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Will I Be Happy 12-25-2017 04:26 AM

Christmas and No Family
Hi! Itís been a while since Iíve been on here. Having a hard time this holiday. I wish someone wouldíve told me when I was younger that the holiday would change. I hate my family dynamic. Iím single and own my own home. My 43 year old brother lives in my parentís basement and shows no sign of leaving. After years of fights itís like heís a child again. Itís so confusing. We have no extended family. We are going to my momís friends for Xmas. I just want to cry. They are so ok w how things are. I donít know how to let it go. How do I get through today without falling apart? How do I not let it control my depression so my depression doesnít control me? I deserve to live a life not responsible for them. Iím so afraid to be happy bc i donít know what that looks like.

yayagirl 12-25-2017 05:48 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Dear 'Will I Be Happy',

The answer to that question is I don't know. Will you? The only person that can make you happy is you. But you have not been doing that. It's up to you to choose to be happy with what you have, or else to change it, just as the same for all of us.

Your title says 'no family', when clearly you do have family. You just don't like the family you have. So why go visit them? At any rate what they do is about them, not about you. Maybe your brother can't or is not made to move out. But how does that equal having no family? Many people truly are alone with no family. But you have a place to go for Christmas if you want to and are judging the choices they seem content with, when you don't have your own life in the order you prefer.

When we dwell on what we don't like or want, we create our own unhappiness. Other people's choices are their own to make. It is not your business where your brother lives, for instance. So why dwell on it? What if when you visit on the holidays you went there to enjoy their company, or took a movie you know they would like to watch, or went there to eat together, give hugs, and then be happy to go back to your own place?

Maybe we are really more concerned about what others have to give back to us. That balance is a dilemma we all have to deal with. It's really not about what others are doing or what they have or where they live. Our own lives are all about us and our own choices. We can torture ourselves with desire or expectation of change in others during holidays about the same reality that we see the whole rest of the year. But that is us doing that. And, that is crazy-thinking.

That your brother still lives at home is not your problem or about you. Your problem is in thinking that it impacts your own life. Where he lives really isn't why you feel lonely and unhappy with yourself. Or is it that you can't move back into that house? If you could would that make you happy? My assumption is NO, it would not make you happy.

We create our own reality. We can make a choice to be happy with what we have, and if we want more, we have to do the work to get more. That your brother lives at your mother's house is not why you don't make changes to your own life. Like take classes, get training, move somewhere else, make friends, help others, etc. If nothing in our lives changes, it is not because others don't make changes. It's because we don't make changes.

I think what you are asking really is the same as what you named yourself - 'Will I Be Happy'. The answer is not something anyone can tell you.

You can choose to stop blaming others for your own unhappiness. Only you can change what you call yourself to 'I choose to be happy with who I am and what I have'.

Will I Be Happy 12-25-2017 06:10 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Thank you for your reply. Itís a lot to think about. Iíve always had a role in my Iím trying to change. I feel guilty thinking of ways to make me happy bc we are such a small family. I feel guilty bc I feel if I find happiness Iím abandoning them and my role. Or that if I find happiness something will happen bc I wasnít there. I know thatís not realistic but thatís part of my struggle. They are content w the dynamic and I am not. Does that make sense?

yayagirl 12-25-2017 06:33 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Ok, that is good feedback.

So what will happen to the family if you are happy?
Happiness is nothing more than how we choose to look at things.

You already live on your own so what do you mean by 'if I am not there'? You already don't live there. Do you mean that you want to do something else on the holidays? Do you prefer to stay at home, this year? Do you think the family will disintegrate if you go somewhere else once in awhile?

Is it your role in the family to be unhappy? Will it make the family fall apart if you are happy or fulfilled?

I have children, and they are all adults now. Yes the dynamic changed when they grew up, moved out and now each have their own families, and some in different states. We no longer can all be at the same place at the same time. There are a lot of myths about how families should act, but reality is that we can't be in two places at the same time, and we all have choices to make.

Have you ever considered that you can change your role to be an example of healthy minded choices? Why not go eat with family if you want, then enjoy going back home? and just leave it at that? If you don't want to get together where your mother and brother are going, you can meet later at an inexpensive restaurant or invite them to your place. There are all kinds of options. None of them are 'wrong'.

When you make good decisions for yourself it will have a positive effect on both you and others around you. Guilty feelings when we didn't do anything wrong come from the lies we tell ourselves. We need to figure out what is fact and what is fiction, and the fact is that we don't create anyone else's happiness or success.

You can be happy with yourself right now, with life as it is. It does not depend on others or on things to be 'just so'. It is a choice of attitude. You can say to yourself, "I choose to be happy with what I have, who I am, the family I have".

