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Adults estranged from parents

Posted by dave_co (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 1:34

Hello All,

We maxed out another forum, so I'm starting another one.

Peace,

Dave


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi everyone,

Dave, Rachel, I am glad you can come to terms somewhat with the fact your parents 'did the best they could'. I struggle with that concept. It infuriates me when they say those words to me. And was often followed up with 'you had a very good childhood compared to some children.'

And they have said that alot, every single time I try to discuss the past. I still feel it is a cop out on their part. I know people have limited capabilities, and my parents have shown that they do have limited ability to show empathy, be patient, and love. To me those are basic human traits. I guess if maybe they admitted that they struggled with these things? Or gave some indication that they admit to making mistakes? Some tiny form of regret - or at least acknowledgement of what was lacking, and that in the process it did hurt me. I think then I might be able to feel sorry for them. But perhaps this is something else they are simply unable to do. I don't know. They just seem to sit there and wallow, expecting me to always be the one to 'come around'. No more. I need to put more thought into this subject. I hope I can come to better terms with this issue myself someday.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

Sage, "I am glad you can come to terms somewhat with the fact your parents 'did the best they could'. I struggle with that concept." I think you've heard me say that I'm trying to get past my anger towards my parents. It seems that some part of me being angry at someone is that they might notice that I'm angry, and if they care about me, they might want to change whatever is making me angry. Staying angry seems like I'm still holding on to the idea that they might change. Being angry is still a thread of a relationship for me. I guess by accepting that my parents did their best (and that it was completely and totally unacceptable), that they honestly can't do anymore, that there is nothing left to hope for, that there is no chance that even if they wanted to, that they could figure out what to do better, then for some reason, thinking about them this way, tends to dispel my anger. Something clicked inside me that says being angry is just wasting my time and energy. They did their best, and they completely failed me. Nothing is going to change. It's time to move on. They are no longer even worthy of of my anger anymore.

This doesn't make what they did right. It does not in any way justify them or their actions. It doesn't let them off the hook. It doesn't make me want to overlook what they did, or give them another chance.

Having said this, I can imagine that I will still experience anger towards them. But when I do, if I remember what I wrote here, I'm guessing that I can start dispelling this anger. And if I continue to do this over time, perhaps this anger starts to fade away.

Anyway, I just wanted say a few things about this. I hope all is well.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Dave,

Thanks for adding to this topic. I understand, and do hope to get to that 'place' with my anger too. Sometimes, I feel it is gone, but other times I start thinking about things, and it creeps up and is quite powerful. I need to diffuse it somehow, at times it seems to consume me and I feel I am wallowing in it going over and over what happened. Not a way I want to live. Yes, it is a waste of time, and nothing positive will ever come from it. I put my anger aside, and carefully tried to contact them to try to begin to fix things. And they chose to not participate. My parents have shown that they do not care enough to talk. They are too lost within themselves. That should be reason enough to just let it go. I need to keep reminding myself of this too. The reality is that there is no shred of hope anymore that I will ever have a relationship with them - it is game over, forever.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Dave thanks for re-starting the forum thread. I forgot about starting a new thread and thought no one was posting.

I still have issues with anger. Maybe it will just come and go. Sadness is more of a pervasive theme and feeling for me. I recognize, acknowledge and have been in touch with that emotion. I think it more tolerated by others as being okay, and it is even accepted as being preferable to having anger. Sadness is not viewed as a negative emotion as is anger. Why is that? Truthfully that angers me too, because it just isn't a real or healthy way for me to function.

Dave earlier in the last thread I recall that you wrote that you used to have a lot of anger and that you were able to feel sadness and to cry about the loss that you experienced with your parents. Do you think that getting in touch with the sadness helped allow you to feel the loss more fully and this helped you to mourn? I think about this issue a lot, despite not writing about it sooner. Im aware of my sadness and have always been aware of that, but even expressions of anger, when Ive taken full responsibility for feeling angry have not been tolerated. It is just not acceptable to other people. Sometimes I think that this is because they confuse rage and the acting out of rage with anger, or maybe that their own feelings of anger are not acceptable to them, so they cannot accept these feelings in others. I mean Ive told people that Ive felt angry about situations and they respond by telling me not to feel that way, when I think it a perfectly normal, natural and acceptable emotion to feel given the circumstances. Women, especially respond that anger is a toxic emotion. I think that in general anger is far more tolerated in men and less so in women and sadness is more tolerated in women and less so in men. All these rigid rules about emotions are why some people get stuck and it isn't very helpful for allowing people to move forward.

I've been able to express some loss and sadness, but not anger and the healthy expression of anger has been stifled. It's hard to work completely through loss, when one feels that they cannot integrate their emotions, because they are experienced as unacceptable. It's hard to feel happy at all when my emotions are confined to such a narrow range of what is acceptable or not. I dont know if this is making sense or not.

Dave, I may not be expressing this in the right way, but I felt validated and emotionally supported in ways that I seldom have when you expressed to me that I had every right to feel angry. I have another male friend who has expressed very similar sentiments. My experience of women has been to feel invalidated, (Sage and my therapist being the exception). I feel a sense of gratitude towards you both for allowing me to express myself and for not telling me how I should feel about anything. Its allowed me a forum for exploring how I feel rather than feeling dismissed and silenced. Being allowed to talk about my anger is especially freeing, especially when you acknowledged that I have every reason to feel angry. I finally felt validated and heard, rather than invisible, as if someone was finally really getting how I've felt. Isnt part of moving forward or on also part of feeling emotionally integrated?


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Flower & Sage,

Sage, hope you are recovering and feeling better.

Flower, "Sadness is more of a pervasive theme and feeling for me. I recognize, acknowledge and have been in touch with that emotion. I think it more tolerated by others as being okay, and it is even accepted as being preferable to having anger. Sadness is not viewed as a negative emotion as is anger. Why is that?"

I agree with you that others are more accepting of sadness than they are of anger. It might just come down to our awareness that someone who is angry is more likely to do something bad to us, than someone who is just sad. I also agree with you that men are perhaps more comfortable dealing with someone who is angry than a woman might be. If men get angry with each other, or about something that happened, we can use sports and athletic activities as way of working out resentment and anger. This sounds simplistic, but it works. Knowing there is a way to manage anger this way, makes it less threatening and more workable, and makes is easier to accept it in others.

"Dave earlier in the last thread I recall that you wrote that you used to have a lot of anger and that you were able to feel sadness and to cry about the loss that you experienced with your parents. Do you think that getting in touch with the sadness helped allow you to feel the loss more fully and this helped you to mourn?"

Yes I do! The way I understand that this is helpful is that by mourning the fact I never had nurturing, caring parents I'm going back to and experiencing an appropriate emotion in response to a real loss in my life. The loss was real, the sadness was real, the mourning is a way to experience being real and moving forward. .

Not mourning seems to result in us getting emotionally stuck. If I never mourn this loss, I go through the rest of my life looking for the parents I never had in other relationships. This isn't real, this is living in my own fantasy world in the past. And of course this doesn't work, and isn't appropriate. And it certainly isn't fair to expect other people to fill this void created by my parents. Mourning this loss seems to be the only way to heal this wound, and to have healthy relationships in the present that aren't based on me trying to resolve something that happened 40 years ago with my parents.

Having said all this, I have found it very helpful to find sympathetic people I can talk to and who can understand what I've been through. You and Sage have been wonderful to talk to these last several months. While we all have to work though all this stuff ourselves, no one else can do it for us, it's nice to know someone else understands and can sympathize :-)

"Isnt part of moving forward or on also part of feeling emotionally integrated?" I certainly thing so. I think what is difficult about letting myself feel unpleasant emotions such as anger or sadness is the fear that if I let them out they will overwhelm me. My experience is that they won't.

I guess where I am with my anger, is that I'm aware of it and I'm willing to work with it. What bothers me about my anger now is that too often in seems that something in the present triggers some anger from the past. This seems inappropriate. I don't want to be getting angry at people I care about now, about something my parent's did to me long ago. This is why I'm looking for ways to diffuse (not deny, or suppress) my anger about what my parents did to me.

Anyway, thank you again for being there to discuss this. It helps me to put into words what is rattling around in my head. I hope all is well.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello to everyone reading,

I am on the mend, thanks for your concern! I am feeling much better.

I think the anger will always come and go. That is something for us to be aware of, and not beat ourselves up for those feelings. I don't think for myself, that it will ever go away. But I think I can learn to deal with it better. And I think it is OK to feel anger, and sadness - the trick is to not let it consume us and interfere with our own well being, and our current relationships. I struggle with that still.

I have decided to allow myself some time each week to think about my parents. I told my husband about this, and I have chosen Sunday AM. I need to put them out of my mind day to day, not that I won't think of them at other times, I know I will...but I need to try to curb the amount of time I think about them, because right now I just find myself ruminating, and mulling over what I 'should have' said so they would understand what I mean. I feel I become too preoccupied with them and what happened. It interferes with my life, and creates more resentment towards them. So I need to try to break free from that 'what if' cycle.

Yes, I think that sadness is more acceptable than anger to most people. I can see that. I guess because sadness is less intense and quieter in a way. Anger can be scary to people.

Flower, What you said makes sense, but you need to set your own parameters of what is right/wrong in regards to anger. It is freeing to have your feelings of anger validated, for someone to say that you have reasons to be angry. I know I have felt that, particularly when I saw a therapist, I felt like someone believed me.

Could the feelings of being invalidated by most women be related to our toxic relationships with our own mothers? I am not sure?

Flower said: "Isnt part of moving forward or on also part of feeling emotionally integrated?" I think it is. This forum has helped me alot. Thanks for being here and for all the support. It helps me get through this rough time, and I can see things getting better.

Dave said: "The loss was real, the sadness was real, the mourning is a way to experience being real and moving forward." True true. It takes alot of soul searching to work through this loss. I used to second guess myself all the time, bit I have come to some terms with what happened and know for sure that what I felt was real - it was not me over reacting, or being spoiled, unappreciative, sensitive or anything else. I was reacting to my environment, and to my 'parents', as any normal person would if they were put in my circumstance.

Dave said: "Not mourning seems to result in us getting emotionally stuck. If I never mourn this loss, I go through the rest of my life looking for the parents I never had in other relationships." Not mourning also results in avoidance, avoiding dealing with the emotions because they are too painful.

Good point about looking to 'fill the void'. I did this for quite awhile and I think I still do this. I have mentioned this before, I do feel a sense of family with my friends, and in-laws. But it is not family, I need to keep that in mind - it is a group of wonderful people who I care about, and they care about me. And I am lucky to have that. Family cannot be fabricated. I think everyone needs people to love, and to love them. To feel like they belong. But thinking that friends can fill this fantasy of what I think family is, will just set me up for disappointment. I have felt that disappointment before with people, in particular with women I have felt were 'mother figures' to me. Why can't I want to embrace what I have, and not attach any sort of labels to it!

It is so nice to relate to people who have been through similar experiences. And very helpful. It is so difficult to deal with this alone, as I did for many years, and is such a taboo subject, there are very few resources. I always felt I was the only one in the world who was going through this. And I would often turn the anger I felt onto myself, and blame myself for the problems, and feel I was not good enough. Well, I am good enough - and I always have been good enough.

I would like to talk more about releasing anger, if anyone has more thoughts on that.

Take care of yourselves! :)

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Sage, glad to see you back, and on the mend :-)

"the trick is to not let it consume us and interfere with our own well being, and our current relationships. I struggle with that still." I agree and I still struggle. I feel like my relationship with my parents has to some degree poisoned me. My job is to remove this poison from my life, without the poison harming others in my life for whom I care very deeply. Overall, this process is working reasonably well. But I'm still disappointed when I act negatively towards my wife or children and I realize it's my anger or resentment towards my parents that I am inappropriately directing at them. This is something that I still need to keep an eye on.

I like your plan to limit how much time you allow yourself to think about your parents. I've noticed I can spend too much time on this too. I think it is very healthy to limit this.

Anyway, I hope you continue to feel better!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Thanks Dave!! That self-awareness of how we are triggered by memories, and awareness of how we treat others as a result, is the key in starting to deal with the past. I think it is a crucial step in helping ourselves go forward. Don't beat yourself up Dave if you slip up (although I do understand the frustration, because I have caught myself doing the same thing). It is not easy. Realizing this connection is very humbling. You should be so proud that you have the bravery to make changes in yourself; despite all that you have been through! :) :)

I feel that 'poison' too. I know it has affected many aspects of my life, to different degrees. Again, just being aware of that helps so much. And knowing that we can 'detox' ourselves and find peace and happiness in our own individual ways. I am glad we are able to talk about this. Opening up and being real about it helps alot.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Sage, Thanks for the encouragement. I think I do tend to beat myself up a little bit over this. You are right, I need to focus on the fact that I'm dealing with this and making progress. And it does feel like going through some kind of detox program. I am glad we can talk about this too. Peace, Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

You are welcome Dave.:) It is all very overwhelming at times, I sure can relate to that. Deep breaths and small steps.

It is Easter and I did not receive the ritualistic card/parcel, which I am very relieved about. As I have said a million times previously...my mother uses the commercialism of every single 'holiday' throughout the year to send stuff as her way of keeping in touch and showing she cares - which to me is very meaningless considering the very minimal contact we have had over the years. Even during the times like right now, when we were completely estranged, the parcel would show up, but no phone call or letter or anything else indicating regret that we have lost contact, or any sign that she would like to be in contact with me - just a box of STUFF.

My mother's gesture of sending the gifts/cards has nothing to do with me, it had to do with her, a way of making herself feel better, making her feel she showed she cares and did her part as a mother (which in her mind is gifting). It is a twisted and very very shallow. I am glad it stopped, and I can only hope she is reflecting on her what seemed to be at times uncontrollable urges to go through the motions and do this.

An occasional gift that is heartfelt is lovely, I really do like to give to friends, and of course gifts are wonderful to receive from those you love! I am not unappreciative. But a stream of meaningless junk showing up in the mail from someone who rarely speaks to you, who does not listen to you, blatently disregards your feelings and calls you a liar right to your face - gifts from people like that are just plain offensive.

I had a thought regarding my brother and mother today. I am pretty sure that my mother justifies that she was a wonderful provider/mother because she ''produced and raised'' such a successful brilliant son (well, at least that is how she views him.) That is questionable considering his utter lack of morals and alcoholism that is obvious to everyone but her. He does have an impresseive career, but really, is that all that matters in life? Is that the single thing she judges people by? Perhaps that is why she put him on such a high pedestal his entire life, so that she could say to the world: "See, I raised this son who is perfect. I did nothing wrong to my daughter, she has no reason to be unhappy with me!" Once again, it just proves everything is all about her, all the time.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave & Sage,

I think part of the reason that others are more accepting of sadness and less anger has to do with them not being able to accept their own angry feelings. I also think it has to do with confusing anger with rage and even more important people who take their anger out on others. When I think of my parents behaving in angry ways it scared me, because I was often their target. The same is true of my sisters and my experience of others. It's rare to find people who take responsibility for their emotions, so even when they are confronted by someone who does take responsibility and someone who says I feel angry about this, they respond with telling someone that they shouldn't feel angry, or that anger is a toxic emotion. I feel that stifled anger is a lot more toxic than someone stating I feel angry about this situation due to....I think a lot of people just go on autopilot without really even thinking about their own responses.

Dave, I also agree with your observations that men may in general be more comfortable with dealing with someone who is angry. I think some of that is culture. But I have a serious problem with anger that is stifled and then comes out as passive aggressive anger. I think that is harder to cope and deal with than anger that is direct. I see a lot of passive-aggressive anger demonstrated more by women and less so by men. I'm not saying that this type of behavior isn't demonstrated by men either, but that I've encountered it more with my dealings with women. I think it toxic to deal with because it's more hidden and less obvious. I would agree though about the sports analogy.

Dave, I agree with you about sadness and mourning. How you feel about that is how I feel about anger. I've had a lot of experience with sadness, but not anger as that has been stifled and thwarted. I've turned to a man I know to help me with it (not my husband), because he doesn't judge and feels as you do that I've every right to feel angry. My experience of women is that they don't want to hear about it and react in non-supportive ways (except Sage & my therapist). I've flat out never experienced women, when I've turned to them as being either empathetic or helpful. I sometimes wonder if this is cultural, or if it does have to do with my sisters and mother as Sage expressed above. I don't know. I do know that I've tried with many women to bring up these topics and I get lack of understanding and lack of empathy as a typical response in return for my being honest (I do wait for the appropriate time and place too). Curiously, I've found the same type of lack of caring, understanding or empathy expressed by women (when it comes to sexual molestation, rape, etc.) than by men as well (except for Sage). I have a hard time understanding a lot of women's brutuality towards other women. I do know that it is very real. It is almost as if some women enjoy watching other women get victimized, brutalized and hurt and that is very sick and completely opposite of the myth of nurturing, caring women and motherhood.

I believe the more that I'm able to discuss my anger (in healthy ways) that it will help me to move on, but that has been very difficult for me--in finding the right people who are supportive of allowing me to vent or talk about my emotions in a way that is healthy for me to process it--sadness tolerated more, but anger, definitely not. I've been stuck because of this.

"I go through the rest of my life looking for the parents I never had in other relationships." Yes, I agree. I think most all people do this and they don't want to own up to the fact that they do. Habitual behaviors are hard to change, even if we desparately want too and so we have to commit ourselves to working on this. It's not an easy process, but I feel that I've moved forward.

I, too have found it very helpful to have finally found sympathetic people who I can talk too and who can understand, or to even tolerate the mere suggestion of it. I'm so thankful for that. I've felt far too lonely and alone in all of this. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've tried to find appropriate people, even anyone who could open their heart up. I find most people oblivious, emotionally numb and sadly lacking. I find myself able to open myself up more to you and Sage, because you both have done so with me. I find myself less willing to be open with others, because it just doesn't feel emotionally safe anymore.

"I think what is difficult about letting myself feel unpleasant emotions such as anger or sadness is the fear that if I let them out they will overwhelm me. My experience is that they won't."

At times I feel that way about anger. I can say that sadness, hopelessness and despair have overwhelmed me. I have sometimes felt swallowed whole, and these feelings are even greater when I think of my family, my in-laws, and even many of the people that my husband allowed into our life together. I feel the need to protect myself from them, especially my heart. I don't want to be a part of their hostile, rejecting, cold, cruel, miserable and lonely world. I feel as if they are all infected with some horrible infectious disease. I've been doing this for a long time though and at times, it still doesn't feel good. It still can hurt. I'm very imperfect with this, because connection and bonding is such a strong need--the feeling of wanting to belong.

Overwhelm is an interesting word choice to me, because it is the constant word I use to describe how I feel around my family and how I experience them. It is how I feel and experienced my husband's family and his choice of people in our lives. I sometimes feel this about other people in my life too. My therapist told me that is because I've been around a lot of people who constantly project onto me. She also said that the people who I've turned to for support have also projected onto me. It has left me feeling as if I've been some kind of receptacle for their toxic emotions--one that they refuse to own or accept about themselves. It is one of the reasons why I seek solace and aloneness instead of being with people.

I'm not certain where I'm at yet with my anger as I've been all about sadness. I want to work on it, but more than anything right now I just want to say that I feel angery and why I feel as I do. I mainly want other people to take responsibility for their lives, but I know that will never happen.

Thank you both for being so open and honest with me, and for allowing me to express how I feel. It helps me a great deal to talk about it, even more than once and to have a forum where I can explore these emotions. It helps me too to be able to discuss and to put into words what I'm feeling inside, let alone that anyone cares or is listening.

On our drive, my husband and I had an argument and I'm feeling pretty upset about it. Then to make matters worse we were minding our own business and out walking at the park and some angry, aggressive ahole imposed on us and was completely out of line. He started spewing verbal abuse when we were minding our own business involved in talking. The idiot hurled a lot of verbal hostility and then he tried to escalate it. I ended up calling and reporting the incident to the police. I think he could try to harass other innocent people as he's the type of bullying inappropriate aggressive moron to do that and they need to be aware of it. Rageful, spewing idiots like that try to provoke other people and it's been my experience that they will try to incite, escalate and provoke people any way that they can. (That is inappropriate anger that I think most people recognize and some people fear).


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Sage & Dave,

Sage, I'm glad that you are on the mend. I also want to say that I agree with you and also feel that the anger will come and go. When I hear you say it, I feel validated and heard for the first time (other than therapy). When I hear Dave say, that I have every reason to feel angry, I feel validated. I feel supported and that is freeing. The opposite is stifling, avoiding and suppressing, which I feel is far more toxic to me. I recognize that this has been a pattern in my life that I've tried to address and that is that other people in my life have been a constant and steady source of encouraging me to stifle and suppress my emotions (regardless of whether that is their intent or not). The common dominator for me has been other people (my parents, sisters, in-laws, husband & his associations) trying to fix me, telling me how I should feel, telling me what is wrong with how I feel or telling me that I shouldn't feel as I do--never connecting to what I am saying or feeling. They respond to my emotional pain with judgments, lack of empathy or awareness and understanding and then ridicule, dismiss, ostracize, invalidate, criticize, twist, distort and exaggerate and turn everything into all about them. That is no relationship. They don't listen and they can't hear me. Everything is all about them. Why waste sensitivity and kindness on people too stupid and self-absorbed to appreciate it or to respond with any measure of reciprocity. It's a waste of precious time and energy. I haven't the time to expend on fools.

I think it OK to feel anger. It's valid given the circumstances and more importantly it is one of many emotions that at least for me I believe can coexist with other emotions. I believe I can manage it. The only time I tend to get really angry is with people who stampede on my boundaries or who ignore them. I'm intolerant of any type of abusive behavior and have become even more so of imposing, controlling and manipulative behaviors as well. Bullying behaviors sets off uncontrollable rage in me, and that is something that I am aware of and I know that has a lot to do with my experiences and past. I am fully aware of that. I think it more than that as that is something that goes to the very core of survival.

I too struggle with a lot of feelings, but some of that I think has been imposed on me by others. I think that is why I enjoy being alone so much and away from people. I have felt more intense loneliness and aloness in the company of these negating, self-absorbed people than what I do being in my own company.

Sage said, "I used to second guess myself all the time, but I have come to some terms with what happened and know for sure that what I felt was real - it was not me over reacting, or being spoiled, unappreciative, sensitive or anything else. I was reacting to my environment, and to my 'parents', as any normal person would if they were put in my circumstance." This is very true for me as well. It was very hard to hold onto my own identity--my own reality when my family, in-laws and husband and his associations negate everything I say and try to dictate my reality.

Well, that is all for now...I hope you both are having a nice weekend.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Sage, I'm glad you didn't get any Easter correspondence. Neither did I. It was such a relief. Whew! Maybe they have gotten annoyed enough with me that they will leave me alone for a long time. A very long time.

Your idea about your brother is interesting. I could see your mom thinking she is pretty good, because of how she perceives your brother turning out so well. (You know better.) I know my parents are very concerned about how they are viewed by others. I'm guessing that for my parents what is difficult about this estrangement isn't the damage to the relationship with me, it's how this makes them look to other people. I think that's why they have come up with the bizarre idea that I'm mentally ill, or that I'm an "elder abuser". It is something that allows them to get sympathy from others without having to take any responsibility for what has happened. Very sad. All very sad.

Flower, "I believe the more that I'm able to discuss my anger (in healthy ways) that it will help me to move on, but that has been very difficult for me--in finding the right people who are supportive of allowing me to vent or talk about my emotions in a way that is healthy for me to process it--sadness tolerated more, but anger, definitely not. I've been stuck because of this." It sounds like you understand your situation and you are working on it. I'm glad you found this forum to express, and to have your feelings heard. Feel free to have as many angry rants as you need on here. I know in the past a lot of my depression was a result of me not being able to express how really pissed off I was about things.

I'm sorry to hear about your incident with the jerk in the park. It sounds like you handled it well. I think it was smart to call the police.

"The common denominator for me has been other people (my parents, sisters, in-laws, husband & his associations) trying to fix me, telling me how I should feel, telling me what is wrong with how I feel or telling me that I shouldn't feel as I do--never connecting to what I am saying or feeling." I really hope you can find a way to minimize or eliminate interactions with people like this. If I had to deal with people like this very often, I wouldn't be doing very well at all.

That's all for now. I need to go with my wife to to pre-op appointment with her surgeon. Her knee surgery is scheduled for this Thursday morning.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave, Flower, and everyone else reading...

Flower, I don't know why we care so much about what other people think of us. I am the same way, and it must stem from our lack of nurturing and lack of feeling that we belong growing up. It was damaging. To always wonder what you have to do to gain approval is not easy for a child. Especially when you keep trying and feel like you keep failing. That in itself really affected our identity. I feel I have made some progress over the years. A person has to let go of dwelling on what others think, because you can never know for sure what others think. And trying to do that will drive you crazy. It is OK for some people to not like you, to reject you, and is is also OK to embrace being alone. Solitude is not a bad thing. I need my solitude, some need more than others, and everyone needs to strike their own balance. Surround yourself with just a few good friends, genuine friends, and nurture yourself.

I find myself dwelling less on the negative, and more on what is good in my life. Purposely. I get stuck in the negatives, and it sucks me in, like a vortex. So I am not going there too often...!

Speaking of what other people think, has brought up some memories for me. I remember always wanting to do things to impress my parents. I couldn't wait to tell them when I had accomplished something. Perhaps this is something someone who is very insecure does? I remember being this way very very young, and into adulthood. Always looking for some attention as a kid, doing things to get attention, and I guess I kept looking for that same attention as an adult. Is some attention from your parents too much to ask? I was not needy, or wanting the spotlight on me all the time....far far far from it, quite the opposite actually. I was a little shy and rather withdrawn. Very hesitant in what I did or said. Did not try new things very often (but I do now!!). I see how I was a depressed kid. Full of worry, guilt and loneliness.

I went through a period when I was just finishing college where I really struggled with my own identity. At that time I was trying to act like my parents and I actually had a great realtionship, I told myself I was going to forget the past, only think ahead, going through all the 'right' motions with them. When they bragged about my brother, I stifled the emotions, just brushed those emotions aside and smiled. I was just about to be married, and we were purchasing our first house, I had a great job lined up, I bought extravegant gifts for them. Alot of big changes, alot of good things happening. I was in contact with my parents on the phone, with frequent visits - we were closer and saw eachother more frequently than probably any time in my whole life. Yet they were so obsessed by my brother, nobody could compare, or come even remotely close to his glory. I would be all excited to see them, then the talk about my brother would creep into the conversation more and more often, bringing me down, making my life seem worthless. Nobody is quite 'as good' as him. I see this very clearly right now. I used to break down after every phone call or visit with my parents. Cry for days, I felt empty and fake. But I rarely said anything about my feelings to them, when I did, it was disregarded and I was accused of being too dramatic, sensitive, etc etc etc.

I guess the positive side of the whole situation is that if I would not have 'gone there' and attempted the reconciliation (both with my parents, and brother), I would have never know if it was possible. I know now, for sure, it was, and still is, completely impossible. Why continue trying when you keep getting knocked down?

It is so warped. As I type this, it all seems so horribly shallow. With minimal effort from my parents, and my brother, things could have been different.

Dave, Thanks for the comments on my brother. I know he is rotton, and he knows it too. That gives me some peace of mind. It should be all the peace of mind I need to feel better, but I still hold that anger and resentment towards him. It still runs very deep.

Dave, you said that our parents are the ones rejecting us. We were not rejecting them. That really struck a chord with me, and I find myself thinking of that often. They don't want me. Maybe my mother was unresponsive to me in an effort to push me away. But I never allowed myself to be pushed away and kept trying to find some sort of relationship with her. Perhaps her goal was to just maintain that 'greeting card' type relationship, and nothing else deeper than that mattered to her at all. I think all our parents were very very concerned about how they appear to others. And perhaps that is why I was so sensitive to what others think of me as well, as mentioned above. That is what I saw in them as I grew up - a high value in what others thought, a low value in what my own personal thoughts and feelings were.

Just a few random thoughts once again....and there I go again with my 'what ifs' and 'maybes'. I know I said I was not going to do that anymore, but those thoughts are re-surfacing again.

Dave, Wishing your wife all the best with her surgery, glad you got in for the procedure so quickly so she can get this over and done with so she can heal.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Sage & Dave,

Sage, I'm not sure what you meant here, "Flower, I don't know why we care so much about what other people think of us."

To a certain degree I think it a very core and basic need that most people want to feel that they belong, hence they care about what some people may think. And yes, this starts in the family. Human beings are interdependent--they survived by building bonds with each other through families and later communities. History is full of horrible crimes committed against groups of people simply because of a collective mindset that devalues their lives for whatever reason--think of Hitler and the Jewish people and there are so many other examples of this. So in some ways I feel it very natural core survival stuff. What if someone in your community decided that anyone who wasn't a mother deserved to be mistreated or to die and what if they got a gang of people who felt the same way, and if that attitude spread. These attitudes start and multiply given the cultic nature of the herd. It's repetitious behavior throughout history.

Sage you said, "I am the same way, and it must stem from our lack of nurturing and lack of feeling that we belong growing up. It was damaging." I belonged in my family, however the chosen role (dictated by my parents and the family system) that I occupied was emotionally unhealthy and damaging to me. Yes, I believe my family was extremely poor in the emotional nurturing department and there was physical abuse as well. There is much about the family dynamic that I recognize as unhealthy and I do not want to perpetuate it in my own life.

I hit a brick wall when it comes to trying to relate to my family, unless it's about trivial, unimportant stuff and for me personally this has created a huge void. In addition to that their alienating behaviors provide little incentive for me to contact them, because I really don't get anything from the association. If they responded appropriately to my needs, in this case responding too and acknowledging or even recognizing that I have them, then I would probably desire more interaction with them. Does that make sense?

It doesn't matter how good of a communicator I am. They flat out cannot, for whatever reason, connect to my feelings. They cannot hear my emotional pain--this is something that my therapist observed as well as some other people. It is about them, their failure, not mine. I know this because I have found other people who can connect with my emotions (feelings) in a positive, healthy way. Good and effective communication centers around highly developed individual awareness and differentiation. A good communicator is aware of both internal processess in themselves and external processes in others.

The following paragraph was taken from a book about the family and I think it very insightful. Here goes:

"Thus our lives are shaped from the beginning by our parents. After birth our self-image comes from our primary caregiver's eyes. How I see and feel about myself is exactly what I see in my caregiver's eyes. How my mothering person feels about me in these earliest years is how I will feel about myself. If my parents are shame-based and dysfunctional, they will feel inadequate and needy. In such a state they cannot be there for me. They will need me to be there for them."

I think that very profound. I'm certain a lot of mothers would hear it as blame and that is a shame for they will miss an opportunity. He goes on to say, "Our reality is shaped from the beginning by a relationship, we are we, before we are I. Our "I-ness" comes from our "we-ness". Our individuality comes from the social context of our lives."

This is why what some people think (our parents, in-laws, etc.) matter and it is why we care, unless we are narcississtic sociopaths who use and exploit people.

Sage says, "To always wonder what you have to do to gain approval is not easy for a child. Especially when you keep trying and feel like you keep failing. That in itself really affected our identity." Yes, I agree that this type of parenting based on conditional love--love must be earned--was not nurturing and created a non-loving environment. There's a section in a book, entitled, "Why Can't You Get Your Parent's Approval?," and the first sentence says, "If approval is the drug,...., then parents--however unwittingly--are the pushers. I know we didn't hear that we were loved unconditionally by our parents. We were loved and valued only by what we do for them and how we pleased them and it created an emotional void for each of us. Love shouldn't be meted out on a conditional basis.

I hope this makes sense. That is all for now. Dave, I wish the best for your wife's surgery.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Flower, I agree, it is natural to want approval from others, to be accepted, and to want people to just 'like' you. At one time I cared what other people thought of me to the point where I felt I was somewhat obsessive about it. I cared too much about what everyone thought - it is stressful to be in that state all the time,and exhausting to always be trying to get approval. It is impossible to have everyone like you. I feel I am not that way anymore, at least not to that degree, but still struggle with it. I do believe it is linked to the struggle for approval from my parents, and the crushing hurt when you never get that approval. And the insecurity that develops as a result. We all crave the approval, that is human nature. I like the drug analogy.

When that nurturing is missing, I don't think they realize how damaging it is. And maybe that is related to a lack of empathy that seems to be so prevalent in these mothers-who-are-estranged. Or they just don't believe it and feel kids are resilient enough to 'get by' on their own with the bare necessities of life.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Thanks for all your support and concern regarding my wife's knee surgery! She had the surgery yesterday and everything went extremely well. She's at home resting and the prognosis is for a full recovery :-)

Sage, "I don't know why we care so much about what other people think of us. I am the same way, and it must stem from our lack of nurturing and lack of feeling that we belong growing up. It was damaging. To always wonder what you have to do to gain approval is not easy for a child. Especially when you keep trying and feel like you keep failing." This is all so painfully true.

Since I now really feel like my relationship with my parents is finally dead, I feel a real need to purge from my consciousness all the unhealthy thoughts and emotions I learned from them. This is not easy. I've been looking for books on this topic. One that I'm reading now is: "The Narcissistic Family - Diagnosis and Treatment", I found it on Amazon.(It's a bit pricey.)

Here is an excerpt describing children raised in narcissistic families:

"... a chronic need to please; an inability to identify feelings, wants, and needs; and a need for constant validation. They felt that the bad things that happened to them were well deserved, while the good things that happened were probably mistakes or accidents. They had difficultly being assertive, privately feeling a pervasive sense of rage that they feared might surface. Their interpersonal relationships were characterized by distrust and suspicion, interspersed with often disastrous episodes of total and injudicious trusting and self-disclosure. They were chronically dissatisfied, but were fearful of being perceived as whiners or complainers. Many could hold their anger in for long periods of time, then become explosive over insignificant matters. They had a sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction with their achievements; even if very successful."

All this from being raised in a family where, the author says, "...the needs of the parents took precedence over the needs of the children."

This all hit home for me. I've experienced this all to some degree, not nearly as bad now, as in the past, but I still have some of these issues to deal with.

"Dave, you said that our parents are the ones rejecting us. We were not rejecting them. That really struck a chord with me, and I find myself thinking of that often." I still think about this. All these years I've felt like the one causing the problems. But it was always them rejecting me. When I first had this thought it was like a slap in the face. Wow. How could I have missed this?

