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Nearly 40, still very much a child of divorce

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm nearly 40. :-) My parents separated when I was 5, divorced when I was 9 or 10. My dad was abusive towards my mom and towards me. I remember my mom being pretty nasty towards my dad in her own way, too, and not playing by the rules of the divorce Let's just say neither of my parents is a saint.

 

Mom remarried what I thought was a really nice guy. I don't know what went wrong but now she talks bad about him, too. My half-siblings are very bothered by this and stuck in the middle of that divorce. She is now married for a third time.

 

So dad loved me but had an awful temper and it left scars in my heart. However as an adult dad and I mended our relationship and the last twelve years have been so wonderful. He was sorry for what he did, he made up for it and he was a good grandfather. He passed away suddenly a few months ago at the age of 59. I was his only living child and dad's side of the family is pretty small.

 

My mom and I have had a very rocky relationship. After 10 years of not talking, we went to counseling and healed things enough to have a relationship. However she still has a lot of issues.

 

When dad died she asked me over and over how were my grandparents, aunt, uncle, etc handling it. She asked about his current wife of many years. I told her and I also expressed my stress that I was feeling about the funeral planning, watching him be on life support for 3 days, and my grief. If she had not asked, I would not have shared this with her because my parents hated each other and I always felt stuck in the middle.

 

My mom is still very bitter towards my dad and their marriage together and has never let a moment go when she can describe her feelings towards dad to me. When he passed away she posted on her facebook page (which she knows I read) that the world is a safer place because my dad is dead. She also referred to him as a "monster." I told her so many times it hurts me to hear her talk like that. She then blew up at me and told me she never wanted me to talk about dad's side of the family ever again. Okay then. Then, a few days later I got a text from her reminding me it was dad's birthday. 

 

I told my mom I need a break and asked her to schedule a counseling session so we can talk about this. I am at the point where I feel like cutting her off again for awhile. I don't need this right now. I am grieving, I work full time as a peds nurse with very sick and dying children, I am a mom to my own two kids and have a marriage to maintain. Just don't need this drama, don't feel like handling it right now. It would be so easy to just cut her off again and be passive aggressive. I know that's not the right thing to do because until all this happened the relationship was workable and like I said, she was a good grandma to the kids.

 

Here I am almost 40 years old and still dealing with this stuff. So sick of it.

 

Advice? Thoughts?

post #2 of 5
I don't know if I have great advice but I have a similar story and journey. This will be long, I hope it's ok.

I'm 37, have two kids pregnant with number 3 and have just cut my dad off of communication with my family for similar reasons. He is divorcing my step mom of 30 years, quickly has a new perfect girlfriend etc, has little to no boundaries with inserting her into my family when I've expressly asked him not to, is actively trying to avoid splitting the assets of the marriage in a fair way and is spewing lies and poison about my stepmother to anyone who will listen. He is actively and intentionally being nasty about his divorce process.
When I confronted him about this behavior (similar to how he divorced my mom) he blew up and I became another bad guy.
So I stopped talking to him. And I feel so much better. He is fine to be around as long as he is never challenged, which is a requirement I cannot live with, nor is it one I will teach my children to abide by. He was abusive and controlling during my childhood, and still relies on bullying and manipulation to avoid taking responsibikity for his harmful actions, and requires that no one else speak up when his actions are harming others. Bullies need silent collaborators in my family.

What I had to do was reexamine what role I have continually played in my family dynamic. I have always been a peacekeeper, unwillingly, because my family is so full of strong personalities/flat out assholes that there isn't room for another squeaky wheel, so I had I be THE adult, I am my stepmothers best friend, my mothers ear, and for awhile my father would talk to be about my stepmom but I finally realized that his way of talking was still trying to get me to take sides. The second I stepped out of caretaker/peacemaker role everything exploded and suddenly "the whole family is falling apart". All because I insisted my father have integrity within his relationships in his family.

So, maybe you too have outgrown your role as passive daughter who works so hard to keep the peace for the sake of everyone else. There is a difference between being self protective and passive aggressive, since 'passive aggressive' implies that you have an ulterior motive behind distancing yourself from your mother. It sounds very much like you are simply tired of having to teach her how to be sensitive to your needs. Not your job, really, at 30 something to still be reminding your mother how to be kind. She should know by now.

I have found that the older I get the less enthusiasm I have for wading through other people's unhealthy patterns that they clearly are unwilling to change. I want to have relationships where I am not required to play a certain role, caretaker, peacemaker, passive etc. I am fine doing all those things- when I choose it- but not when it's the only thing I'm allowed to be. I have stopped answering my phone for needy friends too, unless I am totally willing to take care of someone who will not call me again until the next crisis.

I am so sorry that you have lost your father, I cannot imagine the compounded pain of grief plus your mothers drama on top of it that you somehow had to sort through. It sounds dreadful and exhausting, not to mention supremely unfair to you. I hope you find peace and clarity and support from people who see you for who you really are, not just who they need you to be in order to prop up their story lines. Good luck, mama.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenmoon View Post

I don't know if I have great advice but I have a similar story and journey. This will be long, I hope it's ok.



So, maybe you too have outgrown your role as passive daughter who works so hard to keep the peace for the sake of everyone else. There is a difference between being self protective and passive aggressive, since 'passive aggressive' implies that you have an ulterior motive behind distancing yourself from your mother. It sounds very much like you are simply tired of having to teach her how to be sensitive to your needs. Not your job, really, at 30 something to still be reminding your mother how to be kind. She should know by now.

 

 I am so glad you shared your story, too. It helps to know I am not being selfish as much as self-protective like you said. I am so sorry that as adults we are still dealing with this. I have told my mom many times, "You chose to marry him. You chose him to be my father. Deal with it." I also told her that unlike her relationship with him, which was severed with divorce, my relationship with my father was life-long. I really envy and respect people who divorce and remain cooperative and respectful for the sake of their children. 

 

By the way I am an obsessive knitter too! I started knitting years ago when I was in a depressed funk. Let's just say I've been knitting a lot of socks lately. ;-)

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAmma View Post

 
Let's just say I've been knitting a lot of socks lately. ;-)

Pretty sure a dozen pairs of good knitted socks will heal a lot of angst...
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenmoon View Post


Pretty sure a dozen pairs of good knitted socks will heal a lot of angst...

 I live in Phoenix, so alas, they will sit in my drawer for me to look at for most of the year. But they are so pretty to look at!

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