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Dear Mum and Dad

(42 Posts)
skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 08:07:50

Dear Mum and Dad,

I think that you are owed some explanation for my withdrawal from you over the past year or so - I've held back because of all the stress with Grandma and I didn't feel that you needed any more 'heavy stuff'. However, it is probably better to give you some idea of what is going on, if only because I feel criticism and irritation being directed towards me and this is something that I can't handle any longer.

I'm sorry for not being the daughter that you wanted. I can't help being different and given the choice at the moment I think that I would definitely choose to be simple and uncomplicated. But maybe, in the long run being different and difficult will reap its own rewards. Only time will tell.

At the moment I am extremely tired with almost no strength or energy left - although I'm slightly better now that I was this time last year. The last twelve years or so have almost killed me and, as at the moment I'm two weeks overdue with my rent and have almost no money, it's obviously not over yet.

The main reason that I have become quiet is that a couple of years ago, DP asked me to marry him. I'm happy about this, the only proviso is that I have to be standing on my own two feet financially first (my proviso, it's one of my biggest struggles). (The children don't know about this yet). It was when I began thinking about a wedding party that I realised that I would have trouble inviting you to any celebration. That I didn't want you to be there.

This has really upset me - knocked me off balance. I don't want to hurt you, but at the same time it's important that I listen to my feelings.

When I mentioned this to DP he made the simple observation that somewhere along the line you must have hurt me very badly when I was small.

I know that I've never felt comfortable with either of you and that I've spent a lot of time pretending, doing and saying things in some attempt to please you - which is quite dishonest for my part, but it was something I learned to do when I was small and has become a habit. I've never felt that you liked me and felt that I had to try extra hard to please you.

Mum, I have to tell you that as a child your temper frightened me. I never knew where I was with you and it seemed that I could never please you. It was a case of walking on eggshells all the time. And it went on well into my adulthood. I'm not sure that you are aware of just how awful your temper was.

As a result, I can't trust you with my feelings. I can't trust you with me. I don't feel safe with you, even now. When DD was in her teens and being difficult, I never told you because I knew that the first thing you would say would be a reference to how difficult I had been. I've never felt able to come to you for support, ever.

I think that you have tried to make it up to me since - and I appreciate this, which makes me feel bad about writing all this now. Especially as you are tired with how Grandma is. But I don't think that you really understood where the awkwardness in the relationship came from, the fact that I don't feel safe with you.

Dad, you allowed so much competition, vicious teasing and negative put downs within the family that I really don't think that I have any happy memories at all. I can remember that you would say how when I was grown up I would live as far away from you as possible. This was probably because the teasing and the torment had gone so far that the only thing I could do was to distance myself - and then you still threw the torment at me with this remark.

The child that steals is not getting enough attention. What on earth had happened that I would write notes to Mum and put them under her pillow asking that she 'be nicer to me'? I can't remember. I'm sad that I have no happy childhood memories.

Unfortunately, all of these things have influenced how I am today - how could they not? - and must surely be behind the reason why I feel so uncomfortable with both of you. I've never felt safe with either of you - or appreciated, or enjoyed. For me it's a relationship full of stress and a stress that I can't handle at the moment.

I don't doubt that you had the best of intentions and I know that you are both kind people - and did, and still do, make a lot of effort to do the right thing. So, all of this is probably an unfortunate outcome that is probably the result of my being difficult, for which I apologise.

When DD was born I can remember having to think about whether I wanted you to have a relationship with her, and later with DS1 and DS2. I decided that I had no right to make that decision and that you could enjoy them and that they could enjoy you. Unlike you both - in the way that you always mocked and derided both of our Grandma's - I have never spoken negatively about either of you to any of the children. At Grandma's funeral I remember seeing (my cousin) cry and envied that he had been given permission to love his Grandmother. My children have permission to love you both.

And I'm grateful for all that you have done for them - it is all much appreciated.

This is why I have become quiet. I don't know what to do about a wedding celebration without hurting you. I'm tired of the pretence that permeates the relationship that we have and I'm unable to pretend any longer as it's stressful and dishonest on my part.

Maybe a bit of honesty will start the process of clearing things up and pave the way to a less fraught relationship . Maybe also you will feel less inclined to be critical of me.

I'm sorry, Skolastica

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 08:13:56

That letter was written and sent four years ago. It was only read by my father, who refused to show it to my mother as 'it would upset her too much'. He confirmed that I was 'difficult' and, in refusing to include my mother, stopped me from developing an open discussion with her. I have left the relationship I was in and live on my own. I am not in a good place. Feel that I laid all my cards on the table and was told that I didn't matter, and maybe this has really eaten into me, which is why I'm so stuck now?

