So I think I'm cutting contact with my parents

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by idiomie, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    So, uh, a general heads up for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation, and it's kinda long. There's a tl;dr.

    I don't even know where to begin here.

    I have major suicidal ideation triggers around school, particularly grades. I feel that I'm worthless and the only thing that matters about me is my ability to produce good grades, which I cannot consistently do, even though I'm "smart."

    When I was a junior in high school, I took my AP chemistry exam, knew I had failed, and tried to kill myself. This obviously did not work. My parents didn't notice? They had no idea this happened. I went through a period of about two years where like, I remembered it happening, but it Did Not Register as having actually been a suicide attempt. Even though it was.

    I really wanted to take a gap year after high school. I knew I wasn't ready for college, because I'd hit this point where I had so much performance anxiety about doing well on tests and other graded material, that I'd be too anxious to do it or do well, and then when I got the grades back, and they were poor, I'd give up and stop trying, continue getting poor grades, and further reinforce my inability to do my work. I also knew I was depressed, and that the major trigger I had at the time was school and grades (because Nothing About Me Matters Except My Grades) and wanted a break.

    My parents said no. So I went to college.

    I wanted to major in linguistics. I have since I was in elementary school and discovered what linguistics was. My parents think this is a stupid thing to learn about and told me I Was Not Allowed to pursue it. I wanted to major in psychology. My mother thinks all of psychiatry is Fake, and that I would be "miserable" if I pursued a career in psychology, and that I Was Not Allowed to pursue it. They wanted me to be a comp sci or science (chemistry or physics) major.

    My parents wanted me to go to a big school. I knew I would get lost, and I would try to kill myself, and I suspected that I would succeed this time. I went to a college barely larger than my high school, with only about 3,000 students. My parents hated it, and only agreed because it was the cheapest option.

    When I was sophomore in high school, I joined my school's Model UN team. I enjoyed it, and it was the only academic adjacent interest I had that my parents approved of. So when I went to college, I became a global studies major. I don't dislike the subject (I think it's really interesting, honestly), but I'm only majoring in it because it was the best compromise I could think of between things I was interested in and what my parents wanted me to do in college.

    I was diagnosed with bipolar my sophomore year of college. I told my parents this, and they stopped paying for my therapy and medication. I did not have a job or any funds of my own at the time. I had to go off my meds cold turkey, and could not see anyone, for three months. During this time, my abusive relationship ended, and my ex (who I lived with) attempted to get me to face disciplinary action (because we roomed together, and she kicked me out of the room, and you Are Not Allowed to not live in your dorm), stole some of my things, and destroyed some of my other belongings.

    I was also dealing with the fact that, after a year and a half of trying to major in global studies, and the fact that I still hadn't dealt with the whole "grades make me suicidal thing," I hated everything about college and couldn't cope. I tried to kill myself. This time I was hospitalized, and I went home for a two week period, where I did a partial hospitalization program.

    My parents were understandably distraught, but. They didn't understand anything about what had happened, or what had led up to my suicide attempt. I tried showing them an article about "how to help your depressed high schooler," trying to explain that here were the warning signs I exhibited in high school, and here is how you handled them in exactly the wrong direction - and all my parents got out of it was that they should have prevented me from having online friends? Which I didn't even have at the time?

    I wanted to take a break from college. I wanted to withdraw for the semester, maybe not even go back the next semester and just. Take a break. My parents were disappointed when I brought it up. I went back to school after the PHP ended.

    I ended up withdrawing from every class that semester anyway, and failed every class the next semester. I was barely on track to graduate on time, because I came in to college with enough AP credits that I started as a sophomore, by credits. If I passed all of my classes junior and senior year, I would graduate.

    Except I had a terrible GPA, and my parents said I Was Not Allowed to graduate without getting my GPA up to a 3.00. I went back to school for my junior year. I have tried, and I have failed, and there is no way for me to get my GPA above that goal. Honestly, I am barely capable of passing my classes right now.

    After a lot of deliberation, I have decided to drop out of college. I can't go back for my senior year. I might go back at a later date? But I'm not attempting school full time again until I have a) dealt with my suicidal ideation around grades, and b) am taking classes in subjects I am actually interested in for me, not my parents. I am taking two classes at the local community college, French and developmental psych, mostly because I don't want to deal with my student loans yet, and 6 credits means I don't have to start paying them back yet, but it's not full time, and also the class times are flexible and will allow me to work full time.

