5-year hometown return for filial duty gives me nothing but bitterness

By Trang   March 17, 2024 | 03:09 pm PT
Leaving my career, home, and husband in Ho Chi Minh City behind, I went back to care for my elderly parents, only to face unrelenting bitterness.

Driven by the Vietnamese proverb "Elderly parents are like ripe bananas on the tree," which underscores the fleeting nature of my elderly parents’ time left, and the desire to repay them for my upbringing, I left my life in Ho Chi Minh City to return to my hometown five years ago, hoping to dutifully care for my parents until their final days.

My husband questioned before I departed why I would leave when people strive their entire lives to achieve what we already had: a house in the city, freedom, and a loving relationship, highlighting that he had never caused me any hardship.

"When our child or you were ill, I was the one who took care of everything," he said. "What have I done to deserve a solitary life?"

At that moment, I explained that bringing my parents to the city was not feasible due to their strong countryside ties and that asking him to abandon his job and life in the city was unreasonable. Thus, returning to my hometown alone seemed like the best way to uphold my filial duties.

Throughout the five years that have elapsed, not once have my parents shown me respect. I’ve undertaken every conceivable task, from the mundane to the most laborious, all in the service of their care. Yet, any minor slip-up would provoke harsh criticism from them. There were moments when I was ill and yearned for a mere gesture of concern from them, but it was never forthcoming.

Living together has resulted in more sorrow than joy for me. Local gossip has led to a deterioration in my parents’ behavior towards me, where any external whisper could trigger a reprimand, perhaps fueled by suspicions that I was after my grandparents’ inheritance.

I found myself perpetually maintaining a facade of happiness, amiability, and cheerfulness, even when faced with scorn, insults, or disdain from my own parents. This might stem from a lack of familial affection in my childhood or the constant criticisms from family members, which eventually led me to relinquish resentment towards anyone.

In the wake of sacrificing so much to honor my filial responsibilities, what I’ve received in return is a gradually diminishing bond with my parents. Meanwhile, the distance and separation have pushed my marriage and small family to the brink of collapse.

I find myself questioning whether my actions were correct. What should I do now?

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