Blogs


Notices

Divorcing Your Parents - NY Times article

Old 10-30-2009, 11:00 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
StellaBlu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: corn country, USA
Posts: 957
Divorcing Your Parents - NY Times article

Hi,

I have not yet introduced myself 'properly' to this forum. Someday I will tell my story and why I am a member. However, I've been a member for about a year now and I've read much of what people have written. I've gained a lot of insight and knowledge. I am greatful for this.

Tonight I'm writing to ask for people's opinions and input on an article that I read in today's online New York Times. The article is called 'Divorcing Your Parents'.

If you have not yet read the article or if you do not have a NYTimes subscription, then feel free to comment on the topic of Divorcing your parents (ie cutoff ties with them/ terminate the relationship).

One thing that I thought was interesting was that the article mentioned that there has been so little written on this subject.

Thank you for your thoughts.
sb
StellaBlu is offline  
Old 10-31-2009, 07:16 AM
  # 2 (permalink)  
Member
 
dothi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Anywhere but the mainstream.
Posts: 402
Hi StellaBlu, I couldn't access the whole article, but got the introductory jist.

I made the decision to "divorce" my alcoholic father over a year ago. It involved moving away from my entire family of origin and a lot of other sacrifices. I distanced myself from my sister with whom (in the absence of our parents) I have a good relationship with. I left behind an incredible support network of friends with whom, over a decade, I developed self-confidence enough to trust my own instincts (my AF made the repeated point of how people "out there" were only going to cheat me - that no one outside of my family would ever really care about me or want to see me happy).

In spite of the good friends, I found that the pressure from my AF (and codie mother from time to time) got worse (probably because I was getting healthier in my perspective on healthy relationships). It got to the point where my anxiety became unmanageable if I had to spend any time with this man who was in complete denial about how his drunken actions hurt me. His father was a violent, controlling drunk. I never experienced any violence (being the family Hero), but I was terrified of what lengths my AF might undertake in order to "keep" me close and part of our happy family. I knew he had been aggressive towards my sister (the scapegoat) - the worst episode promptly pushing forward her decision to run away. The last night I visited with my parents before moving, he got completely hammered, came into the house, interrupted the conversation my mom and I were having, and violently pushed the table into the wall when I put up my boundary (can we talk about this when you're sober? I will not have this conversation with you while you're drunk). Then he stormed off, raging/crying about how I couldn't repay him for all the years he let me to go school (post-secondary). All I could think was that once I was gone, I wouldn't have to go through this fear and guilt-mongering again.

The hardest part about the "divorce" is coping with the people I've left behind. Feeling damaged and trying to meet people in a new place is hard; the healing takes a long time. I have felt really isolated in what I'm going through (save this forum!). Since I've left I am still in contact with my mom and sister, but my brother now avoids any contact with me. Once I was moved away I was really frustrated by the complete lack of literature out there for people who've had to make this decision. How do you deal with subsequent estrangement from other family members? How do you cope with the new normal? How do you cope with the grief? Does no one EVER make this choice?

Believe it or not, there appears to be more online resources for parents who have been estranged by their children than for PEOPLE facing this decision. One point I've seen emphasized at these sites is to have patience and understand that your child is addressing uncomfortable topics because they want to improve their relationship with you - not necessarily attack or blame you for everything. Just listen.

I didn't want to make this choice. But I do believe that staying in close contact with my family was making/keeping me mentally ill.
dothi is offline  
Old 10-31-2009, 02:18 PM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
StellaBlu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: corn country, USA
Posts: 957
Hi Dothi, Thank you for responding and I appreciate you sharing your experience and insight.

The NY Times article had gotten over 800 responses the last time I checked. Most of the people responded with comments akin to "...thank god I'm not the only one who has done this or has thought about doing this." One person wanted to start an online forum for discussion as a result.

Thanks again for sharing.
sb

By the way, there were a couple of books mentioned by responders which I think I will read:
"Children of the Self-Absorbed"
Scott Peck's "Children of the Lie"
"Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward
"Trauma and Physical Health"
"When you an dyour mother can't be friends" by Victoria Secunda
StellaBlu is offline  
Old 10-31-2009, 04:40 PM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 13
Welcome StellaBlu --and Dothi, your message touched my heart.

I divorced my alcoholic mom just over one year ago. I've started compling my 'family of choice' --along with my husband....and we're moving forward in that direction. It was either stay and be around her drinking and keep myself in a depressed/negative state most of the time....OR 'divorce' and be HEALTHY....and be able to move forward with my husband and our chosen family and friends. I could no longer allow her to stifle our lives.

It was a difficult decision, came after many sessions in therapy...and still stings. But wow...I feel so much lighter in my load.

