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TOPIC TITLE: Honoring my Disturbed Parents
Created On 4/18/08 12:05 PM
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shtarkebachur
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4/18/08 12:05 PM
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through therapy and working on my emotional health, i'm realizing my parents have tremendous issues.

they don't respect my needs.

they demand that i help them when i just want to be alone.

they invade my space, looking at my private stuff even after i tell them it's private.

they ask me questions, about my life, that i don't want to answer.
when i say i don't want to answer, they think i don't care about them. so they get angry at me.

to sum it up, they make emotional demands of me which i feel uncomfortable doing.

being a religious Jew, i am confused as to what i'm allowed to say to them. what sort of limits i can set, and how directly i'm allowed to express myself.

i know that doing this will hurt them. but i know this is what i need.

i'd would like to hear people's input on this.



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gad
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4/18/08 4:24 PM
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This is a question for a Rav, but here's some input.

I think that the bottom line is that you need to take care of your health, including your emotional health, but that you still need to try to respect them as much as possible.

So for example, sometimes respect for a parent can mean not talking to them if talking means that there will be an argument.

Perhaps a person that they respect (a Rav, a relative) can be called in to explain to them that you need your space.

Or you can just explain to them (in a respectful tone, without argument) your position, and then tell them that you don't intend to argue about it anymore; and when they come at you, you can just ignore the rantings, and just wish them a pleasant day. Maybe go outside for a walk.

As for your private stuff, maybe you have another place to keep it.

In general to try to protect your sanity in as peaceful a way as possible.

And eventually they will will be happy that you took care of your own health, since the main thing that they want (even if they don't know how to achieve it) is to have a healthy child.
 
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HopefulMommy
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4/23/08 12:24 AM
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I was told that the basic obligations are providing food and drink, meaning taking care of their physical needs. There is no obligation to take care of parents' emotional needs. We are obligated to speak to them respectfully, but not to do everything they tell us. If it is difficult to speak respectfully we should keep our distance and minimize our interactions.
 
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shtarkebachur
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4/24/08 3:17 PM
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thanks.

i have another problem, though.

i feel guilty when i don't listen to them, or, when i know they aren't happy and i'm not doing anything about it.

it's called codependency. it means i worry about other people's problems so much that i can't focus on my own problems. i feel like my own problems are not deserving of as much attention as other people's problems.

i got a book on codependency, and i am trying to use the ideas in the book to help me detach from other people's problems so i don't feel so responsible for them, and to learn how to take care of myself.



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gad
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4/24/08 4:38 PM
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Would it help if you tell yourself that

a. the Torah says 'ushematem meod lenafshoiseichem' that we need to be very diligent to take care of our personal health

b. when we detach ourselves and create our own space and independence, it may be difficult in the short run, but in the long run it will be good for ourselves and our parents.
 
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su7kids
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4/24/08 7:27 PM
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It sounds like you've made amazing strides in your personal growth. You can certainly be proud of yourself. I think the main thing to keep in mind is to be POLITE. I agree that you have to not worry so much about what they think, however, if you ever become disrespectful that would be a problem.

When the going gets tough for you, find somewhere to walk away and cool off and then come back.

You can also tell them "I hear what you say, and I will weigh your opinion carefully" which tells them that they are not being ignored, and tells you that "I hear you, and I'm going to do what I think is right" but at least you're not being rude.

Keep up the good work!!!


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Proud Mom of 7, MIL to 3, Grandmom of 4!
 
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shtarkebachur
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4/29/08 4:26 PM
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i'm learning how to say no to people. i am not so scared to say no when someone wants me to do something that bothers me.

like my mom asked me to take my grandpa (whom i hate being with) to physical therapy, and i had been planning on doing other stuff when she suddenly asked. i said im really not interested. she was not being pushy about it, but i was scared that she would and i would not know how to resist.

anyway, afterward i was glad i did say no, but i felt strong guilt about it. i tried to deny i was feeling guilty. then i realized id rather admit it, even though i am ashamed of it. im ashamed of my guilt, because i know its not healthy, and that it makes no sense to feel guilty for not doing something that bothers me so much. i feel crazy for feeling this kind of guilt for needing my space.

actually i know why i feel this guilt, i am afraid to be normal and say no, because i feel like im worthless if people are angry at me. and thats because my parents never really knew how to take my feelings seriously.

im not just trying to complain here, im just explaining my thoughts. but i like complaining too, when i know someone is listening, so maybe thats part of it.

but i want tohear back from people about what io can do not to feel so guilty when i dont make people happy.


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mouse
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4/29/08 7:09 PM
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I'm following this thread. No suggestions right now as I'm dealing with similar issues as well as nutty family. If I have anything useful to say, I will. Jewish guilt is a talent parents have and manage to instill in their children is my only thought on this.


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All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.
 
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gad
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4/30/08 3:19 AM
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"i'm learning how to say no to people."
There's a formula for saying no. It's called: yes no yes yes.
So in your case: "like my mom asked me to take my grandpa (whom i hate being with) to physical therapy, and i had been planning on doing other stuff"
you can say: " I would like to be able to take him (yes). But I can't right now (no). But hopefully I can do so in the future (yes) or perhaps I can help with something else (yes).


