Stuck in a rut, because of relationship with parents.
March 14, 2010 11:56 PM   Subscribe

In a tough spot with my parents. Trying to find life direction while living at home with two parents that HATE each other to the core. Advice if you've been in a similar situation, please.

I had stopped going to college 2 years through to work in a field I was potentially interested at the time. I lived in 2 apartments in 2 years. The second one, had a real bad vibe through the place, everyone was real down on their luck, I started smoking pot again, something I had kind of written off as elementary a few years before that, the lease was up, I had no plans, I just went back home. For a year I continued to work a little (by a little I mean I was doing freelance 2-3 days a week) spending a lot of time (23 at this point) thinking what the hell I was to do about my life. Smoking a lot of pot, drinking a lot of beer, making beer. Heh, I thought about going to brewing school, but the hobby wasn't about a career, it was about making beer and drinking it, and having people agree that it's cool. Like I said, a year had gone past, and I'm smoking out my window living at home trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing with my life. Subconsciously, I'm really depressed. I wouldn't say it or do anything about it, but I definitely was.

I was feeling out for the first time how different the home was. A new situation where I'm not going to school, where my dad is not going to work (he was laid off 2 years ago, still looking for a job, that's another hill of beans...); we all live in the same house, but we don't really live. Everyone is in a melancholy idle.

Anyways, time was coming around to where I was going to decide what to do with my life, which, at that point, was going to brewing school. It was crunch time, and no one knew it but me, that I had to chose something different than what the year had been, stagnant in every way. Brewing school, though cool in it's own regard, wasn't what I wanted. It was a hobby for me, I didn't want it to be a job. The wheels were turning though, the act of truly asking myself, "is this what I really want?" got me to put the pipe down for a couple nights. Around this time, I can't remember what I was doing, but I was at my computer, and my mother came in my room and confronted me about something, can't remember what exactly she said, but because I felt like she was in my space, talking about something I didn't want to hear, I pretty much told her to eff off. And though my family will ignore each other and isolate ourselves from each other, very rarely will we have genuine conflict.

When she left, I still had the feeling of standing my ground, and the heat you get from being mad, but I also felt like a real butt hole for not talking to my either of my parents, telling them what my plans were, because at that point no one including myself knew. I told myself I'd apologize for that, and let my mom know what the last year has been like for me. Well, as I apologized I started to cry, it was the first time in a while I let somebody who I cared about, know what was on my mind. It reminded me when I was young and if something was wrong, I could spill my guts out to my mom. I talked about not knowing what to do about a career, I talked about feelings of insecurity from all sorts of fronts.

It was at this particular point she decided drop the fact "Dad wanted to Divorce me while you were living in the city" followed by, "I probably shouldn't have said that..." My guts were on the floor, far before she mentioned that. It had been a long time since I had been that vulnerable, and I knew prior to that moment, that things weren't great between my folks, but to use my emotional state, as a tool, to get your side in. Just blew my mind. I hardened back up. The conversation wound down, I didn't say anything about how that comment made me feel. But man it effed my mind. Being in that real fragile state, to be mishandled in that state, made me think of all the times as a child, where I was taken advantage of like that.

Made me think a lot about my parents marriage then (as a child) and now. The fact it's ugly now doesn't help past memories. Soon after were my apologetic feelings toward my dad. Getting on him for all the hypocritical stuff, and everything else in between; anger residing from feelings like he didn't take the time to raise me... I now saw him as an old man with a real bitch of a wife, the life he set up for himself, and me myself this idiot stoner, wasting my time being mad and not doing anything. Just wasting my time, fretting the past. Really hit depression hard for about a week after that.

The thing that really sucks from my perspective is how this all happened. I'm not going to get into it completely, but it deals with, big surprise here, money. Situation makes my Dad look like a coward, and my mother looking like she finished "parenting" so she could cash out, and shit didn't work out, when Dad didn't like her strong arming him on what to spend money on. Ugly, really ugly. What's worse, they play the same game they did when I was 5, like which one can they make worse in front of their children to get sympathy points.