There is no obligation in life to be unhappy.
Give yourself permission to enjoy your life.
Change what you can. Accept the rest as it is.

That is your role in life.
Your mother and brother also have the same role.
It's the same role we all have.

Will I Be Happy 12-25-2017 07:03 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
I know there is a lot of codependency in my family. A long story short, my brother controlled a lot in my family growing up. My parents, particularly my mother let it happen. She grew up w an alcoholic mother and I feel indirectly didn’t want immediate problems so she just “soothed” him instead of having rules. I took so much in and became the person everyone went to which wasn’t fair to me as a kid. I put my family first all the time. I stayed away from relationships bc I didn’t want anyone seeing that. My brother never followed rules while I was always straight and narrow feeling i had no choice. He was married, had a house, divorced, engaged etc. He always had people to solve his problems bc he was always enabled. It took me MANY years of therapy to realize my family was the root of my issues. So all these years later I don’t want that role anymore but still feel stuck, sad, and guilty. I want to let someone in. I love my family but know I have anger bc of the past. I know they will never change but struggle w myself moving forward like I’d let them down if I put me first. Thank you again for responding.

yayagirl 12-25-2017 11:21 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
I'm going to call you Happy, because while you may not feel happy yet, I believe you will be happy, when you reject some crippling thoughts.

Dear happy,

It really does not matter at all what the root came from. While the rotten root of a plant kills it, people are individuals and the family is not a plant. Things that happen do affect us, but we have personal choice. The circumstances cannot control our personal choices.

We can change our root beliefs and get healthy. We can choose to understand and let go of anger. We can forgive and still see the flaws. No one is ever perfect. We don't have to kill the family or throw people away in order to get healthy minded. But we do need to throw away the unhealthy beliefs. Isn't that what you are striving to accomplish?

I too had a very unhealthy family of origin. It was not just dysfunctional, there was some very serious abuse and even criminal action going on. For years I did not understand where I was coming from. You have an advantage in knowing something of where you come from. When we come from a dark place from childhood our sense of normal is skewed. That we are familiar with dysfunction makes it feel normal to us, almost comforting, for we fear something worse will happen if we step out of what we are used to.

The only way to get healthy is to make a decision to own your own stuff. Your fears are your own. Others have their own fears. Once you understand that you alone really are responsible now as an adult for your own health, it will be easier to detach from what someone else might think or do.

I have gone to women's abuse support groups to just listen to what others shared, to help me understand myself and my dysfunctional family better. It helps to know we are not alone in this. You are far from alone.

The dysfunctional family of origin will always struggle to hold you in 'your place', not to be mean but because they too fear change. Right now one of my family members needs physical surgery and is scared to death, though the surgery will likely save her life. Now we can understand the physical need for surgery, while we may still resist the process of psychological change that has to come so we can make healthier decisions. And when we make chnages some family members may not understand. They may even make unkind remarks about us being 'selfish'. Or may pout or put quilt trips on us. We know that can happen.

Think of it this way, you moved out into your own place to be on your own. Learning to make decisions that are healthy for you is the same thing - taking responsibility for yourself. You are not your mother. You are not your brother's mother. They are responsible for their own selves.

Will I Be Happy 12-26-2017 05:21 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Iíve reread your responses and have jotted down what jumped out at me.
Up to you to choose to be happy.
What they do is about them.
Other peopleís choices are their own to make.
Good decisions for myself will have a positive effect.
Guilty feelings when we didnít do anything wrong come from lies we tell ourselves.
Reject crippling thoughts.
Throw away unhealthy beliefs.
Sense of normal is skewed.
Dysfunctional family of origin will always struggle to hold you in Ďyour place.í

I BELIEVE EVERY ONE OF THESE yet still canít figure why I feel paralyzed to move forward. We went to a momís friendís yesterday. I just kept thinking of the dynamic. My brother was very quiet. I just left it alone. My thoughts kill me. My brother has had such a strong hold on my family. Like I said earlier he had more control than both my parents. Still does in a sense. My parents will never lay down the law w him. I know I donít need his approval but there is part of me that is still stuck in that role to ďkeep the peace.Ē And if I do otherwise all hell breaks loose. When we fight I canít tell you the verbal abuse that happens. My therapist tells me Iím very angry. My current struggle is how to let that all go bc I know they will never see their role. It makes me mad that Iím stuck and they just walk around like itís normal. How to get past the anger and not feel guilty? Sorry I know I just rambled.

yayagirl 12-26-2017 08:34 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
I hear you, Happy.

You are paralyzed from fear of change...I don't know exactly what fears, but maybe mainly that your family will reject you or fall apart and never be the same.

