Social Question

Seek's avatar

How do you stop mourning for the cards you weren't dealt?

Asked by Seek (34714points) September 25th, 2010

There are certain things that just make me sad when I hear or see them – things that remind me of things that I’ll never have. For example, my close friend has awesome parents. Her mom calls her every day just to chat, her dad’s always driving up (five hours!) to fix things around her house, they are the most indulgent grandparents ever…

I’ll never have that. And when I think about it, it makes me really stupidly jealous. It seems selfish, and I sort of hate myself for thinking that way, but I can’t help it. I am so happy that she has this great family… but I have to wonder why I didn’t get that too.

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30 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Appreciate what you do have!
<<HUGS>>

ucme's avatar

I simply cherish what I have, because at the end of the day, wow do I have a lot to be thankful for. Yay for my life :¬)

Nullo's avatar

I’m with @lucillelucillelucille here. Focus on the positive, and the unique. And remember, your friend probably doesn’t have Fluther friends.
If that’s still insufficient, you can try to improve your lot. Is your relationship with your parents fixable?
Really, it can be a bit of a drag having people call you all the time.

muppetish's avatar

For me it was grandparents and not parents. I grew up with one grandmother where the majority of my friends had all four of their grandparents around. I never had a grandfather. My dad had a poor relationship with his father and both my mother’s parents were lost to cancer before I was born. While I didn’t think very often about my dad’s father, I was… really upset over my mother’s parents. I couldn’t shake the feeling that if they hadn’t smoked their entire lives, I might have had my grandparents around.

It hurts.

I don’t know that it will ever stop hurting completely, but I love all the other cards I have. And I keep it in the back of my head that if I ever become a parent… I really want my dad to be around so that my children will have a grandfather in their lives. I don’t think there is much as we can do but try and stifle the negative feelings and wholly embrace the positive ones.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

Although you didn’t have all of that, there is one really good thing that comes from it. You can become a mother like that, and then a grandmother like that. If you hadn’t seen it and become aware of it, then you would probably not even thought about it, and your children would have lost out.

Seek's avatar

@muppetish feels me on this.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have often found myself deeply envious of people who love and are loved by their mothers. I try to console myself by reminding myself that I love deeply and am deeply loved by my own daughter, having learned a lot about how to make that happen from the things lacking in the relationship with my own mother.

Seek's avatar

@JilltheTooth I think you just became my new role model.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: Ack! The pressure! Seriously, though, I look on parenting as a very pro-active and ongoing process. I think that’s what has done it. My daughter appreciates that I have always appreciated her as a person as well as my child. Impart that sense of value to your kids (which I think you will do anyway, since you obviously don’t take parenting for granted.) We learn best from our own pain.

marinelife's avatar

You need to focus on what is positive in your life that you do have. Count your blessings every day. Say thanks for the things that you are thankful for. Call each one up in your mind and spend time being grateful for it.

That will minimize the pain of the things that you don’t have. Which is very real!

Aster's avatar

For those of you saddened that your children don’t have grandparents, consider this : could it be possible that they don’t care about not having any but only you care?
Out of four grandparents I could have had I had one, barely. I don’t know why but I only was around her once, very briefly, and like some others who knew her, didn’t think much of her. I never wondered about my grandparents or lack thereof and to this day it doesn’t matter to me at all that I didn’t have any!

BarnacleBill's avatar

You’re not alone. I used to envy kids at school whose fathers were dead; at least they didn’t choose to not do things with their kids.

harple's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I remember when I first watched It’s a Wonderful Life, and I cried my eyes out at the end… not because he almost lost it all, but because he didn’t… it cut so deeply because my father didn’t come to the same conclusions and realise that his wife and children were worth staying alive for. (we were blessed by the entrance of the man I now call Dad into our lives a little while later, so I know I haven’t missed out in the same way, but I mourn not knowing my natural father, and I should have dearly liked to not have had to grow up knowing the reality and significance of death at so young an age, not to mention the stigma attached to his choosing to go.)