"Just a few random thoughts once again....and there I go again with my 'what ifs' and 'maybes'. I know I said I was not going to do that anymore, but those thoughts are re-surfacing again." You sound ashamed for bringing this up. Stop doing that! We all need to sort through these issues to move forward. Bring things up, as often as you need to. I know as a child, I could never, ever tell my side of the story. Now we get to do that. And it feels good, and healthy and refreshing.

Flower, "It doesn't matter how good of a communicator I am. They flat out cannot, for whatever reason, connect to my feelings. They cannot hear my emotional pain--this is something that my therapist observed as well as some other people. It is about them, their failure, not mine." Exactly! They failed us! It's not our fault! We did not fail them! We were born wonderful, loving, trusting, beautiful little children full of hope and potential; and they crushed us. They tried to kill our spirits. They brutally attacked us physically and emotionally. And now they have the gall to try to make us feel like we are at fault or somehow defective. Arrggg!!! As adults we can now protect ourselves, and heal ourselves. These were not options we had as children.

(Deep breath) On a calmer note, that's all for now. Thanks again for all your concern for my wife's surgery she's doing great. Take care.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone reading,

Dave, Glad your wife's surgery went well!! :)

I sure can relate to all you quoted from that book. Whew, it home for me. Once again! I am going to order the book myself and read it. I know my mother has NPD traits for sure. Actually, I am seeing she, and my father too, have alot of narcisstic traits. It is very eye opening. And explains alot, doesn't it? It helps to understand their issues. It helps me to understand why they do what they do. And that it is not my fault.

I feel that need to 'purge' too. I am being very mindful not to slip into depression. It is suffocating. Grieving, as we have discussed before, is part of it and necessary. And while allowing time to grieve, I don't want to become stuck. I am afraid of being stuck. I know it will take some time to work through all this.

Dave said: "All these years I've felt like the one causing the problems. But it was always them rejecting me. When I first had this thought it was like a slap in the face. Wow. How could I have missed this?" I feel the same way. I am glad you brought that up Dave. It is very true. I can see how they push me away. If they didn't want to push me away, they would listen and show some sign of trying to understand. They have had many many opportunities. I created the opportunities.

I do feel ashamed. I feel exposed here and my feelings are very raw. I won't apologize anymore. I feel stuck and very frustrated when I keep mulling over and over the same scenarios. I hope I can let it all go one day. It is nice to be heard and understood. Thanks so much for being here and for validating my feelings Dave, and for understanding this 'process' of letting it all out. (Rather, letting it out repeatedly!!). It has been very freeing for me.

I slept soundly last night. The anxiety I had over the incident with my mother sending my husband a generic birthday card has subsided. I have a profound sense of peace since deciding not to confront her about it. Anyone can see how bizzare it is for her to do something like that, considering the current situation! Why? I can only imagine her 'reasoning' for sending the card, I am sure she does it to make herself feel better. I have decided to just be quiet now, and carry on with my own life and heal. No more composing carefully worded letters that I mull over for hours, in hopes of getting her to understand, or show some sign that she cares. I am sick of it. She only twists my words and attacks, or does not respond at all. Attempts in the past have only resulted in more pain, anger and anxiety. Any other cards will be RTS.

I give up. Strangely, it feels good to say 'I give up.'. "Giving up" is sometimes viewed as failure or weakness. But I know it is not failure in this situation with my parents. It is the only way to help myself. That is very clear to me.

"As adults we can now protect ourselves, and heal ourselves. These were not options we had as children." Our parents can't hurt us anymore, unless we let them.

Take care of yourselves,

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Dave & Sage,

Dave, I'm glad that your wife is doing better and it all went well.

"Especially when you keep trying and feel like you keep failing. This is all so painfully true." I agree, and I have to keep reminding myself that it is all about them and how they failed, not me. I still struggle with this, and around people who behave like this as well, but I do believe that I've made some progress.

"Since I now really feel like my relationship with my parents is finally dead, I feel a real need to purge from my consciousness all the unhealthy thoughts and emotions I learned from them. This is not easy." Yes, I agree--it's very hard to break oneself from habitual learned patterns, even if one desires to do this. It takes a lot of work.

Dave says, "I've been looking for books on this topic. One that I'm reading now is: "The Narcissistic Family - Diagnosis and Treatment", I found it on Amazon." I recall seeing this book too, and thanks for posting this. I read some of the customer reviews and found it very helpful. I noticed that there were some other books listed that people bought as well and one was about manipulation and emotional blackmail by Susan Forward. I have that book and it is excellent.

Dave writes, "All this from being raised in a family where, the author says, "...the needs of the parents took precedence over the needs of the children." This is a theme of a lot of books about parenting and I agree. It always seems to be about the parents and their needs. It angers me reading about the part of being perceived as whiners and complainers--this happened in my family and I've found it a chronic ploy that narcissts use to quiet their victims. It's quite an effective strategy in silencing people, especially whenever one has a legitimate complaint and then of course, the result is that the issues are never resolved.

"Dave, you said that our parents are the ones rejecting us. We were not rejecting them. That really struck a chord with me, and I find myself thinking of that often." Yes, it struck a chord with me too--they've always made me out to feel like I'm the one causing all the problems. I see the same mindset with a lot of parents and others (my husband's friends/associations and family).

I, like Sage have spent a lot of time apologizing for just having feelings and desiring emotional support. Thanks for bringing this up too as I could relate that I too could never tell my side of the story as a child or teenager, and even as an adult. And yes, it does feel good and it is a very healthy and necessary step in moving forward. Thank you for repeating this.

Initially when I found the parents board I was seeking a forum to discuss these issues and was hopeful to find what I've found here with you both--more openness and a willingness to discuss these issues without judgement. I didn't find it there--they sounded too much like my own mother and locked into a particular mindset, but I'm glad I've found it here.

Sage, this really resonates for me too, "If they didn't want to push me away, they would listen and show some sign of trying to understand. They have had many many opportunities. I created the opportunities."

I feel exposed here too and my feelings are also very raw. "It is nice to be heard and understood." I agree. I feel validated and supported by the both of you and I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate it.

Hope you both are having a good weekend.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Just a comment on Tori Spelling's estrangement from her mother. By chance, I was channel surfing and happened to run across another interview with Candy Spelling! I saw just a portion of the interview with Candy, Tori's mother, on 'Larry King'.

This is not an exact quote, but her mother actually said something to the jist of: "...I believe it was Tori's fault that her father died sooner than he would have if she was in touch with the family". Candy said she was sure her husband would have "held on longer and not died" if it wasn't for Tori's choice to be estranged from them. She went on and on how her father asked her and her brother "every single time" they saw him whether they had heard from Tori yet. Guilt trip, or what!?!?! And on TV! How low can a person go?

The smug, emotionless look on her face as she spoke was disturbing. She had more vindictive comments, which were horrible and deliberate. Little jabs, dropping nasty little comments here and there about her, using the grandchildren, and commenting on how they gave her everything (always gave her money, she said: "Of course!!! - anything she wanted!"). I wonder if Tori ever felt loved, accepted and included though? Yet she gushing about how she 'loved' her daughter, and her grandchildren, in the very next sentence. Strongly insinuating that it is not her at all, it was Tori who didn't want to be in touch with her. Then acting like she has no idea whatsoever as to why she estranged herself from them. No idea at all. I tend to believe that there are reasons. There have to be reasons of some sort. She has to know at least a few of the reasons why her daughter resents her and chose to not be in contact with her.

They had a short clip from Tori with her saying her mother has her address, email, phone number etc. Yet, her mother claimed she has 'no idea' where they live or how to contact them. So, go figure?!

Does someone who really loves you say things like that? And how sick does one have to be to say it to the media? I believe this is a way of her mother forcing herself on Tori and her kids. I could see the sense of entitlement she feels she has.

Candy's 'tone', some of her comments, and the fact she just said them out without any emotion at all, reminded me so much of my own mother, that I had tears in my eyes for Tori. Due to the fact they are celebrities, and that there are grandchildren involved, makes their situation quite different than mine; but at the same time it is funny how I can relate to it so closely. I guess money, fame and celebrity do not really matter in these types of situations. The same traits seem to be very prevalent in the 'mothers' who do this. I feel very sad for Tori. I know what it is like to always defend yourself, to respond to those type of nasty comments, to 'untwist' events, and try to explain how events really played out. I just can't imagine the pressure of dealing with it publicly. Candy must know that once the media gets ahold of this 'story' it will be completely blown out of proportion. Go figure..another sneaky, underhanded way to 'get back' at her daughter I suppose and to attempt to make her feel guilty. Oh how I can relate.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Dave says, "It sounds like you understand your situation and you are working on it. I'm glad you found this forum to express, and to have your feelings heard. Feel free to have as many angry rants as you need on here. I know in the past a lot of my depression was a result of me not being able to express how really pissed off I was about things." Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this and for validating me as you have. It really helps. Having one's feelings heard is huge, especially coming from such a negating, dismissive family.

So far I have only met one other person who allows me to fully express my anger and who doesn't have an issue with this, and that happens to be a man as well (not my husband). He truly gets the hurt. Actually many of the comments that you've made and your observations sound like his and I've known him for about 10 years. Just you saying it is freeing as it is an accurate observation. I've always felt that my reactions are normal or at least valid given the set of circumstances and I know how I feel about it too. Why people are always trying to shut me up and silence me when I'm talking about my feelings is something I have difficulty with. I don't try to shut them up when they talk about their feelings. I don't label and judge their emotions. I do judge behaviors though as some are unacceptable and inappropriate.

My husband has serious issues with anger. He used to leave the room or walk out the door if an exchange ever escalated or became heated. What would set me off was his denial or avoidance of everything as I would end up feeling abandoned emotionally. He'd give me these hand signals when my voice would escalate due to frustration and I'm naturally soft-spoken and mild-mannered. I'm not a screamer or a yeller. People, especially women react to my voice, which I find totally bizzare and off the wall. But my husband would motion with his hands with this settle down stuff. I think it all about him and his reaction to his narcissistic mother as she was a rager. In contrast to her, I'm assertive, but not aggressive. My husband's anger got thwarted into this type of passive-aggressive behavior and so he is very comfortable reacting that way. My friend, conversley is more direct and confrontational with his anger, and he doesn't take it personally when I demonstrate anger.

I called the police after the incident with the bully in the park. Some day that idiot will mouth off to someone else and incite a much different reaction. I'm more controlled, but the episode left me feeling angered and agitated for 3 days. I spoke with my therapist about it as it flooded me with negative images, memories and feelings for about 4 days. I did everything that I could to settle down and to deal with it. My therapist did tell me that she felt that I was coping very well with it, given my personal history of violence perpetrated against me. I won't go into the details here, but it was difficult for me to cope with. He incited a core of rage that was immediate and swift. I reacted almost immediately, my husband took longer. I hate predators and bullies of any kind and I've had to deal with situations of men like that more than what I think my husband has had to deal with. He told me the next day that he had a nightmare and I remeber it too, because he was thrashing about and making noises. He joked the next day about our response, comparing us to a couple of pittbulls. Well, I think that is an exaggeration, but I know that is his learned way of coping. A woman acquaintance did make an analogy though that she thought I was the kitten that roared like a lion. That was an interesting observation.

The policeman who took my call also responded in an appropriate way and that helped. He told me that he didn't blame me for feeling that way or reacting as I did. So he wasn't dismissive at all. Ditto for the ranger that I spoke to as well. Had I been dismissed or invalidated once again, that would have set off another deeper core of rage. I've had that done to me all of my life and I now have a lot of issues because of it. I'm tired of arrogant aholes trying to tell me how I should feel or think about anything. How dare they--they should STFU! They just make the situation worse. Judgemental idiots abound everywhere, but I've gotten to where I respond swiftly to their assaults too.

Anyway, thank you for acknowledging that I handled the scumbag in the park well. This is the type of thing that if I were to tell my sisters or mother they would find a way to belittle me and try to make me feel deficient, or they would change the subject to all about them, or make some inappropriate generalization. They would not be emotionally supportive, but find it way to make it all about my fault or that I didn't react appropriately. The same thing is true for the sexual molestation--they make it out like I was at fault and being raped, etc., I was the pretty one etc., so therefore I guess I deserved to be raped and molested. That is so them. They are sick people. I guess it makes them feel really better about themselves to constantly put me down and find every opportunity to do so. And they can never understand my emotions, so what better way than to judge them as neubulous or too sensitive or whatever. They haven't a clue as to how to be emotionally supportive as it is always about them.

Anyway, thank you for your support here. I appreciate more than you'll ever know.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Flower, Thanks for the validation, it is so hard for me to explain my feelings. Hard to express them, define them, and also hard to put them into words clearly. I am so glad I have found some understanding here too. I feel everything is going to be OK.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Sage


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RE: same old stuff

Hello All,

This is a quote from a daughter about her mother and she wrote this on one of the parent's forum and some of it sounds familiar.

"Really, lying about my drinking and mental illness is lovely. Someone who lies about you, gives personal details about your life to strangers in their warped version, is NOT someone that loves you."
I will never reconcile myself to the hideous person who is my mother. I can't believe we are even related these days.

But thank you Gale. I feel you are probably a nice person that was brought along my Ms Imaginny's wild ride.

She hasn't seen me for 14 years, and she still just makes stuff up as it suits her at will. Pretend you are you, and you come up on a board to read her talking about your mother in law, who she made certain I knew she did not like. Or your husband who was trying to talk to her, and tell her how to reconcile as she called him behind my back. These were lovely people, who actually did love me. And this "person" can only break down people that she doesn't even know or cared to know.

I feel bad for everyone who reads this garbage, and believes her. Truly I do. The thing is, if I did reconcile with her, this is exactly what would continue to go on. If you read her blog, I gave her the opportunity AGAIN, and she said no again.

Gale, she doesn't want to reconcile. She wants to be the ultimate victim. I am through pointing people towards her own words by the way. People need to be able to figure this out for themselves.

Years, I have been waiting to see that she isn't spreading lies on her blog. I was hopeful when she stopped writing, only to find the same vileness here, only now I am a hillbilly drinking with my mental illness, and very likely unemployed husband LOL. Very loving person Imaginny is.

And yes, it is robin. I don't like to make it too easy for my mother to delete the truth"

Here is a link that might be useful: Research on Estrangement


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

I feel terrible for the daughter above, marymartin. Her mother going 'public' like that by creating a blog is over the top. It is a means of getting attention, sympathy, and a way of purposely hurting her daughter. Mean. And as she said above "...(her mother) wants to be the ultimate victim." People do put themselves in the victim role for their own self-serving purposes. It is easier than facing their own demons and issues, isn't it? I know my mother does that. She takes no responsibility for herself, or her actions. She writes everything off as 'the past', and then procedes to twist things to suit herself, and blame me. And then feels sorry for herself, like she is being rejected, like she is the victim. It is typical.

While I never post on any parents boards, I felt compelled to respond on the thread to marymartin, to try to help her,because I can relate to her anger. I will not continue to post there. The bickering is just too much, very upsetting. I used to visit the various parent's forums online now and again to try to understand my mother's side, to make sure I was not missing anything that might lead to reconciliation with my own mother - but all I found was anger and bitterness. I rarely visit the parent's forums now. It reminds me too much of my own mother, and how hopeless it is to try to have a relationship with her.

I hope marymartin finds our thread and maybe can find something one of us has written that will help her find a little peace for herself, and a way to cope. I know this thread has helped me immensely to cope with my own situation.

I don't think her mother will stop what she is doing; at least not while she is getting a reaction from her daughter. I can only imagine how infuriating that would be!! While I am very glad she did post and confront her mother about her lies publicly, for all her cyberfriends to see, and for her own peace of mind....eventually, in order for her to heal, I think she will have to ignore her mother's antics. All the best marymartin, if you are reading! :)

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Sage & Dave,

Well, I will not go back to the parent's forum for quite a long time. I didn't like seeing what transpired there. It got ugly and mean, and as usual my posts, no matter how diplomatic I try to be, get misinterpreted. I don't need that. It happened before as well, and that is why I stopped posting. I saw and responded to a post from a woman (estranged daughter) who was obviously hurting and angry and her posts sounded familiar. I think sometimes I'm open to reading the parent's forum because I want to gain an understanding of maybe how my own mother and sisters think, but really it ends up feeling pointless. It does remind one of how hopeless a situation it is trying to deal with people who behave that way.

If I could delete that post above I probably would. I feel that I made a mistake posting it and exposing you to it, or angry, retaliating mothers. What I saw when I went there was just another hurting daughter.

Anyway, you both are great here and I want you both to know how much I appreciate the emotional support and your willingness to discuss these painful issues. It's very helpful to me and also a blessing. I feel gratitude in more ways than I could possibly say. Thank you for being here and listening.

Sage, you are welcome. It is hard for me too to explain my feelings and hard to express and define them clearly. I know what you mean and can relate. Writing really helps.

Have a good day and good week and take care of your hearts.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

Sage, "I slept soundly last night. The anxiety I had over the incident with my mother sending my husband a generic birthday card has subsided. I have a profound sense of peace since deciding not to confront her about it." It's nice to have these episodes pass and to regain our peace. It sounds like you did the right thing by not writing.

Flower, "..it's very hard to break oneself from habitual learned patterns, even if one desires to do this. It takes a lot of work." Isn't this the truth. I've also found this work to be very disconcerting, because it requires me to look at a lot of my thoughts and beliefs, and ask why I have them, and do I want to keep them? The process itself can cause some anxiety about which of my feelings and thoughts I can trust. There is also a sense of discomfort in not being quite sure who I am becoming as I start discarding parts of me, even when I know I want to get rid of these parts. Anyway, I know this is the path I need to go down. It's just not that easy.

I had another "aha" moment reading, "The Narcissistic Family". For years I didn't want to deal with what happened to me as a child growing up with my parents for a long list of reasons: my parents were too old, it happened a long time ago, they had hard lives themselves, they didn't really know what they were doing, and probably a few more I can't think of right now. The author would say fine, all that may be true about your parents situation, but what was the truth of your situation? I grew up feeling unloved, unwanted, unappreciated, worthless, lonely, and afraid. My needs as a child were unmet. The author would say, "OK" nothing about my parents situation changes anything about the truth of my situation. And regardless of any of the details of their situation, I have to deal with the truth of my life. That's the way it works. I have to deal with the truth of my life. Not their life, but mine. Anyway, this perspective has brought a little more clarity and focus to my thinking on this topic.

The crazy moms you both mention above are are just appalling. I'm getting to the point where I don't want to waste anymore of my life thinking about my own mother, and wonder why she did what she did. I've done this so much, I feel like I've overdosed on these thoughts and thinking about them anymore is almost sickening to me. I think this is a positive development.

Anyway, thank you both being there and being able to hear me. It's nice to be able to have a place to go with all these thoughts and feelings rattling around in my brain. And thank you for sharing so many of your experiences. I don't feel so alone and weird.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave & Sage,

I've been mulling over your last post. I've been reading the customer editorial reviews--the book you mentioned above about Narcissistic Families and found this, which fully resonates for me.

"...I was also told that I "needed more attention" as a child, was a "difficult" teenager, and more recently that I have "emotional problems" (for daring to speak up about a glaring boundary issue). For years I even believed that I WAS a difficult kid until I started to remember my childhood. I remember....who was largely absent and almost totally unavailable emotionally."

This quote also fully resonates for me, "The answer is found in this book - that she lives in a dysfunctional family system that defines any small statement of independence as an act of disrespect."

Intolerance of individuation and independence is seen as an act of disloyalty and disrespect, and I would also add as selfish. This is so hard-hitting for me. I recall telling someone that I felt that I had to fight every day just for the right to be myself, to BE ME. Sadly, the person negated what I said and was feeling, as they didn't get it. But boy, oh boy was that ever hard-hitting for me, especially coming from a family that always tried to fix me, always sending the message that there was something wrong with me.

Here's another hard-hitting quote that resonates for me:

In the book, the author defines the narcissistic family system - the "parent system" takes precedence over the "child system". Children raised in these families grow up to believe that they are wrong to experience fear, anger, sadness and frustration because their feelings are never validated. Instead, they are made to feel guilt and shame if they express any needs that conflict with the needs of the parents or are simply inconvenient for the parents. Speaking of my own situation, I even feel guilty writing this down because even mentioning it seems like a betrayal!"

Oh, boy can I ever relate to that of never feeling validated or support, of feeling invisible and like an inconvenience. Wow, just wow. They treated me like just hearing about anything that created emotional pain for me and wasn't all about them was an inconvenience and burden--judging and dismissing me all the time as "too sensitive".

This is hard-hitting too:

"I have found out the hard way what happens if you threaten or disrupt the family myth. Not only do the parents punish you, but other family members are enlisted to keep you in line. Heaven help you if you stand up for yourself and decide to define yourself on your own terms. Heaven help you if you create reasonable boundaries to protect your husband and your children from their intrusive behavior, lies and abusive manipulations. In the narcissistic family open and respectful communication is never an option."

For me I was just trying to create reasonable boundaries for myself and my husband too. The above quote is applicable to my family, but even more so for his, my in-laws. That is to say that I experienced their issues as more aggressive and pervasive, because of how my husband didn't deal with them--the avoidance.

This is a great quote too, which fully resonates for me as well:

"The authors of this book describe so many important aspects of this family dynamic. The case examples are an integral part of understanding how the family myth is enforced and how compliance is ensured. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has been made to feel selfish, disrespectful, ungrateful, or "emotionally unstable" in their family. These should be red flags to you that there is something wrong with the "perfect" picture. Another great book that I would like to recommend is "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward - which explains in detail the tools that the narcissistic family members use to manipulate and control."

I want to add that I have read and re-read the book, "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward and agree with what she stated above. It is an excellent book.

Thanks for bringing up this topic again. I'm also mulling over what you said above.

Yes, I agree it helps to go with our thoughts and feelings. We all need a place to discuss these issues. I'm glad you are both so open and willing to be here to discuss them.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

On the topic of narcissism, I ran across these sites which I thought I would share with you both in case you are interested. This was from a segment on the Today Show.

In their new book, "The Narcissism Epidemic," psychologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell explore the rise of narcissism in American culture and explain how this can lead to aggression, materialism and shallow values.

Here is a link that might be useful: Narcissism Epidemic


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RE: Selfish Parents

Hello All,

I guess I have to input 3 different messages to provide links to these sites, so here goes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Living in the Age of Entitlement


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RE: Self-absorbed People

Hello All,

Here's the last link to the author's blog. I believe that narcissism has been around for a long time and in all age groups, but it sounds like it has become a greater problem and even more prevalent in our culture. I'm not surprised by these findings. I've actually thought about this for quite some time. I've always felt that I've been constantly surrounded by selfish, inconsiderate people. Doesn't matter if they are church goers or not. I've experienced my in-laws, sister-in-law and view many of the people who I've encountered privately and professionally as self-absorbed. Outwardly many of these people seem confident and charming, but as you get to know them they are not very likeable, except to outsiders who may have very superficial knowledge of them and are under their spell. I see some of these traits in my parents as well, although I think there are other issues there too.

I've read a lot of books that discuss narcissism and the problems it creates in relationships. These books don't have the title narcissism in them, but they contain a lot of information about these character traits and all the problems associated with them--like the inability to empathize with others and "Emotional Unavailability" (another excellent book that I've read). There are also distinctions between everyday narcissists that can sometimes connect, as opposed to people who exhibit more severe forms of these character traits.

Anyway, since we've all been discussing narcissism, I thought I would send you these links.

Here is a link that might be useful: Narcissismblog


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Flower, Don't be sorry for posting the link. You were just trying to help, and I understand that. It is interesting to see the trends in behaviour there, sadly, a painful reminder of my own mother and why things are the way they are today. I go there very infrequently. Rarely.

Dave, Thanks for the support and sharing excerpts from that book. I look forward to reading it myself, I sure can relate to what you have shared from it.

Yes, I still feel I made the right choice in not writing my mother yet again. My mother did not respond to my letter I sent her in Jan...I still can't grasp how anyone could just choose to not respond to a letter of that nature? So why should I keep writing her to explain my feelings? Why? I see no reason why, because it will not change anything. The only bit of satisfaction I have is that at least I tried, for years, to have a relationship with her. She did not try, or even once show any sign that she cared. I have thought about this alot, discussed it with my husband, gone over and over it (too much). I can't think of one time she really showed she cared. Sorry, but sending a generic hallmark card doesn't count in my opinion. She just puts her head in the sand and carries on like nothing at all happened. And I played along with that for years and years. Which points to one conclusion - she does not want a relationship with me. I truly do think she would like the facade of a relationship - a yearly visit, sending greeting cards back and forth, pretending - that is not what I want or need. And what I need matters too. I needed some validation from her, to feel like she cared. I don't think it will ever happen, she can't get past her 'self' and her own issues I guess, and refuses to even try. It hurts to write that.

Self reflection that is required to break the patterns of behaviour that were so deeply ingrained in us by our parents is difficult. It does make a person struggle with identity issues, I sure can relate to that. It takes time, we need to be patient with ourselves.

Dave said, from the book: ".....I grew up feeling unloved, unwanted, unappreciated, worthless, lonely, and afraid. My needs as a child were unmet. The author would say, "OK" nothing about my parents situation changes anything about the truth of my situation. And regardless of any of the details of their situation, I have to deal with the truth of my life. That's the way it works. I have to deal with the truth of my life. Not their life, but mine." I really can relate to this concept. I am trying to let go of the details of 'what happened', all the reasons for my estrangement, and help myself now. I feel I wallow in the details of the events that led to this, wallow in the ways I have tried and tried to explain my feelings to my parents without any positive response or empathy from them. It has to stop. By me doing that, it will not help the current situation. I also have to remind myself that it is important that I help myself now, it is not self absorption to do this, although at times I feel self-absorbed when I get lost in mulling over all my feelings. I am helping myself so I can be happy, I deserve to be happy, and helping myself with prevent me from harming those around me due to the projection of my hurt from the past on them.

Dave said: "I feel like I've overdosed on these thoughts and thinking about them anymore is almost sickening to me." I can relate indeed. I agree it is positive development to reach a breaking point with this and stop thinking about them so much. I am working on moving in that direction myself and feel I have made some progress with that too.

Flower said, in regards to the NPD Family book: "...the "parent system" takes precedence over the "child system". Children raised in these families grow up to believe that they are wrong to experience fear, anger, sadness and frustration because their feelings are never validated. Instead, they are made to feel guilt and shame if they express any needs that conflict with the needs of the parents or are simply inconvenient for the parents. Speaking of my own situation, I even feel guilty writing this down because even mentioning it seems like a betrayal!" Exactly! Then to be judged on top of that, by being called too sensitive, over reacting, dramatic. That just rubs salt in the wound. I hold deep resentment over this. I can also relate to the guilt.

"I have found out the hard way what happens if you threaten or disrupt the family myth. Not only do the parents punish you, but other family members are enlisted to keep you in line....". So true.

I never used to think my parents were were all that

I always used to think Narcissism was loud, harsh, beligerent. Not so. It can also be very subtle. The more I think about my situation, how I grew up, and our relationship then and lack of relationship now - I see Narcissism in her very clearly. I can also see it a little in my father, although I never knew my father all that well. He tends to allow my mother to deal with everything, and he is very submissive to her. They both have always had very shallow values, which disturbed me.

The very best thing we can do for ourselves, and for everyone we love, is to strive to NOT be like them. I am feeling pretty good this week. I going to leave these thoughts and emotions for now, put them out of my thoughts for now and put energy towards other things.

Thanks for being here and listening to me.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parentss

Oops, excuse my type, a half thought...I think I started saying "I never used to think my parents were all that Narcissistic...but now I see the traits in them."

lol

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parentsss

OK, I give up. Mispelling 'typo' - there is something very wrong about that!! ;) lol


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

Flower, thanks for all the quotes about narcissistic families. It's pretty clear our parents were self-absorbed, ignored our most basic needs for love and affirmation, and when this didn't work for us, they told us we were defective. They did this to us, young, innocent, defenseless children who had no way of understanding what was happening to us. Can you imagine a more spineless, cowardly, and cruel thing to do to a young child who can't fight back and wants nothing more than love and approval from their parents? I think as children we were all brave, heroic, resourceful, clever and incredibly tough to survive all this, and not turn into them. We were amazing children.

Thanks for all the links too! It looks like narcissism is on the rise. Uggh.

Sage, "Which points to one conclusion - she does not want a relationship with me. I truly do think she would like the facade of a relationship - a yearly visit, sending greeting cards back and forth, pretending - that is not what I want or need. And what I need matters too. I needed some validation from her, to feel like she cared. I don't think it will ever happen, she can't get past her 'self' and her own issues I guess, and refuses to even try. It hurts to write that." This seems to sum it up for me too. The only relationship available with our parents is completely on their terms, which includes a complete and total denial of our feelings and thoughts. It's always been this way. No reason to think it will ever change. No thanks.

"Self reflection that is required to break the patterns of behaviour that were so deeply ingrained in us by our parents is difficult. It does make a person struggle with identity issues, I sure can relate to that. It takes time, we need to be patient with ourselves." Thanks for the support and understanding on this point. It's easy for me to get angry and indignant with my parents. I feel energized and strong. However, this is not a state of mind I intend to go around with the rest of my life. Now that the relationship is dead, for me it really is kind of like "beating a dead horse" to continue to get angry and rant about what they did. Now I'm left with the "damage" done by them to me, and trying to get myself healthy. This can be the "icky" part of this whole process. This is not unfamiliar territory for me, so I know I'll get through it. But while I'm still in the middle of it, it's uncomfortable and unsettling.

"I also have to remind myself that it is important that I help myself now, it is not self absorption to do this, although at times I feel self-absorbed when I get lost in mulling over all my feelings." Well put. This describes a lot of what is going on with me right now. I find this to be a balancing act. It seems I could spend most of my time sorting through all these issues, and I don't think that would be in my best interest. However, ignoring these issues and keeping myself busy with other things doesn't work either. I'm looking for a healthy balance.

"I am helping myself so I can be happy, I deserve to be happy, and helping myself with prevent me from harming those around me due to the projection of my hurt from the past on them." I agree! I feel just awful when I realize I've hurt others because of my unresolved issues from my past. Unfortunately, this still happens to me. It just kills me to catch myself repeating some of the hurtful behavior I learned from my parents. It's humbling. And it's motivation to get past these things, and get healthier.

"The very best thing we can do for ourselves, and for everyone we love, is to strive to NOT be like them." Yes!!

Thank you both for all the appreciation you express. I'm glad I can help by being here. This is just so helpful for me to be able to express myself on these topics and to get so much support and understanding. You guys are my heroes!

"Oops,excuse my type.." Are you trying to subconsciously apologize for being yourself? I hope not! ;-)

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Dave, you are the best! :)

LOL I thought that too after I realized my error; a real Freudian slip isn't it?! And you know, 'my type' - the overly sensitive, over reacting, unappreciative, parent-disrespecting, spoiled rotton, mentally ill type! Oh, and let's not forget the type that is also too long winded and repetitive! I needed a good laugh, that is just too funny!

I was just looking around online to order that book you are reading Dave, whew, is it EVER expensive! Sounds like it is worth it though. Just popped back in here to double check that I had the right title. I see a copy for $28, used, so am going to grab that one. Considering therapy is $130+/hr in our area, it is relatively cheap in the big picture of things!

I agree about the balancing act. I tend to spend too much time on this; reading endlessly and searching for answers. I do feel I get 'caught up' in the emotions. Not healthy at all. But spending 'some' time dealing with it, feeling the loss, and the other emotions, is healthy, and is necessary to heal. I am making a conscience effort to limit the time I spend thinking about them.

I am so glad that we have it in us to help ourselves and make our own lives better. I am very thankful for that today. Have a great day everyone...

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave & Sage,

Dave, the book is quite pricey. I'm certain it is worth it, but I'll probably hold off on purchasing it for awhile. Maybe the library will have the book. I have a lot of other books that discuss narcissism, which I've found very helpful. I stopped bothering with the why's of people's behavior quite some time ago. I found it useless as a coping mechanism and focus. What's the point really. It may provide insight into someone's behaviors, but usually it is given as a type of excuse and reasons are not excuses. Besides usually when I tried to find someone to have a meaningful discussions with about problematic behaviors, people would always respond with the whys and I found that it wasn't helpful. Then the discussions would turn into intent as well, which was also not helpful. Seems to me a lot of enabling behaviors focus on reasons why and intent, rather than reality, consequence and problem-solving.

I found the book on manipulation which I've mentioned earlier very helpful to me, as narcissists tend to be very manipulative people. Here's a quote from the book that I find helpful and I think is applicable to both of your parent's and the reasons why when you confront them with their behaviors they turn and twist it around as they do. Here goes:

"Aggressive personalities are always looking for an excuse to go to war. So, they will construe any sort of hostility as an "attack" and feel justified in launching an offensive. Besides, attacking their character "invites" them to use their favorite offensive tactics such as denial, selective inattention or blaming others."

I doubt that either one of you views your letters or emails as hostile, but I think your parents do. I think they view it as attacks on their character and so that is why they retaliate as they do.

The narcissists that I've had to deal with are extremely manipulative people, so that is why I purchased the book and found it useful for me. Here's another gem, which I think maybe both of you could relate to:

"People who are frequently victimized by manipulators tend to be too confused, frustrated and depressed to think clearly or act rationally."

The depressed and frustrated part is what stands out to me. Noone likes to think of themselves as not thinking clearly or rationally. I've certainly felt confused, frustrated and depressed and I think at times this has also resulted in muddled thinking and irrationally, when it comes with how to deal with these types of people. It's like an emotional fog. I do not feel that way now, especially since I've limited a lot of contact with my family and other people who create chaos and unhappiness with their destructive behaviors. My husband has been critical in this as he has been a huge part of the problem allowing people like this into our life together and not cooperating with me to problem-solve. My problem has also been lack of finding people to discuss these issues with who could empathize or even offer understanding and one does need to vent.

My husband and his family are so socially charming that it is nut-inducing to listen to people refer to them as being so "nice", when their interpersonal behavior is anything, but nice. That is not how I experience any of them--only when they get their way, but that is always at the expense of the other person (me). They are very good at manipulating other people's opinion of them socially. Not too long ago someone made that comment to me about my husband, and hearing it reminded me of the irritating sound of someone dragging their nails across a chalkboard. It's nauseating to have to hear that when your experience of the person is very different. They are not NICE. They are a lot of things, but nice is not what I would use to describe their behaviors--far, far from it. I didn't bother to tell him, because it is too much of a drug for him. He's like a junkie and I don't feel like being an enabler. I'd probably feel different if he was more aware of my feelings and behaved in an emotionally supportive and appropriate way, instead of everything always being about him or them. This is the only place I've been able to talk about my frustration, other than therapy. I find other people very limited. I have a few friends, but they are focused on their own lives.

