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Old 07-25-2009, 02:06 PM   #1
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When is it best for a difficult family to become ex-family?
This is an extremely difficult issue to discuss without emotions becoming involved...and I'm sure the mods are cringing as I type, but....
When is it best for a difficult family to become an ex-family?
At what point do you draw the line and say, "for my own sanity, I just can't communicate with you any longer?"
Obviously, I could go into a long litany of my family's hurts and harms against me here, but I'm trying to bite my tongue and just state this in the theoretical sense.
I am an adult (49 years old) a mother and grandmother in my own right. I currently live 1500 miles away - by choice. I raised my children as far away as possible and with as little contact with my family of origin as I could.
But it just seems that they are unable to restrain themselves from saying things that are PAINFUL to me, make me feel "not good enough," judging, condemning, etc.
I figure, if I'm exasperated enough by it to even ask the question, it's probably time....

If you have "writen off" a family and would like to tell me how that worked out for you, please contribute to this conversation.
If you were raised in a physically, emotionally, etc abusive home, and maintain contact with your family of origin as an adult, and would like to tell me how that is working for you, please contribute to this conversation.
If you have done everything in your power to heal yourself as best as you can, with the understanding that parts of you will always remain unhealed - and you have accepted these broken parts as much as the healed,
if you have attempted to support your siblings/parents toward finding their own healing, with greater or lesser success
please talk to me. I could use a little clarity before I make a huge decision. Thank you.
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:32 PM   #2
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My sister wrote off my Dad and my dads side of the family. My dad feels like my sister is being rude and unreasonable, and will not willingly be helpful unless she apoligizes....or at least acts respectful in his house (which I think is fair)

My sister got married to a man double her age (at the time she was 20 and he was 40ish)...and nobody liked the guy..(me included) What this has effectively done, is make things awkward. My mom doesn't feel like she can talk to or about my sister in my dads sister WON'T go see my their house (she will meet my mom outside the house) and it nearly caused the split between my parents...

I want to see my sister occasionally...but I hate the fact that if I am inviting her over...I am inviting her husband over...and I really don't want him in my house...but she doesn't so much drive...

So I hear from her via facebook and occasionally the odd phone call...

So I guess...if you are going to cut depends on how you slice it...just cause you are cutting out some, doesn't mean you are cutting out all...and where does that leave everyone else? Also...are these ppl going to be there for you later on down the line? Sometimes it isnt' an issue...but what if it is?
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:40 PM   #3
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My husband cut off his mother. His parents divorced shortly after he and I married. My husband was constantly put in the middle, not by his father, but by his mother. She kept him from having a relationship with his younger sibs by lying to them and telling them he did not pay child support. My husband and I know for a fact this was just cruel manipulation and not truth. It caused his Dad lots of hurt, but the sibs got older and have a relatinship with him now since they have discovered the truth and grew up. My husband did not cut her off then. He just tried his damnedest to stay out of it on her end.

Then his mother remarried. We kept a relationship with her and the new husband, and when they married, his two sisters were minors, and brother in college. The step-Dad first cut off his younger sister, stopped paying for her medical care and stopped paying her tution for college (she paid her own living expenses) and we could not fathom why he would do this, esp. since the Dad was paying a lot of money for her to be able to go to college and complete it in the way of child support and alimony (that did not stop when she was living with this guy). That was the first clue.

They had us believing she was out of control, even that she needed mental help. Well. . .I won't say beleiving, we were dubious, but this sister would not share any of it with us. She finally did when she was about done with college. . .and we were shocked. I'll just say it was a lot of innapropriate behavior, and the final straw was when she refused to give her Step-Dad a back rub.

My husband confronted his mother about these things, and things we had been hearing from friends of the family about how he was now treating the younger sister, still in HS. She denied it all, and ended up turning the conversation around to being about his Dad, and that the reason the other sister did not have funds for college was b/c the Dad would not pay anything. He told her he knew this was not true (in fact, Dad had other sister live with him and paid all her tuition and living expenses.)

The next day we got an e-mail from the Step-Dad telling my husband that "his" family was none of "his" business, and that if he would like to still be a part of that family he should formally apologize to him (Step-Dad) and to his Mother. He signed it, Mother, younger Sister, and him.

That was when we cut him off. We realized that we could not have a relationship with a woman that would let a man treat her children cruelly, and innapropriately. Well. . .it was my husband's decision, and I can not influence him one way or the other.

The kids have since then married, and one has had her own children, and my husband and I have a child that his Mother has no relationship with at all. The only time she spends with her grandkids from the other sister is when she can sneak out. She has to do it unbeknownst to her husband (Step-Dad).

