Question: Dear Luise: I read the many comments posted here by bewildered and broken hearted older parents and I feel genuinely bad about my relationship with my own mother. I am the only one of my 4 siblings who is not married with kids. I spend A LOT of time visiting my parents, and have really enjoyed my nieces and nephews. However, I have one sister who over the years has made it known how little she respects me, and so has her husband. I don’t think they have the best relationship in the world, and I think they both resent the fact that I don’t have kids. In any event, slowly but surely all the other relationships I have with my family have deteriorated over time to the point where NO ONE calls me anymore – including my own mother!!! I feel so hurt and betrayed. I know my kindly father is stuck in the middle of this ridiculous family drama, and I feel bad for him – but I really don’t have any desire to speak to my mother ever again. I was diagnosed this year with a degenerative neuralogical disorder – and she knows about it, because she was there, in the neurologist office. I cannot believe how incredibly cruel my family is behaving. I’m actually floored. Maybe it’s a defensive reaction of some kind – but I just think its so profoundly dysfunctional that I want nothing to do with any of them on principle. What kind of people act this way when someone is in a vulnerable place in their life? I think they fear the spectre of any impending dependency I might have – but I would kill myself before I would put myself in the position of being a burden to anyone. The worst part is being cut off from my nieces and nephews…who genuinely love me and are loved by me. I’m telling you – sometimes it takes a really bad situation to reveal the true character of your own family. I don’t know how I can ever forgive my mother – and if I do, I just can’t imagine giving anything more to such a person. M.
Answer: Dear M.: It is a useless process to try to make sense of the senseless. My guess, if I had to make one, is that you are independent and that is something they are all jealous of.
When you can do it, forgive them for your own sake, not theirs. Not forgiving them for being human and messing up is harder on you than it is on them. Forgiveness doesn’t restore trust. Once trust is broken, it’s gone…from my point of view.
Many who don’t have families take care of themselves when the chips are down. Sometimes friends are more to our liking and more reliable. You deserve so much better and you have lost a great deal. My heart goes out to you. Blessings, Luise