Hi and thanks for writing JA
and first off just let me say I am so sorry for all you have endured growing up and even recently as you reconciled some hard facts about your parents who were clearly not there for you when you needed them most.
You know JA is an informational service only and so of course we cannot diagnose or prescribe and our powers are pretty limited here. You are so intelligent and so insightful that I have to ask why you have never sought therapy on this? I say this because you have a lifetime of some very very good reasons to be so angry (rightfully so) but instead you are writing here (and please do not take this as a criticism because it is not). Certainly you must know that after years of trauma you need to talk to someone who is caring and compassionate and can help you sort out how the trauma you endured growing up impacts your life today, how to set healthy boundaries and how to trust yourself and your judgment when it comes to making decisions about family gatherings.
Today I had a client in my office who described exactly, just exactly, what you are saying. Her father called her and denied any abuse her young life. Like your father he was alcoholic and inflicted years of both physical and emotional abuse on her family. She said it took every ounce of restraint not to read him the riot act on the phone and to be accusatory and negative. Instead she waited two days and sat down and wrote him and her mother a very honest and blunt letter that was also very caring and respectful. It took so much for her to write that letter and I have to admit I was quite surprised at her and how positively she handled this lifelong situation.
I wonder if you might also find a way to set boundaries like this? And as far as opening up a can of worms for being so honest (please do not be angry with me for asking this) but it does seem to me that your parents have been holding the open can of worms for years..............I think the can of worms was open for years and you are simply tired of having to ignore that :)
You are smart and insightful. Think about setting better limits with them no matter how manipulative and how hurtful they can be and do think about a few sessions with a therapist just so you know how best to proceed.
Let me know if you need more help on this.
All my best and warmest regards XXXXX XXXXX