FAQ

Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Announcement Icon
You can win one of three $200 gift cards. Complete our survey by 5pm, 30 June 2024 AEST to enter the draw. Your response will be anonymous so you can't be identified.

Dysfunctional Family

Fiatlux
Community Member

This is probably going to be more a rant than anything else.

After my father passed away on 2011 I severed ties with toxic family, including my narcissistic mother, older brother and younger sister. My older sister just decided to severe ties with everyone.

My fathers funeral hadn’t even happened yet but my siblings were squabbling over money. It all started with a fight over who would get Dad’s car as my mother doesn’t drive.

So, this week my younger sister and brother pop back into my life via my estranged husband. I felt sick to the stomach when my ex husband contacts me to tell me all about it. Like he enjoys triggering my ptsd and anxiety.

Trying their hardest to send me into a guilt trip over my ageing mothers health issues.

Now I have never been close to my mother so cutting her out seemed easy as I rarely ever spoke to her even when dad was alive. She definitely took absolutely no interest in me, my children and wasn’t at all supportive knowing that I was in a very abusive marriage. She told me that I made my bed and I can sleep in it. She also told me to never confide in my father as he had enough concerns with my siblings and didn’t need my problems too.

So, I endured it alone with absolutely no family support.

My siblings speak to my former husband like they are all best buddies despite never liking each other when we were married.

So sorry for the long rant, but I am back on anxiety medication over this.

My brother attacked me on social media a few years back about my selfishness for abandoning my mother. All my Dads family saw this. My brother is gutless to speak to me face to face or even on the telephone. My brother lives overseas most of the year.

Not once have any of my family reached out sincerely. Any contact was all about them.

So I asked my ex husband if my siblings have asked how I was? Absolutely Not. They carried on about their own lives and health issues.

It’s just the same old, same old.

I am just so upset that this has me back on meds when I was doing better.

I have every right to cut off toxic people. I owe it to myself.

6 Replies 6

james1
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Fiatlux,

I'm sorry to hear about your father's passing, and how difficult it is to deal with the rest of your family now. It sounds like severing ties was something that was helpful to you, and having them reach out now via your ex-husband has just made your anxiety a lot worse.

You absolutely have the right to choose who you associate with, and how much, because some people just aren't good for us in any particular moment. I do not get along well with mum and while we still talk, it's a relationship I keep at a safe and comfortable distance.

Do you have any friends who you can confide in, or even just spend time with to de-stress if you have to speak to family for whatever reason?

James

quirkywords
Community Champion
Community Champion

fiat lux

welcome to the forum.

yes sometimes breaking or lessen I g contact with toxic people is something one needs to do for one’s own mental health.

As James said are there people outside family who can support you.

I am glad you are looking after your health.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

I have similarities- narc mother, ex inlaws that used to cause issues and a daughter I wont have anything to do with as her mother abused me for 11 years. I have another daughter I'm very close to.

A short comment about my estranged daughter who has adopted her mothers abusive techniques. I mused over what I'd do if she knocked on my door. I decided - I'd allow her in, make a cuppa and let her talk. However, I would never allow her to get away with her abuse of me, I'd be firm not cruel, I would not renew our relationship (so to protect myself) and I would let her know my feelings. Isn't that better than slamming the door on her? I would feel better than I'm civil, get my anger out, show her that abuse/narcissism is unacceptable. I'd be taking the high road, I'd be proud.

A few comments on your post- Your relationship to your mother is your business, it is not comparable to other relationship with her. It has zilch to do with your siblings or anyone else.

Your ex is not assisting you imo, he is involving himself in matters that, when he tells you, they hurt. Nope, not a good situation. You are far better off not listening to this stuff. If your relationship to him is otherwise good than a good idea is to tell him you do not want any further information to pass to you. You'll never fully move on otherwise.

Your anxiety is you major concern. Time to get rid of that eh? So more professional help plus... I've got a couple of threads you can read- just the first post of each. Inner peace with all this family stuff can be your goal and that also means that in a couple of years you can brush any developments that come your way off much more easily. My mother is 91yo this year. I'm expecting family (her supporters that have been manipulated) to condemn my sister and I for not being helpful, at a forthcoming funeral we wont attend. Finish means finish, we do everything to help us cope with life and not punish ourselves nor ruin our lives for others that are intent on doing so. It's called "moving on fully" and its the best medicine. Nothing hurts you in the fortress of survival.

