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Standing up for yourself


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Posted

I recently stood up to my dad, my sister and my mother.  Not all at once, one at a time.  I grew up in a dysfunctional family and life was very painful.  For me, the most painful thing was that I did love my family.  It hurt to see them so unhappy.  Growing up, I was the one that kept things turning over, while my brother, my sister and both my parents seemed to live in utter chaos.  I studied hard, spent time with friends, worked out, ate healthy and managed to stay quite happy despite my family situation.  Yet as things worsened for them, so to for me.  When high school finished, I took a year off to help out before uni.  Without my usual social outlets and without my diversion of study, life became very hard.  My parents in particular became very controlling.  While their lives spun in chaos, the strict control imposed on me was stifling.  Within a year, I came to represent to them the things in their lives which they hated most.  Their need to punish, control and correct me led to a psychotic episode less than a year after finishing high school and several more following that.  Despite the obvious pain I was in, this was not regarded as an opportunity to help me or care for me.  The opposite, it was justification that I did need control and discipline.  I never got much love from my parents, or even a sense of right or wrong.  What I got was a lesson that I must do what I was told, or face the consequences, and more often than not, face the consequences for doing what I was told as well.  Thankfully, my mum has grown over the years and although I did need to tell her that it was not acceptable to blame me for her problems, we have been able to build a healthy relationship on that.  As for my dad, when I told him that the way he treated me was unacceptable, he said he didn't care.  We no longer have any contact.  My sister's response was that I deserved to be treated poorly and we don't have any contact either.  My brother, we haven't had any contact for some time. I have no intention to resume contact.   For me, standing up to my family has been the most liberating experience.  I feel happy, healthy and peaceful.  I feel now I have regained my freedom and equality, for both were lost in those dysfunctional relationships.

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Posted

I recommend Manuel Smith's When I Say No I Feel Guilty. It's a book that teaches assertiveness skills. It helped me a lot. Very practical skills.

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Posted

It is very difficult to grow up in a dysfunctional family and I'm sorry you've had such a rough go of things.  I know it must be painful to to no longer have contact with you father, sister and brother.

 

I don't know about you, but for a long time I felt like if I just tried hard enough, I could make them see things in a different light.  It sounds like your mum did, indeed, come to view herself and you differently.

 

I hope that you feel healthier now and that you have people in your life that care about you.  I've learned that all kinds of people can be your family.

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