Coping with Gossip in the Family

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Stress Bunny, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    How do you cope with gossip about your difficult children in your families?

    As if this isn't difficult enough as it is . . .

    Some of you know that JT was recently arrested and jailed for underage drinking and distributing alcohol to minors. He is now out on bond. We think he may also be abusing prescription drugs. He has been making some poor choices in a lot of different ways. And his attitude/mouth don't help. He has a huge ego and fails to acknowledge reality.

    My sister (only one) has not even bothered to call me over the past few weeks since the arrest to see how we're doing. She has no tolerance for me when everything isn't wonderful. Fine, I can live with that. I seek out support here and from my husband. We also plan to join a local al-anon group.

    But then my mother shared with me today that my sister has been telling her and my father all of the dumb stuff JT is posting on Facebook. My parents are not on Facebook. He posted some things about his work supervisor (dumb move #99999), for example. Now, my dad is retired from a hard factory job of many years and believes in the importance of working hard and keeping a job, etc. So, of course, my sister knew this would upset my dad about JT. And, sure enough, my dad called up JT and told him how stupid that was, etc., etc.

    I 100% agree that it was stupid, and I'm glad JT is hearing about it from someone other than us. I have told him over and over that he needs to be respectful in order to keep a job; that he needs to follow instructions and cooperate. But, I'm done with that now, since we stopped over-parenting and enabling.

    As my mother was telling me about my sister sharing this information, I became quite unexpectedly overwhelmed with emotion. I felt so hurt that my sister would go out of her way to share negative things about JT, as if everyone hasn't already been hurting enough. Gossip is not helpful, and in fact, it just makes fresh the raw emotions surface again for me. I wonder what all else she is blabbing about to everyone in the family. She acts like she is so thoughtful and kind, but when you listen to the things she says, her motives to make herself seem great at others' expense is evident.

    I was surprised by my feelings about this, bursting into tears after the call. What is wrong with me? I am trying to detach emotionally, and look at me! I'm a mess! I can only surmise that my own ego is at the root of this; the disappointment in how JT has turned out; that I might be responsible in some way; an inferior parent to my high and mighty sister, the mother of a son a couple of years younger than JT who would surely never behave this way. I feel like I'm dying inside, and all my sister can do is gossip at the spectacle of it all.

    My sister and I have an otherwise good relationship. We see each other from time to time, and although I would like to have a closer relationship, she seems to enjoy letting me know she has plenty of friends in her life.

    I don't know if I should text or call her about this, or just keep my mouth shut, which is what I usually do.

    Thanks for listening. It's been a rough patch around here.

  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Your son did not adopt her child from a drug abuser, right? I didn't think so.

    Sometimes we have to detach from many members of our family in order to stay positive.

    I would refrain from speaking to anyone in the family about JT. He's your kid, not their kid.

    If they won't stop making you feel bad, maybe a time of no contact would be helpful. You don't need their criticism and self-righteous (and clueless) opinions. And you don't need to know what JT posts on FB.
  3. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    I think you meant "Your sister", right? And you would be correct. Self righteousness hits it on the mark. Again, these were conversations between my sister and my parents. I wish I could be less affected by this stuff. That's why we are not on Facebook; because we do not want to know what JT is doing, and we're just not that into it anyway. But my sister is on Facebook, and she likes to be in the know about everything. She seems to think it is a sign of popularity.

    I am hurt by this behavior, and I do like your advice about not discussing JT with family. Unfortunately, JT is busy discussing himself and advertising his problems in other ways. How thoughtful of my sister to ensure that my parents stay informed of all the latest in this saga. I know I can't control this and need to accept that some people are selfish, clueless, and mean. I wish it were not my own sister.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Yes, I meant sister. Duh!!!! I'm spacy after work!!!

    At any rate, you can't stop JT from running the mouth, but you can sure put boundaries up so that your extended relatives are not allowed to talk about him or anything he says or puts on FB to you. You can warn them in advance that this is a new boundary you are setting in order to be good to yourself (no other explanation needed) and that, as much as you love them all, if they don't respect that boundary, you will either have to gently hang up the phone or leave the house or room or whatever...just be very firm in how you do this. I had to do this once and it was quite effective once everyone realized I meant it.

    You can't stop their gossping about your son, but you can certainly stop them from sharing what they say about him with each other to you. It is your right what you are willing to hear and not hear. You are trying to get better and when they talk about JT to you, they are making you worse, not bertter, and they are not in any way helping JT so there is no point in having discussions about your son with them. Sister sounds a bit vicious and very clueless. Your son and her children are apples and oranges. It has nothing to do with her wonderful was good luck, if they are law abiding kids, and genetics. And the fact that they were not exposed to drugs and alcohol before they were even born. Taking pot shots at you is abusive and should not be allowed.