I wrote a letter to my mother. It was for her and her alone and for her to know what I knew, and where I stand on how she and my father act towards each other. When I was done writing it, and re-reading it... it was nasty. I couldn't give it to her. Here is a quote on one issue: "So I want to be clear right now. If your plan is to be as shitty to Dad as possible and hope to outlive him while befriending his family for their money, I'm going to have 0 respect for you. If Dad were to die tomorrow, and we were at the funeral, and your sobbing with his family about how much you miss him, 0 respect from me. Just know that. I mean, what would you have? You want to be 60 years old with the people you criticized (rightly in every regard) your entire life?". Woof. Right? How do you tell someone that? What sucks is, I used to love these people, we used to love each other. There's no trust any more, and no genuine talk.

I read a great post here, a lot similar feelings there. A recurring answer was not to do anything. Yet, I feel like that's all I do. Makes me feel like a cog that is played and not spoken for, that sucks. I also hate the feeling of leaving them for dead. Shit's complicated. I should say the week after I was the most depressed, I started seeing a family shrink. I had no one I could talk about this -anyone I felt trustworthy to talk to-, so at that time it was the best way to go. It wasn't perfect, but it got some sober thoughts in order. I quit smoking pot in November, decided I didn't want to drink for year in december, don't know if I'll last the whole year, but I sure as hell want some time to regroup after just smoking and drinking and not giving a shit for a year. If I go to school like I am now, full time living at home, I will finish my bachelors in a year. Told myself after I was done, I could just throw my camping shit in a car and hit the national parks. This for some reason eased the paranoia of finding the perfect career right away.

If you've been in similar circumstances, any advice handling matters like this would be greatly appreciated.


posted by Dubs to Human Relations (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
if you don't have a career plan, just look for a temporary job so you can get out of the house during day while you sort your life out.

as for your parents, i think you should just stay out of it. if you're the reason for any of their arguments, however, ask them both out to lunch or just sit down with both of them and discuss what bothers you and ask them to leave you out of it. it's unfair to you that you have to pick a side, and they should know that. if your dad had issues with your mom while you were away, their problems really have nothing to do with you. let them know that you love them both, but they need to sort their problems out and leave you out of it.
posted by crystalsparks at 12:06 AM on March 15, 2010

tl;dr (I almost never say that). You spend way too much time thinking about your life, and not enough living it. Stop the pot; it's making you terminally lazy.

As for your parents, you need to disengage from the situation (move out). It's not about you, there's nothing you can do. Just make the best of however they work it out.
posted by sbutler at 12:28 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Jesus dude you are 23 years old, not 14. Stop obsessing over your parents's actions, move out, get a job and start living your own life. You are not going to "decide what to do with your life" sitting in your room. Go try some stuff, see if you like it, if you do great- keep doing it. If you don't? do something else. Life is short and you're pissing it away.

And don't be so insensitive to your mother. She probably thought she was finally having a real conversation with another adult in her family about how a bad year and the tough decisions you both had to make and when she opened up to you, you made it all about you and your needs and acted like a child again. You are not a child.

This is kind of a harsh post but seriously, you need to get over yourself right now.
posted by fshgrl at 12:30 AM on March 15, 2010 [32 favorites]

And don't be so insensitive to your mother. She probably thought she was finally having a real conversation with another adult in her family about how a bad year and the tough decisions you both had to make and when she opened up to you, you made it all about you and your needs and acted like a child again. You are not a child.

This is exactly what I wanted to say. You need to get out of your head and look around and realize that your parents are people just like you. Stop sitting around and stewing about your feelings and live your life. Why not go to Brewer's School? You don't have to be a brewer - if nothing else it will give you something to do with yourself until you finally figure out what you want. Live and let life lead you - stop trying to interpret and plan everything.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:49 AM on March 15, 2010

A college degree (BA or BS, I presume?) in one year? DO IT! And then take the GRE at the first possible opportunity. Do NOT delay! I told myself I would wait a year and then take the GRE when I was 25. I'm now 44 and still haven't taken it.

That degree will open a few (perhaps many) doors that would otherwise be difficult to get through if not closed.

ONE year is NOTHING!

Once you have the degree, I really don't think you should stress the "what" to do so much as just doing something. You'll probably be amazed at how much stuff there is to learn even at a job that, at first, appears to be very little. Every little bit of experience helps.