We tried to have a semi-relationship with my codependent/enabling father --but that's proving not to work out. Sadly. But my therapist reminds me often, it's impossible to have a real relationship with just one person --and if the other is 'stuck' in alcholism or codependency, they aren't actually participating in our 'relationship'.....it makes sense, of course. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.

I will say, even with the sadness and the pain, it's the best thing that I've ever done for myself. I hope she one day gets help, gets healthy and lives life....but I have absolutely ZERO control over whether that will actually happen or not. I couldn't keep 'waiting' for it and keeping my own life stifled. For how long? For ever? Noway. My husband and I have forged ahead. We have amazing holidays with our chosen family. We have extremely deep and healthy relationships with our chosen family. We are so lucky, I can't even begin to tell you...

Good luck to everyone who is in limbo ---setting boundaries is the best place to start. The decisions aren't easy. There's no way I would have been able to make them --or even understand them--without the help of an amazing addiction therapist.

All the best to everyone. +++ thoughts always.
sograteful is offline  
Old 10-31-2009, 04:53 PM
  # 5 (permalink)  
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 87
Originally Posted by sograteful View Post
Welcome StellaBlu --and Dothi, your message touched my heart.

I divorced my alcoholic mom just over one year ago. I've started compling my 'family of choice' --along with my husband....and we're moving forward in that direction. It was either stay and be around her drinking and keep myself in a depressed/negative state most of the time....OR 'divorce' and be HEALTHY....and be able to move forward with my husband and our chosen family and friends. I could no longer allow her to stifle our lives.

It was a difficult decision, came after many sessions in therapy...and still stings. But wow...I feel so much lighter in my load.

We tried to have a semi-relationship with my codependent/enabling father --but that's proving not to work out. Sadly. But my therapist reminds me often, it's impossible to have a real relationship with just one person --and if the other is 'stuck' in alcholism or codependency, they aren't actually participating in our 'relationship'.....it makes sense, of course. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.

I will say, even with the sadness and the pain, it's the best thing that I've ever done for myself. I hope she one day gets help, gets healthy and lives life....but I have absolutely ZERO control over whether that will actually happen or not. I couldn't keep 'waiting' for it and keeping my own life stifled. For how long? For ever? Noway. My husband and I have forged ahead. We have amazing holidays with our chosen family. We have extremely deep and healthy relationships with our chosen family. We are so lucky, I can't even begin to tell you...

Good luck to everyone who is in limbo ---setting boundaries is the best place to start. The decisions aren't easy. There's no way I would have been able to make them --or even understand them--without the help of an amazing addiction therapist.

All the best to everyone. +++ thoughts always.
Thanks for sharing. I currently am trying to move on from my family of origin for the second time. What I find to be difficult now is that I have had no one to celebrate holidays or birthdays with. No one cares and I'm too scared to even get to know new people b/c I'm just waiting for then next time they find reason to dislike me and ditch me---plus...most people I know have their families to spend time with. So...I've been alone for a very long time. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing good to offer anyone--people think i'm too extreme or whatever the case. I often feel like I am unfit to be a mother. I can never measure up to my husbands standards of preference whether it's how I dress, act, and/or whether or not I am happy enough. I'm just very tired of people treating me like crap my whole life. I'm tired of being hurt, taken advantage of, and not being loved for who I am. I'm tired of being told I treat others poorly, etc. I'm very frustrated in my social relationships and feel that no matter how hard I try, I always screw up. I've been weary for a long time, even though I often try to tell myself otherwise. Not only that, but I'm afraid I am going to mess up my kids' life becayse of my shortcomings. I'm tired of being told one minute that I'm a good wife and mother and then the next minute that I am not. I can never figure out which way it is and I"m really getting tired. It's starting to take its toll b/c in the midst of it all, I don't feel like I am loved by anyone at all for who I am and where I am. I feel like I am loved if I become someone else and I just can't take living like this anymore. A heavy heart can only travel so far.
reverse is offline  
Old 10-31-2009, 05:22 PM
  # 6 (permalink)  
To Life!
 
historyteach's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 9,293
Dothi,

I had to respond to this:
Once I was moved away I was really frustrated by the complete lack of literature out there for people who've had to make this decision. How do you deal with subsequent estrangement from other family members? How do you cope with the new normal? How do you cope with the grief? Does no one EVER make this choice?
SR once had an expert moderator, Social Worker, Mark Sichel. He wrote, Healing from Family Rifts. I've read it, and highly recommend it. Within you will find clinical explainations, exercises to help you over the hurt, and concrete suggestions to help you find happiness again with a chosen family of friends.
You can find this book on Amazon for a very good price. (I get no commission, LOL! But, I do really recommend it!)

This stuff happens. Even if our favorite TV shows don't recognize it.
And this book will help.
G*D bless you.

Shalom!
historyteach is offline  

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:52 PM.