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What do you do when you realise your family are not normal?

(20 Posts)
DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 07:51:57

Had a bit of an incident with my family on the weekend. I don't even know how much detail to go in to but it involved my Mum and my Nan. I was caught really badly in the cross fire as it was over a gift that my Nan had bought me for my baby. My brother stormed out of the house as they were stressing him which is really sad as it was the day before his wedding.

DH was pissed as I was devastated and crying. He's not an angry man but is starting to get increasingly annoyed about the goings on in my family. He's even said that he wants to join me for my therapy session on Monday so we can talk it through. He said that he's feeling protective over me and increasingly so now we have the baby coming. He doesn't want the baby to be dragged in and exposed to it all and doesn't want to regret anything he might say.

The words that he said keep echoing around my head "you do realise that's not normal behaviour."

I have a beautiful gift from my Mum and a beautiful gift from my Nan and they are just tainted. It is an exciting time as I only found out on Wednesday that we are expecting a boy.

My head is all of a muddle. The disfunction goes far wider than just my Mum and Nan but I can't even bring myself to go in to it all right now. As far as I'm concerned, NC isn't an option.

Hassled Sun 04-Sep-16 07:57:34

I don't think there's such a thing as a normal family. This dysfunction isn't normal to your DP, but it is normal to you. It's lovely of him to be so protective but if high drama isn't what he's used to then it might be hard for him to understand that you can't just detach and not care. But he's right that you need to think about self-preservation a bit, especially with the baby coming - is there a way you could just see less of them for a few months at least?

JeNeSuisPasVotreMiel Sun 04-Sep-16 08:00:53

Your DH was drunk?
Or did you mean to say that he was pissed off?

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:04:11

He was annoyed

MoosLikeJagger Sun 04-Sep-16 08:04:47

I felt very sad. I'd spent around three decades telling myself my family were lovely, normal people. When I realised they weren't, I almost had to grieve a bit for that ideal fantasy family I'd 'lost'.

But it's also a bit liberating, because I don't worry about trying to please them anymore, nor do I bother arguing with them as I know they won't change.

MoosLikeJagger Sun 04-Sep-16 08:05:31

Congratulations btw flowers

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:09:20

hassled he's really understanding of my position luckily. He's just sometimes baffled about things that go on. We are lucky that we live a couple of hours away so it does keep me out of it to an extent. We live closer to his family and although his family aren't perfect it's like a breath of fresh air.

moos I think I'm starting to get to the point where I'm just disappointed that my family isn't what I thought. I had a happy childhood but looking back, I wonder what the backdrop was. I must have been brought up with all this behaviour and it saddens me that a child had to go through it

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:09:35

hassled he's really understanding of my position luckily. He's just sometimes baffled about things that go on. We are lucky that we live a couple of hours away so it does keep me out of it to an extent. We live closer to his family and although his family aren't perfect it's like a breath of fresh air.

moos I think I'm starting to get to the point where I'm just disappointed that my family isn't what I thought. I had a happy childhood but looking back, I wonder what the backdrop was. I must have been brought up with all this behaviour and it saddens me that a child had to go through it

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:09:36

hassled he's really understanding of my position luckily. He's just sometimes baffled about things that go on. We are lucky that we live a couple of hours away so it does keep me out of it to an extent. We live closer to his family and although his family aren't perfect it's like a breath of fresh air.

moos I think I'm starting to get to the point where I'm just disappointed that my family isn't what I thought. I had a happy childhood but looking back, I wonder what the backdrop was. I must have been brought up with all this behaviour and it saddens me that a child had to go through it

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:09:52

sorry for the double post

passportmess Sun 04-Sep-16 08:11:16

I had this recently OP. I now realise that my family is quite dysfunctional and my ds is now finding himself in the middle. Lots of storming out of houses and deflecting blame. No one apologises. I was quite used to it but was always on tenterhooks about rows. I can only say that you grieve for the family that you thought you had. At least you are having counselling already. Perhaps the counsellor will give you help to control your reaction to their behaviour.

passportmess Sun 04-Sep-16 08:16:47

I also found when I had my son that I got angry about how my mother, in particular, had treated me as a child. I realise that I wouldn't have treated a child in that manner. The reaction knocked me for six - I didn't see it coming. Luckily they now live a 24 hour flight away grin.