Your parents are adults. Let them handle themselves for a year or so or until you stabilize yourself. The clock is ticking, my friend, and time is not on your side. I missed my window. Learn from my mistake. You're still young enough that you have plenty of time. That time will be gone before you know it if you hesitate. Last I knew I went to bed when I was 28. Again, I'm now 44.

Don't just move randomly. Always make sure you're moving forward. Always. Be relentless in your quest. Above all, DO NOT LET THE BASTARDS GET YOU DOWN!

Establish a great work ethic (it's extremely rare these days) so you stand out. No job is beneath you as long as you can learn something from it. Do NOT stay in one place long enough to stagnate. Stagnation is your enemy and will metaphorically kill you.

You can do this. You know it. Even I know it. Make the decision and let nothing stop you.

And ditch the drugs and alcohol (and tobacco). Wastes of health, time, and money!!!

All you have in life is health and time (and money = time) so concentrate on not squandering those. You've gotta be like Patton directing his 3rd Army. You don't want to hear that you're holding your position. You're not interested in holding your position. Others can do that. You are advancing ALL OF THE TIME.

Start your routine of going to bed early and getting up early. Get a filling breakfast and MOVE!

I wish you well and best of luck.

Live the life I wish I could if I could go back to your age. (I'm saying with tears swelling up in my eyes.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:55 AM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: If you're going to take 3 minutes of thought out of your day to leave a post like fshgrl, skip it.
posted by Dubs at 12:58 AM on March 15, 2010

I went through a similar situation, actually leaving and going back to school twice. So I know it sucks hearing over and over that the answer is to finish school. But it really is, even though the whole job market thing is pretty dim. What it comes down to is keeping yourself busy and gaining a sense of accomplishment. I really hate thinking about going to school but uggghh it's better than imagining a day where I slept till 3, then spent the afternoon and evening thinking about how everything sucks.

I never moved all the way back in with my parents but I feel for ya. I spent about 3 weeks during one of the worse times and that was awful, daily reminders that my life is going to waste, and every single dumb thing I did since I was 13. And then the weird things that go on in a marriage of that many years... like they both think they're trapped in a situation that is entirely the fault of the other, so resentment is not only appropriate, it's necessary.

Anyway, the point is, get out as soon as you can. If that means finishing school and getting a job first, let that be your motivation. Work on your relationship with your parents, not theirs with each other, or with anyone else. If they let you move back in, they can't be that bad and obviously care about you. Also, sometimes people just need support and someone to "be on their side", which is different than doing nothing, even though it might feel like it.

About quitting smoking and drinking… don't be discouraged if you slip up once or twice, it's no reason to throw the whole thing away. Do you exercise? It makes giving up drinking and smoking a lot easier! Though not at first…

Good luck :)
posted by and1 at 1:13 AM on March 15, 2010

If you're going to take 3 minutes of thought out of your day to leave a post like fshgrl, skip it.

I'm going to reiterate something that fshgrl said in her "3 minute post" that I think you missed:

"...seriously, you need to get over yourself right now."

After living at home for a year, working part time and smoking pot all day you finally realize that your parents' marriage is falling apart and it's time to get on with your life. Well, kudos, but the first step in any endeavor is getting your attitude into line. And yours, by the tenor of your post, sucks right now. Yes, it's terrible to realize that your parents have feet of clay, and it's rough not knowing what to do next, but vilifying your mom (while still contemplating living in her home for another year) and thinking up reasons to NOT do things isn't going to get you anywhere.

You need to get yourself your own life and stop worrying about how others are living theirs. You're young - you can go work on a fishing boat, you can backpack around South America, you can get that Brewer's certification and work in a craft. And, if you decide that you don't like it, you can change direction again and again for years - but first you have to get your attitude in line and learn to be grateful for what you have, or you'll never enjoy any of it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:22 AM on March 15, 2010 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks and1, yeah I started going to the gym around the same time I took the drinking respite. Figured it was a good time to shed some pounds while not drinking.
posted by Dubs at 1:22 AM on March 15, 2010

Immediately turn the situation into motivation for moving up and out. Writing this question is your first step. Next, just get out of the house as much as possible -- either go back and finish school or get a job. Start saving and if you don't move out right away and put it towards rent, then think of your savings as "payment" for having to put up with your parents while you live there. It might make living there slightly easier. Other than that, get a nice pair of headphones and a big bucket of good earplugs.
posted by thorny at 1:25 AM on March 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you light, fantastic.
posted by Dubs at 1:25 AM on March 15, 2010

How horrible of your parents, to think about their own happiness before yours, an adult.

