My Family: Please Tell Me This Isn't Normal
Posted 08 September 2012 - 11:17 PM
A few times at recent holidays, I've been made fun of again and asked my family to stop, and they've told me I am argumentative and just cause problems and make everyone's time miserable by getting upset when they make fun of me or tell stories of things I did wrong as a kid.
Then, a couple years ago, my parents (I'm 35 now) started making excuses and not seeming like they wanted to get together with me, and my husband and child. We used to see them every week or two, but suddenly, they didn't have time... but they would still see my sister and her kids very often and drive across the country to visit my brother twice a year. When we did get together, they would not talk about our interests or what was going on with us, but only ask about our job and then say, "huh" and change the subject.
Finally, after they kept saying they were too busy to see us, I asked, "Hey, are things okay? Did I do something to offend you? Can we talk about this?" and they insisted nothing was wrong. When I finally pressed them on it more, they said that they didn't like who I had become a few years ago, after I went through a divorce and got remarried, and they couldn't be enthusiastic about my life and what I was doing, so I couldn't force them to be interested or enthusiastic, and that made them not want to spend as much time with me.
I guess the ways I changed were that my politics are a little different and my view on life is, too, and I have more part time jobs (rather than a full-time one) and am starting a business, and have a lot of different hobbies -- nothing really controversial - just painting and writing poetry, etc. I don't go to church anymore but I haven't told my parents they're wrong for being active in church or believing what they do... I believe in live and let live relationships. I have changed in some ways, but not in any way that would affect them and nothing that you could consider offensive or upsetting.
So, as I kept asking them to please just treat me like my other siblings, and see me once and awhile, and be interested in my life if possible -- they started attacking me, telling me I always make family get-togethers stressful and they don't like me around. When they upset me by picking on me, I usually go in the other room and cry for a minute, then pull myself together. It's not like I'm even yelling or criticizing them! Then they started in, telling me I don't live right... that I spend my money on the wrong things, eat the wrong things, have the wrong schedule, raise my daughter the wrong way, make all the wrong choices... everything! It really hurts because that's none of their business -- I'm an adult and I live responsibly and even in a thrifty, simple way -- but it shouldn't matter how I live anyway because that's my life and responsiblity. I'm not asking them for money or to support me.
Last time my brother came to visit, I came over to see him at my parents' house and I tried to be nice and say, "Hey, let's put this behind us..." and they got mad and said, "You can't just come over, and act like everything's okay," and my brother tried to stand up for me but quickly began to agree with my dad on everything, and the two of them yelled at me for an hour about how I say and do things wrong in life and giving me examples of all the wrong things I do and I debated them for an hour, then finally couldn't take it anymore and I broke down crying, yelled at them and left. Then my family had all their get-togethers without me, didn't invite me, and my sister-in-law posted photos to her web site showing all the grandkids in a row by size, without my kid, and all the people in my family laughing and having fun. I couldn't pretend to be okay with that, so I unfriended her on facebook and that's when she said I have clinical problems for being so mean to my family and I need help. She called me bipolar -- which is mean, because my ex-husband was bipolar, and that is some serious s*** -- I was with that guy in the psych ward, when he was suicidal and when he was manic, and that is not something to joke about. Bipolar is a real diagnosis that needs respect, not a slur. And I haven't shown any signs of being bipolar anyway -- I think I know what it is after struggling through it with him. I have been depressed the past few months because of all this -- not seriously - I haven't taken meds or seen a doctor - I think it's just situational depression. But for her to try to delegitimize me and tell me I'm not thinking straight isn't fair and if I did have a mental health diagnosis I'd hope they'd be nice and helpful, not laugh at me about it, anyway! So now, the last straw for me is that my sister-in-law told me she thinks I need clinical help for always being so hateful to my family, and that they haven't ostracized me... it's me who's not treating them right. But I'm so confused!!! My parents just pushed me out of their lives and wouldn't say why, and I was polite to them, I was kind, I was just asking why??? Tell me why? But they just attack me.
I'm not perfect... sure, I've gotten mad at them once or twice and argued about it (wouldn't anyone?) There's nothing wrong with having arguments... especially when you're not being heard. But what is wrong with them? Why do they have to paint me as the problem when I was just trying to be live-and-let-live? Why are they lying, saying I'm messed up, when I've been respectful and just wanted to be a part of things?
