Solve ALL the family issues!

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by An Actual Bird, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. An Actual Bird

    An Actual Bird neverthelass, Brid persisted, ate third baggel

    Hoo boy. Alright. I've been trying to deal with assorted family shit for like two years now, so I'm going to dump it here and hope someone else can help me see some kind of solution, because fuck if I can.

    Ever since I left high school (a little over two years ago), my relationship with my mum has become much more adult-to-adult than adult-to-child. Which is great! I genuinely enjoy her company and we're very close. Unfortunately, I'm now her main emotional support for a number of reasons:
    1. My father, who I love dearly, has the emotional range and understanding of a teaspoon. I don't know if he's autistic or if it's a product of his upbringing or what, but he just Doesn't Get feelings. My mum, on the other hand, is a very emotional person (goes through bouts of depression and anxiety, among other things). He's also currently living in London, which I'll get back to later. So, he and Mum Skype once a day, get angry at each other because Dad doesn't understand why Mum is so lonely and upset and Mum gets (reasonably, in my opinion) frustrated with him, and then she's upset for the rest of the night.
    2. My sister, god bless her, is both fifteen and frighteningly similar to my father in terms of personality. Pretty much everything 'wrong' with her boils down to 'she's fifteen and emotionally compromised', but that doesn't make it easier when she blows up at Mum for no reason. You know at Christmas when people post those tweets about how they omg didn't get the right kind of iPhone god THANKS MOM? That's my sister. She also spends all her time in her room Skyping her boyfriend. Mum tries to limit her computer time but my sister is very manipulative and my mum is easily manipulated, and it never quite works. She doesn't quite get why Mum wants to spend time with her and would be happy locked in her room all day. Actually, she doesn't really like anyone in our family all that much (because she's fifteen) and desperately wants to be independent (because she's fifteen). She's seeing a therapist, but that doesn't really seem to be helping on the mum-sister relationship front.
    3. Me! I'm 20, in a fugue of depression/college stress/vague illness at all times, have difficulty with social interaction (suspected autism but not diagnosed), and am really, really not equipped to mediate between the other three members of my family. Which is what I do. Constantly. Trying to get the three of them to understand each other and compromise is like herding cats. And if that wasn't bad enough ...
    4. We're all moving to London for my dad's job. Which is great! It's a very lucrative position! Except Dad's head has been there for the last two months and he can't see past the end of his own goddamn nose/understand that his wife of 25+ years might be a little lonely without him. He's currently over there now, is coming back for my birthday in April to sort out some stuff, going back, then the rest of us are moving over in July. So Mum is trying desperately to sort things out on her end (lots and lots of paperwork!), plus get my sister through her junior year of highschool, plus get me through my final year of college, plus run a small business (she sells Thermomixes, if anyone here has heard of those, I don't think they're in the USA yet?), plus try not to have an emotional breakdown.

    Christ, I don't even know what kind of advice to ask for. I try to get my sister to understand my mum - she just complains about how it's not fair on her. Fine, she's fifteen, that's a lost cause. I try to get my mum to hang out with her friends. Great, that's all good, but she can only do that so much, and the worst of it is in the evenings when my sister is in her room or the study Skyping; I try to stay in the living room with mum, at least, but ... I'm gonna be real with you guys, I don't have the energy or tools to keep a conversation going all night, I don't really like the same shows my mum does, and I'd rather be on the internet. Selfish, I know, but ... I don't know. I want someone to tell me I'm doing all I can. Or to come up with a magic solution to make my mum not lonely and sad all the time. Or, failing all else, to come up with a family-friendly multiplayer game I can get for the PS3, because the only time my sister showed any interest in "family bonding time" is when I tried to load up Portal 2, but then Mum didn't understand it at all and didn't have fun. (My sister, it should be noted, likes hanging out with me. I seem to be the only person in the house all three of them like.)

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. Words. So many. Sorry. I just ... man, I'm just so tired. I still feel like a kid a lot of the time, but then I'm hugging my mum while she sobs and asks why my sister hates her. You know?
  2. Codeless

    Codeless Cheshire Cat

    Two, no three things:

    One, you mentioned your father could be autistic, and your sister is like your father. Even if she´s not, is there a chance that she´s an introvert and "peopled out" as my family calls it, after school? (I may be autistic, am definitely introverted and during highschool I pretty much couldn´t bare to talk to anyone irl after school because I was so overloaded from having way too many people in my face all day. internet contact fills the need for human interaction without eating even half the spoons.)

    Two, Does your sister realize she´s being manipulative? Teenage self centeredness is a thing and gets excarberated if the teenager is dealing with mental illness of any kind. I developed some very manipulative behaviours as a dysfunctional coping mechanism.

    Three: Even if it´s hard to get your dad in on it because of distance, absolutely do suggest family therapy for your mom and sister.
  3. Kaylotta

    Kaylotta Writer Trash

    First off, hugs if desired. This sounds like an exhausting situation. Kudos to you for wanting to help. :)

    I should note that I have a family situation that parallels yours in some aspects,notably in the parents who are poor communicators and in the fact that I feel like the only one trying to fix things. I don't have the problems of distance or potential autism, though.

    All that being said, my first piece of advice is to remember that it's not actually your responsibility to fix your parents' problems (nor your sister's, but I suspect you're right in that a lot of it is teenager stuff). Speaking as a fellow oldest child with warring parents and siblings caught in the middle, I know this is a hell of a lot easier said than done. It is great that you are developing an adult relationship with your mom, but she needs to remember that you're her daughter, not her therapist, and not her marriage counselor. You still need to take care of yourself first: that is not selfish.

