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Old 07-30-2008, 10:43 PM   #1
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I need help

I just had a falling out with my parents. I had a good life growing up except had no emotional support. Any extreme emotion - sadness, happiness, anger was not encouraged. Anything uncomfortable that should have been discussed and moved past was not, instead swept under the rug. there was a lot of silent treatment, from each direction of the home, including me because that was how i learned to communicate and deal with things.
Growing up, we were not encouraged to bring friends around that were not from my culture, and definitely never allowed to have boyfriends over (even at my age now), and if we expressed emotions, they didn't believe kids could feel 'adult emotions' and were told to shut up (ie/ my sister once told them that she thought they loved me more [i am the favoured one, believe it or not], and they tore a strip off of her for disrespecting them).
I moved out of my parents house 7 years ago, and I feel like I lead a double life. I have tattoos, kind of wildish friends, but good people, that I have to hide even though I have a 2 degrees, various diplomas, a good career, and financially support myself (whereas my older and younger siblings live at home, don't do chores, don't pay rent/groceries, etc, all their money is spent on themselves - i am more educated and make much more money than either of them). Once (actually just last year, so I was a self-supporting adult), I got a piercing, and I decided to be mature and tell my parents about it, and I was told that I had to choose between the piercing and the family. I had to take it out.
A month ago, I started a new job, and it is very stressful because it is hard to learn a whole new career, have heavy demands at work, and mourn leaving my old job which I enjoyed. My rent is high, over 50% of my wage, and I am paying off loans. So, I work (and have, even through university), 2-3 jobs. I also am doing 4 years worth of course work in 1.5 yrs. I am really burnt out.
In contrast, my part-time employers are the most incredibly supportive people that encourage open communication and being authentic, and they treat their kids with respect and not like obedient-speak-when-spoken-to useless kids.
Through them and through living in the 'real world' I have tried to bring their lessons in my own life in how I deal with others. In effect, my communication with my friends and romantic partners has greatly improved, i do have a cold exterior normally and don't like to be vulnerable, but I have been trying hard to overcome that. I have gotten rid of toxic people, but its quite impossible to get rid of parents who I do love.

Tonight, my parents came over. I usually see them once or twice a month. I clean my place thoroughly once a week and just do some tidying up during the week. I have stainless steel appliances and bathroom facilities, so if it isn't cleaned after each use, it can get pretty grimey within a week (however, I just rent so its not like I chose the appliances). If I have company over, I make sure to clean during the week, but if not, i'll let it go.
My parents come from the generation where the mom does everything and the house must be spotless 100% regardless if she works full-time, takes care of the kids, without the help of the husband. they were originally poor, but have ended up quite comfortable. Their schooling isn't advanced, and quite low in fact.
In comparison - the people I work for part-time are both doctors and have the attitude that if their house is a little messed up here and there, its not the end of the world.
So, I've kind of adopted that view. Tonight, I was re-organizing my place. they came in the middle. I was moving around furniture, I was collecting a ton of things for garbage, and yeah, I'll admit, it was a mess. I am very clean normally, even my friends comment on how spotless my place always is. My parents came over, my mom nagged at me for the first 45 minutes (i have not seen them for 3 weeks) about 'how i live'. she got mad that i do not clean my floor as i move my furniture, i'd rather have everything in its new place then move it again to clean the floor underneath. then i started crying because I am burnt out and so stressed. In addition to everything I have going on, I've had to deal with quite a few medical problems this year. I sent my mom flowers the other day for a surprise at work, with a card that said thanks for the love and support (she brings me leftovers sometimes b/c I have little time to cook).
She started to try to be nice to me, talking about a friend of hers, but I was mad. I have not cried in front of them in years, they get more angry when I do (even as a kid hen I cried they said if I didn't stop, they'd give me something to cry about). So when they saw I was mad ( i was more upset but I was trying not to cry so didn't talk much), they both started yelling at me saying they can't do anything without me biting their head off, that I live no better than a homeless drug addict (i live in a ritzy area of my city), and that I care more about going out than living like a decent person (which is not true, I go out once/month b/c I am trying to pay off my loans and I have to study a lot). So I started really crying then. They yelled that I shouldn't cry just clean. And I was, for the first time in my life, honest about my emotions with them. I find that very challenging, and for years, instead of recognizing my anger, I'd resort to self-destructive behaviour, which I rarely do now b/c I am trying to become aware and verbally communicate my anger/upset with people. I am not known to have a temper, or become angry easily, but I think thats in part because I cope in destructive ways in order to deal with 'unpleasant' emotions.
I told them I don't care about the apartment, that I was crying b/c I am so stressed out and the minute I see them, they couldn't talk about anything else but how gross I am. And I really, really am craving supportive people in my life now more than any other period I have gone through.
So I think my dad felt bad and came over to hug me, but I got totally lost in the moment and got really claustrophobic. I don't liked to be hugged that much normally, and when I break down like this I become panicked. I used to have asthma attacks and once I witnessed something traumatic, and the shock and panic and craziness that I went through was similar to how I reacted tonight. So I screamed at him not to touch me, he tried again, and I screamed again - to be honest, i don't think I could have controlled that reaction - it was an out of body, truly emotional-driven experience. anyone who has been through shock will recognize this. its something you vaguely remember doing, but does not feel like you. But I literally screamed don't touch me twice and thats it, no other hurtful or personal words. My mom recognized my 'psychoticness' and told him to back off (when we are good, she can be a little more emotionally supportive). My mom was yelling at me, asking if I didn't think she was stressed ( I know she is, and thats why I don't want to grow up like her, the person constantly being demanded upon, so if i have to sacrifice cleaning my bathroom sink one night to feel mentally stable, I will). I told her its not about the house, if she had talked about my cleanliness in a more supportive way, or if she had mentioned something other than me being clean for 45 minutes,it would have been okay.
He immediately left and told me to never ask or expect him to come over again (that in itself is not that bad because he has not been to my place more than 5 times since I've moved out, and I've learned to expect that), but it was so definite and hurtful to hear that. My mom recognized that was horrible though and gave him a look, but the whole way down to the car ( i had to walk them out b/c they were in my underground parking and needed my key to leave) they talked about what an ungrateful, loser daughter I am. I understand they were upset too, but I make it a mission of mine, even when I am upset with someone, to not say something I will regret after - because people don't forget hurtful things, regardless if they forgive or not.
I dropped something off at their car, and turned and left, without saying good-bye. I can't fake a good-bye - they would have kissed me like nothing happened. My mom started talking about picking something up next time she was over, thats what she does, she can scream horrible, hurtful things at you, expect you to take it, and make plans for a future event. But I can't. I hate pretending, and thats what always expected of me.
They are going on vacation for 5 weeks on sunday. My mom was shocked when I said I wouldn't go to their house before they left, sorry I was not in the mood for discussing quality time with them, and I am not going to call before they leave....

I'm sorry for writing so much, I just needed to vent. It just happened and I am too upset to call friends. I don't know what I am looking for. Did i do something wrong? Should I try to patch things up? Should I just distance myself from them - my family is so tight, up to the third cousins (and I have 27 first cousins). we are all very tied into one another, but with the ones older than my age group, I see with my parents. If I cut myself off from my parents, I am pretty much cut off from half my family.....and I don't want to cut myself over, I just don't know how to have a stable relationship with them. please help.

Last edited by jozi209; 07-30-2008 at 11:02 PM.

 
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Old 07-31-2008, 04:35 AM   #2
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Re: I need help

This incident, and how you dealt with it is really a sign of how far you have come in your journey of growth. Instead of being the old you who buried these emotions, and "went along to get along", you allowed yourself to feel your anger and resentment. This emotion can feel very draining, and leave no room (for a time) for any real processing of what went on. I hope that, by writing it all out, you were able to place it into some perspective. I, too grew up with emotionally unavailable parents who would have been just like yours in a lot of ways (I would be greeted by my father with "You've put on weight again", etc etc). Keep up the good work. It is good that you have the role models for a more open, honest way of being, and are working to achieve this. Do not expect your parents to understand - they have a picture of you in their mindsets, and a slot in the family that you will occupy for all time. Just accept that you will grow away from this role and that this will inevitably cause ructions. They may eventually resign themselves to sort of agreeing to disagree with you, that honestly may be the best you get. Good luck, Sera

 
Old 07-31-2008, 01:38 PM   #3
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Re: I need help

Thank you Sera, I feel more comforted that someone else can empathize. my parents greet me the way your father does as well. how is your relationships with your parents now? did they just eventually agree to disagree with you?

 
Old 07-31-2008, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: I need help

Hi Jozi


I don't know how I could help you here, but there are a couple of things that are maybe worth saying again. People may disagree with me, but here it goes:


It's unrealistic to expect parents to give emotional support to their kids all along. Parent's main role – whether you like it or not – is to provide their kids with a material basis for growing up: house, food, school, health, money, rules and patterns, etc. If they are supportive and affectionate, then this is a bonus. Parenting is usually very hard work, and parents often have to give up their original priorities in order to create and educate their offspring. That's why we should not much rely on parents for emotional things; that is why we may need mentors, teachers, foster-parents, friends, neighbours, , therapists, counsellors, etc, to help us with our emotional, sentimental, psychological problems. Nevertheless, we'd be better to be thankful for what our parents give us, even if it appears to be too little. Often it is not, but we tend to take it for granted. We don't need to love them, but this is the way for us to respect them for the life they have given us, for the things they have taught us, for the material basis they have provided us with (in your case, your education), willy-nilly.

We can only understand our parents fully when we become parents ourselves. Then we can enter their shoes and realize that they were simply human beings rather than saints, heroes, idols, whatever.

It doesn't much matter what your parents told you, how unkind they appeared to be to you, etc. What matters is that they have given us things. Some parents give more than others, but in general all parents are givers, and we, kids, are takers.

I hope the incident with your parents will soon be forgotten. It's difficult to tell you what to do, but I don't think you should break your relationship with them. First step: accept them as they are. Second step: just be yourself, do whatever you think it is right to do, not necessarily seeking their approvation, because you will never get it totally. Third step: develop your sense of humour. I mean it. While I was reading your piece, I was telling myself: Yes, there is a very thin line between drama and comedy. I am not trying to say that the incident made me laugh, but it made me smile. Wasn't all that finding fault, screaming, yelling, crying, accusing, blaming, etc, somewhat ridiculous? Weren't you guys all very defensive? Why didn't one of you break the ice and say: "Let's stop this silly show and do what we have to do"? My point is: since you can't change your parents, you have to try to not take them too seriously. I am not telling you to make fun of them, but don't swallow everything they tell you, try to read between the lines and not get very angry. Be patient. If your mother complains about a dirty spot, admit it is dirty, but say that you are going to do your best next time. Don't fight them. Start saying that they are right, but then give your justification. Be brief. Don't feed them with your strong arguments and your resentment. If you are simply able to see the ridicule of the situation (save your laughter for a later time, when they have left) and not get tensed; if you are able to accept the criticism from them not as a burden but as social sacrifice (haven't we got to tolerate the criticism from our bosses, colleagues, partners, etc? Why can't we take it from our parents as well?) and open up, then it may happen they will reduce their scolding and fault-finding, and your relationship with them will improve considerably.

That is my hope. I wish I had put all of this in practise while my parents were still alive.

 
Old 07-31-2008, 03:19 PM   #5
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Re: I need help

I am a parent and I have to respectfully disagree with Pendulum.

I believe that children with a strong emotional foundation (not "things") from their parents are the ones who grow into healthy, well-functioning adults. I believe that if children know, not just think or believe, but KNOW, that their parents are emotionally supportive they will be confident and secure in their adult lives. My parents provided for me materially, but I spent most of my childhood wondering if they really loved me. It was obvious that my older brother was the favored child and it hurt. I swore that no matter what, my children would always know without a doubt that they were loved and cherished. My son is a confident, secure, emotionally healthy 17 year old about to embark on an exciting college experience, and he has been loved, and had that love expressed to him.

I would never dream of putting down my son, focusing on unimportant items or berating him until he was in tears. I have, of course, had to get on him at times throughout his growing up years, but I tried to do it in a loving way and if I didn't, I felt bad and let him know that while he may have made a mistake, he was still very much loved and appreciated for the fine young man he is. I do not expect him to be grateful simply because I gave him life, shelter, food and an education. And I do not feel that anything I gave him was a sacrifice or burden. I did all for him gladly and with love.

I'm sorry that jozi has had this happen because you do want your parents to be proud of your accomplishments and not disregard them in place of being overly, hurtfully critical. I hope she is able to sit down with her parents, find a middle ground where everyone can express their opinions without tears and hurt feelings, and have a good, loving relationship with her parents.

 
Old 07-31-2008, 10:07 PM   #6
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Re: I need help

I also disagree with you, Pendulum. Over the years, I have been in many groups, therapy sessions etc, and the most common issue that people have OVERWHELMINGLY is distress, anger and pain brought about by bad or toxic parenting. Like it or not, our whole view of ourselves and the world we live in is formed in our earliest lives and reinforced by the same parents over and over again all through our developing years. You must have had a benign experience to be so matter-of-fact about parents, and that is great.
Jozi, my big breakthrough came when I took it in that my parents were pretty useless at the job, but they did what they could. They did not set our to damage me, they just stuffed it all up. While that is not exactly forgiveness, accepting them as ordinary, flawed amateurs at the family game does help. You have a way to go yet, but you are doing the right thing is realising that they are not totally right and that there are other ways to be (like your employers). Keep at it. Sera

 
Old 08-01-2008, 07:10 AM   #7
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Re: I need help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
I also disagree with you, Pendulum. This is all right. Over the years, I have been in many groups, therapy sessions etc, and the most common issue that people have OVERWHELMINGLY is distress, anger and pain brought about by bad or toxic parenting. I belonged to such groups, too, and I am quite aware about those complaints. What is often forgotten is that parenting is a very difficult task and kids can also be toxic. Like it or not, our whole view of ourselves and the world we live in is formed in our earliest lives and reinforced by the same parents over and over again all through our developing years. I agree with you, but it's also possible to "overcome" bad parenting. It's possible to be a productive, mature person, even if you were not fortunate enough (and actually very few people are) to have had perfcet parents. Just stop blaming your parents for everything and take control of your life. But I know that this is easy to say and difficult to do. Most of us are still stuck in the childhood drama. You must have had a benign experience to be so matter-of-fact about parents, and that is great. No, it wasn't exactly benign, but over the years I have learned to appreciate many of the efforts of my parents and think about them under a better and more realistic light. They certainly were not able to give the whole emotional support I needed. Other agents were necessary.
Jozi, my big breakthrough came when I took it in that my parents were pretty useless at the job, but they did what they could. They did not set our to damage me, they just stuffed it all up. While that is not exactly forgiveness, accepting them as ordinary, flawed amateurs at the family game does help. You have a way to go yet, but you are doing the right thing is realising that they are not totally right and that there are other ways to be (like your employers). Keep at it. Sera

 
Old 08-01-2008, 07:23 AM   #8
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Re: I need help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneon82 View Post
I am a parent and I have to respectfully disagree with Pendulum. Thank you.

I believe that children with a strong emotional foundation (not "things") from their parents are the ones who grow into healthy, well-functioning adults. I believe that if children know, not just think or believe, but KNOW, that their parents are emotionally supportive they will be confident and secure in their adult lives. This is true. What I was saying, however, is that very few parents are able to do this, because they have primarily to provide their kids with a material basis. It is great if they can give you more than this, but maybe that attitude was not a very usual thing in the past (when children were hardly thought of as human beings, you know). Nowadays, we want our parents to give us everything, to be everything to us, and I am afraid that is perhaps asking too much from them. My parents provided for me materially, but I spent most of my childhood wondering if they really loved me. It was obvious that my older brother was the favored child and it hurt. I swore that no matter what, my children would always know without a doubt that they were loved and cherished. My son is a confident, secure, emotionally healthy 17 year old about to embark on an exciting college experience, and he has been loved, and had that love expressed to him. I congratulate you for this. You are a special parent. The trouble is you can't expect every parent to be like you. To expect this from everyone is to put on their shoulders too heavy a burden. It is a great step when a son or daughter realizes that their parents did what they were able to do and that their parents are not necessarily responsible for the unhappy life the son or daughter might be leading today.

I would never dream of putting down my son, focusing on unimportant items or berating him until he was in tears. I have, of course, had to get on him at times throughout his growing up years, but I tried to do it in a loving way and if I didn't, I felt bad and let him know that while he may have made a mistake, he was still very much loved and appreciated for the fine young man he is. I do not expect him to be grateful simply because I gave him life, shelter, food and an education. And I do not feel that anything I gave him was a sacrifice or burden. I did all for him gladly and with love.

I'm sorry that jozi has had this happen because you do want your parents to be proud of your accomplishments and not disregard them in place of being overly, hurtfully critical. I hope she is able to sit down with her parents, find a middle ground where everyone can express their opinions without tears and hurt feelings, and have a good, loving relationship with her parents.

 
Old 08-02-2008, 04:40 AM   #9
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Re: I need help

And there's one more thing about the relationship between children and parents: the generation gap and the world vision. Generally speaking, children and parents don't choose each other as confidants. Even if their parents are supportive, it often happens that their children won't listen to them and would rather talk to peers or grown-ups that are not directly involved in their life. Familiarity brings contempt. All of these things make the relationship between a parent and a child difficult or improbable in terms of emotional support.

 
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