Toxic Family Situation

My parents are both extreme anti-conventionalists, also firmly convinced that total control is the one factor to ensure domestic happiness in what seems to be a paranoia disorder (total lack of trust).

My father was uninvolved and had anger management problems, with a history of verbal abuse and workaholism alternating with computer addiction.
My mother now has chronic trigeminal neuralgia because he threw earphones at her during a crisis. This past year though there hasn’t been any major crisis and my family generally believes he wants to change, but I still believe he can relapse like he’s done so many times.

My French mother is a socially disconnected individual with emotionally needy and unpractical character traits exacerbated by her contextual mismatch; she shifts from permissive parenting style to authoritarian: she imposes her values on her children, and while she has no expectations for them, she has the one golden standard which is that children should sacrifice their lives in return for their parents to take care of them, for which she will pay any price, including provoking the abusive father into a crisis against his children.
She’s 55.
She unschooled her 5 children, but wasn’t involved much once they knew how to read.
My mother has a chronic illness, and she’s terribly homesick for her home country, but she lives like an invalid: a housewife, she does a minimum around the house (mainly laundry and ordering food and clothes online). She expects her children to keep the house up and running, and she never cooks. She also expects her children to do it.
She barely has any duties to fulfill with her family since all her children are teenagers and young adults (she still unschools her tween daughter, but barely works 4 hours a week with her: she’s studying on her own and doing all the homework on her own).
She spends most of her days going from the couch, to her computer, to taking a private lesson at home, to driving to karate class (for her children) or dance class, to the computer, maybe helping out her daughter with something, more computer, 2-3 hours of television, then 1-2 hours of reading or computer, then bed. I realize she’s 55 and with an illness, but I also know she’s taking more responsibilities than she can actually handle, like imposing homeschooling on her children (both I and my younger brother have pleaded to go to public school in order to make sure to graduate on time with enough credits to be admitted at college. She wouldn’t even consider the possibility).
Her ability to manipulate people and her husband and kids has been the cause for my elder brother’s cognitive and emotional retardation (again, he hasn’t been diagnosed because my mother denies this situation, but many people from the outside have noticed something wrong), and my older brother’s choice of a laid back lifestyle that lets him enjoy peace from her, even though he is somewhat conflicted about the fact he was initially a competent person and his choice of life does no credit to his skills (he’s 22, does not have any friends, lives at home, does not have a license, works a job for about 4 hours a week, and takes his college classes online); yet it is the result of listening to his mother in everything. My mother is emotionally unstable because she has chronic health and anxiety issues and wants to protect her illusions one big happy family at the cost of the success of her children, though she does not realize her children could want any form of happiness she wouldn’t want herself. She refuses to let me take enough credits for college and file for financial aid, yet she tells me I have to obey to her choice of credits because I have received no financial aid. The most frustrating aspect of the situation is that she absolutely has no clue of the harm she’s doing, and because she means well, I can receive no help and support from a society that thinks dysfunctional families are taboo. Truth is, one can usually live with a dysfunctional family unscathed when their social involvements puts a distance between them and the control of their family. It is an unusual accord of circumstances and my parent’s weaknesses and bad faith that causes the new generation to suffer from real setbacks in development and in education.
My mother tries to control how her children feel, how they look and act, how they use their time. Yet, also, since she has no real plans or expectations, and since she has fundamentally refused to work with society to follow the model of productive citizens, she’s really preventing us from being individuated and competent individuals in favor of the illusion of a happy family spending a lot of time together. Literally, she has not stopped fighting me until I told her I would not work in the mornings when she sleeps, because she can’t sleep if she knows I’m out of the house and she can’t control what I’ll be doing.
Also, she’s very possessive and wants to keep her children around her as long as possible, she really has problem shifting between pretending we’re all so happy and her children listen to her so well and thinking that if she looses her grip on us, we’ll leave her alone in old age.
It feels like my life doesn’t belong to me anymore: slowly and surely, I am accumulating setbacks and have to sacrifice opportunities because my parents control me financially, and therefore, effectively.
I don’t make any claims as to how bad this is, as dysfunctional families are extremely common and it’s often hard to asses what price the children are actually paying since it depends on how competent they are in the first place. But I can however state that the situation exists, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s making me suffer and it’s slowing down my life in a significant manner.

