Struggling To Love My Family


#1

I've been feeling really down. There's a lot of stuff going on in my life at the moment - quit my job a couple days ago, missing my boyfriend (long distance relationship), trying to discern my vocation, etc, etc..

However, one of the things I find myself struggling the most with lately is my family. A few details about them: I come from a very disfuncional home. My parents have never got on well and have been on and off for as long as I can remember (and when not separated, they've been 'emotionally off'). I've never seen them kiss in my life or say anything nice to each other. I remember when I was 12 they started "dating" again after being separated for 3 years...it was akward and confusing and I didn't understand anything of what was going on. Summing it up: they're hardly a stable, loving couple.

I have an older brother (9 years older) who is...so tough to read. I barely know anything about him because he hides behind his humor. All I know about him is that he's funny...and that's it. I have my unsolved issues with him because he was engaged to a lovely girl last year, but then broke off the engagement. I know it was because he was cheating on her with another girl (his, now, official girlfriend), but he denies this.

But anyways - that's my family. My dad's now away, living in a different country because of work. My mom and brother are indifferent towards him, and I feel that way too, but guilt pushes me to try to stay in touch with him, so I try to do that. But I don't feel honest love and care towards him. It kills me. I really want to, but I can't. And I'm now having problems with mom, too.. I don't know why. I'm in a bad place, and I think my mood at home has changed. It's put her on defensive mode and now she's very aggressive towards me. Now I am towards her, too. And my brother's never home. That's pretty much how things are these days.

So, here's the thing: a week ago I came back from Oregon. I went over there for about 10 days to visit my boyfriend. I stayed at his house, with his family, and it was wonderful. They are the most beautiful family I've ever met. They're deeply religious, very involved in their Parish, they pray before every meal, they talk about Saints, the Bible, etc etc as regular topics...they have family time which is a concept I was not familiar with...they're so different to my own family. And while I was there, I was so happy. They made me feel so loved and welcome...it was beautiful.

As I type this, I really have to fight back tears. I miss them so much. My family aren't religious, they're not stable, they're not loving...they're not them. Thinking of my boyfriend's beautiful family kills me. It hurts so much to have those memories to cherish, and to have them to miss. I kept thinking all the time that that's how I want my family to be (when I have a family of my own), that's the love that I want my home to be filled with...

I can't stop feeling guilty. I've gone to Confession over this, but it won't go away. Every time my mom snaps at me or I snap at her, I remember my boyfriend's mom kissing my forehead. Every time my dad complains to me about my mom, I remember my boyfriend's dad hugging and saying nice things to his wife. Every time my brother walks into the room and responds to my "hey!" with "shut up!" (his trying-to-be-funny response), I remember my boyfriend and his brother joking with each other, being silly, laughing (I'd never seen my boyfriend laugh like he laughed with his brother), or even telling each other "I love you"...displaying comradeship I was unaware could exist between siblings.

I want this to be over. I want to forget about this (but at the same time, I don't). I want to love my family, but I can't. It makes me feel like an awful person, and it makes me want to cry so much. I don't know how to come to terms with this.. I always knew my family was disfunctional, but I had never felt such strong sadness, resentment and emptiness regarding my family situation, as I do after this trip. I don't know what to do about it. I keep praying...but I still feel so bad. I want to love them, I really do. My mom's always been my best friend, and now there's something off even in our relationship. I just really, really want this to get better NOW.. :(


#2

[quote="lauralh4, post:1, topic:247341"]
......But I don't feel honest love and care towards him. It kills me. I really want to, but I can't..... I can't stop feeling guilty..... I want to love my family, but I can't......I don't know how to come to terms with this.. I always knew my family was disfunctional, but I had never felt such strong sadness, resentment and emptiness regarding my family situation, as I do after this trip.......I want to love them, I really do....

[/quote]

Dear one, I wish I had a magic wand that would fix your family situation. Until then all I can do is offer you what I have done and offer you my prayers. If you change the way you look at things I think it will help a little.

Thank you for coming here and sharing your story. I can see you are in a lot of pain and I will keep you in my prayers. I think you have several "issues" here but the first one I would like to point out is your concept of LOVE.

Love is not a feeling, love is a decision and an action. In other words it seems you are angry at yourself because you don't feel "warm fuzzy feelings for your family." Well, warm fuzzy feelings may be what the movies portray as love, but it is not what Christ calls love!!!!

