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.


Anonymous said...

GREAT "Heads Up" List! One of the real benefits of technology is the ability to access a community that "Gets It," no questions asked. How I wish this had been available to me as well when I was younger. #14 takes awhile to process. Realistically if the 'parents' had been consistently nasty we would have walked away long before we did. Don't be fooled by the occasional "outbreak" of superficially respectful/humane treatment. View your experiences with them as more of a "totality of behaviors/circumstances" rather than discrete events. If these people had not given birth to you, would you want them in your life-in any capacity? If you have any, do you really want YOUR kids exposed to this? Don't think for a second they're not going to do the same to them-if not now, you can be CERTAIN your kids will be the targets of the same behaviors/attitudes you endured sometime in the future. If WE don't feel safe or trust these 'parents' what chance will children have with these (fill in the adjective(s) of your choice) 'parents'?
Many thanks! This Post is a wonderful compilation of "Red Flag Behaviors"/attitudes and ACs ignore them at their peril-and heartbreak. And, NO it doesn't "get better" over time. If you're waiting for the "right time" to walk away, it'll never come. You know what you KNOW based on your experiences from birth; you don't need any further "confirmation." Believe yourself. There are real people behind these screens that will support and encourage you on your journey. You are NOT "alone."
Tundra Woman

mulderfan said...

This is an amazing list, but for me, this is the best part: "I know I did not have the skills or the knowledge to do anything differently at the time." I still struggle to forgive myself but that quote pretty well sums up why I should.

I agree with TW: "Don't be fooled by the occasional "outbreak" of superficially respectful/humane treatment." These outbreaks are most often self-serving and temporary. Usually, they're designed to "hoover" you back so they can resume/escalate the abuse.

I would add, abusive parents are not like wine. They don't mellow with age...they get worse! In my case, WAY worse!

Winterskiprincess said...

TW: We never did have children. If we had, I would definately have been NC from the "parents" a LOT SOONER. My children would not have been allowed to suffer their disfunction.

Mulderfan and TW: LOL, they have put away their masks long ago. I would have to have an outbreak of human like behavior on their part first (and for it not to be so oh transparent) before I could possibly be in danger . It is a testament at how far I have come, that I find the thought truly amusing.

Winterskiprincess said...

So true by the way, there is no "right" time. I did not even realize I was walking away the first time I did. I just knew that while it continued, there was no going back.

Winterskiprincess said...

Two I forgot:

15)yes, there are people less F'd up than your parents who you can trust and engage with.
16) Run DO NOT walk away.

Anonymous said...

Mine could pull off being a true MOTY in Public-as long as it wasn't for an extended period of time. That's likely why mine had NO friends even after the 'objects of her creation' left. Even after her DH "deserted" (read divorced) her after 22/23 yrs. of marital hell within 4 mo. after a massive MI at age 65 and started HIS life all over again. If your adult kid isn't useful for public bragging rights, if they dare terminate the relationship they've passed their "expiration date" and require being publicly culminated, denigrated, slimed and maligned like the trash you always told them and treated them as if they were. Having the insight of a gnat, the fools don't realize how this behavior reflects on THEM and concurrently confirms even further the AC's decision. The smear campaigns also come back to bite them in the ass: If they find an ear to bend, they'll bend it till it breaks. People get really, really tired of hearing about someone else's "ingrate adult kid" or "Deserting" ex-DH (who left literally and finally because his very life was at stake.) People are smarter than you realize; even their patience and politeness has a limit to the "Woe is MEEEEE!" crap.
Just give it time while you go on with your life-the real one, the one you never thought was within your grasp. It is now!

Ruth said...

Excellent list. I am glad mulderfan gave this link. I would guess there are tough lessons behind every item on the list. Thank you for sharing it.

Winterskiprincess said...

you would certaintly be right!

Kara said...

I am a "rookie" who only recently realised of the scope of what's behind all the stress in my FOO. Acceptance of point 14 is truly hard: a part of you just wants to go back and "fix it", but I know deep down that nothing I could ever do would make any difference. So thanks for taking the time for posting this list, it really helps. I'm going to print it and read it every time I feel remotely tempted to go into denial.

Winterskiprincess said...

True, you can not fix other people. Plus if they are truly like this, they do not want to be fixed, nor do they believe there is anything to fix.

I didn't even want to fix mine, I just wanted them to respect the word "no" to any unreasonable requests on their part, and to leave us alone during a time of intense grief when my MIL passed away. It was at that point, I realized this whole relationship truly was pointless.

As a rookie, it took me so long to come to the realizations that I came to, and I repeated the pattern for a good 19 years after I wish I had come to the realization LOL. Maddening, as I do not think I am a stupid person.

If I was my friend, I would have told them to get out ASAP.

mulderfan said...

At this stage, I don't want to fix my NPs either. I accept them as they are and know that acceptance is not approval.

I no longer seek love and support but sure would like a bit of respect!

Cassandra said...

I find Lesson #7 creepily accurate!

Scatha said...

#7 and #14 are my favourites.

I actually link them together. Sometimes it still surprises me, that they blow 'no'-s around like they were soap bubbles, but if I dare to say no to one of their unreasonable requests, all hell breaks loose.

And I still grieve for the parental 'love' that I thought I had. I have mistaken 'love' for 'no boundaries'. It is difficult to digest.

Winterskiprincess said...

You are right, there is a definate connection between 7 and 14:)

We are trained to think that love means no boundaries when brought up by mentally/emotionally abusive parents like this. No boundaries on just one side of course:)

Anonymous said...

WOW here I tjought i was the only 1
Thanks so much !!!!!

Winterskiprincess said...

Oh definately not the only one. If you are just looking into this, you will find so many people also struggle with this.