Who do you consider your real family?


Well-Known Member
I guess I'm at this stage of healing and wonder if anyone wants to share or even cares to write about who they consider a part of their real family.

I have two. One is those who I unfortunately share DNA with, but wish I didn't and don't see. And, there are only three of them who are close relatives...Dad, Sis, Brother. I have never had a yearning to explore beyond that since I have not known anyone all these years. Funnily, when I am told "the whole family" believes Sis, she means brother.

Sis got her hands slapped today, but I'll leave it at that.

My real family is my husband, you may even throw my ex husband in there as he spends a lot of our family holidays with us, my Dad, Bart, Junior, Princess, her boyfriend, Buddha Baby, Sonic and Jumper. Jumper's boyfriend is around a lot too. He's not family, but he's LIKE family. Nice kid.

Can't leave out my dogs and cat. Anyone else consider the pets part of the family?

I admit I have no idea if this thread will be a hit, but either way, I wanted to post it so, heck, if nobody answers, it's a vent ;)


Active Member
Oh I want this to be long. I so do. But am on phone thumbtyping.

Blacksmith introduces me as his adopted sister, and that's how people in town know me. His dad and stepmom always invite me along when they visit and take the kids out (but knowing family history I don't accept. I like them well enough as they are now but won't set myself up to be used as ammunition if things sour again. Blacksmith stayed out of touch for decades for justifiable reasons, in my opinion. RN's mom treats me like family, and we both chatter up a storm (much to annoyance of others sometimes) when she visits.

The four little Vikings - what can I say? I would die or kill to protect them.

My ex sister in law and I talk occasionally. She thinks DEX really screwed up and can be an idiot sometimes, but still loves him.

My own family... Nothing like what the worst of you have experienced, but I feel like if my dad hadn't died when I was 9 he would have gotten me more into the mechanical and carpentry world I am learning to love, and he would have shot mom down the second she tried the "girls don't do that" line on me. Maybe I'm wrong but kinda hard to know for certain. My brother was the Difficult Child and has grown out of a lot of that but like most of my mom's peers he has no clue why I live like I do, and he was pretty abusive to me in our childhood. Anger management issues. Mom at least has a clue, not a big one but having done a bit of farming herself she gets it a little.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Sis got her hands slapped today, but I'll leave it at that.

I'm sorry for Sister, but it needed to happen.


Grands and animals and neighbors too, can be family. Almost anyone we've known over a period of years, and who has known us.

I feel so differently about family than I did before we began the FOO Chronicles. It isn't that I would not like to see them. I suppose I would. It is that I think of them differently, now. I see now why the FOO never worked. It is by intention that it does not work. Intention to foment dissent, to form factions, to splinter and dirty the very things that make having family a precious thing. As we have worked here to uncover the why behind it, I have not developed so much a compassion for all of us (which is what I thought would happen) as I have an acceptance.

It isn't that FOO does not know what they are doing. They do. They choose it. It isn't that they don't know. If we are going to interact with them, we cannot interact in any of the ways we see family interacting in our fantasies of family. Our FOO are dysfunctional things.

It isn't going to change.

Leaving them is like leaving a circling vortex. The suction is incredible, the draw to go back unremitting. And then, it isn't. You are out of their range of influence.

It isn't that I don't wish I had them in my life. It is that I never did, not in the sense I believed I did. I have what I have, instead. I don't feel badly anymore that I have what I have. There is no positive thing I can do to bring FOO into balance; there are only negative things. An emptiness created because one member is hurt and leaves. Or is targeted and leaves. Or every member participating in an unspoken conspiracy of silence regarding the steadily more hurtful and exclusionary practices encouraged at the heart of the FOO where trust and welcome should be.

Denial is a strong thing; it is hard to break through, but it is not impossible.

It is good to have seen the workings of FOO. It hurt very much at first, to realize how different we (FOO, me included) are. But each time I would post about a hurt or betrayal, I would know the truth of it in a way impossible for me before I saw it in print.

I am not sure why I was so deeply afraid of confronting the wrongnesses. It is hard to say, to people who are taking intense satisfaction from what they are doing, "This is wrong."

I don't know why the rejection of FOO could shame me so, could leave me feeling utterly without faith or hope or worth.

Isn't that something.

I've learned that breaking through the denial cushioning and discoloring everything to do with dysfunctional family systems is crucial to our determination to heal. It's like breaking through the crust of a thing. You flounder around in something that really feels terrible. And then, it's like you get a little toehold.

