Have you ever had someone betray you? Of course you have, or you most likely would not be reading this. But there are certain relationships that we go back to, even when we have been hurt or betrayed. People who we have bonded with and who we love. That would be family.
Despite heated Thanksgiving battles, on-going 50-year old annoyances, sibling torture and the contempt that comes from familiarity, families for the most part, remain intact and can count on each other.
So what makes a family dysfunctional to the point of destruction….either destroying each other or shattering the bond that holds them together?
I guess we would first have to determine what was normal behavior in a family. I mentioned remaining intact and being there for each other. I would also say that normal family behavior would mean that the members of the family complete school and go on to be productive and independent. The family would produce people with good self esteem and good mental health….although mental health issues can be hereditary. People who socialize, and use their education and talents for good, people who are not afraid to love and form relationships, people who are assertive and people who respect themselves and others. People who have boundaries and sound judgment. Those people would most likely succeed in this world and parent successful children as well.
I knew something was not right with my family but I didn’t have the experience or the comparison to understand what it was. Everything functioned as it should. Physically not a speck was out of place. Nobody was beating anyone and bills were paid. Yet, something was not right. I remember not being able to wait until I was able to leave home. I felt that by getting away from whatever it was that was creating stress, life would be better. It was not. I just stepped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Before I left, though, I was witness to my brother getting his high school girlfriend pregnant, crashing his car into a tree while drinking when they had a fight, being discovered making out with my friend, then getting married and having parties with his friends while taking care of the baby.
I don’t think I even thought of those things as being different. That wouldn’t come until I was a little older and I had my own marital issues and I saw my brother still living to excess and losing not one but two children because his ex’s got married and things became even more difficult. It was a case of control on one side and a lack of control on my brother’s side. It was easy to take the kids away from him. Nobody fought back. And being on his side and trying to defend his actions was difficult.
History repeated itself last week when my oldest son, who works odd hours and drinks a little too much and has never been married, lost his two children….my grandchildren…both adults. It was the same story as my brother, except that my son never stopped child support payments, turned over his yearly bonus check to the mother’s of his children, and had occasional contact with the kids. He never took anyone to court for set visitation and I have to say that the mothers and their new husbands jumped on that and now the kids who are grown, cut off all contact with us.
Having lived through my brother going through this and now my son, and me having gone to court for grandparent rights and trying to keep my son’s half sibling children together, and having my grandson give very little or no warning that he was just going to stop responding to my emails or phone calls and that one day the “Love you Gram” or “Merry Christmas Gram” would just end without explanation…..I never saw it coming. None of us did. My grandkids have basically ghosted us.
This kind of stuff happens. I feel worse for both of my sons than anything else. I can’t tell my son who is hurting “I told you so” because he refused to do anything about visitation. And my younger son is hurting because he did absolutely nothing wrong and is just collateral damage….like I was with my brother.
So why does this keep happening to our family? Why does it seem like I am connected to this dysfunction? What causes such familial betrayal?
What I have seen in common is alcohol consumption, controlling or verbally abusive fathers, enabling mothers (that’s me too), having children too early, and being victimized by controlling bullies while doing nothing to fight back legally.
I know you’re thinking I’m biased, but I heard my niece say that she was not allowed to talk about her daddy or she would pay for it. And I saw my son’s ex-girlfriends either threaten to beat up the new girlfriend or my grandson at the age of 4 repeating such sentiments, and I went to breakfast with the other mom and my grand-daughter while the woman told me that the child belonged to her.
I want to say at this point that for myself, I am somewhat okay for the most part. Not really, but I am at peace with letting these people go. Why? When I look back over the years, I ended up in the position of trying to help people and losing people. With my kids and my grandkids, I tried my best. I babysat, gave furniture and diapers and rides to and from and kindness and tumbling lessons and I pleaded to be able to spend time with them….and this is the result of all of that. And I’m done. And that is not a bad thing. Because in order to get a crumb I would have to have to beg and plead and hit a brick wall. And family or not, when it comes to that with anyone, it is time to let go and take care of yourself.
I’ve heard from others on here who have been the children in these situations and have had to go to years of therapy to deprogram. I don’t understand parents who can take money in child support and deliberately turn the child away from an entire family. And I don’t care to understand them.
I have spoken to people who have been in abusive relationships and there seems to be a connection between abuse between partners and abuse of the parent who was abused by the children of that couple. I ran into a cousin from another state on Ancestry and when she found out that I work with SNAP, she began to tell me about her abusive relationship with her ex-husband and how her teenage son had hit her. My older son with these two adult children highly identifies with his dad, my ex.
The thing is….no matter how we got here….we are now here. And my feeling is that I don’t want a person in my life who is going to play hurtful games or bring a load of negative energy with them. As much as I know there will be things that I will miss out on….I would rather have these people out of my view and my life. I am sick and I am tired and I don’t want to try so hard anymore for happiness. I will, however, always have an open door and an open heart if they decide to walk back into my life. But I will also not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
I was reading something today that said….people say that love hurts. But love never hurts. Rejection hurts. Loneliness hurts. Betrayal hurts. But real love never hurts. Love when it is real is what heals us.
I know there are many people who feel that their family has hurt them. And there are many people who feel lonely and unable to connect with others. Some people are afraid of ending up alone. Some people hang on to bad relationships because it is less scary than the thought of being alone.
Since my days with the priest, and my subsequent learning about narcissists and their victims and gaslighting and abuse of power and such, I have taken to the belief that people who are simply unpleasant and mean to others without concern or empathy have narcissistic tendencies. I am not one that is able to diagnose anyone, but I can fling an imaginary water balloon at difficult people and upon exploding, the person would be covered, not in water, but in the words….”You have narcissistic tendencies”. I find it helpful. Makes the world make more sense. They are crazy, not me. lol
It explains a lot to me that I cannot otherwise explain. It helps me to know what I am dealing with. I can look back at my life and tell myself that I have been existing in a world where I was gaslighted into believing that narcissistic behavior was normal. I’ve been trying to please and placate people walking around with giant “N’s” on their foreheads. It’s helpful in that I now realize that I have a choice between being pulled into their drama or taking care of myself. That’s a huge step for all of us.
Remember….real love does not hurt….it heals.
Be careful out there. Take this week’s survey if you get the chance. And this week we will have a bonus blog. One of our readers has submitted a contribution. That will be posted later on in the week. Look for that. Peace to all.