Yesterday I went to my parents house because they are doing some work on the apartments below mine and they were resurfacing and since we share ventilation the smell was really strong in my apartment. For those of you that haven’t kept up with my previous posts, my parents (mostly my step dad, but my mom was complicit) were abusive when I lived with them and it did a lot of mental and emotional damage to me.
Anyway, moving on. It is always weird spending time with them and I generally don’t because all of our conversations feel forced and surrounded by awkward silence (I don’t mind quiet time, for example my husband and I can go without talking and be just fine, it’s just an unspoken certainty I guess that silence is ok, just not around my parents.). Luckily I brought my bearded dragon with me and he actually served pretty well as a support animal because he likes being held and it’s a reason for me to not have to make eye contact, which has always made me uncomfortable, as is commonplace when you’ve been emotionally abused. (I know this is something I need to work on, it’s just really hard for some reason and it’s not helped by the fact that my husband understands how hard it is for me and so he doesn’t push me to do it. But that’s a different story for another thread.)
Anyways, while we were talking I filled them in in something that happened regarding my father in law. I didn’t give any relevant details but after the fact I realized it wasn’t my place to share those things so I texted my mom this morning. I basically said I would appreciate it she wouldn’t tell anyone what I told her because it wasn’t my place to Eve talk about it. She said Of course she won’t tell anyone because she doesn’t talk to anyone. I said, that’s what I thought I just felt bad because I shouldn’t have said what I said and sometimes I don’t think. Which is true, I can’t deny it.
But I realized that I kind of have to be that person who puts themselves down so that I don’t have to face conflict with my parents. My mom was diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic in her teens and so I know I have to phrase things perfectly so she doesn’t think I’m blaming her for anything. I mean in this case it was my fault because I should’ve kept my mouth shut but it’s always like this.
I’ve come a long way with my mental health, especially these past few months. I know we’ll enough that I’m not a bad person, I just make mistakes. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to belittle myself for certain people. It has only just dawned on me that this could be considered self harm, in an emotional sense. Maybe one day I’ll stop doing that. There is still a lot of resentment I have towards my parents and I don’t know if I will ever forgive them for how they treated me. And I feel like my husband would be disappointed in me which makes me sad.
That’s the gist of it, I don’t really want to go any further with this post right now because I feel tears coming and I need to work today so I will just end this here for now. Thanks for reading, everyone.
I shed a few tears as well because this really hits close to home - so I’m sending you a big, big virtual hug right now. I hope your heart feels a little less heavy since you posted.
It hits close to home because I’m currently facing the same kind of realization about my parents and my relationship with them - especially my mom, who is bipolar and had her share of traumas at a young age. It’s been hard to find some clarity through all of the emotions and thoughts that this situation creates. Like you, I spent a lot of time belittling myself and put my parents first. I’m learning to stop doing that, to set strong boundaries, but it’s heartbreaking and it brings an amount of stress that I rarely felt before. Because even if there is something toxic about my mom, I am still caring about her and I am still aware of what she’s been through. I’m still able to feel for her.
Very recently, I said to a dear friend that it’s actually what makes it hard: caring, understanding, and not being able to stop feeling that way while there is, somehow, a lack of reciprocity. I see the injustice of the situation, but I also hope to make it something better. Despite the hurt, the abuses, the pain, the ankwardness or the lack of respect, I keep caring about her sanity and well-being, and I don’t want to be the cause of any pain. So I always put them first… until recently. And while I’m learning to change our relation, I try to keep in mind that it is fair to put myself first. But doing what is right is not what’s the most comfortable.
As you said, there is resentment, and this needs to be considered too. Maybe you think that you shouldn’t feel like this, but it’s how it is, it has a reason to be, and that is okay. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be an obligation either - thankfully. But I see what you mean with the fear of disappointing your husband. Recently, my emotional tolerance with my parents happened to be very little, so I’m creating a drastic distance with them… yet I’m still beating myself up for not being able to do “better” - in my own definition - aka not being able to feel differently at the present moment. I’m afraid to be a disappointment for this very reason. But truth is: I’m only disappointed with myself and no one is blaming me for feeling how I feel.
The fact that your mom has her own demons and difficulties doesn’t have to overshadow your emotions, your needs, your story and your voice. It’s been a belief you grew up with. But I believe there is a possibility to learn to do things differently, even if it’s been the same for a long time and even if it’s likely that change wouldn’t be welcomed nor understood. It doesn’t have to be conflict, and you can do your best to avoid that. But there’s also be a part of responsablity that doesn’t belong to you through every interaction you have with them. For example, you have the right to feel and share what’s on your mind, without being afraid to do so, and without feeling like you did something wrong. Shame is a destructive feeling. Though being proud of sharing your heart and your voice, not just for others purpose but also for yourself, is something you can learn at your own pace. There is no need to apologize for that. And the way your mom or anyone else receive that, what they think about it, is their responsability. Even if there is a mental illness involved.
Conflict is scary. But inner conflict is destructive too. Asserting your right to exist and sharing your voice is probably the most loving thing you can learn and do - even for the people around you, and even if they don’t understand at first. I feel with all my heart how it feels to be “stuck” in this position, to be stuck with your emotions because of the fear to create any kind of disturbance or hurt in the life of the people you love. Yet to know, rationally, that you have rights and feelings too. In my opinion, one of the hardest parts of healing is about this. It’s about finding your way, listening to yourself and making the right decisions for yourself. You are undoubtedly caring a lot about the people around you. But you are worth the same care and love.