Those are your witnesses; the people (and for me, it's been SWOT and Copa), who hold steady for us when we cannot. They are there when the feelings are overwhelmingly toxic and the center doesn't hold.

And you realize that hurting, shame-filled place that feels like drowning in acid or like, boiling cornstarch pudding has borders. That it is not limitless. It is not bottomless. There is a way. If you are determined, if you keep going, if you acknowledge and sit with the feelings, if you understand that as bad as it is, you felt them first as a defenseless child...you will come through it, for that Child's sake. You will have ingested and become immune to, the poison fueling the dysfunction in your FOO.

I know what happened. I always knew what happened. The difference is that I see the choice my people make. I see what they are doing. I will not unsee it.

It just is what it is.

Nothing more, and nothing less. Just a set of factual things instead of a kind of nameless longing and willingness to disbelieve what we see in hope of the fantasy.

We try to believe that fantasy so hard!

It's disorienting, for a time.

Then, once you revisit the traumatic event often enough, finding the same answers each time, there comes to be a sense of increasing quiet, where before there was shock and deep shame.

If I were to interact with my FOO now, it wouldn't work. It would be a discordant thing from start to finish. I am not even afraid of them, anymore. I am still working. There are areas of shame or jealousy or rage or anger.

Right witness is crucial to this process; without it, we will be retraumatized. If you elect to do something like this, be warned that there are predatory types who will find the vulnerability required to heal irresistible. That is why it is best to conduct your exploration, if you should choose to do so, in the public, and not the private, portions of the forum.

You must be willing to have nothing to hide; nothing, as they say, to protect.



Well-Known Member
Cedar, you have confronted the truth very courageously.

Like all of us, we had to take the blinders off.

Yes, seems like Sis won't be posting for a bit. The vicious intent apparently came through. Just more validation.

At any rate, do you feel that you have any family? I don't mean FOO. Even just you and hub and your poochie is a family. There are large and small families. The love binds them, not the size.


Well-Known Member
There is no positive thing I can do to bring FOO into balance; there are only negative things. An emptiness created because one member is hurt and leaves. Or is targeted and leaves
I have had to confront that my whole life has been defined by this empty space.

I keep being inpatient with myself that my grief, my sadness about the death of my mother and the problems of my son does not go away. How could it? It is like an underground mine full of toxic gas that has been broken open. And now must be absorbed into the atmosphere in which I live.
It is hard to say, to people who are taking intense satisfaction from what they are doing, "This is wrong."
I have been saying this my whole adult life, but never to the real offenders, my own family.
I don't know why the rejection of FOO could shame me so, could leave me feeling utterly without faith or hope or worth.
I have been flooded with sadness and hopelessness, which only grows more pervasive as I get closer to the truths about my family and my position in it that has defined my whole life.

I think I have felt alone my whole life. I am not alone now, but the sense that I am has not yet left me.

Since my Mother died, I have M and my son. And our 3 animals. M has a large family who have accepted me as a part, as if I am his true wife.

My only living blood relative is my sister. We are estranged. I doubt if we will ever get over it.

It has been this way for many, many years. In the past, the separation did not cost me much, now it does. I have regret. I do not see a way to change this. My sister has grievances against me, and believes she has a right to avenge them.

When I was around my sister, I felt hurt by her. Looking back, maybe I was too thin-skinned. I do not know yet how to get a thicker skin, if somebody wants to hurt you, and will not see it.

As far as having a network of friends that are like family, I do not have one.

Very few people in my life I have trusted to the point that I let them really close to me.

As I have gotten older I have become more and more wary of people. I had many, many friends as a young woman. Now, not so many. While I seem to draw people to me, I do not let people close enough to hurt me.

I believe many people are limited in their responsibility to others. Likewise, I think some people, including myself, are not careful enough to not hurt others.

I think the issue for me is that I am open and somewhat permeable in my boundaries. The only defense I really have is to keep myself distant.

There is also the issue of the people one chooses to let close. Trustworthy or not. That is something I can learn to control.

I understand now that even small disappointments at the hands of others fed into the deep despair and pain I had because I had not been well treated or loved by my family. Tiny hurts were amplified, because they triggered the big ones that I had so hard tried to suppress.

Now that I understand this in a way that I can address it, I will work at trying to change it.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
At any rate, do you feel that you have any family? I don't mean FOO. Even just you and hub and your poochie is a family. There are large and small families. The love binds them, not the size.

"The love binds them, not the size."

I love this, Serenity.

