Reconnecting with family as you heal?

prynne

MyPTSD Pro
TLDR: I haven’t felt a connection with my family in years due to self-isolation. I want to feel closer to them, but they often make me feel horrible. Advice?

After my main trauma at 11 years old, I started spending all of my time alone, hiding in my bedroom. This didn’t get better for the rest of my childhood and to be honest, is still how I live today. My brother was 9 or 10 at the time, so he was young when I stopped talking to him.

As I’m recovering, I’m feeling the desire (obligation?) to connect with my family, but I feel like they know nothing about me. Even before the trauma, we weren’t very personal with each other. My parents are pretty emotionally unavailable and never tell anyone anything, to the point where I won’t learn about surgeries or vacations until the day they are happening. We live in the same house, by the way. So feeling disconnected is still an issue even if I make an effort to speak to them. It’s always been our family dynamic. Don’t show emotions. Tell people things only on a need-to-know basis. If you say something genuine, you'll get made fun of for it.

“If you don’t like something, ignore it, and hopefully, it will go away”. This is the way that my family “solves” problems. This is the stance they take with my history of abuse. They refuse to admit that anything has happened to me. They don’t say this to my face unless they get too drunk, but I’ve overheard it. They prefer to pretend that I was born with bad genes and that’s what caused my mental illness. This alone makes me feel like it’s impossible to be open with them because my trauma affects my life in every way. I want to spend my entire life and career helping people like me and sharing my story. My parents are also responsible for some of my trauma, so that complicates things. Nothing unforgivable, but it still exists and hasn’t been acknowledged.

My self-isolation also affects my relationship with my grandparents. The pressure and guilt are 100 times worse when it comes to them. I know the clock is ticking. Both of them have declining health. I feel horrible for not having a close relationship with them. I hardly ever talk to them. I feel stuck in my pre-(worst)trauma personality when I talk to them because that’s the last time I was close with them and I want to live up to their expectations. They still don’t know anything about my partner except for his name. They don’t even know that we’re dating. I always call him my “friend”. We’ve been together for two years.

The thing is, spending time with my grandparents seems to always make me feel horrible. The guilt of not doing more with them eats me alive. I hate noticing the ways in which they aren’t as sharp or happy as they used to be. My grandmother has a tendency to be passive-aggressive and manipulative, to the point where my mom (her daughter) seems to feel no attachment to her. The bad feelings are to the point where I sometimes feel suicidal after seeing them or even thinking about them. I also worry that I should never tell them anything about my trauma because it may be too stressful for them. My grandparents are still (mostly) lucid and functioning on their own, their health is just not great.

The discomfort with talking to my brother is mostly that we seem to be extremely different people and that he doesn't know anything about me. He has a habit of nervously laughing when I tell him anything about myself (things that I think aren't strange or concerning) and then talking like he's half-heartedly trying to talk someone out of jumping off of a bridge, which is discouraging. He's at that age where most of his social activities revolve around drugs or alcohol, which I'm not a fan of. When he first started smoking weed (legally) he would often ask me to join him, but I didn't want to get high. Or see my little brother getting high.

I’m not okay with the view of “you have to put up with everything they do, no matter how shitty it makes you feel. They’re your family so just get over it. If you stand up for yourself you’ll regret it when they're gone”. So far this is really the only advice I’ve gotten on this subject.

Has anyone dealt with anything similar to this? What did you do or what do you wish you had done?
 
Last edited:

vleon

Learning
I think it's a bad idea trying to reconnect with your parents. I just finished reading your heartbreaking diary thread (as it is one of the shorter ones) and you write about how your parents denied what your late grandfather did to you. I think it's dangerous for anyone's mental health to be around people who deny your traumatic experiences, as you risk questioning your own sanity.
 

prynne

MyPTSD Pro
I think it's a bad idea trying to reconnect with your parents. I just finished reading your heartbreaking diary thread (as it is one of the shorter ones) and you write about how your parents denied what your late grandfather did to you. I think it's dangerous for anyone's mental health to be around people who deny your traumatic experiences, as you risk questioning your own sanity.
It's true that it makes me question my own sanity when they pretend that nothing ever happened. I feel like I have to be a different person around them than I am around anyone else. It gets confusing for me and slows my recovery to be switching back and forth from fulling accepting my trauma to pretending it doesn't exist. I just still have some hope that I can still have a relationship with them that is more fulfilling than it is now
 

caroline_13

MyPTSD Pro
My heart is breaking for you @prynne.

This is so low and incredibly difficult beyond words.

I have been there as well, and since you are looking for advice, I have to agree with @vleon that it is dangerous for your mental health to be around them. Just reading your post affirms that.

About a year and a half ago, I greatly minimized contact with my parents. Then, about a year ago, my dad had a heart attack. My mom let me know things as they progressed.

I absolute f*cking panicked.

I also knew instantly that my panic was from this sad event being used by the part of me that wants to be close with my parents to reestablish contact. Like now I HAD to connect with him bc of the heart attack. And I was terrified of that man and what he does when I'm around him and what it does to ME.