    There is something I learned that not all people know, but it pertains to all.

    DNA does not mean we have to love the person we are DNA connected to. We don't even have to ever talk to them. We are not obligated to them simply because somebody gave birth to us or came from the same woman's womb. It that was all that love was about, NOBODY would adopt. And kids would not love thier stepparents. In fact, nobody would love anyone if they didn't have that DNA connection. And we'd all love our DNA relatives, even if they tried to kill us. She is your sister. If she is nice to you, allow her into your life in a big way. If she is not, be cautious. Step carefully. Decide how she can and can not treat her and set boundaries. That goes for anyone in your life. Do not allow anybody to abuse you. You are a good person who does her best and you do not deserve to be mistreated. Don't let anyone do it. Nobody. Not your sister. Not your mother. Not your kid. Nobody.

    Treat yourself good tonight. Do something you love to do, even if it's going out with you SO and sneaking a luscious deliscious calorie filled ice cream sundae with whip cream and nuts and cherries on top. Never let others control your emotions. It's hard to do this, but the more we practice, honestly, the easily it gets.

    My thoughts are with you. I feel for your hurting mommy heart and have been there plenty!
  5. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    MWM, I already contacted my mom and asked that she not share any gossip going on about JT within the family, nor what he posts on Facebook. I just don't want to know. I need to take care of myself, as you said. If he loses his job again or behaves or says anything inappropriate, I don't want to know. I want to have some peace now.

    I read and re-read the DNA connection statements in your post, and they are all correct. I know I have certain wishes and hopes for my relationship with my sister, but time and again, she just doesn't show concern for me in the way that I hope. In fact, if I get honest, she seems to want to compete with me and outshine me. I don't like competition, and I am more passive than she. Though younger than me, she is the dominant personality between us. I have such a hard time letting go of the relationship I always wanted; accepting what is. Maybe this is because we are quite close in age and grew up as twins practically. Plus, due to the turmoil in our (mine and husband's) lives raising difficult children over all these years, I don't have much of a social life. In fact, I really don't have any close friends right now. Between parenting difficult children, working long hours, and having relocated a number of times, I just haven't formed new friendships in a long time. Beyond family, our support system is pretty non-existent.

    husband is going to an al-anon meeting tomorrow morning. We hope this is the beginning of finding support outside of our families.
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    It is impossible for a non-parent or a parent with only PCs to understand what it is like to parent a difficult child. Forgive her. She knows not what she has done.

    Besides having a difficult child ruins so much stuff in our lives, why let it ruin yet another relationship. If you are capable, I suggest you let it roll off your back. Focus on the good things in your relationship. Having a sister is a wonderful thing!! And believe me, my sister and I have had many rocky days! We are very different, but I cherish having a sister and will make sure we always have a connection.

    So, if you can just chalk it up to her not having a clue. Because many around us don't have a clue what we go through.
  7. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Stressy, that sounds like it really hurts. I felt a surge of raw emotion too, when I read your post. You are at a big crux in your relationship with JT and how you want to move forward in that, and you're raw all over right now. It seems to me that maybe what you crave more than ever is to not even THINK about JT right now, even if it is just for a little while. I think you have every right to say to the people in your life that you don't want to talk TO or ABOUT JT right now.

    The other part, about your sister telling your parents about the FB posts, I don't know why she did that. Some people like to create drama, or maybe it is (misguided) concern on her part. Maybe as your sister she is hurting right along with you and needs to process it, or maybe she sees it as being more firmly on your side. Maybe, not being the parent of a difficult child, she is thinking that the right combination of influences will fix things.

    I don't know how to get the rest of the family to stop talking about JT but I will tell you what worked for me. All I did was obsessively ruminate ad nauseum 24/7, to the point that I chased them all off and they were afraid to so much as mention difficult child's name again! :D
  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Stress, I am sorry that you are having the pain of gossip and lack of support added onto the pile of pain already there. Sometimes it feels like too much pain to bear.

    My immediate family has been very supportive of my journey with difficult child. If they are talking about him and me and the things we do and don't do, I don't know it.

    But I have friends in this mid-size town that have done some talking, and it is so painful.

    Stress, we can't control what other people talk about.

