Is this Grief and Healing?

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D.

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Is this Grief and Healing?
« on: June 30, 2021, 01:40:19 PM »
Hello group, any perspectives on my experience welcome:

I had my last visit with my parents this past weekend.  The last in-person visit that I plan to make.  And for me I know the “plan” could change since I am learning my personal limits for stress.  Right now parenting and work are enough.  My parents are no longer a part of my current reality.  But, I am not going to be rigid.  If my stressors reduce, or illness or death are imminent I might reconsider.  However, I am learning to live pretty content in the present moment.  That’s my reality.  And I feel an inner peace, a contentment, that I’ve not felt before.  And in my present moment uPD father is absent, e mom suraces periodically and it seems that w/gentle limits and kindness I want to interact w/her.  She is a victim of abuse, tortured for so many years that she lives in a prison of denial.  I understand denial is a choice.  I have compassion for both of my parents.  And I am done.  But done with what?  I’m not sure.  But I just feel the sweet solace of closure.  Closure on something pathological and dangerous.

The irony is that this was also my first visit.  My first visit observing the reality with new eyes.  I felt like I had lifted a veil and was observing everyone plus their interactions for the very first time.  And that was what caused me to know that it was also the last.  The last in-person visit w/uPD father.  In his presence I become physically and emotionally unhealthy...my anxious brain takes over and I struggle forming coherent thoughts.  My heart races and blood pressure increases to a dangerous range.  My lower arms tingle and my throat tightens.

So why did I have a bout of sadness and tears this morning?  Honestly, it feels like I am finally doing the real work of grief.  The grown up, in the here and now, letting go of two people who were not, cannot, and won’t be in my life as “parents.”

I processed with my therapist, a little w/my spouse, a little with a friend, a lot w/prayer and now I am turning to this group.  Because people here understand.  What just happened?  Why am I so happy and so sad at the same time?  Is this the new reality I get to live?  Mostly free of the grip of obligation, guilt, trauma, drama that was my relationship with those two people who are fading in my memory and reality?  Does it keep getting easier?  Am I being tricked and it will hurt again immensely?  My sense is that this is real.  I am finally hitting the really raw grief inside the trauma wound and I am really, truly healing.  It’s like I found the “cure.”  And, irregardless of the future, this moment is ingrained in my heart and mind forever.

Thank you for reading this far.  In gratitude for this group,

D.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2021, 07:49:46 PM »
For me the grief was for what could have been and also a sign of the the love I felt for the PDs in my life. Because I did love them.  A lot of crying had to be done, and there were days of sadness.  Now I can allow my mind to go there, think of them with a little pain and love and not act on it at all.
Congratulations on how far you have come in your healing.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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D.

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2021, 02:50:40 PM »
Thank you for the thoughtful response notrightinthehead.  I've been thinking, reflecting, and continuing to feel my grief emotions a bit "bigger" like tearful, angry, anxious.  So your validation helps.  I think for me it's been a bit confusing because I started out healing myself from C-PTSD and addressed a lot of my childhood issue w/my parents.  I knew that they did a bad job - mom 30%, dad 5%?....  So I thought I had already grieved the parents I didn't have as a child.  But, for some reason I thought that they had changed? or that i was "healed" and could handle their presence now?  as an adult?

So yes, I am grieving the parents I thought that I could have in adulthood where we could hang out, have meals, go for walks, etc. 

I even moved closer to them in my delusion...but thankfully, with the help of therapy, a wonderful sibiling, prayer, and supportive people I now see the reality.  And, like you, I love them and accept them.  I just cannot be physically in their presence.  And they don't understand.   And they are old now.  It's sad.  So currently I seem to cry daily.

I am no stranger to grief: I trained in psychology, lost a child of my own, went through divorce...so I think it is just catching me off guard a bit. 

The visit a few weeks ago was my good-bye to in-person contact w/my parents.  It was good-bye to the parents I'd hoped to spend time with in our adulthood.

In my case I can give them things yearly, talk or text w/my mom on certain topics when my father is not present.  And text, email, talk w/my father when my mother isn't present.  And I don't initiate contact.  Ever.  And I never feel obligated to respond to them.  I've discovered that my father will email or text sometimes.  My mother will call, email or text sometimes.  They invite me for in-person activities and I refuse...Those are my current boundaries.  It's like I divorced them in my head.  In my case they are each mostly appropriate individually around me.  I see examples here of parents are so verbally abusive to their adult kids.  It's sad and terrible.  My reality is less direct...

Anyway, thank you for listening group.  It helps me to write and share steps towards growth with this community as I take them.  And learn from others as well.

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Andeza

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2021, 02:58:48 PM »
For each of us the journey is unique of course, and so yours will be too. But that's why we're all here, to help as we can, be the shoulder for others for a bit. :bighug:

For some there's tears and grief to be dealt with, others not so much. Still others, none at all. No right or wrong way, really, just what you experience is right for you. And no timeframe. Don't try to block yourself into saying "I'll be better in a few days/weeks/months" because it'll take the time it takes. Nothing wrong with that either.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2021, 08:59:46 PM »
I thought I'd processed it all, too, 2-3 years ago. But I was more torn then. More confused. More angry. As I get further away from it, I feel more clarity, but I do hit pockets of sadness more now than I did then. I think there's something about letting go, even of something that is harmful, that hurts.

