Not turning into my parents
February 4, 2020 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Looking to hear from people who are in this situation: You grew up in a dysfunctional or otherwise abusive family. As an adult you got married or are in a relationship and you’re happy together. You don’t feel you are repeating the abusive patterns you grew up with. How did you do it? How old were you when you had your first non-abusive relationship? Do you have children? What’s that been like?
posted by pleasehelp82 to Human Relations (15 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had a dysfunctional family, but can't say I had I ever had an "abusive relationship," though I'm sure I had not-great and immature behaviors.

Three years of talk therapy after suffering some personal trauma (initially to get over the trauma, but then also to get through daily struggles of life) did a LOT for me to understand myself and help me recognize destructive behaviors, but also helped me realize the things I didn't want to replicate with my children.

As I was finishing up my therapy in that third year, I met my now-spouse and have a child. Being able to connect how I was acting in disputes with spouse and child I attribute to the self-actualization I reached through therapy, but also couple that with techniques (a few couples therapy sessions on bettering communication and fighting fairly) has so far been generally successful imo of not recreating the environment I grew up in.
posted by Karaage at 1:26 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Hi, I grew up in a family where my dad was (is) a narcissist who abused me, my siblings, and my mother emotionally and psychologically. He abused my brothers physically until they were old enough to hit back.

I've been in a very happy marriage for 25 years; we've been together for 28, going on 29. My first few relationships were abusive in that I dated guys who cheated on me and lied to me. My first healthy relationship was with my husband.

When I met his parents, I was blown away by how healthy their relationship was. They deeply loved each other and they supported and encouraged their children. My in-laws didn't *fight*, they disagreed. Respectfully and maturely. My poor husband had to navigate the mine field of me not telling him the truth or giving him only the very basic information because I was so used to hiding things to be safe. We worked that out pretty early.

Therapy. Therapy helped me immensely, and not wanting to turn into my dad did the rest. I hated my childhood and I didn't want my children to hate theirs. And I just do not understand, to this day, how anyone could look at their child's face and tell them that they're garbage, that they're not good enough, that they're stupid.

I have really good relationships with my (grown) children. They grew up with well-defined, reasonable boundaries and all the support and encouragement I could give them. They've never been afraid that we don't love them. They've always known that they matter, that their opinions matter. We raised them with kindness and age-appropriate rules. They're amazing people and I'm really proud of the parenting we did.

Basically, just making the effort to be a decent human being has gone a long way. Therapy and good friends and a solid nuclear family (me, my husband, my kids) has done the rest.
posted by cooker girl at 1:34 PM on February 4 [24 favorites]


I was emotionally and physically abused as a child. I'm now married and have two kids. I don't know. It hasn't really seemed hard to break the cycle. Maybe it's because my stuff didn't really start until I was old enough (11) to realize it wasn't normal, but for me, I've never had a problem doing things differently than my dad did.

The biggest way it manifests in relationships for me is that I'm extremely conflict-avoidant, so I probably put up with a little more from partners than other people would in the name of preventing an actual confrontation, and I shut down pretty quickly if things ever do escalate to yelling. Not the healthiest behavior, but I've been lucky in that several of the women I've dated (including my wife) are social workers, and so they're trained to spot stuff like this and work with me on it. In terms of my kids, I was also really lucky to have another parent who was extremely supportive even as my dad was going through his stuff, so I had a model for healthy parenting in addition to an unhealthy one. I think it helped that my dad was abusive towards my mom before turning on my siblings and me, so she had some firsthand experience of what it was like and could empathize with us in a way that it doesn't seem like other non-abusive parents of abused children could.

With my kids, gosh. They're just perfect, even when they're not. My three-year-old has been potty training and is going through the regression phase where she intentionally pees her pants, and... it's just impossible to get upset with her. My wife, who was not abused, does get upset (not unreasonably upset), but with me, it's just like "yeah, I wish you wouldn't have done that, but whatever, you're still my awesome kid and I love you anyway, so let's talk about how we can get through this". It just seems unfathomable to yell at them.