You’ve been through difficult things before. Your life and beliefs were impacted by others, by people who didn’t have the right to do so. Now that you are in a much better environment, you can learn to get used to this freedom that you have, step by step, and even if it’s super scary. What felt true and helped you survived yesterday doesn’t have to be the same tomorrow. Others emotions and expectations don’t have to condition nor affect your journey. But it’s like a muscle to train - and as for everything else, it takes time.
I believe that you will learn to give to yourself the same grace you give to others, with time, but also by being patient with yourself. You have a beautiful soul. You are a beautiful individual. What you are feeling and what you have to say is worthy of love, care, attention and understanding. Always. I’m aware that you know it already. But it never hurt to hear those reminders sometimes.
I am feeling a little better today. I think a lot of what made this so hard for me was that I didn’t even realize that what I was doing was harmful to my mental health. Only just recently I’ve come to respect my own mental health to a much higher degree thanks to my new therapist and I guess I’m starting to realize there are still things going on that I thought were normal, but actually are not.
Yea, things are weird with my mom. I know she has a lot of difficulties as well. I know how she feels about herself because she spills the beans when she’s drunk. I know she is sad and hurting, and has regrets. I also know that I am the only person she feels she can talk to about her Schizophrenia and she absolutely hates that I’m distancing myself from her. I don’t want to have to do that, and in a way I feel like putting distance between us is letting her down, but it seems like every time I visit my parents I end up compartmentalizing everything that goes in and then as soon as I go home, I just cry. I’m tried of crying. It shouldn’t be this way. So I try to stay away as best a can while maintaining at least a neutral relationship with her. I’m sorry to hear that you deal with the same difficulties, but I’m glad you’re learning to put up boundaries. I think this is probably something that I need to work on a little more as well.
Absolutely, especially with her Schizophrenia.
Sigh. Yes. I’ve found this to be true as well. With my parents and with my brother. Our relationship has felt weird ever since we had a heart to heart a few weeks ago and he said some hurtful things to me. Until I met my husband, my brother was one of the only people I had to keep my going, he and my grama, but she passed from brain cancer many years ago so he’s all that really remains from my small support group from those hard times. I still love him, and I couldn’t imagine life without him, I just think he’s been dealt a bad hand. I think he’s handling things the only way he knows how, but it pains me because I can see him self destructing.
Yea, I used to be pretty bad about taking the fall for everything but I don’t know if I can ever forgive my (or my brother’s) upbringing because that was NOT our fault and I will not take the fall for it. Not this time.
I’m sorry. It really is hard to feel those juxtaposed feelings when in all rationality you know you are doing what’s right for you. I do struggle with this as well, though not as much as I used to, I had to come to terms with the fact that my definition of ‘selfishnesh’ is radically skewed, and so in times where I feel that I am being selfish, I have to stop and remind myself that it’s not selfishness, it’s self care.
Yea, that comes down to how I was a serial responsibility taker, even when things weren’t my fault. I tend to assume that I am the only one responsible because I opened my mouth. But… Would it be so wrong if me to assume that I can talk to my parents of all people and assume that they won’t tell all their friends everything I say? To be fair, while what I told them did center around my father in law, I was also involved and so it happened to me too (it wasn’t that big of a deal in the long run, just a misunderstanding really so everything is fine), and to be honest, /this/ is what made me feel better about the entire situation. The fact that 1) this thing didn’t just happen to my father in law, it happened to me too, as well as my husband. And 2) I think I should be able to talk to my parents and trust that what I say to them is said in confidence.
I do worry sometimes if the way I’ve approached things - my emotions, bottling them up, trying to express them, etc - the wrong way. I’ve felt over the years that I feel better, I heal by sharing the things I feel and the things that are on my mind so that I don’t bottle them up or over think them, respectively. And I think that’s maybe how I get to those places where I speak without thinking. I’m so used to feeling like I’m doing well for myself because I tell it like it is and I get my emotions out so they don’t eat me alive again and I don’t know. I need to figure out when to share and when to keep it to myself more. I guess.
Admittedly I’m am only just now learning to be patient with myself and I don’t think I’m very good at it yet. I have been focusing my energies on being more patient with myself and my work because I had what I would call morbid workaholism, where I will work myself to death, far beyond my comfort limits, far beyond what I think is right, and while I’m writhing in emotional and sometimes physical pain (mostly from my previous job as it was labor intensive and I have mild Cerebral Palsy and it was not entirely uncommon to not be able to walk after work - my husband would have to carry me to bed. In a more severe case I was in so much pain moving that I was in tears for 4 or 5 days because my muscles in my legs and back locked up so bad, yet I still went to work. I wanted my boss to send me home because I didn’t want to be the one that said, I can’t handle this. I wanted my boss to tell me I didn’t have to, even though in the back of my mind I had already started to question if the time had finally come where, do to my disease, I wouldn’t be able to walk again.), I would continue to work anyway. I now work at a computer at home so I don’t have problems with over working myself physically, just emotionally and mentally. Like I don’t have a switch to turn it off. I’m doing a lot better though. My work stress has gone down greatly since I decided to stop fighting so hard against myself when everyone at work says I’m doing a good job. I’m deciding to trust them.
Ya know, after all this, I really don’t think he will be upset with me. In all honesty, I think that was the self doubt that still creeps in. You know, that voice that tries to convince you that you’re a horrible person. Or maybe that’s just me. I’ve gotten better with this also, but that voice is still there sometimes, especially when I’m upset about something.