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I'm starting to wonder...why is 'family' so important?

(14 Posts)
RooneyMara Mon 06-May-13 14:36:28

After falling out with, or rather being fallen out with by my sister around Christmas (again) and finding her one of the most unsupportive people I know, and now finding that despite the fact she doesn't have very long to live, I don't want to go and see my grandmother - I'm just starting to think, what is the whole thing about loving your family?

Why do we/why do most people want to defend, and spend time with, the people related to them?

Is this something I'm missing? I have much nicer friends tbh than some of my relations. Though I am close with my parents, in a way, and we help each other when we can.

It's pretty sad really isn't it, that I don't even want to visit my own Granny...I feel HORRIBLY guilty about it and have done for many years, and it's only been the last year that I stopped going, because frankly I find it so upsetting.

she is old, she can be lovely, but often she makes people really uncomfortable, and I just can't handle it.

Is it more important to go, see them, spend time with them even if you feel like they hate you, or to build bridges elsewhere and forget it?

I'm interested in opinions, I have to go and paint something in the garden but I will be checking back if anyone feels like commenting.

Thankyou x

oopsadaisymaisy Mon 06-May-13 14:45:52

I'm afraid I don't have answers for you but it does sound like you feel your family require a lot of effort. My thoughts are would it benefit you to distance yourself a bit? I don't have close family but do have great friends. Some families are close but some aren't. I have lots of friends who have problems with their families and they have accepted that they need to distance themselves for their own sanity. It's been a difficult and lengthy process though. I have accepted my family are just a bit odd and don't see them too regularly. It works for me but I do wish we were closer.

MaBumble Mon 06-May-13 14:51:00

I've found living a LONG way from my family helps (we're talking different countries) I keep in close touch by phone with some, see others just at family get togethers.

Families can be a source of great support and fun. Sometimes they are the only ones that can really 'get' you. It sounds awful, but I am actually relived that one or two close relatives have passed on. Once the initial shock and grieving was over, I felt incredible relief that I would never have to fail to live up to their standards ever again. It's was an awful sort of freedom.

So I totally understand where you are coming from.

Mumsyblouse Mon 06-May-13 14:54:34

I've found one or two friends have been brilliant over the years, but I have been a bit disappointed that people I though were really friends for life haven't been there when I've had hard times, probably because they have their own lives, families and problems. I don't feel bad about this to the extent I don't want to be friends, just have noticed that when the chips were down, in my case at least, it was my family that bailed us out practically and emotionally, if I'd had just busy friends with their own families to worry about I think I would have struggled.

I don't see the two as the same role though, I'm not 'friends' with some of my relations and don't tell them every detail of my life but I would go the extra mile for them, especially in my close family.

RooneyMara Mon 06-May-13 15:00:20

thankyou. I am glad people do understand, I feel like such a bitch that I don't even want to see her, now she is dying.

I don't feel so bad about my sister as sometimes we get on really well, but then she will launch into a massive attack on my way of life and so on, and it really upsets me. She can't understand why I haven't sent her any pictures of my new baby, and it's because just before I gave birth she was going on about how stupid I had been to keep him and that I should have had an abortion when I had the chance.

After that I didn't feel like sharing tbh
But then she lives a long way off so I can avoid her for long periods of time.
I don't want to be childish and petty but I am actually very frightened of my granny. I can never tell what she really thinks, she will often say awful things about my mother, or my sister behind their backs, then she does the same to them about me.

Yet I feel bad for not going to see her. just because she is family? Or what is that about?

oopsadaisymaisy Mon 06-May-13 15:29:24

They sound a bit unpredictable and I get the feeling you might be holding onto some of your childhood responses. I know sometimes I revert to feeling like a child in some situations and have to consciously remind myself I'm an adult. If granny is saying uncomfortable things, I guess its probably difficult to be honest about how you feel, especially if she expects you to collude with her? I'm not sure I have articulated myself very well here!

RooneyMara Mon 06-May-13 16:17:36

Yes I think I get what you mean..I get tangled up in knots just thinking about it tbh. Let alone being able to formulate an adult response to the situation.