Thoughts please.

ooooooohnose Tue 17-Jun-14 09:17:41

how sad, I could have written a similar letter myself.

the only way that I dealt with similar feelings, was to understand why/how/ if and so on.

what childhoods did your parents have?
once I understood mine, it became easier to understand them.

our contact was curtailed by their early deaths, but at the age 0f 43, I managed to understand, and forgive them for the past, something that can't be changed.
which made my life more peaceful.

put them in a compartment and enjoy your family unit.
that's about all that you can do.

they won't/can't change, but you can.

move onwards a step at a time.
no point beating yourself with the proverbial stick, you can't change the past.

neither of them can be the parents you long for them to be.

love what you have got, not yearn for what you have never had.

hard words I know, but looking back ten years from now, you will see that the longing and hoping that your childhood had been happier, was actually a waste of your own childrens childhood.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 10:10:46

Thank you Ooooh, for your response. My children are grown - this didn't arise as an issue that I had to articulate until the the youngest was 17, and I had my own separate life to build. Wouldn't say I was beating myself up, just struggling on the survival front.

HayDayQueen Tue 17-Jun-14 10:22:17

Sometimes families are a 'type'. The parents and children tend to be very similar, either all sporty types, or all arty types, or gregarious, etc .

But occasionally, just one member of the family will be so completely different emotionally and sometimes physically that they just don't fit in.

Truly loving and giving parents will do what they can to make sure that child is loved and cherished and has a place in the family. Selfish parents look at anything that is different to them as a threat to their identity and self worth, and even if not abusive in the usual sense, will gradually damage the essence of that child by constant negativity, criticisms, making them feel left out and different.

This is what jumps out to me, that you were always that little bit different, and instead of loving you and cherishing you for how you were, they belittled you and made you feel unloved and unworthy.

I'm so very sorry you had to go through it. Its not you, it's them, it has always been them, and it will always be them.

You need to really step away from them and look after yourself. The world is full of different people, and we are all the better for it. 'You' are wonderful as you are, and you don't need their approval, because the approval of people like that isn't worth anything at all.

Quitelikely Tue 17-Jun-14 10:23:57

Sorry you had such a terrible experience but try to use that experience to influence your life in a positive way. Do not give your parents head space, as unfortunately it's a waste of space and emotional energy. You will never get the acceptance and approval you so badly want as these people feel wronged by you. My own childhood was not good but I have let go of that because keeping it was no good. My children are my focus. My relationship with my family is a limited one but I don't blame them. Infact it's my choice. This is your life now, your a grown up its best to look forward and not back because that is hindering you.

Good luck with the future

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 10:29:12

I've been trying to let go of it for ages.

HayDayQueen Tue 17-Jun-14 10:32:20

Recognise them for the pitifully, poor parents that they were, and recognise that you are better than them. You don't need them, you have the strength to make your own family with cherished friends.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 10:35:52

I've made my family - they're grown and gone, all living and working abroad. I live alone. Dad is ill, there is pressure to visit but I'm holding back partly because I don't want to go back into their nonsense, partly because I can't afford to travel there. Whilst I have a couple of close friends, they don't live near me and my socialising is limited. Everytihng feels empty.

Snog Tue 17-Jun-14 10:42:27

OP I can identify with a lot of this. I don't think you were a difficult child or that this is your fault. I just read a book that really resonated with me by Dr Jonice Webb, Running on Empty. Its about emotional neglect in childhood. Jonice Webb also has a website and some youtube stuff. Maybe this will help you make sense of where you are right now.
thanks thanks thanks

TweeAintMee Tue 17-Jun-14 10:42:56

If you feel that they have nothing to offer you and that you have nothing to offer them and indeed that sustaining any relationship with them would be harmful to your emotional well-being, then seek no validation from others for that view. Just be. Move on and live your life as best you can. We enter and depart this world alone.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 10:48:32

@Snog - thank you for the reference.

ooooooohnose Tue 17-Jun-14 10:51:05


you have hit the nail on the head re different types who just don't fit in.

I can see that was what happened to me during my horrendous childhood.

but as this isn't about me, it helps ME to understand the past, even though I have come to terms with it all.

but for skolastica, how similar to myself.
dc's living and working abroad, main contact through Skype.

skolastica, who is pressurising you to visit?

"go back into their nonsense"? if that is the way to see it, simply don't go.

on the other hand, after the sad childhood of mine, when the hospital rang to say my father was dying, I DID go to see him, and he died in my arms.
that brought me closure, seeing him as the sad man that he was.

do you work skolistica?

what area are you?

I felt empty on many occasions, but took the opportunity to get a tiny dog which became my peace of mind from the world.
keep talking, you will decide what is right for you.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 10:54:29

@Twee - I understand what you're saying re not looking for validation elsewhere. The issue stays alive because firstly, my life is not moving forward no matter how much energy I put into it and secondly, my children don't really understand why I won't go and see their grandparents, especially now that dad is ill. They all have a good relationship with them. DS1 particularly is finding it difficult and upsetting.

ooooooohnose Tue 17-Jun-14 11:02:37

oh skolastica,

is there a major reason why your life isn't improving/moving on?

