How do i remain physically present but emotionally detached from my family and relatives?
April 21, 2008 12:25 AM   Subscribe

How do i remain physically present but emotionally detached from my family and relatives?

For the first 6 years of my life, my family and i stayed in a public housing apartment. My folks managed to upgrade us to private residential (landed house) where we had been just right up to last year.

The decision to sell was technically a 'family situation'. My parents are retired and my dad essentially has zero savings. I am the only child, 26 this year. I have been working since i was 21. Every month i give half of my salary to my parents, whilst also paying my own expenses. I had stopped taking allowances from my parents since 16, and my education was completedly funded from a scholarship i received.

Despite my monthly efforts, the cost of maintaining 3 mouths in a landed house was beyond me. I kept hearing my parents whine about financial matters (can't buy this, that, this is expensive, etc etc). I felt quite burdened because i didn't know what more to do.

When the prices of houses escalated, (the early peak), we made the hard decision to sell. I was persistent with the decision although it pained me considerably - we had been living in that neighbourhood for nearly 20 years and i enjoyed being the owner of private landed property. But my premise was that it would free up a huge amount of cash to serve as their nest egg, thus allowing them to enjoy the full benefits of retirement while simultaneously relieving me of the pressure to provide month-on-month. It is stressful living on paycheck to paycheck and this was the same time i wanted to move my career elsewhere and that involved some risks. Most importantly, i felt as long as the 3 of us were together, it didn't matter where we stayed. Meanwhile we'd also found a public housing apartment in the central area which was minutes from my office in the central business district.

But from the moment we made the decision to sell (and there were many keen buyers), my mom fell into severe depression and wanted not to sell. But it was too late as the contract had been committed. I was not a party to the title deed - my parents were and they signed. My mom claims she signed it under duress (from me). From that day on, my family life has been complete hell. My dad is completely caught in the middle and offers little support.

My mom cried everyday. She cried to all her siblings (my relatives) how miserable she was to stay in the public housing apartment (no garden, common parking area). She has sought 'escape' by travelling frequently or staying out of the apartment for the whole day but almost always the trip home (be it from overseas or from the shopping centre) she would weep on the way back. She threatened countless times to commit suicide. She said the most hurtful things to me. Given that i found out i was adopted and never knew the true story behind it, i am especially sensitive to certain remarks.

When i visited my relatives the other day (my mom's father, siblings), i had the distinct sense that i was being silently blamed for my family breaking up (not physically but emotionally). This is especially when my mom and dad have been 'holing' up in Melbourne in my aunt' house there for over 4 weeks now. I couldn't answer them when they asked me when were my folks returning. I was the receiving end of a lot of hidden inuendos along the lines of 'let them stay there since they are unhappy here', etc etc. What's worse is i saw that these incidences of her crying (above) that were recorded by her in some diary which i did not know of its existence until she called me over the phone to ask me to look up some 'address' for her and i chanced upon it.

For over a year now i've put up with the 'blame and the guilt', although i stand by myself still that if ever i was the one who made them sell the house, it was done with the best intentions. I never took a single cent of the proceeds for the house and i furnished the loan for the current apartment we stay in. I have put up with all the hurtful remarks (including her repeated verbal abuse and demanding i buy her back a house). I even tried to become a social escort to earn extra cash to try to raise enough money for a downpayment for a house - this stopped when one bad quarrel led me to shout at them with this revelation.

I don't know what to do. I have tried toughing it out, seeking solace in my friends, but at the end of the day, i still have to return home to them. But there's no saying what i do or say (even nothing) will trigger another rampage.
posted by prudie to Human Relations (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To add to the above: my mom also complained about the amount we sold for (the property market started to boom and we sold for considerably less than what we might have gotten if we sold 3 months later) - she had on several occasions demanded me to pay her the 'extra' money we would have gotten if i had not 'pressed them' to sell so early.
posted by prudie at 12:30 AM on April 21, 2008

Perhaps, at age 26, it is time for you to move out on your own and let your parents manage their own financial situation? If they are still young enough to work and/or receiving a pension, I'm not sure where you fit into all of this.
posted by k8t at 12:38 AM on April 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

but at the end of the day, i still have to return home to them

Actually, you don't.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:39 AM on April 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

This sounds like an utterly unbearable situation. I am silghtly confused by the financial/housing detials as I don't live in your country, but it sounds as if you are completely supporting your family financially and getting a huge amound of emotional abuse from them. (Does your mother not have a job or any savings either?)

