We don't have to be like our dysfunctional family.

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Many of us caregivers come from dysfunctional families and deal with the painful impact of that almost daily.

The good news is that we don't have to be like our dysfunctional family. There is freedom, but like any freedom it takes hard work. Here's a poem that I wrote about this.


"This is who I am and always will be"

What a cop out to say this is who I am and always will be
because of a dysfunctional family

Years of being in therapy.
can set one free.

Once one has seen the light
one can't claim ignorance in the fight

The choices now made,
can't be blamed on those others made,

What a cop out to say this is who I am and always will be
because of a dysfunctional family

One can say “the end” and chose to be free.
Such freedom hard work in therapy.

To excuse the lack of personal responsibility
keeps oneself inflicted by one's dysfunctional family.

Empower oneself,
Stop empowering to the old self

What a cop out to say this is who I am and always will be
because of a dysfunctional family

Stop waiting for others to repent,
I's wasted energy can be better spent.

To still wallow in the pain,
Produces no gain.

Stop empowering it,
by holding on to it

It's time to say “the ending”,
and now “the beginning”.

What a cop out to say this is who I am and always will be
because of a dysfunctional family

Cmag, very thought provoking piece. You're right. It is possible to survive bad families. I won't get into all the details, would take hours, but I come from a pretty screwed up bunch. My sibs died fairly young. I am the middle kid and was always the responsible one. If like to think that's because I'm a great person but really I think it's because I never had any choice. Someone had to deal with all the crisis , tradgety , death, mental illness etc. and it always fell to me. You just have to choose to not go down with the ship. I realise that there are so many stories out there with many much worse than mine, and I guess surviving some families intact is impossible. I'm one of the lucky ones, so far at least. I've got a ways to go yet with the elder care biz. Thanks for raising a valuable discussion.
Some abusive family situations are so terrible that the person's low self-esteem keeps them from making some tough choices.

We must understand their plight and how much fear they experience over making the smallest move toward freedom. While we can't force them to get help and get free, we must not abandon them, but continue to love them and be there for them.
cmag - thanks for a great topic. We can change and for the better. It takes courage and hard work. I agree there are some who have been so battered that they don't feel they have the resources to make changes. Continuing to love and support can really help them. I think back of the support that I have received and still do. It is invaluable.

Windyridge - no disrespect but I think It is a matter of choice, and agree with you that you can choose not to go down with the ship. Then comes the hard work. I know what you mean as being the one who stepped in and took care of crises. I am the responsible one too and I think you are a great person for doing what had to be done. It isn't easy, but you can respect yourself.

Let me encourage anyone in this battle - and it is a battle - you can leave much or all of the dysfunction behind, you can learn to deal better with it, you can achieve a better life, more peace, less disrespect. You can surround yourself with people who build you up, not who use you and drag you down. It takes some hard decisions and work, but it can be done.

Start by doing something good for you today.
EmJo, I wonder if it's too simplistic for us to advise people to just make the right choice. Granted, many families are totally screwed up beyond repair due to horrible life choices, such as marriages that shouldn't have happened, kids parents can't care for , drugs and so on. Not to split hairs, but I think in many cases people really don't have any choices or options. I was lucky in some ways. As my family crumbled I wasn't broke, depressed, mentally ill or addicted and have been able to hold it together. It our case it was about choices. My sibs made lousy choices, wrecked theirs and d*mn near near my life, but we all came from the same place with the same opportunities. Just rambling here..Appreciate the discussion.
While the severity of difficulty is not equal from one dysfunctional situation to another, I think there is always a glimmer of hope for choice not to have what the never had but a choice to get out of what they are in now.

However, I do think there is a window of time in which such a choice can be made but after that point, the likely hood for change spirals downward.

For example and this is a very common one, if a man is in his 40ties and emotionally enmeshed with his mother, most of the time it is too late for change and if he is married, she is fighting a what is very likely a loosing battle. If already married, this will require some hard work in marriage counseling and may even require individual therapy for the husband.

Given how sever and deep the damage, it creates fear in some to even think about making a choice for change.Those we must respect where they are, not abandoned them, but continue to give them our love for one day because of our support they find the strength and courage to make choices they never made before.

If change was as simplistic as just make the right choices now that you see what they are, then therapists and sometimes anti-anxiety and anti-depression meds would not be needed. The good news is that freedom is available, but the bad news is that for a number of people to deal with the collateral fallout on their mental health, they will likely spend the rest of their life in therapy and on some sort of medicine.

Without going into all of the details this has been my wife's experience in dealing with her narcissistic mother.

Telling people just to make the right choice is far to simplistic. It is simple but difficult move for very many to make.it is sort of comparable to telling someone who has clinical depression to just choose to think about positive things in their life or to just choose to snap out of it. Neither comment is a realistic choice for them due to the chemical imbalance in their brain and that might be a sign that their meds needs adjusting.

This is probably too long of a reply and far more than what needed to be said, but I feel energized to share all of this. Hope someone finds it helpful.
windy - it may well be too simplistic. Our days are made of many choices - our relationships are made of many choices. With those choices comes the opportunity to make changes - big ones and little ones. A couple of people have mentioned upcoming mother's day and how they are dealing with it differently this year - and on a healthier fashion, I believe. As our physical health is determined to some extent by our daily choices, so is our mental health.

cmag - change does mean making different choices but it is not as simple as telling others what to do. They have to see that it will benefit them to make different choices, and decide to make those choices for their own reasons. We can share our experiences, tell them what we think is best in the circumstances, but, at the end of the day, each person makes their own decisions.

This forum has impacted many people's lives very powerfully by validating their feelings, providing support, helpful suggestions, a place to vent to those who understand, information on a wide range of topics and more. It had helped people make healthy changes.
I also come from a dysfunctional family. It almost swallowed me up but I knew I was different at a very early age, not to mention my Mom put tye fear of God in ke so I wouldn't be like the rest. All I know is I have some issues like anxiety and depression but my head is still above water. It was and still is painful for me because my oldest sister, the worst of the family,enjoys trying to humiliate me and punishing me for what ever she's done. Only difference is I'm an adult now and she doesn't scare me. I thank my Mom every chance I get for being so hard on me and making me be a loving and considerate person even if I thought I shouldn't have had to put my life on hold to help a family who doesn't appreciate anything. Just knowing I'm not like some of my. Family makes ke keep moving forward to deal with what ever tries to trip me up in my life today. So it is possible and it is hard. When you feel like giving up, try this. Look back at your family situation and then look ahead of you. Which way do you want to go, back to bad and sad or a happier, more sane life with alot of bump and uncertain to get past? Anything worth fighting for is not going to be easy. I have to remind myself of that every day.
I'm not sure how many are really ready for this poem and thus I hesitated to even post it, but i do hope it helps those who are ready for it and maybe it will help others when they are ready for it.

May we strive to not allow our wounds to make us into the person who gave us those wounds.

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