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Disconnecting from dysfunctional family members
Old 09-17-2010, 06:13 PM   #1
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Disconnecting from dysfunctional family members

Anybody ever emphatically disconnect from one or more dysfunctional family members? In other words, rather than just not calling/writing/visiting them, you explicitly told them, ďI donít think youíre healthy, youíre not adding anything positive to my life, and I donít care to see you anymoreĒ. I did it last night, and today am filling in other family members who are sort of caught in the middle that these 2 folks are persona non grata in my life, and not to bring them around.

In both cases, my actions could be viewed as extreme, since nothing overt has happened with either of them recently. No screaming matches, no (recent) thievery or other betrayal of trust. Just a long, slow simmer, and a dawning realization that I donít have to accept people in my life that Iím uncomfortable around, and who donít add anything positive. While neither has been clinically diagnosed, I personally believe both these individuals have Borderline Personality Disorder, which seems to be pervasive in my family.

I did this via e-mail, since thatís my primary method of communication with both of these people. I got back one angry, hurt reply, and the other person hasnít responded. I realized that in 1 case, I was hesitant to do it not because of the individualís reaction, but because it will make other family members that I care about uncomfortable. Ultimately, I decided that the freedom Iíd feel outweighed any short-term pain Iíll cause with my other family members.

I saw a quote today that resonated with me: ďYou get what you tolerateĒ. Thatís what I was doing: tolerating dysfunction, to my detriment. It was stressful last night, and I only got about 4 hours sleep. Today, as the day goes on, stress is giving way to relief. I think I did the right thing.

Any stories to share?
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:19 PM   #2
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I deliberately disconnected from my father for about a year after my mother left him. I made it be known (through other family members) that I would not accept any communication from him. Changed my phone number, etc.

I slowly started allowing conversation with him after things had settled down, but I made it clear that I would not tolerate any verbal abuse. It seemed to have set him straight. He never again became verbally abusive to me and always treated me respectfully after that. I think the seriousness of my ex-communication made him examine how he had treated me. I do think he felt sorry - although he never formally offered an apology.

All in all - a very good move on my part. Helped me set boundaries and develop healthier relationships with others from that point forward.
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:48 PM   #3
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Mostly blocked sister and her kids and her ex.
They know where I am.
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:51 PM   #4
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I have a dirt bag ex-brother who in a better world would be in prison.
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:03 PM   #5
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Strange the issue would come up. I'm visiting my mother next weekend for the first time in.... gosh, 4 years. After a disastrous Thanksgiving I told her I wasn't going to have anything to do with her unless she was sober.

It's so bizarre because she's a blend of someone I know better than anyone mixed with a complete stranger.
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:31 PM   #6
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If they do have BPD, I can understand how you feel. I would only suggest that if your family members do decide to get help, that you would at some point try to reconnect if only thru email.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:04 PM   #7
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You know, looking up on wiki BPD (borderline personality disorder), I am thinking, maybe my sister-in-law has that, instead of the other BPD (Bipolar disorder) she was diagnosed with. They sound pretty similar to me. Anyway, I told her I would change my phone number if she kept on calling in the middle of the night one after another ranting and raving and making no sense. She couldn't stop, so I changed my phone number. She lives very far and I don't even think she has my address, but I was afraid for a while that I would find her knocking on my front door one day. I don't think that will happen now, and I am really relieved that those crazy calls stopped. It's not worth it to keep people in your life who are crazy or who makes you crazy. Granted she is not a blood relative, but my brother was cut out when I cut my sister-in-law out of my life. (My borther was getting really weirded out too because of her craziness or because of some synergetic effect between the two, I don't know, but at this point, I don't care. to find out either way.)

I hope things will change, but even if it didn't, I am OK with it. I chose to do this for my sanity and peace.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:09 PM   #8
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My parents cut off all contact with my brother about 20 years ago. It didn't bother me much because he and his family were difficult and unpleasant to deal with and you never knew how much of his stories were just lies and excuses. Much of this was due to his drug use and his wife's alcohol usage.

I did not miss him and rarely thought about him. Then he got in touch with me, just wanting to reconnect with family. I accepted and cautiously started a relationship again. We were doing well at reestablishing our sibling relationship when he suddenly died. It was a drug overdose.

Turns out my parents were right all along. He really was toxic, but looking back I'm glad that I had him in my life, to a degree, for that short amount of time.

