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woe and confusion!

woe and confusion!

Old Feb 27th 2009, 2:47 pm
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Default woe and confusion!

Hello, its fantastic to discover this site and all the kind thoughts and good advice on offer from so many generous people. Has anyone had to tackle parents over their decision to relocate ?

If you can, I'd like some input into my situation which has become a very dark tangled forest of complications ! The set up is quite long but please bear with me:

Im 40, male, look and behave 30(, married, no children. (I live in Surrey and work in London) Married to a beautiful Montrealaise who has a large family contingent in Quebec. I have been to Canada many times, and although mainly on vacation I dont have tinted spectacles about it, but generally Ive had a very positive experience thanks to the humour and generosity of my wife's friends and family.

I have a quite fractured family background but my UK family unit now boils down to my Mum and my Dad (stepfather). There is a long history of familial breakup and violence on my Dads side. My Dad is 73. He has no real friends and spends the bulk of his day watching television. My mum is 62, a great person but has several health issues and suffers from depression and PTSD from her time in an orphanage in Ireland. She is emotionally volatile and vulnerable, and has a lot if issues about family abandonment (she recently 'discovered' and engaged in tentative contact with her family in Ireland).They live in a council flat. There is no cushion of finance in this situation.

Basically my wife and I (she is Canadian) have toyed with the idea of relocating but we have encountered extraordinary emotional resistance from my parents. It makes me so sad to write about this; I married several years ago, and enjoyed the idea of spending time or relocating to Canada, and the idea popped out at a pub lunch. My parents went ballistic and over the next couple of years we had ferocious and very bitter arguments. I found my parents completely intractable, but I love them so much that their pain and hurt at the idea that I could leave (abandon ?) them cut through me. The storm and bitterness of this situation created a lot of contradictory priorities for me and my wife- we both love my parents, I needed to keep a base in the UK, I was in debt (thankfully now Im a homeowner and nearly out of all debt except for the mortgage). For the next few years we buried the idea of moving or working in Canada whilst we worked on careers and sorting our poor finances.

We bought the house, then hit the buffers- my wife and I nearly split in the christmas of 2007, but when it came to the crux we love one another too much, and spent 2008 repairing and rebuilidng a lot of trust and honesty that had been neglected. We have just had a year of counselling , often talking about families and boundaries etc. After this New Year we again hit a wall and I realised that it was my fear at not being able to raise the Canadian question because of the profound distress and anger it produces in my parents. I had got the the point of not being able to think, act or plan for anything in my life because it was evading the elephant in the room (CANADA)...the pressure was building and my resistance was creating profound tensions in my marriage.

So I picked up the phone and told them, figuring that I cannot run my life through fear, but through honesty. I told them (and I believe it) that it was better to be honest with them, that the issue of working or living in Canada would not go away, and we had to give it some light; ; I told them that I had no solutions yet, because I had been too scared to even think about it. I said that there were lots of options, and opportunites, that we could be talking a 2 year, a 5 year or even a 10 year plan.

However, this was not received well.In fact thats an understatement. I was told that I was now dead to them, they were going to get someone else to organise their funerals, that I made no effort with the Irish family and did everything for my wifes family, that my wife wanting to spend more time with her family, friends and most importantly her niece and nephew was wrong and she shouldnt have married me, that their lives have been ruined since I got married, that I would never know if they were alive or dead, that our years of bridge-building meant nothing and the fact that we were still in this country and tried to include my parents in many aspects of our loves meant nothing. They wouldnt listen to, acknowledge or accomodate ANYTHING I said.

That was last week and I have heard nothing from them, despite a call and some texts from me just hoping they're not too upset still. In some ways I feel more clear as I have been honest and I can now look at my options without feeling guilty or that I am going behind anyones back, but the damage that this has done is immense. Whilst I dont assume they would have been happy about it, I would have thought they could sit down and talk honestly and with love about their fears and concerns for me and for themselves.

Im suppose I'm looking for perspectives on this situation, coping strategies and tools for assessing my situation. This past week has been so painful because of my worry for my parents, and also liberating because I can talk honestly to my friends and my wife about our options- whether staggered visits, longers visits, casual work, or even splitting up ! (which I dont want)

Theres lots more complications to my family history (Ive always been the good black sheep as it were, studious, intellectual, university , bit reserved and not trusting of my Stepfathers side of the family) but I would be very greatful for any opinions about this.

many thanks

jdg
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 2:53 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

YOU have to live YOUR life.