I do feel that I have family ~ that my FOO is my family of origin. the difference now is that I get it that my people are intentionally, willfully, with malice aforethought hurtful people. I get it now, in a way I did not, before we began our healing here, that my people are hurtful in the ways they define everyone in their lives, not just me. Not just my kids. (And boy, could I hurt them back for that one. I am so angry about how they interpreted my children when my kids are in freaking trouble. Roar.)


For me, turning away out of anger or disgust did not work. I was still carrying the shame that colored everything about me. Just as, when our kids fell into the terrible things that kept happening to all of us, I could not even look outside what I must have done to hurt them. It isn't that people didn't come up with diagnoses or blah, blah, blah.

I didn't believe them.

The overriding concern for me was where had I gone wrong when I had been so careful not to do what had been done to me. Had it seeped out of me into them? I believed with all my heart that if I could just know what it was, if I could know where I'd gone wrong, I could fix it. I said that all the time, whatever therapist it was I was seeing. That began to change for me, and I have posted about this before, when Serenity posted that article on verbally abusive adult children.

There I was.

So, I stood up.

I could always stand up. That wasn't the hard part. It was seeing that standing up was the correct action.

That was the thing I could never believe in because in the core of me, I could not believe in myself.

What had I done to have made it impossible for my own children to live safe, happy lives? What that overwhelming certainty that I must have done something horrible that I didn't remember or that I was too stupid to see...that was the core of shame FOO hurt into me when I was just a little girl. Confronted, over time, with the terrible things that were happening to my kids, to my marriage, to everything I had created of my life, I was thrown into that core shame reality.

My fault. My failure. Something terrible, some defective truth about me that my children were being made to pay for.

That was not helpful. Could never have helped me or the kids or
D H. But it was all that I knew to be true, that felt so true, no matter how many therapists said the things therapists say. In the core of me, there was this kind of all encompassing shame. I went into therapy, not to heal it ~ I didn't know that was possible. I went into therapy to ferret out what I'd done.

And was betrayed, probably because of that core of vulnerability, that core of shame, by that dorky first therapist. He could do that because I had given him authority over me when I made the decision to trust him.

I needed to know what I'd done, so I could stop doing it and help my kids. I was ~ when he said I was a manipulator and that he would never trust the compliments of someone like that, I figured that must be it. I didn't know what that meant, exactly, but at least I had a professional's opinion to inform my search. I just needed to figure out what it was he meant, and how that would apply to what had happened to my kids, and to all of us.

Isn't that something.

We really do need to be careful, when we elect to unravel those core issues of shame and self hatred, and those other beliefs hurt into us when we were too little to make sense of things. If we have gone on to create our lives and our families successfully, those issues still haunt us, but they cannot destroy us. If we should have children who will challenge everything we know, we will be (I was) thrown right into the thick of all those old, toxic realities we grew up knowing were the truth about us, whatever else we had accomplished. I think it doesn't have to be a child in trouble. People who come into a great deal of money, or people who become very famous, seem to lose their bearings in life, too.

I believe that it is trauma over time ~ good things or bad things ~ that throws us back into our core belief systems as we try to pull ourselves together to incorporate whatever the change is. Good change or bad change, the change itself stresses the defenses we have learned to erect in order to function well in our lives.

That's what I think happened to me.

I am glad I chose to do this. I am grateful for this site, and for my witnesses, and for the fact that however shaming or ugly the things I needed to process were...you guys were there for me.

I see changes in the ways each of us think and see ourselves. This method is working for each of us and I just feel so ~ I don't know. Like, sacredly amazed, and fortunate, so fortunate to have been able to ~ well, I don't know. To do what we've done, I suppose.

We didn't know, in the beginning, that it would work. We didn't know, but we stayed with it, and we are doing it; we are healing.


Family. Yes, I have family. I know their names and faces, and I love them. I do. If I could choose to just turn that off, I would. But I have been frozen in so many areas of self all of my life. I don't want to be frozen, don't want there to be parts of myself that I cannot access for the fear of it. So, I do have family. I think of my mom, and of my sister pretty often still, but I see them differently, now. I am not afraid of them. I never knew I was afraid of them? Except that I did know.

And I was right to be afraid.

Denial is a wonderful thing in some ways. It enabled me to believe in them, and in myself, too. Over our time here, I confronted myself so many times with the same traumatic or weirdly hurtful things that I stopped being in denial. I think part of it was that I had to let go of needing my FOO to cherish and respect me. I had to let go of that. My FOO functions around a dynamic I cannot recognize the value in. They are never going to be who I needed them to be so badly that I found my doomed attempts at interaction with them heroic. It was heroic to try. I was scared. I covered the fear of betrayal through a kind of belief that they were worth it, that the end result, that dinner I was always posting about, was worth any hurt I sustained in trying to achieve it.