@BarnacleBill Some kids whose fathers were dead DID have fathers that chose not to do things with their kids, ever.

muppetish's avatar

@Aster It could be that the children do not care about not having their grandparents around. But as I mentioned in my post, I cared. There was no blame placed on my parents. There was no blame placed on the Unfairness of the Universe. I just wish that I could have met my mother’s parents before they were gone.

zophu's avatar

Maybe you’re trying to sympathize with another life over-bluntly, more than you’re mourning your own. People are too complex to take “how things might have been” very seriously. There’s no way to know who you would be if you had a different life, and even if there was, it wouldn’t be you; there’s nothing tangible to mourn unless you subscribe to a strict view of “what people are supposed to be,” which is probably the most destructive outlook people are capable of, so don’t do that. . . I think it’s something else you’re mourning, the tangible losses in your life, that you associate arbitrarily with the lack of a common family situation. Just because you don’t have mah and pah to be active positives in your life doesn’t mean there can’t be (or aren’t) other people who play roles just as valuable.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I keep working towards my big picture and like @marinelife wrote, sometimes I have to stop and write or type a list of stuff that does mean a lot to me that I have in my life now. I usually write in a daily calendar something that made the day good or great so I can look it over when I feel overwhelmed or down.

In the case of parenting, I feel you there. My parents raised me out of responsibility and to show their own parents they could do it. No I didn’t feel chosen, valued or loved any more than a favored pet but… my parents treat me wonderfully now and I’m not too old to enjoy it and a little bit be healed by it. If I had children then I think my focus would be a lot of them, looking for good people to bring to their lives so blood relatives wouldn’t be missed any more than as an ideal.

tedibear's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr, I wish I knew. My SIL and BIL had a baby in December and there are times it hurts to be around her. I don’t resent their good fortune, but seeing her makes me wish we were having our own. I try to comfort myself with the list of things I “can” do because we don’t have children. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It would work better if we did some of those things!

And while we all know that looking on the bright side is the right thing to do, it can be difficult. I say kudos to you for being able to be happy for your friend. {{Seek_Kolinahr}}

rainbowspirit's avatar

Well, this is a very deep subject and I think everyone has made good points and from different perspectives according to their own life experiences. I think your feelings are completely normal and understandable. As you don’t say why these relationships are something you will never have, the reasons for these feelings may be just natural circumstances or you may have had bad and unhappy circumstances. Obviously the circumstances which are the cause of your missing relationships that you mourn for make it difficult for me to comment on.
I am very lucky in some ways. I have a wonderful mum who is also my closest friend, but our relationship has gone through some very bad times in the past. I never had a nana and I do wish I had known the love of that kind of relationship. My poor mum lost her mum when she was 4½ years old. Her mum was only 32. There has never been a day when she has not felt terribly cheated because of that and knows how different her life would have been and all the real talents my Nana had could never be passed on. On the positive side, she had the most wonderful father who was mother, father and best friend to her all her life, all of which he did alone, although of course there was the normal family support if needed. As I sais I never had a Nana which my mother did and it was such a special relationship I feel I missed out on something very special. Again though, mum’s dad was an exceptional man who became my Grandfather, Best friend, surrogate Mum and Dad at times who totally enriched my life in so many ways and I owe so much of what I am today to him.
I hope this has not come across as a self indulgent excuse to talk about myself. I am just trying to say with some proof to back up my opinion that it is totally natural to wonder/wish for/envy the things we have not had. That is normal human behaviour. Yes, it does help to realise and be thankful for the good things and wonderful relationships that we do have and be grateful for them as we all have something someone else wishes they had. I personally do not think that will ever stop anyone still wondering,wishing and wanting something that is a natural part of life, such as family you never had or have lost. You should not be so hard on yourself for your feelings of envy for what your friend has. You have come across as very clearly being glad your friend has what she has and you have no resentment towards her because of it. You sound like a very caring, loving, and deep person. You are no different from anyone else in wishing for some things you have missed. I wish I could give you an easy way to stop those feelings but there isn’t one. You just have to learn to manage them so they do not become your main focus. If talking about it helps, do that. Maybe writing it down may be your thing. I don’t know. Be kind to yourself and remember that everyone you meet is carrying their own burden of something missed or lost. Bright blessings to you.
Rainbowspirit :o) x