Part of emmigrating is dealing with less contact with family.

Do what you want to do, and let them deal with it.
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 3:06 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

from one 'good black sheep' to another.... i trust your writing all of that was therapeutic in itself?

i think we can all to varing degrees, recognise the sort of pains you're going thru. i myself have been relieved of such stress directly, as my family is FUBAR and fractured to begin with. the family of my OH however, has certain 'emotional leverage'.

my point of view aligns with agreeing that it is reasonable for a child to scream 'i never asked to be born'. it is true. and it is also telling that humans are intrinsically selfish.

there is always an issue of guilt associated with 'birds flying the nest'.... but parents would need to be myopically short sighted not to anticipate such an eventuality. and why did they ever bother to bring you up to be so successful and independent, if they expected you to remain tied to the apron strings? afterall, your parents were free and able to stray from their childhood 'home', but now you are not entitled to enjoy that very same thing?

all philosophical things aside.... the frequent irony is that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'. i tend to be closer to my family (such as it is) the further away they get!

if protestations to your migratory plans exist, then they will originate from people who do not hold your own best interests and hopes for the future in high regard. sad but true. be strong and just try not to burn any bridges.
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 3:28 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

Your parents are lashing out at you because they are scared. My mother-in-law reacted the same way when we told her of our plans, blamed me totally, but eventually came around and visited us here in Canada a couple of times.

You have to do what is right for you and your wife. Yes it will cause heartache and pain, it's part of life. Try to emphasize the positives in this to your parents. Can they travel? They can come for holidays, you can go back there on regular basis. In the end, you will likely see more of each other, and more quality time, than you do now.

Good luck.
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 3:42 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

I don't know what I can say to help you but I believe parents should raise their children to live their lives without the guilt trip when the kids do go off and do their own things. So many people on here have had unsupportive emotionally blackmailing parents it's unreal. I hope by typing your post you have found some inner peace. It sounds as though you have had a rough couple of years but now you have to do what is right for you and your immediate family. Keep positive.
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 3:56 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

I can imagine what this has been like for you, I too am evading telling my dad about our emigration plans.
he has been very good to my hubby and I and helped us to buy our lovely home. If we were to tell him that we were moving to Oz he would wholeheartedly be behind us in every way, because he lived there.

Canada will be an entirely different ballgame, he has no idea what its like and thinks its America, which he hates (and we love incidently)
We also have two small children now that he loves and my brother has moved to Germany so we are all thats left to him and my stepmother.
he also suffers chronic depression and has been ill again for 2 weeks now, so I am dreading breaking this news. I fear he will be the last to be told....
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 4:03 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

Originally Posted by jimdigriz View Post
Hello, its fantastic to discover this site and all the kind thoughts and good advice on offer from so many generous people. Has anyone had to tackle parents over their decision to relocate ?

If you can, I'd like some input into my situation which has become a very dark tangled forest of complications ! The set up is quite long but please bear with me:

Im 40, male, look and behave 30(, married, no children. (I live in Surrey and work in London) Married to a beautiful Montrealaise who has a large family contingent in Quebec. I have been to Canada many times, and although mainly on vacation I dont have tinted spectacles about it, but generally Ive had a very positive experience thanks to the humour and generosity of my wife's friends and family.

I have a quite fractured family background but my UK family unit now boils down to my Mum and my Dad (stepfather). There is a long history of familial breakup and violence on my Dads side. My Dad is 73. He has no real friends and spends the bulk of his day watching television. My mum is 62, a great person but has several health issues and suffers from depression and PTSD from her time in an orphanage in Ireland. She is emotionally volatile and vulnerable, and has a lot if issues about family abandonment (she recently 'discovered' and engaged in tentative contact with her family in Ireland).They live in a council flat. There is no cushion of finance in this situation.

Basically my wife and I (she is Canadian) have toyed with the idea of relocating but we have encountered extraordinary emotional resistance from my parents. It makes me so sad to write about this; I married several years ago, and enjoyed the idea of spending time or relocating to Canada, and the idea popped out at a pub lunch. My parents went ballistic and over the next couple of years we had ferocious and very bitter arguments. I found my parents completely intractable, but I love them so much that their pain and hurt at the idea that I could leave (abandon ?) them cut through me. The storm and bitterness of this situation created a lot of contradictory priorities for me and my wife- we both love my parents, I needed to keep a base in the UK, I was in debt (thankfully now Im a homeowner and nearly out of all debt except for the mortgage). For the next few years we buried the idea of moving or working in Canada whilst we worked on careers and sorting our poor finances.