Here's another quote which I found from the book, which I feel was applicable:

"Generally speaking, people who've suffered a great deal at the hands of a covertly aggressive person are emotionally drained and have a lot of anger toward their manipulator."

All those quotes that I previously posted about narcissism stood out to me as very relevant to my experience. I've got off on a tanget here, but I was going to respond more fully to your posts. Anyway, that is all for now.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone,

I have questions, but am coming to terms with the fact I will never have answers to most of them. Why is it so hard for them to talk about anything personal? Why do they treat me like I am just some person in the line up at the grocery store who they have idle chit chat with and nothing more? Why do they get so aggressive when I have brought up any personal, emotional, topics to them, regarding the past? Why could they not just give me the benefit of the doubt, and listened to me, even just simply acknowledged that they were involved in events that hurt me deeply, even if they did not believe me or did not find any fault in what they did themselves? Why do they so quickly label me as too sensitive, unstable, dramatic?

I still find these same questions popping into my head, but I view them differently now. They do not hurt me so deeply and do not cause me to question and examine what I have done to deserve this treatment. Reading about Narcissism and NPD helps me understand who they are as people, and why they act and react to me. I see how the situation has very little to do with me, it is all about them. I can see that in the majority of the questions that keep running through my head. They clearly reflect the fact that they are narcissistic and self centred people - and there is a strong possibility that my mother has NPD. This is something I can never be 100% sure of, but nonetheless, she exhibits many of the traits. Seeing how all the questions I have about the situation revolve around them, their feelings, their inability to address emotions - this has been a major breakthrough for me in helping me cope and heal.

I don't think of it as coming up with excuses for them, there is no excuse for what my parents did - they could have helped themselves, or found help for themselves. It was not that long ago, they had resources available to them at that time (1970's) and they were available where we lived, I am positive of that. OR they could have chose to at least show some sort of attempt at trying to mend our relationship in recent years, like this past January when I sent them the letter. I know my mother got the letter, because she sent a short, cutting response back, saying 'she would like to respond, but has other priorities to deal with first.' This is all so blatently indicitive of the fact they don't want a relationship with me, that it almost makes me laugh that I could not see it as such!!!! Still no response from her - even though she said she had intentions of responding to my letter - could her message to me be made any clearer!? And to mention 'other priorities', what kind of a slap in the face is that anyways?

I have always had these deep feelings of rejection and not belonging when I was a kid. I always associated the feelings of rejection mainly with my childhood for some reason. This rejection continued into my adulthood. They only stopped rejecting me when I chose to stop trying to gain their acceptance...which was very recently. They are not rejecting me anymore, because I am not setting myself up to be rejected.

"Aggressive personalities are always looking for an excuse to go to war. So, they will construe any sort of hostility as an "attack" and feel justified in launching an offensive. Besides, attacking their character "invites" them to use their favorite offensive tactics such as denial, selective inattention or blaming others."

My mother twists things in order to make me look like I am being hostile, and unstable. I am sure if she read this forum she would view it all as hostility towards her. When I was in contact with my mother I chose my words very carefully (no like here, where I do tend to rant). It amazes me the 'spin' she has put on different situations that have happened. Yet she holds no accountablility for her own actions whatsoever. I have never once heard my mother say 'I am sorry'. Not once. I wonder if she has a conscience?

I only try for so long with people, and then I choose to NOT deal with people who are toxic to me. With my parents, I tried for many years. I did not just decide to lose contact with them on a whim, I tried and tried and tried to establish a relationship. And subjected myself to alot of hurt, rejection and anger in the process, and it interfered with my own well-being. I used to feel an obligation to try, an obligation to maintain at least the minimal contact with them, and a strong drive to 'fix things'. In hindsight, this very well may have been driven by societal expectations. It seemed everyone I knew had a 'family' except me. To me that means: warmth, closeness, someone I could trust, who would be there for me, and I'd be there for them, no matter what. Perhaps this was a bit of a "pipe dream" I had at that time, and not very realistic. I never had a feeling of 'family' as a child, so why would I expect to be able to make that happen as an adult? I guess it is something everyone has a primal yearning and need for.

Flower, Put your energy towards those who do care. Even if it is only one person whom you can trust. Did you ever consider leaving your husband since he, his friends, and his family are that traumatizing to you? Just seems like it has been going on for a very long time, without much resolve. I don't mean to offend you, and don't feel obligated to answer that. Just a thought I had. I say that because I know the frustration of dealing with hurt from day to day when no matter what you say or do nothing ever seems to get better. I know this from my experience with my parents. There comes a time when being apart is better.

Mother's Day is approaching, any thoughts? I am feeling some anxiety associated with it, already, but am keeping my emotions in check and know I will get through it. How are you feeling about it?

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Sage, I've had those questions too, and sometimes still do. In searching for those answers, I don't feel it was too provide reasons as excuses. My previous comment was more about recognizing that in my attempts to talk with others, such as trying to talk to my mother about the difficulties that I was experiencing with my sisters' alienating and destructive behaviors, (not anyone in this forum) her responses always tended to focus on providing reasons as excuses, or to tell me that they didn't mean to hurt me. In my personal experience I've found a lot of people tend to do the same thing. Most of those people though haven't had much in the way of therapy, if at all and don't seem open to problem-solving. I desired action and change and sometimes one can get stuck in reasons.

Sometimes reading about behaviors is helpful and it provides a lot of insight as to motivations and choices, but it doesn't stop their behaviors. My mother's focus on that they didn't mean or intend to hurt me, didn't help solve the problem. I noticed that my husband's family focuses on the same thing--that they didn't "intend" to hurt anyone. That is not taking responsibility and is a far cry from acknowledging that they did hurt someone and apologizing for it, or taking steps to mend the relationships. This is something that they don't do. Why? I don't know. They must have a lot invested in maintaining the position that they didn't do anything wrong. It must mean far more to them than the actual relationship that they have, if one could call it that. And I really can't understand that at all and I doubt that I will ever really know why.

I guess I could really relate to what Dave said when he made the comment, "I'm getting to the point where I don't want to waste anymore of my life thinking about my own mother, and wonder why she did what she did. I've done this so much, I feel like I've overdosed on these thoughts and thinking about them anymore is almost sickening to me. I think this is a positive development."

I overdoesed on those thoughts too. Moving from why they do the things they did and still continue to do, to taking care of myself and protecting myself is more important and a positive step for me to take. That doesn't mean that I will not struggle with it from time to time, or with different people in my life either.

I spoke with my therapist about narcissism, and although my mother has some characteristics of NPD, I don't think that is her main issue and neither does my therapist. She thinks it is a problem that my sisters have. I also think it was a problem for my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and father-in-law. I even believe that my husband has those characteristics as well, but it is not as pronounced.

As far as Mother's Day goes. I will find a card and send a brief letter. I don't take much time to find a card--something more generic and I wrote a no-information type of note. I've been doing this for awhile now. It is just a way for me to let her know that I care, and to meet my obligation, but keep her at a distance as well. It is the only way I know how to handle the situation for the time being.

Sage, yes, I've thought of separation. My focus has been on my health issues first and foremost. That's the most important focus now. I'd like to feel better, and then tackle some of the other issues. It does feel good to have a place to let it out though and to vent and that is very helpful to me. Yes, it has taken an emotional toll on me as well and I address all of these issues in therapy. My focus has been on trying to mend the relationship and to improve it, but that needs to be a two-way street and yes, it does get frustrating.

That's all for now.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Flower, "I doubt that either one of you views your letters or emails as hostile, but I think your parents do. I think they view it as attacks on their character and so that is why they retaliate as they do." I'm sure they do, because they can only see things from their perspective.

Sage, "Seeing how all the questions I have about the situation revolve around them, their feelings, their inability to address emotions - this has been a major breakthrough for me in helping me cope and heal." This is good. They trained us as children to disregard ourselves and think about them. I think it's time we quit wondering what is going on with them, and pay more attention to the damage they have done to us, and to get ourselves healthy.

"Mother's Day is approaching, any thoughts?" Yes, I don't have a mother anymore. Actually, it's a stretch to say that I ever did. The truth is I've never had a real mother.

So I've been reading the, "The Narcissistic Family". The author describes a recovery process for adult children of narcissistic parents as follows:

1. Revisiting

This is coming to truly understand what happened to us as children.

2. Mourning the Loss of the Fantasy

Pretty self explanatory. This is allowing ourselves to mourn the loss of a family we desperately wanted but never had.

3. Recognition

This is gaining a full understanding of what effects our family had on us. This is looking at our personality traits, and understanding how our childhoods shaped us.

4. Evaluation

This is assessing what personality traits, we want to keep, and which ones are no longer functional and need to be changed.

5. Responsibility for Change.

This is working on changing those personality traits that may have been functional in childhood, and indeed facilitated our survival, but are now dysfunctional and getting in our way.

This seems like a reasonable way to look at this. I have work to do on all of these areas. I've done the most work on 1 & 2. I have a lot to do on 3, 4 & 5.

Reading this book has also inspired me to start keeping a journal again. I find this very helpful when I'm sorting though issues like this.

Flower, I too have wondered why you are still with your husband. It sounds like he and his family are huge emotional drain on you. It sound like you don't want to deal with this, while you are dealing with your health issues. I hope it's not your husband and his family that are negatively affecting your health.

Anyway, I hope you both are doing well. Sorting through all this is difficult. Thank you for being there!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Flower, I understand your point, thanks for clarifying. We are all at different stages. I get frustrated spending my time thinking about them - but at the same time I know that I need to examine my past, and come to some form of understanding of my parents, in order to help myself. As I have said, I limit the time I spend thinking about the whole situation as best I can. And it is working for me to be mindful of this. To pull myself out of the 'ruminating mode' that I tend to slip into is a challenge for me, I know it is not healthy. I feel I have made some progress with that.

I do believe that this is a process. It does not need to be a process that interferes with my current life, or one that sends me into depression though. I refuse to let that happen. And well, it is up to me whether I let them consume me or not. Not them.

Hi there Dave, Thanks for sharing the excerpts from that book!! I look forward to reading this book myself. I ordered it and it should arrive next week sometime. From what you have posted, it hits home for me very closely; and that scares me a little. The whole narcissistic concept is relatively new to me, I want to learn more about it.

1. Revisiting - I have done alot of this over the past 6 months. Alot.

2. Mourning the Loss of the Fantasy - Yes. The fantasy, I recognize I had a 'fantasy' of what family was supposed to be. I didn't have family, or feel secure as a kid, so I imagined what a family was - and wanted it. I tried to achieve the fantasy by fixing the relationship with them single-handedly, and failed. Because there was no way of achieving that fantasy. It was just that; a fantasy. I really struggle with this.

3. Recognition - Tough one. I need to think about this.

4. Evaluation - Another tough one. Need to think about this too.

5. Responsibility for Change - "This is working on changing those personality traits that may have been functional in childhood, and indeed facilitated our survival, but are now dysfunctional and getting in our way." Well said, whew, yes!!! In therapy I recognized some of my 'traits', and the connection to my parents influence. 'Responsibliity for change' - that about says it all, doesn't it? The most important part. If we don't take the responsibility to change, we will be stuck. Change takes time, hard work, and patience. Not easy.

Thanks for your thoughts on Mother's Day. I know how you feel Flower, I was doing as you are, going through the motions for many years. I felt obligated. I understand making that choice and do respect your decision. I too hope the people around you are not affecting your physical health.

This is the first Mother's Day that I have moved past the pretending. I will not send a card. It is a change for me to do this, and I still feel uneasy even though I know in my heart it is a positive change because I have finally made a difficult decision. It is a relief in a way. Not sure exactly why I feel this anxiety? Maybe because I am unsure of how I will feel when the day comes. Dave, I relate to your sentiments about your mother. It is the blatent truth for me as well.

All is well here Dave. Sounds like you are doing well too and coming to terms with alot via that book. Journalling is helpful, I have journalled on and off. I am happy for you! Hope your wife is on the mend.

Thanks for posting, I sure do appreciate the support. Take good care of yourselves...

Sage


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Hello Dave & Sage,

Dave, thank you for saying this--it brought tears to my eyes and means a lot to me, "Thank you both for all the appreciation you express. I'm glad I can help by being here. This is just so helpful for me to be able to express myself on these topics and to get so much support and understanding. You guys are my heroes!"

Sage, I have those same feelings of deep rejection and I can relate to when you said, "I have always had these deep feelings of rejection and not belonging when I was a kid. I always associated the feelings of rejection mainly with my childhood for some reason. This rejection continued into my adulthood. They only stopped rejecting me when I chose to stop trying to gain their acceptance."

The problem for me was extended to my in-laws and then most of my husband's associations. I realize that they are all narcissists. I think that they are anyway and my husband finally acknowledged that he feels that his mother and father were/are narcissists. That is helpful. FINALLY. My husband's behaviors and how he chose to react and not deal with it was very wounding.

As far as trying to gain their acceptance goes, my father died and death finalizes everything. I had a lot to emotionally deal with after his passing. I seldom think of him, and when I do it is more with sadness and regret. It's odd, but I had a dream where I was standing alone by his grave. I'd written him a letter and was talking to him there about my feelings. His death was sudden, so no going back. Loss was deep and I also had conflicted emotions. Once again, no resolution and no way to find it. I didn't have anyone to talk to about it--no one was there to help and my mother was self-absorbed, my sisters the same, in-laws the same and my husband can't talk about his emotions. A few years ago a friend's (the man whom I've spoken of) father died. He called and wrote me everyday while he kept vigil over his father until he passed. His relationship with his father was different from my situation. Once during a conversation, his sharing his experience stirred very powerful, emotional memories. I felt flooded and overwhelmed and started to cry. Unlike my experiences of other people he allowed me to talk about my own experiences and supported me emotionally. It was the first time that I'd felt like I could talk about it, mainly because it felt like the first time that anyone even cared to allow me to talk about it. I recall that I apologized to him for talking about my father and he responded and told me not to do that--to not apologize. I was so used to narcissists and selfish people making everything all about them. He was the one who told me that it was natural for me to feel as I was. He encouraged me to talk about my feelings and allowed me to do so, as he didn't feel that it distracted from him and his situation. This felt different for me, because I'm so used to dealing with narcississtic people who act embarassed and ignore my feelings. And who either do not want to discuss feelings at all, especially mine, or get angry if it isn't all about them, constantly changing the subject to all about them. I remember breaking down crying uncontrollably because of the empathy and compassion that he demonstrated. It felt like such a relief to be able to talk about my father. The other side of this situation is that I also was very aware of my friend's situation with his father and because I am a sensitive and very aware person I didn't want to take his situation and turn it into all about me, because I've had so many thoughtless people react that way and do that to me all of my life. I didn't want to do to him what had been done to me.

This occurred at the same time that my husband's mother died. In contrast he traveled out-of-state to attend her service. I was not there and knew my presence was not wanted at a family function, as it was all about them. He called and left a message, but we really didn't talk. It was all about his sister and father and her kids. So here I had this one friend who desired emotional intimacy, who sought my confidence and sensitivity and someone who opened the door to reciprocity. Conversly, with my husband, I experienced the exact opposite. I wasn't even allowed to be the type of empathetic, loving person and wife that I desired and naturally would be, if the situation had been different, because I had always been rejected in that family and it was all about them--everything always revolves around them. They seethe with hostility and rejection and lack empathy. They were always cruel and intolerant. I felt very robbed of really being the type of person that I naturally experience myself as, because I was shut-off and out. I think about that a lot. My other friend always tells me how much he appreciates me and that he desires my honesty. He desires emotional closeness and values reciprocity, but these other people are so selfish, destructive and emotionally shut-down that they poison and damage their relationships. Yet they blame others and they do not understand what empathy or reciproicty means.

As to gaining my mother's acceptance, her descent into mental illness completely eclipsed everything.

Sage, finding people who care has been very difficult for me. It takes time and energy to cultivate relationships and then some people end up being disappointing. I'm pretty good at spotting these types of people, but they are good at masking their true intentions. Friendship and caring seems to be more about what you do for them, rather than who you are. I see that alot and maybe it is evidence of NPD traits that are on the rise, so finding good people is very difficult. I wonder if my issues are partly repetition and also just because there are so many people out there with these character traits, and maybe it's just a bit of bad luck too. I do not know.

Dave, yes my husband and his family and friends (not the most accurate term for these people), have been a huge emotional drain, as well as my family. It's been overwhelming for me to try to deal with it all. No, I don't want to have to deal with this while dealing with my health issues too. I try to cope the best I can. I think the stress has exacerbated my health, but it is not the cause of it.

It helps for me to just have a place to vent about all of it. I've been all about sadness and loss, but haven't been able to express a lot of anger. I think I need to do more of that to feel more integrated, if that makes sense.

Thank you both for being here.

Flower



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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi everyone who is reading,

Flower, I sometimes think about what will happen when my parents die now that we are completely estranged. Will I have regrets, as many people have told me I most certainly will, without any doubt whatsoever, if I lost contact with my parents? Will I even attend the funeral? I don't know for sure, but thinking about it puts things into perspective for me. I must say that I never really knew my parents, or felt love from them. Superficially, yes, I knew them, I lived with them. But I did not feel any connection or love. Not being in contact with them now, combined with their complete and utter rejection of my efforts to reach out to them, makes it seem like they are 'dead' to me already. Yes, that sounds harsh. But it is the truth about how I feel right now. Actually, I have felt that way about my father for years. He always avoided me, my mother was the one who sent the emails, and it was between my mother and I when there was that minimal contact for years. Now there is nothing. Believe me, I wish I didn't feel this way, but I do. It still saddens me deeply, I feel I did miss out on something almost everyone else has. I think I will always will feel that sadness to some degree for my entire life. I feel grief right now...as if they really have died already. In a way they have.

Flower, I am glad the passing of your friend's dad brought those emotions to the surface for you, it sounds like they needed to be released, and shared with someone since you did not get any support when your father did pass. You are lucky to have what sounds like such a wonderful friend in your life!

It is so nice to find people you can 'connect' with, I can relate to that particular feeling. I remember that feeling too, after I left home when I was 15...I was amazed by a certain person I met that actually listened to me! Before I left home, I had fallen in with a somewhat bad crowd, nobody who would care to listen to my problems at home, alot of them had their own issues with their parents too. But we didn't talk about it. At the same time somewhat isolated myself too because I was so depressed about my home situation. Meeting people over the years has made me see there are good people out there.

I am glad we are able to still open ourselves up to the goodness that is out there - despite our repressive and emotionally vacant upbringings. Perhaps it made us even more open and appreciative of the good relationships we have.

I decided that I am going to meet with a therapist for awhile, again, to discuss all this. I feel I have made some progress on my own, and with the support of this forum, but need more support. Upon our initial visit we discussed 'resolution' a little bit. I expressed how I am so frustrated with the fact I will never have real resolution. Resolution to me = a relationship with my parents. She had some interesting thoughts on this. I can see that I had a 'fantasy' of what resolution was. Steps to get that 'resolution' I was on a mission to 'get' included: getting my parents approveal via my accomplishments, my parents listening to me about the past and having empathy for what I went through as a child, admitting things were not 'great' as they so adamently defend that they were, admitting that the alcoholism, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and favoritism of my brother did happen, and that was unfair to me, and deeply hurt me, show some sign of regret for doing those things which they did have complete control over, and maybe even utter a simple 'sorry'. And finally, to say they want to have a relationship with me. They gave me not even one of these things. Instead, what I got was brushed off, blamed and subsequently ignored. I kept trying, and I kept getting the same three things - brushed off, blamed and ignored. It was and is an unrealistic goal based on the patterns my parents have exhibited their entire lives. It seems like not one of those things I wanted are even possible for them to do.

Although I already know this is a big part of what I have to do....the therapist has reminded me to look inside myself, and focus on myself now, my own healing of this wound that I did not cause, but need to take responsiblity to heal. I need to think about re-definint what resolution really is. Resolution no longer involves my parents.

Take care of yourselves...
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parentss

'redefining' what resolution is...that is!


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Sage said, "Will I have regrets, as many people have told me I most certainly will." I think this is a hard one. It's normal, although unpleasant, to have many conflicting emotions--it makes one feel uncomfortable and as if nothing was ever resolved. The bigger issue is what re-defining what resolution is. For me it didn't involve my father and I doubt it will ever involve my mother. It didn't involve my mother-in-law either. I can't see it happening with my sisters either. So, it is a journey that I take alone. I wish it were different too. It isn't. For the situaion to be different it would involve their participation. I think regret is a normal experience of loss. Perhaps it's just easier for some, more than others to get over. I really don't know. I experience people as not being so emotionally honest or aware. They tend to repress their emotions as they are culturally encouraged and conditioned to do so, or at least restrict them to what is tolerated or accepted.

Sage, I can relate to what you say here and feel as you do, "I must say that I never really knew my parents, or felt love from them. Superficially, yes, I knew them, I lived with them. But I did not feel any connection or love." This was certainly true for me most of the time, although there were moments, but they were too self-absorbed. My mother seems dead to me already, as does my husband's family, so no it does not sound harsh. The truth about how we feel is often harsh. I've grieved the loss of my mother for a long time. I think I'd previously stated that I've felt like I've been grieving all of my life--for the loss of a family. I think that is a very normal response to the type of emotional neglect that we've all experience, despite whatever others may think, say or do.

I agree that it was very important for me to have a friend that I could share these feelings with. He offered support in a way that was truly healing and non-judgemental. I've had a difficult time of it finding someone like that--someone who I could feel emotionally safe with. Sadly, my husband was not a comfort. He was focused on himself and suffers from an inability to adress emotions. He doesn't see this about himself, but sees himself as sensitive. I don't experience him that way, but on a superficial level he can give this impression.

I think it great that you have decided to meet with a therapist for awhile. I'm certain our forum does help, but for me it brings up a lot of issues and it is good to have someone else to talk these issues over with. Reading books brings up a lot of issues too. I don't feel that I would be doing as well as I have, if I didn't have a therapist, because I don't have a very good emotional support system. I've just been going through too much. So I'm glad that you have made this choice as I think it a positive step to take.

I know what you mean too about feeling so frustrated. I think everyone probably has an idea of how they wish or what they would like for the outcome of a resolution.

I can relate to your mission to get resolution. I think everyone wants their parents approval of their accomplishments. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. I also desired my parents to own up to their responsibilities of our past, to offer empathy and to admit their part in the problems--the emotional neglect, and the sexual abuse. I believe my mother does have regret, but she twists it around and will not take responsibility for it. My parents didn't give me any of those things either, but they wanted it from me. They wanted me to relate to their issues and problems, once again all about them, with no recognition of how it felt for a child, teenager and adult to be treated this way. My mother did wail at me that she did love her daughter, but she said that after I had made an obligatory phone call, after my surgery. She twisted that into that I didn't call her about the surgery date, and that is correct, because I didn't want to deal with her and her issues. I was drained and emotionally exhausted dealing with her and the mess. Prior to that I also got brushed off, blamed and ignored. I also kept trying. What made me stop was my health issues and that became a priority. Then I noticed that I felt relieved not having as much communication with her. I found that I could write her, but really give her very little information, but it was a means to keep her in my life at a comfortable, manageable distance. This had to be. This is still where I'm at now, although I do think that I would like to see her. I would also like to feel better, meaning that I would like to be able to manage my physical pain better and to feel physically stronger before I do. That would also help me emotionally. I feel that I must prepare myself to see her emotionally, because I always feel assaulted by her anger and neediness. I will write more later,

Flower




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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

"Change takes time, hard work, and patience. Not easy." Sage, this is unfortunately true, as I am being reminded of this once again as I really dig in and try to sort how growing up with my parents has shaped my personality and how I can change the unhealthy parts.

"Dave, thank you for saying this...." You are welcome! I'm glad you can get some of the support and validation that you deserve and that you have been very unkindly deprived of by your family.

"I feel grief right now...as if they really have died already. In a way they have." My parents are seeming deader by the day. I didn't know they could be this dead. I too have had the resolution fantasy that you describe. And it is a fantasy. For me looking for it has been living in a fantasy world. The problem with fantasy worlds is that they never come true and always leave us heartbroken. So I have been mourning the loss of this fantasy, so that I can have a more real life, not one based on false hope. And it's hard, but necessary.

I used to think more about my parent's death and what would happen. I absolutely do not think I will have any regrets. If people tell you that you will have regrets, I would bet that they are projecting their own feelings on you. If they had any clue what you have been through with your parents, they would never, every say this to you. In fact I feel thankful that I've been able to say what I had to say to them before they died. Had I not said what I did, and they died first, I think I would have had serious regrets. At this point I don't expect to see them alive or dead ever again. Cold? Harsh? Compared to what? Compared to what they have subjected me to my entire life? I don't think so. I'm letting them off easy.

My latest "aha" is the idea that my feelings matter, all of them, not just the ones others find acceptable, but all of them. And I mean for me to really deep inside me to believe and know that WHAT I FEEL MATTERS! That what I feel is real, and worthy of my and others consideration. This is a peculiar feeling, but I like it. I'm not sure this makes any sense, but it has definitely cause a shift in perspective for me.

Sage, it sounds like seeing a therapist now is a good thing for you. I've thought about this myself and may do the same thing at some point.

Anyway, I hope you both continue to make progress sorting all this out. It's hard. Take time to have fun too! Fun is good.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi everyone,

Flower said: "I experience people as not being so emotionally honest or aware. They tend to repress their emotions as they are culturally encouraged and conditioned to do so, or at least restrict them to what is tolerated or accepted." This is why I avoid people who are toxic as much as I can. I too do find people like that are common, but it helps alot to not associate with them. It does help to surround yourself with people who are of the same mind-set as yourself. I am not saying being intolerant of others who are different than yourself. But there is a line there, and people who do negatively affect me - I cut them out. I for too long tolerated abusive people; actually tried to change them; and perhaps that just is repitition of what I was used to doing growing up, tolerating abuse, having expectations, trying to please, trying to help them, make them change. That is impossible. You cannot help or even please toxic people. They please themselves, and don't care about anyone else. They are not in my circle of friends, and I minimize them in my circle of aquaintences.

Thanks Flower, and Dave, for the support in regards to my seeking therapy again. This is such a difficult thing to deal with, people have no idea unless they have experienced it themselves. I find it can be overwhelming, and I need to keep that in check. I am going once a week for right now.

Flower said: "My parents didn't give me any of those things either, but they wanted it from me. They wanted me to relate to their issues and problems, once again all about them, with no recognition of how it felt for a child, teenager and adult to be treated this way." It was the same for me, and continued to be into my adulthood. When my father-in-law died very suddenly, my parents and I were in contact with eachother, I was actually thinking at that point our relationship was OK, developing. But when something serious like that happens, they really show their true colors. My mother thought sending a plant was an appropriate show of sympathy. She said that when I confronted her about their actions revolving around this tragedy. Yet, my father going into the hospital for routine 'day surgery' was a huge deal that consumed them for months with worry. And they insinuated that I 'didn't care about them' because I didn't make a huge fuss. Go figure. The day surgery incident happened when we were already pretty much not in contact anymore, it was very minimal contact at that point. So the point is that they expect me to be all empathetic and caring - without them returning that treatment to me. Bizarre.

I am glad you are taking care of yourself first Flower, that is so important, no matter what, you need to deal with your health issues first so you are stronger to deal with the other issues you are faced with.

Dave, I feel the same way about my parents already being 'dead'. I still feel pangs of guilt saying this. Yes it is harsh; but at the same time, that is a good point you made - they were harsh to us too, when we were little kids, who without the coping mechanisms in place yet to cope with harshness, we coped in other ways that were harmful to ourselves. That is by far worse. Dave said: "I didn't know they could be this dead." Well, that made me chuckle a little, but I know exactly what you mean though! :)

This whole idea of 'letting go of the fantasy' that you brought up from the Narcissism book, and that my therapist brought up too, has really stuck a chord with me. I have read about this before, but it never really hit home for me until recently. It is funny how we develop these expectations, and then strive to fulfill these fantasies. The human mind is interesting indeed. I clearly see my own fantasy world I was living in with respect to my parents, I pretended for years and years, planning get-togethers, laughing, phoning them, sharing details of my life with them, like everything was just great. In the process getting hurt, rejected, blamed, stuffing the emotions, and then carrying on like nothing happened - all with the goal that eventually everything would be OK, I just need to keep trying, and my hurt and resentment would subside someday, they would eventually show they approve of me, show that they love me.....and on and on.....a fantasy is all that it was.

Good point, 'mourning the loss of the fantasy'. This is something separate from mourning the loss of them physically (ie not being in contact or ever seeing them again). I think this is crucial in letting go of the past - that being, letting go of the expectations that we used to have.

I know that people form the thought that "you will without a doubt regret losing contact with your parents" based on their own beliefs. I agree that this is true. They believe it because they have had it so deeply ingrained in themselves by societal expectations. It always seems to haunt me though, on and off. Most of the time I am pretty sure I won't regret it. I don't regret any actions I have taken thus far. I need to go with my gut instinct with this. It boils down to the entitlement issue too. No matter what, no matter how you are treated, you must remain loyal to you parents. I disagree with that. I believe in mutual respect between all people, whether you are related by blood, or not.

I am glad I wrote the letter, and I agree with you Dave that it is good we did say something to them before they die. That is a little bit of what I call 'resolution' in itself.

I am glad you had another 'aha' Dave. Yes, our feelings do matter. I have so much resentment against my parents on this specific subject. The disregard for my feelings, like I am just being ''silly'' when I have any feelings whatsoever. That also relates back to just basic mutual respect for someone. I can't imagine just disregarding anyone if they share their feelings with me. I may not agree, but I would not just turn my back, I strive to try to understand their story, and even at that point if I don't agree - people CAN agree to disagree!!!! At least their feelings were not snubbed, but acknowledged.

What you said makes alot of sense to me Dave. I am not as down as I was feeling a little while ago. Yes, some fun is a good thing! :) :) I am seeing a therapist so I can make sure I am keeping on track, making progress. I don't want to be stuck, I don't want this looming over me and holding me back. I need to learn ways to cope with it, and release it. When I saw a therapist before, several years ago, I was in a completely different state of mind. I think I have progressed since then, learned alot, I just feel stronger now. I am feeling like I really will get past this in time.

Thanks for being here, it is a gorgeous sunny day here today..I am going to go outside and start digging around in my flowerbeds! :)

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parentss

Just a thought I have been hesitating to share, but here it goes.

I have this feeling that when my parents die, in particular, my mother, that this will be the time I get the response to my letter I sent them. I am guessing my mother has probably written a response. I'll never know, pure speculation. And I can imagine her leaving it for after she dies - the ultimate slap in the face, the last word, the final guilt trip. I can just clearly see her doing something like that. Not sure where these feelings are coming from in regards to this. *sigh*

What would I do? Not open it, not read it, probably burn it. I mean, what would the point be in reading it? I am not even sure I will read anything she may send while she is still alive. Not at this point, not after she has snubbed me for 3 months. She has made her point very clearly by her lack of response.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Sage says,"You cannot help or even please toxic people. They please themselves, and don't care about anyone else. They are not in my circle of friends, and I minimize them in my circle of acquaintances." I do the same thing myself. My parents were the only exception to this. They were the only toxic people I've put up with for the last several years. But not anymore.

You're welcome for the support on going to therapy! As I said, I've considered it myself. When I've gone in the past, I've never regretted it.

"So the point is that they expect me to be all empathetic and caring - without them returning that treatment to me." That's pretty much the way it works, isn't it. The really ugly part of all this is the harm it does to a young, defenseless child who has to grow in this environment.

Glad you got a chuckle from my dark humor. I think it's a good sign when we can find a little humor :-)

"I have read about this before, but it never really hit home for me until recently." I have these experiences too. I'll read something and intellectually understand it, but it may be sometime later, when it really sinks in.

"I have this feeling that when my parents die, in particular, my mother, that this will be the time I get the response to my letter I sent them." My mother would definitely do something like this. And you know what, it's pathetic. Here we are alive know, their own children, and can they talk to us now? No. But they would want to try to hurt us when they are dead, when we can't respond. It's just the way it's always been. They hurt us when we were young and vulnerable and couldn't defend ourselves. Now that we can defend ourselves, they run away and hide. So their only chance to try to hurt us again, when we can't do anything to them, is when they are dead. It's pathetic, but from their twisted point of view it almost makes sense.

Anyway, hang in there everyone. Thank you for being there. Despite some of our experiences, there is a lot of good in the world. Believe in yourselves.

Peace,

Dave


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Hi everyone,

Sage said: "This is why I avoid people who are toxic as much as I can. I too do find people like that are common, but it helps alot to not associate with them. It does help to surround yourself with people who are of the same mind-set as yourself." I try to do this too with varying degrees of success. It is hard to do in a work environment. Privately what has limited my success in this area is a husband who has been non-cooperative. He has conveniently twisted the situation "his people-pleasing" into my problem and making me out to be unreasonable and that there is something wrong with me, not him or them. It has been very difficult getting him to keep these people out of our shared home and space. He tolerates abuse, doesn't even view it or see it as abuse, and he isn't honest with people about their behaviors. So, he has been a very big part of the problem. I also hold a lot of resentment towards him for creating these problems, which is difficult to summarize here. Right now the only way I know how to deal with the problem is that I refuse to socialize with him with anyone. His people-pleasing sets up an emotionally abusive situation as he attracts users and manipulators.

Sage says, "I for too long tolerated abusive people; actually tried to change them; and perhaps that just is repitition of what I was used to doing growing up, tolerating abuse, having expectations, trying to please, trying to help them, make them change. That is impossible. You cannot help or even please toxic people. They please themselves, and don't care about anyone else." I tolerated this behavior more with my family and also with my spouse, someone that others, including my family always saw him as a "nice guy". It always seemed that there was no one that I could talk too. They, particularly my mother and sisters, would always dismiss my observations about him and his behavior and how it made me feel--the problems it created. I never got the support that I needed. My husband wanted his own friends and of course I wasn't accepted in his family, but he wanted to always be included in my friendships and family. I do have some now, but even some of those relationships are limited. This is something that I continually work on.