Being physically present but emotionally absent is a tough one. When I'm trying to do something similar I escape into books, work, running, craft or offload on to friends.

You don't mention any possibility of moving away from them - is this something it is impossible to consider? Given your other question I wonder whether your parents are holding you back emotionally. You must also be wound up about the adoption thing - do you have people you can talk to about this? Have you looked at books on dealing with being adopted?
posted by paduasoy at 12:40 AM on April 21, 2008

Also, I realize that culturally, moving out on your own may not be within the immediate realm of possibilities, but it certainly is not unheard of.
posted by k8t at 12:41 AM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: k8t is right - culturally, moving out on my own is not within the immediate realm of possibilities.

paduasoy - my mom had little savings (to the best of my knowledge). The biggest wakeup call i had about how severe the finances were when she called me one day in the office in 2006 (for 4 years they never called me up at work and which i had told them they shouldn't unless it's really urgent) and told me that she had expended nearly 20% of her savings in just one year on our household expenses and other (insurance, medical, etc) - and all this while i was giving half my salary to them. I went back home, did the calculation and worked out that pretty much if we continued at that rate, her savings would be gone in 5-7 years (if we stretched, assuming i got a consistent increase and our expenditure remained constant).

I did try to escape into books, work, running, hobbies, but when i get home, i have to face the wrath. My mom has accused me repeatedly of always desiring to escape (like when i went out after a quarrel and came back late or stayed out crying), and said i was heartless and had no feelings for them.
posted by prudie at 1:01 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

If I were in your shoes, I would do whatever is within the realm of cultural possibility to get away from them, up to and including getting married.

Or - how detached do you want to go? Can you get a job elsewhere in the world? A transfer from your company?

Before you do that, though, you need therapy. Lie your fucking teeth off if you have to, but find a therapist who can help you talk through this relationship with your parents, which is grossly distorting your priorities and perspective.

They need therapists too - their mental health issues (threatening suicide etc) come from their own selves and they need to resolve them.

You are not responsible for getting them out of their depression.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:52 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're in what engineers sometimes call an over bounded problem. That's when a bolt is too weak for the load it must carry, there is no more money for a better grade bolt, there is no more room for a bigger bolt, and there is no way to relieve the load. Guess what gives (because something, always, has to give)? The bolt. Everytime. So, the whole art and science of mechanical engineering is finding things like overstressed bolts, and unbounding the situations that are overstressing them. An engineer finds a way to afford a better, stronger grade of bolt, or he reduces the load, somehow, or he makes room for a bigger bolt. And by doing something, he prevents catastrophic failure.

You're like an overstressed bolt. You can't move, you can't make more money, you can't expect your parents to cut back expenses, and you can't stand things the way they are. Something has got to give. You want us to tell you how to make sure that "something" is you, and you ask how to be "not there," even when you are. Without getting all Adlerian on you, I'm going to say that your question to us is unfair, because we sense that no healthy person should aspire to be "not there" in a situation of strife and bad family communication. Something may have to give, but what you are asking advice about are techniques to achieve dissociation or depersonalization, to the point of being self-extinguishing part of the time, and that is bad mojo.

I'm going to suggest you unbound the problem, by getting someone else involved in helping your family seek ways to positively change the situation. Maybe that would literally mean taking in a boarder, or roommate (extra money in the household and an extra person to interact with about household issues). Maybe that would mean your mother and father find gainful activities (extra money in the household). Maybe it means economizing by tracking expenses, and cutting some (less economic pressure). Maybe it even means seeking a family therapist, to help you all try to break out of a miserable family dynamic.

Perhaps a practical solution requires several of these steps, or others, all together. But you've got to do something, like an engineer, because otherwise, what you are talking about, really, is failing, not with the sudden metallic snap of an overloaded bolt, but slowly and quietly, a few minutes at a time, until you are crushed out of existence.
posted by paulsc at 1:56 AM on April 21, 2008 [127 favorites]

Which is the culture where the daughters stay home well into adulthood and are also the sole breadwinner who are buck-stops-here responsible for all financial decisions for everyone under the roof? Your family sounds like a real piece of work, and your description reads to me as if you are so hooked in due to personal pain, and not due to cultural norms. After asking for avoidance methods, you've just acknowledged that your mom won't really allow you to use them with any degree of success because she can tell that you are doing it to carve out some space that is just for yourself. So why ask?

