How does a person change his relationship with toxic parents?
September 24, 2014 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I don't want to be around my parents, but my guilt keeps me in contact with them. How can I get to a place where I don't feel bad about not interacting with them unless it's on my terms?

We moved to the U.S. from Asia when I was 11. Since that time, I've been expected to be a safety net for my parents. I'm tired of it, but the guilt they've instilled in me is strong and I feel unable to change my situation. I need to get away from them.

My dad is more subtle and manipulative. left my mom and the family for long stretches of time while he was on work assignments. He backed off on the travel for about 10 years, but then went on a long term assignment during my senior year of high school. When he was home, he often yelled at us and made it clear that we were burdens. That all changed when he went on his work assignment when I was a senior. While there, he began an affair with a woman that continues to this day; they have a 10 year old son together. I'm not sure if it was because of his guilt over what he'd done, but he became less angry after this happened. He traded the overt anger for subtle manipulation. He would often lecture me at length, and when he was done, I found myself agreeing and doing what he wanted me to. He always treats me like I'm an idiot; this treatment destroyed my self confidence for many years. I'm just now realizing that I'm not a drooling moron.

My mom is bipolar and the more aggressive of the two parents. She often told me and my sisters that we were accidents and that she wishes she'd never given birth to us. She once chased my youngest sister with a knife while my other sister and I tried to prevent any serious injuries. She's medicated now, but it was very rough when she was unmedicated. Now, she refuses to travel alone or do anything else that she doesn't want to do. My parents moved back to Asia in 2007, so she now spends three or four months here and the rest of the time there. This means that it's up to me to basically take care of her like she was a child when she's here. She's still very verbally abusive and belittles me constantly. She also says that she can't believe she has such horrible children, because we don't all cater to her every whim. About 10 years ago, my sisters and I offered to help her if she wanted to leave my dad. She demanded we continue to keep her in the style she is accustomed, as well as give her extra perks she didn't currently have. We said forget it and moved on.

When I was 13, 15, and 18, my mom left the country for long stretches of time. During her absences, no one else picked up the slack so I felt I had to. I would cook, clean, and do whatever my sisters and dad wouldn't care to do. At 18, both my parents left for over 6 months. I was the sole caretaker for my sisters, who were 17 and 14, during that time. I almost fell to pieces and still harbor a lot of resentment. Neither of them seems to care and treat those periods of time as if they were perfectly normal. If I bring up what they did, I'm told to stop living in the past.

I'm now in my mid 30's. My parents went back to Asia in 2007. They didn't sell their house here; I'm expected to take care of it for them. They criticize and belittle how I'm taking care of the house every time they come back. I've told them I no longer want to take care of it, but they don't care. I hate being around them, but something keeps me tied to them. I tried to establish some boundaries in the past, but to no avail.

This summer, my mom has been manic again. I know she's gone off her meds and is claiming she can heal herself with prayer. When I went to the house this past Saturday, she was again wild eyed and disheveled. I'm not sure if I have a milder cousin of PTSD, but I had an extremely strong visceral reaction. Then, on Monday, I went to see my therapist. She told me that I need to make sure my mom is taking her meds so that I can put her on a plane in a couple of weeks and she leaves for another 9 months or so. When I called her on Monday to make sure she was taking her meds, she didn't answer the phone. This necessitated a frantic conversation between me and my wife to see if we needed to drive 45 minutes to make sure she was OK. She did call back later, but it was still stress I didn't need that day. I finally said to myself, "I'm done."

I read a few chapters in the book Toxic Parents and a lot of it rang true. I think my parents are a mixture of Inadequate and Manipulative. I'm still trying to get through the book but it's tough to read that stuff.

I want to know how others have been able to back away from toxic parent relationships and deal with their parents on their own terms only. Any help or advice, no matter how small, is very appreciated.
posted by stedman15 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know that addiction isn't part of your family story, but Al-anon teaches this really well, and not preachily.

For some commiseration (not to be underestimated in saving your sanity!) try Coping with your Difficult Older Parent.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:45 PM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


This sucks, but in defense of your dad, I can sympathize with his trying to escape your bipolar mom.
posted by k8t at 6:56 PM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


"This sucks, but in defense of your dad, I can sympathize with his trying to escape your bipolar mom."

I totally had this feeling for my own father who cheated on my mentally ill mom.

