Based on previous MeFi advice, I'm limiting my contact with my parents. Dad is reacting angrily. I'm fine with that and generally feel fantastic, but I have moments of wondering if I am too sensitive (as he claims) and whether I over-react in situations where everyone else would shrug it off. How to stop these doubts?
I asked this question
about whether to cut off contact with my parents, whose acrimonious arguments over the past 30+ years upset me. Your responses were very helpful, for which I'm grateful.
My dad called recently to ask me on a long trip with him and my mom. I said no. I told him that I am reducing my exposure to him and my mom, due to their dynamic of getting into heated arguments and him loudly shouting harsh criticisms over things such as Mom wanting to go to a cheaper restaurant, or Mom wanting to make everyone wait while she takes photos. (I also want to reduce my exposure to her complaining about him, but she wasn't on the call, so we mainly discussed his part in this.)
He said various defensive things, such as pointing out that other people can handle their parents' fighting and why don't I just become like them. He implied that I'm abnormal for being hyper-sensitive to this. Also he asked if I preferred him to turn into a sissy wuss who lets my mother walk all over him and will die earlier due to being a doormat. He said that I need to give him more chances. He said that if I got this idea from a therapist, that therapist is really wrong and needs to not spread terrible ideas encouraging people to separate from their parents. The conversation ended with me saying that it has become unproductive and that I'm going to go, and then I hung up.
I sent my younger brother a short message that this happened. He replied he respects my decision but he understands why my dad is sad, because my dad has been on his best behavior in recent years. It's true that my dad used to blow up every 2-4 days, and in recent years, has reduced it to blowing up every 10 days. I can see that he is controlling himself to be patient during some events that previously would've led to his temper exploding.
My question is that I'm seeking advice on how I can stay firm in my confidence that I'm behaving reasonably and am not just an over-sensitive person, especially when I'm struck by moments of seeing it from their point of view.
I have felt a sense of liberation around limiting my exposure with them. I feel that my life is so much more calm and peaceful. But occasionally I am struck with moments of seeing it from their perspective. My parents are immigrants. They saw other parents doing worse things (e.g. hitting their kids), and after the kids grow up, they treat their parents great. For example, I know that our friend was beaten by his stepmom using a metal rod, but now he takes her to dinner every few weeks. Our other relatives hit their kids every few days growing up, but the older kid just bought a house for the parents. My dad did not bring up these examples in our conversation, but I know this is the shared context that forms their mindset. My dad did say in our conversation that I am applying ridiculously high standards for his behavior, which no one could meet.
For people who have set boundaries, what techniques do you use to prevent yourself from seeing it from the other point-of-view and then wondering if you're being over-sensitive?