If your plan is to go on with this ad infinitum and just emotionally check out as much as possible, you will be living your life checked-out, and as far as I can see it gets to be a habit.

There are (at least) two cultures in this story; the one at home and the one where you are going out and getting the goods. It's a bad deal if the culture at home is only for measuring your obligations but not the obligations of others to you, and the one outside is yours to reckon with when it's time to bring home the bacon, but not when you would get emotional relief from its individualism. Likewise, you seem to be saddled with all of the disadvantages of childhood and adulthood but none of the advantages of either. I doubt it is possible for you to become more detached about your family without actually physically detaching yourself from them, and since you have already been forced into the role of the black sheep despite your very good intentions, there is little for you to lose by trying.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:28 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Really sorry I can't help but it sounds like a dreadful situation, I really feel for you. Would it be possible to say what prevents you from moving out? It's hard to know what to suggest when any solutions may be a no-no within your culture. I understand that the bounds of obligation can be overwhelming, but you really need some space to work out how best to deal with the situation. Would it be possible to go away for a week or so? Just for a breather? At some point you will have to assert your right to be happy just to maintain sanity, and that might involve some difficult conversations.

I don't know where you are based but it might be worth looking for support structures within your town/city/community who may be able to address the issues from your perspective? Local libraries or universities can sometimes provide details of groups or programmes who may be able to provide you with someone to talk to. You might also want to look at organisations that support adoptees, that's a huge thing to be dealing with and you need to separate those feelings from the wider context of your situation.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:57 AM on April 21, 2008

Stop seeing them as your parents. See them as just some people you know. Then start seeing them as people you might meet on the street. Then start seeing them as people you'd ignore while walking down the street (as in, most everybody).

To do this, think of them in intellectual terms, more so than emotional ones. With your mother trying to forge emotional links between the two of you, it's going to be difficult, but remember that she's doing this to make you feel bad. Is this the action of someone who loves you? Think, analyse, etc, the people involved in this situation. You don't have to allow them to push your buttons.

It's going to take time to withdraw the emotions you have invested in these people. But it can be done. I'm proof that you can live with people and not have any kind of feelings for them at all. I'm not saying it's a fun or healthy way to live, but there you go.

Secondly, see someone (a friend, lover, therapist, member of the religious elect, anyone) who will tell you that you are a good, kind human being. You deserve to be told this, by simple virtue of the fact that you're alive, and are doing an awful lot for someone who apparently is throwing it back in your face.

Thirdly, is your mother actually depressed? Or is she using large scale emotional blackmail? It sounds more like histrionics to me, than actual depression.
posted by Solomon at 4:07 AM on April 21, 2008

It seems to me that your parents' expectations of what you can provide for them are excessive. You tell us that your mother is seeking comfort in foreign travel and trips to the shopping centre? With your money? While complaining that you don't give her enough money? This seems just wrong. It seems to me that they should have had more than one child if they expected their children to be their retirement plan.

I don't know what the subtleties of the culture you are living in are, but is it really normal for an only child to be giving up their life and income in this way to support complaining, ungrateful parents? If it is the norm, there must be other young people in your community facing similar challenges. I would second freya_lamb's advice that you should seek them out.

I don't mean to be overly critical of your parents; I think it's very commendable that you support and care for them. But you do have to take care of yourself. As paulsc points out, if you break, the whole structure will come down.
posted by tiny crocodile at 4:12 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Look, sooner or later everyone has to live by rules. I don't get the sense that there are any rules about how people act in your house.

You need to lay down some rules. #1. No more talking about the house sale.

