I gave an ultimatum to my parents

… and I feel like sh*t. I know rationally that it’s okay, but I can feel the stress growing as I’m taking the measure of what I’ve sent to them.

About 2 years ago – starting to lose track of it – I’ve decided to stop being in contact with my parents, as I was becoming more and more aware of the abuse my sister and I went through during our childhood – physical, emotional. My mother was always the abuser, and my dad has always been a giant question mark in the middle of it. I still can’t seem to be able to feel anger towards him, yet the way he abandoned us and didn’t protect us keeps haunting me.

As I stopped being in contact with them, I’ve been feeling so much better. Less time worrying about them and being afraid of any of their reaction meant more time for me, including on therapy. I’ve grown in ways I never did before, and I don’t think that I’d be ready to let them in my life again, especially if they don’t do the work to grow and heal as well.

The hardest part is that every conversation has always been stuck with them. My dad doesn’t want my mom to be involved as he fears any “bad reaction” from her, meaning that she would hurt herself. My sister and I have asked for maybe two years to have an actual conversation about what happened, how they perceive what happened, how it still affects us today, how trauma has shaped us… just to stop faking that everything is going well in the best world, at least once. But my dad was always putting conditions, trying to decide for everyone as he always did. I gave up on the possibility to sit down and talk all together. I gave up on the possibility for my mother to actually seek therapy one day, for the sake of our relationship with us. She’s too deep in her own traumas, denial, and refusal to be helped. And I will not ever be her therapist anymore.

Two days ago our dad sent an email to my sister and I out of nowhere, after another one that he had with my sister. The email was only made of a link to a health insurance’s website, and more specifically an article about EMDR, on “how to heal trauma wounds”. No context. No hello. No word. Just that. He copied it to me while I specifically said a year ago that I don’t want any communication anymore. Once again, my boundaries just don’t matter, but that’s not even relevant at this point.

I feel nothing and everything at the same time. It’s insane how my parents can just push one button and my entire system of beliefs, emotions, confidence, just gets shattered suddenly. I am upset. Upset for having a “dad” who don’t know how to communicate, and still don’t know how to do it after I explicitely say the words “childhood abuse” or “physical violence”. I see him lost, confused, vulnerable, and as a result he just adds more to the reasons why I don’t expect any contact anymore. I feel upset and sad for having parents on the paper, but never in action. I thought I was over it, but maybe I’m not.

I’ve decided to break my own silence and to respond to him as this email from him was just a big “what the heck” to me. As I re-read my email, I realize that it was quite direct. But I’m unable to do differently now. I can’t move back to old patterns and fake my emotions for their own safety. I can’t anymore. If they don’t do their part, I will not take their hand either. So I gave them an invitation. Tomorrow, online, at a specific time, to meet together, the four of us, and have this conversation that should have happened years ago. I told them that it’s either the four of us or no one. Also that if it doesn’t happen now, I’m personally not going to be seeking any contact or other try in the future. I want to move forward. I want to focus on my life, on me. I don’t even expect anything anymore – this email was actually for my sister, who still needs answers. I don’t. I don’t really care anymore. Now that I’ve tasted what life can be without them, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the possibility to even try to heal together again. It feels like they missed that opportunity years ago. I’m not the little girl who desperately tries to run after them anymore, begging for what I always needed.

Am I a bad person for feeling like it’s too late? Would I be a bad person if they do make efforts yet I wouldn’t want to consider them anymore? I always thought my heart would keep an open space for them, for the possibility of something different, better, healthier, whenever they’d be ready. Is it fair to feel like it might just be too late? Of course, I don’t know what the future holds. But I’m sure as heck to know what I don’t want to try or hope for anymore. I don’t wish them anything bad. I don’t feel hatred or resentment. It just feels like something isn’t anymore, and I’ve never felt more free. I don’t miss them anymore. I don’t miss them because they never were parents. I only miss who they should have been. It wasn’t them, and it’s still not them.

Why do I still feel bad then? It’s hard to push this guilt away. I’m tired of carrying feelings that should have never existed in the first place. I never failed them after all. They did.

We are going to talk all together in 2 hours. I’m scared of the outcomes, scared that it could make me feel like drowning again afterwards. Scared of this interaction to affect me more than I thought. I know I will be okay, ultimately. For now it just feels like any certainty I had has been washed away.

