- 2 years ago
I’ve been with my SO for three years now; we’re both 31, and we’ve lived together for a year. We knew when we moved in together that we were planning on getting married, but it was still a wondeful surprise when we went on a nice hike this past weekend and he got down on one knee and proposed! I was elated… the kind fo happy that you just don’t know how to even express. Since then, we’ve been making the rounds and telling our families the good news. His family has been so warm and lovely and welcoming; I’ve received lots of nice emails and notes from them, and I even had a lovely chat with his mother!
My family? Not so much.
Let me begin by saying I have always had a strained, toxic relationship with my parents. My dad was an abuser when I was younger, and my mother an enabler. They threw me out of the house when I was 15. I went through a very rough adoolescence, but somehow graduated high school, got into college on scholarship, screwed my head on straight, and went to grad school, etc. I am somehow (through a combo of luck and good timing) fairly successful as an adult now. In the interim, I developed new relationships with my maternal grandparents (who I never saw as a kid but who became sort of my surrogate parents once I was an adult) and I cherish them. About five years ago I began tentatively forming a relationship with my parents again, primarily my mother. But it’s been rocky, and I’m always wondering if I’d be better off cutting them both out of my life completely.
It’s a very complex story… but the gist is this: my parents are fundamentally incapable of loving me as their child. This is not overstated, nor is it a plea for pity. It is a statement of fact. Whether through abuse issues, addiction, or personality disorders (all three issues are present), they are incapable of being supportive and loving to me. I crave their approval, but they cannot give it. While my dad has never really been one to make a relationship with me, my mother is in some ways more hurtful: she actively knocks me down when I strike a success. She cannot cope with me being successful at all. When I got into a PhD program, she mocked my scholarship and the whole idea. When I won a nationally competitive award for my research, she called me a “leach” because the award was funded in part by the US government. When I moved in with my boyfriend, she actively tried (and succeeded at times) in making me feel bad about “shacking up,” and she tried to make me feel like my SO woudl never marry me. She absolutely cannot cope with my success of happiness.
So you can imagine I was nervous abotu calling her to announce my engagement. I hugged my fiance (he knows about this whole thing) and we called her together. She said “congrats,” but then immediately began pressing us to tell her when our date was. She seemed annoyed that she might need to plan a weekend to fly out to our ceremony next summer, like the affair would put her out. When I asked if my dad was home, she told me he was sleeping, refused to wake him, and she swore she would tell him the good news when he woke up. She then excused herself and we promptly hung up. Ironically my first response was “well that didn’t go so badly.” I never did receive any well wishes from my father.
Well, having talked to the families, I announced the engagement today on Facebook. I then got a mean email from my dad. He was upset that I didn’t tell him first. Turns out my mother didn’t pass on the good news to him. He’s upset at me, and I’m upset at her. It’s a mess.
I’m feeling sad today. I didn’t expect to feel sad after my engagement (it’s supposed to be a happy time, right?). But I feel sad that my family is like this, and that I can’t win with them at all. I don’t know how to cope with it. I don’t know if I should call my mom out on what she did (that was really mean and hurtful), or if I should tell my father the truth. Perhaps I should have seen this coming and made the extra effort to call him separately. But honestly, when I didn’t hear back from him, I thought it was because he didn’t care about me. That would have been more in line with his past behavior.
Any advice welcome. Mostly, I need ideas on how to cope with negative feelings and sadness regarding my family. I really don’t know if my parents will come to my wedding… and I also don’t know how I feel about them being there (or not). I just feel like an empty hole, a place where most people have encouraging people who love and support them… and I have this void. It sucks.
My grandmother was very happy about the announcement, by contrast. But she’s also very busy caring for my grandfather (he’s quite ill) so we didn’t get to speak for very long.