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Tue Jul 31, 2012, 03:30 AM

How do you handle family members that you don't want to be around anymore?

My brothers, who I love, I think, ultimately just don't have respect for me. Or something.

They're both Republican idiots, but aside from that, they're selfish *icks sometimes. It's like they feel entitled
to be short tempered when they're tired, sick, unhappy about whatever.

My older brother can't seem to conduct a conversation with me without at least once, twice, or more, making a sarcastic short tempered comment, or a criticism about something I've said, or something I do in my life. It could be a difference in a past memory, and it's always my recollection that's wrong. The least little thing in the conversation, something I would never forsee, is twisted in some snide or condescending way and I get laughed at. I stand up for myself, sometimes it gets him in line for a while, but he never really understands, or honors my feelings. I know he loves me, but he's a functioning alcoholic and he's always crabby and short-tempered, impatient. I feel like I just annoy him.

My younger brother, on the other hand, is just a weird puzzle. He can be ok for a while, but he has a mean, manipulative side that comes out unexpectedly. I never know what bizarre, cruel, meant-to-shock thing he's going to say. He didn't like a Colbert clip I posted on Face book mocking Dressage, because he said I was making fun of a woman with MS (I wasn't) so he called me a liar and deleted me. A week later at his son's birthday party, all was fine and "normal", till we had a moment alone in the kitchen, and says to me, 'You know what I think of the polar bears supposedly becoming extinct?'...... 'Fuck em, we don't need em', snide little smile and he walks out of the room. He meant it to hurt me. I think it was his way, politically, to get his wing nut views in my face and a way to hurt me for his fake outrage at my FB post.

I avoided calling him and telling him an old friend of mine had passed away, not only because of his unexpected cruelty the week before, but also because he trashed another old friend (of the family) who had passed away a few years ago. I was feeling so sad about the news, and I just didn't want to hear bad things from him about her. So he was pissed because I didn't tell him sooner. He showed up at the funeral seething (2 1/2 hr drive which he had said was too last minute for him to attend), eyes glaring at me, all kinds of loaded words meant only for me to understand. He cooled down, we ended up friendly, but I haven't even bothered to explain because usually, when I try, no explanation will be acceptable. I may hear about it, passive-aggressively, for a long time. I don't if know this is making sense, giving a sense of the dynamic of things, it's hard to explain.

They're both really funny guys, strong personalities, but I love them. I feel done, fini. I don't want to shut them out completely,
but I literally feel nauseas when the phone rings and it's one of them. I don't want to talk to them, yet, if I don't answer the phone or
return the call, younger brother will scold me . . .(he's got that Hanutty outrage thing going all the fucking time, one after another. Always outraged). He used to have the most excellent sense of humor but he's been indoctrinated. Why would I want to answer the phone when he's a *ick, yet he's a *ick next time I talk to him because I'm not 'checking my VM from him and getting back promptly'. He's just a fucking drag.

Does anyone else deal with similar bullshit? If so, how do you deal with it? I don't want to cut them out of my life completely,
but I don't want to talk or be around them. My sister and parents are gone, it's just them and me. Thank God for my
wonderful husband who knows how to navigate appropriately, but he can't fight my battles with family.

I apologize for any misspellings. Just want to get this off my chest.

29 replies, 2983 views

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Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply How do you handle family members that you don't want to be around anymore? (Original post)
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 OP
HeiressofBickworth Jul 2012 #1
Major Nikon Jul 2012 #2
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #15
Pholus Jul 2012 #3
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #18
raccoon Jul 2012 #4
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #10
ohiosmith Jul 2012 #5
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #11
HopeHoops Jul 2012 #6
pipi_k Jul 2012 #7
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #12
raccoon Aug 2012 #23
pipi_k Aug 2012 #26
turtlerescue1 Jul 2012 #8
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #13
byeya Jul 2012 #9
Myrina Jul 2012 #14
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #17
TrogL Jul 2012 #16
Wait Wut Jul 2012 #19
Sugarcoated Jul 2012 #21
pipi_k Aug 2012 #27
slackmaster Jul 2012 #20
HelenaHandbasket Aug 2012 #22
Baitball Blogger Aug 2012 #24
President T Toilet Aug 2012 #25
Populist_Prole Aug 2012 #28
Kali Aug 2012 #29

Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 03:48 AM

1. Before I retired,

I had a co-worker who was quite unpleasant and thought it her life's work to cause me problems with my job. At first, I completely shut her out -- I didn't work directly with her anyway, so it was no problem to just keep busy enough that I never had time for her. She kept up her nasty comments about me to my supervisor. After a while, I decided to change tactics. I decided I would have a short (no more than 15 minutes), non-business related conversation with her once a month. I asked her questions about her hobby, her son, her garden, etc while offering little or no information about myself. For some reason that seemed to work and she got off my back about work things. Perhaps your solution with your brothers is to determine for yourself when it would be convenient for you to have a conversation with them. Let them say anything they want and then don't take their calls or emails or VMs or whatever until you decide you will do it again. Only ask questions about their hobbies, families, activities, but not politics. For me the key was to not engage in any disagreement with the co-worker. When you have a conversation only when YOU want to, it gives you power over your exposure to their unpleasantness.

