My crash course in boundaries and an epiphany, silver linings!

Started by

I've described my situation in a couple other threads but the upshot is my 85 year old Dad was stricken with a sudden and serious illness that will require a long term recovery process with uncertain outcome. I have two siblings and an elderly Mom all who are actively involved in this situation. My family is quite dysfunctional and they have lots of arbitrary rules and unspoken expectations and little sense of boundaries.

I've been struggling with these things for years and have made some progress but there is nothing like an emergency to exaggerate dysfunction. It's crystal clear to me how strong these family dynamics are and how destructive they can be.

Rather than get discouraged I am going to try and focus on progress. So here goes. On the subject of boundaries I was did something new yesterday. Without going into the particulars I declined to "jump" to attention when it was demanded of me. I was busy trying to meet a work deadline. Instead of dropping everything I left a message with the person (my sister) that we could talk later. She actually called my husbands cell phone to ask him to come to my place of work and have me call her because she did not want to wait. He said no, the subject was not an emergency and there was no need for me to respond right away. I know this probably sounds like a tiny thing but it is huge for me. All our adult lives my sister has made it clear that her time is extra precious. She does not answer e-mail or return phone calls unless it is regarding something she wants. We only get together a couple times a year when HER schedule is open. Setting this boundary was so much easier than I thought, so what if she throws a fit? I don't have to be there to see it.

The other point of progress is an epiphany I had about my family. I took to heart all the recent advice to just hand let go of the attitudes of others and focus on what I can do. I was upset because my sister was stirring up trouble with the rehab staff and picking the place apart. My Dad was getting upset and beginning to get paranoid about his safety and care. I told my Mom that we needed to make sure Dad felt safe and that we should be more positive about his rehab facility. Her reaction was to launch into a of the nurses was having trouble attaching the antibiotics to Dads pic line and needed help, horrors!... they did not remove the mask to his nebulizer right away... he was left on the toilet overlong because the aid had a situation to attend to... Then it hit me! My family thrives on criticism and drama. They always have. Dad spends every evening ranting at the news over the "state of the country". Mom is forever seeing doom and gloom and people not doing "the right thing". My siblings have their own methods of keeping drama going in their lives. Meanwhile I have always tried to make them see the brighter side of the world. Stoopid me! They don't want that. They are fine with all the drama. It's me who hates it. Gee that kind of changes everything doesn't it? For the better too. Now I can just focus on doing what I can to help, keeping my own spirits up and ignoring the hoopla. I can let go of trying to mold people to my way of looking at the world which is a useless and thankless endeavor. Whew!

How about you all. Any silver lining epiphanies to share?


Good for you Trying! I bet you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders...

As caregivers of dementia patients you learn to let things go. If you don't you'll crash and burn very quickly..

Good grief, are you a long lost sister I didn't know about! You are doing great. I know how difficult it is, but once you claim your life and your boundaries the rest just falls into place.

It took me a very long time to accept and let go of my family's negative slant on everything. That is not how I choose to live and they are not going to impact my world with their drama. Best wishes!
Drama and turmoil and critical attitudes are exhausting. Participating in it is exhausting and being around it is exhausting. Good for you for recognizing it in your family and refusing to participate in it!

(Plopping someone down on the toilet for a couple of minutes to go and check on something else is standard practice in a NH).
Well done!!! Once you start setting boundaries and detaching from the drama it gets easier to keep doing it. Hope you do keep doing it!!! I think you will. Life is much better quality once you do.
High five! I feel a group hug coming on. ((((((Tryingmybest))))))
(((Tryingmybest))), the best thing I ever did was to quit trying to deal with my only brother and his wife almost 30 years ago. It has made it much easier to take care of my mother these last 28 years; and without all the drama in our lives, mother has made it to 96.
Boy, what a great place this is. All your words are truly inspirational. I already feel less resentful. I would really like to be able to help my parents (within my means) willingly and with a light heart. I think that goal just got a lot easier.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support