When people break the rules, you don't argue, you just say, "You broke rule #1" and then you leave the room. This will accomplish two things, a) you practice not putting up with it but getting away, b) you teach people that they won't be rewarded for breaking the rules - rewarded by getting to yell at you - but ignored.
posted by ewkpates at 4:14 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

have you considered seeing a therapist? they might help you figure out how to deal with your emotions and make some decisions about your situation. i do think your current situation is unreasonable and untenable, and you will have to make some hard choices in order to preserve your sanity and long-term happiness. you do not want to turn into your mother, who makes decisions she regrets to avoid conflict, and then blame others for it because they wanted to do something she didn't. but you are doing exactly that.

i know you feel you can't move out, but of course you can. a therapist will help you sort out your reasons for staying and reasons for leaving and help you look at how to make the decision (whether to leave or stay) with more clarity.

one thing i would advise you to do is give them less money. save some for yourself, so you can put down a deposit on an apartment of your own if the time comes.

good luck. i know it is so hard to break away from everyone's expectations of you, but it may be for the best.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:37 AM on April 21, 2008

Why has no one pointed out the obvious here? The two people you refer to as parents have taken no responsibility for providing for themselves, have shown little gratitude for what you have done for them, have played silly guilt games trying to make you provide what you cannot, and have organized a family shame campaign to punish you for doing what must be done.

You, on the other hand, have done the providing, the planning, the budgeting, and have made the tough, responsible decisions.

Stand by for liberating insight: You, dear Prudie, are the parent, and they are the children.

The answer lies in what some other cultures have called "Tough Love". Stop enabling their dependent, whining, manipulative behavior. Insist that they start taking responsibility for themselves. Stop inflating your own self-importance by imagining that you must do it all and that they are incapable of doing anything. In short, dear Prudie, kick them out of the nest and force them to fly on their own. You might be surprised at what your "babies" can accomplish.

If you need a specific idea to start the "unbounding", as paulsc so accurately puts it, start by using a little leverage of your own. Address all those relatives who have been ganging up on you. Tell them that, starting now, they are sharing in the support of these two. They will be required to make monthly contributions to the support of your "children", and you will match what they contribute. Bingo: ball out of your court and into theirs. Do not provide a penny more than the self-righteous relatives contribute, start saving a little for yourself.

Guilt is one of the most destructive emotions, and you're swimming in it. Stop it right now. You deserve a life, and you can have one. God bless.
posted by dinger at 6:04 AM on April 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

It sounds like in your culture, guilt and familial shame is the main tool by which things work. However, your mother seems much better at using it than you are. If you can't/won't move away, how about learning to use those same tools to get the family on your side?

Go crying to your relatives how your mother is constantly complaining and yelling at you, how it's affecting your sleep, your health, etc. (Exaggerate if you need to, but it doesn't sound like you do.) Talk about how hard you work, and how much money you spend on your parents - how they're taking trips and going shopping when you never spend anything on yourself, etc, etc.

Basically, paint yourself as the good daughter who is sacrificing everything to take care of her ungrateful parents, instead of the other way around. If you can win the PR war with your relatives, they may pressure your parents to ease up on you.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 7:22 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Would it be such a tremendous tragedy if you just left? I was in a similar situation with my Mother - she guilted me into staying far into my 20's - I gave her my money, cars, and most of my attention until I finally RAN!

Your parents will be fine. They have been adults for a very long time. They've found it easier to use you than to use their own strengths, and that will need to change. You may want to check out some resources on Codependency, since it sounds like you are pretty emotionally enmeshed in the situation. Codependency groups and resources can help you emotionally separate from your situation. In the end, though, until you get a life of your own, you will need to set IRON boundaries with your parents, and don't expect them to give up on you any time soon.

I wish you good luck with this. I can't say I've ever seen anyone stay in a situation like this and not come out damaged - my strong recommendation is to get the heck out of there.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:09 AM on April 21, 2008

I agree with dinger You, dear Prudie, are the parent, and they are the children.

Go back to your original post. Delete "mom, dad, parents" words from it and replace with "person a and b" These people sound like spoiled selfish brats. If things were the other way around don't you think they would cut you off quick, tough love. If they don't appreciate what you provide then stop providing. Did they adopt you to be their retirement fund? I am sure they didn't but it seems to be how they are acting. Put away what the "allowance" in a separate account. As my momma always said "when you start acting like somebody you can have your toys back" When they start treating you with the respect you have earned and maybe even show a little gratitude for your help as they didn't plan for their own future very wisely, then they can have their allowance back otherwise they can fend for themselves, they are not babies. That threatening suicide stuff- nothing more than a manipulative move that ensures she stirs up drama, wanting you to feel sorry for her and her situation. What is there to feel sorry for? They didn't save when they had jobs, they didn't make arrangements for their retirements, they retired before they could afford to. Here in America you hear all the time people working into their late 60s even 70s because they couldn't afford to quit. They made that decision, which led to the sale of the home. When are they going to start taking ownership over their own decisions and actions? Add up all that you have contributed to the household over the years, you have probably more than paid them back your gratitude for raising you. Maybe you could move away from this stifling "culture" area.

want to know how do you get emotionally unattached? Get angry. Get bitter. Get out.

