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  1. #1
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    May 2015
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    Thumbs up Rejecting A Dysfunctional Inheritance

    Sometimes we don't need to look very hard or very long at our family tree to see patterns of relationship and behavior that were not only hurtful, but seemed to pass from generation to generation. I'm the heiress to dysfunction, a woman who somehow would have missed in the now if I hadn't taken the reins of my own being. 'Tis a cautionary tale.

    My great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother. That I love them hasn't made me blind to some serious interpersonal distrust and coy game playing. I didn't know my great-grandmother so well, but I know through family stories that she was "nervous" and "sick" very often. Married to a man almost 20 years older, there's always some speculation, and especially about what that may have done to my grandmother. There was a lot going on before anyone really understood there could be consequences.

    I could dismiss my grandmother as having always been flaky and ;eave it at that, but I see where her personality grew out of upbringing. She was the youngest of two sisters ten years apart and always held a grudge. She was shown to let beauty take predominance, to distrust everyone, to cling to a bleak her against the world philosophy. There was more, but my point is this was a life molded by the more negative and less useful thinking of the previous generation.

    Which brings me to my own mother who has inherited this same pot of twisted thinking. I love her, but I'm not blind. She seems to have gotten as far as 1965 before deciding she'd gone as far into the future as she wanted--that is, we've always had a difficult time pulling her along with the modern world. My theory is this relates back to her own tenuous relationship with my grandmother, who was less a parent than an adversary (who wore what better, who was thinner). In my own life they have never seemed to have a good and caring relationship. I didn't understand this when I was a child, but as an adult I'm getting the picture.

    So I come to the precipice. If my mother and I have ever come to loggerheads in our lives it's been because I'm running to make up for the lack of affection she suffered from my grandmother. I mean hey, I also happen to like my mother. I see where she got a pretty raw deal--but I'm not going to suffer the same treatment. I want to stop this inheritance right here with love and trust, which fortunately is the natural answer for me.

    Unfortunately, my grandmother's lifelong lack of trust in my mother and her inability to consider much more than the next five minutes has left my entire family in a critical situation. Since my grandfather passed in 2003, my grandmother has been spending down her assets secretly and with no thought. My mother, still running after my grandmother's approval, finally got to give some financial assistance, by which time an unconscionable amount money--such as exorbitant monthly bills for utilities in my grandmother's large single house, where no one was living and no one was benefiting--had been wasted. "It's my money to waste," was her answer.

    For 12 years she has been living off my parents in my parents living room, unwilling to discuss her future or anyone else's. Finally, after many near misses and lucky second chances, there's no longer any choice but to sell the house (should have been done a decade ago). At 92 and just waiting on the next heart attack or stroke, my grandmother needs a good living facility and not my parents' sofa (she could have had a bed, but she hates sleeping in beds), and we all need liquid assets to see to her care. Again, my mother has never been able to hold her own with her own mother. It's a folie a deux as they've both been fighting for so many years.

    Now I'm watching my mother, and I'm seeing what a lifetime trapped in this dysfunctional inheritance has done. The social system is a trap to an extent, but in reality both are trapped by their minds--or what's left of thinking. Meanwhile everything has come down to an ultimate melodrama over the lack of money and what happens to my grandmother now. Selling her property takes time, and my mother has just been "too overwhelmed" to apply herself, even though she knows the fat lady is most definitely singing.

    Here's my point. I don't accept what I've come to know is a way of raising and being raised that had created some very unhinged human beings. I could have chosen early on to let the unhealthy relationship she has with her mother be projected onto me and let myself be molded in its image. But I chose not to accept it. I wasn't doomed to inherit, and neither is anyone else.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Re: Rejecting A Dysfunctional Inheritance

    Welcome to Lifesupporters, EJConroy!

    Here's my point. I don't accept what I've come to know is a way of raising and being raised that had created some very unhinged human beings. I could have chosen early on to let the unhealthy relationship she has with her mother be projected onto me and let myself be molded in its image. But I chose not to accept it. I wasn't doomed to inherit, and neither is anyone else.
    I was deeply moved by your post and I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    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


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Re: Rejecting A Dysfunctional Inheritance

    Welcome to the forums EJConroy.

    As you point out so well is that a lot of behaviours gets inherited, and often it escapes our attention. Certainly our conscious attention. As long as we can't take a distanced perspective, we're bound to do the same things as our parents. That is often a mixed bag. Some great qualities and a bit of dysfunction is normal.

    Especially those aspects of habits and behaviours concerning interpersonal relationships are life-defining. By the time a child realises what is going on, he / she has been subjected to a fair number of years of dealing with parents: what parents do is "normal" since we lack another point of reference to judge the (ab)normality of it.
    The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. - Rabindranath Tagore

    Keep true to the dreams of your youth. - Friedrich Schiller

    The only philosophy which can be responsibly practised in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. - Theodor Adorno

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