When I met people who I discerned as toxic or selfish, I would immediately cut them out of my life, if I could. My husbands had issues with that and made me out as the person with the problem, suggesting that I was intolerant and not as open or easy-going as him. I just didn't like being used and desired equal relationships based on honesty and reciprocity. His requirements for friendships seemed very low. At one time he'd dismiss my observations and feelings as "too sensitive", and then he switched to saying that I had high expectations of other people. I guess that means that he has low expectations. He also made some bizzare comment that there were so many dysfunctional people that it should just be accepted. I interpreted his remark as why bother to search for good, quality people and that seems to be how he operates--he finds people who are convenient and sticks with longterm relationships, not necessarily because they are healthy or even compatible, but just because they are habitual, easy and require little work. I think it his issues, and it has been very difficult not having his issues turn into mine.

It's frustrating to me as I hold deep resentments towards him for his behaviors that have allowed emotionally abusive people into our life, regardless of how assertive I am stating my feelings to him. I couldn't ever turn to my family, because they always dismissed my feelings and couldn't understand me and even with people who I find may appear more functional and healthy they also seem emotionally limited. Anway, yes I do try to minimize these types of people in my circle of friends, but that has reduced my circle of frienships too.

Sage said, "So the point is that they expect me to be all empathetic and caring - without them returning that treatment to me." That sums up my experience of a lot of people--coworkers (who to me are acquaintances), and definitely anyone who my husband has associated with. I don't even count his family as they were hostile towards me, but this is a theme with the people that he knows--it is all about them. I think he encourages it though and attracts it.

I tend to feel that this problem of me, myself and I is a very serious problem for most people that is getting worse. I've also been told by others that I'm non-judgmental, empathetic and caring and so I think that is why a lot of people want to emotionally dump on me. This has posed problems for me in work situations, where it's difficult to tell someone to STFU or even to find a diplomatic way of letting them know that they are over-stepping their bounds (with never any help from management as they are usually the worst offenders). Funny thing is, is that while I may be those things, they don't know anything about me at all (maybe superfical knowledge), yet they talk about themselves beyond comprehension. Anway, I think I'm still needing to vent about all of these experiences as it feels like I'm releasing a lot of poison and toxic behaviors and it helps just to talk about it.

Thanks for listening and for being here.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello!

Dave, The subject about 'cutting out' toxic people has come up frequently here, and it keeps coming up. I have to remind myself of this, as I do from time to time let those types of people too close to me. I have kept toxic people away, for the most part, for the last several years too (other than my parents). I did start to develop somewhat of a friendship (if you could call it that) with an aquaintence/customer recently. But I realized eary on it was not working, and I gently ended it.

I am acutely mindful, almost guarded in a way, of who I have close to me now. Even moreso since being estranged from my parents. Having people in your life who do harm you, don't have any consideration for you, or people you have to feel like you are tip toeing around constantly, is very damaging in my opinion. To me, and my husband too, it is simply not worth it and a waste of life. We are not intolerant, but there is 'a line'.

Dave said: "Glad you got a chuckle from my dark humor. I think it's a good sign when we can find a little humor :-)" lol Yes indeed! After all, some of their antics are so 'out there' and absurd, crazy, one can't help but laugh.

Dave, Thanks for relating to the 'death note' thing. It is so horrible to even imagine plotting something like that. I can't really wrap my head around that line of thinking. It is mean and bitter. I know I am speculating about all this, but my intuition just strongly tells me that this is something that could very likely happen. If they choose to be that way, so be it, it is just more of the same sort of thing they have been doing since I was born. I would not be surprised if she insisted it be read aloud at her f'ing funeral!! I would not put it past her. What a sad and truly pathetic existence. What got me thinking about this was my mother's lack of response to my letter (after she said she WAS going to respond months ago). It just makes me feel like she has responded, but does not have the guts to send it to me. Do I want a response? Initially, maybe I did, but knew in the back of my mind it was unlikely. At this point, no, now that months have passed. She had a chance, I reached out to her, and she did not reach back.

Good point about them hurting us when we are defenseless, when we are unable to respond. Very true, that makes alot of sense to me. Do they have that little self confidence in interacting with other people, including us, their children? Are they that stunted that they avoid situations where there is any chance of confrontation, emotion, or real feelings? They choose to be that way, it is their choice. They chose to avoid and reject me.

I am glad we can discuss these things openly and honestly. It helps alot. I feel I am finally dealing with all this, it is long overdue, but maybe I was not really ready until this point in time. I am in a very different 'place' within myself than I was in my 20's, or even 30's. I think I am at that place now where I am ready to deal with this in a healthy, honest way - without falling apart myself. I have overcome some of the affects they had on me, and that has made me stronger and able to deal with more now.

Have a great week! Thanks for being here...

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Flower,

I think we were posting around the same time, didn't see your post this AM!

I agree about it being difficult to avoid people in a work situation, it is also difficult in a family situation - if those family ties are worth salvaging that is. That being said, if a work situation becomes unbearably toxic, there is something a person can do, they can either try working it out, or look for a new job. That is always an option. You are never trapped dealing with toxic people!

I am sorry you are in such conflict with your spouse. He should be your best friend and therefore your primary source of support. I think it is impossible to 'make him' do anything, for any length of time anyways. He has to see what he does as toxic to him, see it as toxic to you and see it as toxic to your marriage. Of course you can't agree on everything, and sometimes can agree to disagree-my husband and I do that quite a bit actually! ;)

I am not saying divorce him, as I don't know your whole story, or know you well enough to even make that sort of suggestion....but when you are feeling better physically, I might just put some thought into that idea. Seems like this has been going on for a long time, without change. Co-existing with someone like that is just not healthy in any way. From what you say, he doesn't seem to see there is a problem at all(?). I don't know how old you are, or how long you and your husband have been together, or for how long things have been this bad...from what you have written, it seems that you agree on very little. One thing I do know for sure is that no matter what, it is never too late to start again. There really is only so long you can try before you are forced to take some action to change your own life for the better. That is along the same lines as with the situations with our parents. You try for so long to have a good, 2-way, relationship, but in order to be happy yourself, sometimes you just have to sever ties and move on with your own life. There is no difference with a toxic spouse.

Flower said: "My husband wanted his own friends and of course I wasn't accepted in his family, but he wanted to always be included in my friendships and family." I find with my own marriage, we need to have our 'own space'. We have some friends together, and some are just mine, or just his. We do alot separately, and also alot of things together too. It is about balance, and give and take. I am glad you do have some friends of your own now. I think that is important. Perhaps you can look forward to working on some more positive changes in the future.

Chat soon....
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Sage & Dave,

Dave said, "My latest "aha" is the idea that my feelings matter, all of them, not just the ones others find acceptable, but all of them. And I mean for me to really deep inside me to believe and know that WHAT I FEEL MATTERS! That what I feel is real, and worthy of my and others consideration." I'm glad to hear this. When I first started therapy that is what I felt and came to believe, despite everyone around me not supporting me emotionally. Prior to that I tried to let my feelings be known, but was constantly shut down, minimized or judged. Encountering this type of behavior and response so often made it difficult for me to stay true to feeling that my needs mattered. I notice a lot of people like to compare themselves to your situation. I see this frequently with other women. I also think there is very strong cultural conditioning as well. Women are supposed to be nurturing, simply because they are female and give birth, so I think it a strong cultural expectation and people want to force this role on you.

I feel that many scriptural messages reinforce a message of being self-sacrificing in the form of giving to others, and one will be rewarded. I thought it was confusing as there was never any true discussion or a full balanced explanation of their meaning offered, such as the many scriptures referencing being in service to others. Or the oft quoted, "it is better to give than to receive". Says who? The self-centered manipulator on the receiving end with a handful of want and a mouthful of gimme? I think these messages, without much discussion of concepts of mutualism and reciprocity enable an environment ripe for emotionally abusive situations. I often felt that it was a message that once again, values people for doing, rather than valuing them for who they are, rather than what they do. And that is a repetition of a child learning that love must be earned and that it depends on being "good" and pleasing the parents or others. That is not healthy. This is something that I've made progress on, but like all learned, habitual behaviors I must continue to work on.

To further elaborate on this subject, an author of a book that I'm currently re-reading about people-pleasing pointed out that it is not always better to give than receive; the best balance in relationships is both to give and to receive. I've had difficulty finding people who understand this concept, let alone who are willing to more fully explore it. In fact, I've met far more people quote for their own personal gain and interest, or others who just blindly quote it. In my experience those people seem to dwarf the existence of truly good decent people who aren't always out to further their self-serving agendas or the endless numbers of self-promoters who publicize their charity as a way to curry favor. It's really a type of enslavement--that type of thinking. Giving should be my choice, not dictated to me by someone else and not out of some obligation or because it will earn me approval and up the ante of my likeability quotient. I'd rather have it be out of sincerity. I've given of my time to a good many people and and even causes, but that, obviously was never appreciated, which I gleaned from their behaviors. Organizations tend to just want money with no accountability.

I guess the approach of mother's day right now has got me to thinking about her and my sisters. I'm trying to stay productive and to not dwell on the subject too long. I've never really written about what happened with her, but I can say that despite the anger I feel towards my mother watching her mental health deteriorate--the situation created unbearable emotional pain. I'm not really ready to write about it. It's still to hard to go there. I picked out a card for her, but I didn't spend any time on it. The situation stirs the unresolved issues with my sisters too, which created a reservoirs of emotional pain too. In many ways it feels worse than coping with my mother, who I mainly feel sad and sorry for. She is in her own emotional hell. I'm glad I no longer have to deal with my MIL. Memories of her are associated with very unhappy and unpleasant feelings. She was a very miserable human being--like a train wreck to everyone around her. It feels bad to say that though and I wished that it could have been different than to feel that you are relieved that you no longer have to cope with them. What poison that was.

I'm glad that I'm in therapy now as I would have a hard time of it coping with everything. It was a good choice for me. I doubt I would be managing as well as I am now if I didn't have a place to discuss these issues more fully or just to vent occasionally about it too. I'm having a hard time of it managing my moods lately.

Thank you for listening. I think I got off on a tangent here...I suppose I needed too.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Flower says, "Anyway, I think I'm still needing to vent about all of these experiences as it feels like I'm releasing a lot of poison and toxic behaviors and it helps just to talk about it." I'm glad you found a place to do this. It also sounds like it is good you are in therapy. You have a lot going on. It's good you are seeking help rather than just letting it overwhelm you. Keep taking care of yourself!

"Do they have that little self confidence in interacting with other people, including us, their children? Are they that stunted that they avoid situations where there is any chance of confrontation, emotion, or real feelings?" Yes and yes! Think about it. They picked on us when we were defenseless children, when we couldn't do anything to stop them, and they had all the power. Now that we can respond when they do things to us, they freak-out, make up lies, or just go away and hide. Sounds pretty stunted to me; actually it sounds down right cowardly. To think, as a child, these are the people whose love and approval I desperately sought. How sad.

Sage says, "I am not saying divorce him, as I don't know your whole story, or know you well enough to even make that sort of suggestion....but when you are feeling better physically, I might just put some thought into that idea. ." Flower, I agree with Sage on this. I've haven't heard you write a single positive thing about your relationship with your husband. It's hard to imagine you will ever be better off staying with him. It's painful to hear what you write about your relationship with him, and to imagine being in your situation. Unless you need him for financial support while you get healthy, it seems like you would be better off on your own.

Here is something I wrote in my journal this morning:

The child they didn't love wasn't me.
I was a child worthy of love, but they didn't know me.
The child they beat and hurt wasn't me.
I was a child worthy of kindness, but they didn't know me.
They were the parents of the child they hurt,
but they weren't my parents; they couldn't be; they didn't know me.
The child they thought I was existed only in their minds.
It wasn't me.
How could it be? They didn't know me.

Another case of mistaken identity.
I know who I am.
I'm not who they thought I was.
I'm not who they think I am.
How could I be? They never knew me.

Anyway, I enjoyed writing this. It did something for me. I'm not sure what, but I felt better after I wrote it.

I hope all is going well. Thanks for being there!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Dave said: "Now that we can respond when they do things to us, they freak-out, make up lies, or just go away and hide. Sounds pretty stunted to me; actually it sounds down right cowardly. To think, as a child, these are the people whose love and approval I desperately sought. How sad." Well said Dave, this describes my parents. I agree, very cowardly. Unfortunately, we sought their approval because that is only natural for a child to seek approval from their parents. We were children for god's sake, and they were our world back then, there was no choice for us!! It is sad.

Dave, Thanks for sharing from your journal! So beautifully written, wow! And I sure can relate very closely to your words. I have always felt so misunderstood by them. They didn't take the time to listen to me, ever, as a child, or for what it is worth, they didn't bother to hear me and know me as an adult either. They created their 'story' of who their daughter was and is, and the part most important to them was the part of their 'story' of how terrible I am, and how I affect them. How self-centred is that?

Their judgement of me made me feel anxious, sad, incredibly frustrated, very angry, alone, and most of all with a deep sense of rejection. Their misjudgement of me made me feel there really was something wrong with me, and made me question my own sanity - I really really resent that. I am not sure I will ever get past that. Although I am trying. There has never been anything at all wrong with me. I know that, and am thankful I came to realize that! But all the times they made me feel so flawed, I regret all that wasted time where I would blame myself, and beat myself up.

Of course I struggled growing up!! Just looking back at the facts of what actually happened, what I had to deal with daily, the daily stress I was under as a kid, it wore on me...some of my behaviours as a child were in response to that environment. Yes, I cried alot, yes, I was depressed, yes I was angry, yes, I was a very insecure kid, yes, I rebelled as a teenager. Nobody ever comforted me, I coped alone. I was screaming out for some attention! Not because I wanted to be the 'centre fo attention', not because I was selfish and not because I was spoiled. I was desparate and missing a big part of what all humans need - love, belonging, acceptance in a family.

Adults can (to a point) cope with dysfunctional environments. Kids can't, at least not in a healthy way, they only react. I did not have the coping skills at the time, nor was I taught coping skills as I did grow up. And yes, that did affect me as an adult. I only learned what I observed, and I have spent the better part of my adult life un-doing those behaviours. It blows my mind that with just a minimal amount of effort, I truly believe my parents could have made things better. What kind of people treat their kids in this way? I can't believe they "did the best they could'....anyone can see how blatently harmful their actions were. Which only leads me to believe, again, that they were only concerned with themselves, they had no regard for me at all. At the very least as an adult, when I did reach out to them time and time again, they could just acknowledge now the fact I had those feelings with reason - but no - that did not happen. Which just reinforces how I feel.

Thanks for being here and listening. Dave your post stirred up some emotions in me, thanks for listening/reading my vent. I am not sure what it is going to take to release this resentment within myself. I am hoping therapy will help me do that. I guess all I can do is to keep trying, and move forward. I feel I have made some progress already and am on the right track. I feel strong and able to deal with alot of issues now that I was unable to deal with, or afraid to deal with, in the past.

I am feeling pretty good going into the weekend. No regrets whatsoever as far as Mother's Day goes. This is the first year I am not being fake by going out and buying some flakey card which I insincerely always felt obligated to send. No more pretending. Feels good to be real, it is a big relief, and long overdue.

Have a super day!

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Dave & Sage,

Dave, thank you for sharing from your journal. I can relate to it too. I feel very sad reading it. I felt misunderstood too. It's a feeling that I've carried around with me for a long time. The thoughts that it brings up for me is from a book I read about family systems and roles. The roles are basically chosen for the children by the parents. It doesn't seem to matter whether it is terrible for the child or not. I can really identify though with the being misunderstood and feeling unheard and that they didn't know me. I felt the very same with my sisters, but probably even more so, because their words and actions clearly demonstrated that they resented me for whatever favoritism they felt that my mother showed towards me. I never felt favored by her. In fact my mother expressed to me that they did less for me than my two older sisters. I've talked about this before.

I think my mother felt closer to me, because she said that I was more empathetic than either one of my sisters. They were angry with her and too it out on me, but deny this and twist it into that I'm the one who was angry with my older sisters. I recognize that this is a role (listening and being a receptacle for their emotions) that I fulfilled with my mother--listening to her sorrows and grief. I performed this role with my sisters as well, but they don't recognize or acknowledge it or my needs. My father did this as well as it was all about him. It is one of the reasons that I recognize that people tend to value a person for what they do for them, rather than who they are.

I also recognize that this is a role that has repeated itself in my life (more so with other women). They turn to me for sympathy and then unload and dump on me like I'm their personal therapist. The problem with this set-up is that they don't think about reciprocity or how it feels to be on the receiving end of their dramas and issues. They don't think about my feelings or that I have needs, issues and problems of my own. They don't think to offering listening or compassion or empathy. It's all about them. I find it overwhelming. I don't have a problem if it is a two-way street, but it doesn't tend to be that way.

I often get the desire to talk to my mother, just to see how she is doing, but I fear talking to her, because she just unloads too much onto me. I start to hate her for it. The sad thing about my sisters was that they conveniently tried to twist and turn the situation into how I was deficient suggesting that I "couldn't handle it" (their dumping, unloading and anger), as if I was somehow an emotional weakling. What they didn't do is seriously look at their own mental heath issues and character flaws and deficiencies. They didn't look at their own behaviors as inappropriate, thoughtless, self-absorbed and unreasonable. I always thought that they were cruel. That's what comes up for me when I think about them in this moment.

As for mother's day, I sent my mother a generic type of card, but I didn't write anything. There wasn't enough room to write a note or enough time. I procrastinated with the time. Maybe this is due to feeling anger about what I would like to say and all the unresolved issues, or that I'm just going thru the motions.

I've actually been alone this week enjoying my private time and getting a lot accomplished and that makes me feel good. So many things have gone by the wayside trying to manage it alone with my health issues imposing restrictions to how much I can do. I do get out and about, but I always have pain and depending on the types of movements, I just get overwhelmed by it. I still continue to persevere.

Sage says, "I am not saying divorce him, as I don't know your whole story, or know you well enough to even make that sort of suggestion....but when you are feeling better physically, I might just put some thought into that idea. ." I know that you don't know the full story. I'd be writing too much to get all that out of me. I do need to feel better physically, because that impacts my emotional quite a bit too. Physical pain and taking drugs to alleviate can wreak havoc on a person's emotional wellbeing. It's been a slow process, but little by little I do make progress. He is aware that there are problems, but he sticks his head in the sand and twists the situations too and that creates a lot of problems for me emotionally. It's a difficult subject to write about--to write it clearly and how it feels to be in this situation.

Dave said, "Flower, I agree with Sage on this. I've haven't heard you write a single positive thing about your relationship with your husband. It's hard to imagine you will ever be better off staying with him. It's painful to hear what you write about your relationship with him, and to imagine being in your situation. Unless you need him for financial support while you get healthy, it seems like you would be better off on your own."

Thank you both for being here. I appreciate your support more than you know. I really haven't had any other place that feels emotionally safe to vent about my issues with him, other than my therapist and it's important for me to vent because it helps me to feel more balanced. Sometimes people always suggest that you think of the positive and dwell on that rather than the negative. I don't find that helpful though when there are real problems to deal with, which are negative and present a lot of difficulties.

With that said, I realize that I don't talk about the positive parts of the relationship and there are some, but the other issues are more overwhelming to me and it casts a dark cloud over the relationship. He travels a lot and that is helpful fo me right now. It allows me private time and emotional peace. It allows me time to spend with other people. I would probably be even more social or more involved, if I felt better. I know that when he is away that I will not have to contend with the constant impositions and intrusive behaviors of the self-absorbed people that he knows. Aggressive, self-serving aholes, just love a people-pleaser who refuses to enforce appropriate boundareis and they just love him for acting spineless in that regard. I'm certain if you both knew the details more fully that you would be emotionally supportive. I don't find that with other people, because they have not done emotional work on themselves to the degree that it sounds like you both have. A lot of people just tend to exist in an emotional fog.

Because I vent here I know it sounds like I'm probably angry and unhappy all the time, which isn't the case. I just feel free to vent about it here and actually that is a very positive thing for me to do, because it helps me to feel more balanced. I'm glad that you both recognize my valid complaints and issues and that neither one of you dismisses my feelings as I'm so used to hearing from others. It's a complicated relationship--no easy answers. People can be emotionally abusive in quiet ways that wreak havoc on relationships.

I appreciated it when Sage recognized that my husband's family and friends created emotional trauma for me. That was well said. I'm certain you both recognize it and it's true. Unfortunately people that I've turned too, have been very dismissive of my feelings. I think a lot of people too self-absorbed and superficial to see anything other than what they want to see. I know I'm rambling a bit here too...guess I need too. I'm not feeling so focused right now.

I had this dream which I'll write about later. That's all for now. I hope you too are doing okay. Thanks for being here.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Sage said, " Unfortunately, we sought their approval because that is only natural for a child to seek approval from their parents. We were children for god's sake, and they were our world back then, there was no choice for us!!" I think you make an important point: what we did was very normal and natural. We were only children. Our reactions, our feelings, our behaviors were all a very normal response to what happened to us. We just didn't have anyone around to tell us this. It was also very normal for us to interpret the way were treated as an indication something was wrong with us. We didn't know any better then. We couldn't. We were children. Now we know better.

"They created their 'story' of who their daughter was and is, and the part most important to them was the part of their 'story' of how terrible I am, and how I affect them. How self-centred is that?" Incredibly self-centered! I've come to realize that the voice I still hear at times, the one that says I'm not a worthwhile person, isn't my voice, it's their voice, their voice calling me from the past. It was a lie then, and it's a lie now. I'm working at not listening to that lie anymore. I've carried it around with me too long already.

"Their judgement of me made me feel anxious, sad, incredibly frustrated, very angry, alone, and most of all with a deep sense of rejection. Their misjudgement of me made me feel there really was something wrong with me, and made me question my own sanity - I really really resent that." I feel the same. I've come to see how normal all these feelings were. We were normal, healthy children who responded with appropriate feelings and actions to the way we were treated. And we survived despite the way we were treated. We should be proud of ourselves for being so resourceful and resilient.

"I was desperate and missing a big part of what all humans need - love, belonging, acceptance in a family." We were denied some very basic needs. This is what I have been mourning. I think mourning helps us heal that hole that was left in our hearts. I believe we can heal our broken hearts.

"I am not sure what it is going to take to release this resentment within myself. I am hoping therapy will help me do that." I think it will. I'm finding myself less angry about what happened. As I've come to appreciate more the heroic child I was in coping with all this, and realize I wasn't who they thought I was, I start feeling some sense of relief. And with this relief, I feel less energy around being angry.But I also realize this a process in which I cycle through emotions. I can still get angry about it, but over time, it seems to be diminishing.

Anyway, I hope you all are doing well. Thank you for being there to hear this, and giving me a place to be heard and understood. To know that you, sympathetic and caring people, are out there reading this, makes me smile.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Flower,

It looks like you posted, while I was still writing my last post.

It sounds like people have been taking advantage of your empathetic nature for some time. It also seems that you are much better at establishing boundaries in relationships and not letting people run all over you anymore.

I'm glad you get some time to yourself, when you husband travels. I'm sorry you still have to deal with physical pain while you sort out all of your relationships. It doesn't sound easy. It's good you have this forum to vent. I can see how that helps keep some balance in your life.

Sage and Flower, I hope you both do well with Mother's Day! I'm doing fine. For me it's day to celebrate my wife being a wonderful mother for our two boys. She has shown me that a mother can be warm, caring, and loving to her children, and I'm thankful for that. Take care.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave & Sage,

I'm glad that you and your wife will be celebrating mother's day with your family. You sound appreciative of your wife and I think that is wonderful.

I do need to vent. It's really the only safe place for me to do so, other than therapy and thank you for allowing me to do so. I think it healthy and positive for me to do so, rather than stuff it. My family always made a lot of judgments about my needing to occasionally vent. They would label and judge it in a negative way, disimissing it as complaining, rather than trying to understand my situation or predicament. Yet, they wanted my empathy and compassion, but couldn't be bothered to reciprocate. They also conveniently twist it all around, suggesting that I am not empathetic or that I'm selfish. My husband demonstrates the same type of views--he seems resentful that I may need to vent, instead of viewing it as normal. So he judges and doesn't problem solve. He overlooks other's people's negativity and makes excuses for it, and even frames it in a positive way. My therapist does see these issues about my family, my husband and in-laws.

Sage said, "They didn't take the time to listen to me, ever, as a child, or for what it is worth, they didn't bother to hear me and know me as an adult either. They created their 'story' of who their daughter was and is, and the part most important to them was the part of their 'story' of how terrible I am, and how I affect them. How self-centred is that?" Yes, it was very self-centered and once again, I can relate to what you said as I feel the same. I still hear that voice too--the one telling me that I'm not a worthwhile person. I've been working on it too (not listening to it). Their voice and their lies made me very vulnerable as a teenager to outside influences as I was desperately seeking people who would fill that void and accept me for myself. I desired love, belonging and acceptance. Within my own family I felt invisible unless it was as a target for their anger and emotional abuse directed at me in their words, criticisms, judgements and behaviors. I suffered depression and attempted suicide, which I see was a direct outcome to that toxic family environment.

The rejection, jealousy, judgements and criticism continued with my husband's family (inlaws) and has been a pervasive theme with people who he associates with. These people are all the same. Outwardly they all appear so charming, but it's superficial. People think they know them, but they don't. Most of the time I wish I had a hidden camera as it would be hard for them to cover up their lies and deceptions.

Sage said, "Their judgement of me made me feel anxious, sad, incredibly frustrated, very angry, alone, and most of all with a deep sense of rejection. Their misjudgement of me made me feel there really was something wrong with me, and made me question my own sanity - I really really resent that." I feel the same too. I felt flawed and inadequate no matter what I did. My sisters both continued with this type of mistreatment never wasting an opportunity to condescend to me that since I was depressed, that it was a type of mental illness. That was cruelty. They poured forth their abundant resentment towards me. Who needs that type of stereotyping, labeling and judgement. It's apparent in her letters how much she needs to try to feel superior to me. They both do. Is this somehow because they feel inadequate and shameful about their emotionally abusive behaviors? Is this a cover-up for their own inadequacy? Their focus is always that there is something wrong with me and that I needed to be fixed, not with themselves or their own behaviors. I think they just can't bear to look at themselves. They were cowardly--all bullies are. They feel powerful only when they try to strip personal power from others.

Sage say, "But all the times they made me feel so flawed, I regret all that wasted time where I would blame myself, and beat myself up." I felt this too, and I think it manifested itself in depression and suicidal thoughts. I occasionally still have them, but I've never acted on them as I did as a teenager. I've worked on that. Therapy helps, because I can discuss and explore these issues without the judgments of others. Other people are always imposing on me. I'm thankful for this forum because you both have done a lot of work on yourselves. We may all be in different stages, but I recognize that everyone here is a survivor. Survival is probably why I can relate so strongly with stories of survival--what it has taken (the emotional endurance) for me to keep my identity intact. I still resent them for what they've done and how they've behaved too.

Dave says, "I'm finding myself less angry about what happened. As I've come to appreciate more the heroic child I was in coping with all this, and realize I wasn't who they thought I was, I start feeling some sense of relief. And with this relief, I feel less energy around being angry. But I also realize this a process in which I cycle through emotions. I can still get angry about it, but over time, it seems to be diminishing." Focusing on being a heroic child is a healthy choice. This thought process may be something that only we could understand, given our paths and journey. I think this is what I take from some of the survival books that I've read and why I turn to them--the focus on emotional endurance, so vital to identity is very positive and life-sustaining. The focus is very different for me. Emotional resilence is deeply spiritual for me and it resonates more fully for me than a tradtional focus on forgiveness. The emotional cycles are a process, not something to get over. I think I still have to cycle through more anger, because I've experienced more sadness and I need the balance of both. I've lacked an emotionally safe place to explore those feelings in greater depth and it's been to my detriment emotionall, spiritually and physically. I'd like to release more of the anger to find a measure of equilbrium.

Dave says, "It sounds like people have been taking advantage of your empathetic nature for some time. It also seems that you are much better at establishing boundaries in relationships and not letting people run all over you anymore." Thank you for acknowledging this. I try, but aggressive personalities are prone to ignoring boundaries. I've had little emotionally support or cooperation from others in this regard. In the face of boundaries aggression, sometimes the only other option is to distance people who continually ignore them. And this is easier to accomplish in some situations than others (personal). Sadly, my husband has not been helpful at all in this regard and has been a serious part of the problem. He really sets me up with these types of self-absorbed, inconsiderate people, with his conflict avoidant personality. I resent his ignoring my feelings, lack of honesty with others, which exacerbates the problems and his spinelessness. In many ways, I feel he is similar to my mother, always looking the other way at abuse and then rationalizing it.

Regarding empathy, I'm certain that it sounds like an odd affliction (being too empathetic) as most people could probably learn to be more kind and considerate. I've gotten more stingy with giving my time, energy or sympathy to others. I find few merit my awareness or sensitivity, since they are so insensitive towards me. My husband is different as he tolerates a lot of s**t from people. I don't like being around it and wish that he would start working on his issues or become more aware. I realize that this is something that he has to do on his own. It's sad that he doesn't want to own up to how toxic his behaviors have been and the problems that it creates. Yes, it is good for me when he travels--it offers me solitude, which I crave and that is healthy for me.

Thanks for being here and listening and have a great weekend.

Flower


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Still learning how to live with it

Hello! I've been reading this thread since last December, when I decided it would be better for me not to speak with my parents anymore. It's been very helpful to know I'm not the only one. Thank you all for sharing. I'm an only child, and it's certainly hard to talk about it without being judged. I am so grateful that my husband is very supportive of my decision and that my in-laws treat me with the love I never had from my parents.

Yeah, I totally identify with it all: energy-vampires, emotional immaturity, selfishness, extreme passive-aggressiveness, controlling and manipulative behavior, lack of respect and consideration. My childhood wasn't horrible, and my parents tend to leave very positive impressions on other people, which makes it very hard for anyone to understand my decision. I hate having to explain myself, so most of the time I just lie about it, which makes me feel horrible. I don't like to lie. But it's easier than dealing with the horrified reaction: "How could you do that to your parents!?"

Anyway, I have years of stories to share, but I'll try to get them out little by little. Right now I'm still adjusting. This is going to be my first Mother's Day after estrangement and I need some advice. I caved in and sent her a very impersonal e-card, because I figure it would convey the message that I care about her from a distance, yet don't want to have anything to do with her. Wondering if that was a mistake.


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello to everyone reading,

Hi there Josi, Welcome! I have found this forum to be very helpful and supportive. It helps to relate to others in the same situation, as I don't think people can really understand unless they have lived it. This is also the first Mother's Day for me that I have been completely estranged from my mother, and father. I maintained a very sporadic relationship with my parents up until this past January. When we were in contact, it was mainly email with my mother, occassional visits and phone calls. I know exactly what you mean about lying....I have lied about it, and still do sometimes, because it is so hard dealing with people's reactions. I am slowly starting to tell some friends a little about it. And their reactions have been surprisingly understanding. I still don't share this with very many people though, and not in the detail I have here.

Josi, I don't think sending an ecard was a 'mistake'. Go with your heart. I know it is not easy at all to know what to do! Hard decisions to make, that take time. What I do know is that you have to do what gives you peace-of-mind. It takes alot of soul searching. I sure can relate to the conflicted feelings that come with this. For many many years I sent very generic cards via mail to my mother on all the key 'occassions'. It was not sincere, and I felt fake, guilty, and like I was just going through the motions, because I was - but I did it, for years and years, because at that point I felt obligated to do it. Go with your own gut feeling on this. This is the first year I have not sent a Mother's Day card. Everything changed in Jan, and I am completely estranged from them now, for good.

Dave, Thanks for understanding. Dave said: "It was also very normal for us to interpret the way were treated as an indication something was wrong with us." Yes it was. I am glad we are able to be here and talk about this. The pain runs so deep, I am not sure how we survived it. But we did! I am sure it made us stronger and more caring people ourselves.

Dave said: "...the voice I still hear at times, the one that says I'm not a worthwhile person, isn't my voice, it's their voice, their voice calling me from the past." That is true. What we learn as children is so deeply ingrained in us, it is difficult (but not impossible) to change those behaviours, break those habits we developed so long ago. Letting go of that 'lie' is something I am working on too.

I agree Dave, we should be very proud of ourselves for getting this far and proud to have to will to continue to help ourselves and heal the hurt. Dave said: "I think mourning helps us heal that hole that was left in our hearts. I believe we can heal our broken hearts." True, true. We can.

I feel that sense of relief too. Yes, I think there will be 'cycles' of emotions, they will come and go, very good to be aware of that. With me, what is gone now is that feeling of 'dread' that always came when I got email, phone calls, or cards, or the occasional visit every couple years, from them. Just the anticipation of any contact with them would set me off - but no more. I finally feel I am being real, not pretending, being myself - and I think that is what was necessary for the healing process to begin for me.

Josi, thanks for posting, it is very comforting to know there are other people out there going through the same thing. It is not easy, but helps alot to talk/write about it and share some emotions and ideas on how to deal with it, and move forward.

Thanks for being here everyone. Mother's Day will never be an easy day for any of us, but it does not have to be a complete disaster either. We have alot to be thankful for......enjoy this Sunday with your loved ones! :)

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Sage & Dave, and Everyone,

Hello Josi welcome.

Sage says, "Adults can (to a point) cope with dysfunctional environments. Kids can't, at least not in a healthy way, they only react. I did not have the coping skills at the time, nor was I taught coping skills as I did grow up. And yes, that did affect me as an adult. I only learned what I observed, and I have spent the better part of my adult life un-doing those behaviours." So very true. When behavior becomes so familiar and habitual it's hard to change. I think most adults react and don't give it a second thought. They go through their lives totally unaware and oblivious. The only thing that makes them change is emotional pain and they get uncomfortable. Otherwise, I feel most will not bother to change, and especially so for anyone with NPD character traits. I meet adults who don't seem to ever invest themselves in the un-doing of those behaviors, despite the positive outcome that it would have in their relationships. It's very sad. We need to give ourselves credit for the work that we've done and the people that we are. I see that we all have strived to work on ourselves and to become better people, despite our unbringing. It's a lot of work at times. It's not easy to look inside at painful feelings and emotions and it requires tremedous effort to stick with it, something that I still struggle with and do imperfectly. Although I still harbor resentment and anger, I believe I have always been fair, decent and honest with others. I'm still empathetic, however I have become increasingly more selective about who I demonstrate that towards. I'm not a bottomless vase of nuturance for others.

