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  1. #1
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    Dysfunctional Families...

    HI everyone,

    I'm new to this forum & just thought I'd give it a try! I suppose I don't know where to start but I'm at my wits end when it comes to my family. I've been told in the past that there's nothing unusual about my situation & in fact, dysfunctional families are more common than I realise. I'm in my 30's & from a large family. As far back as I can remember, there has been constant feuding. I'm one of the youngest but have early childhood memories of the constant bickering, fights (physical & mental), terrifying situations where I actually believed someone was going to get hurt if not worse. Often members would get injured or come close. The obvious outcome right until this day is that people will stop talking to others for months & even years. Some situations will never ever be resloved & there's no amount of hoping, praying that this will change. Up until now, all the scars have been emotional - so much so that we are all a bunch of self obsessed, competitive, paranoid, bitter bunch of people. We all carry different traits but have one thing in common - we don't like each other. I know they say blood is thicker than water but that's clearly not the case in our so called family. I guess it's all caught up on me now & I'm feeling the emotional strain more than ever & feel very much trapped & don't know how I can ever be happy again...It affects me having relatioships, puts strains on my friendships & heavily influences how I feel each mornng I wake up. I feel I am just existing & the sad fact is, I know people that don't have any family & it annoys me so much that we are al healthy, still here, have children, yet we can't bring ourselves to outlook the pure bitterness & jealousy. I have tried to remove myself from the situation & even tried to rise above arguments but I may well be in control of how I come across but if I say boo to anyone, then that choice is taken from me - I'm ignored. It seems it's the only way we know how to work. Then as soon as people do remove themselves & try to focus on their own lives, children, etc, it seems that's not good enough either. The back biting starts again. You can't win! We will never resolve everyday & that's very evident at this stage in our lives. I guess I'm wondering, does anyone else come from a family where relations are so bad that some you know will never mend? I am more sensitive than I'd like to be but I'm wondering how people cope with it/ focus on themselves, etc without letting their family get the better of them? I've tried counselling, speaking to friends, trying different approaches with family friends but nothing works & I fear I'm starting to suffer from severe anxiety again as a result...

    Thanks everyone

  2. #2
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Sorry for the late response here Mary but hopefully better late than never.

    I sincerely wish I could add something substantial to your quandary but alas, what can be said that hasn't been likely said before? The problem is that so many people are told blood is thicker than water but what if the blood is bad?

    There are people we like, hate and have no feelings one way or another about and the chances are that some will be relatives or even immediate family.

    You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family so sadly there is little you can do. I can tell you that if it's been like this forever then it won't change so the only thing you can do is try to move beyond it.

    You can tell all of them that there a sick bunch of lunatics (or water it down some lol) and state that it's causing you discomfort. I wouldn't elaborate too much if you don't want to fuel their backstabbing but even if it does it's just a sign that their not interested in anything other than abuse anyway.

    It's unhealthy and if they can't see it your way then you have no choice but to distance yourself from it.

    ...

    The best way to get past it is to remove all of this type of behavior from your daily life. Treat your friends and loved ones the way you want to be treated and never look back.

    The one good thing I can say about dysfunction in family is if you pay attention, it gives you a roadmap on how not to treat loved ones.

    ...take the high road and you'll be better off for it but just know, like all healing, it takes time to feel good about your decision.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Hi Duke,

    Thank you very much for the helpful response!

    I guess that's what I need to hear & you make a lot of valid points. For years I've questioned whether I should feel differently & always thought there was something wrong with me that I felt I could never connect with them all the way a family should (as some people might say). I guess it does come to a point where I have to accept some things will never change & ask myself if I am willing to continue as is or choose to breakaway in a way that's good for me.

    I think you're right, it's the fear of how I'll feel about my decision but then again, could I feel any worse than how I do right now. The constant wondering how long we'll all get along this time before another row erupts & to be honest, I'm exhausted with the constant bickering & judgements.

    It's completely influenced how I feel & the result is always, sadness. I will take a note of all your points because I do think what you said is the answer I've been looking for deep down & I've just been afraid to admit it.

    Thanks again for your support

  4. #4
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Not a problem at all, glad to help.

    Just please do us a favor and report back how things are progressing. I'm sure there's many people experiencing similar circumstances so if it does indeed help you then it may also help them as well.

    Thank you.
    My Daughter Rules!

    Band of Others: Are you a Gamer looking for a home, look no more bro!

    Ofear.com: Confronting fears, phobias, and panic attacks, in a friendly online community.

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  5. #5
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Thanks Duke, I will of course!

  6. #6
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Mary, I can totally relate to your post as most of our family is in the same or similar boat. Going to an extended family function several weeks ago brought that home to me even further. As amazed as I was how things proceeded (or didn't) afterward, I was at first flummoxed but have turned it around and accepted that just because people are family, doesn't mean that we need to 'buy into what they are selling, or not' and that has given me quite a lot of peace actually.

    I believe when there is a lot of earlier dysfunction in families, a lot just go 'into their own corners' but still expect that because they are family, still have to be kept in touch with and maybe even catered to. It took me a lot of years to learn that keeping in touch with regularity and respect works BOTH ways! I take responsibility for not having kept in touch with family because there was still too much Drama for me when I was just looking for the Peace I craved and never had as a child.

    I can only say what works for me. I have accepted the fact that I can not replace or repair all the years that have passed, but I could just be a kind, loving person and that's about it. I can look after myself with no drama, and not caring what anyone actually says or thinks about me, as I know who I am and look for those relationships that do provide fun, laughter, love, and no drama. It is such a relief giving up family drama as only the people involved can either fix it within themselves and move on towards peace or not.

    I wish you Peace, Mary!
    Last edited by Luba; 05-20-2014 at 08:28 AM.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  7. #7
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Hi Luba,

    Thanks for the note! Good to know I'm not out there alone However, I'm sorry to hear you're experiencing a similar situation as it's not pleasant at all. I'm glad to hear you're at peace & found a way forward that was healthy for you.

    I'm hoping to achieve the same & so far on this thread I've already felt a good deal of comfort from yours & Dukes responses. I used to think I just had to endure all the bad feeling, etc because they're my "family" & if I thought otherwise, then there was something wrong with me or I was a horrible person. I was afraid of being judged.

    I know things will never change & unfortunately it will hurt for a while but at the same time, if I have to have the odd day where it gets to me more than others, yet I manage to avoid any confrontations, dramas, etc, well then that's good for me.

    Drama is exactly the word I'd use to describe it! A lifetime of DRAMA!! It's exhausting! You're totally right when you say it works both ways when it comes to keeping in touch because I struggled with that a lot & felt like it was a one way street the majority of time. I too would be the first to put my hand up & take responsibilty for not staying in touch at different times - however I was also doing so to avoid the drama, aminosity. No surprise that it wasn't seen that way. Either it was assumed I was too busy or just had a bee in my bonnet about something. Funnily enough, no one ever enquired. It was always just assumptions...I learned after a while that that would never change.

    Your situation sounds very similar to mine & I too am seeking what you have found - peace! Thank you so much for the response & support & I'll continue to work on the positives & a way forward that works for me finding happiness & peace

  8. #8
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Mary, after reading your last post, I feel you have found a level of peace already due to accepting that family will never change if they are addicted to Drama or being judgmental, as well as being right-fighters. I don't know why families continue to hold bad feelings especially when it only does bring a lot of extra stress, and there is enough stress in life from outside sources without bringing more on oneself.

    Actually I think you are winning already by putting it from thoughts to words, it just makes more sense that way. What I also found, is if something is niggling within me, I write about it in my journal where the feelings come to the surface clearly and can be dealt with in a better, clearer light.

    It also doesn't mean one has to love family any less, just that no more Drama from them to involve oneself in. It's really incredible freedom. Of course, things do crop up once a person things he/she solved the Drama stuff, but it just gets easier to work on it, and solved faster within.

    I hope you keep coming back with how you solved your family problem. I agree with Duke, it will help others, as, I'm sure, many of us are in the same boat when it comes to dealing with family.

    On another note, strong-willed family members who SEEM to be always right have a way of making a gentle and kind person to feel like there is something wrong with her/him and make her/him feel like a horrible person. Those family members than can take the onus of themselves and not have to bother looking within to find out what's really wrong with themselves.
    Last edited by Luba; 05-19-2014 at 12:50 PM. Reason: Added more
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  9. #9
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    My thoughts exactly Luba - I never understand the wanted drama! As you say, there is enough stress in life without the added extras. I can never get my head around whether it's purely out of boredom or just plain jealously & competitiveness. Very sad really as I know people that envy big families like ours. I'd love to agree but deep down, I think of the unnecessary stress that accompanies it at times.

    I do the exact same thing & write down my thoughts in a journal & I never thought it would work & surprisingly it really did. I found myself in situations where I'd be left alone with my thoughts & feeling very frustrated so I just put a oen to paper & listed off feelings, etc & I actually felt relief. It helps every time so I continue to keep it up whenever I'm experiencing a bad day.

    Another thing is, I learn to close my eyes & breathe when feeling upset, irritated. The other day I found myself in a situation where I felt very much invisible around certain members as some of us don't speak. My old reaction would've been to go quiet & leave. However, I closed my eyes, took in slow breaths & thought to myself - don't be upset, this is not a big problem, surround yourself with happy positive people. And I try not to allow it get me down. It still hurts a lot but I am SLOWLY learning. Reason being is that my life is relatively good outside this environment so I am being firm with myself & not allowing myself to be totally consumed with only one part of my life when the rest is good!

    Your last note just hit the nail on the head:

    On another note, strong-willed family members who SEEM to be always right have a way of making a gentle and kind person to feel like there is something wrong with her/him and make her/him feel like a horrible person. Those family members than can take the onus of themselves and not have to bother looking within to find out what's really wrong with themselves.

    This is something I expreienced recently with a family member & it consumed my entire week. I stayed away from friends, drove around on my own to pass the time, was left with my own thoughts & believed these rubbish & hurtful digs to be true. That's the funny thing about family. They know what makes you tick & how to hurt you (especially if you're sensitive to confrontation).

    I'll keep you posted on events but for now, I feel good & a bit more at peace as I've avoided these negative situations (only a couple of weeks) & as blue as I may feel now & again, it's certainly nowhere near as frequent so I'm hoping I have the power to distance myself from situations that aren't good for me. If I see anyone, I see them but I want to make the conscious descision not to involve myself in the drama.

  10. #10
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    It sure is helpful reading posts such as yours, Mary, how we can overcome the earlier dysfunction and how much drama it has added in all our lives. Some of us try to learn to avoid it as much as possible, others, sadly, just carry it on throughout their lives maybe not willing to change, or not even knowing how to change it.

    Once we've adopted and adapted our own change in our lives to have as much peace, love, kindness as possible, it's even more difficult to be around family that are still right-fighters, name-callers, and just not listening to what can help with change for the better when family members talk or (yell) at each other. One has to kind of wonder why a person would then resist change for peace, tranquility, and serenity (love those words).

    I think a lot of unresolved anger has a lot to do with it, as well as not being seen, or heard, or listened to as a child, to the point of feeling invisible. Add to the fact that we are all so different being of the same blood which sometimes makes me wonder how we can get along better with friends who aren't blood, than family.

    Mary, if you have time to look around this site and add your thoughts to some other posts to add for more discussion. There is a lot of good stuff here that has been posted to in the past and needs new blood, since I'm on that subject, too.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  11. #11
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    You're spot on Luba! Very different ways of dealing with it indeed & that's where everyone appears to be clashing too. Some want things to change as they're can clearly see the cracks, yet others are happy to continue on & ignore what's really going on yet still kid themselves that evrything is fine - very frustrating!!

    You're right about adopting & adapting. This is the balance I've been trying to for a long time. I would find that I could be in great form one day & walk into a negative situation involving family & my mood would completely change. Coping with this is now my aim & not allowing it to dominate my thoughts & drag me down is the challenge. I've good days & bad.

    You mention people resisting peace, tranquility & serenity I've often wondering the exact same thing. I really believe a lot of people feed off drama. Easy to get caught up in but it's not worth it in the long run when it takes over.

    Very true re the unresolved anger! If I had a penny for everytime a dig was made over something past - yet these issues never properlyu dealt with. Not being heard I sometimes think has had a major impact. Even in adulthood I still wonder if that's something I'm still overcoming.

    I actually start to look around the forum earlier & there are a lot of interesting & topics. Be good to get involved & hopefully to able to help - same way you've helped on my thread. Thank you

  12. #12
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Apologies for the few typos!

  13. #13
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fairy Mary View Post
    Apologies for the few typos!
    Not too worry, Mary! We're SO on the same page in this topic! It's SO good to talk about it all and get it out in the open instead of being buried within and hoping for the best.

    Sometimes after witnessing name calling in a family, even not towards me, it just hurts for the one being put down. I don't understand how it actually helps the name caller to feel better about putting someone else down. I just don't!

    It would be a far, far better world if people listened even if not necessarily agreeing, but just sharing in a kind, loving, understanding way. We are all unique and I like to listen and learn from kind, loving people and that's been the best thing I've ever done! It turned my life around to be fortunate enough to be among four couples that treated each other with respect, dignity and a whole amount of laughter! I picked up on that and live my life that way, at least I try as much as possible. I still have work to do knowing that when we do go and visit unhappy family, that I have to remind myself to b-r-e-a-t-h-e in just that way, or go for a short walk in Nature, only to return to find some other negative stuff going on in another direction. Okay, doesn't always happen, but I need to prepare myself just in case it does....

    I'm not saying I know all the answers, far from it, but I sure do know how I want to live my life in peace, love, kindness and plenty of laughter.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  14. #14
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Hi Luba! How are you today?

