Author Topic: Family Drama - advice please  (Read 7075 times)

CanadianMustache

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Family Drama - advice please
« on: February 09, 2014, 02:32:38 AM »
Hi

Long story short, I come from a big family and all of my siblings are either in jail, just out of jail, or doing criminal things. One brother was "scared straight" in jail, and has been doing well since getting a good job and looking at education options (I am closest and have the most in common with him). But 2 kids doing well out of 7 kids are not good odds for my parents. My mother has full blown Narcissistic personality disorder and is the queen of emotional blackmail, abusing people for money etc.

I am the black sheep of this family because I just don't fit in. I have a master's degree (full scholarship), a good job, and am a regular volunteer. I always try to be kind, generous (without giving money, but nice christmas and birthday gifts for the kids) and polite to them (no matter how rude my mother gets). But no matter how good I am to them, it's never good enough. For example, one brother who is in prison, keeps sending me letters asking for money and reading materials etc., when I told him I had given enough and couldn't give more.

I generally only see my family at holidays and birthdays because they all live over an hour away and I am also worried about negative influences on my kid.

I am really upset to find out that the sister I thought had it together (going to university, has a good job), is just as bad. She was staying with us for a week because she lives outside of town, and my mother was picking her up regularly so they could go "shopping". I found out after the fact that my mother and her were stealing from stores. My mother told her "if it isn't money, it's not stealing." And she brought this stuff into my house afterward! I found out after the fact, or I don't know what I would have done. Call the police on them probably because I am at my wits end with these people.

The unbelievable part is that the whole time she was staying with us, she was making me feel bad about the fact that I don't spend enough time with our side of the family, and that my kid is going to grow up not knowing her grandparents (my parents) and cousins. She also made a few comments to suggest that my grandfather doesn't like my husband.

The people I am worried about in this situation are my grandfather, who is an old fashioned gentleman that I have a great relationship with. And that my kid adores. My mother seems to be trying to poison him (her father) against me and when he had a stroke in the fall, she didn't even tell me. My sister did. I am worried that if I don't "play nice" with the family, that if he has another medical emergency, I won't be told and he'll think I don't care to come see him. Or, if he passes away, I won't be given the opportunity to go to his funeral.

And my nephews and nieces. They are all good kids, but I am not sure what to do. They all live over an hour away, and though I see them about every month or two, I don't know what kind of positive influence I could be. My own siblings saw what I did to cultivate a nice life and get away from our parents and they didn't follow the example. On the other hand, my father's whole family "cut us off" when we were all kids. Now, I am the only one they will talk to. I wonder if they had stayed in our lives, if the rest of the kids would be doing better.

Despite the bad things they've done, my siblings are in the good graces of my mother, but I am on the "outs" for years now. I believe it's because I stopped giving her money (she was in the habit of randomly demanding $1000, and if I didn't give it to her, would get verbally abusive, calling me a b!tch, etc., etc., to the tune of about 10k in addition to stealing and racking up one of my credit cards) and for the most part, don't have much to do with her. I've tried having a relationship with her with "boundaries" but she couldn't even do that. And now that this latest going out and stealing with my sister has been going on, I think I've lost whatever shred of respect I had left for her. My father goes along with whatever my mother wants. I've tried to confront him on this, but he defers to her.

To top it all off, my kid doesn't like my mother. My mother blames me that its my fault the child doesn't know her but if we're all together, she ignores my child and (I believe) will go out of her way to shower the cousins with affection etc. to try and make my kid feel bad for not jumping into her arms when they are together.

After everything my family has put my through, I don't know how I am always in the position of feeling like the "bad guy" but I'd like advice on what to do to move forward.

I would like to have a relationship with my grandfather and the kids, but not at the risk of my child being emotionally abused by my mother. And I don't want to continue the "gossip dance" of trying to correct lies she's told family members about me.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2014, 03:39:23 AM »
First off, I'm so sorry you're having to deal with any of this, and for what you have had to deal with growing up with that kind of dysfunction.

My own family had all sorts of dysfunction, but nothing to the extent that you've experienced. I found that going to a kick ass counselor helped me formulate my own boundaries and responses to the crazy, and helped immensely with the guilt and obligation part - it wasn't my fault that my family was screwy, and there wasn't a damned thing I could do to change their behavior.

So I say the same thing to you - you only have control over yourself. You can't change them, but you have the power to stop them from hurting you or your own family unit. You don't have to have contact with your mother at all unless you are getting something out of it. Same goes for any siblings. You owe them nothing. Just because some happenstance of birth made you related doesn't mean you have any responsibility for their lives or troubles or have to take care of their messes. And any relative or even friend that uses their relationship to you in order to get something from you - money, power, control, or as a scapegoat - is a bad person that doesn't deserve to have ANY relationship with you, let alone your kids.