From all I've read, this is a classical verbal abuse situation, and a dysfunctional family that wants to kick me around and punish me when I stand up for myself. But it seems so surreal and like I must be doing something wrong, if they're telling me I'm such a horrible person and that I'm the problem. I thought they loved me. Please just tell me this isn't normal.
Posted 09 September 2012 - 02:51 AM
Edited by memyselfi10, 09 September 2012 - 02:52 AM.
("Unwell," Matchbox 20)
Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:04 AM
Right now, I'm sitting in a McDonalds pecking this out on my IPad, and I need to get back on the road and finish my morning bike ride. But I would like to respond in depth, because I so relate to your story, and will do so later, could be tonight.
Hang in there!
I know, right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
A different side of me
-- Matchbox 20
Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:57 AM
Hi, I really apologize for not getting back to this. My spirit was willing, but the body was weak. Just really wiped out yesterday and still this morning. Not sure the exact reason, I probably have overdone it on the exercise the past few days. Could be the three new drugs I've started on in the past week and a half, lactimal, lisinopril because my blood pressure was really high, 170/110 dropping to 160/90 at my physical, and now ambien for sleep. Anyway, I apologize.
Your family has absolutely no right to discuss you either in your presence or behind your back as if you were some petulant child. You are an adult, they should show you respect for that reason if none other. But it sounds like they don't, not at all. And I know that hurts, I feel the same way, I am discussed, dissected, and analyzed all of the time behind my back. My family disapproves of my life, and they have for a very long time. Basically since I rebelled in college against what they wanted me to do in life, which was become some kind of engineer, something for which I had absolutely neither the passion nor the technical ability. So, for me, I've just gone downhill in their eyes for year. Right now, I was just diagnosed as bipolar a little over 2 weeks ago. And the thought that they will find this piece of information terrifies me, because they are already hypercritical and judgmental, this will just about guarantee that they kick me out. And, as much as I hate the situation, I cling to it because it's realistically the only way I survive without ending up on the streets.
So, you're married, and you have a child. I feel really, really bad for your kid. It's not his or her fault, and he or she is being punished by the grandparents. Been there, done that too, been treated like absolute garbage by my father's mother. He was crazy crazy, and he got it from her. So I guess I come by mine through genetics. When family rejects someone, it really, really hurts.
But I think you need to weigh what this is doing to you emotionally, and to your family. It sounds like you can't ever please them, because they have twisted everything around in their minds to make you out as the black sheep, without every looking at their own behaviors or attitudes. And frankly, unless something really changes, I kind of doubt they ever will.
I hope my saying this doesn't hurt you, but honestly, I think the best thing you could do for your state of mental health is just write them off at this time and sever contact. But before you do it, I think you need to tell them exactly what you've written here. And I personally wouldn't try to do it in person or in a conversation, because they will just twist it all around again. I would write them a letter, state what you've said here, and tell them when and if they want to start respecting you and your family, treat you like an adult, and apologize for what they've done, then you and they can talk about the situation and iron it out. If you do this, then don't cave if they start in on you again.
I know, that sounds drastic. And it is. And if you choose to follow this path, be sure you have a really good support system in place first, because ripping the bandage off the wound is going to hurt like Hell short term. It would be good if you could be seeing a therapist or counselor, and be on some meds as appropriate per your doctor.
WARNING: GRAPHIC. MAY BE TRIGGERING. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
My father was a real treat. He was extremely mentally ill, paranoid, and jealous. Before I was even born, he accused my mother of infidelity and stated that I wasn't his child, but some Barsteward from one of her lovers. Of course, that whole infidelity accusation thing was completely false, a figment of his ill mind, but also just about a daily happening in my house, routine as getting the newspaper in the morning, so no big shock there. My father was extremely detached and cold when I was young, and became verbally abusive to the extreme and physically threatening (he liked to point guns at me) as a teenager. And it did a real number on my self esteem. I honestly joke with myself, and have said to others at times, that it's pretty amazing that I'm NOT some psycho killer type person like one of these mass shooters. But that's literally true. At 47, I am pretty much unsuccessful in life, have a pretty bad job that I'm hanging on to by a thread, am pretty much broke, never left home, have no friends, haven't dated in like 16 years, and am pretty much just whipped. And I'm now labeled by my newly-found psychiatrist as suicidal and possibly dangerous because I had a couple of road rage incidents where I ran some red lights. I am mortified by this myself, and I'm really trying to deal with it as responsibly as possible, this week I should, if all of the various doctors got their acts together and coordinated all of this, start a "day hospital" program that should fix me up. But at least I've never hurt anyone intentionally, and those red lights were a tremendous wake up call, and I reined that in before I even saw the psychiatrist. Because if I end up some day ******* myself, well, its just me, but I couldn't live with the thought that I hurt some innocent person.