    It is so good indeed! How my mood has had a boost over the last few days after joining this site I 100% agree with you on the point of it being hurtful when witnessing name calling to another member too. And strangely, I saw one member upset the other day & it actually got to me & I felt for her. I experienced hearing unpleasant things they say about one another at times & it's really uncomfortable to hear & makes me feel bad (even if I wasn't the one who said it!).

    You make a good point about listening rather than disagreeing. I've found that there are too many different personalities/ opinions & it's never going to work if we done have the decency & respect one another as individuals without constantly taking offence & thinking we're all in the right. It's actually comical that grown adults can't do this in their own family. It's a wonder some are able to function in the outside world & respect opinions, etc others have to say.

    You make a lot of really valid points & I can completely relate to everything you say - almost like our families mirror

    I will say, it's great taking that step back & great to be able to talk to others in similar situations. May it continue

  15. #15
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Hi Luba! How are you today?
    I'm really fine, Mary, thanks for asking! How are you?

    I saw a show on "Dr. Phil" the other day that made me really think about how dysfunction hurts family members. It made me think of a whole other slant about how members act in a family situation and why. I hope to think more about it and see if I could get my new thoughts around what I learned.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  16. #16
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    It seems that those that 'act out' the most are the ones hurting the most, so then they make the most noise and everyone in the family doesn't know how to deal with them. In dysfunctional families feel that each member is misunderstood, not nurtured, not listened to, or worse yet, some kind of terrible abuse happened and it wasn't dealt with or even believed.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  17. #17
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    You gotta love Dr. Phil! It does make you think & I suppose it goes to show there are many more out there in the same boat.

    Yes, I often think the same about some family members of mne, yet sometimes they can make so much noise that it's easy to forgot they may be hurting too. It's only when one takes a step back. Are they afraid to allow their vulnerable side be seen? I know it's easy for me to say but hurting others is not the answer either.

    I feel the relations have really had a knock on effect on my life. I don't trust many people & I really believe people don't like me very much (when in fact, I have lots of wonderful people around me) but I just continue to doubt myself continuously & really believe I'm not worthy or interesting as a person

  18. #18
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fairy Mary View Post
    You gotta love Dr. Phil! It does make you think & I suppose it goes to show there are many more out there in the same boat.
    I think there are more in the same boat, than not.

    Yes, I often think the same about some family members of mne, yet sometimes they can make so much noise that it's easy to forgot they may be hurting too. It's only when one takes a step back. Are they afraid to allow their vulnerable side be seen? I know it's easy for me to say but hurting others is not the answer either.
    I think you hit it spot on when you said that family members or people in general are afraid to show their vulnerable side. Maybe they have been hurt so badly that they have decided to 'strike first' as opposed to be 'struck' again and again, building a safe wall around themselves that way.
    Absolutely hurting others is not the answer either, I totally agree. The more I learn to listen the better I understand and maybe that's what hurting members need is someone to really listen. The problem with that comes up sometimes is the person listening has an agenda to spread it as gossip to other family members. It's a really difficult to find a family member one could trust implicitly not to spread to other family members. So on goes the hurt and pain.

    I feel the relations have really had a knock on effect on my life. I don't trust many people & I really believe people don't like me very much (when in fact, I have lots of wonderful people around me) but I just continue to doubt myself continuously & really believe I'm not worthy or interesting as a person
    I think immediate or extended family members sometimes 'knock our socks off' with their remarks that really are abuse. The more family members that do that kind of stuff, the more we doubt ourselves and think 'Well, if enough people are saying that about me, it must be true'. Then we figure we are unworthy and just by into their abuse, as that is what it is. BUT there is an upside-down positive side to that for ourselves. We have to stop believing them and believe our own hearts and who we really are! Take a long and lovely look at our own Souls and realize we don't want or need to hurt anyone even if they try to do that to us, or retaliate. We can just be calm and really look at them as people in pain who haven't realized that passing pain on is not the way to go. We can actually then walk away from that situation, even change the subject, or whatever calm way it takes to deal with what has been said. I believe that is so healing for ourselves and it makes us humbly know that we are good, kind, loving people and listen to our own hearts!
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


    True love is wanting to give to another person without any thought about
    who’s getting the better of the deal.

    Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise

    ~All quotes by Leo Buscaglia


  19. #19
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    Re: Dysfunctional Families...

    Hi Luba,

    Sorry I haven't been on in a while. Very true all the above. All was quiet for a while, however certain fights/disagreements are all kicking off again. I've learned to withold getting fully involved however tempting it is to shout out how I feel. I've since been on the sidelines of some recent arguments but thankfully managed to restrain myself from saying anything. It's still extremely unpleasant, however it certainly works better for me not to say anything. I do however have my opinion on the whole pathetic situation & will hold my hand up & admit that I will rant to those who will listen. That said, I've taken a serious step back.

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