I couldn't agree more with your conclusion! Best of luck to you going forward. I am trying to do the same.
Good for you! You sound like a smart, mature, wise woman. The bad things that have happened to you have given you much strength and wisdom. You have taken lemons and made lemonaide. Good for you!
I am 48 years old and am the survivor of a highly abusive and dysfunctional childhood that damaged me in many ways. I chose to go no contact with my mother, father and only sister about six years ago. This was a decision that came out of therapy I was undergoing for severe depression, PTSD and anxiety.
A bit of history: I am the eldest child. My birth family consisted of an alcoholic and drug abusing father who was physically and emotionally abusive and was likely anti-social personality disorder. He was extremely volatile and favored me, which did not save me from abuse, unfortunately. My mother was likely narcissistic personality disordered and/or histrionic. She was neglectful and self involved, remote and cold. She favored my younger sister. I, unfortunately, was parentified heavily in the household and became the textbook codependent. I attempted to keep the peace, raise my sister (three years younger than me,) and let everyone around me use me as they would, my father by being his little princess (when he wasn't hitting or throwing things,)who would always listen to him rail about my mother and sister (whom he professed to hate,) by kissing up to and providing narcissistic supply to my self involved mother, who considered herself too good for her husband, and by being the worst parent to a sibling ever from age 3-43. Unfortunately, due either to my poor skills, my father's abuse, my mother's favoritism, genetics or some combination of them all, my baby sister has grown up to be personality disordered as well. She has never married and her life has been a series of histrionic dramas.
I managed somehow to survive childhood mostly three ways- I hid (literally, in the bathroom or a closet or under my bed,) or by reading a book, giving them whatever they wanted when hiding didn't work, and by spending as much time as I could with my grandmother. Unfortunately, she lived across the country from me, but as I got older, I begged to spend summers with her as much as possible. Her household was an island of calm in my life that I think may have saved me.
I moved away at age 18 to go to school out of state. My parents decided I must go to college, despite my barely graduating high school (emotional problems.) They funded my first year and a half of studies, however, I was in no way emotionally or intellectually ready for college. The first summer I had to go home, I dreaded driving back so much I almost checked myself into a hospital. I could barely move. I managed to get a job that summer that kept me out of my parents' house most of the time and when I went back off to school that fall, I swore I would never go back. The next school year, I began to attend Al Anon, and started to give names to some of the issues my birth family struggled with. When it was time to go home for Christmas, the old dread returned, but at least this time I knew why. When the shit hit the fan, as it always did in that household, I used all the tricks in my Al-Anon bag to stay away from my normal role of codependent, and THAT went over like a lead balloon. I told my father that I did not agree with him that his drinking was my mother's fault or that my sister was the antichrist. I was not surprised that my father was enraged, but was quite shocked that my mother was angry with me as well. It was my job to "keep my father calm," and in her warped perspective, I had abandoned my duties. I was promptly cut off from my family, who refused to speak to me for about seven months. I got a job to pay for the rest of my education, kept going to Al-Anon, and stopped visiting or taking their money for anything. This seemed to enraged them even further. They hated me. Sigh.
In my early 20's we re-engaged for a few years when I decided to marry the son of one of their only friends. They insisted on paying for a big fancy wedding, and I was so happy to have my family back in my life, I walked through the whole thing like a zombie. Obviously looking back on it, I married that man because I wanted to be back with my family (my family loved him,) and was recreating my childhood experiences by marrying someone who reminded me of my father. Still codependent.
Within two years, that marriage was broken, as he was alcoholic as well, my father had been arrested for DUI, done rehab and was attending AA. Oddly, my mother, father and sister all participated in family counseling as part of his rehab, but I was excluded. I was still on the outside of the family. My sister was just finishing her undergrad education (which my parents paid for) and was starting her master's degree (which my parents paid for.) No one ever acknowledged that I had been right about my father's drinking, apologized for cutting me off, etc.
I still tried and tried to get into their graces. I named my eldest son after my father. I kissed up to my mother. When I divorced, I immediately married a wonderful man. He is caring, loving, and takes care of me. He kissed my parents' asses for years.