I've been in therapy a couple of times, never to address the abuse stuff directly, but it's the kind of thing where even when you're in therapy for other stuff, it still comes up. And like I said, I've dated a lot of social workers, so there's been a lot of informal therapy. What I think has helped me the most, though, is that I've spent a lot of time working on my patience. Completely aside from the abuse stuff, when I think about people I admire or want to be like, patience is one of the most common traits I see. And it seems to me like a lot of my dad's issues were related to his lack of patience. He didn't seem to be aware that kids don't conform to schedules. So that's something I've spent a lot of time working on myself, just being patient with other people when they're not on the same schedule I am. That seems to have prepared me pretty well for parenthood.

Interestingly, I think a lot of my more negative relationships have been pretty similar to my relationship with my dad as a kid. One of the reasons I think he struggled with patience is because my grandmother was pretty overbearing, and so he had the competing objectives of both satisfying her and establishing his independence. Our general adolescent rambunctiousness interfered with the former, while our mere existence interfered with the latter. And so when I've had toxic relationships as an adult, it has generally been with women who had really overbearing parents themselves. They were generally caught in the same dichotomy that my dad was, and as an adult, I was even less willing to play along than I was as a kid. (I don't know the details of my brother's divorce, and in any case he handled things a lot differently than I did, but this seems to be the case with him as well.)

I do think age had something to do with things. Abuse wasn't normal for me. I have over a decade of memories where I was not being abused, so when it started, I was able to say "WTF Dad you're not supposed to hit your kids". I wasn't at such a high risk of internalizing those behaviors as someone who has only ever known that.

Finally, I do think the time period had something to do with my response. It was the early 90s, the whole slacker thing "whatever man" nonchalance was all around, and I did internalize that, which affected my response to my dad. "You're pond scum." "Sure I am, whatever you say buddy." I guess the whole idea behind that apathy was to avoid being hurt, so it's not surprising that it helped me. I was just fortunate that it was an option for me, as opposed to a more rigid, less authority-questioning time.

TL;DR I guess I've just been really lucky.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:24 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


I grew up in a household with a narcissistic parent, where yelling, throwing things, and occasionally kicking in doors/walls was just the way that weekly-ish arguments were held. Oddly physical fights were pretty rare. Well, not rare for functional familes, but I have about 6 memories of physical fights in our house, and only one was really mentally scarring. House/property damage was at least yearly to some extent and I doubt a week ever went by without a screaming fight.

When I was 13 I got in trouble with the law after slipping from my normal temper trantrums to actually hitting and sending a classmate to the ER. There was something like 4-6 mandated sessions (as part of the plea bargain? my memory of that is kinda hazy, but I remember meeting with a lawyer/social working and agreeing to certain things for dropping/reduction of charges) of family therapy which we attended, but immediately stopped going to after meeting the requirement. Despite an offer of free continued sessions. Because my narcissist parent thought it was just a giant session of us blaming them for everything.

However, it was enough for my little kid head to realize that they way I was acting was wrong, not the norm, and very fucked up. Through self talk, analysis, paying more attention to others (especially my friends' families) and using this to model, I could control my actions outside of the home. Back at home it was too easy to give in to the "role" of disfunctional family member. I was better than before, but at home I still wasn't like normal people would be. I became enough of a grey rock (I wish I knew the term then; I lucked out into the behavior) that instead of said parent picking fights with me, they started inappropriately sharing too much as I was now their best friend since we rarely fought.

Therapy and a strong commitment to it are probably better than a young teenager attempting self analysis and watching the rest of the world. The strong commitment to change, and disgust at the old behavior patterns, is important.

When I was no longer financially dependent upon them I became estranged (I let them know something that I new would cause an "you're dead to me" moment). After the 2 weeks or so when they resought connection I forever rebuffed them. During college I would come back to their home for winter break, I'd immediately fall into old behavior patterns. I think having my parents in my life at all would be risking for the same thing. I am still in contact with my sister, but we live in different countries. I am not in contact with any of my other extended family members.

I credit my estrangement from my parents as the primary ability to retain my functionality. As the narcissist parent was also alcoholic, I have a lot of rules around alcohol regarding how much and when I can drink. This gets some credit for avoiding backsliding. Avoiding alcohol as both a habit, or an emotional crutch, helps one stay in control and not potentially find some long-forgotten childhood habit trying to get out.

I yelled at one of my kids once. Yeah, not great, but compared to where I was headed at 13 I'll take it.

