Was wanting your opinions on what you all think. At this point, I think I'm going to leave it open and see how they respond. If they come back at me with more criticism and nastiness, then I will likely walk away. However, if they respond maturely and respectfully, then perhaps there is hope for the relationship. Anyway, here's the letter:
Dear NSM and NF,
Since we last spoke, I've been doing quite a lot of thinking about our relationship. Obviously, I love you both very much and I don't want to just end things on a bad note and walk away. It's been hard enough the past 15 months or so dealing with the whole situation with NM. Unlike her however, the two of you have put forth some effort over the years to try and make things work which is why I'm writing now in the hopes that we can find some middle ground on which to move forward.
There is the issue however of my feeling not heard by you both. The problem when you were in town recently was not that you wanted to take ds out, which is what I suspect you both may be thinking. I was fine with taking ds out shopping to one or two places. Rather, the problem was the restaurant itself. One, it was located outside of the area distance-wise that I am comfortable traveling. Two, it was a restaurant and restaurants are one of the places I avoid as they invoke extreme anxiety. Doesn't matter where it's located, what size it is or how many people are inside, the result is the same for me - intense anxiety and panic attacks. And just in case you were wondering, I can assure you it was not the company either. If you were to ask dh, he'd tell you I refuse to eat out with him as well. Lastly, as I mentioned previously to you both, there is the issue of eating out causing me rather bad stomach distress. My best guess is that it's the way it's prepared. Whatever the case, with the sole exception of Subway, eating out for me = bad gastrointestinal distress for hours afterward. Couple that with my anxiety and it's just really not good.
I tried to explain all of this to the both of you but felt you weren't willing to hear what I was saying because it wasn't what you wanted to hear. To clarify, I'm not saying this was your intention, merely that it is how I felt. It seemed that the only acceptable answer was, "Sounds great! Can't wait!" and anything else was dismissed outright.
I have spent about 30+ years of my life being taught that my feelings and thoughts didn't matter. Worse than that actually. I was made to feel that I didn't have a right to feel anything beyond what I was told I 'should' or 'ought to' feel. Basically I was expected to endure whatever abuse and disrespect they dished out silently and without complaint. More to the point, I was expected to be GRATEFUL for it because, as one clearly so undeserving, they had wasted their precious time and efforts on me anyway when, by all rights, they should have walked away and left me. I was nothing and I meant nothing to them. The few times I scrounged up the courage to speak up for myself - always done respectfully and voiced as more of a whisper - I was immediately labeled bad, wrong, ungrateful, disrespectful, selfish, "unable to take a joke" and, most hurtful of all, "too sensitive".
AM I sensitive? You bet and with darn good reason too. I'd challenge anyone to go through what I went through, to be told every single day how stupid and worthless and undeserving they are and NOT come out of it sensitive. The alternative is death, be it physically at one's own hand or emotionally from giving up the fight. Yes, I am sensitive but TOO sensitive? I think not.
Another hot button for me is being lied to. Dad, with all due respect, you know full well that you most certainly did make the comment to me that my house is too small for you and NSM. Denying it and lying about it won't make it un-said. Now, I'm more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt here. Let's say that, yes, you did make the comment but it was not intended as hurtful or disrespectful, which it how it was received by me. I could understand that. Heck, we've all stuck our foot in our mouth at one time or another or had what we were trying to say come out wrong. It happens. As some would say, that's life. But if that were the case, why not just say, "You know, I apologize for hurting your feelings. What I said came out wrong." or "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings by what I said."?
As you both know by now, I have a long history of being lied to by NM, NSJ and NHS. There are things I know for a fact happened, like the abuse, only to be told by all of them that it never happened and that I'm exaggerating or flat out lying. I'm not stupid, nor am I crazy, obviously, so I know what happened to me. Lying about it not only makes what actually happened that much worse but it's also an insult to my intelligence. By lying, they are projecting fault onto me instead of accepting responsibility themselves.
Ultimately, what I ask of you both is all I've ever asked of anyone - just to be treated with respect. Being treated rudely or dismissively, being lied to, having you consistently be speaking to someone in the background or watching television when I call or being told my opinion is flat out wrong rather than simply expressing disagreement are all examples of not being treated with respect. Being treated like I'm a disappointment to you both simply because my choices don't go along with what you both would choose is another example.
For a long time now, I've felt that your love and approval is conditional. I don't expect that you will understand or agree with all the choices I make for my life but it is my choice to make and I would like to feel that you both respect my right to do so. I don't need to be chastised like a child just because I dyed my hair purple or made to feel like a bad mother because I have a medical issue - my anxiety - that prohibits me from going certain places right now. My greatest nightmare, next to something happening that would take DS away from me, would be for him to grow up and live like I do, afraid to go out and crippled by anxiety. I think it was cruel and unnecessary to throw it in my face and imply that I am deficient as a mother or scarring my child because of something that is out of my control. It's bad enough that I have to live with the reality that it will negatively affect him at all. I would think that, as parents yourselves, you would know the pain of, despite your best efforts, your actions hurting your child.
I'm doing the best I can. The result of 30+ years of trauma and abuse isn't going to be undone in a handful of therapy visits and going out to a couple places a few times. It's going to take months of hard work and emotional upheaval to get it all sorted out. I get that it's frustrating to people who just want to go out and have a good time and don't see what the big deal is and I don't expect you both to fully understand. Actually, I think this is one of those things that one can never fully understand unless they've lived through it and had it affect their life the way it's affected mine. But I would hope that you both would at least be a little compassionate for what I'm going/have gone through.
And just to clarify, I'm not saying I'm perfect or blameless here. I fully admit to a certain degree of responsibility myself in our relationship. One good example is my needing to learn how to speak up in the moment instead of bottling everything up all the time until I cannot take anymore and then explode. But by the same token, I also don't think it's exactly fair to make out that you all have consistently been the only ones to bend over backward or otherwise imply that I haven't contributed anything at all. I call, I send pictures and updates on my family, I offer prayers and support at difficult times, I've played "sounding board" for you both, I've remember special occasions, etc. and the last two times you guys came down here to visit (not including this last time), I've gone outside my comfort zone in an effort to accommodate you both and ensure you had a nice time while visiting us, just to name a few. True, I may not be able to travel at this time but I do my best to try and make up for that in other ways and it would be nice to receive just a little appreciation for what I am able to do and have done instead of most often hearing how I could improve.
All that being said, I think I've stated my feelings here in a very polite, mature, respectful manner. No cursing, no attacks, no insults, just an honest explanation of my feelings in the hope that we can find some common ground and go forward. I hope and pray that your responses and intentions will be the same.
My love to you both,
To be honest, while I'd LIKE a polite, respectful response from them, I'm really not expecting much beyond more chastising and insults. However, I'm hoping that, for once, I'm wrong and will find myself pleasantly surprised.
Wish me luck!