It is kind of hard to explain how life was inside my birth family. I could never do anything right. I went on to get two advanced degrees, and have a wonderful career and great kids. But I was never good enough for them. I withdrew a lot for periods of time, because talking to them was just drama after drama, with me in the role of parent or coach still. Crazy stuff, like my mom's boss being a spendthrift, so my mom was too upset to talk to me (what?!), my dad complaining to me about how he had erectile dysfunction and my mom missed intercourse (Gross, and WHAT?! Why are you telling me this??!!!) my sister worrying that her latest boyfriend at aged 39 just wanted her for her money, (WAIT, what? She is a school teacher and has none...,) her EX was stalking her because he sent a Merry Christmas text... They had so many exhausting and volatile relationships, fights amongst themselves, petty bullshit all the time. The only times I spoke to them they had some crazy emergency going on. They were too busy to ask about me or my family or to help me with anything, they just talked about them. I guess I'd always thought that all or most of the drama was because of the drinking, but when that stopped, the rest of the drama did not.
The final straw was a visit from them. First, my mom broke her leg on my driveway walking the dog. It was Christmas eve, and my husband had cooked a beautiful roast beef. (My parents and sister expected us to host them for most holidays.) My mother decided that this dinner was the perfect time to give me back every photo or momento my birth family had of me. Seriously, another way of showing that they did not care about me at all. So, we passed around my baby pictures and I, being highly trained to NEVER react to their poor behaviors, acted fine. Finally, my mom got pissed at my lack of reaction and stormed out to "walk the dog and cool off." After about 15 minutes, my 16 year old son goes out to see if she is okay, and she was not.
We carry her to our car and take her to the local ER. My father is enraged and yelling and threatening to 'kill the dog,' my every perfect mother is denying she is even hurt and demanding to see the best specialist on the planet (on Christmas Eve at11pm,) and my sister is telling the nurse how much money she has and showing off her Dooney and Burke purse. The doctor takes me out of the room and looks at me like, oh. my. god. These people are crazy. Which, I suddenly realize, they are. And it is killing me. And my husband, and my kids. That was my first wake up call and the last time I saw them was that visit. After they left (my mom in a cast,) I called a therapist for an appointment.
Then I found out that they had taken my half of an inheritance from my grandmother and given it to my sister. I had thought I was loaning my sister a portion of an inheritance given to my mother for me, but in January, I got a statement from the bank and found out that it had been left to directly to be split by me and my sister. My mother had manipulated and lied to me in order to allow my sister to take both halves. My mother had always been guilty of splitting- a psychiatric term for treating one child as if he or she is the golden, perfect child, and the other as if he or she can do nothing right. She had always given my sister the best of everything, her college degrees, the down payment for her home, cars, clothing, etc, while cutting me off completely at aged 19 for daring to say my dad was an alcoholic. Whatever. I was happy to make my own way in life, but the inheritance from grandmother, who always treated me fairly and whom I loved and trusted?! Oh, hell to the no.
Therapy gave permission to disengage from them. Did I mention that they favored my eldest son over my younger children? That they treated my hardworking and loving husband disrepectfully? It was never, ever going to get better or change because what they have, Cluster B personality disorders, cannot be cured or changed. They will always be selfish, drama queens who go out of their way to create misery to people who love them to prove their superiority.
By March the following year, I had a name for my family problems- personality disorder. And mine, Depression and Anxiety disorder. I started on medications, kept up with therapy and started to realize I could not fix myself with them in my life. The next shitty, angst filled, blaming and mean spirited set of emails I got from them (I stopped answering the phone,) I was ready to say goodbye. The email came from my mother came, perfectly timed to upset my family on the weekend of my long overdue college graduation, and I said goodbye. And when that didn't work, I got a restraining order. And then I moved far, far away. They will never hear from me or about me again.
My life is immeasurably better now without them. I no longer need or receive therapy. My children and husband are happy to have the craziness out of their lives. We value the peace and normalacy our lives have now. I have developed excellent 'crazy radar.' If someone on the fringes of my life, like a new friend, exhibits certain signs of drama, say, like gossip, or a smug air of superiority that is unearned, I bolt away. I don't have to put up with anyone in my life disrupting my serenity, so I do not.
As I grew out of my need to have a relationship with my birth family, I would often ask them and myself, "Why can't life just be peaceful? Why can't we just get along? Why do things have to be so hard?"
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