Together we all make the dysfunction. One of us can stop the negative ball from rolling. Not by blaming or changing others but by taking personal responsibility. The person you are most angry at is yourself, but be kind to yourself. You like your bother and your mother were born into that dysfunction.

None of you created the mess. One of you that recognizes what is wrong can make a positive difference by changing your own thought patterns. It is easy, one step at a time. With each step you take for yourself, you will heal. You are not responsible for the others. The lie you have been living under is that you should be able to fix the family. That is simply fake reality...not true and not real.

Below is my assessment -

Up to you to choose to be happy. [COLOR="DarkRed"]TRUE[/COLOR]

What they do is about them. [COLOR="darkred"]TRUE[/COLOR]

Other people’s choices are their own to make. [COLOR="darkred"]TRUE[/COLOR]

Good decisions for myself will have a positive effect. [COLOR="darkred"]TRUE[/COLOR]

Guilty feelings when we didn’t do anything wrong come from lies we tell ourselves. [COLOR="darkred"]TRUE[/COLOR] [COLOR="darkred"]and lies that we were taught by example[/COLOR]

Reject crippling thoughts. [COLOR="darkred"]Must be done as soon as recognized, with words, silent or out loud.[/COLOR]

Throw away unhealthy beliefs. [COLOR="darkred"]With words "that is a lie" silently or out loud.[/COLOR]

Sense of normal is skewed. [COLOR="darkred"]Yes, and that will change as your self-talk changes.[/COLOR]

A dysfunctional family of origin will always struggle to hold you in ‘your place.’
Accept that you cannot change anyone but your own self. [COLOR="darkred"]Tell your self - I TRUST and BELIEVE that as I change and become at peace and happier, it will bless and help my family to heal."[/COLOR]

Also say to your self out loud many times a day - [COLOR="darkred"]"I am responsible for my own self. Other adults are responsible for their own selves."[/COLOR]

Change really can be scary.I think of it as being an actor in a scary movie.

By my own experience, as we let go of the fear that if we are happy our family members will fall apart, we begin to see that we don't really have power over them. The others may try to treat you like you are in the same role, but you will gain peace of knowing you are secretly OK inside your own skin, and the more that happens you will become freer, and then finally free. It doesn't happen overnight. They will at first just wonder what is different about you. They may not even notice. For me it was an older brother that, looking at my driver's liscence picture said to me (sarcastically) "what are YOU happy about??" That was well into my recovery, and I replied back to him "wow, that is so sad that after I was born, as a child no one helped you to adjust to suddenly having a new baby in the house. He was stunned, and told me he had never thought about that. You see, before I was born, my mother thought she was done having children, and this brother was seven years old, the baby of the family. Now a crying little nuisance came to the family, me. I could give him understanding because I had gained understanding of myself. All of these dynamics matter and have profound effects on people, and if they are not understood, and if we don't get understanding from somewhere, we cannot change, and we cannot be understanding of ourselves or of others until we do understand and stop blaming others for where we are at. It's our own responsibility to grow up and be an adult. As my doctor told me, in his experience, few people want to do the work of growing up. For me, not growing up was physically killing me. I did want to grow up, and so I chose to do it. believe me, it feels a LOT better to take responsibility. I empathize with you whole heartedly. You can only grow your own self up. We can influence but we are only responsible for our own selves and our own children if we ever have any; and then only until they are adults. You must face that you are not your mother or brother's mother. So you have no power to change them, except by changing your own self. When you get freer, they will wonder, your brother may criticize, your mother may cry. But that is their own problem.
Your bother knows he is a user. Your mother knows she is weak. You know that. By not changing your own self, you are approving the dynamic as it is.

When I was in therapy I had to face that I am powerless to change anyone else or their opinions about me. I was born with colic and as a baby I cried from the pain. Being held soothed me some. I got labeled 'baby. That name stuck with me though they called me by my given name. So when I revealed I wanted something different than others, or had physical pain or my feelings were hurt, my older siblings mocked me with the name 'baby'. This really skewed my self image and ability to relate to others. I learned to hide my feelings from them, and became a 'blank' little girl, then stayed that way until I got a good therapist that modeled a healthy relationship with me. He really accepted and loved people as we were. That gave us freedom to see what we were dwelling on, doing to ourselves, etc, and the freedom to change.

You need to face that you are not your brother or your mother. You are a separate person with your own separate responsibility to do the right thing for your own life.