I now see his cheating was totally selfish and made her mental illness, and subsequent abuse of us kids, so so much worse.
posted by jbenben at 7:01 PM on September 24, 2014 [26 favorites]


Do you really want to do this?

Because I can tell you exactly how.

#1 - Get your mom safely on that plane. Send her back early if you can. She's having a mental health crisis, btw.

#2 - Retain a lawyer to officially notify your parents (even though they are in Asia) that you are no longer caring for their home, return any keys, change bills into their name - the lawyer will help you sever every tie to them and that house.

...And that's it.


Additionally, you might lock down your social media, change phone numbers, etc. etc. - or just put blocks up.

Basically, you just stop talking to them. Really. It is that easy and that quick.

You want to dispose of your responsibility towards the house appropriately, and that is why a lawyer handles those details.

----

You kinda have to decide what level of contact with your sisters is comfortable, stuff like that.

Can you move? I'd move.

I did move.

Anyway, you just decide and then cut it off.

Frankly, I would NOT want to have anything to do with their house or them.

I'm sorry your mother is ill and in crisis. She has no business staying abroad in that condition. She requires the care of her doctors.

If you want to talk discuss how/why they are still able to make you feel guilty, Memail.

Here's what it boils down to: Look at your wife. Do you love her? Are you planning on, or do you have, a family yourself?

You want to keep your precious family far far away from this abuse. You need to heal. You can't do that with these people hanging over your head. You don't want this anywhere near your own family. Set boundaries and stick to them.


If you do it, good luck!
posted by jbenben at 7:19 PM on September 24, 2014 [29 favorites]


jbenben,

Thanks so much for your answer.

Thankfully, none of the bills are in my name. So, I don't have many barriers to leaving besides this mental block I seem to have.

I love my wife dearly, and definitely want to make sure we have the best life together possible.
posted by stedman15 at 7:44 PM on September 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I am also the child of Asian immigrants who put an inappropriate amount of responsibility on me at a young age. Luckily for me, mental illness was not part of the picture, nor was the level of neglect as severe. And yet the only way I was able to cope and thrive was to do the following:

1) Create physical distance. Will you feel that you are abandoning them and your sisters? Is it likely that "bad" things will happen? Yes and yes. Therapy will help sort that out, but you owe it to yourself, your wife, and any future children to protect yourself and your mental health.

2. Acknowledge that they are abusive, even if they do love you and are ill, and be on the lookout on how that pattern has affected other relationships. Learn to recognize when that abuse is happening, and to extricate yourself when that happens.

3. With the strength gained from 1 and 2, establish a relationship on terms that are healthy for you.

4. Work together with your siblings to provide for a baseline level of care. You probably have more of a paternal relationship with them than is healthy. Seeing them as capable partners will enable you spread the burden. Also recognize that your parents have family and more resources than you think in their native land, especially in places where the US dollar goes a long way.

Best of luck to you. Please MeMail me if you want to discuss any of this further.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:49 PM on September 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Parents are supposed to care for and protect their children. You had really terrible, toxic, neglectful parents who were either unable or unwilling to do that. This means that you have to protect yourself. It sounds like the best way for you to do that is to cut them off.

Stepping (or running) away from this relationship may well be one of the hardest things you'll have to do, but it will also be the best. And if you find yourself feeling guilty for "abandoning" them, I would reframe it like this: It's not that you're abandoning them; it's that you're saving yourself, in the same way that your parents would have if they weren't such incredibly limited people.

For me personally, I've found a way to reconcile with one of my parents, but with the other, I realized that until I let the relationship slide, I would just get hurt over and over again. Sometimes I feel a tinge of regret, but I realize that the regret is really about wishing for an alternate universe where my parent was a different, less-damaged person, because in the real world, there is no way for us to have a healthy relationship.

Maybe you'll find a way to maintain very limited contact with your parents that isn't damaging to you, but if you can't, then it's absolutely okay to put yourself first. Again, if your parents weren't blinded by their own issues, this is what they would want for you as well, because at the end of the day, a parent's first priority should be the health, safety, and happiness of their children. The fact that this may not be the case with your parents is their failing, not yours.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:18 PM on September 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


You said it yourself: "I don't want to be around my parents."

So from now on, never be around them. Cut off all contact with them. That really is the best way in cases like yours. Block them on your phone. Refuse to engage. Worry about yourself. It will seem hard at first, but you will feel so much better once you've done it.