"actually i know why i feel this guilt, i am afraid to be normal and say no, because i feel like im worthless if people are angry at me. and thats because my parents never really knew how to take my feelings seriously."
If you don't do something for someone, that person may resent it. And if it's your parents, they may not only resent it. they may tell you, over and over again, how terrible you are. And that's a hard pill to swallow.
The answer is to tell yourself that you are doing the right thing. And Hashem knows this. And so do others. And if others can't understand this, then as Jackie Mason says, the problem is with them.
As a matter of fact, you can be happy with the thought that, even though it is very difficult, you are still doing what Hashem wants (by respectfully not listening to your parents when you need to protect your mental well being.)

Hope to continue to hear good news.
 
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su7kids
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4/30/08 9:42 AM
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Guilt should only be if you do something wrong, then you are guilty. So, obviously, it not the right emotion, and I think, too, that when you call it that, you are implying thatyou are doing something wrong, which you're not.

If someone asks you, you are permitted to say no.


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Proud Mom of 7, MIL to 3, Grandmom of 4!
 
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HopefulMommy
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4/30/08 3:15 PM
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I also always feel guilty about refusing to do something for someone else, or doing something for myself. I try to help everybody and solve everyone's problems. I think what you are feeling is natural, especially since you are young and not married yet, so your parents are your closest relatives, and you care about them.

Maybe one way to not feel guilty is to find people you can talk to that appreciate you the way you are and don't expect anything from you in return. Then you won't be so dependent on your parents' opinion of you. Another way is to be that person yourself, but that's a hard one. I'm still working on that. But maybe it would help if you catch yourself feeling guilty to go to a different room, close the door, and talk to yourself, out loud, telling yourself that you accept yourself as you are, you love yourself, and no matter what you do, you are still loved and appreciated.
 
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HopefulMommy
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4/30/08 3:19 PM
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gad, thank you for the saying no formula. I have to try that one.

My problem is that I don't know where to draw the line between doing something I don't want to do that I have to do anyway and not doing it to protect my mental health. Like, spending some time with my father is a mitzvah. Spending too much time with him affects my mental health. But how much is too much? And what if there is something he wants me to do that I don't feel like doing? How do I know what Hashem wants me to do? How can I tell myself that it's what Hashem wants me to do? Maybe Hashem wants me to rise above my discomfort and push myself? Maybe He wants me to work on myself to get to the point where spending time with my father would not affect my mental health?
 
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gad
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4/30/08 8:29 PM
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People know themselves. We know what we are capable of at any given moment.
If we learn new coping skills and methods, then by all means. But (until we learn new ways to cope) at any given point in time, when the choice is put to us, then we know what we are capable of at that moment. And we know that if we overload our circuits, that the results will not be good for anyone. And G-d gave us a Mitzvah to guard our health very carefully. And that's what He wants.
 
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shtarkebachur
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5/1/08 5:07 PM
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gad, i don't understand what you said. as hopefulmommy asked, how do we know when hashem would rather we push ourselves even though we feel some discomfort? how much discomfort is too much?

we might be capable of doing a lot, but the way we feel afterward could be resentment, or feeling used. you know what i mean? so it can't be that CAPABLE is the criteria, cuz we can be capable of doing something while feeling resentful about doing it.

i often feel resentful when i do more than i really like doing.

i disagree with what you said, that people know themselves. for some people, i think that finding out what we want is a process. we need to think about how we feel after we do something, cuz if we react by lashing out or quietly sulking because we feel taken advantage of, it's not worth doing it.

the problem is that even when we refuse to do it, we feel guilty. it's hard to truly act on your own needs when you feel a lot of guilt about doing it.

i wonder if this is what hopefulmommy is going through as well.


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HopefulMommy
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5/2/08 12:38 AM
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I think if I was truly convinced that I am doing what Hashem wants I wouldn't feel guilty. But I feel that I can never know that.
 
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gad
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5/4/08 3:55 AM
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"gad, i don't understand what you said. as hopefulmommy asked, how do we know when Hashem would rather we push ourselves even though we feel some discomfort? how much discomfort is too much?"
If you talk to your parent, and you then become aggravated or depressed, then perhaps this shows you that in this case avoidance would have been appropriate. You could also talk to someone else, perhaps the therapist, to help you evaluate each situation.


"i disagree with what you said, that people know themselves. for some people, i think that finding out what we want is a process."
I agree. But to a large extent, one knows oneself. And eventually, by experience and with a therapist, one can learn to know oneself better and better.


"the problem is that even when we refuse to do it, we feel guilty. it's hard to truly act on your own needs when you feel a lot of guilt about doing it."
You feel guilty because it's your parent, because the parent knows how to push the guilt button, because you are unsure if you are doing the right thing, etc. But I think that eventually, with the help of the therapist and with your own experience, you will realize that certain approaches are more beneficial and peaceful than others. And this should convince you, eventually, that you are doing the right thing.


Edited: 5/4/08 at 9:16 AM by gad
 
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shtarkebachur
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5/16/08 4:31 AM
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thanks


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Enjoying life while fighting anxiety!
 
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Aba
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9/1/08 5:58 PM
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I know this is an old thread but I this article is worth reading on this subject
http://www.drsorotzkin.com/honoring_abusive_parents.html

aba of 4


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"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." - Coach John Wooden
 
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