The other kids have not cut her off, but they get sick of her not standing up to her husband or playing along with his games and manipulation. They have cut him off. The younger sister had the Step-Dad do the same thing to her. She wanted to visit her Dad on Father's Day and he told her he was more of a Father to her than he was, and that if she went she would be cut off as well. She did, and their father paid all her expenses and tuition as well, yet again, even though per the divorce decree he set up funds for all of them to go to school, and sent her alimony and child support that did not end when they turned 18, it just continued to go, until the youngest one turned 18. (conveniently, this is when the Mom and Step-Dad finally married to continue with the alimony.)

The older sister has stopped talking to her Mom again, b/c she was not able to sneak out for her g-daughter's birthday, and so therefore would not go.

My husband has not said a word to her ever since we got "the e-mail." From what I hear, this man has done the same thing to his HS daughter, from a previous marriage, that he did to all the other kids. Kicked her out and cut her off.

Family is supposed to love unconditional, help you to grow, and not keep you down, and there are lines that shoudln't be crossed.

I don't know what extent all this has had on my husband; he just chooses not to speak about it. I know it hurts the siblings deeply.

My father had a rough relationship with his mother and went to counseling for it, and she told him, if she makes you this miserable, and she will not change, you will probably need to tell her "goodbye."

Ok- long story. I don't know if it applies to yours or not. It did kind of feel good to type about it.

I hope you discover what you need for your happiness, and if you have to let go, I hope you are able to do so with more peace than guilt.
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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Ugh.. I totally feel your pain. This is something that I too have struggled with. I am 22 and my mother had taken advantage of me, stolen from my husband and I, and done everything else you could imagine. I tried very hard to repair my relationship with her and forget the past. I eventually came to the realization that she would never change. I now have not spoken to my mother in over 2 years, and I am very happy with my decision. I was able to allow myself to forgive her, and move on with my life.

Some of my siblings are still under my mothers wrath and have tried over the past 2 years to coax me into having a relationship her, which has caused me to have to end relationships with them as well. Overall, I am very happy with the decision I made and I am thankful my husband has a great family that accepts me.

I went through hell with my mother since I was 14 years old. There came a point when I realized that by having a relationship with her, even though I thought I was trying to help her, was enabling her to ruin her life and mine. Just because someone is a member of your "family" does not give them the right to emotionally abuse you, nor does it mean you have to put up with it. You have to do what is going to make you happy and increase your quality of life. I will be praying for you
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:53 PM   #5
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Regardless of whether you decide to keep a relationship or cut one off, it is very important that you forgive them and yourself. One never knows onto what path our futures will take us and our paths do eventually cross with those we have chosen to part from. Just don't burn the bridge down....Life has a way of changing all of us.

As for being one who's life has included the pains you've described...yes, each and everyone of us has suffered some form of family abuse.
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:55 PM   #6
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I guess I have really already made up my mind, but am hesitating to act because of the future ramifications. I KNOW what I should do, and why, it's just a matter of doing it.

If you'd like a little background, you might take a peek at my blog. But, basically, abuse is abuse. I can be co-dependent in my own abuse, or I can choose not to be. I can decide that I have kept the open door policy long enough, that I have been holding out a futile hope long enough, that I need closure whether or not any of the other members are ready for it.

And if I write off one member of the family, I would write them all off - NOT because all of them are contributing to the problem - but because they willingly tollerate those who do! Putting myself in the middle of all the back-and-forth is just exposing myself to more pain, something I refuse to do.

I need the strength to do what I know I must.
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Old 07-25-2009, 05:16 PM   #7
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Do what you have to do, but remember that family is always family whether we have anything to do with them or not.

Family problems can always be stressful, but you have to do what you know is for the best.

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Old 07-25-2009, 07:37 PM   #8
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I haven't seen or talked to my mother or father in 22 years, none of my siblings have either.
I'm much better for it. It bothers my sister very slightly. I think it bothers my brother a lot. Coincidentally that goes along with the amount of contact we had, with me having the most and my brother having the least.
Yes it was a physically and emotionally abusive home with me getting the worst and my brother getting none.

Later after moving out I started having 1 on 1 contact with my sister (also abused), when we compared stories we were finding they didn't match up. My mother was still playing the head games.
I learned in psychology class that if my mother says something it's best to get it straight from the horse's mouth no matter how embarrassing or hard the answer would be to hear if she was telling the truth (she always told me "you stink" and the class had something where others rate you, I was shocked to see others say I was clean) so when she played "he said she said" with my sister or brother I'd simply ask.
I'm the confrontational type and if pushed I will go off and this was pushing me. I think that made it easier for my mother to disown us so they could retire far away without the need to contact anyone (she also made my father cut ties with his parents and siblings, something he wouldn't have done on his own).

