Today while I was trying to write a failed blog entry, I had a momentary lapse of reason and I started thinking about contacting my parents again. It has been over two years now since things really fell apart, about a year and a half since I cut the cord entirely. I am so much better off. I am happier, healthier, more balanced and stable. When I hear stories about what is going on with them right now, my most common reaction is “I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with this.” But there’s another, deeper reaction that happens too. It just runs on autopilot and I ignore it for the most part. It’s the one where, if my brother or the woman from my practicum who goes to church with my parents tells me about something that they’ve said, I start coming up with everything I would say. I start debating and arguing and having these conversations, most of which I never had and now, realistically, never will have. It really seems unfair in a way because here I am and I’m so much better and I’m so much calmer in general and so much less prone to fits of hysteria and I feel like maybe this time I’d be prepared. I find myself thinking that maybe this time I would be able to argue it more effectively, maybe this time I would be able to say it in a way that they would understand me. Maybe I didn’t say it well enough last time. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough.
And I find myself thinking all of these things and it is so easy to forget that being around them was part of what was making me so sick. It is so easy to forget what it has been like to claw my way away from them, to become my own person, to be independent and happy and content with my life. Even though just hearing a story about my mother being toxic and awful can still raise all of my hackles, I can still somehow forget how being in a room with them by the end made me feel like there was no air left, like I had no space and no traction at all. The closest thing I can compare it to is how easy it can seem to stop being compliant with mental health medications (I haven’t been often guilty of this but I played with it occasionally towards the beginning). It seems crazy, like here is the thing that has demonstrably made you less unhappy but once you are less unhappy, once you’re feeling okay, it starts to seem like maybe you don’t need to do this thing anymore. Like you know, it’s kind-of hard and annoying to have to go get the prescription filled all the time, the trip to the pharmacy is such a drag or it costs money you don’t have right now or whatever it may be. And when you’re honestly feeling really good, not medicated, just good it seems like maybe it would be fine to just like… stop, for at least a bit? And then all hell breaks loose because as it turns out, there was a reason you were taking the pills to begin with. And also because stopping mental health medications suddenly often has unpleasant side effects, but that’s perhaps not quite as applicable to the parents thing.
My point is that the urges are still right there. I still want to save my parents. I have repeated to myself a million times that they are never going to change and very occasionally, in moments of extreme triumph, I believe it. I have distanced myself from them to a point where I am able to be a much healthier person, where I am even able to see them and interact with them calmly and rationally, without feeling much of an emotional hit from it. Would things be different if I reinstated contact with them? Of course they would. I am significantly different and things would inevitably be different as a result. But that doesn’t mean they’d be healthy, that doesn’t mean they’d be better. Almost two years of complete cut-off and my parents have shown no signs of change. They are angry at me, they are bitter, they blame me, but as far as I can tell they are not admitting to any wrongdoing, they’ve not made any attempt to… do much of anything, really. My father informed me that he “missed his little girl” which says a lot of things he probably doesn’t even realize. I can’t imagine what a conversation would look like or just how often I would have to reinstate my boundaries or how hurtful it would be. My mother when angry is vindictive, unpredictable and cruel. She is very, very angry at me.
I have come a long way. But I’m still the daughter who wants to save them. At my core, I still feel like that’s possible, and I could be sucked back in so quickly if I allowed it to happen. I believe change is possible for everyone, even my parents. But if someone is ever going to be able to reach them, it’s not going to be me. I suspect that the next stage of all this will be reaching a place where I can truly accept that.