Breaking free from dysfunctional family

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
Breaking free from dysfunctional family
Sat, 02-26-2011 - 5:58pm

I have been taking time away from my family of origin due to a hurtful situation that happened a while ago. I've been making some good progress in healing, but still have a way to go. I'm not sure what kind of interactions I want to have with them in the future. I am just trying to fight the negative thinking that comes from growing up in that family, and learn to think more positively.

Some members of the family have tried to contact me, even though I've told them I'm taking time away. I think they have a desire to "fix" things and have everything go back to "normal" asap. Well, things will never be the way they used to be, because I am breaking free and becoming a healthy person!

One of them sent me a note about a parent who is having some health issues (not life-threatening at this point). And what they said was that me taking time away is making that parent worry more about their health issues.

I suppose that parent is thinking about their own mortality, and maybe doesn't like the idea of there being a rift between us.

Well, it feels to me like a big burden of guilt being placed on me! It's like putting me in a position where if I don't "comply" with what they want (for me to re-engage with them and for everything to be back to "normal"), then they can really make me look like the bad guy. It just makes me NOT want to be in relationship with them all the more!

Plus, it's like they're saying that the parent's feelings are my responsibility, like I'm supposed to fix them! And if only I'd do this or that, then the parent would feel better. (Well, what about my feelings and my lifetime of hurt from them being critical of me among other things?)

It's reflective of what it was like as a child, where that parent felt this way or that way, and we were all supposed to bend over in an effort to appease them. That's sick and unhealthy!

I'd appreciate any comments! I guess I need to know that it's okay for me to take care of myself, and to not feel guilty or take responsibility for their feelings. It's kind-of a tricky situation, though. I really don't want to be drawn back into the dysfunction, after I've made so much progress!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
Sun, 02-27-2011 - 11:22am

You are right in your mindset.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2008
Sun, 02-27-2011 - 7:13pm

You're trying to become a healthy person...that means you are going to be dealing with a lot of what you're dealing with...i.e., unhealthy family who cannot/won't change.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
Mon, 02-28-2011 - 12:49pm

Thank you for the replies! They are very helpful and I appreciate them.

Izzy, it does help to have affirmation that their feelings are not my responsibility. It's a learning process to know what is my responsibility and what is not. And it's freeing as well to know that it's not my job to fix anyone or make anyone else happy!

irishtea, hopefully I will keep growing stronger, and more confident in being able to set boundaries and keep the false guilt away. I think it will take more time. That's a good reminder that they will not like the fact that I'm getting healthy and will try to push me back into the old dysfunctional patterns. Yes, it is crystal clear to me too! I am trying to remember that it is MY life and I can do whatever I want!