My parents have two children. Several times when they had a failure to communicate, they somehow were meant for each other enough to work things out. And now they've been married for about 32 years. They treated my sister and I as well as possible, and I have no reason to hate them or resent them.

But when my sister left my family, and my parents had no way to understand the whole thing, it put an inordinate burden on me to make up for it and assure them it wasn't their fault.

But that's really hard. I feel I must shield them from so much of the truth about myself. Because they'll be forever bruised and vulnerable from the pain my sister caused.

They were always religious, but became even more so in an attempt to cope with my sister's departure. I don't want to keep bothering them with the fact that they failed to instill any of their most important values in me: their agnostic son who sees no need for God.

They're so proud of their successful relationship that I don't want them to realize I'm such a failure. That I am weak and immature emotionally, and fall prey both as a victim to emotionally abusive, selfish women and, in my most recent failure, as a practitioner of emotional blackmail because I'm too incapable of dealing with the pain and couldn't stop my emotions soon enough from making me beg and plead. Thus causing me to lose forever the most incredible woman I ever had in my life.

I don't want them to be reminded that the perfect son they're so overly proud of can never be loved by women. That I'll probably be destined to forever be alone with nothing but geeky computer crap and wonderful, platonic friendships in my life. Their one hope to actually be a part of the continuation of their family is pretty much lost since I can't figure out how to make such things work.

It hurts me when they dote on me, and I have to hide from them anything that might increase the damage my sister caused to their parental pride.

I keep some distance from them for these reasons. The only time I ever am anxious to see them is when I think I have finally turned my life around enough to make them really proud. Of course it didn't help that when I finally thought I found the right girl and I introduced her to them, she then kicked me out of her life for 5 months as a prelude to finally kicking me out for good later on for being too stupid to understand her.