Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lessons From Been There Done That

This probably won't help anyone.   I wish that when I was younger, I had met someone older that had been through this, and that they could have shared their thoughts with me early on.  I am providing this list not to beat myself up, as I know I did not have the skills or the knowledge to do anything differently at the time.   However, there may be a young adult struggling out there, and not feeling they are able to grasp their freedom or do anything differently with their parents.   Also, they may not understand motives that are underlying their parents actions.

I know some parents genuinely love their children, and have no underlying motives for some of these action items.   This list is not for those young adults .   Those young adults should cherish the time they have with such loving parents.  

Often it is hard for the children (and grown adults) of emotionally, mentally or physically abusive parents to recognize true friendship and love in their spouses parents.   I know I was very suspicious of my husband's parents' motives for many years.   It was a long time before I could just relax with them and be somewhat myself.   I was always bracing for the zinger or the other shoe to drop.   In my relationships with people around me, I am still very much like that.   Being conditioned at a very young age is a hard thing to grow out of.

So here is my list of what I wish older me could have shared with 19 year old me (although on the other hand, if the course of my life was changed in this way, I might not have met my husband):

  1. You have the ability to move out and be on your own.   Do not give into the threats to cut you off if you don't attend a college right now (or whatever that thing is that you know is not right for you at this particular moment in life----in my mother in law's case it was an arranged marriage!)...cause you know what?   You aren't ready and don't know what you want to do yet.   You have the right idea, and you will be paying for your own college anyway later, and then they have one less thing to hold over your head (that they funded your college or whatever it is, and trust me you want to have as few strings attached to you as possible).
  2. If you have been angry, depressed, suffering from headaches, lack of sleep or anything like that; there may be some relationship issues that you have not faced or even really thought about.  If you have found this blog however, very possibly you are considering the very things that have been niggling at your sub conscious. 
  3. Do not accept gifts, they have a motive behind them.   That means birthday, Christmas, whatever.   Also, do not give gifts, as (at least my Egg Donor) only criticizes them and thinks how they could be better and more what they would have wanted.   Save your money, and spend it on people who really appreciate you.
  4. Save, save, save.   My parents are pretty material people.   If they collect, they must have a complete collection.   Those THINGS are very important to them, and early on I was comforted by THINGS too.   But THINGS are a cold comfort to living your life to it's fullest, relationships, and other living beings and their well being.  I don't mean save so I can have the biggest, best and brightest of anything.  I mean save so later on we can have health insurance, retirement savings in case we are in no shape to work, and also a veterinarian savings account for our dogs.   These are things that are priceless and truly important in my life.   Furniture that seems new and fresh that early on is probably going to be junk later on and a poor investment in your life!
  5. The only person that you should need to impress is yourself, and not with things.
  6. Say what you mean and feel to your parents.   You may think you have something to loose, but trust me there is nothing to loose.   If anything there is a slim chance you might actually gain a real relationship with your parents.   And if you can't, there was probably nothing there to begin with.
  7. If either 1) a "no" on your part to a parental request or 2) a discussion of your boundaries, turns your parental unit into a whining screaming and abusive two year old child stamping their feet...take note and really look at your relationship.
  8. If your parents can not behave or think of only themselves at certain events in your life, you do not need to invite them to those events.  (I was raised to be polite to elders always, and always respectful.   So often I had a hard time standing up for myself especially with my parents).   I know to a young person this may seem like a tragedy to not include their parents.   However, if all they are going to be is intrusive and trying to get to each other or make a point to be nasty, consider how that could possibly be a good thing.   You can always have a discussion with them about this to make ground rules, as long as they can do this rationally and respectfully with YOU.
  9. You can and should make rules about visiting each other.   You are also allowed to pick the length of stay, or where you want to stay.   In relationships like this even when you are trying, some breathing room is allowed.  Also, if you happen to have a parent that is going to complain about the accommodations that you provide for them, it is preferable that they, therefore, pick their own accommodations.
  10. DO NOT expect that just because you drop everything for your parent, that they will ever give you that same respect and support, otherwise you are setting your self up for major disappointment.
  11. NO ONE can tell you how you feel or don't feel, and DO NOT let them get away with doing that.
  12. Keep them out of your business and finances in all ways, and at all times.  My Sperm Donor would try to take advantage of me whenever I would start a business.   He would expect free or at cost services.   But that is neither here nor there, I did not want to deal with him on a personal level, never mind have him in my business.   Or the Step Monster for that matter (who he also felt was privy to whatever I was doing).   Just tell them now that you will not do business with family, and be sure you do that the other way around as well.
  13. If you are going forward with your relationships with abusive people, REALLY consider if there is a benefit to you in doing so.   See the thing is, it does not feel like you are hurting yourself at first, but there is a definate price to pay to continue to take on the abuse.  If you can not be yourself and your boundaries are constantly violated by uncaring parents, it will not be obvious at first, but internally you are paying a price that is going to take a little bit of you as long as it goes on.   Just consider this now, as I know how hard it is to actually take the above advice.
  14. What is harder than taking the above advice, is realizing the limitations on your parents love for you (if there is any there at all).  It's a really painful step that comes to all of us when we realize 1) that our parents do not love us, 2) that are parents aren't interested in knowing us and 3) that no matter what we do or don't do this fact will never change.   It is a staggering realization.  It is very hard to face that fact.   I mean how awful do you need to be to realize that your parents don't love you?   Answer, it's very possibly not you but them that is flawed.   You need to spend time with people that do appreciate and love you, and want to get to know you NOT people who don't no matter that they contributed to your DNA.
As a young adult,  YOU are finally able to shape your life legally.   YOU may not have been conditioned to do so, but I assure you that finally you have the ability to participate in and manage the relationships and life you will have.   If you have had such a parent such as I have, stamping out those rules and moving forward with your life now is very much in your favor.  If they don't respect the real you as a person, they did not respect the overly polite and accommodating you either (as you were most likely brought up to be).   Loving parents, are supportive of their children growing up, and proud of them as they move forward the best they can.   Parents like mine expect to have a mini them, and someone that will parrot back what they think of as success in the fashion they think you should.  Any script that identifies you as a separate individual will not be tolerated.

That is okay by the way.    You can be you.   Go forth and conquer!   Make your mistakes, and glory in your success.