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Boundaries with family

Evelyn360Evelyn360 Posts: 82 Budding Regular
I've been thinking about my relationship  and the dynamics within my family, which could be better to be honest and I thought this would actually be a good sounding board to get peoples opinions and how they mirror their own home lives.

Some of the background -  My immediate family (parents + I'm the youngest of 4), I feel can be quite ruthless sometimes. My parents are divorced which we all deal with in our own ways and can be slightly difficult because I'm the only one who tries to keep in contact with everyone. My parents haven't spoken or seen each other in about 10 years and my eldest sister and dad don't recognise each others existence (he won't talk about her and anything he does say is negative, she refers to him as "your dad" or his first name. They they don't talk or see each other either). As such everyone is quite fragmented and it can be difficult not to bring up someone they don't talk to because they get annoyed. 

Anyway I'll stick to my parents for now. When they first broke up it was pretty much just me and my mum at home and my dad moved away so I only saw him maybe 3 times a year for about 4/5 years.The thing about my parents is they've never really gotten over the divorce, in my opinion anyway. No one really knows what happened for the marriage to fall apart, even my siblings are clueless. Basically they ruined each other. 

Fast forward a few years and I ended up moving to the area my dad is for uni (although I never moved in with him), and when I graduated last year I got a place with a friend in the area because I didn't want to go back home. My relationship with my parents is completely different. I love both of them but about a year ago I quit calling my mum so frequently to check in. Usually I'll try to call each of my siblings and her once a month to keep in contact but I find it really hard to talk to my mum because she always manages to flip conversations back to her and how bad her life is. I get that shes struggling but no matter how much me and my siblings try to help her shes just not interested. Every conversation turns into a bill she owes or a letter from a lender shes gotten or how she hates her job etc. Or something my siblings have done to annoy her, but when you try to talk to her about it to get her to see the opposite side of things she doesn't care to talk about it anymore. Shes never interested in asking what I'm up to or if she does you can tell shes not really listening and then will flip the conversation back to her. She has never once called me since I left home, if i don't call her we just don't speak. It makes it quite difficult when I go home because we just have nothing to talk about with each other. (She's exactly the same with my siblings as well). 

The reverse of that is my relationship with my dad. When he moved away we would call each other every saturday like clockwork. I'm the only one of my siblings that pretty much has a relationship with him and we see each other every week. I think because we stayed in contact and he lost all of his old friends I'm the closest person he really has. The downside to this is he tells me about every argument he has with his wife or at work, the woman hes been close to having an affair with etc. And basically just everything you would confide with in your friends. He doesn't have any friends really since he moved here years ago because "if I don't have friends I won't fall into the wrong crowd". Because of this, I don't want to tell him not to vent to me because then he's basically alone and he's a bit of a hot head so he kind of needs someone to talk him down?

I just wondered if anyone has any pointers or revelations from an outsiders perspective.
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    Past UserPast User Posts: 0 Just got here
    Family problems can be really complicated to approach because it's very difficult to balance the obligations you feel you have to them, and focus on your own wants and needs aswell. 

    I would say that being honest when discussing those relationships is the best course, however that can also be problematic in that broaching certain issues you might have is also difficult. If that's the case, or you feel arguments are on the horizon, remember that's it's fine to step back and focus on yourself. Allow everything to calm down before you approach it again. People who truly care about you will understand and do what they can to accommodate your needs. 
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    Han93Han93 Posts: 309 The Mix Regular

    Hi @Evelyn360

    This sounds really tough for you! It sounds like sometimes you feel a bit like their parent helping them out with their issues rather than the other way around.


    I agree with @Spook98 about the importance of communication.


    I don't know how easy this would be but The Mix have written an article about Family Therapy and it may be something you could discuss firstly with your siblings to see what they think before speaking to your mum and dad: https://www.themix.org.uk/sex-and-relationships/family-life/family-therapy-7961.html


    Maybe you could suggest for your dad to join a group or club to make new friends so you can go back to a father/daughter relationship? Is there any hobbies he enjoys that you could persuade him to join a group for?


    Has your mum spoken to anyone about how she's feeling? Maybe a GP or a counsellor?


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    ValerialettoValerialetto Posts: 87 Budding Regular

    hello @Evelyn360,

    I can imagine what are you going through and I really hope that sooner or later the situation become better.
    It's very nice of you that you try to communicate and to help all members of your family, you must be really kind and sympathetic person..

     You know, unfortunately I can't agree with advices of previous posters..( My parents divorced either, and they do not communicate at all even if it concerns their kids and they also had some troubles afterwards and I tried to help and invent something, to do something to make situation better. But the issue is you can do nothing when person doesn't want or isn't ready to this, moreover, in my opinion, you can do worse if you are really persistent with your initiatives, cause it doesn't let people to understand what they really want and to evaluate situation properly. I do not mean that you need to give up on them, of cause not, it's important to be there when you're needed, when they ask you for help. And it's important to let them know than you are ready to support...but I do not really think that strong interference will bring positive results. It’s funny that you wrote that your mother never called you since you left, I had absolutely the same, I was crazy about it cause it's really unpleasant and you have a feeling that she even doesn't care about you( But after some time I realized that however she acts doesn't change my feelings to her. And I call her because I love her and care about her even if she doesn't do the same. She is just such kind of person and considering the fact that you call your mom either seems you also accepted situation as it is, did you?