    I'm not telling my parents this until I move out with my cat into an apartment with my fiance. I honestly have no idea how to predict what my parents reaction will be, but I do suspect they would kick me out if I wasn't moving out anyway. (They have talked a lot about how Sometimes, Kicking Out Your Child Is The Best Thing That Could Happen To Them.) I've been asking around for how to tell them, but honestly, idk. I don't think I even care anymore. I'm so tired of them refusing to understand what's wrong, and given the issues we're having with me being trans and polyamorous anyway, I've decided that moving out will be my first step in ultimately cutting contact with my parents.

    What I'm more worried about is that while my one sister is in college, my brother and other sister are 11 and 13 respectively. I'm afraid if I move out, and go low-contact like I'm planning on right now, my parents will prevent me from having a relationship with them.

    TL;DR I'm dropping out of college, plan on going low contact with my parents, and am worried I will lose contact with my youngest siblings.
    • Witnessed x 15
    • Agree x 1
  2. vuatson

    vuatson [delurks]

    Man, that sounds like it sucks :( good on you for doing what was right for you and dropping out, though.

    Is it possible the sister in college will be able/willing to help you keep in touch with your younger siblings?
    • Agree x 1
  3. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Uh. No. She's in the camp of "our parents did nothing wrong, you're just bitter and mean for no reason." I would like to have a relationship with her, but there is a chance that she will choose to cut me off when I cut ties with my parents.

    What I'm thinking right now is that I might not be able to go low contact until my siblings head into college, or alternatively, I stay out of contact with them (my siblings) until they head into college. (I really do not want to do the second option.)

    I still want to have a relationship with my parents, I'm just tired of having to live my life according to their expectations. They think therapy is fake, so it's a long shot, but I'm going to offer doing family therapy as a sort of last chance. I don't think I want to go no contact with them, just. Very very low contact.
    • Witnessed x 6
  4. turtleDove

    turtleDove Well-Known Member

    If you go low-contact or no-contact with your parents and aren't able to keep a relationship with your siblings, you could try sending letters to your siblings? And making copies, in case your parents don't hand the letters over, to be sent at a later date once you know that your parents won't be able to filter the mail your siblings receive.

    It's not the same as hanging out with your siblings, and talking with them on the phone. But it's something at least.

    All that considered, however, I think you should remember the thing about oxygen masks: you need to put your own on first, before you try to help someone else with theirs.
    Maintaining a relationship with your younger siblings is a good desire, it's understandable. But it shouldn't come at the cost of your own health. Especially not when you would need to stay in contact for at least five more years, until your 13 year old sister turns 18 and is old enough to make her own choices. And wanting to have a relationship with your parents and your other sister are lovely things, can't be the one doing all the heavy lifting there; they have to be willing and able to meet you at least part of the way on things, and nothing you've described suggests to me that they're willing to do so - your parents have flat-out refused to help you by taking away the money you needed to pay for therapy and medication, and they have consistently refused to acknowledge that you're an actual person who is separate from them and has goals and desires and interests that are not identical to theirs.

    Giving up on something is hard - especially when it's something society tells you you're supposed to have and supposed to want, like "happy family where everyone gets along". It's okay to be upset and to be angry and to not want to give up on it. And I'd really encourage the idea of writing letters to your younger siblings, and putting a copy in a box to be sent when they've gone to college and your parents can't screen their mail, if that's something you think would work for you. But I wouldn't suggest letting your desire for a relationship with your parents and with your siblings to outweigh doing what you need to in order to look after yourself.
    • Agree x 5
    • Informative x 1
  5. vuatson

    vuatson [delurks]

    If you're looking for a somewhat secretive way to do a chat with your siblings, i'm pretty sure google docs's chat (like the chat feature on individual documents, intended for collaborators on the doc to communicate with each other) deletes itself after you close the document but is also copypasteable if you want to keep a record of it. So if they have access to that you could share a blank document with them and chat there.
  6. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Thank you.

    I don't really know what I want from my parents anymore. I want to have a relationship with them, but. I don't know. I want them to have a relationship with me, not the child they wanted me to be, I guess.