You don't have warm fuzzy feelings for your family. This hurts you but this does not mean you don't love them. By showing respect for them, by doing the best that you can when you are around them to be kind, by praying for them you ARE loving them! Remember this too...it is easy to love a family that is kind and sweet and gives hugs! How much harder it is for you to love your family that is a disappointment to you. Jesus knows this and he is sooooooo proud of you! Jesus knows how hard it is for you to be polite and kind to your family and yet you keep doing it anyway! This is the best you can do and it IS LOVE. Easier to love someone nice, harder to show love for someone who is difficult you are doing an excellent job!

Now for the second issue which is your emotional pain. Do what you can to try and offer this up in prayer. When your family hurts your feelings close your eyes and imagine Christ on the cross and his sufferings. Think deeply and unite your sufferings to Christs. Tell him your innmost thoughts he wants to hear them, talk to him.

Tell him "Jesus this person is hurting me deeply right now. I wonder how it must have felt to be hurt by all the people that hurt you as well. Jesus I know you suffered disappointment and abandonment from those you knew...Jesus please help me bear this suffering and offer it up in prayer so I can get close to you." Beleive it or not this is an excellent opportunity to join with Christ as you also, have your own cross to bear. You have a chance here to grow closer to the suffering Christ I guarantee he can bring you the peace that you seek.

Lastly dear one, you already have the perfect family. No family on earth is perfect, even your friends. But you have the perfect family in Mary your mother who loves you perfectly and in the Holy Trinity. Always remember your true family.

Hope this helps, take care as best as you can.


#3

:console:

I'm sorry you are suffering like this. I understand very well what it feels like to live in a family like yours. It was a source of much saddness, resentment and guilt over many years. The good news is that I've moved on. So will you. What you say above, on how you want your family to be, is not unrealistic. I have a wonderful, loving husband and that has provided me with stability and love I never had at home. I think it is good that you could experience what family life can be like, although it is now difficult to go back to normal. At least you have an idea of how you want to live.
Do you and your boyfriend have plans for marriage?

As for guilt, no reason for that. Confess being rude to your mom and all that, but the fact you are having a hard time at home is not a sin. Try to make things work at home but also remember that it is not all up to you. Your brother has to decide to get rid of the walls that he has built around himself, for example. You can perhaps help him to do that but you can't do it for him. That is what I've learned after many years of trying.

Hang in there and pray. It will get better, I promise.


#4

Sorry I took so long to reply, but I just wanted to write a quick message saying thank you to both of you :slight_smile: I read both replies but was still in a really bad shape when I read them. Monicad, I was brought to tears by your post… Still going through a rough time, but trying to keep going :slight_smile: I’m trying to think and pray in order to know how to love my family the best way I can…and I’m just trying to truly be thankful for just having a family.

It’s an almost daily struggle…but I won’t give up. If anything, like you said Contra Mundum, one day I will have a lovely family of my own :slight_smile: My boyfriend is currently about to start his Masters degree, but marriage might be in our plans for once he’s done with his Masters. We’ll see what God has in store for us :slight_smile:

Thank you both again for your support. Though I took time in getting back to you, know that it was greatly appreciated and that it was really, really helpful.

Love and God bless!


#5

My sister-in-law said it best: "You can't have an ideal family in mind, you'll drive yourself nuts. You just have to accept people for who they are and forgive them for who they are at the same time." This sister-in-law has been through some nightmarish times. Times that I know affect her ability to love and relate to the rest of the us. But she is very right- we are who we are. And we love her despite the fact that we know she holds back a bit.

Your family isn't the same as your boyfriend's family. But just think you can cherish your boyfriend's family even more knowing that such a family isn't a "given." And when you have your own family you'll work twice as hard to give them the love and support they need.

I am so sorry you feel so bad about this and I am so sorry you feel you don't have the support we all hope to have from our family. But I will tell you this, my mother died two years ago, I never think of our fights and our spats. I only think of how much I love her and how much she loved me. Did she do everything perfect? did I?- of course not. But we still loved each other and did the best we knew how to do and that's what matters.

Don't wait until your family is gone to realize how very important they are. As messed up, as dysfunctional as they can be...they are still yours. That is the most precious thing.


#6

Glad to hear you are feeling a little bit better anyway. Let Jesus Christ be your strength. He loves you so much, you are his little girl! Take care and God bless you.


#7

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.