and sometimes the withdrawal symptoms can be more depressing. The withdrawal from this medicine is a slow and gradual process rather than abrupt. Xanax works by slowing down the nervous system and hence relieves anxiety. The best way to get over anxiety and depression is to take a break from your regular schedule, go out, and take good sleep. This helps in clearing the mind and try consulting a specialist who can suggest you as how you can get over your problem.
As a parent of an estranged son, I have to say that I'm at a loss over why this is happening so much. The world is going to surely end up a VERY bitter place seeing this trend.
My son wanted a mother who would allow him to fail school, smoke pot and have sec with multiple girls in my basement (even caught him getting a blowj__) in the basement one time and I'm not allowed to mention to discuss that going on in my home. He was 16 at the time. In any case, he has now estranged himself from me and even takes full responsibility. He tells me via email, "I just wanted to do what I wanted." So he moved in with his wife beating, alcoholic father who will smoke spice and get drunk with him. How sad.
My boys were raised in a drug free, alcoholic free (no, not religious freaks) home. No abuse of any kind. They were both eagle scouts, A-B students, etc. Great family times, spent lots of time and we talked, talked, talked. They used to tell me I was the best Mom in the world. They were offered half college and they could live at home free to attend college. They both are angry that I wanted these things for them. Funny, some kids are angry their parents don't help them with college and estrange them for stuff like that. I don't get it. Anyway, my boys have since rejected it all and my oldest is now 19 and $10K in debt and has warrants. He has been homeless in the past year. My now 17 year old, is with dear old Dad. His hero now. So, I suppose I needed to serve him vanilla ice cream and made the mistake of serving chocolate. Too bad we are not give a rule book when they came out of the womb that explains what flavor to serve that child.
It's heartbreaking and I can't help but think this "entitlement" generation is so caught up in how they should be served exactly this way and that, they have forgotten that, they themselves, are wanting acceptance and forgiveness for being utterly human, individual, and yes, even flawed. I say, look in the mirror and ask yourselves how PERFECT you are to everyone in your life. I am just a Mom who loved and still loves two boys who reject me because they prefer reaching bottom. I wanted the best for them and tried with everything I knew to help them get it.
I don't have the answer and I've simply let go.
This thread has been dead for a while (with the recent exception) so I don't anticipate that anyone will read this. Until tonight, I hadn't considered looking online to find solace in this issue but here it is. I've been estranged from my parents for almost four months now by choice. I'm 36 years old, married, two kids. My parents didn't beat me (unless you called getting "whippings" with a belt until you were 12 a beating) in the typical sense. My dad was a silent alcoholic - no verbal or physical abuse, he just never talked, ever. Besides the fact that we had diametrically opposed views on life - he is a Republic, a racist, a military man, you get the point. My mom was the closest person to me and vice versa. But as I grew older, our relationship became toxic. I had to be her therapist and listen, for years, about how terrible my dad was, how crappy her life was, all the mistakes she made, all the regrets she had. Since I was a teenager, I've heard nonstop how they didn't want me to go to college (or pay for it, that's fine, I did it myself) because they thought I would look down on them and have suffered every year since I was 18 with one of their massive freak-outs. Every year for 15 years. Then when I was 28, I had sent my mom a dozen roses for her birthday. She called me and started screaming at me saying how inconsiderate I was, sending her a gift at the last minute, that she threw them in the trash. It was devastating to me. It seemed like they just wanted to beat the self worth from me the stronger I got. From that point forward (we didn't speak for a couple months) I decided I could no longer be my mom's therapist. It was making me an emotional wreck. I met my now husband at that time and, looking back, they were always resistant to him. Comments how i had my own life and was too busy for them. Especially after we got married. They didn't want to pay for the wedding because my husband had such a large family they didn't think it was fair. Fine. But it was always like this - them picking fights with everyone (if not myself). Then much more stuff. The details. The everyday details. The nagging, the comments, the insults. They didn't invite my husband and I over for Thanksgiving so I went to their house crying wanting to know why they didn't want to spend the holidays with us. She stood there stone cold. Then what finally ended it for me was when she called me at working screaming at me saying so many terrible things about me (basically complaining about watching my girls a couple times a week for daycare) that I told her she would never have to watch them again and hung up. That was four months ago. When you read it, you think, this seems stupid. It all was. But it was incidious. It was like a slow death. How they hurt me every day. When she started saying things about my first child (entering her terrible two's and exiting that sweet baby stage), red flags went up. I knew that she would be next on her attack list. I had suffered through it, my husband, his mother, our cousins, her sisters. They had managed to drive everyone away. I was the last one as the only child. In many respects, I don't care about myself, I care about my children. That's why I ended it. I told them that I wasn't going to continue playing these games. They demanded an apology. I demanded family counseling. They refused. So I'm done. In hurtful relationships, we all have our role. It's short sided to think you've done nothing wrong. You obviously did if someone left you. They've scarred me. I feel broken and I need to find a way to become whole for the sake of my girls. They don't deserve this angry rotten mess I am now. I've probably just successfully turned into my mother. I'd rather kill myself than put my children through what I've gone through.