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, thank you for sharing please be assured of my prayers.

You have posted quite a bit about your family, especially your mother. Clearly you have problems getting along with her for several reasons, you have listed many and could probably list several more, your dislike for her is quite clear.

I guess what I want to ask you is what is your goal at this time? Is your goal to move out and be independent? Perhaps your goal is to stay home for a while and save money? Maybe again your goal is to go to college and remain home? The idea is to decide what your goals are, then approach how to deal with your mother accordingly.

I am assuming you are an adult or nearing adult age?

I would also ask you to focus in prayer and try and find one small positive thing about your mother, or if not at least try and have compassion for her instead of anger, not for her sake but for yours. Jesus loves your mother very much, he died for her. Ask Jesus to help you put on His eyes and see your mother as He sees her. She is a lost soul, wandering about doing the wrong thing with her children, being lazy, and ruining her relationships. Jesus does not want her to live like this she is lost in confusion and needs God’s help. I am sorry that your family is going through this, I will be praying for you.

Thank you for your helpful insight and your prayers especially, Monica.

My goal is to save money to pay for college and grad school and have a good career. It does help to refine my short term strategies to know how to go about convincing her to intercede with my father with money when it’s possible to reach a consensus. Even though, on my side of things, moving out/staying and saving is pretty much all figured out because of financial logistics, I’m working on setting some boundaries with her, since I will be staying home until I have enough money to move out when the time’s right. Any suggestions on the communication side? From reading communication books, I know they are key words and phrases that can help.

I’m a legal adult, though I understand adulthood also comes with milestone life experiences that I haven’t yet reached (like moving out, graduating from college) and that altogether, my mother has invested in her role so much by now that I know she can’t help viewing her children as kids, as a lot of mothers do.

I indeed talked a lot about my mother, because she makes all the decision in our family, but I also guess I feel like in some ways I resemble her, or might, and that scares me. Recently though I do get along with her, because I take it upon myself to show empathy when through a fight she’s really expressing how panicked she is at some of the big problems in her life. However, up to a certain point it feels like hypocrisy when I don’t tell her when she’s wrong to to pick fights with people who try to help her. I realized very few people were doing that in her life, and that since she is good willed underneath it all, I could make her more emotionally stable and bring out the best, when she let me. But now I realize they are gentle ways to tell her when she’s going overboard, and that this is extremely important in a relationship, even if I’m partly motivated by personal goals. Again, any formulas and key word suggestions are welcome. Interpersonal creativity is not something that comes naturally to me.

I have found it very helpful to try to be compassionate and see the good in her. So this is definitely something I will be working on more often to counterbalance negative thoughts.
I have to remind myself that I’m thankful for some of the values she has passed on to me when I was younger (like French literature/ culture, and religion). I realize I should not judge her, which is something I easily fall into, thinking that by analyzing her I can learn from her behavior. I don’t think I’m wrong, but that I have to look into my heart and work with God to suspend judgement and move past residue bitterness and my inner conflicts. After all, before the most violent episodes with her husband and her chronic illness, she was a very good and competent mother. I hope a lot of her and the family’s problems are circumstantial and that time will heal some things.

I really think committing to prayer will help. So I also want to work on that.

While I feel I now know how to respectfully dialogue and bargain with her, I struggle more with the emotional side of the equation. Since I also have issues with work and finance, being in a home atmosphere where yelling is just part of everyday life, I tend to get depressed very easily, though it hasn’t been serious enough to significantly affect school and work. I know I’m not good at “managing” my depression. If anyone has insight on how to keep depressive spells at bay, I would warmly welcome it.

One of the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart is, ‘I will establish peace in their families.’

I recommend finding a good picture of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and placing in a respectable place in the home, and praying prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart morning and evening before it for the sake of peace in the home.

