Desperate parents & abuse & alcohol
I love my parents, but I don’t like them very much. Our family was never a loving one and quite dysfunctional. For many years I struggled with an eating disorder and low self esteem issues because of my troubled childhood. As an adult I moved to the other side of the country and made a good life for myself.
Because of my father’s ill health I suddenly see much more of my parents. This has brought back a lot of painful memories but the main problem is that after 40+ years of cold, mutual indifference their relationship is now one of open hostility. My mother wants to leave but feels trapped because of financial problems and my father’s bad health. She is increasingly verbally abusive towards my father. She enjoys telling him intimate details about her relationship with a new partner and at ever opportunity she tells my father how little he means to her and how useless he is. My father is terrified of losing her and has told me and other family members he intends to kill himself if she does actually leave him. My father has a heart problem but after years of sobriety he is now drinking again. My mother’s drinking is also out of control. I keep finding empty bottles around the house whenever I visit. My father actually encourages her to drink because as he says: “She is much nicer to me after a few drinks.”
I do still care about my parents but I am horrified about their behaviour and attitude and the waste of it all. I strongly advised both of them to seek professional help but they both refused and insist therapy is not for them. Both of them are miserable and their fatalistic attitude and excessive drinking is driving me crazy.
In order to stop this awful situation I even invited my father to come live with me, but he refused. My siblings have distanced themselves and I am the only one who still visits, but I can’t take much more of this. It is incredibly painful for me to see them like this. Am I perhaps even enabling this desperate situation by trying to help with little and not so little things? Should I distance myself like my siblings did and keep contact to an absolute minimum? I don’t know anymore what to think or do.
Elizabeth, I'm so sorry about this. It gives me a lot of perspective, reminding me how minor my problems truly are. Anyway, I think you need to seek therapy regardless of what your parents say. Distancing yourself would be a mistake. They are clearly in a very bad state and hurting each other and you. I never understood why people are so abusive. But it's a lot worse when there's drinking involved. Seek therapy now; I don't know what else to say to you except that you are in a very unfortunate situation and it is very difficult and painful, but a therapist will help you get through it, even if your parents won't see him/her. I hope this helps.
Elizabeth, as hard as it sounds you need to distance yourself from your parents and their issues. Their problems are theirs to sort.
Your father needs to understand that he has already lost his wife when she's 'with' someone else. Her spitefulness about it only adds to the hurt. When her behavior has contributed to your father's return to alcohol, then he needs to understand that she is no good for him but he needs to do this by himself.
While you involve yourself in their life and try and support your father, you are really not doing any good and frankly, you are only hurting yourself by trying to assist. If you could assist without it having any adverse effect on your well being, then you wouldn't be here on this forum. That alone should tell you where you stand with this sad situation.
When you have strenuously recommended professional assistance and they have said no, then you have done all you possibly can. You have even unselfishly suggested your father live with you. Their addictions and health issues are theirs and only when they hit rock bottom (if ever, given their age) can they begin to do something about it. You can do no more, other than hurt and damage yourself.
If your siblings have distanced themselves to get on with their lives, then it's telling you that they have done this to have some normalcy, some peace in their lives.
Elizabeth, be kind to yourself and go back to your good life you made for yourself. You are responsible for your actions and you are in charge of your own destiny...just as your parents are in charge of theirs.
On reading Manalone's response, I'm going to change my opinion. You should distance yourself but definitely get therapy for yourself. I was thinking it's important to keep the bonde with your parents but not if they are destroying your life and happiness.