Both of my husband's parents are fucked up, mentally ill, narcissistic, highly dramatic boundary crossers. Cutting them out of his life entirely almost a decade ago has been the only viable solution. He's so much happier now. The bad feelings just faded away as he eventually forgot about them and went on living his life. Time heals. Our kids have never had to deal with their toxicity. So grateful for that.

"on Monday, I went to see my therapist. She told me that I need to make sure my mom is taking her meds so that I can put her on a plane...."

Glad you are in therapy - so good for you. However, your therapist was dead wrong about you "needing" to do anything for your mom, though. Her medication is just not your problem - she's not your child, and you're not her guardian. Time to have a frank chat with your therapist about what your real goal is, loud and clear: "I don't want to be around my parents" and tell your therapist not to give you shitty advice to go "save" your mother like that again, or you'll have to find a new therapist. Seriously - anyone who tells you that you "need" to go rescue your parents just does not comprehend the dysfunction.
posted by hush at 9:40 PM on September 24, 2014 [25 favorites]


When I finally disowned my birth family, it was because I finally realized that I never wanted to make anybody I cared about be around them. I didn't want to bring friends home, not a boyfriend or one day a husband, and if I ever had kids (this is off the table now, but it was in my thoughts then), NO FUCKING WAY would they be around these people. So I let them know I was never coming back, and then I stopped responding to all contact they made.

I personally didn't have guilt about abandoning them (largely because I felt like they didn't actually know me anyway), but I did spend a long time worrying about how other people would judge me, because there's all this cultural blah about family is everything, and they're your blood. But if your crappy family is making your miserable, you don't have to keep giving them your time and attention. And I found over time that my friends did not in fact judge me for this decision -- they've been completely supportive.

Best decision I ever made. Find your found family and surround yourself with people who make you and your life better. You only get one life, so don't spend it needlessly suffering. You deserve so much better.

Maybe you don't want to cut your parents out completely. You don't have to, but you should think hard about what boundaries are important to you, communicate those boundaries, and then stick to them. Plan how you will react if they try to cross those boundaries. Having limited contact tends to be a lot harder than totally cutting them out, but only you know which is the right decision for you.
posted by ktkt at 10:00 PM on September 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have previously recommended the Dysfunctional Families threads at Making Light. Here is the most recent one.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:08 PM on September 24, 2014


Even one person on your side can make a huge difference, reminding you of what you resolved to do at times when you're unsure, reassuring you it was the right decision when other people cast doubt, cheering you on etc. Like a running buddy, but for Project Parents. This could be your wife, or a friend.

Now you need to decide what boundaries you want to draw. Which parent you want to talk to under which circumstances only (or no contact at all). Consequences when
Your boundaries get crossed etc. How you will respond to people who question your decision.

Sometimes no contact is easier, you could decide to do that for three months for a start and see how liberating that feels.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:07 AM on September 25, 2014


How horrendous, so sorry - sounds like low contact wouldn't be an option.. and if you cut (which it seriously sounds like you need to) it is possible they wil try and seek you out, so hold firm.

In crazy families the kids are always full of guilt, but it's the residue of bullshit and manipulation and is undeserved. Sounds to me like one or both may have borderline personality disorder. Look it up. Read up on narcissistc familes and mothering (radio show will I ever be good enough.. Dr McBride).

People will judge and comment and not get it and feel entitled to say stupid shit like "you only have one mother" (yeah.. unfortunately)- fuck em. It's your heart and health and life. I never regretted estranging.. people do what they have to do to survive. You've suffered enough and deserve a bloody medal.

Check out Daniel Mackler on the family. Also Alice Millers book. Intense but validating.
posted by tanktop at 2:05 AM on September 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm going to give you permission to extract yourself and your wife from a dangerous situation. These people are toxic and horrible and you should NOT have anything to do with them.

Send the keys to the house back to your father. And change phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

Your guilt will abate as the stress from the interactions from these people stops. You feel guilt because they keep telling you to feel guilty. Trust me when I say that the less you deal with any of their dysfunction, the less guilt you'll feel.

Your instinct is to explain so that they know why. They will NEVER understand. They don't see that they've done anything wrong. So...let them think whatever they think.

When you send back the keys to the house, simply state, "I do not want to care for your property any more."

As for your mother, simply tell her, "I do not want to deal with you anymore."

