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Messy family dynamics TW

I feel really devastated by the way some things are in my family. Mainly my relationship between my mum and my sister.

 

As a kid, my mum was depressed a lot. And I spent a fair bit of time trying to support her, and knowing it wouldn't make much difference. There were good things too- games and jokes and hugs, etc. As a kid, ever since before I can remember, my older brother hated me and wished I didn't exist and physical and emotional attacks were really frequent. And my mum never stepped in, always somehow blamed me or said it takes 2 to fight. And my mum also used to throw me under the bus a lot with my (I think) abusive dad. He was always angry and yelling and physically violent (I think he viewed it as corporal punishment and not abuse, but it left marks and often I hadn't actually done anything wrong). And mum would say I'd done things I hadn't so he wouldn't be angry at her for them.

 

As a teenager I started really struggling to manage my mental health. First an eating disorder. Then suicidal thoughts. Then self harming to manage that. I never told anyone, because I'd never had people I could trust to be there for me when it actually mattered. From when I was a kid I hated anyone knowing if I struggled (even knowing if my sport team had done a challenging fitness building session, or that I had my period- I managed to keep that a secret and hide all the evidence for a year and a half). 

 

Family dynamics got better when I became a young adult. My dad and brother started treating me like a person. I started having some good times with my family, but there were still big trust issues and I wouldn't ever want to share my struggles or vulnerabilities with them. But in other ways we were quite close, especially with my mum and sister.

 

Then 5 years ago someone I'd gotten to trust felt the need to tell my mum about my mental health challenges. She told my sister. I felt like the world was violently ending. I completely shut down and pulled back from my mum and sister. I lost relationships that mattered to me because they now felt totally unsafe. Now they're pretty much strangers I see at family events. I miss them but don't think I can ever have a positive relationship with them again. They hate this, I hate this, but I can't feel ok around them with them knowing what they know. I feel guilty for ending relationships we all valued, and I know it hurts them (although my sister's mostly moved on I think, but that doesn't exactly make me feel better about it), but I always knew I couldn't handle this and I was right and no one has ever understood

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Hey @hellofriend and thanks so much for sharing. 

 

I'm really sorry to hear about your experiences as a child. It saddens me to hear that your mum blamed things on you and that you got punished by your dad for things you didn't do. Your mum, out of everyone, should be there to protect you, and it's unfortunate that you didn't have that growing up. I can see how issues around trust may have continued into your adult life, and how any such violations of trust (even if they are minor or coming from a good place) could lead you to pull away. 

 

You mentioned that from a young age, you disliked anybody knowing that you were struggling. Do you know why that might be? 

 

Also, when your mum and sister found out about your mental health struggles, were they supportive of you?

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Thanks @Maddy-RO 

 

Why from a young age I didn't want anyone to know I was struggling: because I'd learnt people wouldn't help me, might be angry at me in response, or might mock me (that last one was laughing at me or acting like I was doing embarrassing things when stimming as a natural response to distress). Also because I'd learnt no-one would help, as a young kid I just resolved that I'd simply have to always be strong enough to handle whatever the issue was and be ok, so I tried to avoid acknowledging even to myself when I was struggling.

 

There wasn't really an opportunity for them to be supportive. I didn't trust them or want their support and them knowing meant I couldn't even handle being near them, so I just stayed the hell away. They did some dodgy things- my mum is a massive gossip and told all her siblings as an interesting bit of news, and my sister used it to manipulate her ex into coming into her life again. But even if they'd responded perfectly, it wouldn't have mattered because them knowing still shattered boundaries I'd put in place to feel safe in those relationships

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

@hellofriend I relate to so much of that Smiley Sad

I can't offer any real advice but I just want to say that you're not alone and please take care.

I hope you can find supportive people.

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Hey @hellofriend, I am sorry that you had to feel that way at such a young age. It sounds like you were just trying to protect yourself the best that you could. Given what you experienced, your need to distance yourself from your family is totally understandable. It was so brave of you to do that because it is not always easy to do.

It is also totally okay to not want to share your struggles with your family. Some people in our lives are not helpful but regardless of the reason, it is our choice. It takes a lot of strength to place that kind of boundary and I am so sorry that someone crossed this boundary without your consent Heart You are allowed to miss them whilst still choosing not to see them. It must be difficult to sit with these conflicting feelings, so I can only imagine how hurtful it must be for you.

Thanks for sharing this with everyone Smiley Happy
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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Thanks so much @Tiny_leaf @Taylor-RO Heart

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

I'm sorry that you had to go through all that @hellofriend. Smiley Sad
It's a shame we can't choose our family members, or how they react when we confide in them. I can understand your point of view. I don't like it when my family members gossip or tell others about my life or struggles (most of what they say is incorrect anyway).

How are you feeling today?

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Hey @hellofriend, just want to firstly say that you are very brave coming forward about this, especially as you mentioned you don’t usually like people knowing about what you’re going through. So thank you for sharing with us ❤️

 

Dysfunctional family dynamics are incredibly hard to deal with. I grew up in a hostile household as well, so I can relate to you to some extent and empathise with you for the parts I can’t relate to. I’m sorry that you had to endure conflict and abuse from different family members. It can make sense that you have trouble opening up and trusting people if the ones who are supposed to unconditionally love and support you weren’t always doing so. However, I can imagine it is still difficult that you aren’t as close with them now.

Do you have other friends or loved ones that are close to or who you can confide in too? 

In terms of your mental health, how are you doing? And would you consider seeing a mental health professional about any of these problems? I know opening up is hard, it’s hard for a lot of people, but these professionals are objective people who are must show unconditional positive regard and are experienced. Sorry for this spiel if you already have seen someone.

 

Sending you love ❤️❤️ Thank you again for sharing 

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Thank you @WheresMySquishy @liv1611 Smiley Happy

 

Overall I think I'm actually in a good place for the most part now. Thinking about my family always makes me feel sad, and there was something bringing it to my mind more lately when I posted. Plus it had been a busy time where I was less able to spend time (particularly one on one) with my husband at the same time, so that intensified things...

 

It helped reading the responses, and I was able to spend a big chunk of time with my husband and talk about all this stuff and just generally spend some quality time together which helped too. And now the busy period's eased off.

 

I'm glad you asked about the mental health professional because I was kind of wanting to talk about that too (it just was a lot to fit into a post). I have tried seeing them, and generally found it really unhelpful or harmful. And I tried quite a lot of things, tbh I'm really disappointed in the system. I did find a KHL counselor helpful ( but I deliberately didn't even try to unpack family things or past trauma or anything, just used them as someone I could call who would care and listen and be kind of invested when things were hard to deal with). I also once had a GP who cared and while nothing they linked me in with actually helped it was nice having someone who cared I could go to and know they would at least try and help.

 

But yeah doing better generally now so I don't mind not having anyone. Probably not going to try and see a professional again unless I end up really desperate again, because it was so consistently bad and unhelpful before...

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Re: Messy family dynamics TW

Hey @hellofriend 

 

I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better. I can see all the amazing support you're providing multiple users on the forums today. It's very kind of you to spend your time feeling better supporting others in the way that you are today Smiley Happy Heart.

It seems like the support you received on here, and spending some quality time with your husband, has really helped you to feel better. 

 

It sucks to hear how you struggled to find the right/beneficial mental health support when you needed it most. It does, however, seem like you really benefited from your GP's support. It must feel nice to have that one person there that you can always rely on for direction and support, or to even just feel heard. 

 

Thanks for sharing with us, and please know that we are always here for you should you ever feel down again. Heart