No matter what, I will be okay. I will be okay and I am not this vulnerable, defenseless little girl any more.

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This is amazing, and very telling. Petulant people who cut off contact with loved ones wind up feeling worse for it. They don’t grow, it’s just another wall they’ve put up to push people away. You put up the boundary and started thriving. You’re not more miserable, you’re happier. We can all see it, and I am so glad you can see it too!

Not only did he disrespect your boundaries, but with no greetings or context it comes off as really passive aggressive. What comes to mind is throwing a Salvation Army pamphlet at the feet of a homeless person and walking away. Maybe your dad didn’t want to say anything else for fear of upsetting you or having it thrown back in his face, but his intentions don’t change the way the message comes off. If he wants to rebuild the bridge, he needs to do more than toss one sad olive branch. He needs to try, even if he’s afraid of getting hurt or shot down.

“Over it” is on a scale. You are thriving and functioning without your parents, and thoughts of them don’t consume you anymore in your day-to-day. That’s a huge win! However, what you went through as a child shaped who you are. You don’t just “get over” the portion of you they shaped, and you don’t just “get over” being mistreated and neglected by the most important people in the first 17 or so years of your life. A beautiful flowering tree can still have a gnarled and scarred trunk if it was abused early on. You have thrived for two years without them in your life, and now one email from your dad has opened that wound. His email, devoid of any love, warmth, or humanity was a sharp drill that pierced right to your core. That reaction doesn’t go away. The fact that you can verbalize it so well here, instead of being lost in confusion. is a testament to how strong you’ve become!

You don’t owe it to them to be flowery. You don’t owe it to them to try to pad their feelings, as long as you’re not trying to hurt them. This is a business meeting, not a family reunion. Maybe the family reunion can come later; but right now you want to be heard and you want answers, and there’s no need to be soft about your intentions. You set your conditions out clearly and specifically, in a way that can’t be misconstrued. SMART goals (or objectives) are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You nailed that here.

At the end of the business meeting, you also don’t owe it to them to take them back into your life if you don’t want to, even if it goes well. Trust is hard-earned, and one earnest conversation doesn’t erase a lifetime of mistreatment. You still get to focus on moving forward and growing, and you get to decide if they are a part of that. You are in control, you get to include them–or not–on your terms.

It sounds to me like you’re on your way to forgiveness. Something that helped me was a lesson on what forgiveness is and is not. Forgiveness IS a conscious decision to release hatred and resentment. Forgiveness IS mandatory for moving on. One saying that’s given me a lot to think about is “resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die,” or “like holding a burning branch hoping to burn the other person.” Resentment is a mechanism for keeping them in your life in spirit. Forgiveness IS NOT a conversation you have with them–that’s reconciliation. Forgiveness IS a decision you make on your own, in private, before any kind of reconciliation. Reconciliation IS optional. You can forgive someone for the harm they caused, and still not want to reconcile with them, or let them into your life to cause more harm. That is reasonable and healthy. None of that makes you a bad person. It makes you very, very strong. You know what you want, you see the way forward for yourself, and part of how you’re trying to more forward is by not walking around resenting them.

You answer your own question here. You feel bad because you shouldn’t need to have this conversation with them. You feel bad because healthy people feel bad about having conversations that can hurt someone else. It’s no different than breaking up with someone; if the person leaving is any kind of well-adjusted, they feel bad breaking up with their partner. You feel bad because you will be facing them to confront the reality that they failed you. You will be exposing all the thoughts, emotions, and rationales you’ve built up in your mind and with safe peers to the people those things are about. It will make your traumas very real. You feel bad because you will say things that can’t be unsaid. They need to be said, they shouldn’t be unsaid, but it will hurt your parents and it will hurt you. It’s like pulling out an arrow–not pleasant for anyone, but necessary.

You may feel like drowning, and that’s okay. You will recover from this, and you know it. I am so proud of how much you’ve grown! Two years ago, you would have approached this with no certainty and entered debilitating depression afterward. Now, you are aware that it will probably hurt afterward, and that you might feel like drowning, but that you will be alright. You are already alright.