You're a grown man. Move out of home, get a job, think about your dreams in your time off and on weekends. Life doesn't start at a certain point, and it doesn't stop, either. At least if your wasting your time on booze and pot, doing independently in your own house - as opposed to your own room - feels a hell of a lot better.

Also, perhaps for future reference, remember that it's unlikely other people are as interested in you and your problems as you are, especially these kind of middle class ennui problems. This goes for your parents as much as strangers on the internet. Best of luck.
posted by smoke at 2:37 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Being in that real fragile state, to be mishandled in that state, made me think of all the times as a child, where I was taken advantage of like that.

That was your mom, in a fragile state, treating you like an adult. You're misreading the situation.

I don't think you're thinking straight because you're depressed.

For what it's worth, when I was twenty-three, and didn't know my ass from my elbow, I moved three thousand miles away and lived there for about ten years, pulling my shit together. I did it not because I was brave but because I was desperate. Looking back, I was also a real asshole. That was seventeen years ago.

Anyway, I bought a sixty dollar bus ticket and rode three days to the other side of the country.

I recommend it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:12 AM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

As a parent, with an adult child who's not becoming independent (but a good enough marriage), let me say:
a. it's not about you.
b. move out so they can get on with their lives, even if it means splitting up.
c. just how long are they meant to support you for?
d. just about every young adult I knew when I was that age wallowed through the "my parents made me like this, they owe me, it's their fault I'm tall-ugly-oversensitive-uneducated-a_redneck etc whatever." That may be true up to a point, but now it's your turn to do something about it. Have you thought of moving out, getting a part-time job and finishing your quals, all on your own? How awesome would that make you feel?
e. Sometimes it's about getting off your arse and doing something, anything (yeah, I spent years not doing stuff, waste of time. If it's not dangerous, it can't be that scary. Sure, it might be difficult, but that's a good reason to do it.)
f. I doubt, from your post, that your mother was trying to have a heart-to-heart with an adult offspring (despite the earlier posts). I trust she knows you well enough to understand your juvenile narcissism (which I assure you will go away when you realise what you're going through, while tragic for you, is really not much in the grand scheme of things, if there was a grand scheme.)

Now what to do?
Write a list, call it: my goals. Make it short.
Write another list: call it how I will achieve my goals.

List 1.
Move out.
Get quals.

List 2.
1. Get a job.
1a. Rewrite resume.
1b. Distribute resume to X employers by Y date.
1c. Ask Uncle Joe if he knows anyone needing unskilled labour.
2. When 1 is achieved, seek accommodation elsewhere.
2a. Sharehouse is cheaper, check Craigslist for my area.

And so on.

Oh, and by the way, you have NO idea about your parents marriage. Really. You only know what they allowed you to see. Also, you don't need them to stay married. You're done (ie finished being raised). Better they are happy and apart then staying together so you have an idea of happy families. Fuck that letter to your mother. How she and your father treat each other and allow each other to treat each other has nothing to do with you, dude. Seriously. You do not know the whole story. Back off. Love them both, but their marriage and their divorce is NONE of your business.
posted by b33j at 3:38 AM on March 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


You are an adult. This means that YOU are the only person responsible for your own happiness, like it or not. You can't change your parents, but you can change how you respond to them.

Thinking that your problems are someone else's fault is very easy but also very unhelpful. Of course it's true that your parents' life affects you. It's probably also true that an unemployed [minority]'s problems are partly caused by other people's stereotyping. Nevertheless, the only way that you, the hypothetical minority person, or anyone else are going to get anywhere is by taking responsibility for themselves and making an effort.

If moving out is what it takes to get some distance from your parents, then you'll just have to find a way to do that.