    I really distinctly remember when I was old enough that my mother no longer wanted to be physically affectionate; she hates touching in general, and I think only put up with it with her small children because she felt it would be developmentally bad (for us) for her to not touch us at all. And like. She hugs me now, after I've expressed that physical affection is really necessary to me feeling loved and wanted. Not even just tolerates me hugging her, but initiates hugs with me.

    That feels really important to me, and like my she's trying, but idk.

    The whole trans thing has kinda been the breaking point, honestly. We can't talk about it; my mother cries hysterically every time it comes up, and my father and sister act like this is something I'm doing intentionally to hurt her and them. The last time I talked to my dad about it, telling him that I was going on hormones, he told me all I was doing was mutilating myself. And, like, I'm used to the things I like and value being disparaged, so I mean, this bothers me and hurts, but I find it tolerable. But two of my three partners are trans as well, and one doesn't want to socially transition if they're going to be in contact with my parents (because like. my high school best friend was a trans girl, right? my mother said, to her face, while she was over for dinner one night, that she should "go back to being a boy" because she would never look like a pretty girl. i love my parents, but they really suck).

    And I can tolerate my parents being shitty to me about this, but like. That's not okay for them to do to my partners.

    And now I'm dropping out of college, which I feel is the only thing my parents think is valuable about me (which like. I think if I directly asked them that, they'd disagree, but like. also my entire childhood) and I don't know how to even maintain my relationship with them.

    If I kept in touch with my parents for my siblings, it'd be seven not five years, because my brother is eleven. And I don't know if I can do that. So, yeah, the letter option seems like the best one right now.

    It's hard though. I really don't want to cut my parents off. I really don't. I just don't know what else to do.
    • Witnessed x 6
  7. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    And like nothing about me is the child they wanted! I'm bi, I'm trans, I'm polyamorous, I'm autistic and adhd, I have bipolar - I am the kind of disaster that ends up on the internet that my parents sneer at. "oh, being gay is okay, but i would never want a gay child - it would just be so hard!" and "we're not homophobic, it's okay if you're gay" yeah fuck you. Those things don't go together.

    And like. I really want to be a homemaker. I loved playing house as a child; I like making extravagant dinner plans, and hosting tea parties, and like? I really like doing laundry? I learned a new way to fold socks the other day and like. It made my fucking day. I have a lot of self doubt around "am I actually a nonbinary trans man?" because I want to be pregnant and have a baby and raise children.

    And I'm terrified of telling my parents that. They always, like, wanted me to get a job and have a career and like, have children, yes, but I don't think they expected me to be the primary caregiver. And like, I always had a messy room as a child (though in retrospect this was because we didn't know how to work with my adhd+autism) and going back to the laundry.

    So my first college boyfriend, we'd do laundry together, and by "we," I mean, I would do the laundry for both of us, and he would hang out with me while I did it, and help me carry it back up to his room or mine, and then sit with me while I folded it and put it away. He always said thank you when I did his, and knew how to do it and didn't expect me to, so I really enjoyed it, and it was a nice thing to do while we spent time together.

    The only time he came home, he was joking about how domestic I was (because I was making dinner) and about how it's really nice that I enjoy doing his laundry, because everything is always clean and organized and my mother like? yelled at him? Was like "that's bullshit, [birthname] hates doing laundry" and then, the next time we were alone, spent like ten minutes making fun of me, because obviously the only reason I was doing his laundry was because I was trying to trick him into marrying me? And she would not listen to me when I tried explaining, no, actually I like doing laundry.

    Also, like, the reason I hated doing laundry as a kid? I mean, one, I was a kid who hated doing chores and being taken away from whatever I was doing, but also, I hate the combo of Being Alone + feeling like I'm not appreciated. As long as I have company and a thank you when I'm done, I enjoy doing things like laundry or the dishes or whatever. But apparently that Can't Be True, ffs.

    There wasn't really a point to this post, I'm just ranting.
    • Witnessed x 6
  8. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Actually a lot of things that I hated doing as a child were generally because my parents were unwilling to accommodate me.