I really want to be nothing at all like said parent.
posted by nobeagle at 2:28 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Did your partner grow up in better circumstances? Let them take the lead. Learn from them. Otherwise, therapy. It's hard to learn and change without a coach.

It's relatively easy to behave well when things are hunky-dory. You'll need to be prepared for when the going gets tough, and your bad habits, that you've learned over the years by example, kick in. Also, you are human. You can and will make mistakes. Forgive yourself, learn from them, and move on. No one is perfect.
posted by sid at 2:31 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I don’t know exactly when we implemented this but at some point, my husband and I put in place a strict 100% name-calling/insults prohibition. Like not even in a teasing or affectionate way*. When I am with my family of origin, I really notice now how insults get so casually thrown around, and before you know it, someone crosses someone else’s temper threshold and it’s a full blown mean spirited fight. There’s so much judgment and button-pushing.

My husband and I definitely criticize each other and complain to each other about each other’s actions, but when you prohibit the whole “you are an x.” or “you are y.”, those exchanges are just forced to be more thoughtful.

*i tried to think of an ‘affectionate’ situation and can’t. Every situation of name calling now seems mean to me...it wasn’t always that way for me, so clearly 20 yrs of practice have really worked....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:34 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Without going into my full backstory, I would say that not every (romantic) relationship I was in was abusive, but --save one friendship-- EVERY relationship I was in was unhealthy and dysfunctional until I met my husband in my late twenties.

I am still a work in progress, after decades of therapy, many medications, you-name-it-I-tried-it.

My healing only really began when I became completely estranged from my family of origin; interestingly, my family actually chose not to contact me (I believe to punish me) rather than the other way around... and it just lingered on beyond a point of return, and then I changed all my contact information and didn't let them know. I mention this because not being the one to pull the trigger on going no-contact remains a point of emotional distress for me. I have had to "unlearn" a tendency to want to burn a bridge when I'm hurt, so that I don't get left behind.

I don't have kids.
posted by sm1tten at 7:48 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


My mother was emotionally abusive, and I have some personality traits that are similar to hers. While I don't think I'm emotionally abusive in the way(s) she was, it's definitely the model I had for relationships.

Luckily, I find it really appealing when a person is able to say, "Hey that thing you said when we disagreed? I found that unfair." Someone who has the insight and confidence to tell me if I overstep their boundary? That's like catnip for me- I respect and appreciate that ability so so so much in a person, particularly a romantic partner or close friend.

I don't want to be abusive, especially to people I care about. So I definitely do my own work to try to be a fair and direct and self-reflective and respectful person, and I don't think it's anyone else's responsibility to continually "check" my impulses.

But still- knowing that the people in my inner circle have the courage to tell me if I'm getting too close to a line- that means I have an extra layer of insurance, which is great. And it also means I don't have to guess if I'm inadvertently harming someone, or exhaust myself with hypervigilance, because I can trust that reliable feedback is available, and without a huge dramatic repression/explosion pattern- they can just bring it up, and while it won't feel great, I can do my best to incorporate it, and the whole thing is just not a huge deal.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:31 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I broke the cycle in my late thirties / early forties through lots and lots of self-reflection. There was years of work to do to unpack all the behaviours, become more self- and other-aware, notice small habits and change them. But I kept at it*, mainly driven by anxiety and self-obsession but hey, whatever gets you there, take the good from that.

*I’m still at it, but it’s motivated by healthier thinking now.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:50 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Dysfunctional, yes. There was secrecy, yelling, and some hitting but I've never applied the term abuse; I'll let the reader make their own choices if I ever share more of it.

I came out of it bad at recognizing, labeling, and coping with my emotions. I, too, became a yeller for a while. I never shared information I didn't have to and I minimized or hid things that I thought might be bad or shameful somehow (food, actions, choices). I avoided conflict. I never sought help for anything and have dozens of examples from childhood. I learned to not make waves, to not stand out.