Things that may help you get yourself out of a rut:

- Get more exercise
- Think of things you can spend your time on that are not TV and the internet. Watching TV sucks up all your creativity and forward thinking (well, it sucks up mine anyway).
- Find some new hobbies, meet some new people
- Take on a more adult role in your parents' house. Cook the family dinner once in a while, help with the housework, buy them some flowers and say you know they're going through a rough time and you're sorry for your contribution to that. If you behave more like an adult they may treat you more like one.
posted by emilyw at 4:07 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I hate to pile on, because I do think it's understandable to be depressed living in a situation like that.

But ... you're choosing to live in that situation. You're 23 years old living in your parent's house presumably for free.

To be an adult, choosing to live in someone else's house where they let you stay for free, and then tell them off, judge them, write them nastygrams (even unsent ones) ... it's just such bad form. I'm sure this is the last thing you want to hear, but is is shamefully ungrateful.

It is also unseemly, at 23, to still blame one's parents for one's current life circumstances

And, I agree with everyone who said that your parents' marriage is not your business whatsoever, and the only right thing for you there is to stay out of it completely.

I'm not saying this to be harsh. I think you will be happier when you shift from the mentality of being a child who simultaneously relies on them and resents them, and feels like their cog, to the mentality of an adult with agency over his own life.

As far as the depression-- I think you did the right thing by starting to see the psychologist and giving up the pot and drinking. Do you exercise? I think if you try to get some intense cardio in for at least half an hour a day, you'll feel a lot better.

As far as the home situation, if you absolutely can't move out right now, I think you should just decide how you want to be treated, and just as importantly, decide how you want to treat others. And then set boundaries and stick to them for how they treat you, and set boundaries for yourself in how you treat them. I think you did a really good thing by not allowing yourself to give your mom the nasty letter. What about taking more proactive steps to have the relationship with your parents that you want, instead of just isolating yourself? You can't change their relationship, but you can change your relationship with each of them. If you take baby steps and don't set your expectations too high, you won't turn into the Brady Bunch overnight, but it sounds like there's room to have a lot more than what you have now.

For example, when your mom dropped the comment on you about the divorce, you could have communicated with her about how that made you feel and tried to work it out, instead of just shutting down. All the things you mention that your parents did in relation to you in your childhood, that they still do- all those things can be communicated about, at the very least.
posted by Ashley801 at 4:19 AM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

You are an adult. Your parent's relationship is between them - they met before you were around, and it is, to a large degree, independent of you. They have their own lives. Let them live them, and respect that. They are also you parents. Love them (unless one are both are somehow inherently evil or something.)

As to "Anyways, time was coming around to where I was going to decide what to do with my life"..... this is unfortunately a mistake everyone tends to make. The time when you decide what to do with your life spans your entire life....... there is no single time. You have different choices at different times, and choices are constrained by circumstances, but most people don't plan their life out when they are 23... and if they do, it rarely actually works out that way, and man, how boring would THAT be.

You are an adult. Get a job, get a place to live, be active, respect your parents independence, don't freak out because you don't know what the answers to life are yet - enjoy the ride.

Oh yeah, and stay out of debt.... credit cards are Evil.
posted by TravellingDen at 8:09 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mother and stepfather hate each other, and were divorced long ago. They continued to actively hate each other on a daily basis for decades afterward, co-dependent to the point of it seeming they were still married... leading to their actually re-marrying a year ago. Basically, they finally came to the conclusion that it was financially advantageous to hate each other in the same residence instead of maintaining two residences.

Living in that situation, all I and my siblings could think of was getting out of that poison. I used this as motivation to do the the school/college/career thing; my siblings used it as an excuse to drop out, shack up and make babies ASAP. The result of all this is that now, many years later, I am safely in another city and only dealing with any of them on my terms; they are all tied to the same city by economics, forced to deal with each other on a daily basis and doing their best to perpetuate the same miserable family dynamic for their own children. Visiting the lot of them for a holiday feels a lot like walking into a room of heavy smokers does to me as an asthmatic... suffocating, not endurable for long, and requiring a hot shower immediately afterward.

