I had a really bad relationship with my step mother (not as bad though as some posted here) from ages 13 to 23. I am 31 now and in the past 5 years or so I have basically decided to not talk about those years and just let her and my dad be grandparents to my children. Nothing has ever been resolved about those years and I know that she won't/can't see/accept that she was terrible to me. I have never talked to anyone professionally about those years. They live far away from us so it is easy to maintain a superficial relationship and when we visit to make it mostly about the grandkids.
So the question is "Is this healthy?". I am the happiest person I know so this doesn't really effect me. And the reason it is coming up today is I read a journal that I had written 10 or so years ago reminding me of what happened and I am feeling a bit angry.
On a personal note, I sometimes am reminded of past events, and anger rears it's head. As more time passes, though, I move my attention back to my current life a bit faster, so I spend less time stuck in the past.
I think that its healthy to let the past just GO and move on with our lives with a few caveats:
1. She is a scary person who hurts kids and should never be along with yours. I recommend setting clear boundaries to protect your children from a person you know can be extremely hurtful.
2. There is a subtle difference between really letting go of the past and just acting as if we've let go of the past. I think you are straddling a thin grey line. I recommend finding ways to continue to release the anger and hurt from the past. The golden place to be is to be honest without ourselves about what happened and how badly we were hurt at the time while finding a way to let it go and live in the present moment. Fully aware of the past, but enjoying the joys and sorrows of our lives RIGHT NOW with the family we have created.
May be you could do something to help release more anger -- sometime I write a letter to someone pouring out all my feelings and then burn it. It's very symbolic for me.
but everything has pros and cons
I am right there with you. My relationship with my family was an absolute nightmare. I left, and went far, far away. I'm a happy person, I always was, I imagine, living a pretty happy life now, and I'm OK with our distant and cordial relationship. My parents have alluded to the past, but no one has outright addressed it, and I'm hoping it goes on that way. I can't see myself and them, in our current or forseeable future versions, having any kind of constructive or positive conversation about what our relationship was. But I do wonder: Is this healthy? Is this normal? Would a fully actualized and mentally stable human just burn the past down and walk away?
Then I remember that 1000 years ago I would have been too busy looking for food to care, and I move right on. Ha.
No, really, I have no idea if this will work in the long run, but in the short term, it's going pretty well. You're not alone.
And on 09/23/2011, we were three; husband, daughter, and me!
I have family relationships somewhat like that where in order to have a relationship at all it is at a distance and superficial. I find it healthy enough, I know what I had problems with and have nothing to say now about it but will not accept closer relationships.
BUT keeping people distant can sometimes shift over the years to something more awkward if your kids are older and grandparents suggest different kinds of visits like extended visits without you and you won't allow it. It can become awkward. My mother talked about me in inappropriate ways to my oldest daughter. Also she would refer to the distance I chose to create after an abusive incident as me "holding a grudge" ... sigh. So if things may be said or tensions may exist with your children when older think about that now. It can be hard.
Ultimately I divulged a lot of the things that had occurred to my oldest daughter so she would understand why I was choosing to be distant with only occasional visits and make her own choices fully informed in the affected relationships (she is now 18yo)
As far as your choice I pretty much agree with it. Do you feel you have some vested interest in talking things through? (I don't.) Can you trust the other person/people to understand you, not misinterpret, accept your effort as legitimate, not bring it up as a new sore point of their own, etc. ??? Usually you communicate about something this hard because it will accomplish something of benefit to you, something you need from that other person. But if you no longer need anything then you are free already and should enjoy that. There are times when there is not a reason to communicate. Once you grow up you can choose how to handle such a relationship--as a child you could not but now you can create the terms you prefer. I think that deciding to keep the relationship superficial and leave the past trauma in the past can actually be a very healthy choice. If you feel good about that then don't worry that you are wrong because I doubt you are. But do be careful if those traumas could creep into your lives later somehow, just think about it enough that you won't be blindsided with a surprise.
ME&HE... loving our: dd(18) ~~ds(13) dd(13)~~ dd(10)
Thank you all for your answers! I can't see any value in reliving the past and I know it would not change things. It is good to know that I am not the only one in a situation like this. So superficial and distant relationship it is!
As far as the kids go I think that short and supervised visits are fine. My step mother sat with my daughter (3) for a couple of hours making doll furniture out of cardboard. So there can be moments of good grandparenting. I also really want my dad to have grandkids so in order to have one we need to have the other. In reality we see them twice a year for about 2 weeks at a time. There will never be any unsupervised visits.
This is the approach I took with my mother too.