I managed to avoid abusive relationships. I got help when my relationship with my now spouse started getting serious. Some was recognizing how my responses (yelling was a lot of it, not recognizing my anger and lashing out) were hurting my spouse. Some of it was processing childhood stuff with a therapist. Some of it was working through a DBT workbook with that therapist and with my spouse (who had done DBT as an adolescent and wanted her own refresher of the method). I also worked on my identity and I think that helped with a lot of my general discomfort--maybe some of it was dysphoria or anger at not being seen as who I feel like I am? Some of it was seeing and learning about health relationships: my spouse's parent's relationship, neighbors and people in my community, reading advice from Captain Awkward, reading relationship woes and advice here on askme . . . . And when my spouse and I decided we wanted children, it made all that work even more important. It's partly about not wanting to replicate my parent's issues and it's partly wanted to help usher our new tiny being through childhood into being a decent human being and upstanding person. I am reading through 1-2-3 Magic and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids will Talk to add those tools to the ones I've built through therapy and DBT and surrounding myself with solid community.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:05 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I didn't come away with abusive patterns per se*, but I did end up with some serious mindfuckery, in some corners called "complex PTSD." It took - is taking - a lot of brutally honest - but kind - looking and difficult work to adopt healthy thinking patterns. I passed through the worst of it by my late 20s. For me, good therapy and, later, a Buddhist-oriented worldview were key.

I began my first generally healthy relationship when I was 24, and we are still close and happily married almost 19 years later. I saw immediately that he was a genuine, kind, trustworthy person. I felt safe with him. There were no familiar red flags. Definitely my issues have caused some trouble, but because he is understanding and I am always working on my end, we get through it well.

I have a child, now 13 years old. I have never spanked them or so much as slapped their hand away from something, and aside from things directly related to being on the autism spectrum, which are outside of their control, they have been a very well-behaved kid. I believe it is completely unnecessary to hit a child. There were a few times when I was overwhelmed with frustration and anger, and I had to just go into a different room to cry and calm down. Sometimes after throwing something across the room or slamming a door, in the earlier days. Not proud of that. I really struggled with patience when they were younger, and sometimes still do, and that sometimes leaked out verbally. No verbal abuse, though, and I was quick to correct myself.

I took child development classes before I got pregnant so that I would understand what was appropriate as they grew, and so I could use the most effective parenting approach. I was determined to bring my child up nurtured and safe. Working against my own patterns and trying to be a good parent to a kid with their own challenges has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and there were dark times I questioned my decision to have a child. It hits my triggers left and right. I am so grateful to have them in my life, though, and it would wreck me to lose them.

I'm very close with my kid. It took effort at first, and I don't know how much that had to do with postpartum depression + a colicky baby vs. attachment issues. Regardless, I pushed through it. I am an extremely empathetic person, and I think that helped. I love them so very much. They've been going through some really difficult stuff lately, and their home has been their safe place through all of it. They can come to me with anything.

All told, I haven't been a perfect parent, but I've been pretty damn good, and my kid lets me know it.

Outside of that, trust has been a blind-spot issue for me, and I'm beginning to look at that now. Not suspicious-of-everyone trust, more of a falling-backwards trust. Regardless of my actual feelings, most of my relationships are arms-length. I want to be a person who can be consistently open. I like hugs; I'd like to be able to initiate them.

I still struggle with some anxiety and depression. I tend to withdraw. That probably sounds a little bleak, but this is all exacerbated by super high stress right now, and difficult life changes.

Overall, things are good. We have a gentle, loving, safe home. I didn't think I'd live to be here.

-
*Except toward myself. I finally jumped that hurdle about 4 months ago, and it has been life-changing.
posted by moira at 1:44 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


My mother was an emotionally and physically abusive narcissist. My dad died when I was eight after an illness she hid from us, during which time I had observed her abusing him. The line she gave us was that he was an abuser, and that any expression of emotion on the part of myself or my sister (even in the immediate wake of his death) was evidence that we were crazy, like him. She demanded a lot of emotional caretaking and regularly gaslit us about our experiences from a young age. I was a very obedient child, but beset by anxiety, including panic attacks. I had untreated ADHD (my mother said I was lazy and abuse was often centered on my messiness, poor time management, and forgetfulness) and was trans masculine but closeted even to myself (abuse also centered around incorrectly performing femininity). I grew up to be a high performing person in a prestigious career, but I was massively insecure, timid with authority figures, and flaky in friendships whenever conflicts arose. I was very, very shy until my mid thirties. As an adolescent, I occasionally broke things and lashed out physically in reaction to the abuse--punching and kicking holes in the walls, hitting my head against walls, breaking things. I was told I had anger management problems and that, again, I was "crazy." I met my spouse at age 18, and our relationship had some serious growing pains that included my lashing out physically twice, early on. He made it clear that he would leave if I continued that behavior, so I got counseling and never repeated it. But we often fought and I continued to have panic attacks, mostly around abandonment fears. I was very bad at leaving arguments alone, taking breathers, taking space.