After reading this I guess it may seem a bit harsh, I hate hearing of people being taken advantage of by family members. I really feel for you and this unfortunate situation.
posted by meeshell at 8:12 AM on April 21, 2008

I come from a family where it is culturally unacceptable to move out. Well, my parents were toxic and constant with the guilt and shame-inducing behaviours. I moved out when I was 18. Move out and get yourself away from their poisonous behaviour.
posted by gt2 at 9:04 AM on April 21, 2008

The best way to help them is to get enough distance from them that you can be a happy, healthy person.
posted by salvia at 9:18 AM on April 21, 2008

I'm assuming the culture you're referring to is that of your family, not of where you live. If the people who will be upset with you for moving out already are upset with you and you want to break emotional ties to them, what is the point in staying? You'll just be torturing yourself. If you have the means to get out, do so.
posted by fructose at 9:37 AM on April 21, 2008

I come from a culture big on the filial piety and taking care of one's elderly parents, but even from my perspective I have to say you are describing a dysfunctional family situation, especially your mother. What you have described is not a healthy parent-child relationship at all, even in the context of such cultures. Your mother seems to regard you as an indentured servant, not as a precious daughter.

If you continue giving half your paycheck to your parents and working yourself to the bone, without building a financial nest egg of your own, you run the risk of turning into your mother in the future - a parent with no savings, relying on their child(ren) for financial support. Is this what you want for yourself?

You need to physically get yourself away from your parents and relatives. Some socially acceptable ways to do this may be to find a job overseas (e.g. get transferred to an overseas branch of your company), or to study overseas (I think your home country has government-sponsored scholarships for overseas study, with the requirement you return and work in your home country for a certain number of years?). You can then justify your reduced financial support of your parents due to moving and settling expenses. Then gradually taper off because of "the high cost of living" etc. Not having to interact with your relatives regularly will reduce your stress levels. If possible, move several time zones away, so that even telephoning becomes inconvenient (and if they do call, let it go to voicemail). Stay away until you have developed some perspective, especially the recognition that your parents' behavior and expectations towards you are not reasonable. Once you feel stronger, then decide whether to return to your home country or not.

I just want to reiterate, what you are describing is not a parent-child relationship. Just get out.
posted by needled at 9:41 AM on April 21, 2008

I would leave, but I'm not going to make assumptions about what you're able to do in a culture that isn't mine. So if you cannot leave, you must put mechanisms in place to cope financially and preserve your sanity.

You are behaving as if you have no leverage here. You do. That leverage is the fact that you are providing substantial income for your family. You need to hand down a budget that does not include regular trips to the mall and overseas visits. If you need backup, then seek out the services of a financial planner to work with your family. Perhaps you can find (on your own) a male financial planner from the same culture - one you interview and one you are comfortable with before introducing your family to him.

You also need to learn distance and boundaries. You need to learn the phrases "It is not acceptable to speak to me that way" and "I'm sorry you feel that way." You would very likely benefit from some therapy or assertiveness training to learn how to do this.

Really, these are all ways of saying that you need to learn the art of self-preservation and how to meet what you perceive as your obligations without perpetuating your own victimhood.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:07 AM on April 21, 2008

As paulsc pointed out, this problem is not solvable with the current resources. Give yourself a deadline to brainstorm a solution and what it takes to implement it with 80% of your resources (time, energy). Save 20% of your resources to plan/prepare for a bail-out plan. By the deadline, if you do not achieve a solution to your satisfaction, hit the Eject button and get out of there. A good engineer will do all she can to resolve the problem. A great engineer will protest and quit. Quitting (leaving) is an honorable, and honest thing to do in a situation when it is not possible to live honorably and honestly with yourself. You owe it to yourself to live your life. You owe no one (parents included) your life, your individuality, and your happiness (perhaps with one exception with your own young children).