Good luck. I will be praying for you, that you might find answers and move forward, not be dragged backward. I love you and I’m proud of you. :hrtlegolove:

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So many things you said hit home for me.

EDMR is something that I’ve been offered, I’m still thinking about it. I know a lot of people with BPD (or just people who have trauma and regular therapy isn’t helping) benefit from it. It’s a little strange that your father sent you a link for it. Is he acknowledging the trauma you’ve been through?

My father and I have a very unstable relationship and I’ve tried so hard thru the years to fix that. My mother is the big question mark, much like your father is. She wasn’t abusive, but she didn’t stop my father’s abuse most of the time and she didn’t believe in me.

I want to tell you not to waste your time and energy, but hopefully something positive comes out of your meeting today.

My parents are in complete denial that they had anything to do with my trauma. I think if I confronted them about it like you’re doing with your parents, they would probably gaslight me and not take accountability. It would probably put me in a bad place. I’ve thought about writing a letter to my father telling him what a horrible father he is, but what’s the point?

I’m almost 55 and all my life I’ve tried so hard to be my father’s little girl…

Recently, I’ve come to terms with the fact that he isn’t going to change, he isn’t going to ever be nice to me and he doesn’t understand how much he has made me suffer in my life…he isn’t ever going to realize he needs therapy, so we will never have a healthy relationship. He would probably laugh at me and call me a dumb ass if I confronted him. So, I decided to stop trying and since I have only responded to the couple texts he has sent me with one-word replies.

So, I have a lot of respect for you and your sister for doing this. I really hope you get something positive out of this, even if it’s just closure. My thoughts are with you today. :hrtlegolove:

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Thank you so much @SheetMetalHead @Mystrose. Your words have helped, before and after this “meeting”.

It was chaotic. Painful. But somehow I’m glad because my sister had the opportunity to ask some specific questions, and me to just have confirmation over the things I can expect or not. There were lots of tears. I didn’t expect to be so emotional. I’m glad I was though. As I am numb most of the time, it feels good to be able to feel those things in the context that is the most appropriate for it.

I personally just needed to know how they are, how they perceive things, if they are willing to be helped. They don’t. It was a lot about their pain, and our pain. We sometimes yelled a bit. We sometimes said that we love each other.

My parents are gone. To use their words, they are “dead” already. They are not doing well at all. A lot comes from the loss of our brother. There were apologies. There was denial. My dad only took the measure or the abuse for the first time - how many years, the details of it. He seemed qurpriszd. That’s how much he didn’t see, or didn’t want to. But on his end he was so patronizing. They both tried to use the sensitive chord of having a hard time with not having any news. He insisted again that our partners should give them updates. That it is their duty. I said no. I said my partner won’t be put in the middle of this. That he doesn’t owe them anything. That I don’t owe them anything. I told my dad that how he feels, his pain, is not my responsibility. He seemed shocked to hear that from me.

It’s hard to say. It’s hard to feel. But it is true though.

My parents are broken, and they’ve accepted to live in their own misery. They don’t want to seek therapy because it would be impossible to overcome their grief. They don’t want to try or envision something else. We told our mom we are here and we believe in her, but she just kept saying that she is 61 now and just a horrible, worthless person. Once again, the child in her was speaking instead of a mom.

My dad was so aggressive. I understand he is in pain, but still. He started the conversation telling me that he didn’t like the tone in my email. That triggered me instantly and responded that I didn’t like his own either. He used such a patronizing tone all the time.

He asked me : is it your therapist that told you to not talk to us anymore? I said I make decisions for myself, and if a therapist told me what to do I would have walked away from them.

He said: I’m going to go in Belgium soon because “he likes the country” and wants me to give him back something that was of my brother. I said no way, and I will send the documents in question by mail.

Our mom gave details about his health when he was away ( he couldn’t stand the conversation and was just walking on and off camera, and at some point said "I’ll go tbe cause I’m exhausted). Well… Ok. Thanks for the consideration of giving 1h in your life to your daughters in need of a dad… I guess.