Good luck.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:12 AM

2. This is how I feel about it

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:41 PM

15. I know, I know

I hung in there and overlooked things for my kids. They're grown, but my brother now has a 4 yr old son. Maybe it's his turn to eat shit, but I'd never just stop contact with my nephew. I just won't see him as much.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 08:01 AM

3. Sorry to hear you're an emotional hostage like I was...

And not that it worked out well for me in the end but I was in a somewhat similar situation with you.

For several years I settled on a policy of ending contact the instant things turned uncomfortable. "Oh sorry, gotta go it's the kids' principal on the other line" or "look at the time, sorry I have an appointment" or "dinner's ready so I'll talk to you later." I didn't care if the excuse was thin or transparent, in fact in my passive aggressive way that was the point. I hid their facebook comments so that they didn't ambush me and merely made a regular schedule for visiting their pages when I was mentally prepared to deal with crap. Deliberately bought phones without instant messaging and screened my calls with caller ID. I made sure to always respond, but I put a time delay in so any emotional BS behind their contact effort had time to dissipate a bit. Being able to have a level of control made things tolerable for me and ended that feeling of nausea you describe. In fact, it got somewhat nice for a while...

When my dad died things eventually broke down altogether. Started explaining it but realized you don't really need 15 paragraphs of accusations and counter accusations. It had a huge political bent to it though. See, in Hannity-land, liberals
are shiftless and lazy and steal and I'm a liberal so the story writes itself irrespective of mere facts and evidence. I eventually told them if we couldn't talk about family without politics involved, then perhaps we have nothing to discuss. Like good right wingers given a direct challenge they accepted my offer. Haven't talked in seven years now. Not a happy ending, I'm afraid.

After a lifetime of priding myself on always doing the right thing I suppose I should feel guilty about failing so badly when it came to family but in the end it wasn't me holding the emotional hostages. In fact, it was plain that they considered the price
of continued communication to be my having to accept whatever abuse they threw my way. I stopped being willing to pay
that price. It also didn't help that we were fundamentally different people -- they stayed close to home and did the simpler life thing where I went through graduate school and travelled the country in various jobs. I'm also twenty years younger than them. Because mom and dad were older and financially secure when I came along, I had better opportunities and until I was doing the post-mortem I completely misjudged how much resentment that had caused.

Anyway, so it plays with me emotionally a lot -- after all no "good" person should be excluded by their family, right? I take comfort in realizing that there are two views of who I am. The view of my family and the view of pretty much everyone else I've ever gotten to know. I can only control the latter view and I am satisfied with it.

As your family does this to you, you have to realize that you have only a limited set of options available. As long as you want to try to keep the relationship going, you try to cope while giving what feedback you can. When you finally cannot cope anymore you have to spell it out to them and be prepared to accept whatever response you get.

I wish it were easier...

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Response to Pholus (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:48 PM

18. Thanks for sharing that

it helps to know others understand

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 08:09 AM

4. Sugarcoated, I feel your pain. My parents are gone, I have no kids, and only two sisters.


One I'm close to, and another one I'm not close to.

Are you familiar with Al Anon? It's for friends and families of alcoholics. Not only that, but it can help a person learn
to deal better with people in all life situations.

Al Anon can help you set some boundaries with your brothers and not put up with unacceptable behavior from them.

Check your pm's.

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Response to raccoon (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:30 PM

10. Thanks, I checked out that site briefly this morning

Looks like the place for me. I did go to ACOA a few times and have a lot of AA friends. I grew up with an alcholholic father
and an enabling mother and my brothers and I (and sister, when she was still here) all had the roles we played. If I remember correctly, we were pretty classic ACOA roles. I was the scapegoat, to some degree, the nice one who got trampled emotionally, which led me to moving out at 17 to live with my grandmother. I worked on things some years back, but stopped. I guess it's time to find a good therapist and get back to it.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 10:11 AM

5. Ignore them. After five years or so, they get the message.

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Response to ohiosmith (Reply #5)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:31 PM

11. This one works for me.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 10:29 AM

6. Hide under the bed.

 

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 10:32 AM

7. How about this as a strategy...

Each time one of them says something outrageous or hurtful, smile and say "You're right", then change the subject or walk away completely.