    I understand you when you write that there's nothing to talk about...it's obvious if you do not talk a lot and do not see each other often. What if to organize traditional family dinners (with members of family who communicate with each other), you could cook together and have dinner together talking...even doing it once a month is good to start with. What do you think?

    Also what's about you? I know how bad it can be when such situation is going on in your family and I see that your thoughts and worries about your relatives, but don't you to share what do you personally feel about it? Just in case if you want to spill it, we are ready to listen to you and support as much as we can <3 

    I hope you got some support and will be happy to hear from you soon:) 

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    Evelyn360Evelyn360 Posts: 82 Budding Regular
    Thanks @Spook98 @Han93 @Valerialetto <3

    Sorry I haven't replied sooner, I posted this and then decided I didn't want to think about it. 

    Trying to broach conversation with my parents about our relationship is quite difficult because it's so fragile. One wrong thing and it feels like they would just shut off completely and either pull away or just stop talking about anything. Regarding family therapy, that's a big no go. First of all, my parents would just wave it off and if I mentioned it to my siblings they would probably laugh. Even if we did go, they wouldn't say anything anyway. As a family we're very good at talking without actually talking if that makes sense? Family get togethers are just that bit too loud, smiles so fake you can see everyone is waiting to see how long that have to stay until they can call it quits. 


    When it comes to organising family get togethers, that can be quite tough because I don't live close to them and I don't drive so I only really go back a few times a year. To be honest, going home is such a mixed bag for me because it just reminds me of how unhappy i was there and how dark things became. I think that's why old feelings are starting to resurface now because my dad and his wife are probably going to break up and even though I'm not that close with that side of his family, I feel like I'm in the middle of another divorce all over again. As I mentioned, my dad talks to me a lot about everything and I literally have no words to try and reassure him. It's like I'm 14 all over again, going through the same motions. I can't talk to my siblings about anything though because they don't speak to him and it would just become a conversation  of all the things they don't like about him. 

    I think I'm just tired if all the negativity and fakeness between everyone. 
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    SienaSiena Posts: 15,558 Skive's The Limit
    Hey @Evelyn360

    just read this whole thread and thought I'd chip in. (Sorry If ive misunderstood any part though) It is really nice of you to make that effort with everyone, it can be hard at the best of times! Sounds like difficult situation:/

    you know your situation the best so i believe youd do what you think you is for the best/approach best for that time. 

    You sound like you're doing your best and I also think that it is always just best to appreiacate people's choices - if they decide not to speak to a family member cause we can never really change their mind. Only can give our perespcitve and that's all really. Cause as you said that everyone handles it differently and could be loads of reason like just still feeling hurt to not want to see. 

    I relate to your relationship with you mum. I try to speak to my mum and I say "barely slept last night" and all of a sudden it's a competition of how she barely slept and then starts talking bout all her life problems. I've made choice to give up speaking with her cause the conversations just don't work. (& for loads of other reasons)

    I think sometimes feel a draw to try to make everyone happy or build relations cause of being family. And that can feel lot of pressure too

    Its understandable about how you feel about your dad and his wife and all the emotions you feel about it. He shares a lot of his stressed to you - Have you shared your concerns with your dad? It may also make him realise he's putting a lot of stress on you too .

    How have you learnt to cope with the stress of these situations? I hope you can take care of yourself. <3 we are here <3
    “And when they look at you, they won't see everything you've been through. They won't see the **** that turned to scars that began to fade with time. They won't see the heartbreaking things that shook up and changed your entire world. They won't know how many tears you cried or even what it was you were crying about. They won't see how strong you had to be because you had no other choice. What they will see though is how compassionate you are because you experienced pain. What they will see is how kind you are because you experienced how cruel the world is. What they will see is how good you are because you've seen how bad things or people can be. The difference between you and your experiences are who you choose to be, despite everything that could have turned you cold and unkind.You are the good the world needs and the best of us.” ~ Kirsten Corley
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    Evelyn360Evelyn360 Posts: 82 Budding Regular
    Hi @Shaunie, thank you for the read, I didn't plan on it being so long.

    I think it's hard because talking about mental health in my family is just so taboo and equally, the way everyone seems to have cut people out of their lives so easily means that in the back of my head I'm constantly thinking they could do that to me as well? It just sucks because I know I've carried that with me all the way into my adult life, constantly feeling inadequate and putting on a front of perfection to family and friends to try and be who they need/ want me to be, and you're right, it is a lot of pressure but I don't know how to stop.

    I haven't said anything to my dad about how his sharing effects me for two reasons; 1 - he doesn't have anyone else he actually opens up to and I don't want to be the one person who he does feel comfortable with to cut him off from that and leave him in his own head. 2 - my parents divorce was so toxic he became quite suicidal afterwards and I will not let myself be a contribution to that if he went down that path again. He always says his kids are his life and as the only one who actively talks to him I feel responsible for giving him the love that he deserves from his kids. 

    At the moment I wouldn't really say I'm coping, more just trying to get through. I think I'm just grasping at the idea theres a magical way I can just make changes to reestablish a parent/ child relationship with both my parents without making it obvious and causing any more hurt. It's part of the reason I've never told anyone in my family how much their actions/ choices have affected me.

    I really do appreciate everyones input, I know it's a bit  of if a long rant/ tricky situation, so thank you  <3


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