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Aubs427's avatar

[UPDATE/ADVICE NEEDED] cutting ties with toxic parents?

Asked by Aubs427 (421points) August 4th, 2016

I recently posted about my situation on here regarding my toxic parents.

TL;DR Physically abused by mom from grades 1–10 for not doing well in school; mom arrested; foster care; parents awarded custody and sent to anger management classes cause they hired a good lawyer. Abuse continued and got worse. Dad and mom were verbally and emotionally abusive into adulthood. Moved out at 25, wrote letter and emailed it to them stating NC and outlined abuse. No contact since.

So, I posted recently I didn’t hear back from my parents since having wrote the letter, which was early June. Sister had reached out, seemed to be neutral, but when she found out I got a new phone number, was immediately pissed by the fact that I wouldn’t give it to her and said that me not doing so was hurtful. The entire family has never addressed the abuse.

I am reaching out because I just received a letter from which it seems my dad wrote as the language and the way things are worded is very much like how my dad talks. Nothing was addressed and all that was stated was them putting all the blame on me. He outlined how they “did everything they could for me” and how they “tried to fix me”. He doesn’t apologize for anything and instead states that I was the one who “couldn’t live up to their end of the expectations”. One point he made was that my sister went down the path they wanted and how I “failed to follow down the same path”. He doesn’t even mention or acknowledge that abuse occurred and spent an entire page and a half making me out to be the one who did them wrong. That basically because they provided for me and because I didn’t live up to their academic expectations…I was the one who is in the wrong, not them. It appears they were trying to justify the abuse without actually addressing it ever happened or implying that it wasn’t wrong for it to have occured.

I need all the advice, thoughts, and support I can get. Am I in the right to burn the bridge completely?

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15 Answers

cazzie's avatar

There is burning bridges and then there is making the bridge disappear off a map. You are over 25 years old. They don’t (shouldn’t) control you anymore. If they had your best interest at heart they would be encouraging you to make a life of your own and wishing you the best of luck and telling you how capable you are. The fact that this isn’t happening, is showing me that they have a serious problem. Don’t burn bridges. Just don’t advertise them on facebook or Gmaps. Draw a line. That was then, this is now. Get on with your life as an adult.
YOU know where you stand. You know what happened. You don’t need their viewpoint, advice or suggestions on the subject. I will support you. Count me as one of your supporters. Send me an IM or facebook friend me or join me in Second Life in one of my Science groups. Welcome to Fluther. Welcome to a new community.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Your parents sound horrific. Those of us at Fluther haven’t met them, however, so it’s impossible for us to gauge their behavior or determine what’s wrong with them. It could be that your parents are damaged people who truly did their best; it’s also possible that they’re simply cruel, mean-spirited, and have no real compassion for you.

You can put your hand in a fire only so many times before you’re dangerously injured. Regardless of what causes your parents’ treatment of you, it’s toxic and damaging. Maybe you don’t need to “burn the bridge” completely, but it’s likely best to severe any contact for now.

We like to think of the parent-child relationship as sacrosanct, and to believe that all mothers and fathers will love their offspring and be good to them. Sadly, that can’t be presumed. Every jurisdiction has a Child Protective Services agency, not because it wants to waste taxpayers’ money for no good reason, but because the world’s rife with neglectful and abusive parents.

zenvelo's avatar

Reiterate to your sister that you do not want any contact with your parents, and if she attempts to “be a bridge” between you and them, you will have to cut contact with her.

You need to cut any ties that allow their toxicity to approach you.

As @cazzie said, we will support you as best we can. You need to be free of your parents.

janbb's avatar

Hugs and support; bridge burning is totally appropriate. I recently had to redo it with someone who wouldn’t take responsibility for past abuse.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Same as said. Enjoy your life.

funkdaddy's avatar

You’re a fully grown, independent, self-sufficient adult. Parents are special people because they do so much for us early on, but at some point, you have to decide who you want to be.

It sounds like you’ve done that and now you need to address that it doesn’t fit with the path they’d recommend. Recognize at this stage in your life, they are just like other people in your life with opinions. They’re no longer uniquely important. They’re not your caretakers, they aren’t your support structure, they aren’t a requirement for you to be happy. You have friends, and those that love you that are far more important.

What do you need from them? Only you can answer, but it sounds like you want them to acknowledge your version of events. They’re not going to at this point in their lives. Only you can decide how important that is, but recognize waiting for them to change still gives them power in your life. They can still drag down your days, even from far away, with no contact. You have to let it go.

In place of that decide what you do need/want from them, that’s under your control.

If you don’t need approval, stop seeking it.
If you don’t need their direction, don’t look for it.
If you don’t want them to have power over your life and actions from here forward, don’t give it to them. It’s yours.

But it’s probably also healthy to recognize the good they’ve given you. I’m not saying they were good parents on the whole (only you can decide that, don’t let anyone tell you) but they’ve given you something to take with you, even if it’s just a clearer picture of who you want to be.