I have family members very closely resembling your mom.
The best thing I found out to do is to be perfect your Catholic/Christian self doing everything in your power to do what is good and right. You’ll be bombarded by everything contrary to scripture and good wholesome values but remain faithful in faith and don’t give in to the craziness in your home. Pray for them because they aren’t aware that it is abnormal behavior which they may believe is normal due to their selfishness and arrogance. You may even do as a nephew of mine does. Ignore the negative and hostile behaviours and will at times agree with her. But mostly he dives into his room and states yes to almost all things.
Also look up THE SPIRIT OF JEZEBEL which points out other behaviors which they exhibit. Good luck. Keep up in your faith and don’t give in to the craziness in your home. Have Christ at your side at all times and move away as quickly as you can for your sanity sakes. They may never change so it is up to you to correct in your life any bad parenting skills you may have picked up in your home. My prayers for today are with you. Know yourself in regards to your relations with Christ. Read the holy bible for mental support and keep up the good fight. Best wishes and may God continue to bless you.

It is admirable that you want to work on communication with your mother! How wonderful that you want to improve your relationship in this way, what a beautiful thing.

I believe prayer is your number one weapon in this situation, and here is why; all the communication skills you would gain from reading books, all the neat “catch phrases” you would pick up, all the nice techniques you would hear about from people on this forum would fly right out the window when you talked to your mother if you had one tenth of the anger and irritation that I believe you showed with her when you wrote your original post. You love your mother or you wouldn’t be here, but your irritation with her needs to be mitigated or anything to say to her won’t be heard.

Here is what to pray for though, do not pray for God to change your mother. Pray for God to transform YOU. That is the tricky and uncomfortable part. We are all there! I want God to change my husband, my children, my in-laws, my parents, everyone but ME! However, when I stand before God He is going to ask me about MY life, not theirs.

You are an adult, trying to fix the relationship this is good. Again I think that is admirable but it seems in a small way that your focus is on your mother and getting her to see her problems and fix them. Dear one, your focus (and my focus) should be looking at how we can improve ourselves. Remember too that satan hates your family and this is a spiritual battle as well. Pray often, get some Holy Water for your home and use it often. satan wants to destroy your family so you will be tempted often not to pray and to fight and to be irritated. I know what that is like, please be assured of my prayers.

Your relationship with your mom will most likely improve once you get up out of her house. I can understand your frustration.

My mother was the one that use the schools for baby-sitting service, but had absolutely no interest or investment in what we did there or learned. She was vocally against being “book smart” or “a good student” as she had a dichotomy set up in her head that to be a good student inversely required that a person be a complete basket case in the common sense and social skills department.

She also had very high demands regarding kids working on the house, to the extent that she would randomly extend spring break so that we could help paint the woodwork or install a patio. Her logic was that doing such tasks was part of our education as a person who could count electrons in a chemistry book but didn’t know how to use a power drill was completely useless in the “real world”.

This really frustrated me as a young adult because her demands that I skip school, homework, and my job at the drop of a hat to do what she wanted me to do were really getting in the way of my less-than-secret plan to get a scholarship and move away to college before I lost my mind. To this day, I think that her choices were less about educating me to do things around the house, and more about keeping me under her thumb and limiting my chances to escape.

In my opinion, the best thing to do is to work toward your own independence as best you can. Once you are an adult living on your own, your relationship will most likely improve.

Specterlitt, Wow, its very complicated and I wish I was not pressured before Christmas or I would give it more thought. But I will attempt a couple of thoughts.

Yes, sounds like your Mom is a dominating force in the house so that is why so much of the post is about her. To live with a spouse who is verbally abusive is so difficult, and does not make her be her best person. And there is not much you can do about that, only give her what is her due, respect*. Do what you can with that - God is pleased with our little efforts in the right direction! We must control what we can and leave the rest to God.

**

I wish you had someone to consult with for the direction of your homeschooling. Someone in your church, or community - do you have a homeschooling community? Perhaps a trusted person would be willing to advise and guide you. Some people are really good at advising in this way, and would be gladly to do it as a service to God. Believe me - if you have this talent, you *want *to share it. God can find you someone to make up for this area that your mother, imperfect suffering being that she is, is lacking in.