My mother is very much locked in a power struggle with the granny - her MIL - and every time I get involved I end up being told to do one thing by my mum, and wanting to do another thing entirely (my 'adult' response if you like) but being told that's not acceptable/my granny wouldn't want that, by other people...if I try and talk to my granny you can't have a straightforward convo with her, and if you think you have achieved this, you come away thinking 'hurrah, we really got somewhere, we bonded at last!' and feeling like it went so well, and then later, I'll get a call from my mum basically saying how my granny has been slagging me off since I left, or something else like that - I never know who or what to believe.

It's like they both can't help stirring. I don't understand any of it so my default has been to stay away, then my sister told me off for doing that as 'she's just an old lady and can't do any harm'.

Whatever I do, someone has a go at me for it, or end up being two faced, or my dad seems upset, or something. I cannot win this one.

Bedtime1 Mon 06-May-13 16:19:02

Rooney- I can see why you don't want to give your sister pictures if she said you shouldn't have kept your child. Does she not know that is why? Considering what she has said about your child being born.

Bedtime1 Mon 06-May-13 16:23:02

No you can't win and so your response to stay out of all the drama and falling out is understandable. I don't think they will change especially your grandma at her age.

I think it's is about trying to stay in the adult mode and have conviction in your choices. It's your life and your choices. I am trying to work on owning my own choices without others guilt tripping my decisions.

RooneyMara Mon 06-May-13 16:25:01

No, I genuinely don'tthink she realises how hurtful it was. She came over, had a massive rant at me, and then merrily went back to stay at our parents', and apparently was in a much better mood after that! While I felt utterly dejected. I gave birth a week later.

She has emailed and written me a letter, not mentioning the almighty rant, since then - I have ignored both. Then she asked my mum why I hadn't sent photos.

Tbf I don't have the time anyway - but still. She has no idea at all.

RooneyMara Mon 06-May-13 16:27:39

Yes Bedtime that makes a lot of sense. Thankyou...I am just starting to realise that whatever I do, someone will think it's wrong, but I cannot handle the granny situation at all. I think all I can do is keep away. It's really sad, she hasn't seen ds3 either but I don't even think she wants to - she'll just say something horrid about him later when we've gone.

Keeping away for the last year has made me feel guilty but ultimately it has worked, sort of. I write her a nice letter occasionally when I feel nice - and we still send her presents and so on. I just don't go round iyswim. I wish I didn't feel so evil for it, weirdly no one seems to be on my side in not seeing her.

Bedtime1 Mon 06-May-13 16:36:18

You hear that a lot about poor lonely old lady etc but often that poor old lady isn't very nice and is selective who she is nice too. It's the poor old lady who doesn't do any harm that makes you feel guilty but nobody knows the truth. They obviously aren't living your situation, I get why you wouldn't want to. I mean you are sending gifts and letters.

Me personally I am not strong enough right now so I would cave in and probably pay her a sporadic visit.

whitecloud Mon 06-May-13 16:46:39

RooneyMara - think everyone is right who has said it is hard to act as an adult when with some parents and family. Each family has its own norm and you can just slip back into it, even though you have chosen a different way. And family norms can be very powerful.

I think some people think they can behave exactly as they like just because they are family members. I don't buy that. If they are nasty and manipulative they have to face the consequences. Your sister obviously thinks she can behave how she likes and then expect all the privileges of family. Unfair, but very common. And in some families, some are treated better than others, which causes a lot of pain, but, again, seems to be common.

The old saying about being able to choose friends but not family is so true. If you get on well and give and get support from your family that is great, but if you don't I don't see why you should have to see them all the time and suffer. It's unfair and sad. It's also hard to hear people warbling on about how great their family/in-laws are, when your's aren't. That's life, I guess, but I suppose we all have to find a way to deal with it. And it's not easy.

Hope some of these musings help.

RooneyMara Mon 06-May-13 19:56:57

it all helps especially the bit about family norms. that is very true. (sorry typing w one finger as baby on lap!)

just spoke to mum on the phone about granny, I can hear mum out about it anyway - she is caring for her right now - and she says my sister came down yesterday, no one told me this. And spent the day with her.

which is fine, it's up to her - and I'm glad I wasn't involved.
You are all right, I need to work out what is an adult response and stick to it.
Thankyou very much for sharing your thoughts and caring enough to stop by and listen. I massively appreciate it x

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