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Old 08-02-2011, 12:55 PM
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,858,512 times
Reputation: 8956


I am posting this in retirement because I want to know how other people who have raised families or lived a long time feel about dysfunctional family members at this point in your journey.

I worked very hard all of my life (started at age 11 "cutting cots") and have just retired. When I was working full time, I went to school and got a B.S., M.A., and am working on a Ph.D. (my second one - the first one I did the coursework but didn't finish the dissertation).

I raised a family (lots of it as a single parent) and then helped raise one of my children's kids . . .

I did many, many things to help my family members - buying stuff for them, sending money, etc. I could be a lot better off if I did not invest so much money in various people but I honestly wanted to help them. None of them would return the favor . . . I still don't regret it because I felt it was the moral and ethical thing for me to do at the time.

Now a couple of family members have been creating high drama for the extended family unit - they have cut themselves off, aren't talking to people, etc. They tend to be very dramatic. They take their Facebook pages down whenever some drama is occurring in their lives.

I realize I can only do so much and I have extended myself as much as I can. I want to concentrate on me now - I do not want family drama to further negatively affect my health (in retrospect, when I was raising a couple of teens in my forties, I got an autoimmune disease which I have subsequently learned is caused by stress).

I am sure without the family dramas I would look ten year's younger than I do right now.

I have cried myself to sleep many nights and am still upset about some things that have been said and done in my family.

Does anyone relate to the challenges of family and how have you chosen to handle it?

Have you thought about this in relationship to retirement or enjoying your old age?

I do not want to continue to allow other people to dictate the quality of my life. It is hard when people you love "act out" or have problems . . . I would love to hear some discussion of this subject . . .
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Old 08-02-2011, 03:07 PM
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,737,509 times
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Well, I'mCurious, I think you will find you have plenty of company. It's a rare large family that doesn't have a certain amount of mental illness and/or dysfunctionality. I have lots of cousins on both sides and they range from very well adjusted and successful to certifiably mentally ill. The challenge is to disengage from what we can't fix - to give up the notion that we can make things better in certain cases. The problem with that is that it's nearly impossible with one's own children. I wish I had some magic bullet to share, but I do not. Good luck.
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Old 08-02-2011, 03:17 PM
Location: Las Vegas
13,888 posts, read 25,327,549 times
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I just let it be known that I am now retired and poor. I can no longer help. Then they started leaving me alone! And it's great!
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Old 08-02-2011, 04:24 PM
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,737,509 times
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Originally Posted by yellowsnow View Post
I just let it be known that I am now retired and poor. I can no longer help. Then they started leaving me alone! And it's great!
Yellowstone, your excellent response set me to thinking again. Maybe the magic bullet is the setting of limits. We can inform people that the "Bank of Relatives" is now closed. Parents can close the "Bank of Mom and Dad". As trite and over-used as this is, remember how either Dear Abby or Ann Landers used to say that no one can take advantage of you without your own permission? Grow a backbone! Set some limits!
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Old 08-02-2011, 04:33 PM
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I learned a long time ago when I was with someone or speaking to a person and when it was over I felt very thankful and couldn't wait to get away, that relationship was toxic. Since that time, I have broken ties with several friends and two family members. I just don't need that type of drama, problems and interference. I moved on and have enjoyed life since I focused on those that are true friends and good family members.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:20 PM
Location: Florida
2,291 posts, read 4,946,814 times
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I believe that you may want to consider establishing some bounderies. Bounderies are set to protect you from toxic behavior(s). Bounderies clearly state what behavior you will and will not accept.

That is what I had to do with my family, if I didn't I would be in the looney bin. I have read the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, it was a great help to me in establishing my bounderies.

It is totally up to you to make positive changes in your life, you are allowing this toxicity in your life.

Do what you have to do to enjoy your retirement!
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:43 PM
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,858,512 times
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It's a little difficult because when anyone in the family is acting up, it affects the entire group and affects the dynamic of communication, holidays, etc. Plus, we all love these people and care about them. I don't see them as "just toxic."

I do agree boundaries need to be set.

I struggle because I have beliefs that family "should" help each other - and so I do extend that offer because it is a core value. But there are limits.

I just wondered what other peoples experiences are . . . how they manage in this phase of their lives to handle problematic or difficult relationships so that they are not adversely affected.
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:16 PM
Location: SW MO
23,605 posts, read 31,487,261 times
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Years ago, before we retired and moved to another state, we closed the Bank of Mom and Dad as well as the local youth hostel, downsized and really began to prepare for our tomorrows. I had lost everything in a divorce several years before we married and my wife had raised her two daughters for 16 years with no support from their father so we started out together at ground-zero financially. Thanklfully, we recovered well enough to both retire, make our move buy our house and are reasonablywell provided for between our pensions, excellent medical and dental coverage and Social; Security.

Dysfunction, huh? My three daughters were severely alienated by their mother for 10 years following the divorce so there is still some drama there. My wife's daughters are struggling, one with children, so there's more drama to add to the mix. But I don't do drama and my wife doesn't overly react to it and we're "insulated" by some 2,000 miles of distance. We have a good life and we're not about to let anyone drag us into their issues and drag us down. They, and my two sons and their families are all adults. They need to figure it out. As for us, so far, so good!
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:38 PM
147 posts, read 206,200 times
Reputation: 138
Default detach

When I freted at work about family issues that were bringing me to tears, co-workers told me I had to "detach" from the problems. I don't quite know what that means, but I think I am learning. Sometimes to save yourselves, you've just go to leave the problems at the door.
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:08 AM
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,978,143 times
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To extend a helping hand and have that person pull herself/himself up with determination is one thing, but to keep "enabling" that person's difficulties is another thing. One of the most difficult things in the world is distinguishing between the two. If you send aid to Bangladesh, for example, you know that there is little opportunity for betterment out of a bad situation. But in any society of opportunity, generally speaking, to extend help and it winds up being a crutch that those helped keep coming back to trade in for another one, is another. Some of it has to do with pride on the part of the needy person. During the Depression my dad was young and able bodied and out of work like most working class men at the time. He refused help from local aid. He would do menial labor like shovel snow on frigid mornings for the wealthy, and later when he got employed at a wallet factory he still did the moonlighting jobs. Today there are many younger adults and older ones too who fall on hard times, are unemployed, etc and they just flounder and are willing to accpet aid from the gov't or from relatives. In some cases this is justified, but in many cases you will see a "what, who me?" attitude if you suggest going door to door to cut grass or shovel snow, etc. It may come to that in this country, if more and more jobs get lost.

So the person doing the helping might ask about the "integrity" of the situation first, and this is a weighty responsibility (being asked to help) as this person can do as much harm as good. It's esp wrenching when it comes to family members, but the weighing of the situation has to be done.
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