I Can’t Deal with Them Anymore

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Whenever I bring up something that genuinely upsets me, my father and brothers actively ignore it, and let my emotionally abusive mother talk me down. No matter what topic I introduce, it always ends with her segueing into how ungrateful and unforgiving and irresponsible I am, and how because of that I’m the only one who’s dissatisfied with my family’s state now. I firmly believe in “sins of the father” so I can determine which parts of my behavior were learned from my family (inability to apologize, inappropriate and inadequate affections, etc), plus I can see it for myself with how badly they treat our dogs (the maid feeds them and I walk them, and the family itself doesn’t express affection until they’re “obedient”).

My parents were irresponsible (and so were their parents, perhaps), and the children picked it up, but no one takes action. When I bring it up, my mother denies it, saying that “I’m an adult now so don’t blame us” and “you can’t give [responsibility] if you don’t have it” and my father and brothers just agree because I just stirred up drama again. The things that I say they are, they just accuse me back, so I’m the only one who is ungrateful and unforgiving and irresponsible and degree-less (I dropped college) and jobless and overall simply inadequate and therefore invalidated. It’s really circular and I’m so confused on what the truth is and nobody just cares.

I really want to get out before I permanently ingrain this family’s cruelty into myself; I don’t ever want to be a neglectful and abusive and toxic person to friends and my kids when I have them. But I have no money for therapy and independent housing, and I can’t consider “no contact” until I can get the dogs out of this ill environment. I must sound like an attention-seeking victim (that’s what my family labels me) but I’m really stuck and really really can’t take this anymore.

A: Thank you for sending your letter. What I believe you need is a plan. All the circumstances are such now that you feel you have to bide your time, and one important vehicle for helping you move into the future is to have a goal to work toward. The goal is simple: to be on your own. I would take the time and think about what you need with various options and a timeline.

Research shows that having a clear and fixed goal helps us feel better all along the way as we move toward it. You can get more information about that here. As it seems you are not going to get much help from your parents, the important thing would be to look at places you already are receiving support, emotional and otherwise, and see if you can draw from these to increase your support network by using the connections you already have.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). I Can’t Deal with Them Anymore. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/01/i-cant-deal-with-them-anymore/