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Thread: Trying to get rid of the shoulds

  1. #1
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    Trying to get rid of the shoulds

    Okay. Simple fact: my family is toxic for me.

    My abuser was not a stupid woman, and she used the way my family members are as “proof” that they held me in contempt, were better than me, were ashamed of me, etc.

    After decades of work, I can manage most of the time, in most situations, with most people.

    I can’t cope with snobs, and my family dynamic is just that for complicated reasons. Also, for decades I presented myself as “less” because that was my role, the bottom of the heap.

    I know all that. I also know that a bad encounter with my family can cost me 2 weeks of well being; it’s happened before that I hit a nerve with a family member and whammo, they attacked me, verbally.

    I don’t trust them, and I have very good reasons to avoid them.

    The most toxic of them for me, including the person I was talking about above, I do avoid.

    I keep thinking I should find a way to interact with them, when even a Christmas card can set me off.

    I’m not sure if the should that echoes in my head is really from inside me, manufactured by my abuser, or if it’s cultural?

    But the question here is have you managed to turn off the ”shoulds” somehow, and if so, what do you do? If you haven’t quite, are you okay with that?

    Tia.

  2. #2
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    If they were not your "family", would you feel the same? Would you feel compelled to keep trying with a back stabbing, anxiety inducing acquaintance, or would you just leave that situation alone?

  3. #3
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    I’d avoid them like the plague!

    I had a similar question asked if me once about one of the more toxic members of my family, and that has helped me keep away.

    Interesting idea.

  4. #4
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    "I keep thinking I should find a way to interact with them, when even a Christmas card can set me off.

    I’m not sure if the should that echoes in my head is really from inside me, manufactured by my abuser, or if it’s cultural?"


    Is this the "should" you are talking about--how to interact with them socially? I am confused about the should part. I get the part about managing difficult family and how you need to protect yourself. I am struggling with the same issues right now, so boy do I get it. I am just unclear about the should part.

  5. #5
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    The "should" is the niggle that keeps telling me I can deal with them. That I"m being unreasonable. That it really, probably wouldn't be that bad. The part that wants to convince me that I'm not well, or healed, or complete, unless I can successfully deal with them and all that comes with them. That tells me I'm a coward and a wimp because I'm just happier with them at arm's length or out of my life.

    I have had people tell me that I need my family. I've also had people say if I "give it to God" I'll be able to deal with them. Or meditate. Or take up yoga. Or (fill in the blank).

    I'd love to. But dysfunctional people, like me, don't get there in isolation. One of our family "myths" is that I have problems and they don't. That's where our split begins. Certainly I have issues. But I did NOT get here in isolation. I was abused and the others weren't, but that's not my only issue.

    I'm not looking for apologies or reparations, but a level playing field. And there isn't one and it isn't possible, because part of their egos are based on the idea that they're fine.

    One said, "My parents were alcoholics, but it didn't affect me." Their spouse rolled their eyes and I know better. But we don't say it out loud. Another is passive aggressive and is superior to me in all ways and tells me so, either in words or tone of voice. If I call them on it, I get told I'm "too sensitive" or "over reacting" or "making things up."

    I can deal with the first, because it isn't an attack on me. I can't deal with the second. because it is.

    So the "shoulds" are the part of my head which keeps telling me that despite this, I ought to be willing to deal with all of them, all the time, instead of drawing the rigid boundaries I have. And having written this? That just seems dumb and self-destructive, no matter what the social expectations are!

  6. #6
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    Have you tried counseling? It sounds like you are dealing with a lot. My son's counselor has given him good advice about which people in the family he needs to avoid.

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    I wouldn’t be around abusive people regardless of if they are family. I don’t have anything to do with my brother. I got sick of my sister’s abuse and 15 years ago stopped allowing her to visit. We email and if I go home I see her for about 4 hours. In effect I really don’t have siblings. Good thing I have good friends.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yppej View Post
    Have you tried counseling? It sounds like you are dealing with a lot. My son's counselor has given him good advice about which people in the family he needs to avoid.
    Yep, started in 3rd grade. Got diagnosed with PTSD at 45. Decades of it. Most of it was a waste of time. Some of it was very helpful!

  9. #9
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    Terry, that's pretty much where I am. And most of the time, I'm fine with it. No, I'm better away from them and I know it. But every now and then, the "shoulds" surface again too.

  10. #10
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    I know more people that don’t care for their siblings than the reverse. My uncle had 8 kids and they are all very close. My parents were excellent so not sure how I ended up with the siblings I did)

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