Grieving a Living Parent: Week One
The first steps are always the scariest.
The first week was hard.
I spent most of my time this week trying to do self-care and find new people to share my news and updates with. That used to be my dad. Hours and hours spent on the phone when he was driving a truck. We talked almost every day and I thought our relationship was something it was never going to be. I've never let my mother very close because of her behaviors in times gone by - and her unwillingness to address them in a way that is helpful and healing to either of us. So it was just trying to move on from the relationships I thought I was having with them.
Some of the things I did to take care of my mental health were simple. I went to a group therapy meeting, ate what I could when I had an appetite, took long showers, and took comfort in the things I still have that bring me joy. It was important, to me, to stay invested in my outside activities and to work toward feeling better.
Where I struggled was entirely between my ears. I wrestled with wanting, so badly, to believe I was in the wrong. Told myself that they couldn't have willingly crossed that line, that they wouldn't possibly have tried saying those things about me... that I was wrong. And with the fact that I was less upset, less afraid, and less stressed out than I was when I was dealing with them. I was more social, more interested in doing my kinds of things. That's not what happens when you cut off a parent who wasn't abusing you. I had to come to an acceptance of the fact that I had done the right thing by ending that relationship.
Towards the end of the week, the reality of my situation began to hit and I wanted my parents more than I had in a really, really long time. I felt like a frightened little girl crying for her parents after a bad dream. Only this time, they were the monsters I was afraid of. I didn't unblock them, I didn't reconnect. I reminded myself that this was the right thing, that they would only be reinforced that they can do whatever they want to me and I will always just come running back. Not this time.
At this point, on the weekend. I am still struggling with the fact that I want the parents I thought I had. I want someone I can run to who will always be there and who I can trust not to hurt me on purpose just to make themselves feel better. I have found resources to vent the grief and let myself feel my pain openly. At this point, I am just taking care of myself and working toward the next steps in my life without them.
If you are struggling with grief after cutting off a parent, just know that what you are feeling is exceedingly normal. Psychologists will tell you that when you grieve any relationship it is normal to go through a period where you try to make reality something it is not - you try to change the script. Having someone to help you remain accountable for the choice you made for your own well-being is going to be crucial. Talk through your feelings with a therapist, and with other people who had to cut off their parents. Get coffee with those people who share your experience. It is easy to recant on a boundary if you do not feel supported and secure in setting it.
Finally, reward yourself early and often. The emotional labor you are putting in for yourself right now is impressive. You deserve to be proud of yourself and to treat yourself like it. One step at a time, we are going to get through this together. I love you. I believe in you.
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Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions