divided family/holidays

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by sadandfrustrated, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. As the holidays approach I find myself getting more depressed. Please, I welcome any and all advice or suggestions. Hubby and I have 7 now adult kids together. Most are married with children. They all used to get along great but something happened and now hubs son's no longer speak to their sister and have gone so far as to cut off all communication, FB, Instagram with her kids too. The youngest is 12.

    Now it has blown out of proportion and is escalating and my son's don't speak to each others because their wives are arguing, and the stepson's don't speak to one of my married son because him and his wife maintained a relationship with stepdaughter and her family. It's such a mess. Hubs and I are staying out of the major disagreement but trying to appease everyone by being all smiley and happy when we're with either group but both of us actually take a tranquilizer before we get together with them. It's that bad, and we rarely if ever take a tranquilizer.
    Tensions are high and now one of my son's is mad at me because i accepted an invite from my stepdaughter and couldn't attend one of his family functions. She invited me to her family function first and I accepted. If my son had invited me first I would have gone to his function. It was that simple.
    Any advice other than moving to a foreign country would be appreciated. I can't afford that. Although, it would be nice. Especially someplace warm with gentle waves lapping at my toes.
    Sorry, I got lost in a fantasy for a moment.

    The reality is...
    We can't invite anyone here because our house in under renovation.
    We tried the 'you're an adult, you're all family, make nice and get over it' talk.. but it didn't work.
    We tried the 'at least be civil to one another if you're in the same room' talk, but they refuse to attend any functions if the other one is going and they will ask if so and so was invited.

    All this on top of my youngest son addicted to pain pills. I don't need this crap. Really. I'm so sick of worrying about others feelings and what effects my actions will have on others and how they'll take it. I wish our kids could see what this is doing to their parents.

    I hate my life.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    These are not your problems. If it were me and it was too chaotic to have holidays with family, I'd probablly beg hussbnd to go away for the holidays, just us. Nobody needs that type of dysfunction and fighting at ANY time. I'd stay out of it. I don't get involved in my grown children's tiffs. I say, "It's between you."
    In my very dysfunctional family of origin, at various times all sibls were at serious odds and right now, for reasons best found in Family of Origin, I want to never see my brother and sister again and I probably won't. The sad part is my elderly father is sad about this, but we don't like each other. It can't be helped. We could never all sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner and be ok...it wouldn't work. So we never do it.

    Worry about yourself and hubby. Your parenting is over. Your kids are over eighteen. What they feel, you can't control. Please...just try to make your own holiday happy for YOU.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have great sympathy for you over this. Without knowing the cause of the problems, I couldn't begin to suggest a solution other than to do what makes YOU happy for the holiday.

    I do feel some sympathy for your kids. We had at least a year where I would not take my kids ANYWHERE my brother was. But he was being verbally and physically abusive to my kids & I (not husband because husband is bigger than he is). It happened at my parents' home but out of my mom's eyesight so she refused to believe it happened. My dad was angry esp because the lectures about making up didn't change my mind. When I explained my side of the situation, my dad understood totally but didn't like it. It didn't make the holidays any better. Sometimes a sibling does something that puts your kids in danger and as a parent you have to protect them even if it really upsets other adults. I try to understand that parents have to make tough calls that upset grandparents and other relative because their job as parent has to take priority over their job as son/daughter/sister/brother, Know what I mean?? If it is just a situation where one kid was rude to another adult kid, that is less understandable.

    It made for some tough holidays for us all, incl my mother & father. I would NOT pressure the kids, just let them know you love them, and hope that at some time in the future there will be peace in the family. You just don't know what the whole story behind the problem are.

    Maybe volunteering at a holiday meal at a shelter or helping with the animals at an animal shelter would be an interesting new tradition and a way to get your mind off of the problem? Some shelters have a really hard time finding people to come in and feed/walk/clean up after animals on holidays, so you could get tons of snuggles and kisses to help you through. Or you coould bake some extra treats and put together boxes for the cops or firemen or ambulance people who have to work on the holidays instead of spending the day with their families. My uncle was a volunteer fireman/EMT and said that those who work the holidays often get a LOT of grief from their families, so doing something nice for them is super appreciated, esp given how busy they are at the holidays!

    I learned that doing something nice for someone less fortunate is a great way to get your mind off of your troubles. At least it can help!
  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is a healthy response. I love the part about not needing this crap and the part about wishing the kids could see what their behaviors are doing to the parents.

    I love those two ways you are seeing.

    Your description of the youngest child's addiction as his responsibility and not yours clarifies for me the ways I would like to begin thinking around those issues for my own kids. Not just around issues of addiction, but about psychological boundaries in general.

    And Family of Origin stuff, too.

    How are you doing with everything, today?

    I am savoring allowing myself just the first, beginning legitimacy in choosing to define our situations from your healthier perspective.

    I am sorry this time is so hurtful for you.

    Your post helped me.


    Ha! I can't believe you said you don't need this crap. I never say that, even to myself.

    I will, now.


    I love that. I may make it my motto. "I don't need this crap!" Where others pray for patience or strength, I will roar: "I don't need this crap."

    With an exclamation point.

    Ha! My world is changing.

    Thank you.
  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I duplicated this posting, but cannot delete. So, I erased it in editing, instead.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You have grown and evolved so much, dear Cedar. Roar back at ya ;)
  7. I read your response yesterday and actually spoke to my husband about going away for the holidays just to get away from all this drama. I'm too old for drama. We have to see if he can get some days off from work first.

    If not, Susie, I like your suggestion about volunteering. Maybe I'll start a new tradition. My husband works for the 'city' so there's a chance he may not even be home Thanksgiving or Christmas and I always put so much pressure on myself to do the whole Hallmark-card holiday fantasy that I drive myself nuts. There's a local spca near me and I was thinking of going there, but then I remembered that there's a little non denominational church that's very close to me that provides holiday dinners for anyone, young, old, rich or poor. They're open 24 hours a day which is a rarity and sometimes I go there just to sit and reflect. I think I'll go help them out instead of worrying over which child's house to go to and how the other's are going to take it. I really need to feed my soul anyway.

    I know it wasn't meant to be funny, but I got such a chuckle out of your post :) That's the German in me coming out. I'm like that in real life too. Outspoken. Direct.
    I Don't need this crap! I don't want to be drawn into other's drama and I resent them for putting in me in this position but I also realize now that because they're my kids I'm allowing them to put me in this position, and I'm angry at myself for putting so much stock in their feelings and so afraid of offending THEM that I'm not taking my own feelings into consideration. They certainly aren't. That will stop. Today. I'll love them but now it's on my terms. My kids are officially on time out. It's their drama, their problem and I'm not going to be part of it and I"m not going to be used as a pawn. I'll go slice turkey at the little church in the valley and feed my soul at the same time. It's a win win situation.
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  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is excellent.

    Thank you.

  9. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    YOU are awesome. This is a great idea.

  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is a good way to look at all of it ~ kids and Family of Origin issues, too.

    I'm allowing them to put me in this position

    I'm angry at myself for putting so much stock in their feelings and so afraid of offending THEM that I'm not taking my own feelings into consideration.

    They certainly aren't.

    My kids (
    For me, my Family of Origin.) are officially on time out.

    I'm not going to be used as a pawn.

    You may not be aware of this, but we have a thread in Family of Origin about being Germany. The essence of being Germany is compassion tempered by informed self assurance. Having fallen into a kind of lost vulnerability over what has happened with our troubled kids, we are trying so hard to figure out how to reclaim our Germany.

    I love the theme of putting family on time out. Nothing permanent there, and no damning judgment there either and yet, the boundaries are clearly drawn.

    Not to be used as a pawn. How did we miss that phrase that is so aptly descriptive and freeing. Used as pawns. (I am talking Family of Origin issues, here.) Well, of course. How did we not see it. We have been behaving like pawns, crying about it like pawns would cry, bemoaning a fate they can change in a heartbeat.

    What an extraordinary thing.

    "...for putting so much stock in their feelings...."

    That is exactly it.

    That is the essential imbalance.

  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Well, how selfish of me.


    What is happening with your family as Thanksgiving approaches, Liebchen? (I don't want to name you sad and frustrated. I will think of you as liebchen, something rare and wonderful in German if that is alright.)

    Here is the thing. We have been muddling through it, trying so hard to know how to be stronger for the sakes of ourselves and our kids and et al. What we've missed is that the others aren't going to like it.

    And that doesn't matter.


    We have been like an opera, like Wagner or Brunhilde when we needed to be, all along, putting the family ~ whether our own kids or or Families of Origin ~ in time freaking out.

    It won't come up. I will keep trying.

    P.S. I really did mean to ask you how you were as Thanksgiving approached. Instead of talking about me again, I mean.

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    [​IMG] '
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  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries:

  14. I love that. Thank you.

    I really don't feel sad and frustrated anymore. Posting here, reading my own words and the responses has made me so much stronger. I used to be strong but I seem to have lost that somewhere along the way. I needed to get that back again. All of your's and others wise and comforting words have given me my strength back. As far as my Difficult Child, and the other family members go. They are on time out and I will just, I hate to use the word ignore, so let's just say I'll be very busy and unavailable for a while.

    I think the biggest lesson I had to learn was to use the forgotten word 'I' in my vocabulary. For the longest time it was all about everybody else. Now the line has been drawn and I won't accept behavior that makes me feel uncomfortable. I understand there are hard feelings on both sides. I'm not judging or taking sides.
    I just don't want to hear it and I refuse to be put in that position.
    Having made that decision, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders quite honestly.

    It seems like such a simple and obvious decision, but I was in a place where I just couldnt' see that. All of your posts opened my eyes, and I thank you for that.

    As far as my Difficult Child goes... I've truly come to accept the fact that I can't help him and that his recovery is out of my hands. That acceptance comes with a odd sense of freedom and again, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

    Hubby and I decided that we're going to spend Thanksgiving here, just the two of us. I may not even cook. He'll probably watch football, and I am going to drag out my easel and oil paints and start painting again. I'm actually looking forward to this holiday.
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That happened to me, too.

    There is a fine line between feeling responsible to and for one another (which is a source of honor and identity and gratitude and strength), and blaming ourselves for someone's failure to honor us. That is the place where those of us living with situations edging toward abusive destroy ourselves with our thinking, maybe. Blaming ourselves for someone else's failure to honor us or themselves.

    They do know better, just like we do.

    We can't make sense of it, and so we compromise, believing we must have misinterpreted.

    Someone who is blaming, instead of loving, comes up with many plausible reasons for it, muddying the waters and sending everyone off in a thousand directions. The truth is that if they were behaving toward us (and themselves) kindly and honorably, our situations would be very different. If we are going to retain our own strength of character (instead of falling into that weakened, people-pleasing place where bad and then, worse behaviors are excused), we will have to tell the truth, at least to ourselves, about someone we love having dishonored themselves and then, made it worse by dishonoring us. And then, by dishonoring someone else to us (and, behind our backs, to everyone else) to establish divisive alliances.


    This is an important piece for us to understand. It is difficult to remain healthy and strong, or even, upright at all, when our own people blame and desert and seek to fracture our families or friendships.

    We cannot set things right when that is not the goal the other had in mind.

    Thus, the perp can continue, unabated. (That is an outlook taken from that old television series, Dragnet. And though it is funny in its way to reference Dragnet and Captain Joe Friday here, it is a worthwhile thing to understand there really is a right way, and there is a wrong way, and to say so. If we do say so, we will be shunned, either in place, through speech patterns and ridicule and disrespectful little snips taken at the table while they eat our food we have prepared for them, or blatantly, through exclusion.)

    And we will believe them, and not ourselves, because there are more of them.

    And we lose that sense of family that matters very much to us to undercurrents and alliances formed through triangulation. And if we just keep trying to do the right thing, it keeps not bringing our families back together because the lie at the heart of it is not being addressed.

    And becomes the elephant in the room, instead.

    We begin to question our judging and rigidity and whether we are the problem. We lose our strong centers and compromise and compromise because we are so sure they want the same things we do.

    But they don't.

    Especially, this dynamic happens in our families when there is addiction and we are trying to save the addicted one. No compromise is too great when we are trying to save our children. Strange and terrible things, things we could never have foreseen, happen to us, and to those we love.

    It's almost like the addiction (or the illness) becomes an invisible family member.

    I think we do not like to admit this about people we love. (Or, about ourselves, when we are the ones performing below standard.) I think that is what drives us to excuse behaviors we may not have otherwise excused after the fourth or fifth time. This is where enabling begins, maybe. We excuse our people (or ourselves) in little ways and it grows, changing what were once sources of strength and well-being into something ugly. Suddenly, we are no longer able to take strength from our families. We begin drinking too much, or eating too much chocolate or whatever, to comfort ourselves because we are lonely for our children or our families of origin or our lives that we believed we had. And everything just gets worse. So, the answer has to be to become as healthy and kind as we can, ourselves.

    Beginning and, sometimes, ending with ourselves too since, believe it or not, nobody listens to me.



    I don't think there is another answer.

    But I do know it is a really hard thing, to be shunned. I know there are degrees of shunning, and that shunning begins with accepting dishonorable behavior in ourselves or in someone else, for the sake of the relationship.

    So sometimes, we lose, either way.

    But if we stand up, at least we have ourselves.

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I like this.

    Holidays leave me feeling excoriated, but maybe I am ready now to see alone differently.

    Thank you.

  17. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    SAF, or Liebchen, you are right on point, "I'll be busy and unavailable", just perfect.
    That's it, take your side for once. I think as moms, we are so used to not being "I". Taking care of your needs and building yourself up is important. We cannot give from empty.

    Good. Enough with guilt, sadness and frustration.
    Me too SAF. I started for a second to feel guilty about feeling free of the intense feelings.
    Then I said to myself "What the heck are you doing?"

    I love this. Get out your easel and paint. Nurturing our creativity is healing.

    We try anything and everything to try to fix it.

    Spot on, Cedar.

    I had to put this in here. Dragnet, Cedar you are classic.

    So true.

    It does become an invisible family member, a ghost guest at our tables. UGH.

    So, the answer has to be to become as healthy and kind as we can, ourselves. To others, and also ourselves, healthy and kind to ourselves.
    I think we shunned ourselves, too. We denied ourselves the right to be our true selves.

    Yes, stand up. It is good to see you standing up SAF. You have come so far. You are doing this. YAY for you, and yay for us.

    It is refreshing to breathe in the clear air of it.

    Peace to you,