Last night a woman emailed me the following, which I wanted to be sure to address this morning.
I have two living parents who didn’t raise me. My maternal grandparents did. My grandfather has now passed away. I have been trying for 15 years to have a relationship with my mom. She told me she doesn’t want me in her life. I had one argument with my dad, who I reconnected with in the fourth grade, and most of our relationship was phone conversations. Since our argument, he refused to talk to me, and told me never to contact him again. I think I need to pretend they are already gone and just live my life. The pain is just too hard to bear. I even flew from California to New York to apologize to my father for our argument, and he refused to see me as I stood in the rain on his doorstep. Are there any groups or organizations for adult children or just children whose parents refuse to have anything to do with them? I would like to know if there are any other people out there like me.
Yes, friend, there are tons of people whose parents refuse to have anything to do with them. I’m one of them, actually. I won’t bore you with the details (some of which I shared in “My Runaway Mom”), but I basically lived my life from my late teen years on never hearing from or speaking with either of my parents. That’s how they wanted it; that’s how they insisted it be. Whenever I did try to contact either of them, I was shut-down like your local bookstore.
I don’t know of any groups or organizations for people who were essentially abandoned by their parents. But I’ve also never searched for such a group. I wish earlier in my life I had—and I certainly encourage you to do so now. Hopefully there is such a group in your area. If there isn’t, start one yourself. As a posting under “Groups” on the Craigslist of the city nearest you, tell your story, say you want to start a group for people with similar stories, and I promise you’ll get a positive, encouraging response. People who have suffered as you have are everywhere, and they need to talk about it with others who’ve been through the same thing. Provide them—and you—with that wonderful opportunity for healing. (If you do decide to start such a group yourself, email me, and we can talk about some of the things you’ll want to consider as you move into that great undertaking.) If you’re too shy to start such a group yourself, consider starting a Facebook page for people like you. That’s another great way for people to share and relate. (If you do start such a page, let me know, and I’ll be sure to promote it here on my blog, and on my own Facebook page.)
For now, please allow me to stress unto you with Maximum Intensity this very, very important point: Your parents suck rat nads.
They’re awful, awful people. They’re awfully damaged people—which is proof positive that they had parents as crappy as the parents they turned out to be. And so in that sense they, like you, are innocent. But the fact that they also had terrible parents doesn’t in any way lesson the personal burden you now have to bear because they both grew up to be wholly dysfunctional loser assholes—who (of course) decided to breed.
And now here you are. Out in the rain.
Please read my “Unhappy? Reject Your Loser Parents.”
In the meantime, hear this: Your parents reject you because they must. You represent what they cannot have in their lives, which is absolute, conclusive proof that they are shameful, emotionally retarded losers. They’re not: nobody really is. But deep down they are poisoned by the conviction that they are despicable people—and you are the proof that they’re exactly that. You not being around means they at least have a chance of ignoring what they know is true about themselves, which is that they’re the kind of pigs who could abandon their own daughter. But if you are around; if you do show up? For them that ruins everything. Your presence means everything in their world—especially the persona of themselves they’ve committed their whole lives to keeping up—starts exploding.
Your dad didn’t leave you out in the rain because he hates you, or because you’re so unlovable. He did it to protect himself, to keep his world intact. He did it to survive. If your dad lets you into his house and life, what’s left of his bullshit world crumbles. You exist as proof of his shame; you are living, 3-D evidence that he is more animal than human. There’s just no way he can admit that evidence into his life. He can’t acknowledge that you exist. He can’t accept that you’re real. He can’t let you in.
And unless your parents undergo some serious psychotherapy, you can trust that neither of them will ever let you into their lives. And the chances of either of them ever getting the help they need is so slim, that you’ve got to live your life as if you know they never will get that help. Because they won’t. Getting help means seeking help, and seeking help means admitting you need help, and admitting that is not something that your parents are capable of doing. Because the number one quality of people like your parents is that they’re emotionally, psychotically selfish. They cling to themselves, and no one else. It’s all about them, all the time. It’s impossible for them to be even slightly interested in anyone else, ever. Even if they’re in relationships, you can be sure that to them it’s still all about only them, and that those relationships are 100% sick. Only a sick person would get in a relationship with either of your sick parents.
Your parents aren’t going to heal. And if they do heal, even a little, they’ll contact you; that’ll be the proof that they’re healing. But if you wait for that phone to ring, you’ll be waiting for it your entire life.
The fact that you’re reaching out as you are—that you wrote this letter to me—means that you’re already a million times the person either of your parents have ever been. It means you’re being real. It means you’re not going to let their terrible psychological damage be yours.
It means you win.
Keep winning. Push each of your parents further and further away from yourself, until you achieve full and real emotional detachment from them. (Which doesn’t mean hating them. It means understanding and living the reality of the difference between needing them, and loving them in the unrequited way they’ve given you no choice but to.) They never invited you to their party. Be sure not to invite them to yours.
In real life, it’s not you who is standing alone out in the rain. It’s your father. And your mother.
Let them wait out there. It’s where, after all, they’ve chosen to be.