Move on in a healthy way. Move on knowing it’s your choice.

Tons of support and hugs.

Seek's avatar

Here, borrow my flamethrower.

chapmyhide's avatar

Put as many miles between you and them as possible. 2000 miles is a good rule of thumb. Depending on where you live, this may mean moving to Alaska or Hawaii, which are both excellent and interesting places to live. As they get older, they will be less able or willing to travel that far. If they show up and ring the doorbell, don’t answer the door, pretend you’re not home. You can read their emails and letters if you must, but do not respond, grumble and crumple and throw the letter away. Since your sister is defending them, apply the same treatment to her. Treat them as less than strangers. Treat them as you would treat street criminals, avoid them and do not talk to them. You have no obligation to them.

Seek's avatar

You don’t need to move half the country away. You can get a “No Contact” order with a trip to the county courthouse. Easy as pie, especially with that letter in hand and the history of anger management classes.

With the no contact order they would not be able to contact you legally, even through your sister.

I have one in place between myself and my mother. She lives approximately 40 miles from me and I haven’t seen her in nine (glorious) years.

CWOTUS's avatar

Seek professional help.

Seriously. You’ve been writing about this issue since 2010, and you’re not any closer to an internal / emotional / intellectual resolution than you were in November of 2010 with your fist question here.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with you – or at least, “nothing that’s wrong about you which you haven’t already acknowledged and brought up” – but you’re still fighting battles from 2010. You need to find a way to put paid to this topic, so that you don’t “forget” the issue, but so that you can put it away, focus on the future more than the past, and only pull this out and examine it when you care to, and not when it bites you in the ass… again.

We’re going to keep offering you advice and suggestions for how to do these things, but ultimately it’s up to you to take the advice (or not) and make your own life and not have to ask for advice in “how to handle these kinds of family issues” when it’s always the same issue (or “the same issue as your circumstances change”).

So while most of the above is fine advice and support, I think you really need to start talking to a professional, qualified and experienced counselor – on your own – to help you deal permanently with these types of issues, and to teach you coping strategies to deal with them as they arise – and they will arise – in the future.

I wish you luck. For that matter, I wish your family luck, too. Although your descriptions of them make them seem at times monstrous, I’m sure that in their own minds they are going through their own kind of hell, wondering “where we went wrong” with you, and that’s not making them feel good about you or themselves. But you’re the one presenting your case here, and you need help getting that sorted. More than we can give you, I’m afraid.

BellaB's avatar

As has been said earlier, on this and other threads, burn the bridge. Burn all the bridges.

Talk to your counsellor about why you’re having trouble breaking the ties.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I fully understand why you’ve been struggling for so long. It’s innate to keep relationships with close relatives, especially one’s parents, and it isn’t easy or natural to sever such ties. Family is the most basic social unit; evolution’s telling every cell in your body, and every aspect of your psyche, not to burn that bridge. Only you can decide what to do…a decision that I’m sure is agonizing.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Sometimes families are not what we’ve been led to believe they should be. Yours obviously aren’t a positive influence in your life. When this happens we have to look after ourselves. You’ve broken contact with your family. That’s your right. You don’t owe your family anything and there is certainly no obligation for you to maintain contact.

In saying all that, cutting ties is easier said than done. We’re conditioned to believe families should be wonderful and we should feel loved. Sometimes that just isn’t how it is. It can leave us feeling guilty and as if we’re somehow letting down the team by cutting them off. I agree with @CWOTUS that you should get some counselling. You need an objective, impartial ear to listen to you, and to help you to find strategies to deal with the guilt and any ongoing conflict with your family.

I wish you well. Look after yourself. Find that counsellor to help you repair the damage you’ve experienced so far.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Perhaps this article may give you some assistance?
It explains everything about what you are experiencing.
Hope that it heps you understand your uncertainties?

Inspired_2write's avatar

Just another comment to clarify my earlier response:
Being a black sheep is not negative.
In the past I took a Sociology course where the professor expained
“How a person becomes a leader” and he cited famous personalities.

In short: Most or “all leaders ” in the beginning ,were perceived as Black Sheep in their families.

All leaders “stand out” of the norm , when they are willing to remove themselves from the ‘pack/tribe/family in order to fulfill their purpose in life as a leader in any field of endeavor.

Most are independant thinkers who see the World as a place to fulfill their dreams of anything that is “new” or ‘strange” at first to create,influence,and change the world in the future.
Example: Christopher Columbus
He was isolated from his family as he was an independant thinker who acted on his views of a better world.
What would had happened if he were brow beaten by his family to stay home and follow his parents advice?
Hence all leaders are not normal in the sense that they follow their own inclinations with or in most cases without their families support.
A lot of examples throughout History and Steve Jobs was another recent example.

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