Until my sister hurt my child.

Until my mother hurt my D H.

Up with some s**t I will not put, right?

So the answer Serenity is yes. I have family. They are committed to family as it functions for them. I was only in there at all because of my belief in that dinner. I think that may have been a rationalization, but maybe not really. I kept forgiving or understanding or just numbing out to be with my family of origin. One of the things I remember posting about my sister is that I believe her now, but I no longer believe in her.

So she has no power over me.

She is not someone who needs my protection, understanding, or advice. My very own sister was manipulating me! It looks to me now that she hates me, that it was always a weird kind of hatred at the heart of all of it. I am still sort of surprised and hurt that this could be so.

But it is better to know.

So I have a family? It just turns out they are using my very own fantasy of family dinner to ~ I don't know what it is, really. There is a hierarchy of value, in dysfunctional families, where there should be safe harbor for all of us, instead.

Like one big, round table, not small card tables set up varying distances from the main players.

And that's all I know about that, this morning.

When my mother dies, or if my sister should die or one of my own people that I love should die...I think that is none of their business. My mother...I am still conflicted about hatred. Seeing as I see her now, what would I say, what would I see, at a funeral gathering.

I liked your idea, Serenity, of a private ceremony with a priest or a rabbi or pastor or some other trusted figure to mark the ending of the story as sacred without all the falseness that would be required to get through a wake.

Once we see, we cannot choose not to see.

Very manipulative, every single thing that goes on in my FOO.

Respect, or honor, or trust ~ just aren't there.

I don't know what will happen. I am okay with that. There was a time, and I posted about it here all the time, when knowing my mom will be gone one day could make me physically sick. Remorse, if I were wrong. I would imagine her feeling so badly that I had taken myself out of the picture. Man, I drove myself nuts with that one. Know what D H said?

"Cedar. She hung up on you." And he would go on about what really happened, about what the time frame really was. About how this is how it had always been, and that I would not see it. And if I did see anything that I could not rationalize somehow, I blamed myself for having failed through some intrinsic defect, through some wrongness, in me.

And that was true. I would forget those true things, all the time, when I was in contact with FOO. It was all a question of my responsibility, of what was the right thing to do.

Isn't that something.

Now, I see there is no right thing.

That is how my FOO works. It's never going to change. I have no responsibility because the way it works is the way they want it to work. That's why I don't get the win in it for them.

Probably because to have it as I envisioned it would mean we all were healed, I wanted the dinner. They want the right to exclude from the dinner.

That is the difference.

So, I will just be making dinner for us, then.

Dinner is dinner. We can eat it alone or in company. The crucial thing is to know we merit being well-nourished, and to celebrate that, and that we are here, right here in our beautiful lives.

Here is another difference, now. Those kinds of things my FOO relishes will never be tolerated around me now because I know who they are. I took a look at them, and at me.

They can make their own dinner, and never come to my house for dinner, again.

I would give them a glass of water. No ice. In the driveway. Not even on the porch. And it isn't even a question of safety, anymore. I seem to have lost interest in them. I already know how it's going to come out. Their actions have always been transparent as glass. Now I see that none of it was a mistake. Every bit of it, from the beginning, was intended.



I just wanted to add that the glass would be plastic. Warped by the dishwasher plastic glass of water with no ice.

On the driveway.
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Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I think the issue for me is that I am open and somewhat permeable in my boundaries. The only defense I really have is to keep myself distant.

I am thinking Copa that we were hurt in a way that created a direct line into the core of us. It could be that those never hurt as we were do not have those broken barriers around their cores because their cores have never been exposed. It could be that, as they have never been mistreated as we have, that core of self is inviolate for them. We have no defenses where others were never broken.

That could be it, could be a part of it, Copa.

We were taught it was wrong to hold any part of ourselves inviolate.

We are learning now how healthy people, how people who have never been broken as we have, see things. They are able to let the normal, everyday hurts all of us are exposed to roll away from them. Nothing ever really gets to the core of them. They attribute the other guy's business to the other guy.

We have no barriers.

We take it all in, right into the core of us.

That could be.


Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
So it would not be an issue of over-sensitivity. The issue would be that we truly do feel any thing having anything remotely to do with our core issues of shame or vulnerability in ways people who have never been hurt as we have cannot imagine.

The depth and intensity of the feelings, I mean.

Overwhelming, and that's why.