    What we can do is manage ourselves. I have one longtime dear friend and neighbor who was getting info about my son from her two sons that used to be my son's friends. When I would pour out my heart to her, she would inadvertently mention other things and then I felt she was telling her sons things about my difficult child.

    That devastated me. I had to create a lot of distance between us and our friendship will never be the same. She used to call me her sister.

    The distance I created hurt her deeply, and I didn't want to do that, but I was in mortal pain already and I honestly could not take the additional things that seemed to be happening with her.

    I was like a wounded animal and I did a lot of isolating for a long time. I still do it sometimes now, when things get really bad, but not as much as I used to.

    Isolation is a part of our journey and it is a protective tool for us to use when the pain gets too great.

    It seems almost inhuman and completely unbearable that someone, anyone, would talk loosely about our situation and our difficult child. I hope I have learned from being on the other side of that kind of behavior, and I hope I never contribute to that kind of pain to anyone else.

    It is careless and it is reckless and it is arrogant and divisive. I believe some people do it because by separating ourselves from them, they are somehow protecting themselves from this type of thing never happening to them. They are saying "Wow, look at this! It is so awful. My ______ would never do anything like that....blah blah blah." It makes them feel better about their own lives. And I don't even know if they realize it.

    Stress, gravitate to those you trust and those who understand this disease and all that comes with it. That is where you will find love and support and acceptance. Al-Anon is a great place to find that---go and go and go and go. Find some new relationships there---they get it.

    And keep coming back here. I am so sorry for your sister's lack of empathy and support. She obviously has her own issues and her own work to do.

    Blessings and peace and prayers from me to you today.
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    They say that you only really find out who your true friends and loved ones are when you hit rough times.
    I am mostly vague when asked how my son is doing, but I have confided in a few friends. One of these friends I then discovered was sharing information about my son with her sons and this was then spread in an inaccurate and hurtful way. As my son and her sons had been in school together I didn't even consider that she would be so thoughtless as to share what had been told to her in confidence. Some people seem to thrive on others' misfortune and tragedy. Sad people. I no longer consider this woman a friend, although I do not think she was malicious, just thoughtless and done because she couldn't resist the drama of telling a 'good story'. It's her loss. I was a loyal and long-standing friend. I don't think anyone can really understand what it is like to cope with a troubled son or daughter unless they have one of their own. People think that they could sort out all the problems easily in some simplistic way and don't understand why we have allowed our families to get in such a mess. It's just ignorance. Don't feel bad that you burst into tears. I cry a lot. It's just a normal healthy reaction to an abnormal unhealthy situation. I would stay quiet and avoid contact for a while. Put the onus on her to try and repair your relationship. She is the one who has done wrong and if she is a decent person she will be very aware of this. Wrap yourself up in the love of those who are supporting you.
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  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That your sister is using what is happening to your son to forge a different kind of relationship with your mother is deeply wrong, Stress.

    That happened to me, too.

    You can, and should, tell your mother you expect her to be your (and her grandson's) staunch supporter and defender, whether she is talking to your sister, or to someone else. If you have a close relationship with mom, you can tell her that you are very angry at the way she betrayed you, and her grandson, in her conversations with your sister.

    Here is the thing, Stress.

    An excellent sister would not have been creeping your son's Facebook in the first place.

    An excellent sister who somehow stumbled onto that information would not have gone behind your back to present your son in that light to your parents.

    The jury is still out on mom.

    An excellent mother would not have allowed this nastiness from your sister.

    I'm just saying.

    Back to the sister: An excellent sister would hold strong for you, would be your safe place, would be, along with your mother, your sounding board and place of rest. Together, you would be trying to save JT. There is strength in that kind of togetherness. If that is not what you have with them, Stress...better you should face that head on.

    Even a just good enough sister would not have been creeping your son's Facebook.

    I'm sorry, Stress...but an excellent mother would have stood up for you to your sister in your absence.

    Back to what an excellent sister would have done. An excellent sister would have kept what she knew to herself; if she did bring it up with you, she would have reminded you of how fortunate you both are that Facebook did not exist when you were young enough to have posted foolish or inappropriate things.

    When my children were little and all was right in my world, my sister and her cohorts prayed a "ring of thorns" around my family, to "bring me to the Lord". My point in bringing it up here is that sisterhood is no guarantee of loyalty or even, of love. Sisters can, sometimes, function almost exclusively out of jealousy. Though the church in which the "ring of thorns" thing happened is long since defunct, my sister continues in that same religion. For all I know, she is probably still praying up a storm for my "salvation", and for the salvation of each of the members of my family.

    In any event, once my children were in such deep trouble, my sister behaved in the same way with my parents that your sister is behaving with yours. My mother...responded as yours did.

    If I hadn't been so destroyed by it, I might have had the sense to confront them. At least I would have had that satisfaction.

    But I didn't get it. I still don't understand the dynamic there. I don't understand what value my sister, or my mother, took in further destroying me.

    But they did.

    I was in such a dull state of shock at the time that, while what she was doing just meant so little, given that I was losing everything that mattered to me. I continued trying to pull things together, continued "understanding" instead of standing up for myself and my children.... They got meaner, Stress. Something about the vulnerability created in us when our kids are in danger...I don't know. Makes them want to attack, I guess.

    I am sorry this is happening, Stress.

    Maybe I am wrong about your sister and your mom. I am just a person on this site, telling you what happened to me.

    I love this, MWM.

    I need to remember this for myself.


    For me, that is what detachment is all about.

    My sister and I made a pact, at one point, that we would establish family connections in spite of the way we were raised. It has taken me a really long time...but just lately? I finally see that I am the only one who ever honored that pact we made. I excused so much in my sister. I was the eldest, too. Recovering posted to me once that what happened to me is something called "parentification". To this moment, I carry a certain (overwhelming) amount of guilt for what happened to my siblings, for the things I could not protect them from.

    Here's the thing: I am only two years older than my sister. Abuse is such a terrible thing.

    Maybe, she hates me because I did not protect her?

    I am learning to do that now, Stress. Posting to your thread has been cathartic for me. I know all these things...but I never let myself feel them.

    There is so much anger here. I never do like to acknowledge my anger. I don't know what to do with it.

    For me, the fantasy of family is so strong that "accepting what is" only got me more firmly into denial. I am having to go back and really see what the nature of the relationship between my sister and myself has been.

    Sadly, I think I don't see any relationship, at all.

    I feel a sense of loss at acknowledging that. But, like so many other things I have cherished...I haven't lost anything, because I never had what I pretended I did, in the first place.

    So I guess that will be alright, then.

    Probably, I will be very much less vulnerable to her, in future.

    Busywend may be right, Stress. Again, I am posting about what happened to me. I hope nothing like that is happening to you.


    This is good and strong, COM. Into my quote box it goes.

    Thank you.


    That is where we begin to heal.

    I am sorry these things are happening to you, Stress Bunny. Though it is hurtful to acknowledge betrayal, it is better to know. I did not know for such a long time.... There are two people in my circle ~ one a family member, one a friend ~ who held strong for me, who did not betray my trust.

    Out of all those people....

    Someone here posted that the best responses are:

    "Pray for him."

    "You're right. He is in the middle of something right now. We are all working very hard. Pray for him."

    A special prayer going up for you tonight, Stressbunny.

  11. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Stress bunny,

    Your sister would not do this if she could feel the pain she is causing you. It sounds like a little part mean and a big part ignorance to me.

    husband and I have had my sister in law and father in law engage like this about our difficult child. It was so painful. At a time we certainly could have used family support, we got the opposite. Their main concern was that difficult child would be a bad influence on his cousin. This cousin is three years older, and was a difficult child, also.

    Another time a lady who used to attend our church asked husband lots of questions. She shared the name of the informant....a church member we considered our friend. We were very hurt (and, honestly, more than irritated). And, the person gossiping had a daughter difficult child the same age as our son.

    Maybe sometimes it makes the gossipers feel, "See? Here is concrete evidence that I am not such a bad parent!"

    I hope this does not hurt your relationship with your sister for long. Your character shows through. From what you write, your sister's is indeed lacking.


    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  12. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    I am SO fortunate and thankful for the saving support here. I am humbled by the responses and thoughtfulness of each. I can't tell you what it means to me. As I said, we don't have a big support network right now.

    This is so true, busywend. They think they understand, but they really have no concept. It is irritating that they think they do. Yet, I don't want to have ruined relationships with my family over difficult child. He has certainly caused enough hurt already.

    Albatross, I did e-mail my mom to request that she please not share what other people (such as sister) are saying about JT behind my back and that we have no desire to know what JT is posting on Facebook.

    My mom e-mailed me after our conversation to say that my sister had actually been first contacted by a cousin of mine, who, like my sister, is one of JT's Facebook friends. This cousin, who works at the same company as JT, asked my sister to contact JT to let him know that the company frowns on the sort of post JT made on Facebook about his prior supervisor. Good grief! I suspect the reason my cousin contacted my sister is because the cousin knew my sister also saw the post, because they are both friends of JT's in Facebook. I'm not sure exactly how notifications of others' postings work in Facebook because I don't use Facebook personally.

    So then, my sister tells my parents about the Facebook post, and they would not have otherwise known. And then, my dad contacted JT to tell him the post was stupid. And then, my mother tells me in our conversation about the whole thing! Ugh!

    My mom assured me in her e-mail that my sister does not approve of JT's behavior and is on our side. In her efforts as peacemaker, my mom leaves me feeling unsupported, as though my feelings are not valid. I'm sure my sister's motives always appear to be out of concern, but I have to wonder. In what way is sharing JT's poorly guided Facebook post with my parents, who otherwise wouldn't have known, helping anything? It hasn't helped anything. In fact, it upset me quite a lot, and ruined a good chunk of my weekend so far.

    If I speak up to my sister about this, she will get all indignant and offended. That is her MO. She paints me as oversensitive; again invalidating my feelings.

    So, if there is something unhealthy here, it is exactly that. Instead of understanding and empathy, I get judged for being too sensitive. What's the point? It seems I would be better off making JT an off-limits topic with all of them, for my own mental health.

    When husband found out, his initial instinct was to text my sister and cousin that if they have any concerns about JT, that they should contact him directly, since he is an adult, rather than discuss it amongst everyone else. He didn't, though.

    COM, I vividly identify with this statement of yours:
    My hubby went to the al-anon meeting this morning, and he found it helpful, although, he said he wishes the group could offer advice. They don't advise anyone. It's one of their rules. He plans to keep going for the time being.

    Lucy, I haven't contacted my sister about this. I don't know what to do. If I say something, she will get all offended, as I mentioned. And if I don't, I wonder if I should have said something.

    Scent of Cedar, when I look at it objectively, as in reading your statement, it does seem so wrong. I am deeply hurt, especially when you combine the fact that she hasn't bothered to contact me and check in. I don't feel like reaching out to her because it seems to sap all of my energy, as though I am begging for someone to listen and support me. It makes me feel needy, in the way for which she already looks down upon me.

    If I were to say anything to her, she would act as though she is totally concerned about JT and totally on the same page as husband and me. But, as I mentioned, that she shared negative JT info with my parents, which in turn caused my parents to contact JT and then later tell me is not helpful. My sister lacks depth and empathy. She is quite superficial, and in that sense, she and I are like night and day. We are very different in how we relate to others. I am a very compassionate person, and it is difficult for me to relate to her lack of concern.

    I have experienced a lot of loss in my life. I am no stranger to hard times. Maybe that has made me more caring and less judgmental of others.

    I don't know if my sister (or cousin, for that matter) had to creep JT's Facebook or if what he posts automatically shows up to her there.

    After reading your post, COC, I think I will severely limit who I speak to about JT going forward. I probably need to have some rules for myself and boundaries for others in that department.

    Seeking Strength, you probably got it right there. She is a competitive person with me, and I regularly sense this competitiveness, though I wish things weren't that way. Also, because she is self concerned first and foremost, her ability to empathize with others is limited. That could certainly contribute to ignorance.

    You experienced this same selfishness in that your family members were more concerned about the cousin than your child; letting you know that your child was the bad influence on their child, etc. Give me a break! I know you understand all of this.

    I am glad for this board, because without it, I would be lost right now. I feel so much better after reading the posts. So much so, that I read them over and over. It strengthens me. I know all of you understand in ways that my family does not.

    Thank you all for your dear thoughts and encouragement. You are a huge blessing to me.
  13. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Stress, you nailed that hurt---exactly. That is what i was trying to say. Still hurts.
  14. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Some families thrive on drama. Mine is one that used to.

    My sister and I have had many tiffs and times when we took time outs from one another. But never has she ever thrown my kids in my face, and she could have. She has three PCs who are all brilliant and two are already doing extremely well in college. None of my kids finished a four year college. If she wanted to be mean about this, it would be easy for her. But, as much as we can push one anothers buttons, in the big picture, my sister really doesn't want to hurt me. And I am proud of my twin nieces and my nephew. Oterhwise, how could we EVER have a relationship since we grew up and dealt with so much dysfunction most of our lives? The time outs we took from each other went anywehre from a year to a few months to a few days. We always grew closer because of those time outs. In spite of often starting out very peeved with one another, even thinking we may never talk to one another again...we missed one another. So we are trying to work it out. But that couldn't happen if my sister brought up any of my children in a negative way. She never has. Not once. I love her for that, even when we are in a time out from each other.

    I have had a very dysfunctional, hurtful family experience and had to detach from them many times. In my journey, I have decided that your family is who is kind to you...who loves you....who is there when the chips are down. They may be your DNA connections or your friends or your church members or anyone. I do not consider somebody "family" that I have to love just because we have blood in common. I guess if I felt that way, I could not have adopted children and could not love them enough to die for them.

    You can not stop the gossip in the family, but you can set boundaries about your DNA folks NOT discussing JT with you. You have that power. If you are under stress now and feel your sister, whom you know well, will only blow up if you confront her, you don't have to. It's your decision. I often confronted my family members only to be disappointed and, worse, fuel more gossip about how I'm a selfish, terrible person. That set the gossip cycle up again, only this time it would be about me.

    I choose not to be a part of that. I talked little to my mom for many years, and she didn't want to talk to me so I didn't even hurt her. I wouldn't have hurt her. But she hurt me on purpose. Continuing to TRY to have a relationship with her did no good. I called her to see how she was doing (she didn't call me once in ten years). I apologized for the things I had done that had upset her, although I wasn't even sure what they were. I sent her nice birthday and mother's day cards. I told her "I love you" before we hung up the telephone. Never once did she say that back to me. But I gave it the All American try. There was no huge incident that anyone in the family can think of to make my mother dislike me so much. Even now that she is gone, my siblings don't know what triggered her dislike.

    In the end, she struck back from the grave, disinheriting me. Not that she had that much and not that I gave two flips about anything she DID have. What hurt was that she did not even acknowledge that she had an older daughter. I was not even mentioned. And it hurt that my brother and sister never stuck up for me to my mother, although they had relationships with me and told me (at least to my face) that they had no idea why I was treated like I was and that they did not agree with it. Not that there was much they could have done, but I eflt so betrayed that neither one of them never told her, "You know, Pam is pretty nice and tries hard. I don't want you to talk to me about her if you don't have something nice to say." Truth is, if it had been reversed, I would have taken that stand with them to my mother. They told me "I'm not getting involved." That's ok. But it hurt me and has affected how I think about them to this day. There is always a little hurt there. I never bring it up because they'd again say, "I didn't want to get involved" and, of course, they had every right to feel that way. My resentment is my own problem, not theirs.

    Sorry for rambling on. Just wanted to let you know that although you can not stop the drama, you can set up boundaries and refuse to listen to what is going on in the DNA Family Gossip Circle. You can take breaks from certain people. You can confront them outright, but, if you know them well and are sure of how they will respond, you don't have to. Or you can wait until you are in a better place and are ready to fend off a possible attack. You have the freedom to do what is best for your own mental health and you aren't a bad person if you choose to detach right now...or forever. Whom you talk to, confront, associate with, love, trust, care is your own personal decision. And it is, in my own opinion only (nobody has to agree with me) best to invest the deepest part of your heart in people whom truly care about your well being and act in your best interests just as hopefully you would do in their hour of need, so to speak.

    Blah. I babble too much.

    I've been through a lot and lots of stuff trigger me.

    At any rate, WE support you and we do understand your pain. All of us do.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
  15. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Stress are you sure your sister and mine are not related? We use to be close, very close. We adopted our daugter at birth. My sister never understood that and even made the comment that she was happy with her family and she was sorry that we weren't and felt we had to adopt. It took me a long time to work through those feelings but we got close over the year until difficult child's problems began interferring with that. My sister just didn't understand and was not supportive at all.

    When difficult child was in residential treatment for 60 days she never asked about her, never called to see how we were doing, never asked if she could come with us to family day. When difficult child got out of rehab a month before Christmas and I asked her and my Dad not to have alcohol at his apartemtn for our annual Christmas Eve get together, that caused hard feelings. She wanted to know why they had to do that when she didn't think difficult child was taking it seriously. Of course how would she know because she was not in contact with us. So she brought alcohol to dad's apartment and she and her kids went into the kitchen to enjoy their wine. I was hurt beyond belief.

    I am sorry to tell you that over the next few months things deteriorated and we have not had any contact for three years now. Both of her kids got married and had children and we were not invited to anything. I had sent her a letter telling her that I hope if anyone in her family ever had a substance abuse problem that she would get support and that she would someday understand how her lack of support hurt me.

    I hope things never get that bad between you and your sister. My family has always been dysfunctional, people like to start fires and sit back and watch them burn. I love my 94 year old dad very much but he and my mom who has been deceased for years now, never did anything to keep the family together and seemed to promote a sense of jealousy among their kids.

