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Need help from people who have more perspective than I do


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I am 22, and I need advice on how to sort out this situation with my family. I feel very guilty about the whole thing

 

I live and work about 300 miles away from home with my boyfriend. My family do not know I live with my boyfriend, they are highly against it - not because of him, but because my mother doesn't agree with me living alone and seeking employment rather than further education.

 

This is because I left medical school with a degree, but did not carry on to medical training to become a qualified doctor. I basically studied for 3 years to achieve an undergraduate degree and left. I never wanted to be a doctor and largely did it to please my mother. Understandably, she was very upset at my decision. This lead to her and my father saying I couldn't come home.

 

3 months later and that is largely water under the bridge - they want me to come home for Christmas. I am reluctant, as largely they are not wonderful people. I am due to work Christmas day (I work in healthcare in a role I enjoy much much more than being a Dr) and visit my boyfriend's family the day after so I've largely managed to avoid it.

 

I am feeling extremely guilty about avoiding them. When I first left home for medical school, I was leaving a very abusive father and a mother who would stay with him no matter what. When I came back for Summer, my father had been very ill (largely concealed by my mother), suffered a brain injury and the roles had completely reversed - my mother called the shots, my father was largely harmless if as lecherous as ever. Some friends have suggested that this is a much sought-after second chance with my father, now his temperament has changed, but I feel there are some things I cannot forgive. I largely just want a relationship (with healthy boundaries) with my mother and sisters.

 

My mother is insistent she cares for me deeply, my sisters who live at home want me to return too and rebuild a relationship. The problem is they want me to rebuild a relationship too with my father, and return to medical school or university. Any dissidence meets a lot of upset from their sides. I am trying to go the 'long-distance' route but it is still leaving me deeply guilty. I don't know if I am being cruel for not going home and concealing my living situation or if I am being reasonable. Any help?

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You are an adult, and capable of supporting yourself and making your own decisions.

 

Your life is your responsibility now, not theirs. It seems like you have embraced that responsibility.

 

It's understandable that you feel conflicted, but your parents' authority over you must end at some point. It's inevitable. Might as well be now.

 

This doesn't have to be a major conflict. There is already physical distance between you, so it may be a matter of simply keeping them at arm's length.

 

It's difficult to give you more specific advice because I don't have many details about what transpired in your life with your family.

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Family love shouldn't be based upon whether or not you live your life and make choices based on what THEY think you should do.

 

How comfortable do you feel telling them "no" regarding the education, career and life choices they are trying to force upon you?

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How comfortable do you feel telling them "no" regarding the education, career and life choices they are trying to force upon you?

 

Not very comfortable, unfortunately, it often leads to massive upset on the side of my mother and I get banned from home for a while or yelled at down the phone. I just avoid telling her unsavoury things but I think that is what I am feeling guilty about.

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Not very comfortable, unfortunately, it often leads to massive upset on the side of my mother and I get banned from home for a while or yelled at down the phone. I just avoid telling her unsavoury things but I think that is what I am feeling guilty about.

 

You feel guilty because she yells at you and bans you from home?

 

What are you doing that is so "unsavoury"?

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You feel guilty because she yells at you and bans you from home?

 

What are you doing that is so "unsavoury"?

 

That's the thing, it's all a bit weird. My sisters are telling me I am in the wrong too, but I don't think I've done anything too bad. I'm supporting myself etc...

 

She doesn't like that I left medicine. I told her before I left for medical school, I tried to change courses 1st year, etc.. so it was not a surprise but she says she cannot trust me.

She doesn't like my job either, she thinks I'm underemployed but I really like my job and it's enough for now.

 

It's just my sisters really that stop me from thinking I am right as they grew up with the same parents but have radically different opinions on it all

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Sorry to hear that. When you leave a toxic family, you need to remain distanced. Use the covid/can't travel reason you won't be going home. Unfortunately being honest won't work in the context of this much toxic family dynamics. Do not let sentiment get in your way.

 

Most families are not a romcom or hallmark scenario. - Your friends are wrong.

 

You need to maintain boundaries and be neutral and very careful what you divulge to people as toxic as your father/mother. They Will Not Change.

 

Enjoy your happy new life far far away from them.

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My mother was toxic, like yours seems to be. Remember "no" is a complete sentence and you need to use it. No, I will not be home for Christmas as I have to work that day.