YARNLADY's avatar

I think we all have a piece of envy built into us. I came from the kind of family you missed, but I envy people who can be at ease with other people and seem to be popular, people who can sing and make beautiful music, and people who can paint. I am a total klutz at things like that.

flutherother's avatar

No one can have everything. Be glad for what you have and be glad for what others have also.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@YARNLADY: Singing is something I am definitely envious of, most people can at least carry a tune enough to huddle together and goof around for Karaoke, I can’t.

tranquilsea's avatar

I wish that I had a father who cared about me. It used to really bother me. Especially when I was going through a crisis that he could have comforted me on. I have come to some peace around that issue though mostly because I have fabulously wonderful husband.

Coloma's avatar

It gets better as you mature.
It can take a long time to get past some childhood programming and unravel beliefs about what ‘should’ be, vs. what is.
It took me til about 40ish to really put things that had bothered me to rest once and for all.
Just be happy, celebrate your life now, not mourning for what is not.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I work with people who complain about their parents coming over every weekend, their dad wanting to fix things around their house, and their parents buying them a $500 gas grill (they wanted to pick out their own.) They resent their parents paying for a family vacation – cruise, Disney, beach, Europe – because they have limited vacation time, and don’t get to “choose” what they do with it because of the expectation that they will vacation with family.

I guess the grass is always greener.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@BarnacleBill Life is so hard, ain’t it? Those poor kids that the parent want to do things for, I really feel for them, NOT. At that point I would say, kick them in the as- and spend their inheritance. Thankfully my kids appreciate everything we do to help. Our life is close to over, and it is fun to to whatever one can to help the kids, especially when they appreciate it.

answerjill's avatar

I sometimes feel bad because I am never in a romantic relationship. I try to remind myself of the things that I do have, such as loving parents and great friends. I also try to remember that everybody has their own challenges and burdens to bear, even if I can’t detect them.

Seek's avatar

@BarnacleBill

I have no problem telling those people “I do not have a single positive memory of my mother, and she never missed an opportunity to tell me I ruined her life by being born.”

That generally shuts them up.

tedibear's avatar

@BarnacleBill – I hope this won’t derail @Seek_Kolinahr‘s thread too much, I just need to comment on the parents coming over, fixing things, paying for vacations, etc. It may be that these parents are doing these things to bribe or manipulate their adult children. “What do you mean you can’t come to Sunday dinner, I fixed your faucet!” Or like my dad who wanted to take us all on a cruise. I had to work (just started a new job and had no vacation days) but I heard from two of my sisters that it went about how I thought it would. “Oh, you don’t want to do this activity with me?” with an implied, “I paid for this so you should do what I want to do.” And a helping of guilt thrown in for good measure. My BIL’s in-laws are constantly at their house wanting to “help” with things. They can’t seem to get that he and his wife are quite capable of doing what needs to be done. And that they do get it done, in their timeframe, not that of the in-laws. They offered to pay for the baby’s room furniture, but also wanted to be the ones to choose it since they were paying. I’m not saying that the people you work with are in the same boat, just that they might be. And that others certainly are.

However, if they are just being ungrateful nitwits, I like @Seek_Kolinahr ‘s answer!

Kayak8's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I completely get where you are coming from. I think what I am seeing now is that the second and third generations may give me the opportunities I missed, the only difference is my role in the fantasy of my life—I am not the child in the story I had hoped for, but now I get to be the aunt. You may find that your ache over helpful, loving visiting parents who are delighted for your very existence is resolved when you get BE that parent when your kids grow up. In other words, your fantasy may still come true, you may just be called upon to play a different part than you auditioned for.

rojo's avatar

I don’t think we ever stop yearning. I think we just learn to adapt to what we have and if all goes well are happy with that. But there is always going to be that little nagging feeling in the background…...

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