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Minimal contact with parents - any experiences to share?

(8 Posts)
Lottapianos Tue 28-May-13 13:48:42

I'm starting to feel vaguely ok with having minimal contact with my parents (phone contact every 2-3 months, text every month or so, see them 1-2 times a year - all initiated by me). They are both narcissists and there is a long and painful history of never being allowed to have any feelings of my own, them wanting to control every aspect of myself, rejection, being made to feel that I am barely tolerated by them despite them thinking they are the most wonderful parents who love me to bits.

I'm coming to terms with the past through weekly psychotherapy. I suffered from absolutely crippling guilt, which has become much less in recent months. I'm starting to feel really ok deep down with putting myself first.

And yet at the same time there's a part of me that worries that I am treating them horribly and rejecting them, that I've got it all wrong somehow. I really don't miss them, but I miss having a mother and father who are a happy and healthy part of my life if you know what I mean. I feel very angry and very sad that they never get in touch with me - they seem to see it as 100% my responsibility to keep the relationship going. I'm sick of this and I guess I'm making a point by withdrawing contact.

So lots of very complex feelings! I would love to hear from other people who have cut down contact with abusive parents - good things and not so good things to have come out of it. How do you cope with guilt? Does it get easier over time? Thanks thanks

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 28-May-13 14:59:02

Not directly but I have indirect experience of this via two separate examples with close family. In both cases the parents were totally unfussed about the lack of contact and it was the adult children (why isn't there a better word than that?) that suffered a lot of the same anxieties you're experiencing. Like you they wanted loving, engaged, 'normal', Enid Blyton parents rather than the dysfunctional people they actually shared DNA with. Despite all the parents now being dead, the two people I know are still very angry, bitter and sad at what they think they missed out on.

A third person I know has a very difficult parent and her approach has been quite different. For a start she refers to the parent by their first name rather than 'Mum'... and I think this relatively trivial thing enables her to detach and see her mother almost as a random stranger to be humoured and tolerated. I've also noticed that she has zero expectations of the woman... another way to detach I suppose. When you see them together, you'd think it was a pensioner out with their health visitor rather than their DD. smile

Lottapianos Tue 28-May-13 15:11:55

'I've also noticed that she has zero expectations of the woman... another way to detach I suppose.'

This is what I'm working towards Cogito. It's so hard to let go of the hope that they will change 'one day' - I know deep down they won't but it's just a process of letting go I guess. I remember another MNer who detached from her parents saying that she just thought of them as distant relatives - didn't feel very much about them one way or the other and obviously didn't expect the kind of support that one would like to have from parents.

It's interesting what you say about the parents who were not that bothered about the lack of contact. In my guiltiest moments, I imagine that I have broken my parents' hearts and that they miss me so much they are devastated. But if that were true - they know where I am! They are fit and healthy and have enough money to come visit me anytime. They both have mobile phones so could text any time they fancy. But they don't. Hmmmmm

shiningcadence Tue 28-May-13 15:22:18

lotte I have very little contact with my parents. Yes of course the guilt creeps in from time to time but I think of the person I am now compared to the person I was then and I am not willing to undo all my hard work in the past few years by engaging in a closer relationship with them again, which I know will put me right back at square one in terms of my own mental well being. Sometimes you have to put yourself first. And now that I have dc I have to consider their needs before anyone else's and they rely on me being happy and sane!

Lottapianos Tue 28-May-13 15:31:58

You're right shiningcadence - I am a better person, healthier, happier and more confident without them around. I just need to stay strong and keep totally focused on my own needs (no DCs). Nothing I have ever done has ever been good enough for my parents so I may as well put my energies into making myself happy!

It's so good to hear from other people who have been through similar and feel it was a healthy decision.

FaithLehane Tue 28-May-13 15:41:42

I'm going through something similar atm. I'm trying to minimise contact with my overbearing, emotionally blackmailing, slightly narcissistic, emotionally incestuous mother.

I had gotten to the point were the anxiety was taking over my life. I started having panic attacks. I realised that the only way I could get some sort of semblance of a normal life was to cut contact as much as possible. It's been very hard. She has a way of worming her way into everything. This is a woman who wants to tear my marriage apart so she can co-parent instead of my children having a father.

I'm on 5 weeks of no face to face contact, the longest without testing has about 3 -4 days but I'm keeping texts short and to the point. The guilt has been overwhelming, but the effect it has had on my emotional well being and physical health is unbelievable! I'm far happier and I don't miss her one bit. It's pretty hard to keep contact so minimal because she only lives 2 miles away and the kids go to school around the corner from her house.

I'm so glad for you that you're starting to get somewhere with minimising contact with your parents. smile

FaithLehane Tue 28-May-13 15:42:54

*texting not testing

Lottapianos Tue 28-May-13 16:00:20

'emotionally incestuous '

Faith, the first time I heard the phrase 'emotional incest' I was absolutely sickened. It brought home to me just how extremely violating it is to be emotionally abused. It described perfectly what happened in my family - us children were used by our parents in ways which were totally inappropriate and with only the parents' wellbeing in mind. The child gets used only as a tool to make the parent feel better. It helped me to get in touch with my anger and revulsion at how they treated me.

I hear you about the panic attacks. I've been on anti-depressants for 6 months due to panic attacks, depression, thoughts of self-harm and suicide. I'm feeling much better now so coming off the pills. A relationship that makes you feel this way just cannot be healthy, whether the person in question gave birth to you or not!

I am lucky in that my parents live in another country, so there can be no 'popping in'. Well done you on staying so firm and keeping your mother at arm's length. It sounds like a healthy thing to do.

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