Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I recently separated from my husband of four years, who emotionally abused and financially used me. While I am trying to get my life back on track, I am living in my parents’ house for emotional and financial support. As I move forward, I don’t want to keep reliving all the negative things he did or said to me.
However, my parents repeatedly bring up all the ways in which he was a terrible husband and son-in-law. I understand that they also feel manipulated and betrayed (he used them financially as well), but every time they begin on these tirades, I feel guilty for bringing him into their lives. I’ve expressed this to my parents & asked that they not talk about him for the time being, but they can’t seem to stop themselves. What can I do to make this easier on my parents and myself?
Ugh, this sounds completely awful. Good for you for wanting to let the voices of the past go. In the meantime, let’s map a plan for dealing with your present.
The rule about Mom and Dad is that they will always be them. You cannot fix or change their behavioral patterns, you can only alter your own approach to both engagement and the subsequent emotions.
In this case, it sucks that your parents can’t put a lid on it. When it comes down to it, you tried to express your need for a change in topic, and they couldn’t seem to respect that need. That means you need to act outside the box in order to protect yourself, most specifically, your heart.
How to make this easier on yourself and your parents? At this point you have no other choice than to move on. Moving on means continuing to do what you have done to let go of this man and asserting your autonomy. It is hard work, and work that needs to be continued daily. Like an alcoholic attending regular AA meetings, you need to fully commit to letting go. In moving on, and in moving out, you will eradicate those tirades from your life, but more importantly, you will give your parents hope and something new to focus on.
I am a weathered respiter. Ie, I often return home after long arduous travel to reboot before refiring into the world. There is, however, an important time limit to living at home. When you are no longer resting, but choking on the confined role of “daughter,” run.
Going home is good until going home destroys you, then going home is bad. This is a fine line because being in the den of your childhood can be destructive without warning and in ways you didn’t expect. There is the normal drag of memory and regression, and then there are things like tirades relating to the past. You get to choose to release yourself from this dull pang. Only you know your threshold for parental drama. Find that threshold and when it is crossed, make a change.
Tunnel vision is the number one side-effect of living with parents. Make an effort to speak to people, go to places, and cultivate practices that expand your vision so that your girlhood is not the full scope of your perspective.
Make a plan and stick to it. You want to move out? Figure out what that will take and then do it. Do what you can, even from your high school bedroom, to affirm your trajectory towards womanhood and autonomy and slowly those voices and tirades will shift. You have to do the work, though. You have to move on so they can move on.
Little things that maintain drive:
Write out your goals and tack them to your mirror.
Excercise, Yoga, Dance – anything to keep your connection to your body.
Nutrition. Good food feeds good thoughts.
Meditation. This will help you focus on the present and release the past.
For those who believe: Prayer works wonders.
Anything else to keep you inside of yourself and connected to your intention.
For help, try reading:
Self-Reliance:The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Inspiration for Daily Living Edited by Richard Whelan.
The Little Book of Letting Go: A Revolutionary 30 Day Program to Cleanse Your Mind, Lift Your Spirit and Replenish Your Soul by Hugh Prather.
Ask Yenta! E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using www.send-email.org to ask anonymously.
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