Is my family completely dysfunctional? (long)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Rain, Jul 25, 2003.

  1. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    I'm not really sure where to begin here...

    About 2 months ago, I borrowed $200 from my parents. They had just sold a practically new car that my grandparents (father's parents) bought for them outright.

    At the time I told them I wasn't sure when I'd be able to pay them back, as my financial status is not what it once was.

    They told me that was fine. And in the past it has been. I've borrowed money from them before and have always paid it back. In fact, when I was doing better myself, I even loaned them money from time to time.

    Unfortunately since I borrowed the money, I am getting weekly drunken phone calls from my mother, calling me nasty things and saying I better pay them back ASAP or they are going to starve. Apparently beer is free in Alberta. [​IMG]

    At this point I should mention that my mother has been an alcoholic all my life. She goes off on massive drinking binges about a couple of times a week.

    Among other things, here are a few things that have happened over the years:

    - When I was about 7 or 8, my mother disappeared to go drinking while my dad was at work. My younger brother and myself were left unattended. Dinner was in the stove and burned to a crisp, nearly starting a fire.

    - During one binge, she hopped on a plane to Vancouver. I guess she sobered up enough during the flight to remember that she's afraid of flying. I don't exactly know what happened on that flight, but they had to make an emergency landing to let her off the plane.

    - When I was 18, I underwent some fairly major surgery. On the day of the surgery, my mother was at home, drunk, phoning the hospital and threatening to sue the doctors. If I weren't 18 at the time and able to sign a waiver, they would not have done the surgery and I would be attached to an ostomy bag now.

    For all my life my parents have been heavy drinkers. The usual routine was that they'd start drinking around dinner time. By about 9 or 10 my dad passes out, often with a smoke in his hand and my mother kicks it into high gear. She usually disappears without a trace for 48 hours or so.

    During my childhood, it was always quite obvious that my brother was the family favourite and it remains so to this day.

    About 3 years ago, he fathered a child and my grandparents shelled out for a downpayment on his 5 bedroom house with a pool in Kelowna.

    The mother of his kid ended up splitting and he had to move to Vancouver for work. While talking with my grandparents I was made to feel as though I should feel ever so sorry for him that he had to give up the house. Meanwhile, I'm sharing a one bedroom apartment with another person.

    About 8 years ago, my grandmother did loan me about $700. When I tried to pay it back, she said "no" and told me it was a gift as she's helped out my brother as well.

    Well, apparently now my drunken mother and my grandmother, whom I thought was the only decent person in the family, are swapping stories behind my back about how I supposedly like to borrow money and not pay it back.

    I can't believe this. They buy my parents a brand new minivan, give my brother a downpayment for a massive spread, but they are harping about a few hundred bucks that I was told years ago was a gift.

    To tell you the honest truth, I'm sick of the lot of them. I have every intention of returning their money ASAP, but how much of this do I have to deal with?

    When I was a kid, I wasn't spanked. I was punched in the back of the head with a closed fist by my father and slapped with kitchen utensils by my mother.

    My parents fought and argued constantly. And they always told me "We're fighting because of you."

    When I confront them about these things, they deny it. My mother claims she doesn't drink, that I was never hit as a kid and that she has always been by my side through thick and thin.

    Now I realize some people feel that family is everything and that I am under some obligation to maintain some sort of relationship with mine. But I just can't do it anymore.

    There is so much more that has happened over the years that I haven't even mentioned. I could go on for pages and pages and pages.

    Now I'm not looking for pity here...that's not what this is about. I just wanted to get a few things off my chest and maybe get some input. It helps to write things down.

    When I look back on my life, I don't feel like I've missed out. Admittedly, my childhood was hard and I've never had a close relationship with my family, but...

    I do want to say that I've met some amazing people and made some great friends. They are my family to me and I love them all more than words can say.

    I think that's about all I can say right now...thanks for listening.
     