I continued to be in contact with my mother through the birth of my child. I was really dedicated to not replicating the patterns of my family, so I did just a buttload of CBT and decided that teaching my child to name and process her own emotions was paramount. Ever touching her in anger was off the table entirely. Namecalling or cruelty--well, it was hard for me to see how anyone could do that, once I met my tiny, precious kid. We watched so much Mister Rogers and Daniel Tiger, which probably helped me more than it did her. At six, she is one of the most empathetic people I've ever met. We model taking time outs in our relationship and family, cooling down, naming feelings, giving each other space.

Because I'd internalized the idea that I was bad, and often to blame for the abuse, I was also hopeful that my mother would treat my daughter better. She didn't. She often picked childish fights with her, started calling her names, and started to have the same massive temper tantrums around her that she'd had around me as a child--suddenly engaging in the silent treatment or throwing and slamming things. She often seemed jealous of her. She said she was spoiled because we validated her feelings. She also continued to treat me pretty poorly, no matter how calmly or rationally I would advocate for myself. I tried various tactics, including something called "gray rock," where you minimize your reactions and make yourself really boring so that a narcissist will leave you alone. It just made her ramp up her abuse. I continued to have occasional panic attacks, which were scary to my child, and often came home from visits to my mother angry and agitated.

I didn't want to go no contact with my mother. She could occasionally be very fun, in the way narcissistic abusers often are, and could occasionally act in a very loving way. When I was a child, she had cut people off, and I never wanted to do that to my kid, who professed to love her. But my mother's temper would turn on a dime. I was always on edge, and in denial about it.

Then about two years ago now, I came out as trans. A few weeks later, she assaulted me, at her house, completely unprovoked, in front of my child. It had been like a night out of one of my childhood memories: mom in a bad mood, escalating conflict, me trying and trying to disconnect and taking space, and being conciliatory, and asking to be left alone, her hounding me, following me, and then attacking me. I ran outside in my underwear with my three year old, as I had dozens of times as a teenager, and realized we were both terrified and needed to go home. That this wasn't my home anymore, and my child didn't have to lead a life like this if I didn't expose her to it. We left, I went back to therapy. In the aftermath, my mother called me crazy, like my dad, and I realized that the entire narrative I'd been fed about the two of them was false--and that the narrative about me was false. Stupidly, I continued to see my mom for months after, in public, with an escape plan, but I realized the horrendous panic I felt after contact with her was because she was fundamentally not safe (and the type of attack she made against me puts me at a high risk of being murdered by her). She had also started to emotionally abuse my daughter in the aftermath, telling her she was going to throw out the toys at her house, or that the toys missed my daughter but that mommy was keeping her away. I realized how unhealthy this was for both of us. 16 months ago I stopped responding to her harassing messages and went fully no contact.

I can't describe how much my life has changed since then. I have reconnected with lost family. I've started putting together the pieces of my life. I found a support group. I got diagnosed with ADHD, and medicated, and all of my social anxiety disappeared. I'm not shy anymore, at all, really. My house is clean now. My career is in a better place than it has ever been. I no longer picked fights with my spouse. I volunteer and engage in social justice activism. My time management is still poor, but I don't beat myself up over it. I don't feel like I'm fundamentally worthless, and though until recently I was still having occasional panic attacks, I don't feel "crazy," either.

I recently started EMDR for my C-PTSD and it feels like the last piece of the puzzle for emotional wellness for me. I have remembered traumatic moments from childhood that I had been told I'd witnessed at too young an age to remember--and realized that the reason I buried them were because they didn't mesh with my mother's story about the world. I'm beginning to see an entire intergenerational pattern of abuse in her family which I am now able to break, away from it, as an adult. My daughter and I talk about my mother, and how sad it is. It is sad. I don't deny her feelings; I hold space for it. But she also knows that the most important thing is to keep yourself safe, that her life and wellbeing has value. That's a lesson I didn't learn until much later in life, and I'm glad to be able to affirm that for her.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:22 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


I wanted to come back and say, what I wrote about being a parent was almost all about what was the worst and hardest for me, mainly to try to highlight some challenges you might face. To my kid, that was mostly invisible. I internalize by default, but it was also really important to me. Where a tender young thing is concerned, they don't need to see or deal with any of that shit.