My mom was once again in this mindset of: I don’t care about myself but you should keep talking to your dad because he suffers. She gave details of his insomnia and tears, but she doesn’t understand that we’re not into the guilt trip anymore. She repeated so many times that she is a monster. She’s stuck in this victimization and she isn’t even aware of it. They are stuck in their grief and misery. It was a brutal confirmation that I can’t expect or wait anything different from them anymore. That I can continue my own journey. They are not ready for something else.

Our mom denied events that happened, implying we lied. She isn’t ready to face herself. She is too broken, too traumatized. It’s so hard to see your parents in front of you but they are just gone emotionally. I don’t know if they ever were present now that I think about it. They take responsibility only as “if that could make you happy or feel better”. No comment.

My dad assumed we didn’t care. That we don’t understand how they feel. I said I spent my life caring for them before myself.

He said we are running after things that we can’t have, that he wishes us well and for us to be happy… In this very awful tone of “I’m saying this to let you know that it hurts me and less about your well-being”. If only he realized that this is once again a decision they are making. They choose to stay in misery. I said I just wanted to have parents and my dad seemed to be profoundly shocked by this statement. As if it didn’t make any sense. I thought it was clear, expecting people in front of me telling me: “let’s try to work on this together, let’s try to walk together, it’s going to hurt but let’s just try”. Instead he implied that even if they failed at important things, he also protected us from a lot others. If only he knew that children are not stupid and know a lot more than they say. But as he likes to state,he knows a lot of things about everything… Especially what is good or not for someone to heal, apparently.

He asked at some point why I never talked about it earlier since I remembered years ago. Just another wrong question to ask. So many things he said we’re inappropriate.

I need to remind myself that none of their emotions is my fault nor my responsibility. Their hurt is not my burden. It’s so hard. But at least, now, I have full confirmation that there isn’t really any hope for any future with them. They decided they were too far gone in pain. It’s hard to have parents but seeing directly that they are indeed now just ghosts of themselves. My heart wanted something different for them, for all of us.

Hopefully this will bring more closure to me. Until the day we learn that one of them pass away. I wish I could just use an eraser and not having to deal with this in the future. I’m so grateful for the chosen family I have today. I wish my biological parents well, but I won’t be a witness of their self-destruction anymore.

Thank you guys for being you. Today is hard. It was ironic to hear my dad saying that he never saw that in any other family, having children not giving ANY news. He did this in his family… And our mom with hers too. Denial is such a strange thing. we’ve hit all together some of the depth of pain and being human today. I’m tired, empty. But I know that I can stop waiting and expecting. I can allow myself to be free. I still don’t resent them. I saw two small people, very broken and hurt, on their own downing road. Somehow expecting us to save them, but also knowing that it is not our job.

Sorry this is chaotic. Long. Scattered. I just love you guys so much.

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I can’t even imagine how hard it was to sit there and listen to them. I’m glad you said what you needed to say and know for sure now. I’m sorry it turned out this way, but you are strong and you have all of us to lean on. We love you. :hrtlegolove:

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We love you Micro, thank you for sharing with us.

In my faith,we revere our parents, our ancestors, pray for their wellbeing when they die, etc.
But I know some parents are not worthy of blind faith nor love not gratitude for the things they do to their kids. So how to resolve that?

We can honour them for the literal position they hold, as bio parents. But not the people who hold that position. Like you may not actually spit on the Prime Minister or President of your country because you respect the office, but the person holding that office has no honour, no respect, no support.

that’s how I see problematic relationship with parents. We also have a story where a son carries his old blind parents on his shoulders. They sit in basket, attached to bamboo, that he rests on his shoulders.
That’s also how I see the weight of being a child. What are you carrying on your shoulders, friend? You don’t need to carry the whole person if they insist on denying your lied truths. Empty those baskets, replace the flawed people with two pieces of paper with their names on it. Carry them and much or as little as they carried you when you needed them in your younger days.

I’m glad you finally got the talk. And I hope you find peace with it. There is freedom when we release what we hoped they could be from the reality of what they are. You matter, and you deserve all the peace and freedom and privacy now.