  2. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Rain, you are not alone at least. Alcoholism has been a demon in our family for generations. It finally got a hold of my mother in later years before cancer hit her. Now her sister, my Aunt seems to be suffering from the same thing.
    The money issue, my Aunt also has kicked me down money to this day. Saying that she just wants to help us boys out. Boys meaning my two brothers(15 and 18) who now live with me due to our mother's death. Luckily, she has not thrown it in my face. I can't imagine how that makes you feel.
    Rain, you are also not alone in the fact that you feel you missed out on much of your childhood. Years of physical and mental abuse and growing up very poor was the culprit in my situation.
    I would start making payments (of any amount) and assure them they will be paid back. Then maybe you wouldn't feel so apprehensive about confronting them on their backbiting.

    I'm sure this doesn't help, but your not alone.
     
  3. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Thanks, Zen.

    I do intend to pay them back. I told my mother she'd have her money in 10 days.

    I plan to talk to my grandmother later today as well.

    But it's not just the money thing. I get the drunken phone calls from my mother ALL THE TIME. She insults me, tells me all about what a disappointment I am, and then denies it later.

    To be honest, I'm at the point where I just want them out of my life.
     
  4. Michael Pineo

    Michael Pineo Stunt Coordinator

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    Rain -

    Unfortunately, you are definitely not alone. Stories like this seem more like the norm these days that the exception.

    I also grew up around alcoholics. My father was a very heavy drinker and my step-father was also a drunk and very abusive. Fortunately, my mother got rid of them both by the time I was a teenager, but it definitely effects you for life.

    I feel that family is very important, but it sounds like you have been tolerant enough. If I were in your shoes, I probably would have changed my phone number by now [​IMG]

    Good luck with this. From reading your posts over some time, you seem like a really nice person and you deserve to be treated well. If your family can't do that, I don't see any problem putting some distance between yourself and them.

    MikeP
     
  5. Andrew W

    Andrew W Supporting Actor

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    Rain,
    Family is important, but you have no obligation to associate with people who hurt you. At this point, I would borrow money from a friend to pay off your mother and grandmother. Tell them that they have caused you too much pain in your life and that they should not expect to hear from you anymore. Change your phone number. Tell them if they change their attitude, they can write.
     
  6. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    As others have said, you've made the effort with little results, time to cut them off. Either get a new unlisted phone number or get caller ID so you can avoid their calls.

    I've cut off several alcoholic relatives.

    I will feel no remorse if I never hear from them again.
     
  7. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Record your phone conversations with her. Then throw it back in her face. Maybe that'll wake her up.

    Personnally I'd suggest staying away as much as possible. I realize that's hard but sometimes it's for the best. Granted I've not had to deal with any of that crap, and my parents have to some extent gotten better with age. So take my advice for what little it's worth.

    One thing I do know for certain, money and family don't mix. Pay them back and exhaust every other resource before you borrow (or take as a gift) money again. To many people I've known have had issues with that. It seems like the moment someone lends you money they think they can tell you how to live your life.
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Rain, from reading your many posts I am certain that you are a fine person and have always deserved better. You have my sympathies.

    Unfortunately I don’t feel qualified to offer advice, other than to restate the old saw that unlike your family, you can actually choose your friends. So long as you continue to do that well, I’m sure that you will prevail and be fine.

    You will, of course, be in my thoughts and prayers.


    All the best mate,

    Lew
     
  9. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Unfortunately, these stories are all too familiar. Some people are just toxic. I've recently discovered that there is no way to argue, reason, or convince these people of anything they don't want to believe. The great thing about being an adult is that you can choose with whom you associate. It doesn't matter if the person is a parent, a sibling, an adult son/daughter, or a friend, if they are toxic and not good for your well-being there is no need to keep them in your life.

    There is no reason you can't still love them or care for them because often times it's almost impossible to turn those feelings off. But it's completely possible to love them from afar and not feel guilty about it. I mean don'tg et caught up in their drama or otherwise be close to them. Life is too short to be constantly caught up in other people's shit, especially when it's self-created.
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Rain, we've had our differences but not even you deserve this kind of crap.

    --
    Holadem
     
  11. Hunter P

    Hunter P Screenwriter

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    I am sooooo there.

    My usual advice on "drama" situations is to "save the drama for yo mamma." Unfortunately, it does not apply to this situation. I agree, stay away and don't waste energy trying to fix them.

    Luckily they don't live close by.

    Good luck.
     