    I think some people just can't see outside of themselves and have no idea how to support us and think our difficult children are just being bad and they would handle it differently if it were them. All I ever wanted was for my family to listen to me and not do anything to make our journey more difficult.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
  16. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Our family is, in general, a very good one, but we also have our share of dysfunctional stuff. I think any family and every family does, it's the degree that is the only difference. Reading all of these posts, I am sorry that so many people here have such nonsupportive immediate families.

    In mine, I believe I have posted that my 50 yo brother, who lives now with my 81 yo parents, is an active alcoholic, fairly high functioning. He goes to work every day, excels at his job, keeps getting a lot of kudos---he does inside sales at a big company---raises, etc.

    He also kills himself to help my parents and I don't believe they would be in their home right now if he weren't there. It's not a healthy situation by any means for any of them, but it is what he is going to do and it is now what they need.

    My dad is very hard on him. My dad carries a lot of guilt about my brother's alcoholism (undeserved of course) and because he certainly was not a perfect father, he concludes that he allowed or caused this. I have talked with my dad about the facts, but his guilt translates to anger aimed at my brother. Of course, it's more complicated than that. My brother and my mother are very close, and my dad is often excluded.

    Anyway, the point is this, I have worked hard to accept them as they are. Living 700 miles away helps! (lol)

    My brother is doing the best he can. My parents are doing the best they are going to do at 81 years old. Intentions are good all around. I am just trying to appreciate them and love them and realize I'm not going to be able to change one darn thing they are or do.

    Regarding support for my difficult child, my family has been very supportive of me, personally, and of boundaries with difficult child. I try hard not to "control" what they do---again, that is not my business. When they ask me what they should do/not do, I tell them what I believe and then I work hard to let it go. They are adults and they have a relationship with difficult child that is theirs alone without my involvement so I can't get in the middle of all of that.

    We don't choose these families, as we know. These are accidents of birth, some lucky ones and some not lucky ones.

    But the families we can choose, ah, that is a very different thing and a blessing. I have dear friends who love me and support me, and who know difficult child back to when he was a precious baby. I am grateful for that.

    Then I have new friends like you all and even SO (three plus years) who didn't know difficult child way back when but who also love me and support me and also you---some of the best---who are walking the same walk I am walking---the pain as parents----I am so very grateful to you.

    And Alanon is full of the same people, who we can see face to face and build new friendships and relationships there.

    Blessings to all of us who are hurting today. We are standing in the gap for each other. I am very grateful for that, regardless of what families---those who are supposed to care the most for us---do or don't do. Just like we have to go one, using the tools we can develop and that work for us, regardless of what our difficult children do or don't do.
  17. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    MWM, I can appreciate the waxing and waning of your relationship with your sister. It gives me hope that we have something worth saving. I think our families are supportive overall, but of course, as so many mentioned, easy child parents just don't get it. And our boys are the only difficult children in the family. So it is hard. They joined our family through adoption, and that just makes these differences glare all the more. It is breaking my heart. Most days I either feel pretty numb or downright depressed. I'm struggling.

    So this latest newsflash that JT may be doing something that could cause him to lose this great job he has, just adds to the ever accumulating series of negative events lately.

    Nancy, I'm very sorry for the extremely thoughtless remark your sister made about your family's decision to adopt. What a terrible thing to say! Given that and the other things she went on to say and do, it seems like you are better off without her toxic influence in your life.

    COM, I can tell that you have come to understand and accept the things you can't change about your family. I don't think I'm there yet. I'm stuck with wishing things were the way I think they should be.

    husband read my e-mail response to my mom and thinks I overreacted. In a nutshell, I shared that I thought my sister and cousin should mind their own business; that they do not understand the issues involved since their children are neurotypical. Also, I stated that they are naive if they think we haven't already done and said every single thing they could think of to help OUR son, but we have learned that JT makes his own decisions, regardless. I also asked that my mom not tell me what others are saying about JT behind our backs or what he is posting on Facebook because I do not want to know. My husband believes this e-mail will just contribute to their perception that I am oversensitive, etc., etc.

