HeavenHell

Not Talking to Your Family? Congratulations! You Are Going to Hell.

HeavenHell

I used to think it is so easy. Called your sister names? Bad. Peed in the pool? Shame on you and… bad! Killing puppies for fun? Doing drugs? Very, very bad. But not talking to your parents and planning to keep them out of your life forever? Bad? How bad? “Two years on probation” or “20 to life” bad? Can I plead extenuating circumstances?

My mother sent me an email. It was a table, probably a copy-paste from MS Word. One could see she put a lot of effort into it.

The table has two columns. One lonely point on the left: Things I did right in my life. Whole seven points on the right and an ellipsis. Dot. Dot. Dot. As if there was more to it, but she just got tired typing. All the things I did wrong. It was two years ago. We haven’t spoken ever since.

Well, we did exchange words. After a year of complete silence I did call on her birthday, and after that on the New Year’s Eve. She talked to me as if nothing happened. I listened hoping for the call to end soon. I also talk to her regularly in the shower, but it is always a monolog and it is always imaginary. I’m not sure whether we will ever speak to each other again.

It was a logical end of our “relationship” I guess.

I’ve never read that email again, but I still clearly remember that right column of that table. I betrayed my country, betrayed my religion. I don’t have any friends. After all these years, I failed to be accepted by the local people in the country where I now live. I have a bad job, and most importantly, I’ve married a wrong person, into a family that wants me only because of my “current status”.

Now, before you think that I’m some kind of a very unlikable and underpaid spy, who sold out her country, married a playboy with a lot of relatives, and converted to scientology, let me set a couple of things straight: I’m actually very likable. The rest is also pretty banal.

quotation-marks-pngI left home with neither consent nor support of my parents.

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I left home with neither consent nor support of my parents. And by “left” I mean “fled”, mostly to escape the local psycho terror department of hell; and by “home” I mean “a completely different country we moved to when I was ten years old”. I left for another country far-far away, learned the language, finished my studies, got a good paid and challenging job, which is sometimes even fun. I’ve been living here over 10 years already, and local people often think I’m a native.

I got myself some friends, and yes, I married somebody who comes from a different background, but I’m not sure it qualifies as “betraying your religion”, if you a) always thought your family are all atheists and b) never belonged to one particular religion officially or currently belong to one. And now I have a wonderful family of one and a half people, who make me so happy every day that sometimes I don’t know what I have done to deserve it.

As well as I sometimes wonder what I have done to deserve this “let-me-prove-to-you-why-you-are-a-failure” table, not to mention 10 years of psycho terror prior to it, followed by 10 years of letters, phone calls, and other emails that were only slightly more “pleasant”.

I’m not even gay for God’s sake. Not that I have something against homosexuals, but in my “home country”, being gay is something between doing drugs and killing puppies for fun. So in this case I would at least understand. But being such a boringly normal person, I just do not get it.

But let me skip the part of how much heart ache, pain, tears, and sleepless nights it cost me to finally make my peace with the fact that I will never be good enough for my parents, and get straight to the point.

Justice.

quotation-marks-pngThe belief in Ultimate Justice, that everybody will be held responsible for their actions, keeps me going.

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Although I always had my problems with believing (in) things I can’t see – I’m sure I wouldn’t even believe that two plus two is four if I weren’t able to see it for myself – I always believed in justice. Not the one where the legislative system punishes all the bad guys (haha), or that the good always wins over the evil, but that everybody will be held responsible for whatever they did in their lives.

Don’t ask me when, or how, or who will be the judge. I have no idea. I just believe – and this feeling is so strong that I would even say I know – that at the end there will be Justice.

It keeps me going. I won’t be able to sleep peacefully if I wasn’t so sure those bullies from the 6th grade who were stealing my lunch are not going to get away with it after all.

Sometimes I like to listen to religious speakers. Some of these guys are really bonkers, but there are some of them that really make sense. We might disagree on some points, but if you think away all the names and terms specific for a particular religion they all talk about the same things: gratitude, appreciation, patience, forgiveness, kindness, empathy.

It helps me keep things in perspective.

Well, most of the times. There is one issue though.

quotation-marks-pngHow do you know that you’ve tried enough and it’s ok to stop forgiving?