Sage says, "It blows my mind that with just a minimal amount of effort, I truly believe my parents could have made things better. What kind of people treat their kids in this way? I can't believe they "did the best they could'....anyone can see how blatently harmful their actions were. Which only leads me to believe, again, that they were only concerned with themselves, they had no regard for me at all. At the very least as an adult, when I did reach out to them time and time again, they could just acknowledge now the fact I had those feelings with reason - but no - that did not happen. Which just reinforces how I feel." I agree. I believe as well that minimal effort was required to make things better. The trouble is that they have too much invested in being right at all costs--their pride. They have a lot invested in their own version of events. They can't see or hear you as it's all about them. Sad thing is that I see this same behavior exhibited repeatedly with my husband's family and friends as well. It would take very little on their part to make things better, but they don't care to take those steps. Their only focus is getting what they need at your expense and getting their way at all costs. They see admitting their deficiences or any steps at reconcilation as weak or as submission and they want to win at all costs. It is all about them. They don't value relationships, because if they did, they would see the destruction and what it costs.

Have you ever read the book White Oleander or see the movie adaptation? It is a fictious work, but it deals with the theme of a narcissistic mother. The mother has all the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder as the book "Will I Ever be Good Enough" by Dr. Karyl McBride portrays in relation to daughtes of such mothers. Her daughter in turn, has all the signs of a daughter of a narcissistic mother as written by Nina Brown in her book "Children of the Self-Absorbed". The daughter provides the narcissistic "supply" as the captive attendant to her mother's grandiosity.

While living her life with her mother, the daughter fears abandonment, which is how her mother holds emotional power over her. The daughter also reacts by selfishly pursuing the married man of one of her adoptive foster parents in desperate need for love and attention. The daughter copies her mother's selfish behaviour modelling without any care for the foster parent mother and the other children.

The book opens up the little discussed issues of narcissism and emotional abuse that is more prevalent than acknowledged in society. The daughter's journey is one of self-realisation and self-parenting.

I watched the movie, although it was difficult to watch, but I found myself intrigued by it because I could relate to some of the scenes, types of people and experiences. I related to the abandonment, neglect and emotional abuse issues. I only thought of this yesterday as I was explaining to a friend about Santa Ana winds and the fire danger associated with them. I used to live in Santa Barbara where wildfires have been on the news--the book mentions the winds, so one thought mushroomed into another and I recalled the book and movie and our discussions about narcissism here.

I just worked on projects yesterday, but it felt good to get them done. I was flooded with memories too, but got through them. It was cold and rainy, so I didn't get outside and that would have been a good thing for me to do. Well, at least I did accomplish getting some work done and that was positive.

That's all for now. Thanks for listening and for being here.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Welcome Josi! I'm glad you found this site, and it is helping you deal with your situation. You write, "My childhood wasn't horrible, and my parents tend to leave very positive impressions on other people, which makes it very hard for anyone to understand my decision." My parents also make a good impression on others. They are very involved in charitable and church activities. They have thrown this in my face, when I have expressed my disappointment with them as parents. Like being liked and admired by others automatically makes them a good parent to me. I think they actually believe this. This is just one among many reasons I no longer have a relationship with them.

I wouldn't worry about the e-card you sent. You did what you thought was best at the time. Their reaction or lack of reaction will probably give you some idea of what you do next.

Sage says, "With me, what is gone now is that feeling of 'dread' that always came when I got email, phone calls, or cards, or the occasional visit every couple years, from them. Just the anticipation of any contact with them would set me off - but no more." I'm glad to hear you say this. I think this is a very positive development. I've noticed I don't get a little jolt every time the phone rings, or the mail comes, wondering if it is them.

Flower says, "We need to give ourselves credit for the work that we've done and the people that we are. I see that we all have strived to work on ourselves and to become better people, despite our upbringing. It's a lot of work at times. It's not easy to look inside at painful feelings and emotions and it requires tremendous effort to stick with it, something that I still struggle with and do imperfectly. Although I still harbor resentment and anger, I believe I have always been fair, decent and honest with others. I'm still empathetic, however I have become increasingly more selective about who I demonstrate that towards. I'm not a bottomless vase of nurturance for others." I couldn't agree more with what you say here. We have all taken a the more difficult, but much more rewarding path. And we should congratulate ourselves every day. And we absolutely do not have to be perfect at this. We just need to keep coming back and working on it. The encouragement and insight I've gotten from you, Flower, and Sage, have given me much encouragement and support as continue on this journey. Many, many thanks to you both!!

Well, I have some things I need to get done today. I hope you all got through Mother's Day in reasonable shape. Overall, it turned out well for me. That's all for now.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone.

Well, thanks for hearing me out.

Oooh, the feeling of dread! Before they would visit me I would have nightmares every night for the entire month before! My ex-husband thought I was over-reacting at first, but after a couple of years he started getting anxious himself!

My therapist asked me to pay attention to the physical sensation I'd get when I thought of them. I couldn't really pinpoint my emotions, and it took me a really long time to figure it out: Have you ever been on a very high roller coaster, and as you cart is climbing up and nearing the crest, your stomach just drops? Or when you get into a near-accident on the freeway? That feeling in your gut, sharp, sudden and very strong. It's fear. I was shocked to realize I was living in fear. Me, a grown, intelligent, confident woman, scared to death of my mother. I was making decisions based on what would anger her the least.

I think it's gonna be much easier to handle my occasional guilt over the estrangement than to live with crippling anxiety. Even today, I get a voice message from my ex-husband, and before I even listen, I'm already afraid that my mother called him to complain about my absence on mother's day, since she seems to love him more than me or my current husband. It turned out to be something else entirely, but that kind of behavior from her wouldn't be surprising. And I get angry that my first reaction was fear. I feel like I'm still letting her control my life through the emotional scars she has left on me. Hope I can let that go.

Here is an article that spurred me into considering estrangement in the first place. It describes our relationship to the "T."

http://www.wikihow.com/index.php?title=Deal-With-Impossible-People&printable=yes

Anyway, I don't want to suck up all the support I can get and not contribute anything. That's why I only read and didn't write for months. But I figure that if reading your stories helped me, maybe my stories could help someone else, too.

Have a good day.

Josi


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi everyone!

Great, I am so glad everyone got through M-Day alright. I had a few tears in the AM, when my husband and I talked about her a little bit. They were tears of anger and resentment, not guilt or regret. The rest of the day was good. We spent alot of time outside, it was sunny and warm and that helped alot. I love spring! I felt surprisingly content all evening.

Flower, I have not seen that movie, I will look it up sometime and watch it.

Josi said: "My childhood wasn't horrible, and my parents tend to leave very positive impressions on other people, which makes it very hard for anyone to understand my decision." Like Dave, my parents are the same way too. They put on a good 'front'. I have also had this thrown in my face. I believe my parents have this view of themselves that they are wonderful people and therefore wonderful parents too. It is so incredibly fake..why can't they face reality!?! I just can't wrap my head around how they think, how they live with themselves with seemingly no conscience whatsoever.

Yes, that 'feeling of dread'. It was horrible, and consuming for me. I am glad it has subsided. Thanks for the support with that, it is comforting to know others have felt that way too. It is such a relief to feel that subside now. It is just not worth it, and proved to be such a waste.

Josi, I have gone over those feelings of 'dread' with a therapist before too. I can relate to that fear. It is stifling. Thanks for sharing that.

Josi said: "I think it's gonna be much easier to handle my occasional guilt over the estrangement than to live with crippling anxiety." I agree, I do think it will be easier to deal with the estrangement, and all the associated emotions around being estranged, rather than the ongoing pain and anxiety that never ever ends with them, no matter what I do.

Josi said:"I feel like I'm still letting her control my life through the emotional scars she has left on me. Hope I can let that go." I understand this. I hold alot of anger towards my parents for all the time I wasted being depressed, insecure, sad, and angry...because of their actions, and well, lack of action or acknowledgment they showed me. It is something that we will be able to let go of in time. I have to believe that and am working towards that. Letting go is not easy. I was in therapy a few years ago dealing with this, and just recently started therapy again a couple weeks ago. And it is helping.

"The best revenge is to live a good life." I can't remember who said this, but I remind myself of this quote. While they have and continue to affect me, I am working hard to help myself and taking action to prevent them from hurting me any further.

Take care of yourselves, so glad we have a place to talk about this. I would also like to say thanks again, because our conversations here have really helped me alot, more than you will ever know! :) :)

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi all,

Started the "Narcissistic Family" book, that you have also been reading Dave. (The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman.)

Really hitting home for me in a big way. Interesting the connection with Adult Children of Alcoholics. I read a book about ACOA years ago, and it resonated with me.

Again, what Josi said: "My childhood wasn't horrible, and my parents tend to leave very positive impressions on other people, which makes it very hard for anyone to understand my decision." They refer to the absence of the very obvious forms of severe abuse including alcoholism, physical abuse, severe neglect - but in particular alcoholism - yet how some people still have the similar traits of an 'Adult Childrn Of Alcoholics'. They refer to the abuse as very 'covert' in nature which I think is a good term for it.

My father was an alcoholic, and quit drinking when I was about 14 I think. I can't really remember exactly when he quit. I left home at 15. In any case, he did replace that addiction with pills. Which went on for many years, but of course was never talked about. Last time I saw him, it still seemed like he leaned on the meds quite a bit. So I can relate to the ACOA traits. But in hindsight, I see there were deeper problems, not just the alcoholism. It was the Narcissism. I was initially just seeing my mother as Narcissistic, but I see my father as having those traits too.

My mother always brushes off my emotions and when I bring up the subject of the past. She compares my childhood to kids who grew up locked in basements, tortured, raped, malnurished etc. She says: "I should be so lucky that I was not one of those kids!" She insinuates that I am just not appreciative of what I did have. That I was spoiled, that it was not all that bad for me growing up, that my father did quit drinking and I should forgive him and leave the past where it belongs, in the past. What a cop out that is. All the while never once admitting any of their mistakes or shortcomings in relation to how I was treated. Never, not once, has she even admitted anything at all was not good. Just points the finger at me immediately, says she did the best she could, and blames me for causing trouble by bringing up the past, that I was not appreciative. Once again, it is all about their needs being met. And pretending everything was great and they were great, putting on a squeaky clean front for the world to see is what they did to meet their own needs of approval and acceptance by others. There was no concern whether my needs were met or not. My basic needs as a kid were not met. And to this day, they do not even want to hear what I have to say. That is because it has nothing to do with me. My needs are STILL not being met by them; my needs as an adult to be acknowledged by my parents that is. This 'need' will never be met by them. So, I am going to find ways to move on, meet my own needs, include those people in my life who do 'meet my needs', who I can have a healthy 'give and take relationship' with. This no longer involves my parents in any way.

Just some thoughts....Have a great day!

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Well, "They did the best they could." I honestly believe that in my parents' case, they do believe that. They both had horrific childhoods marked by abuse and neglect, and in my mom's case, extreme poverty as well. So her first argument is that she gave me the best thing she could give me: financial stability. She totally forgot to consider the affection part of it, and I have long ago forgiven her for the neglect part of my childhood. Yeah, it was bad, and yeah, it produced awful results in my psyche that took a long time to undo, but I understand that they were young and unprepared for the task and did what they thought was right.

But the stuff that has happened since, their relationship with me as an adult, that's what I can't live with. I won't tolerate that behavior just because they're my parents.

And they refuse to see how it has affected their own happiness as well. They think they're great people because they're so friendly and social, always traveling and being adventurous. But it never occurs to them that their friends are always new friends. The only friendship they've had that lasted more than a couple of years are people who either work for them or borrow money from them on a regular basis. Everybody else disappears after a while. My mom blames my dad's offensive jokes, and never gives it a second thought. Really, 35 years' worth of friendships gone because of bad jokes? Not a single one was perhaps something she did?

So there you go. She can do no wrong. Everything that goes wrong is somebody else's fault. So this is not the kind of person I want to be around. I do believe she loves me, in her twisted way. Last I heard from her, she wrote that even though I am truly such a horrible person (Quote: beautiful on the outside but ugly inside), she still loves me and she doesn't deserve a daughter who won't even send news once in a while. But I'm done with that. Plus it shows that it's about her: She needs love, she deserves it, plus what are other people going to think of her if she tells them I don't want any contact?

See, she is herself extremely starved of love. She pushed everybody away with this behavior. My dad takes her side, but she has complained for 20 years that he is aloof and depressed and sleeps all the time, and that he doesn't talk to her and he's a loser, and therefore she wants a divorce. But they're still miserably together. She wants love and closeness, yet she doesn't know how to get it. And though I hate to hurt her, I can't give her what she needs without harming myself.

It was the same with my previous marriage. My poor ex-husband was and possibly still is crazy about me, but the relationship was destructive. I think it is a big step forward for us to recognize when it's time to remove ourselves from toxic relationships and make a change, even when it's very difficult. I cried for months after I left my ex-husband, and we would cry every single time we talked, even after I became engaged to my current husband. Letting go of him and our marriage was an extremely difficult step, but I am so glad I had the courage to take it. I see my estrangement the same way. Hard to do, but necessary.

Take good care everyone,

Josi


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Josi,

Glad you could come to terms with forgiving your parents for how you were treated as a child. I really admire that...I am still working on doing that myself, so much resentment..sigh..I am having a hard time letting it go. My parents did not have great upbringings either, and I can see in a way how that influenced the way they treated me. I am not positive that anything they would have said to me as adult would have changed the way I feel right now. At this point, I have realized that the fact is, they don't want to even try. So I am moving forward. I feel it was their choice to not bother with me, and possibly don't have the capacity to show love, empathy or admit their own shortcomings. The really hide behind the fact that they feel they did absolutely nothing to hurt me. Nothing.

My parents lack long-lasting friendships too. I have noticed that with them since I was a kid. I always thought it was because they are so absorbed in my brothers life, that they lost their own life somewhere along the way. They also have no interests or hobbies either. Other than watching T.V. and gushing about my brother. Sad. The only people they socialize with are my mother's brothers/sisters who don't live near them, so they only see them a few times a year.

Seems to be a common theme - blaming and refusing to accept any responsibility for their own actions. My mother is exactly this way, just brushing things off or pointing the finger at someone else. She does not do anything wrong, and always does the best she can.

My mother would prefer a very superficial relationship that involved only greeting cards, a yearly visit and the occassional email with '''news'''. I believe this is so she has something to talk about to my other relatives, and as a result would appear that they are involved in my life. That is all she used to write to me in the emails. '''News''' about relatives I have never met, or not seen in 20 yrs or more. Nothing was ever even remotely personal.

Anyways, once again, that is what is important to her, what she wants. Who cares what I think or need? She never cared before, so why on earth did I ever expect them to change and to care about me as an adult? I wonder what it would have been like if she said, just one time: "I care about you and want a relationship with you." She never ever has.

Good for you Josi for recognizing the toxic relationship and taking action to make positive changes in your life! It is certainly not easy to do. I used to slip very easily into toxic relationships, but am very conscience, and cautious, who I let into my life now. I agree, we have to do what is necessary, to make the changes within ourselves and in our relationships to be able to be happy ourselves. I know letting go of the relationship with my parents is something I must do, it is too painful to carry on the way things have been going for all these years. Nothing ever changes, things have only gotten worse no matter how hard I tried. Can't take it anymore.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Sage!

Oh, funny how alike they are. Yeah, I would get international phone calls that lasted about 90 minutes, and I would barely talk. The whole time she was either talking about herself or gossiping about other people.

I think it's very interesting how things can get turned around depending on the way you look at them. I think our parents have some sort of inferiority complex as a result of the neglect they themselves suffered. They can't feel better about themselves because they are unforgiving towards their own failures, therefore they are unforgiving towards us as well. But to live like that, feeling like a failure all the time? It must be awful, so their strategy is to project all their shortcomings on us, then feel like a better person by comparison.

I am actually having a hard time explaining this. Maybe an example will work better: My mom and I have roughly the same height and body type. She has many siblings, and all the women in her family become diabetic after years of living a sedentary life and eating pints of ice cream every night. Well, I am very active and still fit in the same clothes I bought ten years ago. She is very overweight, despite countless diets, multiple liposuctions, tummy tuck, lymphatic treatments, and whatever else they do in Brazil. She has extremely high blood pressure and diabetes. When I was training for a marathon and running 40 miles a week, she would say that it doesn't matter what I do, I will end up like her. "You just wait, when you're 60, you'll be taking 10 prescription pills every day." Or as I grew into a good-looking woman, her strategy for the first few years was to always point out how much we looked alike. But as she started to age, it seems she actually resented all the attention I got, so she would show up at family events with my conservative in-laws dressed like a professional: sheer black blouse with her bra exposed, skin-tight pants, knee-high boots, blue contacts, hair extensions. It was shocking. Like she refused to not be the center of attention. When she would visit me, within 10 minutes she'd be telling me how I was a "little chubby," even though she looks like a barrel. Or if I was skinny enough, I was "starting to show some wrinkles, and maybe it's time to have surgery." Jeez, thanks.

She has two options: Admit that she was wrong, be happy that I am not following in her footsteps, and feel regret about all the things that could have turned out differently in her life, or continue on lying to herself, believing that she didn't have any control over the bad things that happened to her and playing the victim.

I think they are very afraid of admitting their own mistakes, especially as they get older and older, because then it becomes an entire lifetime wasted as opposed to an isolated mistake. They might tell themselves and everybody around them that they are confident and emotionally healthy people, but I think deep down their self-esteem is very, very low. And the only way to make themselves feel better is to show off what they think will impress other people: "Look my wonderful scientist son! Who cares he's an alcoholic." But she can't show off a good relationship with you, so her only way out is to play the martyr: "Oh, we were great parents. Just look at our son! Yet our daughter has no appreciation for us." They get more sympathy if they play the brave martyrs who raised a terrible child than to show an unhappy daughter that makes them look suspiciously guilty.

I think that they are trapped in this ridiculous bubble of denial, and I actually feel sorry for them. I think that is how I can rationalize a way to sometimes forgive my parents (not always!) I keep thinking of how unprepared and unsophisticated they were. Then my mother went through a month of therapy when I was 10, and to this day she proclaims that her head is very well-resolved and she doesn't need any more therapy (her own words). Amazing!

All righty. Time to go to sleep and dream sweet dreams that do not involve our crazy parents!

Josi


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

I feel like I've been getting behind in my postings here.

Josi, I'm glad you've started writing more here. I hope you find in helpful. I know I have. It's really helped the last several months as I've been working though what it means to be completely estranged from my parents and brother.

You mention the dread of the visits. I know it well. Usually a month before I would see them, I would stop sleeping well, and become more irritable and depressed. It would take several weeks after a visit to feel normal again. I would limit my visits to once a year. I kept thinking I could handle this. I realize now I should have trusted my feelings and stayed away. Live and learn.

You say, "So there you go. She can do no wrong. Everything that goes wrong is somebody else's fault." That's my parents exactly. They have done nothing wrong. Ever! My father once wrote to me that he didn't think his drinking caused any problems for our family. I guess he forgot about all the screaming, drunken arguments with my mother, all the times he didn't come home in the evening, or how he gambled away all his money. It's just too much. Neither one of them will ever acknowledge that they are anything less than saints. They will tell outright lies to maintain their claim to saintliness.

You say, "I think they are very afraid of admitting their own mistakes, especially as they get older and older, because then it becomes an entire lifetime wasted as opposed to an isolated mistake." I think this is my parents dilemma. It's easier for the them to think I'm mentally ill, or an elder abuser, for telling them how unhappy I am around them, then it is for them to think perhaps they did something wrong. So they reject me, their own son, rather than face the truth about themselves. These are people I never need to see or hear of again. They have always been toxic to me, and will always be toxic to me. I'm glad I finally figured this out. Whew!!

Hi Sage, I'll be interested to hear more about what you think of the "Narcissistic Family" book. It hit home for me too! I particularly like that it is focused not just on describing the characteristics of these families, but also on how to heal ourselves, if we grew up like this. So far, I've found it very insightful and helpful.

I'm glad you got through Mother's Day without too much upset, and ended up having a good day. Good for you!!

I'm going mountain biking this weekend with some friends tomorrow and won't be back until Monday. No laptop this trip, so I'll be off-line. I hope you all have great weekend. Thanks for being there!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Again, what Josi said: "My childhood wasn't horrible, and my parents tend to leave very positive impressions on other people, which makes it very hard for anyone to understand my decision." They refer to the absence of the very obvious forms of severe abuse including alcoholism, physical abuse, severe neglect - but in particular alcoholism - yet how some people still have the similar traits of an 'Adult Childrn Of Alcoholics'.

Sage says, "They refer to the abuse as very 'covert' in nature which I think is a good term for it." Covert is a term used in a lot of the books that I've read, one's dealing with manipulation. Manipulative behavior is another hallmark characterisitc of the self-absorbed. They tend to use people interpersonally and it can be very covert.

Josi said: "My childhood wasn't horrible, and my parents tend to leave very positive impressions on other people, which makes it very hard for anyone to understand my decision." I see this more with my in-laws than I do with my own parents. I don't know how positive of an impression they give to others or what other people's view of them were. I don't recollect either of my parents being really social, like social butterflys. They did go to church and were involved in work, etc., and gave to political organizations. I recall my father was invovled in either the Masons or Shriners and Giddons. I don't recollect my mothers interests. When they were at home they both seemed more inclined towards introversion (I don't see being introverted as a bad thing). I see how my in-laws presented themselves as much more superficial, always trying to manipulate people's impressions of them. It sickened me, given what I know about the family as people.

Sage says, "My mother always brushes off my emotions and when I bring up the subject of the past." My mother does the same. She even said that we were not treated that bad! She continues to deny the abusive behaviors.

Sage says, "She insinuates that I am just not appreciative of what I did have. That I was spoiled, that it was not all that bad for me growing up..." I can relate to this too. She always turns things around on me and puts it all back on me. It always comes out that I'm ungrateful. She always turns it around to pouring her resentment on me for what a difficult child I was and how I was so terrible to deal with.

Sage says, "All the while never once admitting any of their mistakes or shortcomings in relation to how I was treated. Never, not once, has she even admitted anything at all was not good. Just points the finger at me immediately, says she did the best she could, and blames me for causing trouble by bringing up the past, that I was not appreciative. Once again, it is all about their needs being met." Ditto for my mother. She does this repeatedly and I know that it will continue and not stop. She will never admitt to any mistakes.

Sage says, "And to this day, they do not even want to hear what I have to say. That is because it has nothing to do with me. My needs are STILL not being met by them; my needs as an adult to be acknowledged by my parents that is. This 'need' will never be met by them." I can relate to this as well. I wish that were not so. My father died, so there was no resolution with him. He denied what he did up until the end, but by them my interactions with him were infrequent. I did have to cope with loss and grief when he died. I had a dream about being at his gravesite alone and talking to him. I had written him a letter. I was alone. I think this was about my needing to grieve alone, rather than have others always trying to get their needs met with me in their interactions. I went with my mother to my father's place of birth and helped her to pick out caskets and met with some of the relatives. I was taking care of her again. I had delayed grief, because I could only really feel it until I returned home and even then I didn't really have anyone to talk it over with, anyone ot listen to help me process my grief.

Some of my mother's letters and cards are sitting in a pile (folder) unanswered and unopened. The feelings I get when I look at them is that I don't want to deal with it right now. I'm tired of dealing with it, along with everything else.

Josi, thanks for sharing here. It's good to get more perspectives. It helps to know one isn't alone with their situation.

Well that's all for now. I have work to get too.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone,

Hi Josi, Yes, they are all alot alike in many ways. Before I found this forum, I never would have believed other people were in a similar situation as I was. It still surprises me, I was alone with this for so long. It has helped me to share my story, and read others stories. It helps me to not turn blame on myself as I often used to. It is very clear to me now that it was not 'me'. Not my fault when I was a child, and further problems that developed were also not my fault as an adult.

The gossiping seems to be a common theme too. I wonder...Dave, did your parents gossip alot too? Mine sure did. And obsessively talking and gushing about my cousins (whom they hardly knew, and rarely saw), I always got the sense they just wished I were like them. That could be my own insecurity talking, not sure. They talk about them like they are involved in their everyday lives, but they hardly knew them. They lived their own 'fantasy' I suppose, of how their daughter was supposed to be like in an ideal world of their own creation. Too bad, because I was a bright, creative, and pretty good little kid. I was sad....but not mentally ill, or a trouble maker, or a burden. That I know for sure.

Josi, I agree about their unforgiving attitude. My mother holds on to little tiny events, things I have said (even if I have already apologized for them), some of which she twists to suit her own needs, and used to throw them at me every now and then. Very childish. Why can't she just say: "You said 'this' to me and it hurt my feelings." But no, that has never happened. Which is why, when I approached the situation in that sort of heart felt way, it did not solve anything. She was totally non-responsive.

Thanks for sharing that story about your mom Josi, I know exactly what you mean. It sounds like she is jealous of you as well. That is just plain ignorant to force her negative attitude on you by saying you'll end up like her. She is the way she is because she thought that way her whole life, and so it happened. She didn't live up to her own expectations for herself, and was bitter about that. Of course she 'should' have been happy you were not following in her footsteps!! She is bitter, negative and narrow minded. Just like my Mom is. Sounds very over the top Narcissistic. My mother was always very obsessed with how others looked (not herself though). She used to gush about how great my brother looked all the time. I will never ever forget the time my brother was living with me, she came for a visit, and my brother and I both met her at the door. She just gushed at how great HE looked....and well, I just got a 'hi'. And, if I must say so myself, I looked pretty darn good! lol Thinking about it now makes me laugh, but I can see how as a young kid it made me feel very insecure.

Josi, I agree, their self-esteem must be very low to live their lives somewhat outside of themselves. And as my parents do, through my ultra-magnificent/loser brother. Thanks for validating my feelings about my brother. Josi said: "Oh, we were great parents. Just look at our son! Yet our daughter has no appreciation for us." That is exactly what they do. My brother is an arrogant asss. Not one person who met him while he stayed with us thought anything different. And not only my close friends. It included neighbours, co-workers, and my in-laws. Funny how it seems the whole world can see what a loser he is except my parents. Sadly, they made him that way. Right now, I am just glad I am not like him. I sleep well at night, and could never live as he does.

Dave said: "My father once wrote to me that he didn't think his drinking caused any problems for our family. I guess he forgot about all the screaming, drunken arguments with my mother, all the times he didn't come home in the evening, or how he gambled away all his money. It's just too much." He did cause problems, deep down he must know that. Oh, how I can relate. My father never said anything at all to me, but the way he joked about his drinking after he quit, was just a slap in the face. My father also blew alot of money. I believe at one point we did go bankrupt(?) During his drinking years he bought himself all kinds of 'toys' like Ski-Doos, went on trips to Vegas, and well, I can only imagine the amount of money on liquor. I will never forget the times the police phoned our house, I would run to the phone thinking it was my dad....but it was the police, and they phoned to tell us that dad was in jail. I remember the police officer's voice on the phone, I could tell something was wrong by the tone of his voice when he asked for my mother. I wonder what he was thinking when a little kid answered the phone?! How revolting, considering my father used to be a cop himself. Complete and utter denial isn't it? Pathetic. It disgusts me now. They had choices back then, they were adults. Just as we do, as adults, right now.

Dave said: "These are people I never need to see or hear of again. They have always been toxic to me, and will always be toxic to me. I'm glad I finally figured this out. Whew!!" Exactly. That is how I feel. You know, I think there was a 'window' of time when I think I could have worked on building a relationship with my parents if they were willing. But that time has passed a long time ago, and nothing but resentment has built since then. I am done, and I do not feel bad about the decision I made at all.

Dave, I can't thank you enough for recommending the "Narcissistic Family" book. I cannot even begin to explain how deeply this hit home for me. I am on the last chapter. I could relate closely to each and every chapter. It goes along perfectly with the new therapist I have started seeing. She too is not just offering support, or getting too much into the explanation of the psychology of the 'why this happened' - she is very action oriented, and that IS what I need right now. Forcing me to look at what I am doing to keep myself from getting better. I don't want to complain, and go over and over what happened anymore. I want to improve my life now, realize behaviours and where they come from, and change them in me. Take responsibility for myself, my life, and take myself out of the 'victim' role. They made reference to some types of therapy just offering support and no action - and I agree that just re-inforces harmful behaviours. I can see this as being very true, and something to watch out for. Whew, I actually have found the book overwhelming, but at the same time refreshing! Going to let it absorb and review some chapters and will post more on that subject another day. Would like to discuss it with you. I am doing some of the exercises.

Dave, I hope you had a great bike trip! We had wonderful weather Sat and Sun, but today there is about an inch of snow on the ground!!!! Hope you didn't get any part of this weather system where you are at! :)

Flower, My parents tended to gravitate towards a couple of those types of organizations as well, Masons, Lions club etc. But I too cannot pinpoint any interests they had, or hobbies. They always seemed pre-occupied with what other people were doing. Now that they are older, they still seem to be that way. No friends, no hobbies, no interests. Just TV. Sad in a way. And sometimes I do feel a little sorry for them, although not for long. They never felt sorry for the little girl who cried and cried and cried and felt so horribly alone, and left out of the family unit. Sitting on the sidelines as they doted over my brother. Not sure how I will ever get over that - but I will. sigh...

Flower, Thanks for relating to so much of what I say. I wish we did not have this in common!! I have gone over my 'stories' countless times in my head, and what is seeming to be countless times here on this forum too. I am really focusing on helping myself now, healing. It is time and I deserve it! We all deserve that! :) :)

I hope everyone had a good weekend! Thanks so much for being here, you are all helping me to (finally) work through this.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Sage says, "Before I found this forum, I never would have believed other people were in a similar situation as I was. It still surprises me, I was alone with this for so long." I always thought there were people out there that had similar issues and felt the same. Finding people who were/are willing to discuss those feelings and issues was another matter. And yes, I felt very alone in dealing with these issues too, because I had a hard time finding anyone who would listen or allow me to talk about my feelings. I believe most people are taught to suppress those emotions and to not discuss them, otherwise everyone here would have others to turn too, instead of coming here for support. The emotional support we have all needed around this issue, we didn't find at all or to the degree that we needed and have found here. It also helps to find people who have similar experiences and, even more important, who are willing to discuss them. A good many people probably have similar issues, they just haven't gotten to the point where they feel a need or are willing to discuss them.

Also we've all discussed the negative reactions and judgements that we've experienced from others around this issue too. That seems a common theme here, so in the face of such negative responses why would we feel emotionally safe to explore the issues to the degree that we've been able to here. Trust me, I would like to be able to talk about my feelings as I do here with others, but I just haven't found people who can offer understanding or compassion. I think most are uncomfortable and it's a taboo subject. I felt silenced and shut down every time I tried. Instead I was given a lot of unhelpful advice, cliches and simple solutions to complex problems, which I found emotionally stifling.

Josi says, "It's been very helpful to know I'm not the only one. Thank you all for sharing. I'm an only child, and it's certainly hard to talk about it without being judged." I agree. I've found a lot of judgement around the issue.

Josi said, "I hate having to explain myself, so most of the time I just lie about it, which makes me feel horrible. I don't like to lie. But it's easier than dealing with the horrified reaction: "How could you do that to your parents!?" I agree. It doesn't feel good to have to explain oneself--to defend your position. If someone responded with less judgement and more understanding instead, then it would open up the issue for discussion. Disagreeing with someone's viewpoint is a different issue than judging someone's feelings. I've been on the receiving end of a lot of judgement about my feelings and actions.

I honestly believe that there are many people out there who have similar issues. They just don't want to deal with them and maybe find themselves in a similar dilemma of having others judge them, which of course would stifle the honest expression of their emotions. A lot of people would not bother with therapy either as they'll take the path of least resistance. People are just not comfortable talking about their emotions, except perhaps the happy ones. We live in a culture which encourages that thou should only have happy thoughts and only express happy thoughts and if one feels conflicted or anything that doesn't resemble happy then they'd better keep quiet about it. At the same time people chatter on endlessly about material possessions, money and sexuality in the most banal and idiotic way. All these bottled up repressed emotions come out in a host of destructive ways towards others and of course are then denied.

I could be here all day, even day after day, relating stories about the sheer numbers of people who have come to me with their personal problems, dumping and unloading on me with very private details of their unhappiness. I've expressed to all of them to seek therapy or counseling. And most of them get angry at this suggestion, or will not seek the help that they so desperately need. The list of excuse-making is endless, but it doesn't stop them from trying to unload about their unhappiness and anger. The anger turns to other forms. I've even had some people tell me that they don't need a therapist because they have me. One would think suggesting counseling or therapy to someone would make them stop and think about what they are doing and revealing, but it doesn't stop them. They then start to deny their behaviors. I've also heard a lot of people express how it is easier for them to talk about their very personal stories to strangers than what it is to talk to their friends and families. Why is that? So yes, I think that there are a lot of people out there with family problems. The only difference I see is that we are all willing to discuss them here, and we have all sought counseling and help with our issues. We've taken a harder road and we are all trying to do something about it. That is why I don't dismiss our discussions here as mere complaints.

Well, that is all for now. Sorry for all the typos and mistakes on the previous post. Hope you all had a nice weekend.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Flower said: "I could be here all day, even day after day, relating stories about the sheer numbers of people who have come to me with their personal problems, dumping and unloading on me with very private details of their unhappiness. I've expressed to all of them to seek therapy or counseling. And most of them get angry at this suggestion, or will not seek the help that they so desperately need. The list of excuse-making is endless, but it doesn't stop them from trying to unload about their unhappiness and anger. The anger turns to other forms. I've even had some people tell me that they don't need a therapist because they have me. One would think suggesting counseling or therapy to someone would make them stop and think about what they are doing and revealing, but it doesn't stop them. They then start to deny their behaviors."

Flower, While you may want to try to help these people, you can't. You can't change how people act or change what they think. You are NOT a therapist, and maybe just stating that to them would help. The truth is that it is up to you whether you expose yourself to these people, or not. It is your choice, you are not obligated to try to solve anyone's problems. If this is creating anxiety for you, you need to change what you are doing, stop putting yourself in that situation.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

I had a really nice weekend mountain biking with some friends. I've been pretty intense lately trying to sort though issues regarding my parents. It felt really good to take a break and just have some fun, and not think about much of anything. I don't discuss my personal issues with my mountain biking friends, and I think I prefer it this way. I don't really want to think about and discuss my parents all the time.

Hi Sage, yes my mother did gossip a lot. And my dad bragged a lot about just about everything, no matter how insignificant. He would brag about how great he was at running a bingo game for the Knights of Columbus. Jeez! And yet he seemed to have very little interest in my job at the time which involved managing a test equipment business with a couple 100 employees all around the world. Do you get the impression he's a little self-absorbed???