Another thing for your toolbox of understanding is Socionics. I posted about it in #13 here: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=12527675&highlight=Socionics#post12527675 Your mother sounds a lot like a “SEE” (also called ESFp). Strong controlling presence, rather random and undisciplined, but quite firm and quite sure about her feelings on everything. I have a couple of these prominent in my life, and they are marked by well-meaningness of intention and basic incompetence (though, they can be quite competent at turns), and confident bossiness. Like all the types, it can be very positive to very negative as to how you relate to an ESFp (or any type), depending on *your *type. If your type and hers together creates one of the harder relationship types to begin with, then trying to relate positively when she is also damaged psychologically would be quite difficult! Understanding her type and her relationship type with you (and the others int eh family) might help you at least not have unrealistic expectations with her.

At any rate, accepting reality always helps a difficult situation. Asking God for the grace to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and for the wisdom to know the difference is something you likely need to do every day. Accepting your mother’s limitations is something that you may not be able to do without the grace of God, so, ask Him for that. :slight_smile:

Also I find when things get bad with situations I am in, it helps to remember people in worse situations. Becaue in the thick of things I often need perspective. Pray daily prayers of thanks and praise for the things that are praiseworthy, like, having siblings, having a warm and safe home, having food, someones positive comments or lack of typical bad behavior on a particular day. It helps!. It lightens things, and then you have more energy for the real problems, of which you have enough.*

It indeed seems like a good approach to focus on changing myself and on using prayer, Monicad. Thanks.

Allegra, your situation has many points in common with mine, especially since my mother shows the same reluctance to have her children make commitments outside the home, and similar flaws of understanding, as well as a mix of having a lot of demands and offering little support that is actually relevant (she can lend a listening ear when I talk to her about my problems about my father, but when it comes to my needs and my life goals, there’s more baggage). However, I have to keep it secret, because the subject of me leaving the house and earning my own living is a trigger for her.

How did things work out for your acquisition of independence? Did you get that scholarship?

I do not have a home schooling community. I will keep on searching for that kind of support, though.

You have a lot of pertinent advice, Eliza. My mother indeed seems to be an ESFP. I self-diagnosed myself an an INTJ. So it looks like we have conflicting inter-type relationship, which is something I have felt before. I used to get in trouble all the time because she would interpret my silence and neutrality as passive aggressively, which wasn’t really the case. Now I know how to magnify appropriate emotions better. My mother really does not think rationally, she believes that if she feels something, then it must be true. If she’s not happy with a situation, even a perfectly normal one, she will just keep on firing hurtful accusations and sermons as long as her feelings don’t calm down. Some of my friends with similar situations report that this is common behavior in parents who come from an abusive/unhappy childhood background (which is both my mother and my father’s case).

I did get two scholarships. One was the school’s academic scholarship and the other was a state scholarship that was easy to get. You had to attend a state school and get a composit 30 on your ACT. Those were the only requirements. Together, they nearly covered my tuition. For my living expenses, I worked two jobs to earn the money for my rent. When I moved out at 18, I requested the $200 that my father sent my mother each month for child support, which she agreed to. (She did refuse to pay for about 5 months once when I wouldn’t do what she wanted and so I learned not to depend on it.) I found a little apartment that was less than $500 a month and I spent a lot of time on public transportation.

Since you say ESFp, then I would advice always validating her feelings. She is entitled to her feeling-opinion, always! “I can see how it feels that way”, said with true sincerity, even when you have a completely different opinion, always helps. Also, I find ESFps need to have their emotional reaction to things. And they need boundaries made. Its hard when its your parent, but now you can start individuating, in your mind, anyway! I find when you make a clear boundary with ESFps, they can actually handle it. They might scream and complain when they first bump into the boundary, but they do okay with it once they see its staying. Maybe you will find it true. More thoughts on Conflictors below.

Also keeping secret your plans for when you leave might spare her, if it “triggers” her. Although it would be ideal if you *could *brainstorm ideas with her, if all the ideas trigger her, its kinder not to scare her and not present things til they are real possibilities.