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Unfortunately, they don’t tell me how much gratitude and appreciation I should show, and how much patience is enough, before I’m allowed to stop forgiving, because there is neither kindness nor even a slightest bit of empathy on another side. Time, after time, after time. Instead, these guys tell me that having bad relationship with your parents is a “straight ticket to hell”.

I used to think it is so easy. Called your sister names? Bad. Peed in the pool? Shame on you and… bad! Killing puppies for fun? Doing drugs? Very, very bad. But not talking to your parents and planning to keep them out of your life forever? Bad? How bad? “Two years on probation” or “20 to life” bad? Can I plead extenuating circumstances? Are you sure I’m the defendant?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but every imaginary conversation with my mother led me to the same conclusion: I did not have any other choice. It was either this or to become a neurotic, depressed and very unhappy person with no hope of having a family of their own or at least earn enough money to pay all the therapists to help (and unfortunately, this is not a speculation).

But what if I’m wrong? What if I did something very bad and completely deserve this attitude? What if I haven’t tried hard enough? What if I didn’t show enough kindness, mercy, forgiveness?

I asked Google whether “it’s ok to disobey your parents if they treat you bad”. Google pretended to ignore the “if” part. I also tried with “if they make your life hell”. Needless to say, this went even worse. So much about Google knows everything.

I tried asking real people, but they would tell anything to a weeping person just to make them feel better.

I guess I’m not getting my answers in this world. If it does come to “hell”, my only hope is to find some lawyers around – and I hear the chances are not bad – to defend my case.

Until then…

Hello, Sleepless Nights. Greetings to you, Guilt. How nice of you to bring Tears along, too! How have you been, Mother? Up for another imaginary conversation?

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Gill Andrews is a content creator and a web consultant from Germany. When she is not writing or analyzing websites, she is probably running after her toddler son or eating chocolate cake (because writing and running after toddlers requires a lot of energy). Read more about Gill on www.Gillandrews.com

11 comments on “Not Talking to Your Family? Congratulations! You Are Going to Hell.Add yours →

  1. Aahhh I’m on familiar ground here. I’ve been there – four years ago I was locked in the same circular thought pattern. “Your parents are your parents, by giving life to you, caring for you when you were helpless, undergoing all the wracking, draining decisions parenthood involves, they are somehow beyond rebuke no matter what they do. As their children we can never understand the decisions and sacrifices they made and thus can never presume to judge.”
    Having children of my own caused two things to happen. First I sought to bridge the gap, paper over cracks, play happy families. I was ready to start afresh, to put the years of abuse I still have difficulty coming to terms with behind me. But even with the best of intentions it doesn’t go away – I needed closure and my parents claimed they couldn’t remember…
    Then, as my children grew and I experienced the raw vulnerability parenthood lays upon you as you shepherd the best of yourself through the savagery of the world, I realised something else. They can’t have felt this. To do all those things, they can’t have felt that “I-would-give-my-life-to-protect-you tenderness” that tears a parent’s heart and turns it to paper.
    They are the ones who didn’t fulfil their obligations, not me.
    They might be my family biologically, but in reality they are no different from any other person, and that’s how I try to view them: with the same compassion I would have for any living thing, but no expectations.
    There is no contract. We owe one another nothing – all bets are off.

    I wish you all the best for finding your equilibrium.

    1. Dear Aisha,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read and respond. And sorry that I’m getting back to you so late on this.

      I can imagine that there are a lot of people out there struggling with the same situation and the same ambivalent feelings. I also think that most of them never find their peace of mind. I also have little hope for myself here in this regard, to be honest.

      You see, I don’t think that this is “we owe one another nothing” situation. I think my parents owe me to be my parents. They decided to have a child. They were already there when I was born. They were already adults, while I was little, helpless, not knowing anything about this life. These days even if you get a dog there are some expectations being put on you to treat it nice. Be prepared for animal control to ring your door bell or at least your friends to frown upon you if you start punching it or yelling at it one day. You decide to get a living being in your life – you need to step up to your responsibilities and fulfill your role.