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/anxiety/anxiety-how-l-eliminated-it

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/relationship-and-family-issues/fortress-of-survival

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/ptsd-trauma/abusive-parents-and-their-effect-on-us-their-children

I hope I've helped.

TonyWK

Thank you for your own story and advice.

It does bring me to tears that I don’t have a mother and never have. My mother didn’t even appreciate Mother’s Day.

It hurts, but I don’t think that I could attend her funeral either. She’s been widowed almost 11 years and I last saw her in 2020 at a funeral. We didn’t even acknowledge each other. I sat with Dad’s family. My mother despises them.

I did my utmost to be a good daughter. I was quiet and obedient. I never caused my parents any concerns. Even my siblings acknowledge this.

It amazes me that they accept my ex husband knowing that I suffered terrible abuse at the hands of that man.

I suppose that’s how domestic violence goes undetected for so long. Most wouldn’t believe what I suffered through as I was ashamed and kept it well hidden.

Some would say that I probably deserved it for not leaving earlier.

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Fiatlux~

I was really saddened to hear you say "Some would say that I probably deserved it for not leaving earlier"

I'd say two things about that, the first being what you deserved -and still do - is a partner that cherishes you and whom you can be safe with. You have had a terrible life and maybe you do not realy believe such people are out there - they are.

The second is that any one that thinks one can simply choose a time and leave an abusive relationship simply is ignorant, and has no idea of how things realy are. Leaving is terribly hard, both because of fear, lack of confidence, self-doubt, stigma, money problems, children, no support and a host of other reasons.

Many simply do not get away, and of the ones that do a fair number simply are forced to return, sometimes more than once.

So the fact you got away at all is a huge triumphed, and reading your account I suspect it was anger came to the front and helped you.

I had parents who were unloving and eventually cut me out of their lives. So I've often wondered if I have the seeds of their behavior built-in to me, but then again I know they have acted as templates for exactly how not to do this, how not to bring up children and more, and I've managed OK as a result.

It may be the illusion of being alone, or that there is a scrap of care and affection in toxic people that keeps one from cutting them out of our lives. All I can say is I've been far better off without them.

Croix

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Fiatlux

I'm so glad you gave yourself the freedom to vent. Something so highly triggering definitely requires a good constructive vent/release of highly triggering emotion. Can't keep that kind of stuff in without it doing some damage.

I'm a big believer in the idea that we're regularly tested in life. It's kinda like the universe saying 'Okay, if you think you've mastered this challenge, think again. I'm about to take it up a whole new level'. The challenge comes back again in a different form, in a new form and you can be left thinking 'What the hell?! I thought I'd mastered this. Apparently not. Poop!'. By the way 'Poop' is a very toned down version of the real full on ranting profanities that can come to mind 🙂

This sounds like a seriously whole new level when it comes to the challenge of emotional and physical detachment. That could sound a little like 'Don't contact me. Physically, don't come see me, don't physically phone me, don't text me!' etc. Emotionally, 'Do not do anything to trigger my nervous system. Don't shift my focus towards you. Don't plant any images of yourself or anyone else in my head that could possibly trigger my nervous system. Do not report any self serving ways that are going to trigger me! Don't lead me to see, in my mind, all my abusers coming together as self serving leaches!'. Nothing quite like the image of toxic people coming together to serve themselves, no matter the cost.

If you can identify leach-like behaviour, it's a bonus. Might sound a bit harsh but for some it works: 'I know a leach when I sense one. I've developed the ability to sense a person or the people who drain others. I will not let leaches attach in any way. If they try, I'll demand 'Do not attach yourself to me in any way, shape or form!' Repeat out loud as often as need be'. To focus on the people who fill us with great things is thoroughly energising. To focus on those who threaten to suck the life out of us is thoroughly draining. Of course, hard not to focus on them at times, for they're the ones we're trying to push out of our life.

If you can master this new version of an old highly emotional challenge, you deserve a medal and a ticker tape parade. Based on all your progress in the past, I'd say you got this. You can do it.

Btw, if you're sensitive enough you'll be able to easily sense the sickening people in your life. You can feel them, they're the real stomach churners, the people who 'make us sick (all the way through) to our stomach' 🙂