The fact that you feel like you are a black sheep in your family for being successful and having your shit together says way more than you think. You should not feel guilty for doing better, because I'm sure you didn't get anything handed to you and you probably worked your ass off to get where you are and to feel good about yourself.

There is nothing wrong in cutting off your mother or a sibling that is a user/abuser. In fact, in the case of a narcissist, that's the best thing possible because they are emotional vampires that will stop at nothing to destroy anyone that doesn't do exactly as they are told. I would not allow someone like this in my home, let alone around any child, since they are not remotely a relationship that needs to be nurtured. I cut off my own mother for about a year (she's a borderline and was extremely verbally abusive) and my husband's just plain crazy mother has been cut off for close to 3 years. I've asked my husband periodically if he wants to renew contact with her, and he says that he's never been happier since he doesn't have to deal with her drama, and can't see any reason at all for inviting the crazy back into his life. And yes, we both went to counseling at several points to work through all of this stuff and the validation that it wasn't us, and no, that wasn't normal was such a comfort (I did joint counseling with my mother, and the counselor definitely though my mother was crazypants).

I gotta say, in your mother's case, she'd be dead to me if I was in your situation. Those are some gross violations of the relationship, and even talking to her on the phone or a card at christmas would be done as far as I was concerned. And the sister - she'd be a hair away from the same thing. I would have read her the riot act that if she EVER did anything like that again, that she wasn't welcome in your life any more.

Ask yourself what are you getting out of the relationship? If there isn't anything positive, then why are you continuing it? If the answer to that is some form of "because it's family" then you need to take a step back and ask yourself, "is this the way family is supposed to treat each other?"

There was an excellent blogger that talks about growing up and living as an adult survivor of a narcissistic mother (she has since stopped blogging, but she keeps the blog active for good reading materials) that you might want to read through: http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/

As far as your grandfather, I would take your mother out of the contact loop. She doesn't need to be the gatekeeper and you certainly don't need to be giving her that power. I would make sure you had several different ways to contact your grandfather, and make sure he understands that you want to be told if anything happens, and you would never cease contact with him voluntarily. He must know what sort of a person your mother is, and there has to be at least a few friends that he has that can also let you know if something happens. Establish a routine of contact/visits with him so you won't ever be in a position of depending on your mother for information.

And as far as your nephews and nieces - you do what you can, but ultimately it isn't your job to be their only good example. I understand that you feel sorry for them, but you're putting too much pressure onto yourself to think that you can or should be there for them more than you are right now. If their own parents aren't good role models, it's still possible for them to turn out okay - you yourself are a prime example this is possible - but they will have teachers, friends' parents and other members of society that they'll come into contact with that can guide them. Don't try to take on the responsibilities of the world on your shoulders.

I have a feeling that you were the "responsible" kid growing up, and this has caused you to continue that role as an adult. If you don't help out or do what is demanded, there's a sense of guilt or anxiety since that was the role you're supposed to fill in your family. Step back and take a deep breath and start seeing that you don't have to be the glue to hold this mess together - you aren't responsible for all of this and you need to put yourself, your child(ren) and spouse first and do only what you feel good about doing.

And I wouldn't even get into the correcting the lies part of what your mother spreads about you. If they aren't completely stupid, they have an inkling that your mother is poison, and if they believe anything she says about you, then they don't know YOU that well. In which case, I'd say the only defense would be a simple "Wow, well, I guess her saying something mean about me is expected, but I'm sad you think that's true." Works for just about every situation.

And don't let them guilt you into doing things or putting up with things you shouldn't - you are NOT being the bad guy trying to extricate yourself from a toxic family situation. You are a strong, capable and successful adult. Find your spine and stand up for yourself and your own family and don't let them drag you back into that mess. State your boundaries if you're wanting to still have contact and also state the consequences for violating those boundaries. And then stick to them.

Your life will be so much better if you don't have to even deal with the crazy - or can make sure that the crazy isn't going to be tolerated (hanging up on ranting mothers is scary at first, but the adrenalin rush after and the fact that they learn to STOP THE RANTING if they want to talk to you is priceless!)

If you haven't already considered this, I'd recommend counseling as it was one of the big keys to dealing with my own situation. You need validation that your relationships are not normal, and that it is okay for you to enforce your boundaries, and the right counselor can help you work through all of this (some counselors aren't a good fit right off the bat, so make sure you feel good working with them).

Big hugs, and good luck working through this.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2014, 03:45:34 AM by Frankies Girl »

soccerluvof4

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2014, 04:57:23 AM »
 I agree totally with Frankies Girl on almost all this.

