So I call my parents regularly and they tell me they are doing great. They are back into their routine and living their lives. Yet, I can’t help but wonder. Why you ask?
Because they make comments like “We are good … just another boringday here.” Are they really doing well and like their boring lives or is this a passive aggressive way of saying “We are bored out of our minds because we there is nothing to do … and it’s all your fault”? (Notice that I added that last part for emphasis and a bit of self pity). My favorite is when they remind me to “Please call more often if it’s not too much trouble.” I call them basically every day!
The funny thing is that only my parents can make me feel guilty in this way. If anyone else even tries to play these passive aggressive games with me, I tend to address it immediately by calling them out which usually nips it in the bud. Yet, with them, I play right along and plunge right into their game. The funny thing is that I know they don’t mean to do this and if they ever realized just how bad they make me feel, they would be crushed.
When the feeling of guilt sinks in, I remind myself that they are living the lives they chose and that it is not my job to make it better (or worse). Then I ask myself if I am still engaging with them out of love or obligation – Am I calling every day because I want to or because I have to. When I find myself in the ‘have to’ category, I reflect on it and try to get back to the ‘want to’. Sometimes, I do this by waiting a day or to and having a chance to miss them before I call. Other times, I do this by thinking about what I want to talk to them about and wonder what they are up to.
A friend of mine recommended a book I would like to read – Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. I’ll let you know what I learn but if you beat me to it or have already read it, I’d love to get your perspective on it!