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I am very stressed and tired. I feel this weight on my shoulder, and recently because of several factors have built moderate fibromyalgia and am anxious, with weekly crying spells.

One of those reasons, I figured out as I'm back from my trip abroad, is my parents. I'm 24, work and live with my boyfriend. Before leaving my previous job 3 weeks ago, I used to visit them (or try to) weekly and sleep over for this night. I'm not in a good relationship with them as I hide my life away from them, and it's been years.

Since I was young, my parents (esp. my mom who is is a stay-at-home) tried to control my life. And, I hated this. Along with that, my parents are traditional conservative ones, muslim (I ain't religious), and they want me to walk in a certain dictated path. When I finished university at 21, I worked and saved money for 1 year, and then moved out. And when I did this, I lied and said I was moving out to a dormitory (while I was in a flat-sharing), but my mom cried for 1 hour, and dad got heavy on his armchair and started telling me I'm making sick (diabetes, etc.). They blamed themselves and said it was not tradition to do as such, until I get married. Still, I managed to leave when I said I wanted to.

Since then, I live independently and as I want. I then later moved in with my boyfriend. The issue is, they don't know where I now live, what I do, that I have a boyfriend (it's been 3 years), and the rough times I've been through. This all has been adding up to my shoulders... I lie to them cause I don't feel comfortable talking to them, and they can't stand/handle the truth. I'm tired of having to hide and lie all the time. I'm tired of seeing them weekly when we have little to talk about anything - but they get upset when I don't visit.

My so suggests that I visit them as much as I feel comfortable to do so. But there's this guilt I feel, as if I owe them this, this visit, since they want it. And when I don't visit, they guilt trip me saying I don't care about them, ect.

Please help, I feel tired of hiding my life. I am now close to jobsearching for a job abroad to leave this country and my family. I know I will feel better, much better when I'm out, but I'm finding setting boundaries very tough.

How can I pull it off and tell them I can't visit as much?

  • do your parents have any way to contact you? – WendyG Jul 13 '18 at 11:40
  • Yes, over the phone. And they live half an hour away from me (but they don't know that. They think I'm still in my old accommodation. – sparksatnight Jul 13 '18 at 12:11
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    I might copy this question onto the IPS stack exchange as well. They have a lot of good advice there when it comes to handling relationships in general. – ajsmart Jul 13 '18 at 17:40
  • Thank you all for putting in your efforts. Sorry I haven't replied lately. I had an argument with my mom on Thursday. Gosh... I will try and follow your advice. I just need to be more assertive, and I'll visit them less. Thank you. – Sparksatnight Jul 21 '18 at 14:08
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Learn how to say "no". Do not give a reason unless they specifically ask "why?" Figure out what your space is, write it down. Physically writing down your boundaries will help you in keeping them solid in the heat of the moment.

I also have parents who do not respect my boundaries. My parents never ask me to do anything, they suggest it.

Situation before My mom: I would love to have a cup of tea.

I go make her tea, straight away she replies "Oh you're the most wonderful daughter."

Or I don't make the tea, she berates me for the next few days about how awful I am, and how much she sacrifices for me etc.

Situation now My mom: I would love to have a cup of tea.

Me: Are you asking for something?

My mom: What? Oh no, I just think that this would be the perfect moment to have a cup of tea.

Me: Okay.

And I wait until she actually asks me. I do not assume that that is what she wants.

A good technique I learned was to ask myself if my friend said this to me, how would I react? If it was "oh my god, this person is so rude," then why do I let anyone treat me this way.

Putting up boundaries is extremely difficult, especially when the people have never experienced them before. However, it is the most freeing feeling ever. I moved country to try and get space, it didn't work until I learned how to say no.

"Come home for Christmas, we'll pay the flights!"

"No thank you."

Done. If they ask why, which is rarely, I say I'm busy. I only give them the information I want to give them. I don't hide or lie. My life is open to anyone who is interested, the thing is they never ask.

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I'm going to post an answer that relates to things I need to personally do for my Dad and may not be completely relevant to your situation, but may contain some useful ideas and be helpful for someone else. Unfortunately, it's super hard to predict how someone is going to act without knowing them personally.

When I was young, my Dad was not very good at dealing with the frustrations that I apparently laid upon him and to this day, I am sure that I irritate him. That said, I am a grown adult and do not care for a lot of his methods of controlling a situation, which have included physical and emotional trauma that I will not tolerate ever again from him.

He has since gotten better, but I don't think it's he himself that has gotten better, but rather his fear of the social repercussions and how he will be perceived in society by his peers that keeps him in check. When I talk about physical trauma, he was at risk of being jailed at one point for those actions and notably changed his behavior as a result, though, I'm sure much of this change is a repression of his true nature.

From what I know of my father, the most important thing to him is that he's perceived positively by others. This means, he will do any and all of the following regularly:

  • He doesn't outright lie, but tends to lie a lot by omission to ensure he is perceived well. He also gets apprehensive when I reveal a truth about him. A lot of times his lies are casual and kind of funny, but he has had people genuinely think his career was chef for a weirdly long time. But this extends to me not really knowing or understanding what his job was until I was 26.
  • He believes he is a better parent than his father. I suspect this is true. From what family lore I have been able to gather (we've a lot of secrets), my grandfather was a miserable, abusive parent, and his death was a good thing.
  • He tends to think that any help provided is useful and takes personal offense to being corrected on this. For example, we moved across the country and he told us to not bring our kitchen things because he had everything we could ever want. Apparently, everything we could ever want was utensils, 3 glasses, a sauce pan, and a blender with no blades. The blender with no blades has become our description for my Dad since then.

