Discussion Topic

Shunned again, feel used, 3rd rate and disposable

Posted on 07/31/11, 03:20 pm
I come here to find strength, advice and a way to heal….I know I have to change my situation, I desperately need support, knowledge, ideas, books to read…

I believe my 3 children 22 YO to 27 YO dislike me and continue a limited relationship b/c of the resources, time, energy, problem solving I can give to them. They do not reciprocate or show kindness to me. They often make rude remarks that they think I do not “get”, I ignore these as I have found that if I express surprise or displeasure they will just accuse me of being paranoid, that it meant nothing it was a joke, etc.

I was always very generous with my time, money and support; while they were growing up they had many trips, camps, lessons, tutors and privileges…..but not overly so and certainly not as much as their friends, no cell phones, no cars and they had to have a part-time job, even just 10-15 hrs/week b/c I felt they needed to know what work was. One child, who has has champagne tastes on a beer budget, would like a cash supplement from me, I do pay her car insurance but that is all and only b/c she will lose her job of she can’t get there etc. I will not loan or give her cash; if she needs something imperative then I get it for her, shampoo, an oil change.
I believe I am rather normal and likeable; I have many friends and interests. I have pets, I live alone, manage my house and property, I do not need any hand holding to meet my many responsibilities. I try very hard to not cross any boundaries; in years since they have had their own homes I have never dropped by uninvited and do not call even 2x/week. I watch their animals for days/ weeks at a time but when asked they are never available to watch my pets. Their gifts consist of chores they will give to me for birthday or Christmas and after, in 1 case, 2 years of waiting for my “gift” I hired a professional to do the job, they seemed embarrassed and quickly did the job….then 2 days later they asked me watch their pets for 5 days. They have plenty of financial resources to pay to board their animals but cry poor as they buy a second car and go on their 4th short vacation of the year.
I could go on & on with details but I am sure all will see my situation.

The worst is that when I do say no or have a different opinion or point out a lie or discrepancy (and it is infrequent that I will do this b/c there is never meaningful dialogue, an angry defense is presented so I let many “issues” go by without mention), the result is shunning – for an extended period of time. The longest period in the past 12 months were 7 weeks and 4 weeks and I believe we are now in another shunning period. During that time I would leave weekly VMs to ask for a meeting or send an email every 10 ten days with no response. With hindsight, I realize now, when I look at the timing, their eventual response was usually b/c they needed something from me in the near future.

I do realize as I write this what am incredible fool I must seem to be …but I am not a fool, I am successful business owner, I am smart, innovative and independent. So how did this happen to me, what created this? Was it me? How do I move on, my heart is broken, I feel physically ill often just going over how to address all of this and the emotional pain is huge, to the point of being unbearable. I feel used, 3rd rate and disposable and I know they look at my average middle class assets and think about what will be theirs someday. I can hardly believe this is my family and although I see a counselor and that does help I do not know how to fix this. I never felt such unbearable pain….I had high hopes for a happy family life with adult children…. My pain is beginning to affect my ability to function and I feel so irrelevant and alone. You can only ask friends and siblings for their advice or opinions for so long before they are frustrated and wonder why I don’t just drop out of the situation…but most of them do not have children and while I can divorce my husband , end dysfunctional relationships with acquaintances or employees and mourn/ponder the problem and move on with life…. the thought of doing that with my children is unbearable….I love them and want a normal relationship but I just can’t make it happen, they really are kind of stinky, selfish and mean ….. did I do this while raising them? am I so blind I can’t see it? I ask these questions of the most frank and outspoken people in my circle and they all assure me that this is not the case, that I was an even handed parent and my children consistently had consequences for bad behavior, and in their teen years there were some very serious situations that I would not tolerate and 2 of my children were shown the door for refusing to respect house rules, these problems were worked out, but I did not ignore and stood my ground, etc…. so if all that was so, then how did I get here? What do I do now ? If a neighbor, colleague, sibling, anyone in my life treated me this way I would not continue to participate in that relationship. If I make that choice, I cannot imagine or envision my life, I will be alone, with far away family- busy with their own lives.

