advice · My Life

Your Mixed Feelings About Parents Are Valid

Shout out to people like me who have parents who are loving but are black holes of emotional labor… It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay to have mixed feelings about your parents, about your relationship with them.

Sometimes parents can love you but be somewhat toxic to you and your growth, and that’s a very hard realization to come to if you, like me, grew up extremely close to them.

Sometimes parents can love you genuinely but lack emotional maturity, forcing you to perform disproportionate amounts of emotional labor. Some parents manifest symptoms of their mental illness in ways that are toxic to your mental illness.

Some parents, like mine, try so hard to be good parents but fall back on habits of emotional manipulation because they haven’t processed their own traumas and are modeling behavior they grew up with. That doesn’t make their behavior acceptable, and it’s okay to feel exhausted and hurt when they betray you. You don’t have to forgive every mistake.

I want you to know that it’s okay to protect yourself, to need some space apart from them. The love you have for your parents is still valid, and you are making the right decision.

Placing a safe emotional distance between myself and my parents has been one of the most difficult, heartbreaking processes I’ve ever gone through… it hurts to try to curb the strength of your own natural empathy around people you love. It feels disingenuous to your heart’s natural state.

But I promise you, you are not hard-hearted or ungrateful, and you are not abandoning them. You are making a decision about your own emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

I know what it’s like in that confusing grey area of love mixed with guilt and anxiety, of exhaustion and quasi-manipulation and unreciprocated emotional labor, and I promise you, you are not alone.

Your mixed feelings about your parents are valid.

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