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How to Deal with Family Members You Really Like

Who don’t know about how your mother actually treated you and wouldn’t be able to accept it?

I just spent the afternoon with my two half-brothers, their kids, and a few aunts. This side of the family is my father’s side. I only met them when I was 16 because my mother basically decided after her and my father’s divorced that they didn’t exist in her world. My father was never a part of my life, nor my half-brothers for that matter (we share a father). However, my father has 6 siblings, all of whom are simply delightful human beings.

My mother emotionally neglected and abused me. I took years of therapy to even ADMIT that my childhood was not normal, beyond the whole not having a father around part. My mother is the typical narcissistic mother who can’t fathom that I am a separate human than she is. But it was the type of abuse that is so subtle, it’s imperceptible.


Anyway, in an effort to maintain some semblance of emotional stability, over the past several years I’ve kept my interactions with my mother to a bare minimum. Same with my (full) brother who was awful to me growing up and is still awful to me now - as is his wife. An example: I stopped to visit him and his wife one time on my way through they town while on a road trip. They had finally put up wedding photos. They had chosen to put up a picture that included all immediate family members and the bridal party except me, which, meh not that bad. But then my brother POINTED IT OUT TO ME. Literally “Hey look, we put up this picture that excludes you, hahahaha”. This is the type of asshole he is. He also like to tell me how fat and stupid I am on a regular basis.

I do not want to spend time with these people.

But my extended family members don’t understand because they never saw it (we lived far away) and because I was the scapegoat who everyone picked on, I’m the only one who experienced any of this. It literally made me feel like I was going insane because I was living such a different reality of these people than others were. I miss spending time with them, but I just can’t with all the questions about my Mom and the comments about how great she is and how lucky I am to have such a great Mom (she is very professionally accomplished). They got the short end of the stick communication wise because of my decision to minimize the contact/communication with my mother, and they’ve noticed. It was a bit of a joke this afternoon about how hard its to get ahold of me and how I disappear. And they say this because they love me and want to spend time with me - it comes from a good place.

This has been my ultimate dilemma - trying to navigate having relationships with family members that I truly enjoy being around whilst having to pretend like it’s all fine. I’ve tried to talk about it with some other family members who know my mother better (her sister for instance, my aunt) but as much as my aunt tries, she just can’t fathom how bad it was. And I end up feeling guilty all over again for “not appreciating” my mother enough, even though she’s a narcissistic jerk.

This has always been the hardest part of dealing with the aftermath of emotional abuse - the disbelief of people (family, friends, etc) that it was as bad as it was. I’ve been realizing over the past several weeks just how closed off I’ve become at getting close to people over the last year because of this. And on the one hand it makes me really sad that I don’t have anyone to talk to, but on the other hand, I’ve been burned so many times when trying to open up (even just slightly) to people about my experience of the world, that its a relief most days that it’s just me and my cat. I’m both profoundly sad and extremely relieved about my situation. It’s an odd dichotomy.


Thanks for listening (reading) about my feelings groupthink. Y’all a great.

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