And then do the thing necessary to insure that you never have to deal with either of them again.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:14 AM on September 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Some of your sense of duty to your family is good and is a sign you have a strong sense of love and loyalty to your family even though they have utterly failed and abused you. You're good! You can still love and wish them the best form a distance and carry out your duties through love from a safe distance because your family are dangerous and harmful to you. Personally I am in favor of very strong sense of duty to family and to parents to serve and care for them as they did for us as children. If they are abusive that commitment becomes null and void in my opinion (REGARDLESS OF MENTAL HEALTH STATUS).

You don't owe some people who hurled you into an abusive life and blamed all their problems and suffering on you shit. I highly doubt your parents were unaware that sex causes babies (maybe they were in which case I might legitimate see children happening to them as not their fault)- but even if you don't have access to birth control you can choose not to get married and have sex if you don't want kids. If you make children happen you need to get over how it's hard and be there for these kids who it's you're fault exist. In turn, I personally think as we grow up we need to serve and care for our parents, including helping them with disabilities that are not dangerous to support them with. When abuse or danger/harm is involved, I think you can walk away while still holding that sense of duty to family in tact and know that you can LOVE family no matter what, but you never should stay close to them and let them hurt you when they are abusive. And you always get to choose what kind of support you feel able to provide to your parents, if they are not respecting your boundaries it becomes unsafe to support them.

They were both horrible people to you. I'm not going to say they "deserve" to abandoned in a time of need, but as a person with limited resources, for myself, I absolutely will make my peace with people like this being the ones to suffer for their own actions rather than every one around them, while they snear at and insult and degrade the very people who love them and try to help. My family supported my grandmother with housing and loving care up until she passed and I want all families to support each other in times of need, but my grandmother also continued to be a loving and kind person even when old and ill and anxiety ridden.

So, you can both honor that part of you that wishes you could do more, that is a a sweet good part of yourself and if your parents hadn't been abusive and cruel to you, that is a part of you that likely would have called you to be a very devoted family member to them. You can mourn for yourself you weren't able to live out that part of yourself with them (though you can with friend and family that you build in your life!! And you can even mourn for these sad cruel people that they made these choices and made it imposable for anyone to love or help them. Maybe it's truly because of an illness they can't help at all, but it sure sounds like your mother didn't even make ANY effort to mitigate any of the impact of her illness that she couldn't help ever, and a lot of the beliefs she stated sound like things she could have believed even without a mental illness. That she choose to live her live as the victim of her children, rather than face her burdens and try to look out for the vulnerable and innocent children she brought into the world is something she decided to do and if some part of her would have been a great loving mom somewhere inside there without the mental illness, that part of her is so far gone as to be a person you can mourn as essentially not existing, and not really even relevant to how you treat or interact with this horrendous person she has become. Even if she was forced into marriage and forced to birth children (which happens to some people) taking out the horror of that on innocent children is still not an ok way to deal with that and shows a deep lack of compassion and comfort with abusing children to cope with her own issues that is cruel on her part. Her saying it was "an accident" sounds more like she chose to take the risks of having sex and put kids at risk of being born and then to blame those children for being created by her own actions.

If the loving mother she would have been without a mental illness exists within her, she would understand and support you finding safety from the terrible way she's treated you, and she would be horrified that she has spent a great portion of her life being abusive and cruel to you. And she would absolutely understand that the duties and loving support you would have carried out for her if she had been a good parent are not possible due to all the pain she caused you and your need to be safe from that. If you find yourself still wanting to support her and your father form a distance, do meditations sending good energy to them, have a picture of them you keep somewhere and share your love when you think of them and wish them well.
posted by xarnop at 5:24 AM on September 25, 2014


My advice: Stop reading Toxic Parents. It could further solidify your disdain for them instead of having more understanding. I read it and it made me even angrier and depressed. I don't think you need a book to prove that things were rough. Sure you have to go through hell to heal and all of that stuff, but that book does nothing positive, in my opinion.

You have a mentally ill mother and an absent (for a time) father. They weren't the best parents and made mistakes. They're human and probably had more difficult childhoods. I think it's best, even if our childhoods were horrible and we didn't feel much love, is to understand that our parents loved us in the best ways they knew how. They loved you.

How you live your adult life in none of your parents' business. You get to decide if you want to take care of the house or not. You get to decide when and where you will see them. You even get to decide that your mother's compliance to her medication is out of your control, because it is. You don't have to remain in a role of dutiful son.

