Boundaries With Loved Ones Who Can Be/Are Abusive – Sound Familiar?

You feel angry. You feel angry because you always (or more often than not) feel triggered by your family.

You often feel hurt and confused by your family’s words and actions. They say one thing, but then do the other. They do one thing, but then say the other. They say one thing, and then say something else. They do one thing, and then do something else.

They say you’re not a burden, but then act as if you are. They say they accept you, but then they reject you. They say that you can talk to them about your thoughts and feelings, but then they mock, tease and laugh at your emotional sensitivity, thoughts, anxiety and fears. They say they are just joking or that you are too serious, but then they take personal jabs at your self-worth and self-esteem through humour and sarcasm, and it makes you feel hurt, confused, unworthy, guilty and ashamed. They put you down and say comments that are used to guilt-trip or manipulate you. They say that you can trust them, but then they backstab you, or bring situations from the past to the present, just to shove it in your face again, and it hurts you. They get angry and upset, and then say rude, mean and disrespectful things about the person they are not happy with. They communicate with you aggressively or passive-aggressively. They point out your mistakes and flaws, and rarely ever the positive stuff. They remind you of your past mistakes and flaws. They hold grudges against you and are not understanding or forgiving. Their lens and energy is so focused on the negatives. They are un-happy and almost never satisfied. They can be judgmental, critical, demeaning and belittling as a result.

They don’t like it when you’re in school, they don’t like it when you’re not in school. They don’t like it when you’re working, they don’t like it when you’re not working. They don’t like it when you’re home, they don’t like it when you’re not home. They don’t like it when you’re busy, they don’t like it when you’re free. They don’t like it when you’re being social, they don’t like it when you’re in isolation. They don’t like it when you’re not taking care of myself, they don’t like it when you are taking care of myself. It’s almost as though you can never please them. You feel as though you are never good enough.

You pull them in to attempt to rekindle the communication and relationship, but then push them away because you end up getting hurt again. And you realize that you need to set personal boundaries, so that you are not so exposed to this kind of hurt from them.

But then you feel guilty and ashamed for doing this because it is your family, and you love them and care about them. And they are loving and caring, too. You still have moments of shared laughter and joy. And one day they won’t be around, and so, you need to cherish this time now that you have with them.

But they continually abuse and hurt you, in the most sneakiest of ways. And they don’t even realize what they are doing. It is a sub-conscious thing. But you can’t talk to them about how you feel or how much you are hurt because you have tried and it never works. Nothing ever changes. You are never listened to or respected. You are always teased about your emotional sensitivity. And they are always right; you are always wrong. You know that isn’t true, but it’s the only way to stay safe, by not saying anything at all, by not arguing. Because if you do…you are scared to experience the outcome. Angering and upsetting your family scares you. It reminds you of your childhood. You still feel like that same child living with them. You’re trying to heal from childhood wounds and scars, but these wounds and scars are just being poked at and torn on a regular basis. 

Boundaries with loved ones who can be or are emotionally abusive, or negative and deficit-based, are hard to set and balance.

It’s not that you are right and they are wrong. Their thoughts and feelings are just as valid as yours. You just wish that they could communicate with you in a mature, assertive, kind, loving and respectful manner…but they don’t. You just wish they were strength-based…but they aren’t. You just wish they would listen to and respect you…but they don’t. And it hurts you.

They get you thinking that it’s you and not them. They get you thinking that it’s just your emotional sensitivity, or your mental illness. It’s you – as in, you are the one with the problem; you are wrong.

Living at home with them is like walking on egg shells. And it’s hard for you not to feel guilty and ashamed while living with and/or being in contact with them.

But it’s okay. Because you came to the conclusion that if you cannot understand and forgive them, then you cannot understand and forgive your past (and sometimes present) Self and/or others.

It’s just challenging trying to find that balance that is right FOR YOU.

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