I actually fear the day that one of my parents dies because I know the other one is going to come back. It's been so long I don't know if I'd remember to watch for the right thing if it's my mother coming back. (I tend to block things out and will probably have to take a Xanax from remembering this stuff.)
My father was the physical abuse through the manipulation of my mother so if he came back without her it would probably be tolerable.

My nieces and nephews have issues with it. Only my oldest niece barely remembers them. Another fear is that a nephew wants to visit them and that could cause them both to come back. But most likely the result will be like when a cousin visited to tell my father to visit his dying parents, they'll quickly blow him off at the door and the gates and bars will roll down across the doors and windows.

I say burn the bridges BECAUSE family is always family. People don't change and when you have the ability to go back (which you do because they are always your family) eventually you will and you will be going back into the same situation.
But that's only based on my experience.
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:19 PM   #9
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the thing you have to keep in mind is what is best for your sanity. you need to be able to focus your love on the people who will love you back. i've never had a relationship with my father and when i was in my teens i tried, i wanted to have a father-daughter expierance. he just couldn't make that connection so as i got into my 20's i just stopped trying. i know my situation is different from yours but it did help my piece of mine to finally have closure.
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Old 08-02-2009, 12:24 PM   #10
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You know this is a very sad thread. I am a bit stunned by all the stories people have to share and by their willingness to self disclose such things.

I'm very fortunate in that I don't have what people describe here. However I would not consider my family that I grew up in to be totally functional, but not seriously dysfunctional either. I know we are somewhat dysfunctional because years ago in college in a class we learned about dysfunctional families. I discussed this at home a bit and said "all families are dysfunctional to some extent". My mom said "No! Our family works!" What greater proof do you need than such strong denial?

I am the youngest and only girl in our family. I am not terribly close to my brothers. I talk to them occasionally when the need arises and I see them at Christmas. I'm often confused at Christmas about the pressure to see my family, particularly my brothers because we don't go out of the way to visit much otherwise. My brother's have little in common with each other. This is my parents fault because as children we were defined as each being somehow different from the others and any commonalities were not emphasized. I was so surprised when I met my husband and saw that his brother was his friend also. What a concept!

My dad used to yell a lot when I was little, he was not abusive to me but some to my middle brother. I guess he was singled out because dad saw himself in him. The oldest was the "good" one the middle was the "bad" one and I being the girl was the "perfect" one.

My mom is very dependent on things (likes to shop and decorate her house, it does look perfect) and people. She is very clingy of me. She desires us to be a close mother and daughter pair but her very insistence on it pushes me away. She always lists all her friends who talk to their kids every day. Thinks we should do the same. I now live 3 hours away from my home town. When I made the announcement that we were moving my mom said "I will never see you again!"...very dramatically. Trust me, I've seen her and I've lived here 11 years.

She is extremely proud of me yet also very critical. I am now vegetarian (15 years now) and apparently this ruins all family gatherings and I never hear the end of it, she made a comment when I saw her last week. And I am always told I live too far away. But she is proud of my education and career and my children. When I recently acquired Bells Palsy (which I am still dealing with 11 weeks later) she started calling every day because she couldn't come see me and was very concerned. Let me tell you this has not help my recovery. She talks and talks at length, interupts things I'm resting. If I e-mail her she calls me back with a reply. If I don't answer the phone when I think it's her she calls me frequently through out the day till I answer. She thinks e-mail is rude....but interupting with too many unnessecary phone calls are not? And she manages to say things in such a way to try to make me feel obligated to something or guilty. Compared to some stories shared here, these are small things...but it's hard to shrug off guilty feelings.

However, our family "works" because all three of us kids are college graduates. We have never been to jail. No one had kids out of wed lock. No drug or alcohol issues. We are pretty ordinary people and my mom thinks her perfect parenting is the reason for that. Certainly it helped but also just who we are as people might have something to do with it too. My mom was a stay at home mom, I do think she raised us far more than my dad. I was often frightened of may dad and his yelling as a kid so don't feel terribly close to him.

So anyway, I am often trying to distance myself from my family...mainly mom and her suffucating love and clingyness, but it's not so bad that I need to cut anyone off. But no family is perfect.

My husbands family has always seemed 'normal' to me. They call at reasonable intervals, are helpful when needed, and never push us to do things. Everyone gets along and no one is too clingy, they all feel pretty secure and no one is made to feel guilty. Wow, no wonder I like my in laws!
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