Every single time.

Because, really...what good would it do to argue? Especially with an alcoholic.

One thing I've learned over the years is that you never argue with a drunk/alcoholic or someone with dementia.

You will not win. Ever.

If they want to interact on a civil level, then by all means, interact. But as soon as the bullshit appears, concede to their (in their minds) moral "rightness" and end the discussion. If they want to have a mature relationship with you, they'll eventually get it. If not, at least you haven't caused turmoil in your own life.



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Response to pipi_k (Reply #7)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:33 PM

12. This works for me as well.

I'm a planner of interaction strategies . . . sometimes it takes up way too much space in my head. I wish I could just 'have it' and not feel like I have to plan for the 'what ifs'. Depression soon follows and I don't want to go there again.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Reply #12)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 07:58 AM

23. Me too. I'm not good at thinking on my feet, thinking of a good response when someone does or says


something unexpected. And you can't plan for every "what if."



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Response to raccoon (Reply #23)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:33 AM

26. I know...I hear both of you...

Which is why the written word is my preferred method of communication.

Verbally, I never see it coming, so I either sit there like a bump on a log looking (and feeling stupid), or I overreact, looking even stupider.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 10:50 AM

8. I usually try to be funny.

BUT your post hits a nerve that has no humor left to it.

I never fully realized what kind of people my family really are. At the death of my mate things could no longer be denied. The following are not my own words-my primary care doc put me in grief counseling, which when I relocated to this State, after three panic attacks decided maybe I should see if I had work to finish. Events still continued from family. I always played the fool, the dumbie, the naive one-it kept things "quiet". But it was not enough I guess. Meanwhile had so much of Murphy's Law, wrote my closest friend wanted to change my last name to Murphy. Felt like I was locked in Imelda Marcos' closet with her 600 pairs of shoes, they just kept dropping. The panic attacks led me back to taking care of my MH, at which after three months the MH counselor who had been aware of the "stunts" going on said: "There is nothing wrong with your coping skills, it is the impacts of family with dysfunctional personalities that causes the problems." She called my sister a "drama queen with control-freak behaviors", and the nephew a "sociopath". AFter a lot of examining I cut all contacts, and was promptly cussed and berated by my loving family. Later the MH counselor said "Okay, so you sister is on her death bed, do you race back to Minnesota to be at her side and once more let her win, or do you stay in your life and let her meet her Maker on her own?" Fought with that for two months, and finally "saw".

Sometimes your real family is not those you grew up with.

As a child me fodder used to say: "Gonna let those folks have a da----- good letting alone."

A friend wrote about two years ago that my sister had called seeking to know where I was and getting in contact. I fell for it, AGAIN. She had done this before in California, she ran an ad in the local newspaper, and everyone I knew told me about it. I knew I shouldn't call, but of course there's a place in our hearts.... Just about this New Year, realized nothing had changed, it was the same old same old. These folks know what town I live in, they have a PO Box, but anything from them goes back. Things happened that cannot be ignored or played down.

Got a card from a friend after my last tie-cutting event, said: "God may give us good friends to compensate for the family we were given."

I understand.

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Response to turtlerescue1 (Reply #8)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:36 PM

13. Humor is my default setting, it's an awesome defense. Problem is, they're quicker and funnier

but I hold my own, mostly, but yeah, I've hit a wall. I'm 50 and I'm done with the games. It helps so much to have people respond here who understand . . . thank you.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:07 AM

9. Ignore them; avoid them; erase them from your life. In less than two years you'll

 

wonder why you put up with the crapola for so long.
Friends are better than family, especially one full of bullies and hatemongers.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:39 PM

14. Move to a different state

Worked for me

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Response to Myrina (Reply #14)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:45 PM

17. I actually considered that,

but my family moved at least 2 dozen times throughout my childhood, so I have a thing about roots and staying in one place. My husband's family is cool, I know he'd like to stay near them. It's a marvelous fantasy . . . a cabin in the forrest somewhere in
Washington State . . .

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:42 PM

16. Moved to the opposite end of the country

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:52 PM

19. I don't recommend shutting them out.

Choose your conversations and time with them wisely. When they say something stupid, just pleasantly retire the conversation and be done with it.