 

You need to develop a backbone and learn to stand up for yourself as you are an adult! My mother used to try and guilt trip me about so many things, it was awful. Guilt is a waste of emotion, you dont have to feel guilty about doing what works for you!!

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Did your parents pay for your education? If so, the answer would be very different than if they did not

 

I knew someone who went to college at a very prestigious school and quit when he only had ONE semester to go because "eh, he wasn't into it and it was getting hard." I thought he was a blithering idiot. If he had attended one year -- okay -- but he was actually less than one semester before graduating and the only thing he had to do was a thesis and maybe one class really. He really should have buckled down and just did it - and if he didn't feel like the field after that, he could at least get a job and put himself through other training.

 

Instead of graduating, he worked at drug stores/pharmacies as a clerk. After 12 years he managed his shift. And someone with a GED and no college was his boss

 

I am not saying college degrees are the be all end all but if you are so close - why not finish your training? I get a sense that you do not want to just to stick it to mom.

Make sure that's not your motivation

 

And as far as dad -- you don't have to pretend nothing happened - but you could set boundaries and be cordial.

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It's easier to reset boundaries from a distance. It's your chance to decide what you need from them in order to feel respected and comfortable to be part of each others lives. Nothing to feel guilty of there.

Maybe they won't ever be able to or willing to meet those basic requirements. But you need time to articulate them for yourself. It wouldn't be healthy to throw yourself back in the fray without having established that.

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Did your parents pay for your education? If so, the answer would be very different than if they did not

 

I knew someone who went to college at a very prestigious school and quit when he only had ONE semester to go because "eh, he wasn't into it and it was getting hard." I thought he was a blithering idiot. If he had attended one year -- okay -- but he was actually less than one semester before graduating and the only thing he had to do was a thesis and maybe one class really. He really should have buckled down and just did it - and if he didn't feel like the field after that, he could at least get a job and put himself through other training.

 

Instead of graduating, he worked at drug stores/pharmacies as a clerk. After 12 years he managed his shift. And someone with a GED and no college was his boss

 

I am not saying college degrees are the be all end all but if you are so close - why not finish your training? I get a sense that you do not want to just to stick it to mom.

Make sure that's not your motivation

 

And as far as dad -- you don't have to pretend nothing happened - but you could set boundaries and be cordial.

 

Hi, no they did not. In the UK (apologies if you're from here too) the government pays tuition fees, and I paid my living expenses. I also stuck it out to get my degree, so I graduated from college. I just did not complete medical training, in the UK you can graduate with a medical degree but not carry on to be a doctor, so that is what I did.

 

I really awfully do not want to finish my training, I really do not want to be a doctor and I don't think it fair to put patients through that!

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It's easier to reset boundaries from a distance. It's your chance to decide what you need from them in order to feel respected and comfortable to be part of each others lives. Nothing to feel guilty of there.

Maybe they won't ever be able to or willing to meet those basic requirements. But you need time to articulate them for yourself. It wouldn't be healthy to throw yourself back in the fray without having established that.

 

Yes I think this is true. I guess just the pandemic and my father being quite frail makes me panic I am doing something I will regret in not being closer if he were to pass away now

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Don't go back home if you don't want to. However, if your sisters and mother are there and your father is there, too, there is a way to behave so you can enforce healthy boundaries.

 

I have relatives and in-laws whom I do not admire nor respect. Most of us reside locally which means pre and post pandemic, we have random gatherings throughout the year. There is bad blood (bad history with relatives and in-laws) and it's very difficult to fully forgive them. Since I can't control anybody, all I can do is control myself and make sure I'm in the driver's seat regarding many relationships. I am civil, kind, well mannered, polite and gracious yet I stop right there and never go overboard. Try as they may to get back into my good graces, it won't work due to my very vivid memories of pasts gone awry. All I can do is the bare minimum at best; no more, no less. It works and it's the perfect recipe.

 

The main goal for you is to keep the peace. You don't have to be close to those you don't want to be close with but you can be a peaceful person albeit from a safe distance in your heart. This is what I do and it works wonders for your soul. There is no guilt whatsoever, none is the wiser and all is well. You ought to try my tactic because it works. I hope what I do helps you in your situation.

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