So, if you must suffer this for now, at least suffer with purpose: you are going to get away, and you are going to do it the "right" way so that you are never forced to return. This is your mantra: use it to give you the motivation and patience to build a healthier life for yourself in the long term.
posted by Pufferish at 8:16 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you're on the right track, honestly. You've just been through a bad year, made some poor choices along the way, and it sounds like you haven't availed yourself of many of the things that are out there that might have helped you get some perspective.

First thing you need to do is recognize that you're not going to ever feel like you have it all together, that you know why you're here 100%. There will always be insecurities and questions about what to do, how to do it, etc. So don't let those hold you back. Press on regardless.

So, in no particular order, I think you should do whatever you can to be independent. Make friends with other people who have their shit together. They might be brewing and drinking beer, but more likely they'll be volunteering somewhere or working on a project in your community or going to school or . . . you get the idea. Get a job (any job) or go back to school or set out to travel until you start to get some clarity. Start to live the process of not-knowing, start to love it. Honor your questions and keep your eyes on the prize:

One day you will be an independent adult, capable of loving and caring for yourself and your parents and anyone else you choose to allow into your life.

I think it's great you're going to the gym and have taken other steps to heal and rehabilitate. Focus on the future and do what you can do in the present to create the life you want. Forget the past. Move on.
posted by pocket_of_droplets at 8:19 AM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

The problem with your parents' marriage is money? How about you stop raiding the fridge and sleeping in a room you don't pay rent for, while you keep your own money for pot? Maybe that would relieve the family finances a little.

I worded that harshly because you just don't seem to get how simple this really is. Your parents are grown people and can take care of themselves. The only thing you can control right now is what you do with your own time. Get a steady job, make some money, move out, give your mom and dad a phone call once in a while.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:44 AM on March 15, 2010

Why don't you all go over to a family therapist? It's okay even if you're older. Family is family, and your parents need to remember that.

Additionally, you can write them both a letter about how their meanness to each other and histrionics have to stop and you want them to be happy, and would like to help.

Don't worry about your career. You might find it. You might not. Just go make some money.
posted by anniecat at 10:06 AM on March 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys, I really appreciate the positive advice.
posted by Dubs at 10:32 AM on March 15, 2010

Sometimes I read replies to a question like this and wonder.. if there is another country I could move to, where people don't kick you when you are down and then tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and insist that the actions of your close immediate family, the only family you have, shouldn't affect you, and that overall the point of life is to be relentlessly goal-oriented and productive and working on stuff all the time. It's like taking life advice from the wrong Lebowski. Maybe you should just go bowling for a while.
posted by citron at 1:37 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Citron, your saying some things I reframed from saying, and to that I applaud you sir. You can tell which people think they could help by sharing their own story, and which people are just answering the question between "novelfilter" and "Lifelong vegetarian gone bad". I think the next time I ask a question, especially if it deals with family, I'm going to ask that anyone boasting over 1,000 answers, move on to somewhere else.
posted by Dubs at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2010

Why bother asking random internet strangers for their opinion if you are going to preemptively shoot down answers you don't like hearing?
But marking your own snide response as a favorite? Seriously???? I know you might un-favorite your own response if you are reading this and you don't want others to see you as the fool you are being, but I saw it and fshgrl is right---"you need to get over yourself right now."

PS--you might notice that fshgrl's response has 29 favorites and not a one of them is fshgrl's own. Perhaps youu missed something in your first reading that others see clear as day.
posted by murrey at 7:58 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

First, I think it’s really good that you’re seeing a therapist. It seems like he/she is good fit if one of the changes you recently made was to quit smoking pot. Things are changing internally for you, in a good way.

Stuck in a rut, because of relationship with parents
I just want to clarify the cause-effect relationship here. You are not in a rut because of the relationship you have with your parents. I don’t deny at all that it’s affecting you (I’ll get to that in a minute). My guess is that you are in a rut for several interacting reasons, but your relationship with your parents is not the cause of it. Framing it as “because of relationship with parents” leads you to think that solving the parent relationship situation (theirs to each other, and yours to theirs) will get you out of this rut, but that is misguided. If you reframe it as just “stuck in a rut” you acknowledge where you are with yourself and with life, and then you can proceed to take steps to get yourself out of your own rut. In other words, you’re in a rut because of you. This is not to blame you or make you feel bad; but if you’re in a rut because of you, then only you hold the solution to get out of that. Which is great!

