In my work, and in my personal life I meet a lot of people who are struggling with the fact that their parents simply aren't able to show up for them in a positive way (healthy, mature, loving, and non-hurtful). Instead they (or possibly in this case, you) are stuck with who you get. Sadly the truth may be that you will never feel validated, supported, loved, listened to, or honored in a positive way by the people who created you. And that really sucks. I'm sorry. You deserve better. You deserve someone who can be there for you and allow you to be your authentic self and still know that you are worthy just as you are of love, affection and understanding.
So, what do you do if this is the case? What do you do if your mother can't see past her own emotions long enough to be present with your experience? What do you do if your father takes anything tender you do and turns it against you? What do you do if all you've ever known is hurt from the people who are suppose to love you?
Well, there are lots of things you can do, unfortunately none of them are easy, and none of them feel like they should be your job. So, in this instance it might be totally appropriate to get really pissed off. Pissed yet? Good, cause you're gonna need that energy to take the next steps (keep in mind that these steps aren't really linear, you may bounce around and need to redo steps repeatedly at times, and that's okay).
1. First get some support - I'm not saying it has to be therapy, even though I believe therapy is IDEAL for this kind of support, but please find someone who will listen to you, tell you that you are worthy, and acknowledge that what you parents are doing (or not doing in some cases) is seriously messed up. See this person often throughout the steps, and start to believe that they know what they are talking about when they say you are worthy of love, acceptance and peace.
2. Define your boundaries. This is a super hard one - figure out what is and isn't acceptable to you, and start setting limits. You might feel alone, you might feel unworthy, but trust me, you are worth it. Now since you are boundary setting that also gives you a chance to be heard (to be assertive). If this means you need to tap into a B*tch side, go ahead, tap away, because boundary setting is about making yourself safe, and you deserve to be safe. It is also about letting others know how to treat you, which is essential if you want to be treated well.
3. Onto the next step - Grieve. Yep, I said grieve. Take time to acknowledge the loss of the dream of the parent you always wanted - maybe it's a dream of having a sober mother, or an openly emotional father, or a parent present at your wedding. Regardless if it is not happening take some time and allow yourself to feel sad about that loss of the dream, it was a good dream, and I'm sorry it didn't come true. If you want take a moment to reflect on the hardship of losing a dream.
4. Now (& throughout the process)- Be kind to yourself. Recognize you are doing hard work, and that you haven't been treated with the love and support you deserved. So start giving it to yourself. Do things that make you feel good, take a bubble bath, go for a walk, play music, do whatever nurtures your soul, and do it often. You are doing hard work, and you deserve to be treated well, especially by the person with you the most, yourself.
5. Lastly - Be open to exceptions. Do not get your hopes up, but it is true that at times people change, and sometimes people do come around and treat others better. This might occur with carefully selected opportunities (meaning allowing some people access with boundaries established if you feel comfortable), however, this is a very slight change. So, if you are not seeing an inkling of change don't open yourself up for more hurt from that person. It sucks to realize but sometimes mean and hurtful people will always be mean and hurtful. However, if an exception happens be open to seeing it.
6. The really last thing - continue to recognize that you are worthy, you are importance and you are a champion in your own life. This life can get better, but unfortunately not everyone who started out with us are going to cross the finish with us, and that is okay. So, just continue to work on running the race.
On another note, this dynamic with parents often filters into partner selection and problems with relationships, so stay tuned for additional writings on this topic. In the mean time, continue being awesome.