In a toxic environment such as one you've found yourself in, leaving can be therapeutic. It's like a volatile chemical reaction; to extinguish it usually requires removing one ingredient. In some situation, it may be worthwhile to bear the mantle of "bad daughter" if the opposing choice is emotional or physical death. You will find with your absence your parents will manage resources to meet their needs, that your mom is not suicidal after all, and your absence will clarify who you are and what you've done. Perhaps it may even make them appreciate you. But if they don't, then it was their choices, their life. It is wonderful that they raised you. But demanding pay backs takes away from the altruism of that act. Don't let them use that to destroy you. Don't commit emotional suicide (as you are asking here) for the benefit of manipulative adults.
posted by curiousZ at 11:57 AM on April 21, 2008

"My dad is completely caught in the middle and offers little support. "
You are caught in the middle and it appears he is siding with your Mom by not siding with you. Can you get him on your side?
posted by rholly at 5:58 PM on April 21, 2008

Nthing move out. And I hate saying that because it falls under the general Mefi "dump him/divorce her/leave" mumbo jumbo. But it's true here - and I speak as someone from somewhat of the same situation. You are a meal ticket, nothing more - at least not at this point.
posted by damnjezebel at 8:21 PM on April 21, 2008

Best answer: Prudie, I feel so bad for you right now and completely understand how utterly torn an impossible you feel everything is.
In my working class Irish Roman Catholic family children were brought up to contribute as soon as possible to the family income. In effect everything about the children was about how they either contributed or reflected socially upon the family.
So we were chattels of our parents, once I had started earning some money to put myself through University I was expected to contribute to the household. It was one of the more extreme cases I remember in our social group but we all as children bought into it.
It was completely unremarkable when my mother raided the account I set up to get married because she had some unusual expenses. She didn't even feel she had to let me know.
When I met someone and wanted to move in with them I was told "You either leave this house in a white dress or a coffin" .
After all, what would the rest of the extended family or the neighbours say.
Pregnancy outside marriage was dealth with by taking the gilr over to England, giving up the baby, and coming back after an absence of months to claim an extended family visit! Really you could not make this up! My mother threatened to commit suicide if I left home while in my second year on University so I really, really understand.

Things came to a head when I was faced with the prospect of not being able to sit my finals in University because they decided to go on holidays and someone needed to care for my bedbound grandmother. (Education was not as prized as it is in your culture, they had been in school until 12 year old). Yet they still boasted to others that I was the only one in the neighbourhood going to University because that was reflected glory.

I was in an impossible position, I had really fought to put myself through University, I felt like suicide myself.

I did what Paulsc said, I told one of my aunts exactly what would happen if I did not sit the finals, she gave me a suitcase and helped me explain to my darling grandmother. They both kept the secret (she looked after Nana for a week) until the parents came home.

I moved into my boyfriends rental house the address of which luckily the parents never knew. They went to the Police but I was 21 so no dice. They searched the city, I had a real fear for my safety and was physically shaking and in fear all through my finals. Again they had no clue how to go about getting the information about where they exams were being held, although they tried to bully a Professor.

BUT, what had filled me with panic and utter hopelessness for a whole 12 months happened. I was convinced that there was no way out. I daren't confide in anyone but my boyfriend who supported me throughout. And I survived. And I got the exams, although only a 2:1 when I was tipped for a first. And I eventually after three months got a priest to negotiate visiting rights with my Nana.

It is all very weel for others to say, just move out. But when you've been brainwashed your entire life that this is normal, it is next to impossible to find the courage to break with this.
This period of my life was incredibly painful (still is) but you have to lance the abcsess that is your life right now, Prudie.

There is no future for you in trying to be the good daughter, you've already failed their expectations of you which are unreal, unfair and an assault on your dignity as a human being. You are not a person worthy of respect in their eyes for whatever cultural reasons. But they are wrong, and you are wrong to continue to let yourself be defined by this toxic view of children as property or chattles of the parents.

You're a worthy person. The hardest aspect of all of this is to this day, 22 years on I still feel I failed my parents even though I made a real success of the rest of my life. Because when you're acculturated into this belief system (it's really brainwashing by the way) you will feel this for the rest of your life.

BUT your life outside this will be more fruitful, enjoyable and rewarding then you can ever imagine. And with some help you will survive the guilt feelings.

Please feel free to Mefi mail me if I can be of any help on the other side of the world. You can break this circle.
posted by Wilder at 11:20 AM on April 22, 2008 [18 favorites]

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