I have been estranged from my father for 3 months, by his choice. I have thought about reconnecting and then I remember all the rude comments, the insistant and endless conversations about how I don't care about him (I do) or I have not supported him (I have) and how I don't love him (I do) and I thought...do I need to be treated like this? No. I do not. And so I have let this distance grow and grow. There are days when I feel guilty but not enough to wade back through that again. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
I can also relate to all these posts,
First of all I'd like to begin with saying leaving home and starting a new life is highly recommended by me. "If only I could do it again?" The first time I left home was at age 16. It was the best decision I have ever made with the help of my boyfriend, his family and other friends families who had taken me in. I still remember getting my first apartment at age 17 w/rmmates of course, but the relief of not having to worry about my house being watched by the police and the phone being tapped or being told to drop to the floor when visitors would stop by was well worth sharing an apartment with strangers. By age 19 I had developed into my own responsible person. My Mom had been estranged but my siblings still kept in contact with me. My H.S. Graduation is what brought my Mom and I back together and her house wasn't taken from her so I thought moving back home wld be perfectly fine. A NEW BEGINNING....What a failure my Mom was and I was dragged down with her.
Now at the age of 39 and with 2children, I wld suggest choose one road or the other. I shld have stayed on the road I had chosen. I had developed my own identity and was perfectly happy sharing holidays with friends and their friends and more. Moving back, looking back, mixing a toxic relationship is just pure venom and the worst decision I had ever made.
I am still searching for my Freedom from Recentment! A Mother who never apologizes, and moves on with life as if nothing ever happened is the worst life can bring my way.
It was such a relief to read these posts, to relate to others and most of all thankyou to the person who started this thread. Good Luck to all!
Mom and Dad,
Iï¿½ve tried to write to you countless times; letters, notes, cards and pages, explaining why, wishing you the best, suggesting conditions that would enable me to spend time with you, making accusations, chronological lists of events, thanking you.
Each time I write I imagine your responses in my mind: anger, pretend hurt, phony acceptance, threats, accusations, passive aggression, attacks, manipulation, bitterness, false promises, rage, danger, unreasonable crying, frustration, depression, alcohol fueled conversations about me, arguments, paranoia, blame, maybe leading to physical violence, avoidance, denial, irrational attempts to contact me or force me to come back, suicide.
And each time I write I end up hitting a wall, feeling again the impossible hopelessness of our relationship, and then I give up writing, discouraged and exhausted. And so maybe I need to be okay with this lifelong failure to reach you or establish a connection ï¿½ I need to be okay with giving up. I think itï¿½s the hardest solution of all but the only one that will stop the cycle.
God I accept the things I cannot change,
Help me to change the things I can,
and grant me the wisdom to know the difference.
Finally, I will imagine that you agree to give up too. Mostly that you give up on what was our family and go on with your lives. But I also would hope that you give up on everything for the rest of your lives including your pride and you keep giving up and letting go until you experience an agonizing personal death into nothingness, until all of your identities and shame and fear can dissolve, and you realize the innocent unknowable nature at the core of existence, and know a peace which underlies all things.
Thank you so much for this thread! It is hard to find someone who understands. It means a lot to come here and read this and know that other people have felt the same. It is painful. This estrangement is really the last thing that I ever saw myself doing or wanted in my life. Not having my parents is the thing I will always hurt.
Does anyone know of an email list or forum that deals with these issues ? I've been looking for one for a while but I can't find one.