Recently, the Daily Mail published an article entitled, “I’ve Divorced My Parents (and it’s breaking my heart)”. It was about a 40-year-old woman who was the only child of divorced parents. The article described many things, including her childhood (happy) and the people her parents had become. The examples she provided of their behavior were not criminal, but they were sad. Due to multiple instances of mental cruelty, she “divorced” her parents. The tone of the article indicated she was still grieving for the parents she never really had. The most astonishing thing wasn’t the article itself, but the responses: over 200, last I checked. It seems that many, many people have done the same thing.
Reading the responses to the article was enlightening. Now, I no longer think my sibling and I are among the few who have little to do with their parents.
When we’re growing up, we are taught to love, obey and respect our parents. They raise, nurture, teach, feed, clothe, shelter, guide and protect us. Many of us are grateful for the sacrifices our parents made for us. I’m no different. It’s in large part due to my parents that I have become the strong, independent woman I am today. I respect them for that.
Some people may wonder why my sibling and I are not close to our parents and have little contact with them. It is because we do not love or respect the people they have become. Additionally, their behaviors affect not only their health and safety, but the health and safety of others. After many years of being repeatedly belittled and manipulated by my mother, I realized that I did not have to listen to the jealous, negative, nasty vitriol she often spewed. Add to that their gambling and drinking addictions, and I think many people would understand why we do not wish to be a part of their toxic environment.
Deciding to limit contact with our parents was confusing, difficult, and sad. For a long time, I felt guilty. We’re supposed to love our parents, right? After understanding that we were not responsible for their behavior, their problems or their poor choices, I realized it was the best thing to do. Frankly, it was a relief. No longer do I feel guilty about it. Although we email, phone, and play “happy families” occasionally, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I’m not beat down all the time anymore. It’s not that we aren’t friendly to them. We are. In fact, most people would be shocked to know the truth. It’s just that we don’t confide in them or trust them. It took many, many times of the trust being broken to learn my lesson.
I don’t expect people with close familial relationships to understand this. Limiting (or eliminating) time with your parents is a difficult thing to do. In our case, it was necessary to preserve our sanity and to clear the path for us to go forward instead of constantly being pulled backward. Ultimately, it is up to every person to decide what works best for them. If your relationship doesn’t leave you a better person or isn’t mutually beneficial, it is time to reconsider the terms of the relationship. This goes for all relationships, not just family. Sometimes, sadly, it becomes about self-preservation. You are worth it. Do not allow anyone to treat you poorly or bring you down, even if they’re related.