When to pull the plug?
May 1, 2012 3:22 PM Subscribe
Family Drama Filter: Please help me sort out this situation. My parents are very difficult people and I'm considering cutting off ties. Help.
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (50 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I feel so lost, please help me MeFites! I'm in a vicious cycle with my parents and I'm at the point where I'm wondering if cutting ties is the best choice. This is very sad to me, but they are very manipulative and I honestly don't want that in my life. Here's a recent example of the cycle.
Background: My parents are still married and assume very different roles. My dad is very much a "Yes-man" and avoids conflict like the plague. He will completely flat-out lie to keep peace. My mother is an absolute drama queen and makes everything out to be about her, her feelings, her wants, whatever. I'm in my 30s and have been financially independent from them since I was 18. I left the house and didn't look back because the combination of their two personalities cause them to be completely emotionally unavailable to me at times. Fast forward to now where I'm an unmarried adult who owns her own home and has a great career, I find it very difficult to connect with them. I've tried numerous times over the years to work on the relatioship. The only time they seem to open up to me is when they want something from me which usually comes in the form of guilt and shame.
Two weeks ago I called to say hello which I've been doing for years, and usually the extent of our conversation is just exchanged pleasantries and that's it. If my Mom asks me questions about myself and I open up to her, she almost always uses it as ammunition later for me being selfish and not thinking of her. This has caused me to not readily offer up information like how work's been going, what I've been doing in my spare time, etc. I try to ask her lots of questions about herself, and she won't open up because she feels that "I shouldn't know her personal details" (this was an answer to me asking what she's been up to lately and if she's been doing any hiking as an avid hiker). Obviously, this is totally counter-intuitive to attempts to foster an adult relationship with them.
Anyway, two weeks ago I called in my usual fashion. When she asked about what I was up to I happily told her that I ran the Boston Marathon (it was actually my 19th marathon!) and her immediate response was: "That was so stupid. WHY on Earth would anyone risk their health to run a stupid marathon? That was such a bad decision. Stupid. Not worth it." I was speechless and said I had to go and ended the conversation. I was nothing short of crushed. She left an apology voicemail three days later. I didn't call back because I was really, really upset.
Last week I received a voicemail message from my Dad saying that my mother had an accident and just wanted to let me know this. I immediately dropped what I was doing and called them. He talked to me for about two minutes that she slipped and fell (they are only in their late 50s) and had to get stiches to her knee and before I could even say anything, handed the phone to her. She immediately launched into an apology about the other night. Angry at feeling so manipulated, I took a breath and said calmly that I was feeling very hurt by what she had said. She told me that I'm being selfish and hung up on me.
I've been feeling awful about this but have been trying to let it go. Meanwhile, my brother's graduation is in two weeks and I haven't received any of the logistics. Since it's on a Wednesday, I would have to take time off from work to drive to another state, book a hotel room and take the next day off to attend graduation. Since I had zero information, I called them this afternoon. I said I was just calling to say hello and to get some information about the graduation so I could plan on my end. I was immediately yelled at by my brother and my mother that his graduation is "Not about [me]" and that I should plan on coming. I explained that this was the exact why that I was calling - I want to be supportive and attend the graduation, but just need to know logistics so that I can plan to be there. My brother also told me that he might not want me there. I told him that this was fine, but to let me know either way this week so I can put in for time off. Then of course, my dad chimes in with that they all want me there and I need to be there and blahdeblah - but the tones of voice, words, etc. from my mother and brother make me believe otherwise.
Ok, MeFi. I understand that not all adults are necessarily friends with their parents. I've accepted that I'll probably never have the relationship that I want with them. However, how do I manage this situation? Do I want to attend this graduation? Not really because I don't feel like dealing with my mom, but I was still planning on going to be supportive to my brother. But it seems like my brother doesn't want me there. Otherwise, I'd work my darndest to be there for him. What do I do?
I feel like I've been trying to force this relationship for years and I feel like I'm never going to get anywhere. When they need something from me I'm met with guilt...sometimes it might be warranted, other times not so much. I've strongly been considering cutting ties with them because this type of scenario has been a vicious cycle for YEARS. When is enough enough? Help? Maybe this is a bad idea?