I grew up in a very disfunctional family but with one sibling. My dad left my mom had two kids, he made money after he left my mom and they grew up on a silver spoon. So my mom that men were no good. My step dad was awesome but she beat him down. The police seemed to be at our house every day either for them fighting or for my brother who i think i was his punching bad for many many years. Inside of me i knew this was wrong that was the good thing however in surviving it i created my own coping mechanisms which long term affected me so i reached out to talk to someone for a year or to to make sure i would be on the right path. I left home at 17 and went into the military but was haunted always about home and wanted to change the "curse" as i called it. I wanted to have a family and one of love and not all the hate and anger so today that is my biggest success. Wife and 4 kids. There comes a point people need to quit blaming there success and failures on there childhood and realize there decisions are there own and it seems in most cases you have done a great job with what you have done so far. The best thing my counselor said to me was you dont owe anyone anything get away from that house and dont ever go back. Thats what i did and obviously became very creative at doing things from a distance. Since then my brother moved like 4k miles away to Alaska and i havent seen or talked to him other than when my mom passed. I gave up on all the family Aunts ,, uncles you name it because they were so brainwashed from years of my mother of me not caring i just didnt want to hear it. Ironically when  my mom passed i was the executor and had to take care of everything so deep down inside i ended up findin out how she really felt about me but if she could con me into money or lay guilt trips on me that was her makeup.  My family is what matters to me now. I cant change the past but i can keep trying to end the "curse" and that alone at times can be a struggle. You seem to be a very strong person as was I but I strongly recommend talking to someone as well to help you realize how to properly feel about your decisions and to accept that alot of what your feeling is okay but to let it go. Good luck to you! I know its tough but you will learn as well it will guide you in how not to be in life.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2014, 01:15:19 PM »
Wow - I am so sorry that your family is such a mess.  I think you are totally correct to draw boundaries with your mom, and with the sister who was bringing stolen goods into your home.

I recently read a book called The Psychopath Inside - you might find that book, and The Sociopath Next Door, very enlightening about your family. 

As for the brother in jail:
Quote
For example, one brother who is in prison, keeps sending me letters asking for money and reading materials etc., when I told him I had given enough and couldn't give more.

I'm going to ask you to rethink just one part of this.  Send him books. Enlightening books, books on meditation, books on self improvement, books on starting your own business.  You never know when a seed you've planted may take. 

totoro

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2014, 11:48:26 AM »
Very sorry to hear about this.  I agree counselling or self development programs can be the best way to work through things and reach peace. 

I did a program called "Choices".  They have it in Texas in the US.  It was expensive but worked well and was only five days.  I expect that there are other intensive development programs that might be just as good if you search around.

Feedback on a site like this is really helpful, but the emotional consequences of what you grew up with cannot be managed just with logic.  You actually need to do the emotional processing work to get through it to a place where most of the turmoil/guilt/longing for it to be different disappears.  Most logical people will avoid this part because it seems messy and uncontrollable/scary to go there. 

The thing is that the emotional part is real and there are real ways to work through it: seek them out. 

phred

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2014, 11:59:21 AM »
Wow, major bummer.  These people are just not going to change.  If it wasn't for Grandfather, I'd say move far away

MissStache

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2014, 12:21:10 PM »
If this was happening to me, I would move, get a new cell phone #, only give it to Grandpa, and then never see any of them ever again.

Pell mell

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2014, 04:06:05 PM »
...the emotional consequences of what you grew up with cannot be managed just with logic.  You actually need to do the emotional processing work to get through it to a place where most of the turmoil/guilt/longing for it to be different disappears.  Most logical people will avoid this part because it seems messy and uncontrollable/scary to go there. 

The thing is that the emotional part is real and there are real ways to work through it: seek them out.

I agree with this, along with much on this thread.  Logic takes you a long way, but in matters of this nature, strong emotional navigation is so helpful. Support of some kind is necessary. Taking care of yourself and creating boundaries will be the most beneficial thing you can do for your self and your family.

Sorry you have to go through this. It's so devastating when your family tries to suck the stuffing out of you. Seeing as you have done so fantastically well to escape repeating your family history, you are also capable of building firm, unmovable boundaries. You and the family you have created are your real family. Focus on the good. You've accomplished a hell of a lot.

SwordGuy

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2014, 05:07:57 PM »
Ask your grandfather to put an entry into his cell phone named "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) and put your name on it.  Medical personnel look for that and will call.  Ditto if he wears a bracelet/necklace with medical / drug info on it.   Tell your grandfather what you're about to do so he'll know that if he's in trouble and you don't show up, it's because you haven't been informed.

