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Author Topic: Truth
Andromache
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Member # 31005

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My family has collapsed. All members of my family have been diagnosed with clinical depression: myself, my younger brother, my mother, my father. Both my mother and my father are alcoholics. I'm dealing with trauma from a sexual assault (not within the family). My father is physically and emotionally abusive toward my mother, and my mother is emotionally abusive towards everyone in the family. My brother has "run away" from the family while still living in it - he expresses no emotion, and he spends as much time as possible alone, whether in his room or walking the streets.

I could get into the sordid details of who-did-what-when-and-why, but that's not really what I want to talk about.

What's bothering me right now is how divorced from the truth I feel: it's not just that specific fights or incidents have started to blend into one another. It's also that things are so morally grey I can almost never parse a situation, figure out what's justifiable anger and what's unfair, who's being manipulative and who's not. When we've all said horrible things to one another, betrayed each other's trust...

My brother and I are in general not as abusive as my mother and father are either to one another or to us. But both of us have learned the dirty tricks of emotional abuse from long years of observation: how to pinpoint on the one insult you know will break a person, how to eat away at someone's self-worth, and then - two days later, to be "best friends" again.

I know I am becoming increasingly codependent with my mother, who is codependent with my father. I'm doing my best to get out; but I have no money - in fact, my bank account is in overdraft right now - and I have a dog I'm responsible for, or else I'd move in with my aunt and uncle. I have no job, because unemployment is 13% where I live, and depressed college dropouts don't make the most desirable employees.

I just want to get out of here with my soul more or less intact. I can feel my sense of right and wrong - of up and down! - erode every day. Who's in the right? Whose version of events is true? When I hear about a fight from three different perspectives, each one claiming to be the one wronged... and when in every fight I myself feel sure I'm a terrible victim... god, it makes my head spin.

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Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

Posts: 28 | From: Rhode Island | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Andromache: obviously, you're in a really tough spot. I'm so sorry things are so rough for you right now.

Can you fill us in on how you'd like us to help? Do you want to talk through your feelings more? Would you like help finding some resources for yourself right now, like counseling resources? Want practical help figuring out how to move out?

I know you're not a minor, but is your brother? Do you want some help finding resources for him?

You say everyone in your family has been diagnosed with depression: can I ask who has given that diagnosis? If the same person diagnosed all of you, did they not also at least reccommend family therapy or do any investigating into the soundness of your home?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67131 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Andromache
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Member # 31005

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Last question first: My mother was diagnosed first, in 2002, and has been depressed the longest. My father and I became depressed at about the same time, and briefly saw the same therapist (that was disastrous) but my initial diagnoses was made by a psychiatrist while I was at school, and not at home. My brother received his diagnosis a few months ago from a therapist at the same practice as mine, although not my therapist.

We have gone to family therapy intermittently, but it's very difficult to get everyone to agree to go -- usually one, possibly two, people will be in revolt against their treatment plan - my father, brother, and I are the worst offenders in that light. Also, family therapy has proven "unsafe" - namely, if I speak honestly at family therapy, I can count on my confidences being used against me in arguments at home.

My brother is a minor, and I'm very worried about him, but I don't know how much more I can do for him; he is in therapy now, at least in part due to my urging him to go, and we're close, so he will talk to me sometimes, but I'm so scared for him. He's full of anger all the time. I know he's terrified that he'll grow up to be physically abusive, just as I'm terrified I'll end up abused in relationships outside of my nuclear family.

Honestly what I really want is just to talk to people in similar circumstances to myself. I like my therapist, but I've gotten really frustrated with the model of abusive behavior that designates one person in the family the abuser and the rest the abused; my lived reality is that it's possible for families to have multiple kinds of abuse going on between multiple members, and that sometimes there can be a sick sort of reciprocity...

Thanks for your response. I feel too old to post here, but this is one of the best, least judgmental, places on the web.

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Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

Posts: 28 | From: Rhode Island | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You're not too old to post here, I promise. Our users generally range in age from 14 to their late twenties, and that's all okay.

Given the hour, it's probably obvious I'm far past the end of my day, but let me sleep on this tonight and come back to you in the morning. I understand what you're talking about when it comes to the idea that there is only one abuser in a family being a simplistic way of thinking, and agree with you that often it is not so simple.

So, sorry to leave you hanging for the night, but if you can stop back tomorrow, I'd be glad to talk with you for a while (including, with some discretion given how visible I am, my personal understanding of those kinds of dynamics).

Just for the record, have you expressed to your therapist all that you have said here, including your frustration with a model of abuse that doesn't account for more than one abuser, or doesn't account for abusers AND enablers?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67131 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Andromache
Neophyte
Member # 31005

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Thanks for taking the time, I'll be back tomorrow.

I have talked to my therapist about it a bit, and I know she gets it to an extent, but what the truth looks like in her office isn't what the truth looks like at home, you know? I go to her office and sit down on the couch, and she agrees with most of what I say, validates my outrage, and so on. And she tells me I'm in the right about this, I'm in the right about that.

And then I come home and I have these awful fights with my mother, and I'm assertive and I try out the skills I learn in therapy... and she tells me that HER therapist says that she shouldn't have to put up with my bullshit, HER therapist says that she's deeply insightful, HER therapist thinks xyz about my behavior, etc. etc. It's crazy-making!

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Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

Posts: 28 | From: Rhode Island | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Thanks for being patient last night, Andromache.

Sleeping on it, if you were a minor who wasn't living home by choice, I'd perhaps obviously have very different things to say.

But since you're not, my feeling is that given the dynamics there, what YOU probably need most is just to work on getting the heck out of there. That's not to say you need to abandon your family, but I think working on this with you OUT of the house is going to be a lot easier and certainly a lot more manageable than in it at this point. Do you agree?

Your brother doesn't have that option. Well, he might, actually: if it's so bad there he's just falling apart, calling social services and getting a foster placement is an option if that's something he wants to consider.

But at the very least, have both of you ever gone to an ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting? Like AA, ACOA meetings are free, you both could get some good support there, and it sounds like right now being able to hear other people who have been through these kinds of dynamics talking might be even more valuable to either of you than family therapy, which sounds like it's been a total bust.

Something else to consider is getting all of your therapists in some kind of communication, but, of course, your parents would have to be open to that.

In terms of the overall dynamics, before I talk more, I want to be sure (I'm guessing you are., but just checking) that there has been some talk about not just abusers but enablers: has there been? Are you familiar with concepts of not just abusing but enabling?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67131 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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