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something i struggle with

Old 04-07-2016, 02:19 PM
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something i struggle with

For a long time now I've really struggled with feeling selfish concerning my family. My dad has a history of pill usage, and even though it wasn't a horrible addiction (we still had a house, so there's that lol), he was always really emotionally unstable in my opinion. I lived with a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, walking on eggshells, etc. Now my brother is an addict and my dad has a massively codependent relationship with him. He basically supports him and keeps him sick. He never finished high school, he's unemployed, and basically has no future. He's a whole other story.
My dad always complains i never call him. I feel bad about it, but over the years its just so emotionally tiring. As a kid I always felt so much responsibility in my family. I always knew too much and literally fell asleep worrying for years as a kid. I was always the responsible one and I feel like I've been everyone's stability in a way. I felt like an emotional sponge quite often. I don't know, I may be exagerating. As an adult this has led to a real problem standing up for myself, and expressing my feelings. I have major abandonment issues, and recently dated an alcoholic. I'm basically conditioned to live for others instead of myself, which has been a journey to overcome. I've managed to accomplish a lot, but basically because I knew I had to.
An example of the behaviors I deal with; on christmas eve my dad basically yelled at me for buying my addict brother a gift. He walked over to me and said "why did you buy your brother a gift knowing he can't afford one for you? now he feels terrible!" So he made me responsible for his feelings, which is a continuous theme with them.
Anyway, long story short, I feel terrible having a really limited relationship with them. I know I should periodically call my parents and see how they are, I just can't. I'm sick of criticism, negativity, I hate the depressing way they live, and its just upsetting. I feel incredibly selfish but am I? I sometimes wonder if i'm like a secret narcissist or something?
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:17 PM
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I'll move over...you can come sit with me on the "rather get a root canal than call my parents" bench.

My elderly parents make me insane...dry drunk controlling father, super perky denial queen drinking mother. I can usually count on at least a couple of veiled criticisms and one direct insult per phone call...oh and neither of them can hear much so it's all at full volume...and neither of them understand that ten minutes plus or minus is about right...I'm lucky to break in enough to hang up in under an hour.

Oh and I hate the phone anyway.

I felt really guilty about it for a long time, too. But here's the thing: if every time you walked up to someone they hit you in the head with a 2x4, you'd learn to dread that pretty fast. Our response is only rational.

So I used to send email...but now their computers don't work. All I've got left is bribing my husband to call me on the other phone after half an hour if all else fails. Sometimes that works.

So I have nothing to offer but empathy and I'm pretty sure we're not narcissists...narcissists would never call and never care.
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:22 PM
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I understand you. Although my mother has presumably stopped drinking, we still don't have a relationship. Cards are exchanged on birthdays, Christmas, etc., but talking on the phone appears to be just too much for both of us.

It helps me not to frame myself as a bad daughter for not calling. We have been down that road, and it was nothing but painful. Life is too short for that. For now, I try to accept her for exactly who she is, not who I wish she was, and act accordingly to take care of myself.
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:13 PM
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I also distance myself from the family and feel bad about it too. But at the same time, I now recognize that it wasn't me who created this intimacy problem. I was trained from a young age, by my family, to not get too close to them. The relationship with my family is very damaged and has been for so long now and and that's just not my fault. So if I need to set limits with them and need space or have to process awful feelings about them or confusion or if I just don't want to associate with them at all at certain times, well that's just a natural progression of this damage.

I still feel bad about it so I'm not sure what to suggest about that AP, but I find it helps to just look at the facts. I didn't create this. I empathize with your situation.
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Old 04-22-2016, 12:41 PM
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I used to feel the way you do and understand. I learned to take on the mindset that my parents behavior and abuse have nothing to do with me. They can't give what they don't have. It's not that we are unlovable...they just can't give it because they don't have it.
They don't think logically like we do. We can't even begin to understand how they think and shouldn't try or it will make us feel crazy.

You have to take care of yourself not worry about those who choose not to take care of themselves.

Maybe someday you can be involved with your family when their behavior no longer affects you.

I see and talk to my parents when I have time...my schedule is really busy. We don't fight anymore because my reactions to their behavior has changed. I did have to be distant with them until I reached this point. They can call me names, criticize me, or whatever and it doesn't matter. I don't react so it doesn't turn into a fight. In fact they rarely criticize me anymore since they never get a reaction.
I take care of myself first. When I have time I check in on them.

Work on changing the way you think about the situation and take care of you. After you are healthy and worked through your trauma then maybe you can have some contact.
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