I've become uninterested in my unhappy childhood. I used to dwell on it. As if dwelling would make things better somehow or justify my unhappiness or anger. Many adults have needless suffering because we remain in a role of the unhappy child. At this time in your life (adulthood) it's your own attitude that perpetuates the suffering, not your parents actions. When you let go of the shame of the unhappy child, the guilt will disappear. Guilt and shame are intertwined.

You have the power to approach the relationship with your parents in any way you choose. It is your own journey really and nobody can tell you what the right actions are, except stop reading Toxic Parents and choose more positive and enjoyable reading material, like good fiction. You're an adult remember, and should be in the business of living a happy life instead of dwelling on the past and reading depressing books.
posted by Fairchild at 6:43 AM on September 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I realize my response went the direction of cutting them off entirely but you are asking about how to continue to interact with them and minimize the level of harm those interactions take out on you. This is very hard to do because of the leverage parents have on their children's psyche's and the level of harm and abuse already entrenched in how you have been treated.

I find that when I want to continue to interact with someone like this it's good to ask questions and seek deeper understanding. What do I hope to get from interacting with them? What is currently good about interacting with them (do you still get comfort when you see your mother's presence? Is being in the room with her something that some positive emotions along with whatever negative?) Can you maximize those good feelings with meditations and self guided imagery that brings you closer to the good aspects of your mother? What do you wish they would say to you, if they had loving words for you? What does the love you wish they offered look like? Can you imagine being embraced by that and feel it's power and know that IS what you deserve, even when they are failing to act it out, or see that you deserve and need it? It also might help to think through what your parents went through and were taught culturally about how to behave. I don't believe in cultural immunity, or familial immunity, meaning just because you were taught to be cruel doesn't negate ANY responsibility for your own choice to carry it out; however it certainly ads an element of understanding to the mix. You were taught a totally different value system about what parents can do for their children, and what children should do for their parents in media and film and in modelling in a foreign culture from your parents. While it's possible your parents would have dutifully cared for their own parents, it doesn't sound like they are living out those values in a way that you got to watch and admire, and that is the best reason for kids (as adults) to support their parents because they saw the beauty and love in the values of caring for family members when they watched those values carried out in front of them.

Your parents failed to teach you love, they simply insulted you because you weren't living out a level of duty and service to family that you were not being taught or modeled by anyone, as your parents certainly weren't living out the compassion they claim you were supposed to manifest (and by the way it sounds like you did step up and care for people who were not your responsibility because you saw humans in need being failed, and you did a great thing there).

Personally I think we all have a duty to each other, but we all get to assess safety issues and our level of ability to render aid or support without being destroyed physically OR emotionally in the process. Once you've sorted out emotionally how you feel about the behaviors involved, and the people behind the behaviors, you will feel stronger setting boundaries with compassion, you can know when the other person is acting wrongly but you might see reasons they might be acting that way, and you can focus your force on ceasing the harms of the behavior rather than on attacking or being injured by the pain of feeling unloved or uncertain if you deserve love. You do deserve love, if they are failing to do that, they are in the wrong, and you maintain your boundaries around the concept that they should care about your feelings and welfare and they should be serving you, not just you serving them as it's been your whole life. They have failed you and you will have to carry that burden, so if you want something form them in terms of interacting, just know that you deserve whatever comfort you can get from them, you don't deserve the harm, but their may be reasons they failed you that were beyond their control (they also may have made choices to be self absorbed people that were not your fault that they made.)

So to stay involved with people who behave badly (harmfully), and/or are mentally unstable to to the point of mistreating others, I choose public locations to share a meal together. I refrain from agreeing to any long term entanglements, don't agree to watch their house every week, or house their dog, or give them rides places on a regular basis. I WILL do resource searching for them if they are in need, and seek non-profits, government programs or emergency service providers that might help with any crisis they are in. I will choose if I am available for phone visits and I will not call unless I feel able and ready to chat and I will give a time limit at the start of the conversation. If someone begs or pleads or complains about the level of availability I have I will simply say, I'm sorry I can't do any more, I hope you find the support you're seeking elsewhere" and usually will accompany that with some phone numbers of low cost counseling services or resources. If someone insults you with statements that are true (You're not perfect at housecleaning, you don't bring me drinks every time I get thirsty! You're too slow! ETC), you can say, "I'm sorry you feel that way, we all have our faults, I have mine and you have yours and I forgive and love you anyway, I hope you can forgive me for being imperfect someday." If you feel the insults are totally out of line (which they all are but meaning you feel you needtostand up foryourselfabout it) you can say "I don't see it that way, I actually like that traight about myself and see it as a strength" or just "I really don't see things the same way".