    So, I have decided it's time for some new rules for me:
    • No more discussing JT with anyone except you all here on this board, a journal, and perhaps a counselor, or al-anon group. My family is not a place in which I can find validation for the effect the situation with JT is having on me.
    • I will continue on with my family in other ways and move past this. No big expectations of them = no big letdown for me.
    • I will accept that my family is talking about me and our kids when I am not present and that I cannot change or control that. The hardest part is the feelings of loss, judgment from others, and constant drama of what happened lately.
    • In the same way, I will accept that they will have contact with JT as they see fit, and again, I cannot change or control that.
    • I will hold my head up in spite of all of this. While I am the parent of an adult child with many issues and negative behaviors, I do not want to be defined by this.
    • In reducing the emotional grip all of this is having on me, I will seek out ways to care for myself and enjoy my life going forward.
    Thanks again everybody. This group is a real lifesaver. Truly. Hope you're all hanging in there this weekend.
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  18. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Who gives a rip if your family thinks your are oversensitive? It doesn't sound like your husband "gets" how badly your family can wound sweet husband also didn't get it. Although he did not encourage me to keep ties with my family...he left those decisions up to me.

    I think you have a perfect right to set boundaries. I am not sure it is useful to even discuss it after you sent your e-mail. I have found, at least in MY life, that the more I say, the more they talk. The less I say, the less they have to talk about. Anything I have tried to explain to my DNA connections has not worked. They are stubborn, pigheaded and they are not flexible or able to put themselves in other's shoes. So why keep talking and talking about it? I learned to detach from my family and keep the conversations to the surface, like the weather, their health, what movies I saw, etc. By the time I had kids, I must say I was used to no support from my family, yet I constinued to try to get it. Do you what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over again.
    When I hit 40 or so, I got it. I'm glad I got it. I don't miss having an extended family that is close. I never really had one and I consider my husband and my kids to be my family...that's all. Sometimes my sister is almost like a real sister to me. Sometimes she turns around and hangs up on me. I value when we are on good terms, but am used to it not always being that way.

    I would send them all one e-mail that would read something like "For my mental health, I am going to insist that nobody discuss JT with me in any way. If I want to discuss him, I will bring him up. Sadly, if you do talk about him, I will have to either gently hang up the phone or leave the house. I am doing this for myself, and hope you all understand. We can discuss any other topic, but not him. Thank you for your kindness in getting why I have to do this."

    At any rate, I would cut off the constant gossip, at least to you. You can't control them, but you can control what you are willing to listen to.

    Hugs to you and hope you find your way to healing.

    Nancy, sorry about your sister. But it is a prime example of why we somethings go no contact with our DNA connections, as I call them. People who can have healthy relationships with relatives don't understand this, but it happens more than we like to admit. It is so hard when the people who are SUPPOSED to love us the most, do not act like they love us at all. When we told my father we were adopting our first child, he said, "You expect me to love him?" He has mellowed out, but I never forgot it.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
  19. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM my dad accepted my daughter from the very beginning. I was surprised it was my sister who had a hard time with it. To this day the first thing my dad asks when I go visit him, which I do every week, is how is difficult child doing. And you are right, you don't forget those hurtful things that are said by people you think love you.
  20. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You're right, Nancy. Although my dad treated all the grandkids the same (which is to say he had little to do with them), his words stung and I knew he didn't really accept my adopted kids. He would often say to me, "If you are low on money, YOU chose to adopt all those kids." I never really confided in him about my monetary situation, but he'd throw that in every so often, which always left me speechless. He often made racial slurs and probably still does, but never to me anymore as I put my foot down. Yet I know he doesn't value people who are not white and my children, except for 36, are not white. For a while, he would even use the word n***** to me, before I had any bluster or fight in me. But that has changed and I have told him exactly what I think of his bigotry and how he either cuts that talk completely or I will not talk to him. I remind him that his grandchildren love him and don't care that he is a different race then them. Lately they have been very good to him as he ages and I noticed he makes a very strong effort NEVER to mention race in our conversations. I think he does love them now, times he has been intolerable. Not just to me, by the way. In his case, he has been awful to all of his kids.

    My favorite statement he has said a lot is, "Not one of you kids have given me one moment of pleasure. Not one." And this is a man I'm supposed to love and turn to in hard times and confide in? I do love him because...I don't know why, but I do. However, he is not somebody I could ever count on for any emotional support. I do not feel as close to him as I do some of my friends and certainly not my husband or kids, who are the only ones I really trust (well, Sonic, Jumper and Julie anyway and sometimes 36). They ARE my only family in my eyes. I had a friend who was too, but she died way too young. She was my real sister, the one who was always there.

    And this man helped create my life, yet he is so insensitive. I get sick thinking about how he used to talk about different Chicago politicians in relation to their race...knowing I love to death both Sonic and Jumper. Sometimes I wonder: What was he thinking? Is he really that dense? A Pharmacist with a high IQ? REALLY?

    Often our best allies and cheerleaders are not part of our family. That's why I changed my mind about what a real family is.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014