  12. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    There is nothing wrong with removing yourself from an unhealthy situation. It may only be temporary. Don't set a goal on the money that you can't reach though. Make reasonable timely payments. Nothing would be worse than saying 10 days and not coming through.
    You are not obligated to maintain shit, regardless if it's family. I still go to the big functions, but stay removed from the circle, so I can reach my own plateaus and grow. Most of my family is still caught in that mud trap. That mud trap called the past. They wallow in it every single day. No thanks.
     
  13. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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  14. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    I plan on raising my family in an entirely different atmosphere than the one that I was raised in. I won't go into details but ever since I broke ties with certain members of my family... life has never been better.
    I have even become a better person as a result.

    On a side note, borrowing money never works out. I've heard a lot of horror stories and refuse to borrow money because of stories just like this one.

    Best of luck Rain! I can relate to your family woes and I wouldn't wish them on anyone.
     
  15. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    If you're concerned about how they'd feel if you broke off contact, don't be. Worry about you, not them. This sounds like a good time to be justifiably selfish.
     
  16. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Rain
    My father use to disappear for days somethimes weeks. My mother thought it was something to do with alcohol. 25 years later I started looking into this (she divorced him before I was 1 years old and he 'drowned' soon after) and found out his disappearing had to do with him being in the CIA. What she attributed to alcohol now she understands was him being torn up inside and not being able to say anything to anyone. Both my mother and myself believe he lived after his strange drowning death.
    Sometimes there is something below the surface that causes people to drink.
    Most of all don't let their lives destroy yours.
    Best of Luck
    Grant
     
  17. Dheiner

    Dheiner Gazoo
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    Rain,

    I STRONGLY suggest you check out Alanon. It is a group for families of drunks. If you would like more info from me, PM me.
     
  18. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    rain -

    all i think i can say is based upon your other posts, you seem like a solid guy. i'm amazed you've turned out as well as i think you have! [​IMG] i definitely get the sense that you are level headed enough to work this out.

    you don't owe this family anything. maybe your grandmother - since she seemed to at least be civil. but the rest of them sound like people you could definitely do without. i know your mom is your mom and all...but she's got some major issues. staying around that will only bring you down.

    it's odd your grandmother is suddenly "turning" on you like that. my guess is your mom is feeding her some crazy stuff.

    simply put ... do whatever you gotta do.
     
  19. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

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    Rain,

    I wish you the best coping with this. No doubt you have to take steps to move on and not get dragged down. You are not responsible, and as said above, you should not feel guilty --- as natural as guilt may seem. Surely, it is a plenty sad situation and my heart goes out. But it is not your fault, and if you do not look out for you, no one else will.

    You seem like a cool guy with lots of insights and spirit to offer. Hang in there, and folks will appreciate that, and you will find your way.

    Your family is lost at sea, and I think most would agree there is little you can do to help them, unfortunate as that is. Sounds too bad, but I think that is the consensus (professionally, as well as here at HTF). Get to shore yourself. If your family had perspective, that is what they would want for you, too.

    Dan

    PS: someone on these boards has a great sig along the lines of "courage (or love) is loving others or something else more than you love yourself" I'm garbling it, but your family is being selfish. If your family was grounded in love, they would either fix themselves and, if they couldn't, they would let you go and wish you the best.
     
  20. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Rain,

    My dad was an alcoholic throughout my childhood (he got sober when I was an adult). Among many stories I could tell, the one that says it all is that I had to go bail him out of jail one morning - he had driven his car into the path of a train the night before. I was 16 years old.

    So, I can relate. Phone calls are easy to terminate. I suggest that, next time Mumsy calls, explain that you've decided that you're not going to listen to her bullshit anymore and you will simply hang up any time she treats you with disrespect. Then, keep your word.

    This response will show her that you will not allow anyone to treat you in such a manner, while keeping the lines open (so to speak) in the event she wishes to engage in reasonable conversation with you. Do this for a month or so. If, by then she does not let up, convey your disappointment in her choice and thereafter do not accept phone calls from her. Any lingering feelings of guilt you have at this point are easier intellectualized away.

    Doing it this way empowers you while holding her accountable for her actions.

    Tough love, man!

    Best of luck,

    Jon
     

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