We bought the house, then hit the buffers- my wife and I nearly split in the christmas of 2007, but when it came to the crux we love one another too much, and spent 2008 repairing and rebuilidng a lot of trust and honesty that had been neglected. We have just had a year of counselling , often talking about families and boundaries etc. After this New Year we again hit a wall and I realised that it was my fear at not being able to raise the Canadian question because of the profound distress and anger it produces in my parents. I had got the the point of not being able to think, act or plan for anything in my life because it was evading the elephant in the room (CANADA)...the pressure was building and my resistance was creating profound tensions in my marriage.

So I picked up the phone and told them, figuring that I cannot run my life through fear, but through honesty. I told them (and I believe it) that it was better to be honest with them, that the issue of working or living in Canada would not go away, and we had to give it some light; ; I told them that I had no solutions yet, because I had been too scared to even think about it. I said that there were lots of options, and opportunites, that we could be talking a 2 year, a 5 year or even a 10 year plan.

However, this was not received well.In fact thats an understatement. I was told that I was now dead to them, they were going to get someone else to organise their funerals, that I made no effort with the Irish family and did everything for my wifes family, that my wife wanting to spend more time with her family, friends and most importantly her niece and nephew was wrong and she shouldnt have married me, that their lives have been ruined since I got married, that I would never know if they were alive or dead, that our years of bridge-building meant nothing and the fact that we were still in this country and tried to include my parents in many aspects of our loves meant nothing. They wouldnt listen to, acknowledge or accomodate ANYTHING I said.

That was last week and I have heard nothing from them, despite a call and some texts from me just hoping they're not too upset still. In some ways I feel more clear as I have been honest and I can now look at my options without feeling guilty or that I am going behind anyones back, but the damage that this has done is immense. Whilst I dont assume they would have been happy about it, I would have thought they could sit down and talk honestly and with love about their fears and concerns for me and for themselves.

Im suppose I'm looking for perspectives on this situation, coping strategies and tools for assessing my situation. This past week has been so painful because of my worry for my parents, and also liberating because I can talk honestly to my friends and my wife about our options- whether staggered visits, longers visits, casual work, or even splitting up ! (which I dont want)

Theres lots more complications to my family history (Ive always been the good black sheep as it were, studious, intellectual, university , bit reserved and not trusting of my Stepfathers side of the family) but I would be very greatful for any opinions about this.

many thanks

jdg
Good grief, Ive just posted earlier about having to tell my mother...

I hope you manage to resolve everything, but it is your life, they will come round surely eventually.

Karma sent

Mel
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

I think at the end of the day you have to do what is right for you and your family and not what your parents want. I know our parents would have preferred us to stay in the UK but they acknowledge that we have to live our lives to what we want. Thankfully our parents wasn't as bad as yours and I am sorry you are having a hard time but you and your wife has to come first.
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 4:18 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

I understand the conflicts involved here, although different family set up etc.
Leaving my mum and dad and two brothers in the UK was the most painful and traumatic thing I have done as we are very close. However, they were supportive and I felt like I had to live my life. My OH is Canadian so I understand how Canada gets to be 'that Elephant in the room'. We moved out last July and have actually realised that our contacts in the UK were highly significant to our quality of life and (considering other numerous factors also) we will return in Sept after just over a year away. We feel relieved because we have now dealt with 'the elephant' and my OH has realised he preferred his life in the UK. We really miss the support of family and friends and realise they are the most significant thing to us.
When we planned to come to Canada it was all with a sense of, this is it (forever) BUT I realise this was the wrong mindset completely, as you just don't know how things will go once you live here permanently and it is completely different experience from any of the numerous vacations you make with the OH. So my advice would be that maybe consider trying to aim for a year or so in Canada as a 'recce' rather than think about it longterm. You may find that your family can deal with the concept of a distinct period of time better than forever. Life can change so quickly for all of us that you can't plan longterm anyway, and life will keep reminding you of that! My parents are in their 60s/70s and that has also become a factor for me because I realised that I want to be around them while they're here, and not millions of miles away. My OH's parents have passed away and he has one sibling in Canada who we don't see much so I guess that makes it easier for us to decide. I think you definitely need to deal with 'the Elephant' as anyone with an OH from overseas does, and you won't know what you want longterm until you give it a go..but as I say, maybe focus on a shorter period, it is easier to deal with mentally and emotionally.
ps. Agree that your parents are reacting out of fear, and also as you mention they are vulnerable already, so you will need to use kid gloves and be compassionate to their own terrors about your going away. Change always impacts on those around you (a lot of anxiety!) and as you are imposing this change on them they feel a lack of control (thus they respond with anger), you in turn will feel massively guilty. You seem well aware of the psychological factors involved so I urge you to continue to look beyond their initial reactions to the deeper picture and find an understanding for their actions. Emmigrating throws up a lot of heavy emotional factors to deal with, but you may forge better relationships in the longterm if handled well. I wish you the best of luck.
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 6:14 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