    For example, I hated brushing my teeth starting in around elementary school and would regularly try to get out of it. I found out last summer that apparently I had a gum infection (that was starting to necroticize????) and, from my description, had had it since elementary school, and once I used the special mouthwash to get rid of it? I reliably brush my teeth at least once a day. I wasn't brushing my teeth because it hurt, because I had an infection that left my gums inflamed and meant when I brushed my teeth, the toothpaste foam would be more blood than toothpaste when I spat it out. If they had listened to me, and told the dentist I was having this problem, it would have been fixed and I would have brushed my teeth as a child! And like? They are still shocked every time they're reminded that I brush my teeth daily now? What the fuck.
    • Witnessed x 7
  9. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    So much of me going to therapy is just learning "it's okay to need accommodations" and then figuring out how to accommodate me. I have sensitive teeth? Did I realize I could just start buying toothpaste meant for sensitive teeth? No, I did not, because when I brought this idea up to my mother, she thought it was stupid.

    I hate putting clothes that I've just taken off but aren't dirty enough to go in the dirty laundry away? Why don't I just put them in a special bin and then, when I wake up, put them away then?

    I can't remember to drink enough water, ever? Why don't I just leave a water bottle within arms distance of literally any conceivable space I might occupy in the room. When I do that, I still don't drink because I don't like the taste of room temperature water? Did I know I was allowed to use the little water flavoring things?

    I hate showering, it turns out because the sensation of becoming wet is awful? I can just, turn the shower on, get a washcloth damp, get damp with the washcloth, and now I'm wet enough I don't mind getting in the shower. Also getting over my guilt complex about wasting water, so now I have given myself permission to wait until the water is warm to get in the shower. That helped too.

    And I'm terrified of telling my parents about the progress I'm making (I live in a clean room! I work full time! I am no longer so dehydrated that I regularly vomit and have to go to the ER, only to be told, wow, you're just really dehydrated! I brush my teeth daily! I bathe regularly!) because like. I'm Doing It Wrong, because I'm not doing it the way I'm Supposed To As Dictated By Everyone Else.
    • Witnessed x 6
  10. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Also, weirdly, it does turn out that when I just start doing things, my parents will go along with it? I came home freshman year, and bought myself sensitive teeth toothpaste, and now my mom remembers to buy me the specific brand I like when she sees it on sale????

    So like theoretically my parents would probably at least adjust to the way I accommodate myself.
    • Like x 3
  11. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Well, related on the cutting of contact thing, what things am I going to need to be an independent adult? Like, I have a full time job, I'm getting an apartment in June, I'm getting a new number and phone plan set up, but like. What else do I need?
  12. Saro

    Saro Where is wizard hut

    Important paperwork (birth certificate, medical records, social sec card, any money-related forms you may have) are some of the first things that come to mind.
  13. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Already have those, actually.
  14. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    So the community college sent a physical acceptance letter to my house (I should have given my school address, I don't know why I didn't think of this) and my parents noticed it and, while they didn't open it, asked me what it was.

    I lied, and said there were language classes I was interested in taking that my current college doesn't offer that I was planning on taking over the summer. I picked Arabic, because a) my college actually doesn't offer it, b) it's actually what I plan on taking in the spring, when they offer it again, and c) my dad thinks that me becoming fluent in Arabic is good because I "want" to get a foreign service job.

    So like, everything worked out okay, my parents think the lie I told them is actually like a great idea??? And were all around very pleased with me after I'd "explained."

    Mostly I just feel really really guilty. I don't like lying to them. I feel doubly guilty because it felt like a chance to be honest, and say that college wasn't working for me and I was wanting to take a break (which... I think is what my parents initially thought, too) and try to just talk it out. But I chickened out because I'm too afraid of how bad their reaction might be, I guess.

    I also feel guilty because I told my parents I was going to stay the night last night, and we (fiancee and I) got there, and my parents were asking me about how work and school were, and the thing about the community college and I just. I felt like I had to die. Like I was never going to measure up to what my parents want of me, and there wasn't any point in trying, and I was worthless. At which point fiancee was like, yeah, we're going, thanks for having us for dinner. And this has happened every single time I visit and I hate it because I want to have a relationship with them, but it's really hard when I feel like I'm just a failed version of the child they actually wanted.
    • Witnessed x 5
  15. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    I talked to my mom about how I don't want to be in college anymore. Surprisingly, if I can get my college to defer my student aid for a semester or a year, she was okay with me leaving for a bit. And she was also okay with me changing my major. So it went less bad than I thought it might.