Here's the best and easiest, and what our relationship looks like: We are affectionate. We joke together; they constantly crack me up, and have done pretty much from the beginning. I feel joy and pride at their every success. I go to war for them. We talk pretty openly and understand each other. My kid confides in me and I get to comfort them. I've had to be awake with things most people don't think about, and my kid benefits from my lived experience. In turn, I think I've grown more than I ever would have otherwise. It's pretty awesome.

Also: I'm one of those people who eventually cut off the abusive family member after an extended distant relationship. The clincher was when I asked myself, "would I leave my child alone with this person?" The answer was no, and then I had to ask myself why I would have them in my child's life at all. Or indeed, mine.
posted by moira at 5:19 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I still struggle with this in ways that probably aren't evident to me. I grew up in a family that has two types of people: narcissists and doormats. Lots of passive-aggressive, read-my-mind, unexplained anger, temper tantrums, and egg walking. Yeah.

I'm still struggling with how to deal with the parent who is some flavor of narcissist. I have completely cut off the sibling who mimicked those patterns and who is worse afflicted.

Anyway. You asked how to not become them. My approach is: it's hard to -not- be something, that doesn't give you any direction, only vague negative feedback. Much more productive to decide what you want to be, then train that. Hard.

I decided that instead of expecting people or partner to anticipate or know how I'm feeling and why, I will do my best to narrate that, with as much precision as I can. I try to use "I" statements. Like, I'm disappointed that I missed the chance to see that movie before it left. I feel envious that .... I'm frustrated with this thing .... I'm tired and not up for this ... I'm happy with how that went.

One hard part is when I haven't done that well, things go leftwards. This is where family training would be: have a temper tantrum. I have to recognize that (that's the hard part), then I can choose to pause, to calmly slow down and negotiate, to sell an alternate explanation (there's usually at least three), just to let things play out. I have ways I want to handle things. It's the immediate flash I have to recognize first, and choose alternate behaviors.

Next, a really prevalent behavior was expectation to mindread what they want. Again - I have worked hard to narrate my wants and needs. I want to go there, then do that. I need to have lunch sometime soon. I want to do Christmas here, not travel. I need some time alone. The hard thing here is to actually say those things - it's hard on everyone to actually state what you want or need, clearly, because of the risk that you might not get it.

Last, be curious. Ask other people about themselves - ask them specific questions to help them narrate themselves to you. Listen. Give them space. Believe them, when they tell you. Other humans are infinitely full of wonder, and you'd miss out on that if you don't listen and believe them truly. (My family habits were the opposite - they prejudged and stereotyped other people so.damn.hard).

Like I said, still a struggle.
posted by Dashy at 10:48 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Got into a healthy relationship for the first time at 21. I had a long string of bad boyfriends prior. I just felt so lucky to have found someone so nice. NPD father worked hard to state that the relationship wasn't serious or healthy. I moved out of the house when things came to a head, moved in with my boyfriend (now husband), and we've been together for ten years.

Talk therapy helped a lot. There was some residual post-emotional abuse stuff that was hard to shake. When I first met my husband's parents I had a huge panic attack that they were judging me, since in my mind that's what parents did all the flipping time. I also took a pretty long time to get better at having healthy arguments since for me an argument involved yelling. I've improved a lot there though and we rarely fight. We are pretty good at talking through things.

I still have a relationship with my folks but it is distant and involves grey rocking, where you basically keep news of your life about as interesting as a grey rock. I try to visit about once a year for a few days but that's all I can handle.

We don't have kids and if we ever do, I'm not really sure how that will play out with my folks. But we live over 400 miles away so we probably will have it easier than some people. I'm not too concerned about turning into my parental models though because as my husband regularly reminds me, I am not the same person as my father and I actually go to therapy when I know something is wrong with my emotional or behavioral health.
posted by donut_princess at 11:59 AM on February 7


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