many thanks to those of you who have responded so fully and generously here: its a real community. It is therapeutic to frame the situation; there are several other chapters of shocking family revelations, as im sure there are with other families; My wife is amazed I havent turned out worse which makes me laugh. I'm trying to maintain an integrity and honesty with those I love- well, as best as I can ! I feel so loving towards my parents who havent had the best of lives, and yet they are real firebrands in their own right. I suppose I fear the accusation of abandoning them when I know they have many issues relating to family and belonging, and yet I dont know how I can carry all their expectations and foibles and never hope to upset them.

The thing that hurt me the most was the issue of death and illness that has been thrown up here. Rather than being handled in a sensitive, or even humorous manner within a family unit, its been added to the shitstorm as a very bitter ingredient! And my mum insists on trying to turn it into a war of familial loyalties; how do I break the geas ? Will they really calm down and accept this, or will the 'betrayal' continue to be resurrected at every perceived slight ?
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 6:24 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

Originally Posted by Howefamily View Post
I can imagine what this has been like for you, I too am evading telling my dad about our emigration plans.
he has been very good to my hubby and I and helped us to buy our lovely home. If we were to tell him that we were moving to Oz he would wholeheartedly be behind us in every way, because he lived there.

Canada will be an entirely different ballgame, he has no idea what its like and thinks its America, which he hates (and we love incidently)
We also have two small children now that he loves and my brother has moved to Germany so we are all thats left to him and my stepmother.
he also suffers chronic depression and has been ill again for 2 weeks now, so I am dreading breaking this news. I fear he will be the last to be told....
I dont know how one handles it
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 6:27 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

Originally Posted by Howefamily View Post
I can imagine what this has been like for you, I too am evading telling my dad about our emigration plans.
he has been very good to my hubby and I and helped us to buy our lovely home. If we were to tell him that we were moving to Oz he would wholeheartedly be behind us in every way, because he lived there.

Canada will be an entirely different ballgame, he has no idea what its like and thinks its America, which he hates (and we love incidently)
We also have two small children now that he loves and my brother has moved to Germany so we are all thats left to him and my stepmother.
he also suffers chronic depression and has been ill again for 2 weeks now, so I am dreading breaking this news. I fear he will be the last to be told....
sorry that was bit brief- Im still learning about all the forum buttons! All I can say for me is that honesty is the best policy, and in my case supression or evasion of the topic has only compounded the problem. But Im sending you karma and kind thoughts
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Old Feb 27th 2009, 9:26 pm
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Default Re: woe and confusion!

I am so sorry to hear of your predicament. It is a very difficult one. Time is the enemy. If you dont go soon will you ever be able to adapt easily to a life in Canada, but your parents are ageing and want you around. But they wont be around for ever, and I hate to say it neither will you or your wife.

You have spent all your married life in the UK, and your wife is Canadian, she has been very patient. It is your turn to return the favour and live in Canada, maybe not forever but for the forseeable future. Your wife deserves to spend some of her married life around her family in Canada.

Your mother "gave" you life. The devil is in the detail, meaning she gave it to you, now take YOUR LIFE and go.


I am leaving my 16 year old son with his dad. It is going to kill me but I have to do it because my other 3 dont deserve to be held back by him. My mum has dementure and my dad is 79, but my dad wants me to go and wouldn't have it any other way. I can see how lucky I am in that respect, Thank you for showing me that.

I hope you follow your heart to Canada and can find some way to reduce the guilt and pain. But you and your wife should come first.


Sarah x x x
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