One idea is the local Catholic Homeschoolers group, or the Christian one (start looking for Catholic, first!). You could even send out a sort-of “Help me” email or phone call to a representative of the local group (that you could find online), and find a way to sort of briefly explain the problem, but wordy enough to explain both what kind of obstacles you face and what kind of help and direction you hope for, asking if they would send it out to anyone they know in the group who might be willing to talk with you and advise you. Lots of Moms realize their limitations and that we all have them and are aware that the differing homeschool Moms have differing gifts. Also I can think of homeschooling Moms who, when their kids were more independent and had moved on would have loved to have someone to share all their knowledge and thoughts with, and it woudl bless them to take you on. Lordwilling you could find one whose personality thinks a lot more like an INTj!

(I have one son who just turned 18, just graduated. I had homeschooled him though 2nd grade when our life was suddenly interrupted by divorce and I had to go to work and he to school. I would like to have kept it going though, through high school! So I do have some past experience, past contacts in homeschooling, and I was acquainted with some unschooling families as well at the time. So that is why I think you would have some success if you threw out a clearly defined call for help.

Thanks for the compliment! I’m pleased I guessed it. It was an educated guess. :slight_smile: I should ad that one clue for guessing her type was when you described the way chores and cooking are done at your house! I have seen the same, or some form of that, with* all *the ESFps I know!

Good for you for figuring that out! Its an excellent life lesson! It will serve you in the world…

Yes, and don’t try to argue with them! I find with the ESFps in my life its better just to let them have their opinions. (I might mildly say, “I don’t know about that…” when I disagree, but I won’t go into my opinion unless they specifically ask for my opinion - and they generally do not do that ever ask!

And though ESFp’s in particular often* do *come across as particularly irrational, really, according to Socionics typology (read about it here) half the people, 8 of the 16 types, are rationals, and the other half are Irrational! Those ending with “p” are “Irrationals” and those ending with “j” are “Rationals”. So, its perfectly normal and expected that you would see how she is very “Irrational”! :slight_smile:

I think understanding Socionics typology will help you with her. Things that stand out as huge flaws, like her irrationality (which might be under better control if she were not stressed), take on new meaning when you realize that half of the types of people woudl not be as bothered by it as you!

Also understanding Model A - takes a bit of time, but you can find it on wikisocion, will help you see exactly how and why your interactions rub each other wrong.

…[rest of this post in next post]

…[continued from above]

Yes, ESFp’s rants can be scourging! But I find they forget all that once they calm down. So if one is ranting at me, I can know that it will pass. Also you can forget trying to reason with her when she is in a rant, right? You all know that by now.

Well its a very difficult situation for you because while these behaviors are certainly true for those of that background, in your case these things are AMPLIFIED when she is your Conflictor.

This link is all about Conflictor relations by various authors. I what I.D. Vaisband said:
“Conflict partners constantly get on each other’s pet peeves. This is actually good for self-discovery. Marry a dual – you will be happy, marry a conflictor – you will become a philosopher.” Having a spouse or family member in close quarters who is a Conflictor is difficult. Just your Mom “being herself”, even when she is not dysfunctioning, is an annoyance to you, her Conflictor. But in these relations its a mutual annoyance, also you rub against her, just by “being you”. But I see you have already begun to be a “philosopher”, adjusting yourself. Its wise!

Vaisband says: “For the most part, try to maintain psychological distance, remain polite, and make no attempt to pour out your heart! Of course, there can be no talk of harmony is close relations (e.g. family). … When dealing at close range conflicts in these relations are inevitable.” And that is so true. I have a close friend in a Conflictor marraige I always pray for. Its been painful for both. They are raising two boys and I think God gives them so many graces to stay together when its difficult. It has really strengthened her faith. It helps to be desperate! (Because you rely on God).

Further down that article, under “Gulenko”, is* “advice for getting along”.* That really is the advice that works. Giving each other a wide berth. I know that’s when its your Mom, its hard, and ESFps naturally are boundary-busters. But you could work on making boundaries, carefully, using “I” statements, like, “It gets me all mixed-up when I get interrupted, so that’s why I have these ear plugs in, Mom. Its not you, its me.” I think I already mentioned that even though ESFps will protest at a boundary, they can handle it.

Also, you could show her Socionics things that are pertinent, like, why our type has to sit quietly and think! ESFps do rather like to figure things out, and it might help her understand you and not take things so personally.