Anyway, back to my mom's gossip. She had a couple of themes. One would be to talk to me about all the wonderful things my cousins were doing, but seemed to have no interest in my accomplishments. Another one would be how jealous her sister was of her. My mom did everything better, according to her, and her sister was a petty, jealous, incompetent person.

She was also had a very annoying habit around my wife's parents. My wife is an only child, so our two children are their only grandchildren. I have one brother with two children, so my parents have 4 grandchildren. On the rare occasion my parents have been around my wife's parents, all my parents can do is talk about how wonderful my brothers children are. How stupid is this. They could enjoy discussing the grandchildren they have in common, but my parents have to brag about my brother's children. Give me a break!! My in-laws notice this and have commented to my wife how annoying this is. I don't blame them one bit.

I'm glad you like the "Narcissistic Family" book. I really like the emphasis with getting on with our life, rather than just mulling over the past. While we need to understand the past to move forward, there is a risk of getting stuck in the past. I want to understand the past, deal with it, and move on. I like the exercises dealing with seeing ourselves as children in a very positive light. As part of this I put a picture of myself of when I was 12 years old on my desk so I can see it often.

Flower says, "I could be here all day, even day after day, relating stories about the sheer numbers of people who have come to me with their personal problems, dumping and unloading on me with very private details of their unhappiness." You seem to have an innate ability to help people. Others seem to sense this ability and seek your help. Have you ever considered becoming a therapist? It sounds like you have a gift that benefits others. You could help others, and make a living doing it. Just a thought.

I continue to sort through feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, and unworthiness as they pop up in my life. It's clear how they all developed in relationship to my parents. I feel like I'm making progress mourning the relationship I never had with my parents. I also feel like I'm making progress replacing these negative thought patterns with healthier thoughts. Of course it goes in cycles, but the overall trend is upward.

That's all for now. Take care of yourselves. Thanks for being there!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave! Glad you had a good trip, and it gave you some time to diffuse all you have been dealing with lately! I know what you mean, you said: "..I don't discuss my personal issues with my mountain biking friends, and I think I prefer it this way. I don't really want to think about and discuss my parents all the time." Important to do this. I have mentioned this to a couple friends...but I don't bring it up very often. I am making an effort to think about them less. Therapy is helping me with that.

Interesting your mother was a 'bragger' too. So weird. My dad was an ego-maniac in alot of ways too (perhaps comes with their occupations too). My mom did the same about my cousins. I would bring up anything, any subject, and she would somehow have a story about a cousin who did this and that - only a thousand times better. And of course, as you know, my brother was also a main topic of gossip. No matter what I accomplished in my own career, which was quite alot, they didn't want to hear it. They would hear a little....then jump to the subject of what someone else did. A favorite cousin of theirs was one that worked for NASA (ya, a Rocket Scientist...lol Geesh). A cousin they, or I, never really knew. They talked about her ALOT. It was always something distant and meaningless they focussed on, never in the here and now, or what was right in front of them, or someone 'close' to them (like me). Interesting about how your mother seemed to feel so threatened by her sister. And by everyone. My mom was quick to judge and point fingers like that too.

The rare occassions that my in-laws met my parents, it was the same sort of scenario. My in-laws also noticed how focussed on my brother that my parents were. After all, it is so so obvious! My MIL mentioned this to me, and it hurt, but at the same time I knew it was truth, I had known it for years and years.

I agree about the "Narcissistic Family" book. I have just done the 'photo' exercise too. I felt very afraid actually going through with it. But it is comforting. I see myself as I was then. Innocent. I have thought about it before, but actually looking at the picture somehow reinforces it. What I like about the book too is the reference to the patterns we develop as adults as a result of our growing up with Narcissists. Deeply ingrained habits and behaviours we learned from our 'mentors', our parents. And most importantly, to recognize them, and then change them. It is our responsibility, nobody elses. We don't have to change, but we can if we want to. I want to.

Flower, Maybe Dave is right - consider becoming a therapist! Good point. That way you would learn more about how to actually help people effectively, to create the patient/therapist boundary, and also get paid for your time, a bonus! :) I think a natural tendency to want to listen to other people's problems is necessary for anyone who considers entering the field.

Take care everyone,
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Dave, says, "I've been pretty intense lately trying to sort though issues regarding my parents. It felt really good to take a break and just have some fun, and not think about much of anything." I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. We all need time to have fun and not think about issues or problems. I try to find balance, which is not always easy to do.

Dave says, "I don't discuss my personal issues with my mountain biking friends, and I think I prefer it this way. I don't really want to think about and discuss my parents all the time." Were you responding to something I posted? I would agree that some people wouldn't be appropriate to talk to about your personal issues. I don't want to think about and discuss my parents all the time either. That would border on obsessive anyway and I doubt it would be possible, even if I desired it, which I don't.

Do either one of you wish that you had friends that you could talk to and openly discuss these issues with outside of this forum? I did desire that and actively sought those relationships, but I didn't find it. What I did find is that when I was open about my feelings and would try to bring up an issue, the other person would respond immediately with their own unresolved issues and then they would dominate the interaction with their issues and it became all about them. I would also find the other extreme of people very closed down emotionally who offered judgements, cliches or simple solutions to complex problems. If you didn't find this forum would you both still be seeking other people to talk to about these issues?

My parent's self-absorption was also a problem for me as well as my sister's excessive love of self. I encountered this character deficiency quite a bit in other people that I've come in contact with.

Regarding empathy and sensitivity: I had this girlfriend who I befriended in the 6th grade. To make a long story short she was the one that tried to involve me in prostitution and other criminal activity. We had an on again off again relationship up until the very end of high school. By then, I'd re-evaluated the relationship and distanced myself from her because she was toxic for me. My parents, as usual were too self-absorbed to know what was going on with me, and I wouldn't have trusted their reactions anyway. They always blamed me for everything.

Years later, almost 5 years or so with no contact, she sent a letter to me in care of my mother. My mother sent it on to me. Curiosity got the better of me and I read the letter and it stirred a lot of unhappy memories of my experiences with her. During the same time frame 2 other girls who I'd known and parted company with also contacted me by mail. It was very weird to me as I'd moved on in my life and had no desire to see these people as I'd re-evaluated the relationships and found them wanting. I didn't feel close to them, given the circumstances. One woman was apologetic for something she said that I no longer recalled. I didn't bother to write her back as I'd decided that the relationship was not healthy for me. I don't recall what I wrote to the other person--I think I did respond to her and she wrote me a letter and got defensive and for whatever reason couldn't hear my feelings. The other woman (the one who had tried to involve me in prostitution) I waited almost a year to write her back. She responded and told me that it was so long before I wrote her back that she didn't feel that she was going to hear from me. Her letter was also apologetic in tone--it was filled with a type of regret, however she did not take responsibility, which is very different. She made comments that we had gone separate ways, etc., which was not how I felt. She wrote that "we had once been so close," and then she stated that I always had an "amazing sensitivity," and that she hoped I still had that. (That really stood out and I found it curious.) She also said that she found most people lacking (sensitivity). Sensitivity for her she stated was like an on/off light switch. Saved energy when it was off. "Amazing sensitivity," is what she wrote and I find that quite an observation to have of someone as an evolving 6th grader! Funny how she found others' lacking and hoped that I still had that sensitivity. People become so angry with me when I don't give them what they think I should--my time and energy, my sensitivity. Just because you may sense something about another person doesn't give you the right to demand it or to impose your expectations of what you think you deserve from others, especially if you don't offer that yourself.

I wrote her back once, because I think I felt obligated. When I recall the feeling of obligation, I know that was imposed on me by others--their responses confused me. I felt bad for having what I feel now would be normal reactions to receiving that kind of letter out-of-the-blue and all the memories it brought up for me. What I recall the most was feeling overwhelmed by a flood of memories that I didn't want and with no one to help me sort it all out. Once again, people offered cliches and focused on "forgive and forget", never really thinking about or responding to the here and now of what I was feeling and telling them in the moment. Their focus was on her and what she may have been feeling or why she may have written it, not relating at all to how I may have felt. This reaction feels very common to me. People seem so obtuse about what motivates them and their own emotional state.

Dave, I agree that people sense something--sensitivity, empathy and they seek me out. I do not seek them out. I desire mutualism, reciprocity and respect in relationships, which hasn't been easy to find given that so many people seem to border on excess or extremes. I've brought this up to my therapist and will bring it up again--it's very difficult being in situations where you know too much, because of being attuned to the subtle nuances of emotions.

My husband accompanied me to a marriage counselor a few times (he was unwilling to work on himself or committ himself to the process). Some of the discussions were related to his family and people that he associated with. The therapist told him that I picked up on everything, while he picked up on NOTHING! He told him that he put up with s**t from people. Then he asked my husband or was trying to get him to recognize how I help him to stand up for himself. The therapist also asked him why he let me take the heat for everything. He also said that my husband walked a mile to avoid any kind of conflict. What he said to me was that I had enough feeling about these situations for the two of us. He confronted my husband directly and asked him what he did with his anger. Later to me he expressed his frustration with my husband, stating that he had layers of insulation around him. I forgot about some of this because I've been so overwhelmed with everything else--just too much stuff coming at me from all directions. This male therapist made some comments to me in a few sessions that I had alone with him, and they were inappropriate, so I stopped seeing him. I found another therapist, who wound up going crazy (long story)--she was picked up and institutionalized. She was educated, degreed and licensed, etc. and also on my insurance list of providers. I don't put myself in these situations. Yes, I did make a choice to see these therapists, so yes, that is a choice, but I had no way of knowing the outcome. I took myself out of these situations, but I do recognize what it did--there were consequences for me.

Dave thank you for what you said here and for seeing the positive, "You seem to have an innate ability to help people. Others seem to sense this ability and seek your help....It sounds like you have a gift that benefits others." It doesn't feel like a gift at times, because I need help and this is something that seems out of balance for me. I think maybe it's a double-edged sword. I've had trouble finding balance. I do assert myself, I do draw boundaries again and again.

Well that's enough for now.

Take care everyone,

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Flower said: "Do either one of you wish that you had friends that you could talk to and openly discuss these issues with outside of this forum? I did desire that and actively sought those relationships, but I didn't find it. What I did find is that when I was open about my feelings and would try to bring up an issue, the other person would respond immediately with their own unresolved issues and then they would dominate the interaction with their issues and it became all about them. I would also find the other extreme of people very closed down emotionally who offered judgements, cliches or simple solutions to complex problems. If you didn't find this forum would you both still be seeking other people to talk to about these issues?"

I do talk about these issues with people I know outside this forum. I have always talked to my husband about this issue, in detail, and he has been very supportive. I am slowly opening up more to a couple close friends as well. Feels good to do this, and just speak the truth. I am glad to have connected with people who are in the same situation as me right here in this forum though. It has made a big difference for me. Outside of this forum, I do not know anyone who is completely estranged from their parents. It helps to connect to those in a situation that is very close to your own, because they can relate. And most importantly, not just share stories, but also to share ideas to help eachother out. That is my main purpose for connecting with people online. I have felt less alone with this struggle since I have done that. I can't say I am really 'looking' for any other people to talk to about this right now. I have my husband, friends, this forum and therapy. Enough for right now, I am finding the answers I need to more forward. I don't feel so stuck anymore.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Hi Sage. I took some of the last writings here to my therapist the other day. You wrote something that I reacted too in response to what I wrote. I knew my reaction was something important for me that I needed to discuss with her. I found your response confusing and also felt very misunderstood and many of those familiar feelings came up for me. Feeling misunderstood is very different from respectful disagreement, rather than devaluing a person because you may disagree. I've had a lot of people in my life try to devalue me as a person, then deny that they are doing so. I've had a lot of people, starting with my family, blame me for everything and twist my words, yet take no responsibility themselves.

Words are very powerful and certain words take on a negative connotation, because of how they were used, whether someone intended to do this or not. I know that I react to the use of particular word choices and am also self-aware enough to know what it means to me. I needed to explore it further and I have previously with her to some extent. The problem for me is that I've just had so much that I'm going through that I cannot focus on one thing, so I take incremental steps, because I don't feel that I have much of a choice with so much coming at me from all directions. It's difficult given the set of circumstances that I'm dealing with to feel that I've made progress and that at times can really frustrate me. I recognize some of my limitations and try not to beat myself up about it, as that would not be healthy for me. At the same time I don't want to burden myself with feelings that I'm not moving forward quickly enough and then beat myself up for it and feel deficient about it. I don't need that at all.

I felt yesterday's talk with her was very productive. There are some days where she just listens, because that it what I need. And there are other sessions when we discuss issues more in depth. I have setbacks due to my health, physical pain, etc.

I'm still processing what she said and she stated it in such a way that made sense and didn't feel wounding. I read her the part where you both responded to me about being a therapist. She doesn't think that would be a good idea--there's been too many people in my life making presumptions about me and then trying to impose on me to be this for them. It creates an internal conflict for me which has a lot to do with the role I fulfilled in my family and this goes very deep. She did state that how I feel and what is going on for me would not be unusual for being placed in a position where people constantly invalidated me, and then twisted everything I said and turned it all back on me.

Sage, it's good that you are finding the answers you need to move forward and don't feel stuck. Unlike you and Dave, my spouse is not emotionally supportive in a way that I need around many of these issues. I've stated before that he is part of the problem. I also don't have the level of support that either one of you have around this issue with your inlaws. Outside of this forum I have one friend who I've opened up with and another who I've opened up with a little and I agree that it feels good to speak of my truth. I think you've both shared more stories, and I've related to some of them. I sometimes start to feel too overwhelmed just even thinking about my mother and sisters and all the issues there, let alone to write more fully about it. On the one hand, it probably would be good for me to write about more in depth, but on the other hand it's so overwhelming--dealing with her mental illness and being placed in that position. Once I've thought about what she said more, I will post it here.

Anyway, thank you for being here and listening.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

Sage says, "I have just done the 'photo' exercise too. I felt very afraid actually going through with it. But it is comforting. I see myself as I was then. Innocent. I have thought about it before, but actually looking at the picture somehow reinforces it." I've done things like this before too. But this time I've began to see myself as a child differently. In the past I would think of myself as a child as being hurt, damaged and weak. Now I've been able to see how resourceful and heroic I was in dealing with adults, my parents, who mistreated me and who had almost complete control over me. I didn't let them crush me. I coped. I protected myself. I eventually got away from them. I can now see myself as a child I would have been proud to have, but as one my parents chose not to appreciate through NO FAULT of my own. This has been helpful.

"What I like about the book too is the reference to the patterns we develop as adults as a result of our growing up with Narcissists. Deeply ingrained habits and behaviours we learned from our 'mentors', our parents. And most importantly, to recognize them, and then change them. It is our responsibility, nobody else's. We don't have to change, but we can if we want to. I want to." Good summary! It is hard for me to face some of these behaviors in myself, but if I really want to be free from my parents, I must do this. And I want to do this too!!

Flower says, "Dave says, "I don't discuss my personal issues with my mountain biking friends, and I think I prefer it this way. I don't really want to think about and discuss my parents all the time." Were you responding to something I posted?" Not that I know of. When I wrote this I was reflecting on the weekend I had just spent with 4 other guys mountain biking, and hanging out in the little town of Fruita CO. I realized I hadn't said anything about my parents for the 3 days I did this. I don't think I would have enjoyed myself as much, if I had been talking about all the issues I've had with my parent during the weekend. I appreciate having some friends I can just have fun with and not always be deep and introspective.

Here's another thought on this topic from my distant past. Thirty-some years ago I had an ill-conceived marriage that ended in divorce. As I was going through the divorce, I had some friends recommend I take a 12 week "Going Through Divorce" seminar. It was like a structured group therapy. I found it very helpful. After the seminar, all the people from the seminar kept hanging around together. They would plan all kinds of activities together, I would join some of these activities; however, all of the discussion continued to be about their divorces. It seemed these people had decided their identity in life was "divorced-person". It's like their problems had become who they were in life. I had a strong aversion to this 30 years ago and I still feel the same way now. This doesn't mean I don't want to deal with my problems. I just don't like the idea that my problems define who I am in life. It seems like a very limiting way to think of myself. So now I view it as finding the right balance. I do what I need to deal with my problems, but I don't let my problems define who I am. When I can have fun with friends that has nothing to do with dealing with my problems, it helps me feel like my problems aren't defining who I am. This makes sense to me, I don't know if it will to anyone else.

Flower says, "Do either one of you wish that you had friends that you could talk to and openly discuss these issues with outside of this forum?" I mostly talk to my wife who is a very supportive and understanding. I have talked to therapists in the past, and I would do this again. I have had close friends with whom I could discuss these things, but they have moved away, and we don't talk as much. I don't know if I could find a friend like this, if I went out looking for one. In the past, it has just happened without me trying. I wouldn't say I'm actively looking for someone like this now. If it happened, it would be a bonus. But I'm good with the way things are now.

That's all for now. Hope you all have a great weekend! Thank you for all your thoughtful postings!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Flower,

It looks like we did another simul-posting. It sounds like some things said in this forum were bothering you, but I couldn't really figure out what is was from what you wrote. You talked about reacting and feeling misunderstood, but you never said what you were reacting to or how you felt misunderstood. It sounds like you worked this out with your therapist, but I'm still not sure what happened. Can you clarify?

It sounds like you continue to have a lot of different sources of stress in your life with a very limited amount of support. Hang in there. I hope things become more workable for you.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello, everyone!

I haven't written in a few days, and I found very interesting the very different reactions to Flower's therapeutic abilities! My first thought, as I read it all, was that while someone have a special talent or ability, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to earn a living. Growing up I spent hours drawing. I was the on-call artist for whatever art project anyone was having. I did it all with pleasure. Naturally, a lot of people assumed I would become some sort of professional in that field, but I always felt that the final product was only good if it was a result of pleasure. The minute I were to be obligated to produce results in order to pay my bills, all the pleasure would vanish and I wouldn't get that personal satisfaction out of it.

The same goes with therapy. I tend to listen to a lot of friends' problems and I think they value my advice, even if it's just to make them look at things from a different perspective. But it is a taxing activity, specially we if don't get our turn. And even if that kind of stuff is mutual, I don't think a friendship should be about resolving each others' problems all the time. Friendships should be about exchanging emotional support AND having fun. After all, we're supposed to be grown-ups capable of making our own decisions without having to "take a vote" from every person we know about what to do. We need to learn to listen to our instincts and make decisions by ourselves.

I have some friends who have been very supportive and understanding of my decision. And in particular, there's one woman who is my mother's age who've had the same problems with her own mother, and our talks are very productive and helpful for both sides. But even so, we chose to not let it be the main focus of our friendship. We don't bring it up every single time we talk. And as I'm slowly letting my in-laws and friends know of my situation, I'm also letting them know when I'm not in the mood to talk about it. Some of them I only see once every couple of months, and so naturally they ask me how the whole soap opera is going. At first I felt obligated to talk about it if they were going out of their way to express their support, but I've found that they are OK when I tell them that I'm doing fine for the most part, but that I'd prefer to talk about it at a different time in order not to spoil our time together. There: They felt like good friends by acknowledging my troubles and offering support, and I did us both a favor by not letting my parents sour another good time.

Some people might interpret this as me burying my head in the sand and not confronting my issues, but I assure you it's not. I still give it plenty of consideration, and I've taken a lot of hard looks at myself in the past. I don't wish to excuse my reckless behavior and blame it all on my parents. After all, blaming others would be what they do. I had a very rough period where I behaved in a very destructive way toward myself and others, and I think that behavior was a result of the way I was brought up by my incompetent parents. But I just want to learn from my past experiences, understand why I operated the way I did, and move on. Let go of the "programmed" behaviors and reactions and find my true self. Way more productive and rewarding than feeling angry at them for having ruined almost 30 years of my life.

Okay. I realize I got a little off topic here - I want to make sure you all know I'm talking about MYSELF only! :) I am not implying that we are stuck here complaining about our troubles and blaming our parents. I think it would be much easier to just ignore it all. Reading the experiences of others brings up a lot of muck from the bottom, and it takes courage to let it come up and analyze it. Thank you all for listening and for being so honest.

Love,
Josi


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

Hi Josi, thanks for your posting! I appreciate your perspective on these topics.

You say, "while someone may have a special talent or ability, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way to earn a living." I agree. Doing something for pay, is different than doing it for pleasure, or doing it because we have a talent. Hopefully, whatever we do decide to do for a living does give us some pleasure, and it's something we do have some talent for.

"Some people might interpret this as me burying my head in the sand and not confronting my issues" I wouldn't, because I can relate to this. For me it comes back to balance. I want to deal with my problems, but I don't want to become my problems. For me this means being able to set problems aside at times, and just enjoy life as it is.

"But I just want to learn from my past experiences, understand why I operated the way I did, and move on. Let go of the "programmed" behaviors and reactions and find my true self. Way more productive and rewarding than feeling angry at them for having ruined almost 30 years of my life." Very well put! I find myself thinking the same way. This doesn't mean I don't experience anger at my parents anymore. It's just that when this happens, my objective is to understand what happened, and move on. Going around being angry about the past, anymore than I have to, just isn't a very enjoyable way to live my life.

I don't think this was off topic at all. And yes, writing about all this does stir up muck for me. But I don't know how to understand it, and find some resolution, without first stirring it up. This just seems to be the way things work for me. Take care!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone reading,

Dave, The photo exercise has been good, it has helped. There are not very many photos of me as a kid, but a do have a few. I find it mind-blowing to look at them, and imagine the burden I was carrying. I see a sad kid, but I also see a resilient kid. To come as far as we did, despite the past, that is something to be proud of. It was not about me back then, it was about my parents, their needs, their own issues, they were playing out their own childhood. It is not about them anymore.

I also found some pics of me from around the age of 12-13. A time when a particular uncle used to call me fat, unattractive, and tell me that I would never ever find a husband if I didn't lose weight. Well..I was not fat. I was beautiful. What a jerk for laying that sort of guilt on me at such a vulnerable age! The irony is that that I have had a long and happy relationship with my husband, and my uncle has had a miserable time in relationships. Karma?

Dave, I know what you mean about leaving the 'parent topic' alone for a while. It is a relief. I felt that relief this weekend, we spent some time with friends, outside in the sun, and the thoughts of them rarely crossed my mind. But, I still do sometimes find my thoughts consumed. Between the books I am reading, and the therapy which I go to once a week right now. It is intense, and I leave there with alot to think about. Good to get away from it though, very good to get 'out of my own head' so to speak. I am doing that more often.

I too have friends that I don't share this topic with. Not everyone can understand, and everyone I know does not need to know this detail about my past. There is no good reason why I have to tell everyone, so I choose not to.

Dave said: "It's like their problems had become who they were in life. ......I just don't like the idea that my problems define who I am in life. It seems like a very limiting way to think of myself. So now I view it as finding the right balance." I understand what you are saying, very well said! I have found myself slipping into the 'victim role'. I don't want to be this damaged person, who was adversely affected by a sad childhood. I have and still do feel sorry for myself. I don't want to feel sorry for myself wallowing in my stories that I repeat over and over. What it boils down to, for me, is taking control. I am responsible for who I have in my life, how I act, how I react, and how I feel. As you said - balance - that is key. Working on the problems/issues of the past is just a portion of the big picture. It is a relief for me to see progress in this area of my life.

Flower, I think everyone posting here lately is offering support and ideas to move forward and help. While you mentioned Dave and I have spouses to confide in, and you do not, remember that you have a friend you have mentioned several times that you can talk to. That is something to be thankful for, nurture that relationship. If you find 'friends' are not listening to you, and only expecting you to listen to their problems...are they really 'friends'?

Hi Josi, Interesting about your art. I have to be in the 'mood' to create. I don't know if 'mood' is the right word? I know I can't force it. It is not something I could do for a living either, for that reason. I go in spurts with it, then leave it for awhile. I had aspirations of becoming an artist at one time, but it has become just a hobby that I love.

Josi said: "And even if that kind of stuff is mutual, I don't think a friendship should be about resolving each others' problems all the time." I could not agree more. Good to have people to talk to for insight, and support. But as you said, as adults, need to take responsibility for ourselves, not expect others to make decisions for us. Friends, or therapists, or online forums, or books. We can gather the bits and pieces we need, and move past the rest.

I too have confided in just a couple friends very recently. I have one friend in particular from an emotionally abusive, and severely physically abusive past, and I find we can connect on this subject of parents and offer support and ideas to eachother. Although we both were aware of eachothers past - we have been sharing more details lately. To tell you the truth, until recently, I could never speak of my parents without crying. I am so glad I can at least talk about it now without breaking down. I feel I have made some progress, and it feels good. My friend is also very focused on understanding the past, but at the same time working on the present to make her life better. So I feel we are on the same wavelength that way. Mutually beneficial. I agree, it is not good for this to be the main topic of conversation or the basis of the friendship.

I think it is great that you are able to say when you do not want to talk about it! I find myself doing this too, now that I have told a few people. I understand people wanting to offer support, but this is an emotional roller coaster for me. Sometimes I can discuss it, other times I just can't. Not avoiding it, but I have to feel strong to talk about it.

Josi said: "They felt like good friends by acknowledging my troubles and offering support, and I did us both a favor by not letting my parents sour another good time." EXACTLY! :)

Josi said: "...blaming others would be what they do. I had a very rough period where I behaved in a very destructive way toward myself and others, and I think that behavior was a result of the way I was brought up by my incompetent parents." I can relate to this and am currently going over this topic with my therapist. Blaming. And how my parents were living out their own bad childhoods. I don't want to do that. I don't want to act like them, and I don't want to blame them. I just want to change my own situation.

Thanks for the inspiration Josi, I really like your attitude.

I am reading, again, "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life" by Wayne Dyer. Good book. I read it awhile ago, but right now it is really resonating with me.

Take care everyone!!

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Everyone,

Dave,says, "It looks like we did another simul-posting. It sounds like some things said in this forum were bothering you, but I couldn't really figure out what is was from what you wrote. You talked about reacting and feeling misunderstood, but you never said what you were reacting to or how you felt misunderstood. It sounds like you worked this out with your therapist, but I'm still not sure what happened. Can you clarify?"

Thank you for asking--I appreciate that. I don't know if I can clarify, but I will try. It had to do with providing therapy for others.

I was reacting to this comment, "Flower, While you may want to try to help these people, you can't. You can't change how people act or change what they think. You are NOT a therapist, and maybe just stating that to them would help. The truth is that it is up to you whether you expose yourself to these people, or not. It is your choice, you are not obligated to try to solve anyone's problems. If this is creating anxiety for you, you need to change what you are doing, stop putting yourself in that situation."

I also reacted to what you said about here, "You seem to have an innate ability to help people. Others seem to sense this ability and seek your help. Have you ever considered becoming a therapist? It sounds like you have a gift that benefits others. You could help others..."

My first therapist provided me with insight which I believe is true for me, but has been very difficult for me to change myself and the behavior. She said that I was very aware of my emotions and feelings and that was not and never was/is my problem as opposed to those types of people who run around clueless and oblivious. She said that I would have trouble getting out of my feelings. She also said the difficulty for me is finding ways to not allow other people's problems to become mine. My current therapist also agrees (it's not the only issue that I have). I set boundaries, avoid, and distance myself from aggressive people, who often ignore boundaries. I've basically had to estrange my family members because of this. I felt that they left me no other choice.

With that said, I know that I can't change how people act or change what they think. I don't even think that I want to help people, with the exception of people that I care about. Mostly, I would like for them to learn how to take care of themselves. I may be compassionate and empathetic and a whole lot of other things--the other things being something I wish that some people would see and acknowledge. I also tell people that I'm NOT a therapist and NOT THEIR therapist in particular. It also wouldn't be accurate to say that I have a natural tendency to want to listen to other people's problems. I may be a good listener, but I don't want to feel bombarded or overwhelmed by their problems. I very much want boundaries in place. I also strongly desire a two-way street, relationships which offer both balance and reciprocity. This has been very difficult for me to find.

I'm also not consciously aware of feeling obligated to solve someone's problems, despite feeling that others' are always trying to impose on me to feel obligated. I know this all has to do with my mother, sisters and father, always being placed in this situation that it was always about them and their feelings--they could never relate to or connect with what I was feeling or how their behaviors and what they said, hurt or how it felt to be placed in that situation and on the receiving end of their behaviors. I know they just couldn't understand, or didn't want to understand how I was feeling and how extradorinarly hurtful it was/is without them twisting it all around into that I somehow deserved their mistreatment or that it was somehow my fault for being selfish or "too sensitive", etc. It was always all about their twisting and turning everything into all about them. Still is and will probably always be and that is a terrible loss.

As for exposing myself to these types of people I don't intentionally place myself in these types of situations. There's more to it than that. I've talked to my therapist about this and we will be talking about it more. She acknowledges that some people are easier to deal with and avoidance tactics will work and in other situations they will not.

Survival in my family meant for me being finely attuned to reading people's emotions. My experiences in life have also reinforced this ability, but it is also a burden at times too. Awareness like that can be a horrible burden, especially when you've tried to warn people and they don't listen, and then you watch helplessly while events unfold. I know if I talked more about the situation with my mother some of this might make more sense. Really, my family placed too great a burden on my shoulders.

I'm also aware that people seem to sense that I'm empathetic and then presume that I should be...all the time. Why they would think that way is beyond me. They may sense I'm a good listener, but that doesn't give them the right to expect or demand it all the time, or act like an angry child if I don't cave into their demands.

Josi thank you for your thoughtful post and insight. You said, "The same goes with therapy. I tend to listen to a lot of friends' problems and I think they value my advice, even if it's just to make them look at things from a different perspective. But it is a taxing activity, especially we if don't get our turn." Yes, I agree it is very taxing at times--the problem for me is that I rarely feel like I get my turn. I'm not certain that some people value my advice either. In fact, I don't think they do value or appreciate my insight or observations for their own personal growth. My therapist agrees and this has posed problems for me in relationships which are different. I don't know how to act (I know this sounds funny). I do have one relationship with a man, who seeks my opinions and values my honesty, but I hold back for fear that it will anger him. And he always tries to reassure me. I know this is my problem that I have to work through and I know where it comes from, yet it is difficult because of the constant reinforcement of similar experiences. If that makes sense.

Josi says, "And even if that kind of stuff is mutual, I don't think a friendship should be about resolving each others' problems all the time. Friendships should be about exchanging emotional support AND having fun." I couldn't agree with you more here, but I've found this type of relationship difficult to establish. I can find this with men, although they can pose other problems, but not with women.

I asked this one woman if she talked to her other friends about the same issues that she told me about. I also asked her what their responses to her were. Her reply was to state that she did some, but they were not as empathetic as I was. I think that is part of the problem as well. I've repeated to her many times to see a therapist. I was hopeful in the beginning of establishing a relationship with reciprocity, but now I find myself once again distancing her, and limiting my interactions, because of her behaviors. This seems to be a recurring problem for me though.
I don't want any person's problems to be the main focus of the relationship period! I also do not want to bring up issues every time I talk either. That would be inappropriate. I feel I don't do this with others, but I do not feel that they behave the same. I desire balance and finding people who are on the same page has proved difficult. The one friend that I do have recently asked if I felt overwhelmed by him. I did respond yes and it felt good to be able to speak my truth. He hasn't abandoned me for being honest like this, which is not what I've experienced from others, especially women.

Anyway, I discussed this with my therapist and will do so again. I told her that I needed her help dealing with this. She responded in such a way that made sense to me about what she feels is one of my biggest issues. Blame was another huge issue in my family, and in my husband's famiy. It seems a recurring theme with his associations as well. We've discussed much of these issues as well. I've read her some of our forum discussions and her responses are insightful, but right now I'm still processing what she said. I don't know if I could write it here and do it justice. It may be helpful, since many of us have had a similar feeling--of feeling misunderstood.

Anway, thank you all for being here and for listening. I appreciate it more than you know. Sometimes just getting this stuff out is difficult.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Everyone,

Sage says, "I see a sad kid, but I also see a resilient kid. To come as far as we did, despite the past, that is something to be proud of. It was not about me back then, it was about my parents, their needs, their own issues, they were playing out their own childhood. It is not about them anymore." Well put! Another thing I've gotten out of this exercise is being less focused on them, and more on who I was as a child, what I did to survive, and what behaviors I learned that now want to change. In the past I would spend more time thinking about my parents, now I'm more focused on who I was, and am. What I'm doing now feels better.

"I don't want to feel sorry for myself wallowing in my stories that I repeat over and over. What it boils down to, for me, is taking control. I am responsible for who I have in my life, how I act, how I react, and how I feel." Well put! I feel the same way. I'm glad to feel like I'm making some progress in this area.

Hi Flower, it sounds like given all your issues, being a therapist isn't such a good idea. I hope you can continue to make progress getting a handle on all the issues you have going on. Here's another thought on friendships, I don't really know all your interests, but I've found it a lot easier to make friends around common interests. For me this is around biking, skiing, or volunteer activities. For my wife it is knitting among other things. I like these activities and I enjoy doing them with others who enjoy these activities. Sometime when I meet people this way, we end up talking about deeper topics, sometimes we don't. Either way, I'm doing something I enjoy, and I meet some nice people. I really don't think it would be easy for me to meet someone, if my main goal was to be able to talk about my estrangement. Just some thoughts.

That all for now. Take care.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave,

Thanks for responding. I agree and have sought making friendships around common interests. I did volunteer for awhile, but haven't since my injury and other issues. I also joined a hiking group and outdoor group. I wanted to learn flyfishing. I met only a few women in the group. The two women that wound up in my group seemed to get on okay--both were divorced and relating about their experiences and attraction to "bad boys". We went on a mutual outing together where one of them picked a fight with the other over gas money. For whatever reason she assumed that I should side with her in the argument. It was miserable. She also told us both that she normally didn't like associating with women, because she got depressed being around them. On a few outings that I had with her, she was very competitive, made assumptions and presumed a lot based on a whole lot of nothing. After the ugly argument that she started with the other women, she called once and I decided to not return her phone call. I just felt that I didn't want to go down that path. There are more positive and constructive ways to handle conflict. I also can't relate to the attraction to "bad boys," whatever that means. I may have my difficulties with my husband, but I wouldn't label him a "bad boy".

I have broad interests--joined a writing group. I knit for a time too and garden. I have other interests too. I did injure myself hiking (falling), so I haven't been back to that either, except outings with my husband. We do enjoy that together. I enjoy my one friend too as we have some mutual interests. She doesn't act insane like some people that I've met.

