Thank you, everyone, for your comments on my previous post, “Divorcing Your Parents”! So many good points were made. After starting my reply, I noticed it would be long and another post in itself.
Chief, you mentioned you were “cordial but certainly not close” with two of your brothers. That is a good description of the relationship my sibling and I have with our parents. It is a good thing. It saves a lot of drama and unpleasantness. Because of this, our parents have no clue that we don’t tell them anything of importance or share much about our lives. Give them an inch, and they’ll take miles and miles and miles. Either that, or we will get stabbed in the back with it later. We certainly don’t have in-depth conversations with them. Come holiday time, we will gather around the dinner table and have a nice time. Still, when we go home, it’s a relief to be done with the charade.
JM, you are so fortunate to have a good relationship with your father! As for your mother, having distance, be it literal or figurative, is often the best thing for all concerned.
Bruce, you said, “if it is broke, sometimes the best fix is to throw it away.” Yep, we had to throw away what “was” and start over. We made something workable while redefining our roles. We had to get rid of notions of what we were "supposed" to do and find something that worked for us. The original gist of my post was going to be “When Children Become Parents and Parents Become Children”, but it kind of morphed into something else. My sibling and I didn’t just go from being children of our parents to being the parents of our parents, we became responsible adults in control of our own lives. That’s just it: you have to own your life and be accountable for how you live it. We’ve done that now, and things are soooo much better. Unfortunately, our parents have regressed….
IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY said, “Too many even adult children hang on to guilt feelings for too long in regard to parents.” Oh boy, is that ever true! For a long, long time, I wondered why the relationship was so difficult. Why did everyone else get along with their parents and why was everyone else close to their parents? I’m supposed to be that way, too, aren’t I? I had even heard of people going on vacation with their parents! I felt guilty that I did not have that sort of relationship, and that it simply wasn’t possible no matter what I did. When I realized it was not possible to have it, I was sad. Later, I knew that it wasn’t something to be sad about, it’s just the way things worked out through no fault of my own. There was nothing to feel guilty about.
Mrs. Hyde said, “….eventually I had to realize that holding on to all that hostility was hurting me, not her. So, I forgave her and let her go.” That was really the key to the whole thing. I was so frustrated and hurt by it until I figured out that I didn’t have to be. I wasn’t the one who was negative and nasty, mother was. Although she still says mean things, I am much better at deflecting them (or ignoring them) than I used to be. When she says something particularly nasty, I’m not hurt, I’m sad – sad that someone could be that deeply unhappy with themselves. It’s doubtful she will do anything to help herself (except maybe get another prescription). She doesn’t see that she has multiple issues and/or likes to wallow in them. Some people are like that.
Middle child, I always thought “Family is family”, too. That’s what we’re taught, and that’s what society tells us. That’s where the guilt comes in. Until we dictate the terms of our relationships (i.e. set boundaries), the toxicity permeates many facets of our lives. Negative relationships are poisonous.
Hed, I used to worry about what will happen to my parents as they age, too. I think that’s natural. It’s human nature to feel protective of vulnerable individuals, such as children or the elderly. My sibling and I will assist our parents in non-monetary ways if we can. However, if they lose their home because of their gambling, we most certainly will not bail them out (and have told them so). It’s not just that we won’t - we can’t. We simply don’t have the means to do so. There’s no shame anymore. We understand that our parents are adults and are responsible for their own decisions. If that means they have to file for bankruptcy, then so be it. It is no reflection on us. BTW, they sure as hell will not be moving in with us!
Sandra, I don’t know that I’m all that courageous to talk about it, but figure that someone needs to put it out there. It was just something I needed to get off my chest. There are a number of subjects that are considered taboo or just aren’t spoken about, particularly in person. I hope to post about some of them in the future. Maybe, just maybe, I can plant a seed that can help someone down the line.
Everyone has to deal with crap in their lives. If you let it sit, then it starts to smell. When you can smell it, it’s up to you to do something about it. You can either let it rot, or you can flush it and start over with a fresh bowl. Oh, and use a scrubber so there’s no residual ring. There’s no point in allowing old crap to infect a new bowl.
With prose like that, maybe I should apply for a job to write greeting cards….
Again, thank you everyone for your comments! It’s nice to get feedback.