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Trouble with family - how do I cope?

I've been having issues with my family for a long time, but it's really been causing me distress in recent days. My mum constantly criticised me, blames me for everything and is extremely controlling and still treats me like a child, even though I'm several years into adulthood. I still live at home, as I can't afford to live out of home (demanding uni degree and other commitments making it nearly impossible for me to be able to work and I've only just started getting Youth Allowance). This means I'm around my family a fair bit. We are currently away from home for Christmas and a holiday which has meant I've been around them even more than usual and it's even harder to get away from them. I had been away for a month which was certainly a welcome break, but I don't think I was mentally or emotionally prepared to come back. Having been Christmas has meant my older brother has been around as well the last few days, which has just made the situation a whole lot worse. I've had a lot of issues with my brother since childhood as he teased and was physical with me, beyond the usual sibling rivalry, which was really hurtful and traumatic to me as a child, especially because of my issues with my mum and also being bullied at school. He still teases me and calls me all sorts of names and sometimes intentionally does things that scare me for his own amusement. Yes has an adult and should be way past this, but unfortunately no, he hasn't matured yet. In recent days I've been experiencing criticism, nasty comments, name calling, blame etc. from my mum, even more so than usual. My brother has been his usual self teasing me intentionally and trying to get at me any way he can because it's all a game and entertainment to him. My parents see some of it but they don't pay much attention, care it's happening or do anything about it. They have no idea how hurtful it is to me when they or my brother speak to me the way they do and no matter how much and in what way and context I try to explain it to them, they just completely dismiss me and tell me I'm being stupid and emotional and overreacting and they haven't done anything wrong. My dad doesn't always understand why I'm hurt by something and even when he does, he often doesn't do much because he wants to keep the peace and doesn't want to get involved and wants the argument or whatever to stop, which is fair enough, but sometimes hurtful to me because I wish my dad would stand up for me more and love and encourage me when I'm getting so much negativity elsewhere. Having my family behave like this and my brother around in particular has stirred my little sister up who has also directed plenty a nasty comment at me and is arguing and giving me a lot of attitude. She's recently hit puberty so this isn't entirely unusual or unexpected, but it's really ramped up in the last few days and some of her nasty comments have been completely unnecessary, out of place and very hurtful. Everything has been building up inside me for the last few days and I've been feeling more and more hurt and broken because of it. Tonight I had a particularly bad run of the teasing, criticising, name calling, blaming, arguing etc. from my mum and brother in particular with my sister chipping in. After this and then my brother trying to scare me, which I usually would have been annoyed at but tolerated, it all just pushed me over the edge. I couldn't handle it. I felt like I broke into a million pieces on the inside, I felt so upset and traumatised and I completely broke down and shut down. I couldn't talk and didn't want to talk to anyone and ended up in tears.

Sorry this has become really long; I tend to go a bit overboard when writing and I didn't want to miss anything key that helps you understand the situation and respond. Basically, my question is, how do I cope with all of this? How I do I handle being around my family when they constantly hurt me (especially seeing as I'm pretty much stuck with them for the time being)? How to do I handle feeling so broken and upset and how do I hold it together? Or am I just crazy and completely overreacting to my family and shouldn't be upset?

Re: Trouble with family - how do I cope?

Hi there @thisisme,

Welcome to ReachOut, and thanks for sharing! I'm sorry to hear that your Christmas has been stressful. I'm sure a lot of people around here will be able to relate what you're going through, so I'm sure you'll get supportive replies and tips. Smiley Happy
The ideal Christmas we see on TV is happy family time, but it can also get stressful if there's pressure to "just get along!" or keep the peace. Here are some tips for coping with family stress at Christmas.
What kind of things do you to get away, when you need a break? Might be a good idea to be thinking of some ways to get some "me" time away from your family. Good luck, and good on your for reaching out - let us know how you're going!blithe

Re: Trouble with family - how do I cope?

Hey @thisisme , @blithe has a really good point - Christmas can totally be a stressful time for everyone, especially because we all expect it to be this wondeful family bonding time and that's not always the case. You might find this fact sheet on building better coping skills complimentary to the Christmas Stress fact sheet she shared (:


I also wanted to add that the way everyone feels and responds to different situations varies and something that might make you really upset might not bother the person next to you at all. This definitely does not make you crazy, it just makes you a normal human being like the rest of us! I personally tend to cope very poorly with being constantly surrounded with people I have to constantly interact it for long periods of time, it can send my stress levels through the roof. I find that taking some "me-time" really helps me chill out a little bit and process everything in my head. I might just pop my headphones in and listen to some of my favourite tunes, have a really long bath or if I need to get out of the house just go for a walk around my neighbourhood. Is there some way you could give yourself some special me-time? Something that you like doing that really makes you feel more at ease or relaxed ?

Re: Trouble with family - how do I cope?

Hey @thisisme sorry to hear that you had a stressful christmas,


I just want to start by saying you are not crazy, and to repeat what @kitkat is saying, what you are feeling is human and that there are other people out there that can relate to what you are going through.


It's definitely tough being around people you don't get along with for long periods of time, you should try some of the coping skills @kitkat has offered you. Here are some relaxation techniques you could use. (Check out @Myvo 's kick-ass GR session summary for tips on self-care and relaxing) 


With a demanding uni course and other commitments, you should try to make some time in your schedule for some me-time to relax and unwind.


Again, sorry to hear that you're having a tough time, Let us know how you go.

sometimes it rains, sometimes it shines, this is how flowers grow

Re: Trouble with family - how do I cope?

Hi @thisisme

I'm sorry to hear you have difficult family relationships. Unfortunately there is a lot of dissension and hostility amongst my family members, so I can understand what you must be going through.

Re: Trouble with family - how do I cope?

Hi Thisisme,


How are you going today? I just stumbled across your post and felt that I had to reply, as I totally understand where you're coming from. I am 21 and have only been able to leave home in the last 4 months- 800kms away from my hometown where my family live. I too had a lot of issues at home, mainly with my mother but over time dragged my father and siblings into it.  


For me leaving was the best option (lucky I could get a transfer with work!) and now I feel like a completely different person (happier) because of it- I did read that this is not an option for you at this stage so perhaps I could suggest;


> Walking or listening to music at the park for an hour or so a day.

> Reading inspiring books or quotes to keep you somewhat motivated or positive that something will change one day, if not soon.

> Join some form of social club and create new supports (book club or a hobby you enjoy).

> Seek help from a 3rd party (e.g. counsellor) and get support and coping tips for them. If that is not an option or unaffordable try  googling "mindsportclinic" as they have great over the phone and internet resources and counselling services, a program tailored to your specific concern. 


I wish I had found support while I was still living at home and have only recently been able to finally seek help- I would now highly recommend seeking that alternative support from where ever you can. 


All the best xx