Thursday, September 20, 2018

Divorcing Her Toxic Parents

She feels Unloved so she signs her letter to Ask Polly: Unloved. She seems especially unloved, even maligned and ignored by her parents, especially by her mother. Other than that, and this is the important point, her life is going very well.

Her parents refused to pay for her college-- while paying for her brother’s college. They refuse to recognize any of her many achievements, but they still coddle her 28 year old brother,who is living at home and is working at a dead end job.

She has achieved great professional success. She is graduating from an important masters program. She is engaged to be married. Her parents do not care. They are not proud of her. They continue to do nothing but hate her. All told, things have worked out well for her. They have worked out far better for her than for her much adored brother.

Her parents, especially her mother, are so extreme that you start wondering whether it’s all true. But, if it’s true, the clear answer is that she should divorce her parents. She should cut them out of their life. Not necessarily because the wants to punish them for their dereliction, but because it is not worth the trouble to keep going back to the same dry well and expecting a different result. Consider it a strategy, a way to get their attention, a way perhaps to bring them to their senses. If it doesn't, she has lost nothing.

Most importantly, and it is so obvious that even Polly hints at it, all things considered, if she, the family pariah has prospered while her beloved brother is a loser… then perhaps her parents have done her a favor. They have pushed her to make her own way in the world. And they have shielded her from their obviously toxic affections.

Surely, it's an interesting case study: the child who was loved and adored ends up being a loser. The child who was ignored and derided succeeds in the world. Perhaps nurture is not quite as influential as we think it is.

Since Polly has no background in psycho clinical work she offers a few possible diagnoses, eventually deciding that Unloved’s mother is a hot stove. This is especially inane, even for Polly. And Polly declares, with surpassing inanity, that Unloved does not deserve the treatment she is receiving. She didn’t need to write to an advice columnist to hear that.

Unloved wants to know what to do. The answer is clear: divorce her parents. Do not invite them to the wedding. Do not invite them to the graduation. She is getting married and becoming part of a new family. I recognize the difficulty she will face explaining why her father is not walking down the aisle, but it will probably be easier than to have to deal with her toxic parents. She might consider asking another male family member, perhaps even an uncle to do the honors. She should see marriage as an opportunity to cut ties with her birth family and happy join a new family.

True enough, this will shame her parents publicly. But, haven't they earned it?

And, by the by, she should also stop complaining. Her bad habit of complaining about her parents is compromising the satisfaction she gains from her achievements.

Her parents don’t seem to love her. They don't care what happens to them. She should return the favor by divorcing them.

Anyway, here are some excerpts from her letter:

I need your advice because no one in my life can relate to me, not even my own brother. While I have struggled with this since I was a child, there are milestones coming up in my life that will be exacerbating this problem very soon. The problem is, my parents don’t love me. It’s hard to describe the unique pain that I feel about this, but it’s a very deep hollow sadness that makes me feel worthless, unlovable, and like I’m nothing. I just feel like I’m nothing at all. This is especially painful because they treat my brother so differently.

Of course, she knows what she should do. The issue is not so much giving up trying to have a good relationship, but walking away from an awful relationship:

I don’t want to give up trying to have a good relationship with them, but I probably should, for my own sanity. Unfortunately, my mom is a very insecure person and a royal bitch (seriously, she has no friends and none of her family members like her), and my dad fully supports the way she treats people and he is also terrified of conflict. I know other people have it worse, so I feel a bit bad for complaining, but in general, this dynamic duo made for a very unpleasant childhood.

As mentioned, she should stop complaining. She had an unpleasant childhood but she has risen above it to attain great success:

Well, I eventually earned and paid for my four-year degree, got a job at a world-famous organization, and was elected to serve on the board of directors for a national organization and a local organization, all by the time I was 28 years old. All the while, barely having any communication with my parents, with the exception of a “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas” text message. When I received an even better job offer (higher pay, better schedule) I was excited and wanted to share the news with my parents, in hopes that they would be proud of me. Big mistake — my mom was absolutely furious. She told me that I shouldn’t change jobs and that I should just stay at my old one. She didn’t really have a sound argument for this, but she was very disappointed in me. I told her that I was hurt and that I wished she could just be happy for me.

Ask yourself this: would you want such parents to attend your graduation? Might it not be more reasonable and more suited to the nature of the relationship, not to invite them. Idem for her wedding.

We are about to go through this disappointing cycle again right now. I’m finishing up graduate school and will be receiving my master’s in science with the highest honors this December from a very well-known university. I would love for my parents to attend the commencement, but I can already tell they’re not the least bit interested. I’ve asked them and sent the details on two different occasions, but thanks to the iPhone’s read receipts, I know for a fact that they’re ignoring me. Not only that, but my fiancĂ© and I are starting to plan our wedding and I’m afraid they won’t go since they’ve expressed zero interest in our relationship. If we have our own children later down the line, I imagine my parents would be equally uninterested.

As for her much-loved brother:

… my brother is 28 years old, still working the same part-time retail job he did in high school, and living with them rent-free with their unwavering adoration.

Doesn’t that say it all.


Sam L. said...

Cut your losses, and they all are lost, and get on with your life.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Move forward. The kicker is her mother’s castigating her for taking a new job. Ridiculous. I imagine Ares thinks she should apologize to her parents for being a bad daughter, because it’s obvious they feel that way.