And maybe it's also the fact that you only get one FOO. So before you may have acknowledged the loss of the parents you didn't have... but now it's an acknowledgement of the parents you'll never have. If someone loses a friend or a partner, they usually find a new one in time. And while you might find an older friend that can be some sort of surrogate parent, it's still not quite the same.

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D.

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2021, 02:19:23 PM »
Thank you Cat and Andeza for the validation.  I feel like I can really recognize my new ootf reality w/my parents as going through a grief process - I lost any and all hopes of a healthy present or future relationship with them.  For me that includes tears.  But it lasted several days, and is petering out.  And they felt like healthy tears, the kind that wash your heart from the pain of the deep truth.  It's so helpful for me to hear that others experience grief and show examples of healing through the process.  Now I feel more encouraged.  Thank you again for this forum too!  In gratitude  :)


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moglow

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2021, 04:23:09 PM »
I think it's very much a grieving process as we step away from the hopes that things would somehow finally change between us, that we'd find that magic something that turned on the light for them to want to try. We can only do so much without parents also stepping up, and seems plenty of them here don't. Where we honestly should have learned as children & young adults that growing apart and being individuals is a good thing, most of us weren't exactly taught that. We modeled what we knew, however  restrictive that knowledge may be. Learning as adults, sometimes older adults, is HARD. I believe many of us simply don't have that foundation to work with and the building process is harder for it.

My mother will parrot that she "loves all her children, doesn't love what they do." Okay - define love then?? I suspect her vision of love and mine are very different. The whole ides of unconditional love baffles me, because I just never had it. I don't expect her [or anyone else!] to always agree with me and vice versa, and I know the world won't come to a crashing halt for either of us when that happens either. For mother? Oh hell no. You either agree with her 100% all the time [no matter how random or extreme] or something is wrong with you! She invariably sees the dark side of the cloud, not the sunshine, and clings to that darkness. FOG for me meant a whole lot of obligation more than anything else - stepping out of that isn't easy but I know necessary or I'll disappear completely. Can I honestly say I love her in spite of it all - there again, I don't know. I don't wish her ill and want better for her, is that love?? I'm trying to remember to put the oxygen mask on and help myself first. Separating myself from the incessant negativity is my way forward, and like you I may have had my last in person visit with mother.

Sorry, I feel like I'm pondering the same things you are and just trying to accept the process as I work through it. I'm going with the stages of grief and the understanding that it's simply not the same for everyone. And that I'll bounce around within the stages as I go. I think we all will.

Peace.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.”  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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1footouttadefog

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2021, 11:08:44 PM »
There are two people to grieve when you let go of a pd in your life.

You greive the real one, and you greive the false one you kept working to keep or get back or should have had etc.

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Sheppane

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2021, 05:46:19 AM »
I think yes it is grief and it is healing. Letting go of the hope that maybe things might one day be different. Like you say this was the first time you really " saw" them. And I think there is something in this journey at a certain stage of not being able to unsee what you see or unknow what you know , no matter how much we might deep down like to cling to that little piece of hope. The grief for the normal adult relationships,  the things I see other people do. Then I think - maybe it's me ? Maybe I should just meet for dinner / hang out. But when I do each time,  not always but mostly I end up back at the same place. Grief. Stay strong.

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D.

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Re: Is this Grief and Healing?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2021, 02:39:07 PM »
I took a couple of days to process these insights and would like to respond.  I really appreciate everyone's input:

Moglow - Thank you for your insightful response and willingness to ponder this reality together.  I know that my definition of “love” has changed so much since I began this journey about 9 years ago.  When I define love as appropriate action, my parents, mostly my father, fall far short of the mark...but in the sense I love humanity I can feel love.  But, it doesn’t mean that I will ever choose to be present for the toxicity of the parental experience which I do not define as love.  I’m so grateful to be able to process and ponder together.  One reason I participate here is the opportunity for reciprocity - to learn and hopefully help others learn - how to navigate these relationships.  And sadly, sometimes that means removing ourselves.  That’s the only way to be healthy.  As your metaphor implies we must be able to breathe ourselves first.  And so we journey and navigate the grief that is the normal result of the separation.  I’m starting to understand now.

1footouttadefog - Thank you for the succinct description.  I find it helpful to recall these bits of wisdom as I process my journey.  I grieve the loss of M, and I grieve the loss of the M I wanted.  I grieve the loss of F, and I grieve the loss of the F I wanted.

Sheppane - So true.  I cannot unsee the reality.  In a sense that provides great relief because I don’t think I will have so much abuse amnesia or temptation to visit in-person.  When I am honest with my memories I have experienced a lot of abuse when my parents were together.  And I deserve emotional safety.  The irony is that if either of them was ever willing to visit alone I might be able to visit.  In fact I have positive memories of being with each parent individually.  But neither is willing to follow through or respect a boundary of visiting individually - M would be abused by F if he knew I visited alone w/her so she cannot safely plan to do so.  M will join F if I try to visit w/him independently and then he will be abusive.  And I don't want to participate in such a toxic reality anyway.  I think that the sadness over knowing I cannot have those individual, pleasant visits is the grief over not having what I wanted/needed/deserve.  And so I see glimmers of “acceptance” in navigating the emotions of grief over these lost relationships...

In gratitude for ongoing healing,

D.