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Should, and if so how, do you contact parents to tell them you don't want contact? (Another one from the Stately Homers)

(9 Posts)
ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 06-Oct-11 13:08:31

This is a bullet I wanted to dodge until end-November, when I'll be staying with well-loved family members who I'd like to speak to one-to-one about my feelings wrt my parents. But I'm feeling pressured to take a stand now, because my parents are trying to get in touch with me (e-mailing me and phoning), I'm ignoring their attempts at contact, and I feel like a coward, and a dick, just dodging their calls and e-mails, but I'm stuck about what to do.

Obstacle 1: Can you really contact someone to tell them you want no contact? Seems... paradoxical. And frightening!

Their phoning now is nothing sinister: they just want a chit-chat; keep up the motions of a parent-child relationship. Meanwhile, my perception of our relationship has changed: I left a violent marriage 8 months ago, and all I see now is how my parents groomed me for abuse (by modelling an abusive marriage, and by treating me with neglect, one-upmanship, and some deliberate nastiness). So now I perceive our relationship as a sham, one that makes my heart clench and my stomach churn.

Obstacle 2: I'm not sure how long I will feel this way, though. It is therefore even more tricky to handle a break, thinking ahead that there might be a time after the break when I want to be in touch again.

I understand my parents: they are wounded, misguided people who hurt me for misguided reasons of their own. A part of me does still love them. I'm not ragingly angry or bitter. I just don't. want. to interact with them.

Obstacle 3: The third thing stopping me from acting is timing: I am really afraid of losing my loved aunt and uncle, who I'll be staying with in November. I accept that their reaction to any confrontation I have with my parents is their choice. I just wanted to be able to explain my feelings to them before I go and tell my parents that I don't wish to interact with them at this time. Does that make sense?

Anyway, if there's a Stately Homer willing to talk me through my mental blocks and maybe suggest a course of action, I would be most grateful!

ArtVandelay Thu 06-Oct-11 14:15:57

Hi, what helped me was that I was physically a long distance away and also everyone else in my family was completely sick of his nonsense (father). The first step was not seeing him but him having my phone number and address, this didn't work as he would send a birthday card with a negative message or phone out of the blue to tell me exactly where I was going wrong in life (he didn't even know me by this point), or leave a negative voice mail. When I moved house I changed phone number and never let him know.

Like I said, my family (or my mothers side) have no time for him so they would never 'reveal' me. On his side his brother called my Mum about me a couple of times but she wouldn't give him any details. He then tried via Facebook but with no message so I blocked him. The Uncle still has my old email address but hasn't bothered with that - I think the spying element of Facebook might have been the motivator there.

In your case I would definately speak to your Aunty and Uncle first and then do it. Get them to see that its a protective thing for you and not an attack on your parents - frequently, people who have no experience of this think that its a wicked thing to cut out a parent. I had this at first, and it hurts but people often don't back you up straight away. You will need to do some frank but sensitive explaining. If this is what you want to do, I admire your courage and after a while I think you'll find a weight lifted off your shoulders. I hope so smile

bottlebank Thu 06-Oct-11 14:28:11

It's possible that your 'feeling like a dick' is a hangover from your past. I think it's probable, even. You were probably raised to feel beholden to your parents, and that their feelings are more important than yours.

Well, that's not true. You are absolutely entitled to not respond to their attempts to make contact.

Would you consider sending them a text saying 'things are really hectic right now but I'll be in touch when it all dies down'? That gives you time and space to think and speak to your aunt and uncle.

For me, I wrote a long letter. My father told me he hadn't read past the first paragraph as it upset him too much. That told me all I needed to know. We see each other occasionally but there is no relationship there. There is a distance and I feel more comfortable with that. I said what I needed to say, even if they didn't listen. And I am not as emotionally invested in them any more and the badness lessens every day.

(this whole process has taken me a decade and did include two years of total NC).

Take time. Feel your way. You have been through a lot. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. You are not a coward. Facing this stiff is the bravest, hardest thing in the world.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 06-Oct-11 16:07:25

Thanks very much for your replies.

Thanks for bigging me up, bottlebank. I do feel bad about a white lie regarding my hectic schedule, as I don't like to act dishonestly. But it's true that the alternative I was considering: "I don't want to speak to you at the moment because I find it too hard" does throw me in the soup somewhat, doesn't it? My Mom'll be straight on the phone to my aunt crying about that one... Then again maybe she will even if I just say "soz too busy right now", who the heck knows.

Unlike you, Art, everyone in my family likes my mother (there's a lot to like: she's very vivid), and sees her attention-seeking and controlling ways as easily overlooked behaviour. Her tantrums and put-downs are humoured.