Gulenko’s advice for Conflictor’s getting along is wise. My friend does these things, and it helps. A key is to realize its never going to be close and harmonious, but aiming for polite interaction and respectful distance is do-able.

May God bless you with His peace, the peace that passes all understanding.

My mother’s scenes can indeed be scourging, but she does not forget. She’s out of touch with reality and she twists it around, and ends up believing it too, and she clings to that belief for very long amounts of time (months and years) unless some state of peace is declared. She has a bipolar attitude. She will either corner you emotionally and provoke you until she creates indignation, and then never leave you alone for months and years until she hears that you were wrong for being who you are or for having done what you had to do or the best you knew how to do. She just wants to hear “I’m sorry” or “You’re right” or “I totally understand how you feel.” If you react to her provocation, which, you will if you’re human, because she literally never stops provoking, even throughout the days and months following the last time she exploded for no reason and didn’t get an apology or emotional validation from the people she tried to put blame on (and then, again, the person and the blame are very fluid, she’ll just keep on switching, and nourish her neurosis in a vicious circle of provoking people for something they didn’t do, to blaming them for their reaction). She does not realize she has a problem with a situation, she always blames people and never stops until their ego bow down or until she gets emotional validation along with a very artificial display of affection. She never stopped harassing me until one day I gave in and gave her physical signs of affection like hugging and saying goodnight Unless I do drugs, put a girl pregnant or do drugs, as long as I act like we’re bestie and I totally approve of her conduct and her feelings, she doesn’t care how I live my life as long as she has be around the house and I pretend to love my family and that I spend time being with them, surprising them, helping them out, and taking initiatives to make the household run more smoothly. She acts as if she thought career, college, studies happen by magic, but in reality, she expects us to make compromises for a type of lifestyle (acting a certain way, staying home, believing in indie)
Thank heaven, I discovered that if I played along, the relationship smoothed out and I could force her to accept some changes, like me taking real life college classes. I just have to say how thankful I am for her, and how everything good that’s happening to me is thanks to her. The other attitude she manifests, of course, is that everything she’s ever done is for the “happiness” of the value. She literally wants the house to be filled with laughter and jokes and singing and patting and gift offering and teamwork. The children that are just different from her in any way live in fear and yet they have to put on a behavioral show just to get along with her. In a way, she’s really acting like her children have never grown up and that she knows better than them how to achieve happiness. She doesn’t recognize generatively and self actualization as models of happiness. She’s trying to force every male in the family to stay at home, take care of his ill mother and siblings and work on the atmosphere of the home like a middle aged female would. I won’t even touch on the subject she antagonizes the males in her family especially, and that, sexually, it’s been a tough time (both my mother and father would mistreat me on the basis of my sex alone, and denied every other dimension of my behavioral being.)

Yes, I really can’t pour out my heart, because there’s just no way she can relate to anything. However, she won’t stop harassing me until I treat her like my best friend again. So I purposefully talk about things, just because she wants these signs of affection and will force them out of me anyways, or make my life hell if I don’t. I’ve never seen that attitude in particular, mainly because society counteracts it in individuals with similar tendencies and dysfunctional backgrounds; she never adapted to the US.

All the behavioral sentences about “I know how you feel. This makes me feel… I need… [but only include feelings and needs that she can understand]” ends up working well with my mother. It’s a trigger to appease her, but it still takes a while. Likewise, a hug is a trigger, no matter how much I don’t feel it, doing it means almost calming her down immediately in some cases. Likewise, confidences are a long-term trigger to have her on my side against my verbally/emotional/I-hope-never-again-physically abusive father. She jumps in and out of conclusions about my father, but I have the right words to trigger her back into realizing who he really is.

So, when I talk about her “crisis” or scene, I’m talking about the fact that doing something normal or just out of nowhere, she will not only explode, but bring up the past and re-question or confirm everything about you and the trust she gives/doesn’t give you, and she won’t stop believing in what she said in her panic attack in the future. Out of nowhere, she will causes a crisis and enter in conflict with someone, or everyone at home, and keep on persecuting him/them by yelling day, and night, and the following day.