      I don’t think it’s too much to ask from your parents to be there for you. Not to abuse you verbally, not to humiliate you, not to constantly remind you how ungrateful you are. To be happy for you when you get engaged. To come to your wedding. To share the joy of your first child with you. These are the very basics in my opinion. But if a parent voluntary give all these things up to “make a point”, I refuse to have any understanding for this. And in the case of my mother knew exactly what’s coming if she doesn’t stop treating me like this.

      I’m not a parent myself yet. But I also think there is no way they were feeling “I-would-give-my-life-to-protect-you tenderness” as you put it for me. No way. I can’t even imagine what they must be feeling to act like this. But I can’t keep blaming them of depriving me of having real parents as so basic but also so needed support structure in my life – something that one can never get back once it’s gone.

  2. You are addictive! And because of you I am running late to take my child to shower!!!

    On a serious note, I very very much hope that as a mother I can take such tests as accepting the spouce of my child from different race, color or religion, accept their choices of career, even accept them being gay or even changing their sex (hoping this is not needed!!!).

    Anyway, not easy. Not easy to stand my own discomfort in order to give more comfort to other. To people I love. Just started learning it. Hope to succeed.

    1. *a clear case of simultaneous blog reading* I’m reading yours right now 🙂

      Thank you very much for all the compliments.

      Re serious note: The fact that you are already thinking about it is a sign that you will do it right. Also, what kind of shallow person judges others only based on a skin color, career or religion without even bothering to look at the personality and character?

      Re discomfort: In my case I don’t see it as “discomfort of my mother vs. my discomfort”. It is more like “discomfort of my mother vs. she has no place in my life whatsoever”. If I were my mother, I would definitely choose “discomfort” over not talking to my child, not knowing where they are, not even knowing whether they are healthy, etc. Well, she chose otherwise. I wonder if this option brings more “comfort” to her.

  3. When talking about my discomfort vs your discomfort I actually was talking from a point of view of a mother. Me as a mother (since I am a mother oh believe me I know what it is to be in a discomfort of mine but to give this to my child for his own comfort).

    I understand what you mean but in my case it is a little different. My parents are not that bad but my childhood was not easy at all. As you claim I felt like they were not there for me. It meant years of years of anger towards them and also many closures needed.

    To my greatest surprise they did not remember either. That was another shock. But since I have my own children to grow, I understand my parents better.

    I understood that they gave me absolutely best they could have. Not because I really got the best what a child could get from their parents on earth, no way. But these particular people to whom I was born, they could not give me more as they did. Because of lack of their internal resources.

    And the only way to understand me this was to have my own kids. I am sure I am different to my kids in so many ways. But also I realise that in many cases I want to be a better parent to my kids. But I just can’t. My internal resources do not allow me to. I can give only as much as I can. And to my sadness I can not give more than I can.

    Yes I look for ways, search for them, my understanding increases and I give a little more each day. But will I be on time for them to grow and feel that they got all what I needed from me? I am not sure…

    I only hope that when they are adults and I say sorry to them that I was not able to give them all that they needed and wanted when the time was right, they will be able to forgive me.

  4. I’ve had a similar experience with my grandma (mostly my fault though), which caused a lot of the same thinking and self-conversations you had.

    YOU WILL NOT GO TO HELL

    Relationships always go to ways, and as your parents, and therefor the “older” ones, she should be more mature and be able to communicate. You’ve tried, that’s all that matters.

    “One thing I have learned with certainty is not to stand in connection with those who diminish me. This is particularly difficult when family is involved, because we have a vested interest in perpetuating the family system for all kinds of different reasons. I don’t believe one should endure abuse no matter how attached they are to an idea of family. There are many families waiting for us (read: soulpod) just outside our habitual awareness. We are not responsible for those who diminish us. We really have to get that. We can be compassionate and we can certainly understand where their abusiveness comes from, but understanding the origins does not mean we have to endure it. Its not our cross to bear.” — JEFF BROWN

    1. Thanks, Yvonne 🙂 I was also thinking that parents “were there first” and should know better. Besides, what happened to the unconditional motherly love? This post is a bit older. The update on the situation is that after 2 years of silence my father (who hasn’t picked up the phone himself more than 5 times during over the last 10 years, and half of the calls were more or less abusive) wrote me an email, saying “this can’t go on like this, everybody is at fault here, one can’t choose their parents”. I wrote back (in a respectful and non-accusatory manner) that I simply can’t communicate with them, because I’ve already developed strong physical and emotional reaction to this, and it’s just not healthy for me. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel (too) guilty. I guess this post was a trigger when I started to realize that enough is enough.