I paid the Dr. for two (expensive) sessions just to discuss why people don't change and get well. He told me most people don't really want anything to change, esp. not themselves. He told me change is a choice. Some people don't choose to leave their comfort zone of knowing what to expect, so they don't change and their relationships don't change. For me, my choices were to do the work of changing myself or die, for I had felt like it took all of my strength to take each step forward, just to walk. My past was very literally killing me.

I went to this doctor because of his reputation for helping people change. I had made a decision to live, and to be my real self. He told me most people don't really want change. They want others do the changing, and that even if others did the changing, they would remain stuck in their own unhappiness.

Change is always scary. Change means facing unknown territory. Change means trusting someone bigger than ourselves. For me, change meant trusting God. Because I believe God wants us to be healthy, whole, and real.

It helped me to type some of the affirmations in big letters, print them, and pin them to walls where only I could see them.

We can't control what others choose. You have choices to make.
What do you choose?


Will I Be Happy 12-26-2017 02:48 PM

Re: Christmas and No Family
I canít thank you enough for taking the time to write me. I am TOTALLY PARALYZED by fear of change. Even reading it makes me gasp bc itís work. Iíve been so anxious the last few days seeing my family bc I know I need space and donít want to feel bad. Nothing ďbadĒ has happened but my mind is like the ticker in Times Square. My brother called today about making reservations for New Years Eve dinner. WHAAAATT???? Slow down! We just spent the last two days together. It used to be me who wanted family time when he wanted no part. Not that i want no part but I need me time more. He then stopped by w my dad to pick something up. He looked at my sink bc I have a leak. Itís not that I donít appreciate it but my brain has this underlying ďIím an adult; Iíll take care of it!Ē It also thinks he thinks heís my caretaker and needs to have confrol. Mind you nothing went wrong. I want to scream BACK OFF!!!! Whatís wrong w me? I fear change bc he has always needed to have some control. My fear is I will cause a fight by wanting to do my own thing and not what he wants. I want my own life without feeling guilty and ďafraidĒ he wonít agree. What were some of the small changes you made if you donít mind me asking? Iím in therapy. Iíve been since 17. Iím going to be 40. Itís CRAZY how itís taken me all this time to realize Iím paralyzed bc of my family.

yayagirl 12-27-2017 12:28 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Dear Happy,

Life is confusing at best. You are not alone, or so different than many of us. Some people are bold out of fear and others are timid out of fear. To make changes we are not used to doing I think we need to make baby steps and not be so hard on ourselves.

I believe that a reason we get so paralyzed is that we really believe others are controlling us. The fact is that unless they tied us up and took us somewhere, they are not controlling us at all. Saying what they want is not control. It is a statement. Words can not control us. If we zombie-like submit, it is us choosing to do it. We need to get honest with ourselves.

What we do not say affects the outcome, so 'feeling' like others are doing something to us to make us walk against our own selves is not true. Feeling is emotion; it is not action. We need tell ourselves the truth when we don't speak up. We need to say to ourselves, "I don't want to go, but I didn't tell him". Speaking the truth to ourselves is the beginning of learning to speak the truth to others. The one we are most afraid of is ourselves.

Literally I [I]had to learn[/I] to care more about being honest with myself than what others want for me. The change didn't come easily because back then I would rather go without what I wanted than to face possibly getting scolded for my choices. But that really meant I didn't really want to grow up and take responsibility for myself.

Words are not restraints and locks. It is really not an insult to say, "oh thanks for the invitation but I need to stay home and get some rest". I also did not want to ever say that to anyone, so I completely understand.

When I was younger I didn't know how to stop unwanted attention (it does not matter if it is from family or a stranger). There was a time a guy kept stopping by my house and I wanted it to stop. Finally I admitted this to an older female friend. She told me she used to feel the same way. She taught me to practice these words..."I really would rather..." fill in the sentence with words like in my case I wanted to say "...that you didn't just drop by". She taught me to write the words down and read them out loud for days. Then the day came that the guy came to my door again. I saw his car pull up, so I opened the door before he got there, and he said " I was just driving by and thought I would drop by. I recited the words..."I really would rather that you didn't drop by". In my head I heard the most trembling weakest sound coming from my mouth. I was amazed he could even hear me speak.

To my utter amazement he literally flew backward like he was slapped hard.
He regained his bearings and repeated his words, "I was just driving by.." and I repeated my practiced words..." I really would rather that you not drop by". He turned and got into his car and left. He never phoned or came to my house again.

You can practice what to say, too. It's no more than the same fear of public speaking that almost everyone has. You can write down the phrase, "Oh I'm sorry, I want to stay in tonight have a good time". You can say it out loud a hundred times like preparing for a speech. If he criticizes or argues just say the same words, then say good night (or day) and hang up the phone. If he persists hang up. If you don't want him dropping by to fix a leak, or whatever, don't tell him or mom about it. Call a contractor and pay for it.

