You keep getting stuck in the guilt you have about your relationship with your family. No matter how much you try to challenge those thoughts with all that you do for them, you continue to be plagued by their voices in your head telling you that you haven’t done enough. When you miss a day calling to check in on them, when you choose to spend the holidays away from home, when you don’t send the money that they are constantly requesting, all you hear is “if you cared you would do this” or “after all I’ve done for you.”
“If you cared about me
you would do this.”
You know that going two days without talking to them helps you deal with when you do need to talk to them, you know that having a gathering of friends for the holidays will bring you more joy and less stress, and you know your family will find a way to pay their bills even if you do not give it to them. Even though you are justified in your feelings and actions toward them you can’t seem to step away from the toxic environment that they create.
You continue to give and give, sacrificing doing the things that you want to do for yourself. That new handbag can wait because your little sister needs help with her light bill even though you helped her find a better job. You postpone that trip you were going to take because mom needs help getting to the family reunion and has guilted you into driving her there.
Why Do I Have These Feelings?
Where does all this come from? Most of us have this image of what happy families look like. We see shows on television portraying two parent households, a stay at home mom, a dad with a good job making sure all of the needs of the family are being met daily. The kids go off to school, make good grades, are actively involved in school activities before coming home to a family meal in which everyone sits and talks about their day. But the reality is life is not like that for everyone, it’s not like that for most people and seeing these images in mass proportions can give you insecurities about the dynamic of your own family. The truth is your family may not have been what was portrayed on television, it may have been better or worse but your perception of the events of your upbringing can affect how you deal with stressors in your current life.
Do you remember all the times that you came home from school on the bus to an empty home? You let yourself in, did your homework by yourself, and took out the chicken so mom wouldn’t be yelling at you when she got home. Mom worked a full time job and a part time one just to make ends meet and dad was in and out of the picture. You were responsible for making sure your younger siblings got off to school in the morning and home from school safety in the afternoon. You had to cook dinner some nights and put everyone to bed as mom often came home late. There was love in your family, no doubt, but things were tough and things did not always match how you saw love portrayed on television every night. You didn’t want that life for yourself and you promised yourself that you wouldn’t continue the cycle that you had seen repeated in your family and the families around you.
There was love in your family, no doubt, but things were tough and things did not always match how you saw love portrayed on television every night.”
You were going to work hard, get a degree and obtain a job that wouldn’t leave you living from paycheck to paycheck. You were going to wait to get your life in order before you brought kids into the world so they wouldn’t have to go through the things that you did growing up. And you did it! But even in doing it you weren’t able to escape the challenges of your family. Mom now thinks that you owe her for all the late nights that she worked to keep the lights on, food on the table, and a roof over your head. You acknowledge a need to take care of your mother, but it never seems to be enough. Mom and your younger siblings become dependent on you because you’re the one that was able to make it. They tell you that you have the money so you should be able to help them. They make you feel guilty because all of your life you had been their caretaker and now you’re trying to live your own life. They act as if their whole world s going to fall apart if you don’t continue doing what you have always done for them.
How it all connects
Those experiences from your childhood that you didn’t really think of as a negative thing, bring stress into your daily life making you feel anxious. That anxiety builds up and has now started affecting your performance on the job. You didn’t realize that the dynamics of your family would haunt you in your future. You didn’t feel like you were going through trauma but in reality you were. See trauma is usually associated with things such as war, sexual assaults, or life threatening events, but trauma actually applies to anything that we go through that has a negative effect on one’s thoughts, feelings or behaviors. When you were young and had to be responsible for the household it was a heavy weight for a young person to experience. Adults have a hard time adjusting to adult life, but you were thrown into it before you could barely take care of yourself. The pressure to be “mom” was stressful and interfered with you being able to be a carefree kid. You may not have noticed it then but as you grew you continue to take on the role of the caretaker in the family, the one that was responsible for everything and the moment that you decided to step back and care for yourself, all hell broke loose. You want to back away, give the power back to your family members to take charge of your own life, but you fear the transition. You fear what they may think about you, what they may say. You fear that they won’t make it and you’ll be blamed. You worry excessively about the what ifs that leave you frozen in a state of anxiety not knowing what to do about the guilt you feel surrounding your family. You want to escape but you just can’t do so without feeling like a bad person that has abandoned the people that have been around you your whole life.
But guess what, you’re not the only one going through this type of trauma. You’re not the only one holding on to toxic relationships because they’re family and family is supposed to stick together. There are so many women out there just like you looking for a change. They’re looking to be able to live their successful life without guilt from their families every time they make a move. They’re looking to be able
You’re not the only one holding on to toxic relationships because they’re family and family is supposed to stick together.”
to go on vacations and buy nice things for themselves with the money they earned without a family member looking at them crazy for not paying their car note. They’re looking to be able to choose to spend their time with positive people that bring them joy without being made to feel guilty for their choices. Can you imagine having the things that you do for your family feel like they’re good enough? Can you imagine being able to make a decision about what you do or don’t do and not feeling guilty? Guess what, it’s possible.
What to Expect in Therapy
Therapy is often frowned upon in many cultural groups. You’re taught that what happens in your home stays in your home. You don’t go to therapy you just pray about it, light some candles, or just have a good meal to deal with whatever may be bothering you. The experiences you have are normalized to make you not notice that they’re not the way things should have been for you. You go into the real world and you’re hit with the reality of the lies that you had been living. You become aware of the trauma created from the dynamics of your family and when family is the root of the negative experiences; can you really expect to be able to turn to them to help you deal with what you are currently experiencing? That’s were therapy comes in, it provides you with the guidance to get rid of the guilt that you are experiencing so that you can live your best life.
So how is therapy with me going to help you? I’m not going to go into a lot of big fancy words to describe something pretty simple to understand. I’m going to guide you through the process of changing the way that you think about your relationships with family members so that you can improve the quality of your life, reduce frustrations and anxiety, and continue to push forward toward the things that you want for yourself. Therapy with me is like having that family member that understands what you are saying about auntie but was able to get out of all the drama of the family and is better off because of it. I want you to
I’ll help you with being able to set firm boundaries for yourself and maintain consistency with those boundaries so your family knows you are serious this time.”
be able to get to a point where you can be satisfied with your success and not feel guilty about doing things for yourself. I’ll help you with being able to detach from toxic family members while still remaining connected if you want, or removing them from your life altogether. I’ll help you with being able to set firm boundaries for yourself and maintain consistency with those boundaries so your family knows that you are serious this time. It’s hard to do this on your own. Our family knows how to play on your emotions, they know how to manipulate you and get you to do the things that they want you to do. But I can be that tool for you to help you push past the crap that they throw your way so you can stop the cycle.
It’s time that you take back your power and stop allowing your family to dictate the way that you live your life. So what are you waiting for? Mom is not going to change until you change how you respond to her. Your family is going to keep asking for hand outs if you don’t learn to say no and be consent with your saying of no to them. Let’s get started on making those positive changes in your life by scheduling your free 15 minute consultation where I can give you a better picture of what therapy with me is like.