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:17:30

My counsellor is definitly going to be working hard on monday grin I think this is what DH is after for himself. To work out how he can assert his boundaries without inflaming the situation. It's weird but this weekend has made me love him even more - only for his normality and willingness to discuss with the counsellor

Birdandsparrow Sun 04-Sep-16 08:21:44

Have you seen the Stately Homes threads on relationships? Might be worth a look.

passportmess Sun 04-Sep-16 08:23:00

What I am doing now is treating myself to the best self care that I can so I'm taking time to exercise, relax, eat well etc. I don't have a counsellor but I have boundaries in place. I realise I can't change their behaviour or the family dynamic, just my reaction. I don't want my son to get caught up in this nor do I want him to see me be belittled in my own home by visiting relatives.

passportmess Sun 04-Sep-16 08:24:57

It is awful hard doublecarrick. You're to be good to yourself and congrats on the baby.

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 08:26:18

I always thought that stately homes didn't apply to me. That my family weren't "bad enough". It saddens me to think that it may actually be the place that I belong. This little boy is kicking away in my tummy and this is his family. bird I think you're right, I'll go and check it out

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 04-Sep-16 08:47:41

DoubleCarrick,

Toxic stuff in families can and does go down the generations and you are the latest in a long line affected by such familial dysfunction in your own family of origin.

It is not your fault that your mum and nan are like this; you did not make them this way and I would stay well away from the two of them as of now. Their behaviour was reprehensible anyway and particularly so as you are pregnant.

You do not mention your dad; is he around?.

It is often the case that when adult children from dysfunctional families become parents the realisation of their parents not being really ideal role models becomes all too apparent. Also if you grow up within a dysfunctional family unit you can regard it as "normal". Its taken your H to point out that no this is not normal behaviour at all.

People from dysfunctional families as well end up playing roles; what is your role here?.

Re your comment:-
We are lucky that we live a couple of hours away so it does keep me out of it to an extent. We live closer to his family and although his family aren't perfect it's like a breath of fresh air.

I think that putting mental distance as well as physical distance between you and they will help you no end. I am wondering what your own boundaries are like with regards to your mum and nan. These perhaps are way too low.

Why is NC not an option? Do not discount it so readily going forward. Your as yet unborn child does not need to be exposed to such people either. I think you will perhaps come to realise that in your family of origin people never apologise nor readily accept any responsibility for their actions. You probably did have a happy childhood as well in terms of receiving material things but emotionally were your needs fully met by your parents?. Were siblings more favoured? Were your parents emotionally absent?

I would read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward if you have not already done so. He reading "Toxic Inlaws" by the same author could help him as well. The dynamics surrounding toxic families are often linked to power and control.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 04-Sep-16 08:50:20

always thought that stately homes didn't apply to me. That my family weren't "bad enough

People particular new posters to the Stately Homes page on these relationship pages often post similar to begin with.

From the stately homes thread:-
"One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;

'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/angry/hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/lifetime experiences of being hurt/angry etc by our parents? behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'

Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.

Some on here have been emotionally abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn't have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing up, how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/ or current parental contact, has left you feeling damaged falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth".

DoubleCarrick Sun 04-Sep-16 09:02:13

Atilla, you've made me cry - in a good way. Thankyou for such a detailed response to my thread.

I've spent three years in therapy to make sure that I don't pass this on to my kids. My therapist warns me that when you have kids, your instinct is to fall back on what you know, because you have only experienced that. I will be in the last in the line as far as I'm concerned.

I've known for a while that my family aren't normal. My therapy in a nut shell (this is an awful summary) started out with "how can i fix me" and after about six months ended up as "how can i deal with my family." My therapist must have started realising that things weren't adding up.

My Mum is really trying to break out of the cycle. I talk to her somewhat about my therapy and she picks up on strategies and ways of thinking. She is slowly becoming more self aware. She has even apologised to me a couple of times if she's said something that's upset me. I tell her regularly that she can't control other peoples actions, only her response to them. She's started to analyse things in greater detail. She's not a bad person, but just has awful boundaries, feelings of obligation (and the associated guilt and anger) and is just sometimes pretty misguided.

My role used to be pretty passive. A "child" role I guess. Accept criticism, take it on board, kick myself when I'm down. That kind of thing. It's changing and evolving now as I just can't be in that role any more. I'm just trying to find my feet and my new role, I guess.

My dad is around-ish. Separated from my Mum. He's withdrawn and offers no support but also demands nothing so is easy enough to deal with. My situation with my step dad is a bit more complex. He has kids and their relationships is turbulent. They are quite abusive towards him and although my step dad is lovely, he can be opinionated and critical.

My family theme seems to be about the need for recognition but I'm still trying to piece it all together.

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