That is what abuse can do to a person. And with you, it might be a little slower than what happened to me, but it's ongoing at this time and must stop, for your own piece of mind. Trust me, you don't want it to progress to the point mine has. This is absolutely no fun.
So, do what you have to. YOU come first. It will probably be one of the hardest things, short term, but long term, it will be so worth it. And, as much as it seems like "family is family" the world is full of people, and there are other people out there who can become your new family and who wont' abuse you.
Good luck, I hope I helped more than hurt.
Edited by Denninmi, 10 September 2012 - 06:01 AM.
- FeelinBlueAllTheTime likes this
I know, right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
A different side of me
-- Matchbox 20
Posted 10 September 2012 - 07:35 AM
The way I chose to deal with it is to cut all contact with the members of my family who were abusive to me. At first, it was hard but now it's just a way of life. I do not speak or take calls from my mother. When once in a blue moon she tries to contact me by mail I give her letter to a friend to open and read. If there is something I really need to know she tells me but otherwise she throws the letter away for me and I never have to deal with it. Sounds like I'm hiding but it's worked for me.
I have cut ties with a sister and a brother who put me down, called me a bad mother, treated me horribly. When they began to treat my kids that way I said enough. I have not seen them or spoken to them in 12 years. Again, this has worked for me. I can't change how they act or how they treat me. I've tried over and over and it does no good. The laughter at my expense goes on. The put downs and the ridicule never change. My kids aren't part of the group picture either but we took plenty of pictures on our own and made great memories.
I can say I'm a happier person for having done this. I don't know that I can regain a healthy sense of self-esteem. I shouldn't actually say regain because the abuse started so early in my life I likly never formed the trait. But I can look at my children (now grown) and know I did a great job even though I did it alone (divorced and no family support). There are a lot of things I can do in life. I have developed some traits and hobbies I can excell at and feel good about. I have the strength and knowledge to know what I can deal with and what I need to walk away from.
I guess I'm saying that you can do this. Take care of YOURSELF! Don't worry what anyone else has to say. If they are mean or abusive just write them off until or if they ever decide to treat you with the respect you deserve. Your post was so thoughtful and intelligent I can tell you have a lot going for yourself. Take care.
- FeelinBlueAllTheTime, Renster and BettyBunny like this
You can always find me wherever there is Sun, Surf and Sand : )
Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:08 AM
My biological father was mostly absent from my life and he never helped out financially, which meant that my mother had to struggle. There were often times when she resented me and she was constantly looking for men to take my father's place. She loved me, but it seemed like she was needy for male attention. My stepfather was verbally/emotionally/mentally abusive for years. As to the rest of my family?
Well, I have very little to do with my father's family. They are extremely religious and I'm the complete opposite. I was a good little Christian girl until I learned to think for myself and developed a more open-minded view of the world and started questioning things. They never had much to do with me anyway.
My mother's family is not very accepting of me. Sure, we had a few good times in the past but it was mostly unhappy for me. My cousins bullied me relentlessly. I have two male cousins who lost their mother at an early age...maybe this is why they were so cruel to me, I don't know. But I remember some very mean things being said and done to me, especially by one of my older male cousins and my female cousin.
My relationship with my female cousin (one year older than me) is interesting. Like me, she doesn't have much of a relationship with her father. She was also raised by a single mother and her mom threw her out when she was about 14. My cousin has always been considered the "pretty one" of the family. We've always been treated differently, although my family denies this.
My cousin is 30, I'm 28. When we were younger, people would always say that she was beautiful. Our family tells her this all the time. But me? I was ignored, overlooked, and ridiculed. I was told that she was prettier/better than me. My aunt (not her mother) would bully me and bring up embarrassing things from the past, things that I did as a kid, and they would all start laughing at me. My aunt would make fun of me, saying that I was "slow/stupid" and ugly and I had no fashion sense. She would even make fun of the way I got into a car to sit down!
When I would visit my family in Jamaica, my cousin was allowed to flirt with much older men and talk to anyone she wanted to. She would wear skimpy little outfits with her breasts showing and no one said anything about it. But if I put on a little bit of makeup, I was accused of being slutty. I'm just talking a little bit of lip gloss/lipstick here, nothing over the top. And if I was seen talking to a person of the opposite sex? I was obviously trying to entice them into having sex with me and I should be ashamed of myself! My family also had some of their friends and acquaintances watching my every move, so I had very little freedom to do anything at all. My uncle actually locked me up in the house by myself because his friend told him that I was talking to a guy...I was 22 years old.