Of course I hope he is okay and I love him. But those two things are so much less important to my decision making than feeling the toxicity of being close to him.

For years I have ebbed and flowed with my parents, sometimes I needed financial support. I can't make complete sense of it and I don't have to: I just know "no more."

So, I feel like I have experienced my own version of what you're facing.

I can't on your behalf skip the own journey you'll have to travel, but I hope I've given you some insight.

As someone who cared told me long ago, "I can't stand. how your mother treats you. You have to know it's a good world out there."
 

prynne

MyPTSD Pro
My heart is breaking for you @prynne.

This is so low and incredibly difficult beyond words.

I have been there as well, and since you are looking for advice, I have to agree with @vleon that it is dangerous for your mental health to be around them. Just reading your post affirms that.

About a year and a half ago, I greatly minimized contact with my parents. Then, about a year ago, my dad had a heart attack. My mom let me know things as they progressed.

I absolute f*cking panicked.

I also knew instantly that my panic was from this sad event being used by the part of me that wants to be close with my parents to reestablish contact. Like now I HAD to connect with him bc of the heart attack. And I was terrified of that man and what he does when I'm around him and what it does to ME.


Of course I hope he is okay and I love him. But those two things are so much less important to my decision making than feeling the toxicity of being close to him.

For years I have ebbed and flowed with my parents, sometimes I needed financial support. I can't make complete sense of it and I don't have to: I just know "no more."

So, I feel like I have experienced my own version of what you're facing.

I can't on your behalf skip the own journey you'll have to travel, but I hope I've given you some insight.

As someone who cared told me long ago, "I can't stand. how your mother treats you. You have to know it's a good world out there."
Thank you for the encouragement to prioritize myself. I do think I need some distance from my parents to fully recover. Hopefully, that will happen soon for me as I go back to work. After I move out and don't have to spend so much time living in my parent's world, I think it won't be so easy to switch back to a version of myself that pretends that I am who they want me to be. I'm not planning on going no-contact with them, but we may have to stick to mostly superficial topics when we talk :( makes me sad. I wish they weren't so deep in denial.

It's strange for me to feel like I'm more emotionally mature than my parents. I haven't been an adult for very long so I guess I'm still getting used to not automatically thinking that my parents always know best.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
. I'm not planning on going no-contact with them, but we may have to stick to mostly superficial topics when we talk :( makes me sad. I wish they weren't so deep in denial.
I remain in contact with my parents. But on my terms and in my way. There are still mind games they play to try and pull me back to be where they want me. But I am learning to not be drawn in and to stick to what I want.
It'll me much better when you aren't living in their home.
And accepting their limitations and what they will be like to you and for you.
I long for just a relaxed normal conversation with my parents. But they are incapable of doing that. I know I will never talk to them about what happened. No point. They will just dismiss, deny and blame me. So I heal on my own, without them. Because trying to heal with them is a clear path to self destruction.

As my T said,powerfully, to me once "you are more than your parents interaction with you".
Follow your path. Know your truth.
 

prynne

MyPTSD Pro
I remain in contact with my parents. But on my terms and in my way. There are still mind games they play to try and pull me back to be where they want me. But I am learning to not be drawn in and to stick to what I want.
It'll me much better when you aren't living in their home.
And accepting their limitations and what they will be like to you and for you.
I long for just a relaxed normal conversation with my parents. But they are incapable of doing that. I know I will never talk to them about what happened. No point. They will just dismiss, deny and blame me. So I heal on my own, without them. Because trying to heal with them is a clear path to self destruction.

As my T said,powerfully, to me once "you are more than your parents interaction with you".
Follow your path. Know your truth.
I think you're right that I need to stop wasting energy trying to change them and make boundaries based on what we have now. At this point, things aren't going to change much unless they decide to be different. It's good to know that at least I won't be the only one living this way. With most people I've met in real life that have relatives that hurt them, the relative is obviously so bad that this person should never talk to them again. I don't feel that way about my parents, though. Most of the harm comes from their emotional neglect. They don't throw me through walls or kick me out of the house. They still support me financially even though they don't have to. I do believe that they love me, they just aren't good at showing it. Gray areas are always hard for me.

I know deep down that someday I will have to "betray" my parents and be open and honest about my past, no matter what they think. I'm so scared of what they will say to me when I do that. Maybe nothing and we'll all ignore the horrible tension. That seems like their style. It will be hard to go my own way, but I can't be as miserable as all of these adults that still live in fear of their parents. I can't get to where I want to be in life without using my story to help other survivors and pissing off my parents in the process. (I was thinking hopefully they won't join the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, as a half-joke, but I looked them up and apparently, they don't exist anymore. Hell yeah)

Thank you for your support :)
 

caroline_13

MyPTSD Pro
I do still have *some* contact with my parents.

And my parents' financial support was something I used, and they encouraged, to show their "love" for me.

Yes, it was the kind of love of which they are capable. I don't even care about quantifying what kind of "love" it was.

The most important thing is it was really more control than love.

At least I can say that I have floundered PLENTY on mine own !

I am so excited for you @prynne as you can focus on the day when you are living in your own place. What a change that will be !
 
Top