Prior to my daughter being born, I attempted to talk to him about this in a public setting since it's the only location where I feel I can count on him to not lash out excessively. As best I can tell, he more or less shut down.

Now that my daughter is here, I am going to have to talk to him again. And it's going to have to do with his lying. Working up the nerve is the hard part. I am considering having my wife present so that we can approach this together, but that is the sort of thing that's likely to make him apprehensive because he has a social face and a private face and never wants the two to mix.

I recommend the following steps for this conversation:

Public Place

When you are worried about how someone's going to react, I find it's best to do things publicly so there are social mores forcing them to control themselves to an extent. It will make them listen to you carefully, mull things, and respond carefully. Either going out to eat, a walk in the park, or something else. You should pick a place they are comfortable in, though.

No Friends

This is a family matter and needs to remain as such. My Dad's response and handling of a situation will be very different if he has one of his friends around. In addition, this is very awkward for that friend. Do not handle this conversation in front of your parents' friends. It can be handled in front of your friends contingent that they understand their presence is to support you as you deal with this. This permits your parents a means to save face publicly.

Write it Out

I got emotional last time I tried to address this with my Dad and forgot half the things I wanted to bring up. I think it's helpful to have a written list of events that illustrate the point you're trying to make since oftentimes it's not a singular instance that's the problem, but the overall pattern.

Present Solutions

This issues has risen to a peak that needs to be addressed. It will help if your written information includes what you need from them. It sounds like you want to be able to live with your significant other without them trying to slam you for not complying with 'tradition'. As someone with nothing to lose giving solicited advice, I would state clearly and plainly that they are going to need to let go of tradition and stop bringing it up. And this would include when you're not there since it's going to affect their body language if they're complaining about it behind your back when you aren't there.

Present Penalties

I can't stress enough that whatever measures you are willing to enact in response to this can't be idle threats. If they are, you will find your parents are willing to toe the line and if you say nothing, they will see how far they can go. That said, failing to meet your requirements perfectly probably also shouldn't be grounds to cut them off. I try to set the expectation that I want to see continuous improvement. And if they don't seem interested in that, you should be willing to enact whichever measures you indicate being willing to do.


Personally, I cannot guarantee that this will work for you. I can say that it will be grueling and I'm not looking forward to doing this again with my Dad. With my Dad, I have found that he knows of my irritations and now every event with him always includes at least 3 or 4 other friends of his. It's likely his way of keeping himself in check, but he still says some casually insulting things that I don't call him on often enough.

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I think you have to "come out" to your parents. You might lose your relationship with them... but do you honestly have one now?

There really is only 1 solution to living a double life, get rid of the lies.

I found this website, it is talking about coming out to christian parents, but I am guessing the issues are the same. https://www.wikihow.com/Come-Out-to-Strict-Religious-Parents-When-You%27re-Gay

Consider different scenarios.

Try having a variety of plans ready. For example, if your parents are open to listening to you, figure out exactly how much you want to share. Or, if your parents are angry, what will you do? Will you give them space? Will you talk to another trusted family member, friend or relative? Make sure that, whatever you decide, you are respectful and understand it may take your parents some time to absorb what you've told them.

  • Make a plan in case your parents are not supportive. Are you prepared to cut off contact with them? Do you have a safe place to stay, if necessary?
  • If your parents request space, or if they no longer seem to be hearing you, don't press the issue. This may increase the stress and tension in the moment. Try to set an agreed-upon date and time to have a follow-up conversation. Your parents may not be able to process any more information until they can fully absorb what you have already shared.

Choose the right time and place.

Your parents might be very surprised by your news. Try not to startle them even more by telling them your story as they are on their way out the door to work, for instance. Instead, look for a time where your parents are relaxed and able to give you their full attention.

  • It's also important to choose the right place. In many cases, it might be best to do this in private. Your living room might be a good choice.
  • If you have any concerns about your safety, though, a public place might be a better choice. You could consider a coffee shop. Or you could go to a relative's house if they are supportive of you.
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    Would coming out to her parents result in yet another honor killing? I have no idea in her particular case, but muslim women can be in a very dangerous place. – rjt Jul 13 '18 at 19:22
  • @rjt i had presumed he was living with his boyfriend, but i may be 100% wrong. – WendyG Jul 14 '18 at 8:12
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    Hello, I live in a modern urban country, so little-to-no honor killings. And yes, I live with my boyfriend. I'm a she btw. – sparksatnight Jul 14 '18 at 8:37
  • Thank you Wendy for your comment. I read through it yesterday. I truly don't have an honest relationship with them, so maybe you are right. My so said the same thing. Not an honest/close relationship to lose. – sparksatnight Jul 14 '18 at 8:40
  • Glad you feel safe, but others may not be because honor killings have occurred in the USA and Canada and the UK. – rjt Aug 4 '18 at 19:33

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