  5. I understand what you are saying 100%. I’m in a very similar situation with my mother. I hope you feel better. It’s hard, but don’t blame yourself. You’ll be alright.

    1. Hey Amy. I’m very sorry for such a late reply. I remember your comment reaching me while I was traveling during the winter holidays.

      Anyhow. Thank you for your kind words! I’m sorry to hear about your situation… But you know what? Life is such a funny thing! While I was writing this post, I was 100% sure that there is no way I would ever talk again to my parents, let alone visit them. But then my father got seriously ill, and, despite of all the things between us, I decided to call my parents.

      It was one of the most difficult things I had to do. I haven’t slept well before the day we were supposed to have a Skype call and started sweating and pacing around the room 2 hours before it was time to call them.

      But it actually went ok. We even flew there for a short visit during the holidays. And it, too, was ok. They haven’t completely changed, of course, but they at least were smart enough to recognize they could lose me and their grandchild forever if they proceeded the way it used to be.

      My father is much better now. We talk every week on Skype. It’s of course not a close relationship (I barely talk about myself, and those calls is mostly for them to see their grandchild), but I feel much better than I used to.

      I didn’t realize it, but the fact that I had no connection to my family (however dysfunctional it might be) was putting a lot of weight on me and in some way influenced my behavior and mood. I remember getting angry about little things more often before, probably channeling my anger at them for treating me like this and abandoning me.

      I guess what I’m saying is life is full of surprises. Even if you think there is no way out, or no other way, it happens nevertheless.

      From all my heart, I wish this kind of little miracle happens to you, too.

  6. Can relate with you….tough but we need to act before we are engulfed by pain…we have to be happy at least for ourselves….just because they gave birth to us doesn’t men that we need to put up with their emotional abuse forever…..You are not at fault.Please be happy and don’t blame yourself.

  7. Hey dear i completely relate to you…. Me too after 27 years of hard work, degrees, education, results which are meritorious in university….have landed up alone…abandoned from parents…rather i decided to break the ties… When upto police station to get my rights. I am not so young now… I am 28… Just married… have a preety job…earn enof to sustain life and have little enjoyments… have four degrees and still I am in same situatioon as you.

    no point in discussion of the fact that who was wrong and what went wrong… the pain and nightmares… blown and pooping eyes all day because of crying nights and paining head …due to sleepless nights…

    All the same jingle we all sing…

    Parents cant help… we cant help them.. they dont change… we cant change anyone… they r mature enof…we cant be mature enof…
    At all levels they are dissatisfied from us… they like kids of other parents … and thats going to stay there…

    Juz received a mail from my parents… rather my dad saying… you are a dog…cheap begger….a cheap whore…

    Y….
    because i wanted and i did marry one guy from different country religion…. caste…race…creed…. totally different from me… fled from my home…. literally in night…runnn awayy… from the place where i spend…. 27 years of my life….my home turned into hell for me… cant even imagine…seeing it again…. thinking of it brings memories…of pain…
    all good memories have been washed offf… my brain…

    I wanted to be good daughter… did work my ass off for education… did my level best to bring proud to my parents….

    but when i asked for my own little wish to marry a guy i love…all the reality came to me…

    They say.. I am cheap… they say loving a guy is cheap… they say love is cheap… they say .. sex is cheap… they say…all this is against society and religion and country

    they say i m a traitor.. they say i bring same to home family society friends family and country…

    Me a human being out of millions of them on this planet… did what my heart wanted… and i am the worst person on this earth..

    they say i see the world upside down… my way is wrong way…

    yes i am wrong..

    because for all wrong i am right and for all right i am wrong..
    the battle is endless..

    I did what i could what i wanted and what i thot was right… yes dear 2+2=4 and it is.. for me..

    People have faces good bad and ugly..

    I am the ugly duckling of the family…

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