When I was in my early 20's, I remember visiting my family and I went to a dance in their town one night. I was dancing with a platonic male friend of mine, just having a bit of fun, and this girl (a family friend who also happens to be a kleptomaniac) decided to ruin my fun by saying that I was acting like a slut. I wasn't dancing in a suggestive way and I wasn't wearing revealing clothes. And even if I had been, it wasn't her place to tell me what to do. I was an adult. I know that this would not have happened to my cousin...this is just part of the reason I hate being around my family. Some people can take the most innocent actions and twist them into something terrible. All of this was done under the pretense of "caring" about me, but it was really about their desire to control me and make me feel bad about myself.
My family wasn't invited to my wedding back in 2009. I don't care what they think or say about me anymore. I don't hate them, but it makes me sad that they have never accepted me for who I am. I'm just a joke to them. I'm sick of being the outsider while my cousin gets treated like a freaking princess who can do no wrong. Truth be told, I didn't want my stepfather to be there either, but that was something I had no say in...my mother would have been upset.
Anyway, PoetPetunia...I'm sorry that you've been through so much with your family. It hurts when your own flesh and blood doesn't accept you. They treat you with contempt, like you're the one with the problem. I know exactly how it feels to be treated that way. I agree with the others. You need to focus on yourself and put yourself first. It sounds selfish, but you will benefit from it. Sometimes it is healthy to distance yourself from people who aren't treating you right, even if these people are related to you by blood.
No, this is not normal and I hope you realize that it isn't your fault. For a long time, my family had me convinced that I deserved to be treated a certain way. Don't blame yourself.
Take care, sweetheart.
Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:15 AM
"Barsteward" - LOL. Gotta love autocorrect some times!
LOL, I thought you did that on purpose, Denninmi...clever wordplay! ;)
I also forgot to add that my mother's family is aware of my depression/emotional issues but they have always taunted me about it, ever since I was 15 years old.
My aunt is the one who started it. My depression mostly stems from my environment and negative experiences, but it is also partly inherited. My paternal grandmother suffered from severe depression and schizophrenia for most of her life. She was institutionalized in the 1960's for a while, long before I was born.
So when I was a teenager, my aunt thought it would be funny to tell my cousins about my grandmother's mental illness and they would use it as ammunition to hurt me. Taunting a young girl with emotional problems...real classy, huh? What's sad is that I was very close to my aunt as a child.
But when I became a teenager she disliked me. I'm not sure why. I was a shy bookworm, not an extrovert like my cousin. I did become a bit boy-crazy during puberty, but this was because no one in my family paid attention to me. They all made me feel ashamed of who I was, inside and out. If I ever have two daughters, I will never allow one girl to receive all the compliments/attention while her sister is neglected.
And like I said before, I really can't stand my cousin. Some people believe I'm jealous of her but this is not true. I'm just tired of being the "ugly" cousin...the one who is unloved, the one no one cares about. I'm sick of being compared to her. Most people think she is a nice person but they have no idea how cruel she can be. My mother says I should visit my family more often, but I don't want to. I decided a few years ago that I would try to limit contact with people who hurt/disrespect me.
As an adult woman, I still struggle with guilt about allowing myself to be free to feel beautiful and sexy. My cousin had her femininity encouraged, but I was told that I was ugly and inferior. Wearing makeup made me a slut, talking to boys meant I was bad. The shape of my body was always criticized while hers was praised...this despite her obesity. So I still have a lot of bitterness towards my family.
I guess we all have our stories. I love my family, but I don't want to be around them, especially not for long periods of time. My mother is the only one I'm still close to and we have a very complicated relationship sometimes.
And what you said to PoetPetunia is very true...we aren't all blessed with loving, supportive families or friends who care about us when times are tough. But we can still try to find it somewhere, somehow.
Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:41 AM
Maybe they do love you very much, but they have a funny way of showing it. I guess my family loves me in their own misguided way. But my family used control, shame, fear, and manipulation. I was "punished" for being myself and also for trying to explore my sexuality in innocent ways.
It sounds like your family is trying to "punish" you for being your own person and living life on your own terms. As long as you know that you try to do the right thing and be a good person, what they think/feel doesn't matter.
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