My father was semi-close to his sister his entire life. After their mom died, there was a family feud over a cottage that was instigated by her husband...not her. But, it was enough to drive a wedge between my dad and aunt. He didn't talk to her for almost 10 years when he needed to get a hold of her to let her know that their aunt had died.

Her husband answered the phone. "Nola died 5 years ago." and hung up on him. My father died several years later and never forgave himself for letting something so petty get in the way of family. We also found out her son, my cousin/godfather, had died of a brain tumor just a couple of years before she died.

I've seen too many stories like this. Granted, in some cases the separation is better for all involved, but it doesn't sound like the case here. It sounds like there's still a lot of love left and I'd hate for you to go through the same pain my father endured. You're better off just doing what I mentioned and limiting your exposure to them. Avoid subjects that will cause conflict. If you're cornered and they say something dumb, just respond with a simple, "That was an unnecessary comment...you silly tool." If you remove the anger from the conversation...you win.

Good luck to you and your family.

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Response to Wait Wut (Reply #19)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 06:08 PM

21. I don't think I'd ever shut them out completely,

they'll get the message pretty quick that I'm upset with them and make attempts to make nice. I need to disengage to
some degree, so maybe Al Anon or ACOA will help me be able to deal with them, while protecting myself. My family
has a fair amount of those types of things you speak of in our background. My parents moved us away from our hometown due to various feuds, etc., and as a result, us kids don't really have very many close relatives. I'm reconnecting with some cousins, thanks
to Facebook, which is great. I think the reason I've shaken so many things off and have been so forgiving and understanding
of my families dysfunctions because I didn't want my kids not being close to my siblings.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Reply #21)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:43 AM

27. ACoA is great

for that type of thing. So is CoDA (Co-dependents Anonymous).

I was a member of both for some years.

It was during that time when I had cut off contact with most of my family except for my kids and my brother.

After working the program and doing most of the 12 Steps, I was finally able to allow my family back in again, and I am in a much better place with them...especially my mom, who was the codependent in her marriage to my alcoholic father, but with waaaay more issues than he had.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 05:58 PM

20. I stopped calling, and sent her cartons of cigarettes for Christmas for about 10 years

 

Then I kind of forgot about her.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:08 AM

22. Tell Them How You Feel...Discuss It And Be Honest

If people were honest and said how they felt, they'd be a lot a happier....I don't put up with shit and happily spend a lot of time alone LOL.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 09:41 AM

24. Sometimes the most civil approach is to treat relatives like they're perfect strangers.

Don't let them get close enough to hurt you, but be polite.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:34 AM

25. I know exactly what you are going through..

I have had the same relationship with some friends and a few relatives over the years. It's extremely frustrating. One day I happened to stumble across some information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and found the information extremely liberating. That's not to say that your brothers have NPD but from the situations you have described it throws some red flags up for me. Unfortunately you will most likely never have a "normal" relationship with your brothers. The best you can do is to manage it a little better and you will ultimately have to take the higher road here. I'll try to track down some of the sites where I found info on NPD and pass them along. Googling it is a good start. Hope this helps and hang in there.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 01:31 PM

28. I try to make the visits or calls few, far between, and short

My right wing father has went much much hard over to the right over the past dozen years or so and given the chance ( and being VERY pushy and preachy by nature ) he will try to politicize discussion and push back angrily if I disagree. "Fogging" doesn't work; that is throwing him a bone by stating your view so broadly that it looks like you kinda' agree with him, because he'll think he's almost got you and will push even harder. Silence or non-engagement doesn't work, as, especially with all his political email forwards he bombards me with, because this means that silence = consent.

Since we do share many interests, plus we fascinate each other with our respective knowledge of certain matters, conversations can be very stimulating and interesting, and for that we both enjoy each other's company immensely. With that in mind, with visits or calls so far between, there is so much "catching up" to do that there is no time for politics. Occasionally he'll try to insert a political angle but I'm so much on a roll that I can quickly dismiss it and get back to the subject. It also helps if we're busy enjoying an activity or watching a good movie....I just have to make sure all the time is filled with distractions otherwise he'll turn on Fox news and then you know where that will lead.

I can't completely avoid getting into arguments with him and when we do I know he is conscious of pushing his point to hard and torpedoing any good times, but for the most part I can. It just makes for a lot of "work" on my part and it can get very fatiguing.

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Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:46 PM

29. poverty, e-mail

too poor and vehicles to shitty to drive that far for visits

avoid phone at all costs

live on a ranch where everything is "ranch rigged" (held together with bailing wire), dusty, "smelly" and disorganized - helps discourage visits from anal-retentive assholes

the emails still push my buttons, but I can write scathing replies and delete them or hold in a draft folder until I cool off

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