But first, I think you have to really acknowledge the hurt and anger you feel towards your parents. It sounds like you had a somewhat dysfunctional childhood (along with 99% of the population), and yeah, that is definitely going to affect you and stress you out. This is going to be hard, but in a way, you have to grieve for the kind of childhood and relationship with your parents that you didn’t have and wanted to have. Grieve it, and then accept them for who they are – they are imperfect, they have their own serious issues, including anger and hurt, just like you. Yes they were the parents and were supposed to know and do better, but they didn’t. And there’s nothing you can do about that situation now, unfortunately – you can’t undo and relive the past.

At this moment, you have to take care of yourself. Good for you for stopping the pot smoking and drinking, for going to the gym, and seeing a therapist. Those are great steps in the right direction. You cannot let yourself get tangled up in your parents’ relationship, or try to get answers for your childhood or where they’re at right now, or try to make things go the way that YOU want. You cannot control other people. Doing this does NOT mean you are leaving them for dead – that’s a bit melodramatic. Do they have serious illnesses? No? Then you aren’t leaving them to die.

A recurring answer was not to do anything. Yet, I feel like that's all I do. Makes me feel like a cog that is played and not spoken for, that sucks.
It’s not “don’t do anything.” It’s stay out of your parents’ relationship so you don’t get hurt more than you are, don’t fix things that you can’t fix, and remember that you cannot control anyone except your actions and your choices. How you choose to deal with this is up to you, so make the choice to focus on you getting emotionally healthy. Getting yourself healthy is the best thing you can do to help them, honestly. I understand that this is a stressful environment to live in, but you are not a victim. Even if you don’t know what to do for a career, get a job, start making money, and budget so you can move out and live on your own again – you need to get out of this stressful environment. Avoid places that have bad vibes if you can. In your own place you can start thinking a bit clearer and can feel proud that you are being responsible for yourself. Check in with your parents every month or so if it doesn’t drive you crazy.

I, for one, liked fshgrl’s response, because it was harsh, but at the same time, it was harsh. If she had said that to me, I would have taken a long hard look at it, and a long hard look at myself, and be thankful that I got a comment like hers to kick me in the butt after initial feelings of much anger and rage at that comment. I would recognize that as something that I didn’t want to hear at all, but something that I needed to hear. However, I am me, and you are you.
posted by foxjacket at 9:28 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The writing has been on the wall for a while and what fshgrl said, is true to the situation. But, it is easier said than done. It would be like if she asked "What can I do, I'm having trouble getting the motivation to lose weight?" and asked for people's advice on how they lost weight in a situation close to hers. It would be as if I replied, "Your in your twenties, stop moping and get your fat ass on a treadmill". The real no excuses, stop being the victim kind of stuff. People love that stuff apparently.

But this is not about losing weight, it's complicated, it's family. I've been hard on myself about the writing on the wall and I needed advice from someone's life, not orders. Your not bringing your own life into your advice. This is what pissed me off in particular about fshgrls post:

"And don't be so insensitive to your mother. She probably thought she was finally having a real conversation with another adult in her family about how a bad year and the tough decisions you both had to make and when she opened up to you, you made it all about you and your needs and acted like a child again. You are not a child."

^^^ She wasn't there. That's a ridiculous statement to make. I'm not trying to build a case up to put my mother in the electric chair. I'm trying to put you in my seat. How can you even guess that?

That's why I said, I didn't want to see another post like that. I didn't wan't break down the entire post, I just wanted to get across, if your going to drop two paragraphs like that, and that's the substance, GTFO.

I'm sorry I said anything about it. I wish I could take it back. I accept what she said to be correct (everything besides the redic comment about my Mom) . Just not helpful. If you don't like that. Don't comment. Don't waste your time on me, just move on. Seriously.
posted by Dubs at 10:20 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: foxjacket, pocket_of_droplets, Pufferish, and1, great posts, lot of great posts, really helpful stuff. Others posters too; you get the good, the bad, and the great here. It felt really good to write that question out and get some sincere responses, thanks for that.
posted by Dubs at 10:26 PM on March 15, 2010

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