I really don't talk about myself much (not about the estrangement). I have a wait and see approach and don't reveal a lot of personal information about myself. Some people react negatively to that right away. I don't get that. I've found that most people reveal too much too soon and talk alot about themselves. I'm very selective about revealing information and what I say and to whom. I just don't feel comfortable with too much information. I think I've just had a lot of experiences with difficult and unpleasant people (they seem extreme) that sometimes it's difficult to get back out there and socialize. I guess I've become leary of people and need to move past that. I'd like to find more quality people to associate with and sometimes wonder if that is too high of an expectation. My injuries and physical issues have posed more of a problem lately. I do still get out, but it's more limiting than what I would like to be at this point.

I did go on a solo trip with a travel adventure outfitter and had a wonderful time. No weirdo's to contend with. My husband was with his family. I drove to the location and we hiked and camped luxury style. I wondered what being in a group situation would be like, given some of my bad experiences. I had so much fun and really enjoyed myself and there were no troubles with difficult inappropriate people. I do get out on my own. I don't have to be around people all the time. So I guess it's just a matter of getting out more again.

Thanks for your support. I appreciate it. That's all for now...

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi all...

In an effort to understand some of the dynamics of estrangement, possibly to help others..
Please participate in this survey and make your voice heard...
it is COMPLETELY confidential...
Thank you all in advance for your time...

Click here to take the survey now


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Jeez, did you see the latest gossip about Tori and Candy Spelling? Candy says that the estrangement from Tori was the cause of Aaron's death and that she has no idea "what the anger is about." And she says all this on a radio show!! Self-centered? Check. In denial? Check. Playing the martyr? Check.

You don't fool us, lady. With or without millions, we know your parenting style.


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone,

Dave, Thanks for understanding and relating. It is validating for me. Good point about "...being less focused on them, and more on who I was as a child, what I did to survive, and what behaviors I learned that now want to change." I feel more focused on myself as well. And I have been working on this in therapy. It is up to ME to make ME happy now. I control who I associate with, and I determine how I feel. My parents simply do not have any influence over me anymore. It does feel better, much better to think about them less. Thinking about them and what happened in the past serves no purpose, none at all.

Dave, I agree with the advice you gave Flower about finding friends based around common interests. I have met many friends via interests such as art, yoga, horses/riding etc. I agree, it is just fun to get out and do what you like, and even funner to share the experience with others. And in the process meet people, not necessarily becoming friends with everyone you meet, but a few friendships do develop over time. I think this is the best way to meet people. Not everyone has to know about my personal issues. I only confide in a few people, a couple people who I trust.

On the other hand, should you meet people at a 'support group' type setting, "the problems" will the centre of the relationship. I imagine personal issues would be discussed alot. Such as our group here, the focus is estrangement, and that is what brought us together. Dave, you mentioned you were part of a 'divorce support group' at one time. I can see how some people define themselves by their issues...I find that to be a way of them staying 'stuck'. I don't want to be that way with this issue of estrangement. I am not a victim of my parents, or anyone, for that matter.

Flower, I have met people who were very bitter against men because of their own bad experience, and they just hate 'men' in general, and like to let everyone on earth know that. I find this to be a very narrow minded stance. Geesh, and since that women has also written off hanging around with women because they depress her, it sounds like she is setting herself up for being completely alone. Glad you have found a few ways to get out and about and enjoy yourself. I understand the trust issues that occur when you have been hurt time and time again. There are alot of really decent people out there and it would be a shame to let our our trust issues make us miss out on meeting them! Glad we could overcome those trust issues, it is not easy.

Thanks for being here everyone. :) Have a great weekend!

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parentss

Hi there Josi!! I know, I have seen a couple interviews with Candy Spelling. They made my stomach turn, I found them deeply distrubing. Her accusations against Tori are simply horrible, and to make them in such a public way is cruel. An extreme example, but it is a real example of why children find it necessary to estrange themselves from their parents.
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Everyone,

I saw the latest accusations from Candy Spelling towards Tori. I decided not to watch or read further. I found it cruel as well. I think it is a very public way to try to shame and control her daughter. That sort of conduct is very manipulative and only creates further distance. It's not about making amends or taking responsibility, or anything positive that would help to heal the relationship. It only creates further damage. Yes, I too believe it is an example of why children find it necessary to estrange themselves from their parents.

Sage & Dave, I do try to find people with common interests and gave the examples above as what I've encountered. I just get frustrated at times. It gets discouraging when you encounter people like that. I know that I need to just get out again, but repeated exposures to idiots can get to one. I don't like the bitter women either. I get frustrated and I've had negative experiences, but I try to remain open and flexible. It's not always easy to do. I just couldn't believe that she would make a comment like that about that other women depressed her to be around when she was with two women already and on a trip with us. And then she started an arguement about gas. Really it was disappointing. I found her very depressing and I'm glad that i just didn't bother to call her back. Once I talk or discuss issues like this I usually can let it go and release it and that is helpful.

My yard looks so pretty now. Everything is blooming and it makes me happy to see the results of our hard work. We had some yard gawkers yesterday. They walk by and stop and point. Yesterday, some neighbors out walking their dogs, and people who've I've never met stopped to tell us how much they loved our yard. She said that it was the prettiest in the neighborhood. It's been a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I could do more when my back wasn't hurting. It's a work in progress though and there's still so much to do.

Well I'm out for another walk. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Why does the trend seem to be that parents who are estranged from their children have this need to go so very public with this issue? Whether it be via TV interviews, books, blogs, writing songs, etc.? I have noticed this over and over again. Why so public and making such a spectacle of it? I have not read Tori's book, but I imagine she addresses her problems with her mother in it. I don't blame her for doing so, considering the celebrity factor and how harsh her mother was with her accusations.

Is it to maintain complete control to create their own story as only they see it and cast themselves as the martyr? Or to put themselves in the victim role so people feel sorry for them? Or is it to simply get back at their children for making the decision to lose contact with them? Or are they simply hiding behind 'their story' in order to not deal with their own issues? I mean, it has got to be so humiliating to the children of these people if they see their parents doing this sort of thing in the media for everyone and anyone to see. Or perhaps, for the children, it justifies the decision they made to estrange themselves in the first place? The sad thing is that I could see my own mother doing something like that. Twisting stories to suit herself.

In the end, I see it as only creating more resentment, and I do not see any good coming out of it. I don't see it leading to reconcilliation, or as a means to help themselves. So why do they do it? Whether they are celebrities, or not, it is a very self centred stance without taking into consideration the feelings of the children. But, perhaps this is why their children estranged themselves in the first place? They never considered their childrens feelings and continue to not consider their children's feelings.

I personally do not feel the need to advertise my situation in a public way. To me it is personal, which is why I post here, and don't post my real name, my mother's name or other family member's names. What I do feel the need to do is to make contact with other people in my same situation to share, get help, and offer support when I can. While this forum is essentially 'public', it is not advertised, and is not a place most people would really seek out to visit and read unless they were estranged from their parents themselves. At least that is how I see it as. Just some thoughts. Since this Candy/Tori thing has hit the media, it has got me thinking about this aspect of estrangement.
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Everyone,

Sages says, "Why does the trend seem to be that parents who are estranged from their children have this need to go so very public with this issue? Whether it be via TV interviews, books, blogs, writing songs, etc.?"

Good question. I don't know. Maybe it's a way to twist the situation around. It's denial and deflection arising from hurt, anger and embarrassment. I think people who behave like this--their main goals is to exonerate themselves of any personal accountability and responsibility. She is also seeking sympathy at the same time. The best defense is always a good offense and it looks like she is engaging in this type of behavior. Public side-taking always involves manipulation of other people's opinion of them. In this case the target, her adult daughter, has a public life, so what better way to try to control and manipulate her daughter than to take a private matter and make it public. I can only speculate that she is trying to get people to side with her against her adult child thereby embarrassing her and turning people against her to try to control the outcome.

If reconcilation is the desired outcome her behaviors indicate otherwise. I don't think she cares about her daughter's feelings. It's all about her. No one would ever make the kind of allegations that she has, if she wanted to heal the relationship and make it better. It's all about her ego. She's just too selfish and lacks introspection, integrity or honesty to look at her own behaviors.

The only other reason to go public would be to tell your side of the story, if one feels wrongly accused.

I agree with you as I don't feel a need to advertise my situation in a public way either. I don't see any reason for it. I came here seeking for the same reasons that you state--to make contact with people in similar situations for help, sharing and emotional support.

Are you going to take the confidential survey? I wonder how such personal questions will be used to help others?

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi All,

Flower says, "I do try to find people with common interests and gave the examples above as what I've encountered. I just get frustrated at times. It gets discouraging when you encounter people like that. I know that I need to just get out again, but repeated exposures to idiots can get to one." I'm glad you still want to get out do things with others. I think that is a good thing. One thing I've noticed about myself is I have very refined BS detector. (I had lots of practice developing this growing up. Not by choice.) Whenever anyone sets off my detector, I'm ruthless about dealing with them. I have no mercy, when it comes to this. I have no time for self-centered, egotistical people in my life. I overdosed on them growing up. Never will this happen to me again. I have been fooled by a few people, but not many.

Your yard sounds beautiful! I just planted a few flowers myself. I enjoy seeing things grow in the summer. It is very satisfying.

I haven't read anything about the Spellings, so I don't have anything to add. Its sounds like a very sad family. It seems money and fame don't necessarily lead to happiness. Take care.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave,

It's nice to hear from you. I like the "refined BS detector". I appreciate your sense of humor. I think I've got one too, for the same reasons. I've probably not been as ruthless about dealing with them. My husband, for whatever reason, defeats that and conveniently turns it around to being my problem. I've also been fooled by some too, but usually it is my husband who works against me and us. He just doesn't seem to get it.

While going through some paperwork I found a letter that I had written to one of his thoughtless, self-centered friends. This miscreant, fool and idiot betrayed my husband's confidence, and used information to attack and hurt me, when I was at a very vulnerable and low point in my life. He made comments about me that were untrue and also none of his business. It naturally created problems in our relationship. I don't get why he would tolerate anyone, nor make excuses for a self-centered idiot who inserted and interferred into our relationship. I called the idiot out on it and put him in his place, something that my husband should have done, but didn't. They guy never took responsibility, but my husband was very weak. He actually cornered him into attending his wedding, and inferred that I didn't give my husband the invitation. He also told him that I was invited, as if I would want to go. I won't go into details about this scumbag--he claimed to be a Christian and would even sermonize at us that we should go to church. He also at one time, admitted to selling drugs and would brag about doing 3 women in a day. He'd make very disrespectful comments about women. He had several DUI's and gambled (football games, etc.) He married a few times. The last one is some woman whose husband died and left her well off. This low-life still calls him, but my husband doesn't see him, although he is not upfront about the reasons why. He sitll refuses and has issues about confronting him, instead stating that he feels the guy knows.

Instead of apologizing he responded to my husband, inquiring what he said, claiming conveniently a faulty memory. He also said that he showed his brother the letter and his brother thought that I was "mentally disturbed". One of my male friends told me that the guy deserved to be shot and pissed on. I thought that was kindof harsh, although I must admit I concurred with his sentiments and it was good for a laugh. However, I omitted that observation from the letter. I must admit I did however call the guy out on his behavior and thoroughly delineated his ample deficiencies. The loser never did take an ounce of responsibility nor did he apologize. I called him a vile miscreant, among other things. He's probably too stupid to know what that means.

My husband's initial reaction was to respond that my letter was a character assassination. Then he changed and said that the idiot deserved it. Really, the man is not rationale. I get frustrated and depressed around him having to deal with these constant issues. I will say that it did feel very good to put this clown in his place. I feel conflicted though in these situations because at the same time I also feel resentful towards my husband for not having the balls to deal with the situation or being placed in it to begin with. Afterall, he's the one that brought this junkheap of a human being into our life together to begin with and I feel that it is his responsibility to address problems created by the losers. I don't think it an unreasonable stance to ask him to participate in problem solving. I know it's his problem but it creates problems for me. I feel emotionally abandoned at the same time. It is not a good place to be in and adds to feeling constantly bombarded and overwhelmed. I really resent it given all that I have to contend with.

Dave thank you for your kind comment about our yard. I've always loved gardening and growing flowers and even veggies. I've had to limit that due to my back pain, but I admire the beauty of nature and I think it manifests in my love of gardening and watching things grow. It's nice to know that you enjoy growing flowers too.

My neighbor grumbles about the patch of wildflowers that we planted on the side. He is a miserable old goat, always grumpy, fault finding and overly free with the negative opinions. I try to ignore his mindless cauterwalling and treat it like the pesky buzzing of flies. I do admit that I enjoy some of the people stopping by and it's nice to know that not everyone is negative and sour in life about everything.

I didn't read much about the Spellings either, but I gleaned enough from the headlines. I've had it up to my eyeballs with the misery lovers and seekers. I wish there was a way to stop narcissists from multiplying or devise a way to shoot them off into space. Maybe swat them like irritating flies. A person can dream once in awhile. Well, better off thinking about flowers...

Well that's all for now. Thank you for listening and allowing me to vent. Take care,

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi everyone,
Yes, the good old 'bs detector', I like to think mine is rather find tuned too! lol We have talked about this before, it is a good way to live. And we have had our fair share of being treated unfairly already. My husband and I have become very ruthless in this way as well, personally as well as with business. Keep the toxic people out - because life is too short to deal with jerks. It is simply not worth it.
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Just wanted to share from the book "The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment" Donaldson-Pressman and Pressman, that Dave originally found and posted about, and I have been reading. Here are a few quotes from the book:

"The Narcissistic Family often resembles the proverbial shiny red apple with a worm inside: it looks great, until you bite into it and discover the worm. The rest of the apple may be fine, but you have lost your appetite.

In the narcissistic family, most of what happens can be 'just fine' but the emotional underpinningss are not there. The children are not getting their emotional needs met, because the parents are not focused on meeting them. Instead of providing a supportive, nurturing, reality-based mirror for their children, narcissistc parents present a mirror that reflects their own needs and expect their children to react to those needs. The focus is skewed, and the children grow up feeling defective, wrong, to blame.

When one is raised unable to trust in the stability, safety and equity of one's world, one is raised to distrust one's own feelings, perceptions, and worth. When one is raised as a reactive/reflective being - as an Echo - one has not been taught the skills necessary to live a satisfying life."

"..In talking about the narcissistic family system, we are not describing individuals with chronic disorders. Instead we are talking about a new framework for 1. looking at the way people learned to interact in their families of origin 2. analyzing the adult consequences of those childhood patterns of interaction, and 3. organizing statagies for dealing with those consequences in therapy. So, to the patient who needs to know 'who's looney now?', the answer is nobody or everybody; what difference does it make? This model is not about pathology, it is about acceptance - acceptance of the realities of the past, and the possibilities for productive change in the present."

----The last part of what I quoted means alot to me: "who's looney now?" First off, it is a fact that my parents were indeed flawed, possibly even mentally ill to some degree, I see evidence of that in some of the basic ways that I was treated as a young child and throughout my life. Whether they had some mental illness issues of their own that they refused to face, or were reacting to their own dysfunctional upbringing, I will never know. While this all does still hold some truth to me - it simply DOES NOT MATTER right now. It has taken me a long time to accept that, and I am still working on accepting that. It serves no purpose to blame, judge, label, try to change them, overlook and tolerate what they do, or hold resentment against them right now. Why would I do that? It makes me feel ill inside and it is useless. I made the choice to not have contact with them, and I made this choice for my own good reasons. It is now my responsibility to move forward and make further choices that will make me happy. I deserve to be happy as much as anyone else on earth deserves to be happy. I am giving myself peace-of-mind, because nobody else can do that for me.

This book is written for therapists, a type of book I have never read before. Very well written, practical, with information you can really put to use. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has estranged themselves from their parents. I could relate to what is written on nearly every page of this book.

Thanks for being here and listening. Have a good weekend everyone!

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parentss

re: The Spellings
Yes, this issue can affective everyone - dispite how much money or fame you have. I don't normally follow celebrity news, but with this issue, I feel a strong connection. (Although I am mindful that what is on the news may not even be reported accurately.) My family is not by any stretch rich or famous - but the mother reminds me so much of my own mother in a way. I feel sorry for the fact that their personal issues are played out publicly for everyone to judge. If the daughter responds publicly, I can't say I would blame her. I would probably do the same thing to defend my own reputation, if I were in that situation and such horrid accusations were put on public display.

It is interesting how this seems to be the trend of narcissists. They want the world to know their own 'story', they want their side broadcast in a very brazen and overtly over-the-top way, with shocking accusations that are stated in a very casual way. Yet they do it in a way so that they want to appear like they are the ones 'reaching out' and so desparately desiring reconcilliation and a relationship with their kids/grandkids. How on earth can they not see how their actions do nothing but make the situation even worse?

It is all about them and how they perceive the situation; doesn't seem to matter if the statements are true, or not, or whether they could ever even be validated as true. It seems to me that they want people to side with them, feel sorry for them, support them, give them attention - while passive aggressively getting back at their children for estranging themselves. And it always seems to be done in such an emotionless manner. Weird..it boggles my mind.

I wonder how anyone could get past such accusations and reconcile? It does happen, people do reconcile and I respect the fact they are able to. I personally, after all that has happened, don't ever see reconciling with my parents. I am more sure of that as time goes on. And to tell you the truth, I don't even desire that anymore, as I did in the past. Our relationship is truly over now. It still makes me sad, and always will, but it is something I accept.

Flower, I am sorry you are in so much turmoil over what your husband and his friends do. You really should not have to live that way. Nobody should. I hope one day that you can find a way to get yourself out of that miserable environment and spend time around people who are not so annoying to you.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Sage says to Flower, "I hope one day that you can find a way to get yourself out of that miserable environment and spend time around people who are not so annoying to you." I couldn't agree more. My experience is that hanging around people like your husband and his friends is like drinking contaminated water. It just makes me sick. Trying to think about the water differently, or having a better attitude about it, or drinking it in small sips doesn't help. I just need to stop drinking it and find better water.

Hi Sage, I'm glad you found the book helpful. I read it front to back 3 times. After reading the book, doing the exercises in the book, journaling several times a week, taking time for meditation and prayer, some long discussion with my wife, and of course writing on this website over the last couple of months, I feel like I'm in a better place regarding my estrangement with my parents. I can't imagine that it will ever be a happy topic, but it doesn't feel as burdensome anymore. I think of it less often, and when I do, I usually think that I am glad that I did it, and shudder at the thought of going back to the way it was before with my parents. I feel a little lighter and more authentic :-)

Sage says, "Whether they had some mental illness issues of their own that they refused to face, or were reacting to their own dysfunctional upbringing, I will never know. While this all does still hold some truth to me - it simply DOES NOT MATTER right now. It has taken me a long time to accept that, and I am still working on accepting that. It serves no purpose to blame, judge, label, try to change them, overlook and tolerate what they do, or hold resentment against them right now. Why would I do that? It makes me feel ill inside and it is useless." This was a very powerful concept for me too! For me this was when I really started to understand that what I feel matters. This was never true when I was a child. In fact I was taught just the opposite which was that what I felt was meaningless. However, now I understand that if thinking about them makes me feel ill, and my feelings really matter, then it is OK to stop thinking about them. It's so simple, but for me it was a radical change in perspective and beliefs.

"I personally, after all that has happened, don't ever see reconciling with my parents. I am more sure of that as time goes on. And to tell you the truth, I don't even desire that anymore, as I did in the past. Our relationship is truly over now. It still makes me sad, and always will, but it is something I accept." Well said. I feel very much like this myself. They rejected me. They never gave an inch (or a millimeter in Canada), being around them was misery. Why would I ever go back? I would have to be a masochist to even consider it. No thank you. (taking a long deep breath)

I hope all is well! I appreciate you all being there, listening, supporting, sharing, advising while I go through all this. Many, many thanks!!

Peace,

Dave


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Hello everyone reading,

Dave, I am glad you are feeling in a better place with this situation!!! That is just great, we deserve it. I am very grateful for the support here, and for the book recommendation. It has helped me alot. I went through the book multiple times too and did the exercises. Thanks so much! I hope everyone who runs across this forum will read it.

No, this will never be something I will ever completely put behind me, it hurts too deeply, but as you said, it is less burdensome now. I have helped myself to heal and I am proud that I took the steps I needed to take to do this. I feel more authentic as well, such a relief to not have to 'go through the motions' and tolerate their toxic behaviour. To me, this has been a very big part of the healing for me. Being real, not pretending, not stuffing emotions.

Dave said: "For me this was when I really started to understand that what I feel matters. This was never true when I was a child. In fact I was taught just the opposite which was that what I felt was meaningless." Yes, me too. And not only when I was a child, I realized that what I felt as an adult was also meaningless to them.

I am still struggling with this concept of 'it does not matter anymore'. It was a big change in perspective for me too. It boils down to caring for myself, because what I feel does indeed matter to me and it matters to people who love me. When people do not care how I feel, or disregard how I feel and brush me off, I don't need them in my life. Caring how someone feels is such a basic human emotion. So necessary in relationships. There is nothing good that comes out of trying to maintain contact with people who blatently do not care how you feel.

Dave said: "They never gave an inch (or a millimeter in Canada).." lol Ya, true, oh how I can relate to the misery. I don't miss that at all, a huge relief to not have to go through that anymore.

I find this time of year particularly emotional. First mother's day, and then father's day is coming up here very soon. This will be the first father's day that I won't send a card. I don't know why a commercial holiday affects me so much? I guess it is because of the great emphasis my mother has always put on 'holidays' of all kinds. She would send Easter, Valentines Day, and even St. Patricks Day(!) cards. Buying into commercialism hook, line and sinker! Her expectation of giving (and receiving) of generic greeting cards and gifts was something she put alot of emphasis on. It is all so incredibly fake, I am so glad I am not participating in that anymore. It feels good to only buy gifts and cards for people I genuinely care about, and give them with sincerity.

The conflict I have had with my parents was mainly via my mother. All corrospondence was with my mother - my father never said much, never called or wrote. Yes, I went through the motions of sending greeting cards, striking up mundane meaningless conversation when they were here and 'keeping in touch'. It was always very uncomfortable, with long periods of silence. Even with in-person visits, he didn't say much. This really shows his lack of effort to build relationships. He can't (or as I believe, chooses not to) face anything even remotely emotional. I consider him a spineless coward and I have no respect for him whatsoever for this reason. This aloofness always bothered me, when we were in touch that is. As I think about it today though...it doesn't bother me as much now as it used to. I really just simply doesn't matter...

Have a good week everyone,
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello All,

Sage says, "I have helped myself to heal and I am proud that I took the steps I needed to take to do this. I feel more authentic as well, such a relief to not have to 'go through the motions' and tolerate their toxic behaviour. To me, this has been a very big part of the healing for me. Being real, not pretending, not stuffing emotions." I like what you said here. I does seem that a big part of the healing is being more real. I never felt this way around my parents, either growing up, or as an adult. I also tolerated a lot of behavior from them that was hurtful, insulting, and demeaning. I did this only because they were my parents. They completely and totally violated their position as my parents. Enough of that nonsense.

"I am still struggling with this concept of 'it does not matter anymore." This is a tough one. For me it feels like I've been holding something tightly in my hand that I thought was valuable, but has very sharp edges that are hurting me very badly. I've been learning I need to open my hand and let go of this. And that it isn't as valuable as I thought. And when I open my hand the pain diminishes and I can start to heal. And with my hand open, I am open to new experiences in life. Trying to figure out where the sharp edges came from, or being mad about them, can be more of an obstacle than helping in this process. And this is still hard for me.

"I find this time of year particularly emotional. First mother's day, and then father's day is coming up here very soon. This will be the first father's day that I won't send a card. I don't know why a commercial holiday affects me so much?" Different things push our buttons, don't they? I think for me these holidays remind me of what families can be, and what mine wasn't. As sad as this is, it is also motivation for me to live a better life than I had growing up.

My father is spineless coward too! He puts on a big act like he is some really cool, tough guy, but in reality he is just a loud-mouth jerk whose solutions to everything that makes him uncomfortable is to get drunk and make an ass of himself.

Well, I'm going to be off-line for a while starting this Saturday. I'm leaving with my two sons for a two-week Boy Scout canoe trip in western Ontario. We won't return home until 26 June. It should be a lot of fun :-) Thanks again to everyone for being there. I still find it hard to believe I've found a place to talk about all this stuff with people who understand what I'm talking about and who are so insightful, kind, and understanding. Thanks!

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello Sage & Dave and everyone,

Sage says to Flower, "I hope one day that you can find a way to get yourself out of that miserable environment and spend time around people who are not so annoying to you." I couldn't agree more. My experience is that hanging around people like your husband and his friends is like drinking contaminated water. It just makes me sick. Trying to think about the water differently, or having a better attitude about it, or drinking it in small sips doesn't help. I just need to stop drinking it and find better water.

Thank you for both acknowledging the difficulty. I still need to vent and desire emotional validation from some people, although I'm discerning about whom. I know this is probably because it was so lacking in my life. I don't think anyone likes feeling judged, especially when it is done frequently and inaccurately. I know this stems from my own family and also my husband's family and it continued with his associations. People who automatically respond with "validation needs to come from inside you" and all like-minded cliches miss the point. Of course, this is true to a certain extent, but we benefit greatly from friendships and people who can offer understanding of and emotional support for our individual challenges and situations. That has been lacking in my life and unbringing. What has not been lacking is the people who presume and expect that from me. Understanding beyond cliches is far more helpful. I shared that story with you, so that you could see how "nice" he is--something which others don't see, but he works hard to give them that impression of him and that is not the same as being true to oneself and learning to be honest with others. He does have good qualities, but that behavior is destructive. I also tend to focus on my negative feelings about him here, because it is one of the few places that I can and do feel that I can be honest about it. I don't have that luxury elsewhere and I would like some balance.

On the bright side I did stand up for myself. I did tell the guy the problem and the reasons why he wasn't invited over to our home. He was given an option--a choice to take responsibility and to apologize, and predictably he chose not too. He would just come over unannounced. He would also call on the phone. Every time he did it was a constant reminder. I effectively stopped that from him. Sadly, I had to state in my letter that I would take legal action against him, if he ignored those stated boundaries and came over. I think it ridiculous that I had to even write a letter, let alone threaten him with legal action. I believe that I it was my husband's responsibility to take action to resolve the problem. I also resent the difficulties imposed on me, because my husband is so afraid of conflict that he can't address the issue himself with the people that he brings into our life together. He always twists his failure to do so and conveniently turns it into my problem--trying to make me out to be unreasonable. Yes, in some ways it has made me stronger, but the outcome is far more complicated than a simple cliche. I've grown quite tired of such focused simple-mindedness on complicated issues.

Unfortunately, these are the types of situations that happen and if I went to my mother about it, or my sisters they would find fault with me. They would not understand and turn it all into how I need to be fixed. It would become all about how I'm the problem. I get the same treatment from my husband and I really have not had people in my life who see the problem. My husband surrounds himself with enablers. I guess he views that as the basis for friendship. He feels secure with people who make it all about taking sides and being right. It can be very confusing at times and emotionally isolating when you do not have other people that you can occasionally turn too for emotional support and understanding. It's hard to hold on to one's own truth. You start to doubt and question yourself and your own sanity. It's hard to go through life always feeling emotionally under siege. I've felt depressed and downtrodden being exposed to that. Sadly, some of the women who I've known are enamoured of my husband's charm, easy-going, nice demeanor and "love for me", and so they are not emotionally supportive either. In fact, some act downright jealous and competitive. The responses I've always heard are that he loves you. It can feel unreal and confusing. Likewise, these people who can only be your friend, if they feel superior or always do for them is sick. The numbers of people that I've met who behave like this is overwhelming. I want to believe that there are good people out there, but at times it's difficult to hold onto that when you experience people otherwise.

I don't see my husband's family (I've never been welcomed). They treat people poorly, unless it is someone that they're trying to impress. It's clear that they've never wanted me around, although they will send an invitation. It's a very superficial gesture, which I can only guess is to cover their ass and make them feel better--ease their guilty conscience. I also do not socialize with my husband anymore either. I don't have any good memories of the people that he has brought into our life together and I don't have confidence that he will address situations if they arise. It just doesn't work to be around him with people, because his people-pleasing issues create too much grief.

I'm searching for more of my own friends. He's been very controlling in this regard too, always trying to choose my friends for me and make it all about him. My sisters both tried to do this as well, while at the same time trying to make it out that they were trying to help me and that I'm just an ungrateful little b**ch and selfish. He's always trying to suggest that he is trying to help me or behaving that way because of his concern or love for me. It's not helpful. It's controlling. The problem is that I don't ask them for help, nor do I want to be fixed by them. This side of my husband is also something that others don't see, but it doesn't prevent them from judging me. It's just easier for some people to label me as reclusive or introverted, etc., than to really see the problem and to offer emotional support, rather than judgment. I think it would be natural to become a recluse around such thoughtless, self-absorbed people. It's repeated emotional abuse, which I don't want to be exposed too.

I think my sisters are narcissists. As for my mother, I think she has other issues, but she does have some of those tendencies. I definitely think my husband's sister, mother and father are all narcissists. I believe my husband is too, or he has those tendencies.

I think you both see the problem and turmoil that this has created for me. I think you both see that my husband has issues and that it arises from his own family upbringing and has nothing to do with me. At least I hope you do. He attracts such self-absorbed people and then makes excuses for their behaviors. I don't like being exposed to it. I'm hopeful that you would see the situation that I wrote of above and clearly see that the man, my husband's friend is someone with a lot of issues and that my husband has his own share. This is one of my insecurities--needing some validation and support. It seems so missing in my life. If people can relate they choose not too, or it feels like they are not because of how they respond back. This is just one story and one instance of the problems, which I used to illustrate some of the difficulties that I have to address and cope with. I have far too much to deal with in my own life than to have to feel constantly under siege, attacked and bombarded by his behaviors and his self-absorbed friends and family, let alone my own.

It's been very difficult finding quality people who don't make everything all about them or who even try to relate. Guess they can't. I've embarked on therapy and have been working on my issues step by step. I've worked on myself. I know it is my responsibility. I hate it when people lecture me about that when I've been working hard on that. Maybe because I need to vent and talk about my feelings they just react and think I'm not over it.

It sounds like the book is very good. Wish it wasn't expensive. I've read so many books that I wonder if it would be helpful to me. I always feel so overwhelmed and that is one issue that I really need help with which I've discussed with my therapist.

Well thank you for listening and being here. I'm glad you both are feeling in a better place about your situation.

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the support, love the analogy!! Very true. Good point about the holidays, I tend to get melancholy as the holidays of all kinds approach and need to change my attitude towards them. They can be a time of looking forward - not looking back. My father is the same way, and was especially that way when he drank. Pathetic, self-centred and selfish behaviour.

I too am still amazed I have found this place. It has been a huge help to post here, to be listened to and to be understood. It is a difficult topic to discuss.

Have a great trip, catch up with you when you get back! :)
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Flower,

I'm glad the understanding and validation you get here is helpful. Your situation sounds just awful. You seem to understand what kind of people you are around, and what they are doing to you. It sounds like you know you need to get away from these people, but that your current situation doesn't make that easy. I'm wondering how you see things unfolding for you in the future? Do you see yourself trapped with these people the rest of your life? Do you see your health improving enough for you to make changes? I don't doubt anything you say about your situation. It sounds intolerable, and I wonder where you see yourself headed. I'm glad you've found this place to vent and get some understanding and validation.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Flower,

I wonder the same things Dave does. You are in a hurtful situation, I can see that. While it is good to vent, be understood and validated, there comes a time when you have to take control and responsibility for your own happiness. I say that from experience, because I have been where I felt was 'stuck' in similar situations in the past, with toxic people, as you describe. I found myself always pointing the finger at what they did, and what they were doing to me to make me feel this way - while in reality it was 'me' who was allowing them to harm me.

The most recent example is with my parents. I kept in touch with them, I felt an obligation, I tried to fix the relationship, knowing every point of contact with them was horribly draining and depressing. I knew it was hurtful, that was obvious, but I did not change anything for years and years. I just kept doing the same thing and it kept getting worse. Was so frustrated because I could not figure out how to make it better. That is why I made the decision to cut them out of my life. There was no good coming out of the relationship or in us remaining in contact or spending time together.

Flower said: "I think you both see the problem and turmoil that this has created for me." You are causing your own turmoil by staying around these people. You have tried for long enough, hoping things will get better, I am not sure exactly how long, but from what you have posted it seems like a very very long time. They are not going to change. You have been trying to tolerate them, trying to keep them from affecting you, trying to learn how to cope with their behaviour, and analyzed what their 'problems' are and why they do what they do.

To tell you the truth, I would rather be alone than be around people like you describe.

I am going over this exact subject in therapy right now. Blame. I blame my parents for alot of what has happened to me, how they made me feel, behaviours I adopted from them, how they treated me as a child and adult, and also how they reacted anytime I expressed my own needs. Yes, they are to blame in part, especially when I was a child who was dependant upon them. They are not innocent and what they did affected me and should not ever be overlooked or forgiven. BUT I don't need to have them around me to hurt me anymore. It is entirely up to me to make changes.

We are all adults here. Our happiness is not dependant on anyone else but ourselves. You can vent, complain, feel victimized, talk to therapists forever, re-hash things that they did or said, read books, etc but until you actually make some real life changes and surround yourself with some positive people, the situation will not get better.

I am being direct because I am trying to help. I still struggle with all this myself, so am by no means trying to make it sound like it is easy to do. I do wish you all the best. You deserve happiness, everyone does!!! I am going to be away for a few days....so will catch up next week. Josie are you still out there? Hope everyone is doing well...

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Dave,

"I'm glad the understanding and validation you get here is helpful." Thank you. The venting really does help me to purge and release it, allowing me to move forward. I feel that is very positive for me. I view it as more than just venting though, I feel the writing about my feelings and experiences is similar to journaling, only I'm writing to someone instead of having it private.

"You seem to understand what kind of people you are around, and what they are doing to you." Thank you for acknowledging this. I think I have a pretty good handle on it. It's far easier to see other people's issues than seeing your own. With that said I think therapy and reading has been helpful. I am taking steps to improve my situation and I've have made changes, which I feel are positive. I do need to remind myself of the positive changes that I've made, especially when I get down for not seeing changes as quickly as I would like.

I did stop the guy as I said above. That is positive. I no longer socialize with my husband, so I'm not currently having to be exposed to the destructive people that he tolerates. I've enforced some boundaries and so far he isn't ignoring the one's about people coming over. That is helpful and more tolerable, so that I don't feel under attack in my own home. I've distanced myself from him, due to his behaviors. I've had to do this to protect myself. It's not the best outcome or what I had hoped for, however it is how I'm currently managing the situation. I don't look at this coping mechanism as inflexible. I try to view this as allowing me to take small steps forward and to manage this while I focus on my health. I view my health as being a limiting factor here. If I can get to the place where I feel better physically, then I know that I will feel emotionally stronger as well.

