I am a 21-year-old who comes from a background of privilege and support. I am the oldest of four sisters and I'm graduating in the spring from Brown. It's an anxious time. I don't know where I'm going to live two months from now, much less what I want to do with my life. I'm home for winter break.
My parents are both lawyers, strong-willed types who address conflict by screaming. They are obsessed with authority. Anything they perceive as undermining it is wrong. They avoid apologies at all costs and believe that their children do not deserve mutual respect.
In high school, they punished me constantly. I briefly saw a psychologist and began to think the situation was not normal, that I might be right in seeing error in their ways. I went to college and avoided it. I thought it would end and they'd begin to see me as an adult.
This Thanksgiving (my birthday) things blew up. My mother and I had some petty fight caused largely by me. Lots of screaming. Honestly I can't remember what the substance was. She told me to get out of the house, that she didn't want me there if I was going to be rude. I said, "So you don't want me here?" and she replied, "NO!" Maybe I provoked her. I left and refused to come back until she apologized, though my sister begged me not to go. I felt both selfish and wronged. I cried in a park until 7. No word from them.
My father finally called and demanded I come back, not ruin Thanksgiving, that I was selfish, that I only wanted to win. I said I wouldn't until mom told me she wanted me home. Long story short, my mom never got on the phone. I came home, and my dad yelled at me for being disrespectful and said that we WILL ALWAYS have a relationship where, verbatim, "I'm the parent and you're the subservient child." I said that's not a way to foster love. He said he'd rather have respect.
I told my father it felt like he did not love me. My parents often harp on my lack of respect and selfish sense of entitlement. When I've expressed this feeling in the past my parents have been shocked. My mom cries and then screams at me for saying such a thing. My father says sarcastically, "yeah, we don't love you, I'm a terrible father," gets into how entitled I am for suggesting that.
He said that he shows love through the financial support he has consistently provided for me. It's true: I've been given everything. When I said financial support was not love, even though I am grateful and know I am incredibly lucky, he turned red-faced and sputtered. I told him I did not accept "subservience."
Later, he came up to my room with a champagne glass he'd given to my mother on their wedding night. Come downstairs, he said, it's a night for family. That was his olive branch.
I am strong-willed, too, I know. I've barely looked at my father since Thanksgiving. After being away for a week, I forgot my sister's girl scout ceremony. The first words he said to me on the phone were derisive, that I was obtuse, etc. He will not apologize.
He instead says "look at yourself, you think you're infallible." I HAD APOLOGIZED for forgetting. I messed up—but so did he! It's hard to be sincerely contrite and admit my failure when the example is so poor. I know I should be the bigger person.
My mom told me to wait. This morning, they asked me to go to my sister's basketball game and help with her diabetes. I said "Sure, I guess." They started to yell at me for the surly "I guess." I brought up that my dad had not apologized for the nasty remarks. They said they didn't want my help. Dismissed me.
I'm leaving again for school. I feel so bitter. We barely speak. I dread encounters. What can I do? Is it wrong of me to want their apologies? I know I'm their child, but they make me feel worthless and small. They have small kids and work full-time. There's no attention for me--and no respect, and no love.View Thread
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