Rebuild Relationships with Fresh Experiences Instead of Sour Expectations

People won’t always be who you want them to be. Some will let you down. Some will show up when you least expect it. Some will drift away. Some will grow with you. Some will see things the same as you. Some will see things differently. Some will test you. Some will teach you. Some will use you. Some will bring out the best in you.

It’s a tough pill to swallow realizing that the people who are supposed to protect you and love you are sometimes going to hurt you. I was estranged from my parents for eight years. Growing up I was a very independent child and didn’t require much attention or assistance with things. I believed that parents should help their children in the ways each child needed. I felt that my siblings received that help from our parents but I did not. You know me, I can’t keep my mouth shut. So I vocalized my disappointment to my parents. Over. And over. And over again. But the result was always the same. A trifling ass argument between me and my father while my mother just cried.

When my siblings needed financial assistance with a car, our parents provided it. For me, nada. When I needed my parents to cosign student loans so I could attend college, the answer was a firm no. When I was scheduled for multiple surgeries, my mom offered to come help me. Then she canceled at the last minute every time. But when my sister was ill and needed surgery, mom and dad were there to help her. Eventually I was no longer receptive to any help from my parents because I expected them to bail on me. And I got sick and tired of explaining how I felt to them, only for the conversation to turn into an argument. Every. Fucking. Time. I was fed up with them invalidating my feelings. I made one last ditch effort to talk through our problems, but that went tits up as usual, and my parents and I parted ways.

Mommom’s funeral was the first time I had seen or spoken to my parents in eight years. They seemed shocked and scared by how sick I looked. Less than a week later, I was in the hospital on a ventilator due to an anaphylactic reaction. They started contacting me regularly after that, asking questions about my medical conditions. There seems to be a genuine interest in wanting to understand how I manage my daily life with a life threatening allergy, mast cell disorder, severe asthma, and hereditary angioedema. Their interest in trying to understand my medical conditions and taking precautions to keep me safe is the kind of help I would want and expect from a parent.

Sometimes what we see in other people can be a projection of our own attitudes or beliefs toward them, and not necessarily a reflection of their actual behavior. I had to learn to let go of that projection before I could learn to forgive my parents. And I had to learn to forgive them before I could rebuild a relationship with them.

There were moments I had trouble letting go of my expectations of who my parents should be and what they should do. Eventually I realized that I had to accept things the way they were, NOT the way I wished for them to be. Sometimes letting go of someone means releasing your grip on the idea of who they should be.

I learned to forgive my parents when I stopped seeing them as the idea of what I thought parents should be. This wasn’t an easy process because I had to face shortcomings in my parents as well as myself. For me, it was my determination to prove my point. With my parents, it was their lack of help when I needed it.

Life is a series of turning points. We get to choose whether we stay in the same place, move forward, or decide it’s time to turn around and start again. My parents and I didn’t agree to disagree. There were no apologies or hashing out of old shit. We just agreed that we wanted peace and to move forward. Since then, I have been able to start rebuilding a relationship with my family based on fresh experiences instead of sour expectations.

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