    You are helping and you do care. I think your best bet for supporting the rest of your family right now is to take care of yourself, and trust that everyone is going to make it out the other side. Spend time with your mom and your sister when you can.

    *more hugs* It's gonna be okay. You're not being selfish. You are doing your best, and you clearly care about your family a lot. :)
    • Like x 3
  4. Lissiel

    Lissiel Dreaming dead

    Seconding the 'not ultimately responsible for your parents wellbeing' thing. Its great you're trying to be there for her, but not at the expense of taking care of your own self. Your mom is an adult who needs to take care of HER own self, and it sounds like she's not. She's leaning on you and hinging her self-worth on the attention/demonstrativeness of a teenager. This is a)bound to fail because teenagers are bad supports even for themselves much less adult, and b) probably actually making things worse with your sister since she may be disengaging cause she hasn't figured out how to be close with your mom without ending up a crutch. Its also really unhealthy for you.

    Your mom needs a) other people to spend non-breakdown time with, so she doesn't stew in worry and loneliness, and b)a real therapist, not you, for breakdown times. As your mom gets more stable, she can figure out her marriage issues, your sister will probably still be a shit sometimes because who isn't at 15 but probably a more comfortable less isolated one, and you will be under less pressure and can actually enjoy your relationship with her. Not to mention maybe nit have to be sick and emotionally wrung out and spoonless all the time.

    But your mom is the shatterpoint and needs help you can't healthily give her, for all you've been knocking yourself out trying because you're awesome and loving. This one's above your pay grade.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
    • Like x 4
  5. rorleuaisen

    rorleuaisen Frozen Dreamer

    Well... Having been in a relationship like that with my mom, let me just say it's not the healthiest thing for you and your mom. There is a decent chance you may become bitter about how much time you have invested in others' lives later in life. That's what I'm dealing with right now. It also means I can't have normal relationship with my mom because what we used to be just sits in the background. Every time she asks me a favor, I have to stop myself and ask if I'm doing too much, if she is asking too much or taking advantage of me, if this is going to turn into the old routine we used to have, if I'm the one being selfish? I just don't know anymore, and it really feels like everytime. Today she asked me to bake some goodies for a project she was working on, and I just couldn't answer. I can't go to stores with her anymore. I avoid doing a lot of the activities we used to do together because the co-dependent relationship we had built, burned us both in the end.

    So, I caution you not to invest too much into your family's happiness. Holding their hands too much can result in being joined at the hip instead. They are individuals carving their own paths and learning from their own mistakes. I suggest you make sure to carve a path for yourself that doesn't revolve around them. Have faith in them, as well as in yourself.

    #Am I being gloomy again? #I swear everthing I say sounds depressing #Just hit me with a happy stick or something
  6. Kaylotta

    Kaylotta Writer Trash

    *hugs and a gentle tap with the happy stick for @rorleuaisen*
    • Like x 1
  7. An Actual Bird

    An Actual Bird neverthelass, Brid persisted, ate third baggel

    Thank you, guys. I'm not sure what the best way to do replies is, so, uh, I'll do my best.
    @littlemissCodeless - she definitely gets 'peopled out', in much the same way I do as well. I guess I worry because when I was her age, locking myself up in my (dark, stuffy) bedroom greatly exacerbated my existing depression and I'm worried about her health, but you're not wrong about there being an element of exhaustion there. Therapy's not a bad idea .... I'll think of a way to bring it up, maybe. Thank you :)
    @Kaylotta - hoo. Deep breath. You're right. Thank you. Gonna work on not trying to be everyone's therapist.
    @Lissiel - "probably actually making things worse with your sister since she may be disengaging cause she hasn't figured out how to be close with your mom without ending up a crutch" - That's. Hm. That would explain a lot. I hadn't really thought about it like that before, but it makes sense.
    @rorleuaisen - *paps with the happy stick* Damn. I'm sorry you went through that. I appreciate the caution. I think part of me already knew this wasn't healthy, but reading this (and everyone else's responses, too) kinda brought it home.

    Alright. That established, next stop is 'try to get my mum some help'. I know one of her friends is seeing a ... life coach? Something like that, and swears by it for putting her life back together. Might see if I can suuubtly nudge her into trying. She saw a therapist on and off last year, but she's one of those people who only starts doing something about a problem when it's already blown out of proportion (e.g. not taking her damn meds until she's already in a depressive funk.) I'm hoping that maybe if it's not a ''''therapist''''' exactly, and also something that her friend recommended, it might be more effective. Fingers crossed?

    Also, hugs for everyone. Seriously, thank you for responding.
    • Like x 5
  8. Lissiel

    Lissiel Dreaming dead

    Good luck, brosis. We're rooting for you.<3
    • Like x 1
  9. Codeless

    Codeless Cheshire Cat

    More evidence for Lissiels theory of your sister withdrawing so she won´t be made a crutch is that her therapy doesn´t seem to make her less isolated. Because no good therapist would encourage her to allow that.

    Also, speaking as someone who was a teenanger a very short time ago, trying to force her out of isolation by limiting her internet time and such is pretty much going to just make her dig her heels in. If you want to try and get her to get out more, maybe suggest things you can do together? (Not her and your mom, you and her.)

    • Like x 1
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