One thing I have observed over 50+years is that when you have a serious confounding problem, you are never alone, there are always many people with the same problem and I hope someone or many people here can tell me about their situations so I can try to sort out what I can do to repair things, wait it out?

Thanks for reading my long story. Z.
Showing 1 - 10 of 20 Replies
  • Reply #1 07/31/11  3:54pm
    Z, there are dozens of people here who can relate to your story. I could have written much of it myself. You say that during the shunning periods you would make multiple efforts at contact; what would happen if you just stopped that? What would happen if you just stopped responding to their abuse and created a better life for yourself doing things you really enjoy? What if you didn't have time to look after their pets? What if you put a limit on the length of time you pay for their expenses? What are you afraid of losing? Surely not what you have now, because it is just making you desperate. What you want is what is not available at the moment; responsible loving reciprocating children. It takes two to have that kind of relationship.

    Maybe your adult "children" need a time out and some firm boundaries from you. One insight that I have from the last year of issues with my kids is that they are having a hard time making the transition to adulthood because we do too much problem solving for them, and they need to hear from us that we believe that they can do it on their own. These situations of prolonged dependence are counterproductive for everyone. Maybe your counsellor can help you with techniques to remove yourself from the negative situations while delivering the message that you are available for an adult relationship when they are. What I hear you saying is that you have to come first somewhere; that place is in your own life. Put yourself first; take care of your needs and stop being their backup. Remember actions speak louder than words. BTW I know it takes all of your energy just to hold the line where it is; but you will have to find some more energy somewhere to create a new standard for yourself. I know you will get many helpful suggestions here. Just keep your own health and welfare first in your mind.
  • Reply #2 07/31/11  4:01pm
    zerc - I am so sorry you are going through this but very glad you found us. Their minimizing your responses to their unfortunate remark is one of the classical ways that abusive people use to demean their "target". Trust yourself and your feelings about what is going on - your instincts don't lie to you.

    I know how this feels - whenever I have expressed concern about an action taken by my son - he becomes very insulting. I decided that I could not deal with that. I live by myself as you do - and I'm wondering how much that has to do with some of these situations - I think my son would treat me quite differently if my husband were still alive - but who knows.

    One question - I gather your children are married? Did any of this start when they got married? It seems to be pretty common here - for our ECc's to start changing when they marry.

    You have done a lot for your children but for some reason that doesn't seem to matter very much to them - and I don't know why. I too did everything I could to make sure my son's life continued on a positive path - way over and above the call of duty - but I'm still an idiot who he can insult, demean, laugh at - whatever he feels that is necessary..

    Please read a lot of the posts and comments - you will read about many others who have gone through the same or similar experiences - some have come through it whole, some are still in the middle of dealing with the pain but are more informed as to how to deal with their lives than they were when they came into this group and some are brand new - just like you - and just starting this journey. We will support you during this very difficult time - we do know where you are coming from.

    I would love to give you answers to your questions but to date, we have not discovered many answers as to how to fix the estrangement - but rather how to adjust ourselves to our circumstances and live a full, happy life. There are a lot of strong, caring people here.
  • Reply #3 07/31/11  4:29pm
    Z--that is the 64 million dollar question---How did we get here? Wish to heck I knew!!! Even when mine is speaking it is still all about him, I am entitled to nothing of my own, not an opinion, not any money, not anything---it is awful
  • Reply #4 07/31/11  5:19pm
    Do you suppose our sacrificing in order to meet their needs is what gave them the idea that the matter much more than we do?

    Huh - one would think they would, as adults, be grateful for what we did, but more and more I read about wonderful parents here - who gave and did all they could for their children - and then being stomped on (figuratively) by those same children.
  • Reply #5 07/31/11  6:12pm
    Zerc - So glad you found us! I have tried for so very long to figure out WHY but I've since learned that there isn't a simple answer. My ED even told me once that she didn't really know why she was so angry with me. When she complained about this and that, it would only make her irate if I tried to explain from my persective and she even got annoyed when I encouraged her to share her perspective. At this point..... who knows?

    I'm attempting to use this time to strengthen myself and enhance my life. I am working to accept that her choices are her choices. Does it hurt? Well, mostly not as much as it used to. They don't call it a broken heart for nothing! But now, I don't want to be a victim or to sacrifice my life. Do I hope she decides to do something else? 100%. And, if / when she does, I'll be there to listen.

