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How Do I Get Out of This Family Drama?

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From a woman in the U.S.: My husband of 13 years has been unfaithful for years and I let it slide until 2018 when I caught him taking pics with another man in drag.  He used the excuse he wanted to transform to a woman so I left. ( I say excuse bc after i officially left he changed his mind on changing)

My mom tells me to come home and before I decided I learned my father had a heart attack that almost killed him which set me into motion of coming home. I told her I was a failure and she gave me the support I needed and said i wasn’t which made me feel welcomed back.

Fast forward to today i feel like this woman hates me. My kids and I do stuff around the house for her, she even started to pay my youngest ones. But my sister never does anything. I’m not allowed to say anything about it bc it starts fights that I end up apologizing for when I feel it’s not me who needs to.

My dad knows she is lazy but told me to keep my mouth shut around mom bc he is tired of the drama. So I have. Now shes back to going through my oldest daughters things and if you say anything she denies it. My younger sister gets away with everything and I’ve let it go, but now they are attacking my 21 year old who can every much defend herself but it’s wrong.  We can’t do anything right.

I live in a camper on the property, my oldest didnt want to stay with me so my mom said she could sleep on the couch and gave her a closet, that she has to keep locked bc my mom and sister go through her stuff.

My dilemma is I left one toxic home for another and I feel this one is worse than being with my husband. With him I got to speak, here I’m 10 all over again with a 17 yr old sister that runs the place. My mom treats me like I’m a competition to beat. Shes a compulsive liar, attacks me with nasty words anytime she feels a little threatened or I speak up for myself.

I finally got a job that dont pay enough and i have the kids in a steady environment. Grades are better, not missing as much school. They have friends and activities. I dont know what to do. My husband wants me to come home. And I have thought about it bc of the stress I’m in here, but I know things wont change with him. And I need to get away from my mother. I’m guessing I’m answering my own question by saying I need to find a second job to get away from both. I’m tired and not getting relief.

How Do I Get Out of This Family Drama?

Answered by on -

A.

What a difficult way to live. I understand why you are so frustrated. I do agree with you that it would be a mistake to go back to your husband. You deserve better. Believe it or not, I also agree with your father. Trying to change your mother is futile. Why put yourself through the frustration that comes with trying?

You are not going to change your mother. You are not going to change your sister. What you can change is how you deal with the situation until you can get out.

There is no point in defending yourself or arguing. Arguing with your mother just tells her there is something to argue about. When a rational person argues with a crazy person, the rational person ends up looking crazy, too. If your mother invites you to fights, decline the invitation. Say something neutral (like “I’m sorry you feel that way.”) and leave. If she blocks you when you try to leave, just stand there and hum, pray, meditate — whatever helps you not respond — until she gives up.

Your daughter has it right. Lock up what you don’t want your mother to see. Stay in your camper or visit friends or the library or go for a walk when you’re not at work. There’s really no reason to go over to her house. If you help out, she criticizes. If you don’t help, she criticizes. So why put in the effort to help?

Meanwhile, make a plan for how to get out of there. Can you get a better paying job? Would it be wise to get some schooling to retool? Can you do some volunteer work that will prepare you for better work? (At the least, it will keep you out of your mother’s crosshairs.) Is there live-in work in your area (like being a nanny or caregiver) that you can consider?

Do team up with your daughters on all this. They are old enough to be a team with you. They don’t need to argue with your mother either. It won’t change her. It only depletes them. Work together to figure out how you can make a better situation for yourselves.

I also suggest that you and your daughters find a family therapist to help you sort out how best to manage living on your parents’ property until you can get out. No, I don’t think you are “crazy”. I do think the situation is crazy-making. You deserve to have someone in your corner who can potentially come up with solutions you haven’t thought about already and who can provide you with some support.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

How Do I Get Out of This Family Drama?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Do I Get Out of This Family Drama?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/03/28/how-do-i-get-out-of-this-family-drama/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 26 Mar 2020 (Originally: 28 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 26 Mar 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.