For the rest of your siblings that won't get their act together, and your mom, cut them off.  Don't see them any more if you can help it.  Don't let them visit your home.   They are scum and you and your family deserve better.  You are better off without them.   Really, if they are going to run a criminal enterprise out of your home, you don't want them there.  Period.  Ever again.

If they ask why, tell them you don't want your or your family associating with criminals.   They won't like it but they'll know where you stand.

Remember Lot's wife.  She only got in trouble when she looked back, so don't look back. 

Exflyboy

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2014, 05:29:35 PM »
These kinds of people only understand one kind of language I'm afraid and it goes like this.

1) You people are criminals.. do not come to my house.

2) If you ever get any evidence they were involved in anything illegal you report them immediately.. especially if you could be implicated.

3) cut them off.. There will never be a relationship here.

My Mother in law registered her car at my house to avoid paying sales tax in Colorado.. Didn't ask my permission or inform me. I immediately reported her to the Oregon DMV. If I had been implicated I could have lost my house! The lesson here was that you don't mess with me or my Wife period!

I'm afraid you will have to forget boundaries and sticks and carrots.. your at "baseball bat" levels of diplomacy.. Mess with  me or my family and you get whacked. end of story.

Formulate the relationship with Grandfather but don't talk to these people again, they are not your responsibility or concern.

Frank

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2014, 05:35:21 PM »

Remember Lot's wife.  She only got in trouble when she looked back, so don't look back.

Perfect metaphor for this situation.. Never feel bad cus you cut them off. They are not worthy of you.

Frank

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2014, 06:11:52 PM »
If this was happening to me, I would move, get a new cell phone #, only give it to Grandpa, and then never see any of them ever again.

+1

People can change, but they rarely do. I can't count how many times I was hopeful about my sister only to have her disappoint me. Since it's your whole family and not just one person, I'd cut myself off completely. If it's one bad apple, you can sit and be civil on the holidays.

Find a creative way to stay in contact with grandpa, unless he lives with your mother? Then, I don't know... that's tough.

rocklebock

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2014, 07:24:57 PM »
I'm sorry.

One of my best friends has a family similar to yours. They have a multi-generational family business, which is criminal in nature. Her mom sounds a lot like yours. My friend is a high-achieving professional and the black sheep. After a lot of counseling she concluded that she had to cut off contact for her own well-being. They still try to contact her, of course, which is hard. One tactic she has used to avoid getting sucked in is to forward all contacts to another friend, who screens them to see if there's some kind of emergency she might really need to respond to. Otherwise they're ignored.

iris lily

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2014, 10:24:33 PM »
OP it is such a miracle that you came out of this environment whole and sane and responsible. good for you.

I am sorry about your grandfather. If he has any money your mother will bleed him dry.You can't stop that so don't even bother. Do you best to keep contact with him(cards, letters, phone calls) but it's true that as he becomes weaker and with less brain function, she may well control who has access to him.

I am sorry you are in this situation.


Rural

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 09:25:11 AM »
I agree on cutting off contact.

Here's a thought: When/if your grandfather starts to fail, invite him to live with you. If he's living with family, invite him now. He may jump at the chance to escape.

SweetLife

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 11:31:41 AM »
So very to hear that you are going through this ... and sad that you may lose touch with your grandfather as a result ... but in the end you need to protect your child and yourself ... and be happy at what you have achieved!!! It certianly looks like you are on the right track for your life... KUDOS!!!

CanadianMustache

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2014, 07:41:04 PM »
Thank you for the advice and suggestions. All appreciated. I have some steps I know I need to take.

Unfortunately, I had no evidence that my sister was stealing anything (it was a few messages I saw that didn't specifically say anything, but seemed weird). I would definitely have reported her if I did - and I told her so.

My work has recently increased coverage for counselling. I am looking forward to using it to learn some strategies to effectively cut them off.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 05:19:17 AM by Mustachian »

greaper007

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Re: Family Drama - advice please
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2014, 09:11:07 PM »
I'm going through family drama also, it's different but still shades of grey.   

For me, the only thing that works is setting up fences.    Things like, "next time you write me a crazy email I'm not going to talk to you for awhile" (which is where I currently sit).   Or, "I'm not going to accept your emotional guilt trips because you refuse to take responsibility for your actions."

Unfortunately, these situations don't usually end well.   My wife hasn't talked to her parents in 20 years because they couldn't stop calling her a bitch (her only request).   It's hard to accept, but it sounds like these people will suck the life out of you if you let them.   You really have to think about how it will affect the rest of your life to be tied to them.

What works best for me is to ask, "would I accept this behavior from anyone else in my life that wasn't family?"   If I wouldn't, what would I do with a relationship where someone refused to comply with my simple requests?    That will generally give you your answer.    Good luck, this is the hardest thing I've ever dealt with.