I strongly agree that if you've got people who just make you miserable, you don't have to put up with it. Sometimes in a tug-of-war the best tactic is to drop the rope and walk away. Especially if this has been going on for a long time and you've tried to accept them or help them change.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:13 PM   #9
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Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina



I really didn't bother with telling the members of my family I didn't want to deal with - I just avoid or ignore them.

There is one thing to consider - if there is something the other person does that really annoys you; ask yourself if you have the same thing - maybe to a lesser degree.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:20 PM   #10
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Traits like mutual respect, trust and honesty are often more important attributes in people we continue to maintain relationships with rather than just shared DNA.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:30 PM   #11
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Traits like mutual respect, trust and honesty are often more important attributes in people we continue to maintain relationships with rather than just shared DNA.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:32 PM   #12
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Why should I continue contact with crazy people?

(It's been more than 7 years and none of the $%^ has told me Mother died or why they didn't tell me.)

Bitter?
Maybe just realistic.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:38 PM   #13
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Since FIREing a little over 4 yrs ago, I've backed out of relationships with several folks. I find I can do so without confrontation although it sometimes takes months. I just slowly, quietly back away. I'm just more comfortable doing it that way. Why be judgmental/confrontational when fault might reside all around? Just slowly turn down the communication spigot until the stream is completely stopped and harbor no ill feelings anchored in the past.
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:02 PM   #14
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I have a sister who I was very close to for.. about 30 years. Unfortunately she became very dysfunctional after that. I can understand why, but I am unwilling to tolerate her behavior. I miss her but she is unwilling to meet me with a counselor. She is not able to confront her personal issues. I do feel sorry for her and her family but my priority is my own family. Such is life.
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:47 PM   #15
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Well, I got divorced! And that was it.

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Old 09-18-2010, 01:06 AM   #16
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Anybody ever emphatically disconnect from one or more dysfunctional family members?
Any stories to share?
We haven't emphatically disconnected-- more like slowly edging to the exit and sliding out when they're distracted elsewhere.

My spouse envies me for not having much to do with my father or my brother. Sometimes I envy my spouse for having her brother and her parents available. But whenever we get a good solid dose of the other's life we realize once again that we really want nothing to do with any of these people.

We could probably both support a team of psychotherapists to their own ERs. At least these days our actions are guided by our own consciences and not by some misguided sense of filial duty.
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:16 AM   #17
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Please tell me I'm not the only person on this board who likes my parents and siblings.
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:47 AM   #18
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Please tell me I'm not the only person on this board who likes my parents and siblings.
You're not. I've gone through a few rough patches with my dad, but I would never consider cutting him out of my life. I have great relationships with my mom and sister. But I think that living thousands of miles away from them helps "idealize" the relationships. We see each other so rarely that everyone tries to be on their best behavior on those rare occasions. I think our relationships would probably be tenser if we lived closer to each other. Too much codependency for my taste.

DW, on the other hand, has happily cut ties with many members of her family including her step dad and siblings.
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Old 09-18-2010, 07:01 AM   #19
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This discussion is a bit one-sided. Has anybody disconnected from YOU?
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Old 09-18-2010, 07:16 AM   #20
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This discussion is a bit one-sided. Has anybody disconnected from YOU?
Yes, my parents (both of them).

When they divorced after 25+ of marriage, I had to make the decision of "who I would talk to for the rest of my life".

I had a rocky relationship with both of them over the years, but since my father was a real SOB (another long story, not to be discussed on an open forum), I chose my mother. I didn't talk to my father from the point of their split up till the SOB passed many years later.

My mother has her own problems (mental/emotional) due to the breakup - even though she's been remarried for many years (to a good guy that treats her well, IMHO). She can't give up the past, and I spoke to her husband about getting her into therapy (Iíve been in therapy because of them, and a lot of other personal problems; I know it works).

She refused, and continued to blame everybody else for her "problems". BTW, she's mentioned that she's sad because she has no grandchildren, even though DW/me have a son (disabled) and my brother has two children (they are adopted and "not of her blood" is her reasoning). I guess any grandchild "less than perfect" is not good enough.

Last time I spoke to her on the phone (a few years ago) we got into an argument and she hung up on me (more of the same). I simply decided that life without her in it was better than the grief that I (and my DW) was putting up with all these years. I have no intention to "patch up" a relationship that has never been normal. Sheís has not attempted me to contact me since.

You chose your friends; you can't choose your relatives. If you can't get along, you need to get away.

Enough said...
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