I don't have contact with my husband's family. I am trying to cope with the residual negative feelings still. Other than writing about my experiences, I'm unsure how to purge all of that out of me. I've also cut out other people from my life. Some of these people still try to contact me and I'm unsure what to do about that. I don't initiate contact with them and I do not act cruel back. I do have feelings about them contacting me though. I find it weird, unnerving and perturbing when people try to contact me after a few years or longer, given their negative behaviors. I think they may be trying to alleviate themselves of a guilty conscience.

I don't have contact with my sisters, but I do still have residual feelings there to work through. I have very limited contact with my mother. I feel better about myself away from her and with limited contact. I still have feelings to work through there too. I do want to see her, but I'd like to feel stronger emotionally before I do.

I would like to get out more, but my physical pain has prevented me from being able to socialize and to get out to the degree and extent that I normally would, and that tends to frustrate and depress me. I have only a few friends. I've made the decision to drastically curtail much involvement with one, because she is draining. I've continued to nurture the positive relationship with the one woman.

There are areas that I need to work on and I am in therapy doing that.

Dave says, "...your current situation doesn't make that easy." No, my current situation hasn't made it easy. It does get frustrating to feel limited as I am, but I'm hanging in there and still working towards this.

"Do you see yourself trapped with these people the rest of your life?" NO. With slow progress it can sometimes feel that way. Perhaps I'm too hard on myself. I will admit to getting very down at times. I do try to focus on what progress I've made.

"Do you see your health improving enough for you to make changes?" I admit that this has been very,very frustating to me. I've had a lot of setbacks. It's difficult to remain hopeful, but after I get it out of me and vent, I persevere and get back up and keep plugging away. I definitely feel that the pain does affect my emotions. I think the drugs that I take for managing the pain do as well. I cannot overlook that. It's very hard. A lot of my therapy at first was very focused on this and managing the crisis unfolding with my mother being institutionalized as well. During the same time frame my MIL was hospitalized over 36 times and she died almost 7 months after my surgery. My therapist also says that I've had an enormous amount of difficulties and challenges to cope with.

Dave says, "I don't doubt anything you say about your situation." Thank you. I really appreciate this. It feels very validating and supportive. I've had far too many people respond in ways that don't acknowledge my experience. It's very positive for me when someone does.

"I'm glad you've found this place to vent and get some understanding and validation." I'm trying to move forward as best I can and thank you for offering the understanding, validation and support. I'm certain it's not always easy to listen to it.

Thank you for listening and being here.

Flower


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Hi Flower,

I'm really glad to hear that you feel you are making positive changes and moving forward. I understand how discouraging and frustrating it can be, when things don't change as quickly as we want. Don't be too hard on yourself about this. I really hope your health improves so that you won't be as limited as you are now. I'm also glad to hear you say you don't think you will be trapped with these people the rest of your life. Some people do get stuck in situations like yours and never get out. It's good to hear you don't think this will happen to you.

Today I'm busy with last minute preparations for my canoe trip. We are leaving very early tomorrow morning. Hang in there! I'll be checking back in at the end of the month.

Peace,

Dave


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello! Yeah, I'm still here.

I haven't been posting lately because I feel that you guys have known each other for quite a while, and I don't want to be giving my two cents without knowing more of your backgrounds. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, so I try to only post my own experiences, but risk coming across as uncaring. That is not the fact.

Especially with Flower's situation, I can relate to having a partner who is less than perfect. It sounds to me like you don't get a lot of good from your marriage, but I am not there to tell. I can only tell you what happened to me.

I was with my first husband for eight years, and he was and still is crazy about me. He is truly a wonderful guy, but he was a lousy husband. He was also not ready at all to be a partner and I felt very alone. I had the same experience where everybody else adores him an tells me how cool he is and how much he loves me, but nobody can understand how it feels to be his wife. In a way, it was a parallel of my relationship with my parents, where everybody else thinks they're great, but everybody else doesn't get treated like I do, so they are incredulous.

After years of agonizing, I finally decided to leave him, and it was the saddest thing I've ever gone through. I loved him, he loved me, yet I know we were not going to be happy together. But I stuck to it, and ended up remarrying a couple of years later. My present husband is wonderful, and our marriage is a stark contrast from my previous one. Now I see very clearly how inadequate that relationship was.

But I realize I was very lucky to have found someone else. I was very afraid of being alone or just joining the legion of single women out there who are always dating but never find anyone. But I had finally gotten to the point where I could see that clearly, I got nothing good out of the marriage. I catered to all his emotional needs as well as acted like some sort of caregiver-slash-personal assistant, yet he was completely removed from my life, my friends, my feelings. So I starting to think, you know, good riddance. I have nothing to lose.

Flower, it also seems to me like you're stuck in a rut somehow. I don't to say this in a judgmental way, I'm not implying that it is because of something you do or doesn't do, because I haven't been around long enough to even know. But I've felt in that position before, where nothing around me was satisfactory: my friends, my job, my school, my view of myself. And then I had a close friend, actually an ex-boyfriend who honestly told me that things around me wouldn't change unless I changed myself. So within three months I had a new major, a new job, new friends, and a completely new attitude. For me, part of it was the way I was presenting myself to the world. If I didn't like to be perceived a certain way, I had to quit presenting myself that way, because that wasn't the real me. After I proactively changed my behavior, in a very short time people were shocked to realized how much I'd changed. It wasn't comfortable in the beginning, but with time I learned to relax into my new skin.

So maybe this tidbit of information can help you. Ask yourself what is it exactly that prevents people from "getting" you. If people don't understand who you really are, it's hard to make true friends. Do people read you wrong? Why? Do you send wrong signals out of habit? I sent wrong signals out of self-defense mechanisms I developed from dealing with my crazy parents.

If none of this rings true to you, please don't take offense. I am the first to admit I haven't been here long enough to know you. I am just giving you what my impressions are, I'm not saying that my impressions are correct. You seem to be the kind of person, like all of us here, who isn't afraid of looking at the dirt under the rug the make the house cleaner, so there's my two cents.

It was my birthday last month and my parents sent me a card, even though I ignored my mother's birthday just four days before. Looks like they took a clue from my sending a mother's day card that this is the only communication I'm allowing them for the time being. It makes me feel guilty that they may see this as a sign that maybe slowly over time we will be on a speaking basis and they can come and visit, which is something I don't want. I feel so conflicted over this.

My husband and I are about to move into a beautiful house we've been building. My parents saw the beginning of the construction. I feel the urge to tell them about it, send them pictures, but I am afraid that that will turn into ammunition against me. I would like them to be happy for me, but I've learned from past experiences that the house may turn into some weird proof in the accusations they make against me, like of being stuck-up, treasuring material possessions above family values, etc. (By the way, traits that they themselves possess) I think people trust their parents to not hurt them, and I completely lost that trust. I felt happy to receive a card with generic but kind words on my birthday, showing that I am still a little like a love-starved puppy. They send a crumble of love and that threatens to make me reconsider all the horrendous behavior I had to endure before.

Peace,

Josi


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Hi Josi,

I appreciate your honesty and thank you for what you said here, "The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, so I try to only post my own experiences, but risk coming across as uncaring." I appreciate that you said this and don't want to offend. It would take a lot of reading to know about our individual backgrounds, given how much we've all been writing, so I appreciate you sensitivity and awareness in this regard.

Thank you for what you said here too, "Especially with Flower's situation, I can relate to having a partner who is less than perfect. It sounds to me like you don't get a lot of good from your marriage, but I am not there to tell. I can only tell you what happened to me." I do get some good from my marriage, but I tend to focus on the more negative issues here, because I can and right now I need too. I feel it a necessary step in my process. I also don't have many outlets or people to talk too about this and it has built up inside of me. I need to get it out of me. Some of the problems have intensified given all that I've had to cope and deal with. I'm very imperfect with the whole process.

I can relate to what you said here, "I was with my first husband for eight years, and he was and still is crazy about me. He is truly a wonderful guy, but he was a lousy husband." I don't know if my husband is crazy about me. I think he needed me, but his behaviors do not feel loving. I also think my husband has good qualities, which I do see, but he has refused to address many issues which do impact me and our relationship in an unhealthy and destructive way. I feel he's been very selfish and yes, this has made him a lousy husband in many ways.

I can relate to this as well, "He was also not ready at all to be a partner and I felt very alone. I had the same experience where everybody else adores him an tells me how cool he is and how much he loves me, but nobody can understand how it feels to be his wife." This is a very terrible position to be placed in. I think it exacerbates the situation and feelings of aloneness. When you try to discuss a problem with others--a very real, difficult problem, and then they respond by telling you how much he loves you is inappropriate and dismissive. For whatever reason they chose not to hear you. I don't know why. At least that is how it felt/feels to me. People seem to go from one extreme to the other--they start talking of divorce, which is very unhelpful or they minimize the problem. To make matters worse, I really didn't have any family around me who responded in emotionally supportive or healthy ways--they always focused on me as being the problem. In fact, they have always focused on me as being the problem period. Then they suggest that they are trying to be helpful or supportive and that is very confusing and nut inducing behavior. That left me feeling like I had no one to talk too and no one that I could even trust given their particular slants, which never felt objective or helpful. I see my family, and others as deriving a great deal of self-importance as my expense. It certainly allowed both of my sisters, and mother to feel superior by masking arrogance and lack of empathy as being helpful. It really was all about them.

I can relate to part of this comment as well, "In a way, it was a parallel of my relationship with my parents, where everybody else thinks they're great, but everybody else doesn't get treated like I do, so they are incredulous." Yes, I get some of this too, although I have not heard other people's opinions of my family as being so great. I did hear this about my husband's family. So, then people respond with that you are treated differently than they are, so they conclude that you are and must be the problem, insead of acknowledging the very real problematic behaviors that create the dynamic and conflict. I don't find behaviors so simple. I feel that this is a very similar dynamic that plays out with assault victims and how they are blamed--people conclude that they have never experienced rape or assault, so therefore the victim must have done something to deserve it.

I don't have a lot of time to respond today, so that is all for now. Thank you for responding Josi...and for being here and listening.

Flower


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Oh, Flower, I am so relieved I was not misunderstood. After I posted, I was getting really worried. Yeah, I agree that what we post here is just a slice of our lives, not the whole cake, and besides, this is the place for us to vent...

Thanks,

Josi


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Hi everyone reading,

Hello Josi! Glad you are still here, good to hear from you! :) I was away for a few days visiting friends. Hard to know what to post, I struggle with that too. I think we are all looking for feedback, advice, and maybe a new view on our own situation, something we have never thought of before. That is what I am looking for anyways, and have found. I hope my experience can help others, even in some small way. I appreciate honest opinions and feedback, even though they may not always be completely applicable to 'me', since nobody knows all the details of my life.

I was in a bad relationship too, an alchoholic who was abusive. Funny how that happens, as that is how my father was. You always hear about how we repeat our parents patterns, but never think it will happen to you. Same thing, people always had great things to say about him, and when I was unhappy with the relationship. I felt guilty and I blamed myself. Same thing as my parents did to me, blamed me, made me feel flawed. We did love eachother, but I realized after the fact that we did not share the same core values, and simply did not get along on a day to day basis. I didn't like his family, and they didn't like me. Why stay with someone when your co-existence is not happy? I don't know why I stayed. But I stayed and stayed and stayed. Hoping it would get better. Yes, I tried to change him. I had fears of leaving, being alone, didn't feel anyone else would ever love me. It ended horribly. But leaving him was the best thing I ever did. I remember the day I left, it was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. My self esteem was very low, I felt ugly. But I made some big changes in my life at that time. And as you described so well, I created the person I wanted to be, the 'real' me.

My marriage right now is a stark contrast to my former relationship as well, the two could not be more different! While I feel lucky, I also feel that the changes I made in my life after leaving my ex were very positive on many levels, which allowed me to meet someone as wonderful as my husband.

You said: "But I had finally gotten to the point where I could see that clearly, I got nothing good out of the marriage. I catered to all his emotional needs as well as acted like some sort of caregiver-slash-personal assistant, yet he was completely removed from my life, my friends, my feelings. So I starting to think, you know, good riddance. I have nothing to lose." Well said Josi, I can relate to those feelings. You get to a point where there is nothing to lose - and only something to gain. I feel the same way with the relationship with my parents, it had gotten to the point where there was just no common ground. And the worst part of it was, I didn't feel my parents wanted to try to find any common ground. They maintained their staunch 'I am right-you are wrong' attitude no matter how much I spilled my guts, and tried to get through to them. I just wanted them to say 'I care'. That never happened.

You said: "...I had a close friend, actually an ex-boyfriend who honestly told me that things around me wouldn't change unless I changed myself." So very true, it took me what seems like forever to really believe this. We have to take responsibility for our own lives. Whether it is the relationship with our parents, our spouse or our friends. We are in control of how we feel and we dictate how others treat us. We are not victims of circumstance.

"If I didn't like to be perceived a certain way, I had to quit presenting myself that way, because that wasn't the real me." Well said, again!

My mother likes to maintain the greeting card relationship with me, that was the biggest part of our relationship from many many years. It was the minimal contact, and I was OK with that for a long time. I think that may have ended now. Or maybe not. We'll see. I want it to end. Although she did send my husband a birthday card a couple months ago. I know what you mean by hanging onto any shred of hope though. I used to do that too and when I was in a place of 'minimal contact' with them, I found myself in more turmoil then, than I do right now - which is without any contact at all since January. But it is a very personal decision that only you can make when the time is right.

Josi, I think it was Dave who said this awhile ago.....you don't have to decide right now what you are going to do, or where your relationship will end up with your parents. Perhaps you will become completely estranged, or maybe slowly reconcile. I know how conflicting the feelings are though, it is not easy. Go with what feels right for you.

Congratulations on your new house! That is very exciting. I think it is natural to want to share big events like that with your parents, I know I did that myself for many years, but was often just disappointed with their reactions. I feel now, in hindsight, that they didn't really want me to be happy and successful for some reason. They were not really what I would call successful or happy themselves, so maybe that had something to do with it. Nothing ever really impressed them, and they were always so judgemental, nothing was ever quite good enough.

What they think, and their opinions do not matter at the present moment. What matters is what you think, and what your friends and family who love and support you and your husband think. And what I have found is that those who truly do love us, support us with things that make us happy and that we consider accomplishments. Easier said than done, and I don't say this 'off the cuff'. It is something I am working hard on doing myself and it has not been easy. I find myself slipping into thoughts about worrying what my parents are saying to others about me now that I have cut off contact with them. I don't know why I care, but I do. I just know my mother has a way of twisting things that is so frustrating. My whole life I have always felt on the defensive with her, explaining myself. It is a relief to not do that anymore.

Thanks for posting Josi, you have alot of good thoughts to share which I always find inspiring. Hang in there with your parents, I hope you will find some peace-of-mind with the situation, I know it is not an easy situation.

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hello everyone reading,

Father's Day today, and the first time that I have not gone through the motions of sending a greeting card to my father. It seems to be a somewhat common thread that most of our father's were not a very big part of our lives. I get the sense that alot of our father's were somewhat aloof. My mother did most of the talking, and my dad said very little to me. I remember him being loud, outspoken and arrogant with his friends though, the life of the party! He was a drunk until I was in my early teens when he quit drinking. Proceeded to replace his alcohol habit with perscription drugs. Seemed that was more acceptable..or maybe easier to hide?

I can remember numerous times when he would stay out drinking with his friends when it was my birthday, Xmas, heck, even on Father's Day some years! I remember as a kid anxiously waiting with the gift I had made for him at school, so excited to give it to him - only to get that sick and sour feeling in my stomach as the hours passed, and he didn't come home. What a jerk. Who does that?

Anyways, since I never really felt like I knew my dad, this day is not as hard for me as Mother's Day is. It is my mother whom I was in contact with over the years, she spoke on behalf of both of them, and sent cards/gifts on behalf of both of them.

My father did not want my love when I was a kid, he chose his fun friends and parties over what I can only imagine what he must have viewed as the boring family life. He made his own priorities. So how on earth could I be expected to show him love now? Just out of obligation? My father made his own decisions in his life, and I am making mine. Me estranging myself from him right now is no different than him disregarding me and letting me down when I was a kid. I have been told that I should take the 'high road' and maintain contact with him, no matter what he did. I tried that, thinking they would acknowledge their own mistakes, as I have acknowledged mine. But they did not. If they would even utter a simple 'sorry' that might have made a difference. They adamently stand by the fact that I had a wonderful childhood and they did ''the best they could''. I don't buy it.

I feel relief. I am not worrying about what they are thinking or saying, not dreading the times I would have to see them, the long period of time after I saw them that it took me to stop being upset about what they said to me, not cringing when I open my email and there was an email from my mother full of gossip and meaningles chatter, and not stressing over all the holidays that I felt obligated to acknowledge and send them cards/gifts even though I did not honestly feel the sentiments that I sent to them. No more. Time for me to be real. I am caring about myself for a change, and caring about how I allow other people to treat me.

Venting venting venting. Thanks for listening. Hope everyone is doing well!

Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Well, I got a pass this weekend because my father's in Brazil and Father's day there is in August. Yeah, father's day is not so hard, but still hard. Only recently I became angry with my dad. All my life I had this faint notion that he was an ally, because he would always commiserate with me about how irrational my mother was, but in the last few years is like she completely won him over. Now he defends her, maybe because he's getting old and afraid of being alone. Now I get angry at him too, for agreeing with her crazy arguments and accusations against me, and especially angry at him for not standing up for me when I was a child. Yeah, it was helpful to have someone secretly tell me I'm not crazy, but it would have been much better for his child if he did not permit my mother to abuse us.

Anyway, I feel like I'm always in need to remind myself of the reasons I decided to stay away. My ex-husband was always reminding me that all they want is love, all they want is to be part of my life and I get sucked into that guilt sometimes. Are they really that bad? Aren't we all misunderstood? What kind of cruel daughter am I? They always seemed so happy when my ex-husband tried to patch things up and treated them like little children, and even apologized for doing nothing wrong, and as long as he was baby-sitting them, they were so content. But only until she couldn't have her way about something. Then they were unhappy and throwing tantrums again. I remind myself that whenever I tried to share my life with them, they weren't happy. They always seemed unsatisfied, no matter how hard I tried to please them. If I tried to show them a good time, or give them nice things, or have a comfortable place for them to stay, I was being stuck up and forgetting where I came from. (Mind you, they are constantly talking about how much money they have and spend.) If I do something well, my mom takes it as an invitation for competition. They never seem to be happy for me.

Sometimes I ask myself if I really belong here, if maybe I'm not just being a coward. I can't really say that I've tried everything I can do and had all the conversations that needed to be initiated, but I can say I honestly believe there's no way it would lead anywhere. I never felt like we could communicate on the smallest issues without my mother turning hysterical. I came to the conclusion that I would initiate such conversations if that would lead to ANYTHING good, even if they were to hate me forever but to at least change their behavior and maybe have a chance of being happier in the future. But I never saw it happening.

Plus I'm scared as hell of my mother. It's almost an irrational fear, but is still there. I've written myself a list of all the bad things that they did the last time they were visiting (for three weeks!) All the snarky comments, all the criticism, all the inappropriate and rude behavior. I wrote the list so I wouldn't forget. I wrote the list so I could remind myself to stay away in those moments when I felt like caving in. But I am so full of fear that I don't even have the guts to read the list. I'm afraid I will get consumed by anger. I'm afraid of reliving all that hurt. How crazy it is that I can't even read my own notes about it?

They have written horrible things to me over the years, only to later pretend it never happened, and I always read them once and them threw it away as soon as I was done because I didn't want to have to think about it anymore. I thought I didn't deserve to read those words more than once. I always told myself they didn't mean it, that they only wrote it because they were angry. (That's the excuse of battered women) Sometimes I wish I had saved them, but if I am afraid of reading my own list, I would definitively not read their own hurtful words.

I appreciate, Sage, you telling me that I don't have to decide now on what to do about the future. I am a newlywed, and we think of possibly having children. And I always torture myself over what to do about it with respect to my parents, and my husband says the same thing: No need to decide now. Wait and see how I feel then. And I often worry if my lack of a strong desire to be a mother isn't a direct result of trying to avoid this decision or just dreading the inevitable. I wonder if I maybe am cheating myself out of the joy of motherhood, the joy of seeing my husband become a father because I don't want to deal with guilt over not telling my parents about their grandkids. I know I could be a good mother. People tell me so. Yet I feel some aversion to the whole thing.

I am getting really upset. Maybe I'll just go ahead and read that damn list! If I get angry, angry feels better than upset...

Josi


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Helo Everyone,

I haven't been posting much lately--too much going on. I didn't much think about Father's Day. It's hard not to think about it with the deluge of advertising. I don't know if my husband called his father or not either. I never asked and he did reveal. I only thought of my family briefly as I was going through some pictures that I have stashed away.

Josi says, "Now I get angry at him too, for agreeing with her crazy arguments and accusations against me, and especially angry at him for not standing up for me when I was a child. Yeah, it was helpful to have someone secretly tell me I'm not crazy, but it would have been much better for his child if he did not permit my mother to abuse us." I can relate to some of what you say here and see echo's of my own situation, although in reverse. I was angry with my mother for not protecting us or standing up for me as a child to my father or my sisters. I see in my husband many behaviors that are similar to my mother--that he will not stand up for me or set the record straight when it comes to his own family and associations. In that situation I stand up for him and always have.

Josi says, "My ex-husband was always reminding me that all they want is love, all they want is to be part of my life and I get sucked into that guilt sometimes. Are they really that bad? Aren't we all misunderstood? What kind of cruel daughter am I? They always seemed so happy when my ex-husband tried to patch things up and treated them like little children, and even apologized for doing nothing wrong..." But only until she couldn't have her way about something. Then they were unhappy and throwing tantrums again." I can often get sucked into the "guilt" as well, especially with my mother. When it came to my husband and his family and association he was good at this as well. He would make excuses for their behaviors, which made it always sounds like he was being understanding and empathetic. I see it much differently--it was more a cover-up for enabling and conflict-avoidant. He wanted peace at any price, or he wanted me to take the hit for him and have everone finger and blame me, or be angry at me. This is one reason why I had such a hard time breaking off and away from toxic people, because it got twisted around into how I wasn't being understanding, or somehow I was being cruel.

At one time I didn't have a hard time cutting people out of my life if I discerned that they were toxic. After a long time of my family and my husband always pounding on me labeling and judging me that I was the problem, it became more of an issue for me. I started to struggle and doubt myself and had greater difficulty holding on to my own truth and being strong in that. I felt continuously misunderstood.

"If I do something well, my mom takes it as an invitation for competition. They never seem to be happy for me."

Josi says, "I can't really say that I've tried everything I can do and had all the conversations that needed to be initiated, but I can say I honestly believe there's no way it would lead anywhere." I can relate to what you said here as well. I believe I did try, but after a time realized that there is only so much a person can do. I've been avoiding her now, until I feel more physically and emotionally strong. My mother was always in her own world and she would just dismiss whatever I say anyway and what kind of relationship can one build around that type of behavior. I just don't see it.

I just started to keep their correspondences, because I got tired of listening to emotionally abusive comments and criticism, only to have them ignore it and pretend or twist it all around. My husband's family is the same--they say and behave in thoughtless selfish ways and then pretend that it never happened. I thought that if I corresponded to them, then they wouldn't be able to twist my words...that is why I've saved my correspondences. But they don't write with the same sort of cruelty that they demonstrate when they are freer to talk on the phone.

Sorry to hear that you went through all the josi...I do know that angry feels better than upset...I'm still in that stage. I was always all about sadness and grief, but I don't think I felt enough of the anger to really let that go. I have more work to do on that....

That's all for now..

Flower


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi Josi, Flower,

Yes, Father's Day is still hard, I am starting to realize it always will be a sad day - but it doesn't have to be a day I dread. It may or may not get easier in time, who knows.

My Dad is pretty much submissive to my mother. I always viewed my dad as somewhat of a coward. He never speaks his own mind, he hides and lets my mother handle everything. What kind of person does that? He must have been so self absorbed that he could not bring himself to see that he had a daughter who really needed him, needed his approval, love and care. He was only worried about himself and his needs.

I feel betrayed by my dad. And the fact that as he got older, after he stopped drinking and settled down, it seemed he just expected me to suddenly forget the past, respect him, and be there for him - even though he was never there for me. That didn't matter. Once again, all about HIM. It is selfish of him. This sense of entitlement makes me angry and I feel completely violated by it.

Josi, you said: "They always seemed unsatisfied, no matter how hard I tried to please them. If I tried to show them a good time, or give them nice things, or have a comfortable place for them to stay, I was being stuck up and forgetting where I came from. (Mind you, they are constantly talking about how much money they have and spend.) If I do something well, my mom takes it as an invitation for competition. They never seem to be happy for me." I can relate to what you say, my mother is the same way. Nothing was ever good enough. If I would share something I accomplished, she would have a story to counteract it, something 'better' that my brother or cousins did. Why not just be happy for me? Why not? I went through this over and over. Yet I always just sucked it up, and moved on. Yet I continued to always have the urge to share life changing moments with them like graduation, job promotions, purchasing a house. From what I have read, it is common for narcissistic parents to behave this way.

Josi said: "They have written horrible things to me over the years, only to later pretend it never happened, and I always read them once and them threw it away as soon as I was done because I didn't want to have to think about it anymore." You don't deserve that kind of treatment. It is so uncomfortable, and so frustrating. My parents did the same thing. It is much more hurtful when the issues are not addressed and everyone just pretends everything is OK.

Josi said: "...they only wrote it because they were angry. (That's the excuse of battered women)." Very true, good point. It is abusive to be treated as you describe. I am very tired of re-living the past myself and re-hashing what has happened, and what they said. I am trying to not go there anymore, not expending my good energy on 'them' because it is a waste. It serves no purpose now. At one point, I felt it was serving a purpose. Because I was tolerating them because I was obligated to because they were my parents, I was being patient, had alot of hope that eventually, things would turn around and we would have this wonderful relationship I envisioned and desparately wanted. This 'fantasy' I held (and I realize now it was little more than a fantasy) never came to be. I still feel like I failed. I keep reminding myself that I can't change what or how they think. It is up to them and they were perfectly happy believing I had no reason to be upset, and did not think they had ever done anything wrong. How could they be so stubborn, aloof and insensitive?

Josi, I can't really relate in regards to children. I chose not to have children when I was very young, and my husband had also made that decision before we even met. It didn't have anything to do with my parents. My parents always viewed me as some kind of freak for not wanting children though. They thought it was so unnatural, and they were disappointed. But then again, they have judged me for nearly everything I did - or didn't do! They are very narrow minded and anything that is not what they consider 'the norm', to them is just wrong. All I can say is that you must go with your own gut feeling with what YOU want out of life. Please don't let them take that away from you, they have already caused enough hurt.

Josi, It is not crazy that you are avoiding reading your list, it is understandable, the connection to our 'parents' runs so deep, and it is very hurtful, something you want to avoid - I can relate to that. I think it would be a good idea to read the list. Face the feelings head on, just sit with them and let the feelings happen. Anger, sorrow, whatever comes up. This is something my therapist said to me and it really hit home and helps me when I do start thinking about my parents.

Flower, The Father's Day advertising, and advertising around other occasions too, is what gets to me the most. We have decided that we need to get out to the mountains for a hike, or a road trip, or anything, just to keep busy and turn the day into something positive. I don't want to dread the day and cry anymore.

Josi said, "I can't really say that I've tried everything I can do and had all the conversations that needed to be initiated, but I can say I honestly believe there's no way it would lead anywhere." Flower said: "I can relate to what you said here as well. I believe I did try, but after a time realized that there is only so much a person can do." I really struggle with this too. I feel that I did try. I still struggle with the feeling that I tried, and failed miserably. But when I think of it logically - I know that I tried, for years and years, and nothing ever changed, not even a little bit. There just came a time when the pain got too great, I had to make changes to save myself, because I was tired of feeling so much hurt and anger towards them.
Sage


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Thanks for the feedback, Sage. It's comforting that we, even coming from very different backgrounds, probably, have so many things in common. It shows we're not crazy. It shows a pattern. I think it's very sad that the fact that we can't fix the relationship leaves us feeling like failures. I've been trying to convince myself that even though I did not do everything possible, I did everything I could within my strength. There's other things I can think of trying, but I don't feel strong enough to do it. You're right, whatever I did do, did not change a thing. Maybe even made them more defensive.

I actually read that list after I posted, I it was very hard, but good. I did get angry, but I was so hurt that I started shaking and crying. Mind you I'm not talking about any single thing that is so terrible. Every one of those items were things that other people would look at and just shrug and let it roll off their backs. Well, try doing it for 30 years. I come to expect nothing good.

My mother has been visiting my Orkut page, which is a version of Facebook done by Google, and the page actually tells you who's been visiting you in the last week or month. I only log in there once every couple of weeks, but my mother is always at the top of the list of recent visitors. It makes me feel so bad that she's thinking about me and probably suffering, but I can't bring myself to contact her.

Yesterday she called my cell phone. I recognize the international dialing codes, and it was a call from their home. I immediately went into panic mode, with that deep pain in my belly, and waited anxiously for a voice message that would say that one of them is dead. I guess that is my biggest fear. I will come; I dread it; yet have no idea what I will do or how I will feel. I don't have siblings, so whatever I decide will have greater weight.

But there was no message. I guess it was just her getting all impulsive and saying, "the heck with it," and calling me anyway. But I think if she doesn't recognize that her behavior is the reason I'm staying away, if she doesn't recognize that she hurts me, I can't bring myself to have contact with her. I need an apology to at least consider talking to her again, and I don't think an apology is coming. If she was sorry, she would have left a message, she would have written an email.

On another note, I'm glad you were able to draw from your experiences and get out of an abusive relationship. Some good has to come from all this awareness.

Happy Fourth everyone. I will be lining cabinets and moving boxes all weekend long.

Josi


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RE: Adults estranged from parents

Hi there Josi,
You are welcome, I am glad I could help. It helps to relate to those in the same situation. Yes, I know, I felt for many years like it was 'me'. Because that is what I was always told. That I was too sensitive, over reacting, being dramatic etc. There is a pattern with their behaviour, and I find some comfort in that fact. Good relationships take the participation of 2 sides and I feel my parents just want me to overlook everything and pretend everyting is OK. That is what is easiest for them. I still have thoughts of what I could have/should have done to fix the relationship with them. But as time goes on, I realize that anything I did was never enough. I found that anytime I did try to reach out, humbled myself, really tried to speak to them about my feelings about the past that they got more and more defensive, would throw accusations at me, and became colder. Strange, frustrating. It was hurtful and humiliating for me. I felt like I opened myself up, put my feelings out there - only for them to be trampled. My parents are not the touchy/feely/emotional type of people. And I did not come across that way to them, I did not demand that they be that way. I was very to the point about it, and chose my words carefully. I was not combative about it. But they just simply won't face up to it. How hard is it to simply say - "I am sorry"? I am not making any of this up, the know what the situation was, after all...they were there.

I am glad you read that list of yours, I think it is a healthy thing to do. Let the emotions out. I know what you mean, some things do seem trivial, but small things can be very hurtful too. I feel that way when I talk about how my brother was favoured over me. Little things, like the shopping trips my mother would take him on, buying super expensive designer clothes (which they could not by any stretch of the imagination afford to buy!!!). And his non-appreciation of the fact he was so spoiled in that way. I resent it to this day. It feels so trivial to me even as I type this. But these little things represent something bigger, the deep emotions attached to them.

Seems your mother is similar to mine. My mother takes solace in sending greeting cards. She did this for years and years - even when we had not talked for many months. Her way of contacting me, keeping in touch, and I guess prooving to herself that as my mother, she cares on some level. This seems like what your mother is doing via Facebook type sites, and the phone calls.

Too bad my mother could never bring herself to vocalize that she cares, or to respond to my attempts to reach out to her. I think it would have made a difference if she did show me she did care about how I felt. She just shuts down and puts her head in the sand, and blames me for causing trouble. I have had people suggest to me that maybe she is incapable of love. I don't buy that....we are all humans, with the capacity to give and receive love...it is a choice. At least that is what I believe. My mother chooses to believe that I am horrible, and she did nothing at all wrong. She chooses to not talk about it with me, because it is not easy for her. Rather, she attacks, brushes me off, accuses me of causing trouble, and then carries on like nothing has happened. I can only assume now that she thinks it is worth it to not have contact with me, in order for her to not face up to anything from the past. To me her actions have shown that she is selfish, cowardly and heartless.

I have thought alot about what will happen when my parents die, and this was discussed here before. Dave said something that really hit home for me, he said that you don't have to think of that now, or make any decisions about what will transpire at that time. When it actually happens - that is when you will decide what you will do. I know for me personally, if it happened today, I would not go back. But when that time comes, I may change my mind. I will go with my gut feeling at that time. This has given me alot of peace of mind to think of it in that context.

I truly understand what you mean about needing an apology. I have gone over this with a therapist. I have admitted and apologized for some things I have done and said. My mother, or father, have never ever even admitted anything they did has hurt me or affected me negatively in any way. Never. It is too late now, so much time has passed, and I am just letting go of that 'fantasy' of getting an apology from them. They decided it was not something that was necessary or warrented, as they don't see what they have ever done wrong. The bottom line for me anyways is that deep down my parents do know what they did, they do know what they did hurt me, they know it affected me as a kid, and as a teenager, and even into my adult life. They know they are wrong not only in what they did, but in how they brushed me off as an adult trying to reach out to them.
I am being a little long winded once again! Thanks for listening. We have some exciting things happening in our world here, and I miss not having parents to talk to them about, to tell them all that is going on. I hope it does not get to this point in your situation Josi, I truly would not wish this on anyone. While it is good to relate to people in similar situations, at the same time, I hope that their relationships with their parents might eventually turn out to be better than mine has ended up. That being said, I am moving forward, life is good, I am happier than I have been in a long time. The past 6 months has been one of the most difficult periods of my life.

Yes, alot of good comes out of simple awareness!! :) Hope you had a wonderful weekend moving into your new place! Exciting!! I am getting ready to go on holidays, so I will be away for awhile, but will check back in in a few weeks. Take care of yourself, enjoy settling into your new house!!

Sage


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