    So, I don't think that there is any way around the pain but I do think that if you can get THROUGH the pain, it can provide some good lessons and life does go on! We just get to decide how we're going to treat ourselves in this life!

    I know I don't deserve to be treated that way she's treating me. So, I'm not going to treat myself badly either!

    What I hope for you is that your journey through the storm isn't too painful and that you get to a better place sooner rather than later!

    Lots of love!
  • Reply #6 07/31/11  6:49pm
    zerc - welcome to the place where none of us wanted to be.
  • Reply #7 07/31/11  7:27pm
    zerc i felt your pain in your post. It can be baffling as to why the children we loved and raised seem to turn on us. I have learned a lot and grown a lot from my experience with my children, one I never ever expected to happen in my family. I do NOT help kids who dont respect me with money anymore. I dont pay their insurance or their light bill. At the first sarcastic word I hang up or end the conversation. I simply came to the point where I had a choice.....lay down and shrivel up or move on and get a life. Not that I have arrived totally, its a daily thing. I had to accept that the expected end may not come for me and my adult children. It didnt with my marriage, I divorced their dad after 28 years of hell and they hold that against me. Too bad. I dont accept crap behavior from friends or other aquaintances, i dont have to accept it from my children. It hurts, but I'm feeling better!
  • Reply #8 07/31/11  9:14pm
    Dear Zero

    Sounds like you could use a little Estrangement IOI I am TOPIARY and I have 38 years of serial estrangements with our children under my belt - I am not an expert by any means but I know when someone's been pulling my pants down - and I believe that this is what is happening to YOU!

    First off, pet sitting and other FAVORs - Uh - NO! Can you say No? Practice if you can, lie if you can't, Oh - sorry, I can't watch Rover - I have to (*pick one), blow my nose, clean my toilet, wipe my a__...etc.

    Worried about them lovin' you only for your money? Piece of cake....Just CHANGE your will! Leave your money to a worthy cause, a loving nephew, ANYONE or THING besides the kiddies. Want to REALLY stir the pot? Send them all a copy when you change it - That will settle their hash! When they call and ask you what happened? Tell them they're paranoid.

    You don't seem to have much to lose with these children - The shunning punishment, the snide comments, the chintzy gifts...Are you sure these aren't OUR children??? lol

    Been there, done that and ya know what Z? It NEVER ends - especially with 3 of them all in it together - thick as thieves - they have developed a hive mentality, you know and they think they have you all figured out. So whatever instinct your "mother's love" movitvates you to do - yjust do the opposite -

    You said " If a neighbor, colleague, sibling, anyone in my life treated me this way I would not continue to participate in that relationship. If I make that choice, I cannot imagine or envision my life, I will be alone, with far away family- busy with their own lives"

    But ask yourself - Do you really want to have a relationship with people who treat you so badly? Do you want to feel foolish, anxious and unhappy for the rest of your life because believe me, We felt foolish and anxious and unhappy for a very long time! BUT not any more. We aren't alone - we are without parasites that mistreat and use us. We have our dignity and our self respect. What do you want - a make-believe family adult children who try to lead you around by your nose and pull your pants down on a regular basis or a real life with dignity and whatever else you want to have in it?

    Submitted with respect
  • Reply #9 07/31/11  10:07pm
    Topiary your post made me laugh so much, and its so accurate. My kids were yanking my britches down over the weekend as I tried to call them to plan a little get together for their birthdays (scuse the hell outta me for that)....They hemmed and hawed and mumbled and generally wouldnt cooperate. So i simply withdrew the offer. Not that they know it yet. In all seriousness this isnt a game I am playing. It is coping skills with two childish adults that I will always love but refuse to be the butt of their games.
  • Reply #10 07/31/11  11:00pm
    Exactly, Mama - excuse the hell out of you - the NERVE of you to want to plan something nice! What WERE you thinking!

    But YOURS is the attitude we're looking for! Start saying NO folks - Give a little bit - if there are no takers, pull it back and give THEM the stiff finger instead....



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