*have your children made any effort to come to see their grandparents as they have a good relationship with them?

why does ds1 find it "particularly difficult and upsetting"? is it because his grandfather is ill or you haven't been to see him?

has he made any effort at all to fly back?

it's okay to take a moral high ground from a distance, but if they are all upset, they should make the effort to come back for a few days.

how dare they judge you as a grown women.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 11:02:41

@ooohnose - pressure from my children, my sister-in-law, my parents. Although total silence when I told them I couldn't afford to travel to them. I work from home, although that's not going particualrly well at the moment. I'm in Scotland.

HayDayQueen Tue 17-Jun-14 11:03:53

That's one of the reasons why on MN I caution women who have a poor relationship with their parents from encouraging one between their children and their parents.

It is THIS exact situation.

They are clearly better grandparents than they were parents, and now as a result it's causing a bit of a rift between you and your children.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 11:09:01

@oohnose, thank you for all your input. I don't know why my life isn't moving on, the relationship breakdown last year has left me raw, bringing up three children on my own since the death of their father has been isolating. It seems hard to reinitegrate when yo've had more than a fair share of hard times. Making friend sis nowehre as easy as it ws when I was in my twenties.

DS1 is very big on family values - it matters to him. And it matters to me too, which is probably why I almost killed myself trying to please my parents. His feelings are partly why I wrote the letter, I wanted to have a dialogue with my parents to clear tha air for his sake.

My children all visit their grandparents when they are in the country. It's a priority for them.

ooooooohnose Tue 17-Jun-14 11:09:14

do you mean constant phone calls etc?

have you always complied with everyone else?

sounds like they should all take a look at themselves and leave you alone.

sounds like you need a big hug, and someone on "your side"
maybe try to distance yourself emotionally from them all.

tell your children if they are so concerned, to make the effort to fly back.
sounds like you are being put under heavy emotional pressure.

look at it this way.

if you became ill, who would rush to your side?
the cynical me, understands everyone gets on with their own lives eventually.
forgive me for asking, but sounds like you are about late 40's early 50's?
maybe you need a new focus/change of life totally, a new beginning.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 11:10:54

@ HaydayQueen - spot on. Where were you when I was 22? Although it's a no win situation, knowing what I know now I probably wouldn't have children at all.

HayDayQueen Tue 17-Jun-14 11:13:41

Well we're here now, Skolastica.

You're in a difficult situation, but hopefully with some support on here you can turn things around for yourself.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 11:15:03

@oohnose - yes, I'm 49. I'm a little bit aware of the need for a new beginning - I say little bit because it's scary and I don't really know who I am. No pressuring phone calls no, just small remakrks. And yes, I'm a very good (!) people pleaser. Trying to cure myself.

ooooooohnose Tue 17-Jun-14 11:26:09


you say you can't afford to travel to see your father, just wondering where they live then?

so sad, you don't really know who you are.

I was like that, and you know what...I spoke to myself in the mirror every morning, smiled at myself, and began to understand myself.

if no pressurising phone calls, just small remarks, but who is physically close enough to give small remarks?
I don't quite understand...if your parents are far expensive...who gives these small remarks in person?

do you rent, or have you collateral for a new beginning?
you are still young.

actually the world is your oyster.

a friend of mine's mother went to Jordan as the kings nanny when she was 49!

do you visit your children abroad at all, or do they pay visits back on a regular basis.

from personal experience, once I realised that unless something in my life changed, it would stay the same..
a mantra I chose to move forward with my life.
if I didn't change or improve my life, it would stay the same.

have to go out now, but will be back..
stay on MN, it is amazing

Meerka Tue 17-Jun-14 11:34:07

skolastica since your children are adult, have you actually told him how you feel about them? The downside is that if he's had a happy home, which I bet he has, then he won't have the frame of reference to understand your unhappiness. But it is fair to give him an explanation and make it clear that your childhood was very unhappy. More distant relatives - if they don't understand, that's their problem.

Regarding the letter and your mother and letting go, very difficult. I struggle to let go too. Dont really have any good advice, only to keep doing things you enjoy and absorb your thoughts, but to sit and give yourself space and time to directly think about your childhood too at times. Not much I'm afraid :/ Really hope it gets easier for you.

skolastica Tue 17-Jun-14 11:42:18

@ooohnose - they live in England, travel involves an overnight stay both directions or the expense of a hire car. I do have collateral for a new beginning if I sell the house. I have already tried a new beginning, don't know why I didn't write this earlier. I was unhappy eleven years ago so moved into a new area with my children all gung ho to meet new people and new friends and do new things. Since the ending of my relationship last year, I've retreated with my tail between my legs and a mountain of debt. So I do feel a bit burned and a bit spent. But I only have me to think about now, so it should be easier.

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