This is to the point where if no one takes the blame and accepts to endure her more or less silently, that it is likely she’ll turn to my father, either explicitly asking for an intervention or implicitly flattering his role as her husband, jumping back into the mode of thinking that he’s the (puppet) head of one big happy family; but whenever he does, things are disastrous. Last time he intervened, he broke a door and tried to slap me, after running after me. He is 200 pounds. I’m right to be scared of him, he has very poor impulse control, and his adrenaline levels rise as soon as there’s a family problem, to the point where there is nothing his sons can say or do to reach him, because coming to a fist fight with them is an option when he turns like an animal like that (he’s done it, fortunately, he was too blinded by anger to hurt. By the way. This one episode I had forgotten for some time, it’s coming back to me now. I should make my mother remember too to check her tendency to make my father intervene). He only understands violence when he’s like that, which is why the cops have been in our house once (since then the entire family tries to avoid that like the pest, because they are afraid of the police force for some reason). My mother, though, when he’s in a blind abusive rage can sometime check the escalation. My mother, in a crisis, will just make the atmosphere so unbearable that my father will attempt to step in, and that’s when disaster arrives.

I think mother is emotionally abusive too.

Yet, family intervention is not an option, because my two elder brother have accepted this situation and also shift in and out of conclusions, as children of abusive homes tend to do.

Actually, after having thought about it for a moment, I don’t think my mother means to harm in any way. So, even though it puzzles me, I don’t think she’s abusive, I take that back. She communicates very badly, and she’s very unstable emotionally. I know in her heart she means well, and it hurts me to see her be so susceptible and go so far in her frustrations with people and having no clue that the control she’s trying to excrete is very unhealthy and actually undoes what she’s trying to hard to do: have a “happy” family. Her behavior is dangerous, though, because it puts me in the line of fire with a truly emotionally and verbally abusive father (who’s also had episodes of actual physical violence).

Wow, specterlitt, it really seems like a focus on getting out would be best. Wow. What a difficult situation. But you have been so smart in figuring out what will work. It does sound like mental illness. Do you pray, specterlitt? Because the peace of God is what you need to make wise plans while you cope day to day. Also truly demons do make our day to day life worse, and daily blessing your house with holy water and asking God to protect it will truly make a difference. Does your mother a faith?

I am not commenting on everything just now because of the Christmas rush, but I will give more time to things you have said here later.

Well, when it gets bad, it gets very, very bad. Those artificial hugs you have to give - really for logical “T” types, it often feels artificial. Ideally you should only give hugs when so moved to. But in this circumstance you could consider it not only a coping tool but a ministry. Offer up to God you discomfort in having to do this act that at the moment it feels so unnatural. God will use your discomfort to great purpose if you offer it to Him! And your obedience to her, meet her need, is precious to Him. The hugs help her, so its good to give them. Also you can consider that hugs and other positive things can serve to calm her, meet her needs, so when you need her sane replay to things you are more likely to get it!

Speaking of hugs - when I was teaching I read a study on librarians and touch. When school librarians who touched a child - either on the back of the hand, or top of the shoulder, when giving a book to a child who had checked it out, the child rated the librarian and the while library experience much, much higher than when there was no-touch. This was a well-controlled study. I used this technique myself, and found we quickly had more postive days. (Its not easy to touch in school, but those couple of places are safe-touch places).

So think of that yourself. Its a tool you can use. It does not always have to be a hug. Make efforts to keep her emotional tank full, and the result will be lots more peace at home. I have to do the same with my mother, who lives with us, and has Alzheimer’s, and was always a difficult person even before this devastating illness. As gone as her mind is, she is still a person, and I have to purposefully make sure I hug (which does not come natural with her, ever) and touch, and look in the eyes and smile when we have our repeated, nonsensical conversations. If I did what felt natural to me in response to her, and I have at times, I would just ignore her, because her behaviors are very trying. However, I have to do not what I feel like doing, but what is *right. * And then our day goes better and its happier around here.

I think its so good you can see through all this and see that your mother does not mean harm. Making use of spiritual tools, like Holy Water and praying to St. Michael to clear your house of demons on a regular basis will help so much. You will notice it.

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