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Micro, you are so incredibly strong. There are some situations that words almost can’t reach. This, I feel, is one of those situations. As I read through your post, I saw so much of my own childhood experiences. It is so incredibly difficult to have to always be the adult in a relationship with your own parents. I am very proud of you for shouldering the weight of it all and coming to the realization that it was never yours to carry. I haven’t spoken with my mother in 9 years now for reasons that sound very similar to your own. It is hard. It is painful. It is frustrating. It’s heartbreaking. Let me tell you what there is to look forward to when you stop carrying that weight. Freedom. Freedom to live your life the way you see fit. Freedom to feel the things that you need to feel without worrying about how others might judge those feelings. Freedom.
I want to say again that I think you’re incredibly strong. You’re brave. What you’re going through isn’t fair. It isn’t right to have to grow up that way. I’m proud of you for taking back your life and standing up for little Micro. You’re the hero you’ve always needed.
Much love, friend.

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This is a late reply, but thank you so much for your kind words. All of you. I was on vacations when this “conversation” happened, and now back home, it’s all starting to hit me pretty deeply. On top of it, I knew the transition between seeing people I love – seeing and feeling life, going out, doing new things after about 3 years of nothingness and being stuck at home – I knew it would crush me in some way as soon as I would be back to my routines and loneliness.

I’m so grateful that my partner and I live together, so grateful for his hugs and presence. But this is about how it feels under my own skin. The transition right now is rough. I’m not sure where I’m going with this reply either. It just needs to be somewhere. I’m alone. I feel alone. It’s been there forever and I know it mostly stems from the fact that I never learned to see myself as having a real existence. If there’s only me in a room, it feels like there’s no one. I can’t describe how awful this feels, how painful and deep it is. Unfortunately, I’m convinced that anyone who’s been through childhood abuse/trauma can relate to what I’m trying to describe here. This inherent sense of emptiness, that something is missing inside. I still don’t know what I’m looking for. I don’t know if that could ever be healed. Tonight it just hurts, once again. It’s all about raw pain.

I’m more convinced now that my parents and I said our goodbyes. I’m already thinking about the possibility that my dad will disappear before my mom one day. She will 100% follow him and end herself. My sister knows it. I know it. I don’t want to deal with any of this. I know it’s not happening now and my mind is adding worries that are unecessary. There’s just pain for now. “For now”, is what I need to remind myself. And to let the tears be, once again.

I hate to sound as if I was complaining. There are people who have it so much worse. Somehow, it drives me crazy that it’s not even visible. It’s just so present in me, in my heart. The pain takes over everything else sometimes. How I hate those times of wander and loss. There’s no direction, no certainty, no guidance. Just so much solitude.

It’s one of these weeks when I don’t know what I would do without this community. Thank you so much again, from the bottom of my heart, for your kindness and vulnerability.

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Hi Micro,
thank you for sharing. there is no complaining when it comes to feelings, worries or problems.
every problem, every though, every worry is worth of letting out. in the end, everything hauts
you back and it will get worse. so be sure, no one will judge you for the worries you share here.
i know feeling alone, can only imagine in cases of others. my being alone went to being lonely.
it also hits me back the last days a lot. feeling like a new begin, like there is no progress.
no one wants all of what we are going through, so anytime you feel for it, let it out and vent as often
as you like. no one will judge here.
for me, as far as i know you to this day, i can only be proud of knowing you. in every way of life.
you are far stronger that you can imagine, you are such a kind and wonderful heart.
people like you, like many people here, reading this hopefully, are such an inspiration for me.
everyone dealing with their own struggles and still here caring and giving to others.
you are incredible and what you do here, what you do in your live is where you can be proud of.
its hard not to look back, forget or process all of this. those are the times where we feel lost, stuck,
not going forward or even take a step back.
sometimes that is needed to go an even further step in your journey. to move on from that. a narrow
sight in our world, just seeing what we went through, were we at. you are an incredible light in this
world, widening the sight we need. bringing light to those who wander and are lost, and those people
also need sometimes an own light on their way.
this community is grateful and so proud that you are a big part, an incredible light.
Thank you so much, also sharing your struggles with us. you make this community , this world a place
that is worth living, a better place to be. you matter not only to us, to your partner, your friends and
all the people who love you. you deserve all the good in this world. you are worth it.
you are loved and you are human. so there is no complaining. thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
feel hugged, feel loved, feel the warmth of light, like you are. look in the mirror and you see that this is
reclected from you. you give light to others.
Lovely Greetings
Andi

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