I know what I want to say to my aunt and uncle -- I just hope I get to say it in person rather than in writing. I have no problems being open and honest with them. It's being open and honest with Madam Narcissist and Captain Denial that's the pointless endeavour.

bintofbohemia Thu 06-Oct-11 17:51:17

"Madam Narcissist and Captain Denial" - brilliant. grin I'll be back to this in a bit, just marking my place....

bintofbohemia Tue 11-Oct-11 15:08:21

Hello ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow - got a bit waylaid by my whole family getting ill last week!

Like you I've got family that I care about that I thought would cut me off or take sides. There are my two aunties in particular that I was scared would take my parents' side, but actually having spoken to them they've made it clear that whilst they don't want to get involved with any of the ins and outs of it all they do care about us and want to be in touch. There are a couple of people who don't feel that way, but in truth if they have taken sides with my parents then I suppose we have to see it as no great loss, it's a shame but I was always led to believe that your family are the people that have your back. My half sister for example is blaming me entirely but actually I don't give a shit about what she thinks any more, she's not a nice human being.

I agree with what ArtVandelay says - just talk to them, you might be pleasantly surprised. smile

I totally ignored my dad's birthday last week and am awaiting the guilt trip/party invitation conversation any minute now. I'm still torn between whether to just carry on avoiding it, or whether to pre-empt it by psyching myself up, calling and saying something along the lines of "I think it's best we don't have any contact at all until a time where we can all sort out the issues we have rather than pretending they don't exist." The second option would involve a stiff drink beforehand and trying very hard not to get dragged into a row. Am still not sure I have the nerve for it.

I also feel guilty because the last time I spoke to my stepmother she was banging on about wanting to come and see the kids. It's all hot air, because they've flown to see my brother on the other side of the world (and are going again soon!) twice in the last 9 months but haven't managed to have a weekend free to drive the 90 mins here. But still, she puts me in the position of saying no to her, which makes me look like the evil one.

Sorry if it sounds like I'm just talking about my situation, it's just that where we are sounds quite similar and I'm currently in the process of thrashing out the same thoughts and ideas about it.

Have you got any further with deciding how to handle it since last week?

bintofbohemia Mon 17-Oct-11 10:34:15

Hello, just bumping to see how you're getting on.

I've bottled it and am back to ignoring tactics. It's bound to sink in eventually.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 17-Oct-11 10:49:22

Hi bintofbohemia. Funny, I was just thinking I really need to get back to this thread, and the responses on Stately Homes, to refresh my memory with the great advice given, as it doesn't seem to have relaly sunk in: I am still in a state of total stasis on this.

I missed your Oct 11 reply, thanks for that!

I feel exactly like you: I just don't have the nerve to openly state to them that I don't want to see them. I also know that I will need a stiff drink or two before I do, if I go that route. I don't like the fact that I'm avoiding it, but I hate conflict. And it's so hard to feel sure of myself: I know how I feel, but I still feel unsure about myself given that I have no shocking tales of abuse to point to. My parents were just "a bit shit". If I gave friends examples of their behaviour that made me feel neglected or put down, they would think I was being a drama queen, and a horrible parent-defying person.

I've been saved by the bell, for the time being: I e-mailed parents to tell them I was too busy, then e-mailed again to tell them that unfortunately I can't come to theirs as planned for a weekend in November as I am being sent abroad for work on those dates. These are all true statements, but they also skirt my real feelings of "Aaaaaaah I can't stand the sight of either of you!!!!"

I know that none of my decisions should hinge on other people's approval.

I know that my aversion to conflict is a product of my upbringing.

I know that the fact that I am truly scared of confronting my parents means that I am still trapped in the FOG.

I know all this, but I haven't worked my way out of the FOG yet.

Thumbelina46 Mon 17-Oct-11 13:33:27

I think that for the time being,Pumpkin, you have done the right thing.This way you are keeping your options open ,so to speak.You will probably feel a little clearer about things when the November visit issue is over. Dont beat yourself up about white lies-they are being told for the right reasons-you have to put yourself first-and this way you are stumbling /trundling on through that murky fog.You gave me great insight last week Pumpkin,into my own situation with my mother etc"About to cut contact with my mother-why do I feel such anger" and I really appreciated your words. My mother has tried ringing on a few occasions and I have been ignoring the calls.Like you I absolutely HATE confrontation so am avoiding the issue at the moment but I also have a brother and his family (who I am close to) coming on holidays next week from usa and they will be staying with mum etc. My dc's are now asking why cant we go to Nanny's after school-said she has a bad flu at moment-. I know I should confront this head-on but I just cant. Like you say,the aversion to conflict thing is a real hindrence! I also feel like you in that I suffered no actual abuse as such -just a shit mother-and friends etc would think it overly-exaggerated etc. Good luck anyway Pumpkin-I think you are handling it well! You are far more sorted in your head than I am!smile

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