The reality is that you choose to submit to anything brother says, and you resent him for your own choice. But you need to tell yourself the truth, that you made that decision. maybe when you were a child you has no say. But now you choose to not say what you want for yourself. So how could anyone know that you preferred to stay home or go somewhere else? You can say you already have plans and then go to a movie by yourself.

What helped me the most is in realizing I had been lying to myself and denying my own self. No one was making me do that. When I began speaking up and being honest with myself I found that the truth was that no one else really cared that much about what I chose to do.

It doesn't help you to keep repeating the words "I am so afraid of" and doing nothing. You are responsible to tell yourself the truth..."I feel scared, but I choose to..." Then do it.

You will see that no one else REALLY cared that much what you did at all. They might wonder for awhile why you began doing for yourself. Let them wonder. Or answer I just chose to. in fact they might even secretly be relieved. Most people care the most about what they want for themselves. LOL I remember the time that I walked by myself for the first time into a restaurant to order breakfast. [B]I was in my 30's![/B] I never had done it before on my own, that's how repressed I had been.

You can take baby steps and find out the world really is not on your shoulders, and others may ask why or gripe but they don't really care if you get more independent. And, if you don't step out on your own, you don't really know if anyone else cares if you do it or not.


yayagirl 12-27-2017 08:08 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
So, I realize that I didn't answer your questions.
The small changes I made was just to speak up and make I statements.
I stopped blaming others for my lack of self-control or my fears.
I took baby steps.

I wrote out statements I wanted to say, like
"Oh thank you for including me, but I am getting some much needed rest and can't make it this time."

Or "thanks for stopping by to help, would you mind doing it another day and call first?
(if you don't have the resources to just call a plumber, don't shoot yourself in the foot when someone will help you for free). :)

We have to change how we think...the world won't end when we assert ourselves, and if we are kind in how we communicate (stop the other blaming), they won't mind, and might even be relieved that we are taking care of our own business. But I bet brother was glad to be able to save you some money and dry rot by stopping the leak.

If someone can help you with a need, be gracious and thankful. It is not a negative message that you are helpless. Be reasonable when to choose to assert yourself.

If we just speak up we can find that we already do control our own space. We just had been letting others come in to our space without asserting ourselves. It isn't their fault, it's our own habit to step out of.

When we take baby steps we experience our own fear and can stop blaming others. We had been allowing our lives to be an open book. We do that. No one makes us. That we were raised in a family without boundaries doesn't mean we cannot build some for ourselves.

That reminds me that the information that helped me the most is a book called Boundaries, When to Say Yes, When to Say No -To Take Control of Your Life by Townsend and Cloud. It was written years ago, and the info in that book helped me so much that I even started a few ladies' support groups.

Will I Be Happy 12-31-2017 08:44 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Really believe others are controlling us. Yes I do bc Iím not used to doing for me. Iím so used to keeping the peace.

I love the idea of I statements. I will try them.

I AM 100% AFRAID OF MYSELF. Iíve kept relationships with me as far away as possible never believing I deserved a good one. Physical intimacy? Terrifies me. Lost my virginity my mid 30ís. Afraid of the judgment for my lack of experience.

Itís been my life to go without what I want rather than facing others. I grew up w my brotherís temper and questions.

I like the idea of writing down and reading out loud


Iím going to be 40 and I feel life is over.

As far as the leak I always feel others donít think i can solve my own problems. Like just talking makes it seem Iím asking for help. Sometimes I feel he does it so he can be a hero which later gets thrown back at me.

When thinking of the future I do have to be careful how to communicate bc they donít k know my thoughts. They donít know my feelings so I canít ask as if they do.

Itís exhausting.

yayagirl 12-31-2017 07:55 PM

Re: Christmas and No Family
There came a point in my life that I had to question my own belief system, because it was always about what I feared about other people and had nothing to do with what I had power to change.

I believe as long as we dwell on what others do we are not facing what we do to thwart our own goals.

yayagirl 01-01-2018 07:42 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
Just wanted to add that I believe in order to heal and change our own path, we need to accept that we are just human, and others are just human.

We ALL make plenty of mistakes.

To get healthy minded and free of the past, we have to choose to forgive ourselves and others and accept our humanity. Then we can go forward and grow stronger.

quincy 01-01-2018 09:48 AM

Re: Christmas and No Family
You mentioned many years of therapy.....I'm not clear if you are seeing one now?
Would a self-help type of group setting work for you? Sometimes those in a similar situation could be encouraging as well as help one develop self-boundaries and self-empowerment. You might not feel as isolated.


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