    If I drop out, and I don't get my student aid deferred (or, gasp, I don't go back, considering point a from my op), they're definitely kicking me out though.

    We also talked about how I want to be a stay at home parent, and have no interest in any kind of career, and. Yeah, she really can't wrap her head around that. Half the conversation was just her trying to convince me that I don't need to go into a job for my major, I can do any job! (Except, you know, being a housespouse.)
    • Witnessed x 3
  16. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Also my mom asked me if I wanted time away from fiancee, to spend "just with people who love [me]" and like. I have a lot of issues around feeling loved and like I'm enough and I'm wanted, and the only people who have been patient with that, and reassure me instead of act offended that I'm doubtful, have been my partners? And also, like, I am way clingy. The time I have spent away from fiancee, I've spent despondent that I'm away from fiancee. (This, like, includes when fiancee goes out for three or four hours with friends. I try really hard not to let my clingyness prevent fiancee from going out with friends. The only exception I have to "being away from fiancee makes me sad" is when I'm with one of my other partners? I do not think spending two weeks with my grandparents and none of my partners is going to make me not sad.)
    • Witnessed x 6
  17. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    So my college is willing to extend my scholarships if I leave for a year, so I told my parents I'm gonna go through with dropping out for (at least) a year.

    Also, my summer plans were to take fiancee and Briar with me to meet my grandparents, and my dad's side of the family said I can't take Briar. So I guess I'm not seeing them either!! On the one hand, they don't know that Briar is a partner of mine, but Briar is a close friend I've had since high school? I wasn't really planning on telling them I'm polyamorous, and since I plan on living that openly, I guess I'm not surprised I'm leaving behind my dad's side of the family, but it is a little sad.
    • Witnessed x 1
  18. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Also also, I had a call with my dad last night (which is how I learned Briar isn't welcome) and my dad was trying to convince me about how it didn't matter what my major was, I could do anything. Which I called him out for being the exact opposite of what my parents told me in middle and high school. He apologized for that, and that was actually really nice.

    Also he didn't argue with me about me not going to see his family without Briar. He made a point of telling me I could go, but when I said my decision was final, he was like, "...okay."
    • Like x 1
  19. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants feral mom energies

    I was in a similar situation to you when I was 18 - had to move out and cut contact with my parents for my own mental health but was leaving younger siblings that I wanted to have a relationship with behind. It's really hard, but now most of my sisters are adults and we have good relationships.

    If you want to try and keep up communication with your siblings who leave with your parents, I have a couple of tips. I ended up using Snapchat a lot, because photos and texts disappeared after reading so my parents had no way of seeing any communication even if they did take a phone for punishment or to look through, and also because it's totally innocuous for people my age to have on our phones. Facebook Messenger now has end to end encryption so conversations can be deleted whenever and can only be accessed from the two devices involved, too.

    I'd also invite my younger siblings on outings they'd enjoy but that my parents would probably have no interest in for whatever reason - the children's museum or young teen-targeted art events for the younger ones and supervising outings to concerts that were too late or too loud for my parents for the older ones, things like that. That kind of thing does require a little contact with your parents, enough so they can confirm that it's you taking your siblings somewhere, so it may not work if you completely cut contact, but you don't have to come to family dinners or anything for that to work, ime.

    The other thing that I wanted to mention is that if you're worried about how your family would treat your partners, it is absolutely and 100% okay for them not to be involved with your family at all, regardless of whether or not you are. I have a fantastic relationship with my in-laws, and at least half of the time that my SO goes to see them, I don't come along. This has never been a problem between us or between his family and I - we're all adults with busy lives. I made the choice to go back to low contact with my parents after a year or so of no contact, and my SO has seen them probably three times apiece in the almost seven years we've been together. He doesn't mind at all, because he understands I'm trying to save him a lot of headache.

    I'm not saying that maintaining contact with your parents is the best thing to do for yourself - it might not be. But if you want to try and maintain some contact but are worried about how it might affect other people in your life, you do have some options. They're difficult options, but in this kind of situation everything is difficult.
    • Informative x 1
  20. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    Well, the situation is officially critical. My parents are kicking me out because I'm officially going on hormones. I really really don't know what to do and could use some help. Please.
    • Agree x 1
    • Witnessed x 1
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