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Old 08-18-2009, 12:03 PM   #25
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Wow...this is too weird! What a timely post, because I'm wrestling with the SAME DECISION right now!!!!

I'm not a therapist by a LONG shot, so these are only my opinions. I think there's two cases when people decide they want to break ties with family members, and I think one case is justified and one is not.

The case that I don't believe is justified is when people grow up in fairly normal homes with a fairly normal childhood, they make bad decisions as adults, expect family to agree and rally around these decisions, and when family members don't, perhaps question the decisions or criticize them, they decide to break from the family. I don't agree with that kind of decision based upon the fact that the person who made the bad decisions won't acknowledge their bad choices and take responsibility.

But, there are cases when people have grown up in VERY dysfunctional homes with VERY dysfunctional parents, and their family relationships are toxic to them. Even as adults, you are made to feel horrible, criticized severely, talked down to, etc. In those relationships, after trying to civilly mend things in a kind and loving way...when you've done everything you think you possibly can, sometimes, the best thing you can do I think is to just keep a distance. I'm not sure if completely severing all ties is always the best case (in cases of extreme abuse, I think it may be the safest choice for the victim, however), because that too causes its own situation of feelings of guilt.

I'm struggling with this decision of whether or not to sever ties right now. I've had two family relationships that have been very dysfunctional my entire life. The one relationship--the one as I child I felt would NEVER be salvagable (very emotionally abusive and alcoholism)--is actually very nice now, and normal. It's a bit awkward, since we weren't able to establish a normal bond years ago, but it's much better than I had ever hoped it could ever be. The other relationship has gotten worse. This person believes that they are never to blame for ANYTHING. They intentionally interject themselves in the middle of all situations (even when there is NO REASON for them to be there--the situations don't involve them one iota) and then complain how they're "always in the middle". They THRIVE on chaos, especially on creating it when it doesn't exist, then fantasize about how they are the "heroes" in bringing peace. They tear down all relationships between other family members out of jealousy and insecurity, and they talk behind others' backs to invoke bad feelings between family members. You can't confide ANYTHING to them, because "it can and will be used against you" at a later date, and, they blab to the entire world your innermost secrets (learned that the hard way). They ask what's going on in your life, and when you want to talk, they interrupt EVERY TIME with something that's going on in their life; their stuff is ALWAYS more important or worse than what you're going through, and then they complain how you never tell them anything (only because they aren't listening when you talk or because they interrupt!). Any time I speak to this person, things are misinterpreted, and I'm made to look like a horrible, scheming person, no matter how innocuous of a conversation we're having, so I'm wondering, if just my mere presence is so embittering and angering and frustrating for this person, maybe I should just make a clean break? I can't do anything right; never have been able to, and it seems never will. I can't confront this person about things, because they are ALWAYS "the victim", and turn EVERYTHING around and instead of taking responsibility for their bad behavior, they "justify" everything they say and do, no matter how hurtful and outlandish, because the world is "against them". This person is paranoid beyond all imagination, and literally believes other family members lay awake at night, thinking of ways to "gaslight" them and hurt them (I get way too much credit here--I have three kids and a me, I'm so tired at the end of my day, I don't have the energy, stamina, or even intelligence to do the things I've been accused of scheming!). It's exhausting, having had to deal with this for a lifetime, and I'm tired of walking on eggshells, ESPECIALLY given the fact that if my walking on eggshells would make for a pleasant relationship with this person, I'd continue to do it, but it only seems to make things worse. Due to husband's jobs, we've moved a bit here and there away from the area where this person lives, and believe me, I've been punished about THAT, too, and so I've been severely limiting my contact, which of course has caused resentment (darned if I do, darned if I don't). There just seems to be no fixing what's broken here if the other person isn't willing to realize that there might be some creedence to the notion that they are at least half responsible for a lack of a normal relationship--I am MORE THAN WILLING to meet them halfway, but I REFUSE to be bullied anymore into believing I am 100% of the problem, which is something I was made to feel since I was a very small child. I've come to a point in my life (almost 40 now) that I wonder why I've allowed this to be done to me my whole life, and when do I too draw the line. I'm an adult, I'm a married woman with kids, and I'm not a defenseless child anymore--I should be able to stand up for myself, right??? (in theory, anyway!)

Monica, for what it's worth--again, I'm no therapist--I would say to at least try to limit your relationship with this person, for your own sanity. See if that doesn't bring you some relief, if you haven't done it already. I don't know what else to say, except that I wrestle with this decision too, and it makes me SO SAD to think about the person in my life to be totally cut out, and I would suffer terrible guilt over it in addition to feeling sad about it, so I'd rather try to find a way to work things out if I can. I hope you can find a way to work things out in a way that is best for you, and that you can break free from all of the baloney you've had to deal with.
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