When you say these things, know that you are NOT going to get a response you like from your parents, they are going to continue behaving badly and there is not a magic sentence you can say that will fix that about them, so you aren't looking to change what THEY say if you decide to respond, you're just saying what will make YOU feel good.

So there were two parts of your question, in terms of how you get through the guilt of refusing to play the unfair and morally wrong part they have assigned to you, and the second is how to get better at the boundary setting (and getting stronger with your sense that it is just and right for you to set boundaries will help you feel stronger about the latter). Be prepared for them to act horribly and terribly to you setting boundaries and trying to hurt you- at which time you just stop interacting with them if needed, and if you want to keep the door open say that you would love to go get dinner with your mom some time if she decides she still wants to see you despite your newly upheld boundaries and refusing to be her personal unpaid and mistreated servant/caregiver. If she starts insulting you at dinner, end dinner early (pay the tab if needed) and just leave. Let her know you'll try again another time if that's what you want. Or just walk away and don't talk to her for a while if you don't want to.

Even if you choose to engage, it's not your fault they are abusive. It's still on them. You're allowed to want love from them and wish it could work and try to figure out how to get some of that out of them despite their limitations and bad behavior as long as you want to. You're also allowed to walk away and take a break from all of it as long as you want to.

I also find it healing to learn about my families history and how they evolved as they did (i.e great depression, war, military training or harsh working environments, deaths of people too young, tragedies that lowered people's empathy or worsened their parenting abilities, cultural trends that were reinforcing cruel/harsh over warm/empathetic childrearing techniques). And then I think about I have a fresh chance, to build, see and value empathy in a way some of my ancestors may not have been able to or may not have chosen to cultivate.
posted by xarnop at 8:09 AM on September 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sit down with your wife and decide for yourselves how much you are willing to do for your parents. They are financially able to support a 2nd home in the US and flights back and forth, so they can afford maintenance on the home. Find 3 property maintenance companies, get prices, send the info to your parents and explain I am unable to take care of the house any longer. You'll get a torrent of anger. Ignore it. The house is a thing.

Your Mom is mentally ill and, as part of her illness, is not taking the medications that she needs. This deserves compassion. But you do not deserve abuse. My Mom was bipolar or something similar, medicated with alcohol. I stopped taking crap. Mean, abusive, critical? Hang up the phone, leave the room, leave the house. I'll talk to you when you're calmer. Bye.

I recommend this great book about dealing with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder, also useful for dealing with anyone who has poor boundaries, is manipulative, highly dramatic, etc. Stop Walking on Eggshells. You want to disengage from the unhealthy, manipulative, unkind behaviors, and engage with anything nice that is left. When you begin this, they will dig in fiercely and increase the manipulative crap. Be tough. It can get better, though it takes time and patience. Identify any positive traits or behaviors and compliment your parents on them.

You took care of your family when you were a kid. You've done your best to care for your Mom. You've been as dutiful a son as you could be. You deserve compassion and support, yourself. You do not deserve crap.
posted by theora55 at 8:31 AM on September 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


My dad disowned me Christmas before last, about a month after my mom died. It has been such an amazing relief to have them both out of my life that it makes me wish I'd cut ties so completely before. I spent a lot of years managing our interactions, hoping for improvement, getting way too excited over small changes in how they treated me, lowering my expectations, trying to see things from their points of view. What a waste of effort and emotional energy. It's hard to manage mid-level boundaries around how often you see people, or how they'll treat you. Even on good visits, I was never able to relax and trust that something awful wasn't going to come out of their mouths. A different choice may be right for you, but from where I sit, dropping all contact & letting them know you won't be caring for their house anymore could be a really good experiment for you. See what life is like without them. Focus on enjoying the family you've made.

It still hurts, in my experience, not to have parents who treat you well. But at least you aren't letting them constantly refresh the wound.
posted by not that girl at 9:48 AM on September 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


+1 for setting firm boundaries.
+1 for reading Stop Walking on Eggshells. It teaches about how to set boundaries. Here's hoping you'll be firm and consistent, just like disciplining your kid. All people, especially mental issues sufferers, need firm boundaries.
+1 for continuing receiving counselling.
posted by dlwr300 at 1:03 PM on September 25, 2014


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