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Author Topic: Dysfunctional families of origin  (Read 7919 times)
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« Topic Start: June 09, 2011, 02:25:43 pm »

I am very interested in family of origin issues, and am wondering how many of the people here come from a family of origin in which either parent was abusive (emotionally or physically), had a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness/personality disorder?

How many came from secure homes and have a close relationship with their parents?

I was raised by my mother, who was an alcoholic, bipolar, and has borderline personality disorder, so all of the above. I live in fear of going down that road and so have been in therapy much of my life dealing with the scars I was left with. Fortunately I seem to be free of bipolar disorder (it often onsets in the early forties, though, so I am petrified it could still happen) and personality disorders, though I definitely have self-esteem and boundary-defense issues.
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« Reply #1: June 09, 2011, 03:03:34 pm »

I am very interested in family of origin issues, and am wondering how many of the people here come from a family of origin in which either parent was abusive (emotionally or physically), had a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness/personality disorder?

How many came from secure homes and have a close relationship with their parents?

I was raised by my mother, who was an alcoholic, bipolar, and has borderline personality disorder, so all of the above. I live in fear of going down that road and so have been in therapy much of my life dealing with the scars I was left with. Fortunately I seem to be free of bipolar disorder (it often onsets in the early forties, though, so I am petrified it could still happen) and personality disorders, though I definitely have self-esteem and boundary-defense issues.

I'm pretty sure my parents are alcoholics the way they drink. And my dad would beat the crap out of me when I was bad as a kid, but other then that we're a pretty close knit family.
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« Reply #2: June 09, 2011, 03:18:57 pm »

Fortunately I seem to be free of bipolar disorder (it often onsets in the early forties, though, so I am petrified it could still happen)

uhmmm.... bi polar typically  presents  between the ages  of  15 and  25, with  the odd case  of  child  onset  bi polar presenting  between  13 and  15 years of  age. My  14 year  old daughter being  one of those odd cases of  child onset bi polar  presenting itself  just before  her 14th  birthday!( Although I have heard of cases  of bi polar on-setting later in life, thou typically  those are cases  of  it  being  undiagnosed  for  a long time. I'm just  going by  what I was  told by my kids  Physc.) Given the  family  history  of alcoholics/ drug abusers in  my  maternal side of the family her  Physc. is inclined to think that there  are  a few  cases of  undiagnosed bi-polar disorders  on my  maternal side of the family. I tend to agree with her because that side of the family  puts  the FUN in  dysFUNctional!!  Shocked
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« Reply #3: June 09, 2011, 03:25:39 pm »

I am very interested in family of origin issues, and am wondering how many of the people here come from a family of origin in which either parent was abusive (emotionally or physically), had a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness/personality disorder?

How many came from secure homes and have a close relationship with their parents?

I was raised by my mother, who was an alcoholic, bipolar, and has borderline personality disorder, so all of the above. I live in fear of going down that road and so have been in therapy much of my life dealing with the scars I was left with. Fortunately I seem to be free of bipolar disorder (it often onsets in the early forties, though, so I am petrified it could still happen) and personality disorders, though I definitely have self-esteem and boundary-defense issues.

My family was very emotionally and mentally abusive they kept saying that I had mental issues and trying to cure me. That was hurtful. 
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« Reply #4: June 09, 2011, 04:53:24 pm »

uhmmm.... bi polar typically  presents  between the ages  of  15 and  25, with  the odd case  of  child  onset  bi polar presenting  between  13 and  15 years of  age. My  14 year  old daughter being  one of those odd cases of  child onset bi polar  presenting itself  just before  her 14th  birthday!( Although I have heard of cases  of bi polar on-setting later in life, thou typically  those are cases  of  it  being  undiagnosed  for  a long time. I'm just  going by  what I was  told by my kids  Physc.) Given the  family  history  of alcoholics/ drug abusers in  my  maternal side of the family her  Physc. is inclined to think that there  are  a few  cases of  undiagnosed bi-polar disorders  on my  maternal side of the family. I tend to agree with her because that side of the family  puts  the FUN in  dysFUNctional!!  Shocked

Note that I didn't say "usually", I said "often".  Smiley In late-onset bipolar disorder, the peak occurrence in women is around age 40.

I still don't show any signs, and am knocking on wood that I'm free of it.
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« Reply #5: June 09, 2011, 10:57:08 pm »

uhmmm.... bi polar typically  presents  between the ages  of  15 and  25, with  the odd case  of  child  onset  bi polar presenting  between  13 and  15 years of  age. My  14 year  old daughter being  one of those odd cases of  child onset bi polar  presenting itself  just before  her 14th  birthday

I have a friend whose kid is ~11 and has been diagnosed for a while now.   Unfun.
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« Reply #6: June 11, 2011, 02:27:33 pm »

I am very interested in family of origin issues, and am wondering how many of the people here come from a family of origin in which either parent was abusive (emotionally or physically), had a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness/personality disorder?

How many came from secure homes and have a close relationship with their parents?

A little of both - my parents did a lot of things right and loved each other deeply. There's some stuff they didn't do a great job with. (My father was English, and my mother grew up in the UK, and they have the stereotypical British issue with anything emotional. But I always knew I was loved.)

That said, my father died of cancer when I was 15, and that does all sorts of things to both family culture and to interrelationships.

Mom and I went through about 15 years of things being anywhere from touchy with periodic arguments, to me not talking to her much for about 8 years, to where we are now, which is great. (I don't want to live in the next town over from her, but I like seeing her, and we can talk about the difficult stuff well.)
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« Reply #7: June 11, 2011, 02:58:34 pm »

I am very interested in family of origin issues, and am wondering how many of the people here come from a family of origin in which either parent was abusive (emotionally or physically), had a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness/personality disorder?

I was (mostly) raised by my mother. My biological father (whom I did not know about until I was 10) was a rampaging coke head, alcoholic, enjoyed cheating and beating. My mom left when she became pregnant with me. Cue in three years later and she meets my step-father, whom has always been "Daddy" for me. He legally adopts me and we're happy... for about a month. He proceeds to cheat repeatedly on my mother (oh, the fights!) on top of being an alcoholic (oh, the fights when she had to pick him up from the bar with me and my little brother in tow!). He managed to contract HIV. This was during the late 80s so it still had a stigma attached. (I never told anyone I was friends with when I was a child because I remembered being scared of my classmates and their parents thinking I was a freak and that they could contract it from me.) His HIV went undiagnosed for about a year and a half before it became AIDS and they discovered what it was that was making him so ill. When I was seven, he died. I listened to him have a heart attack in the other room.

My mother has severe abandonment issues because of all of this. Hell, so do I. She was verbally abusive towards me all of my life (and still is). I have managed to, mostly, come out of this relatively okay. I'm on anti-depressants and have a very good set up with the Hubby. My little brother, unfortunately, has not been able to escape from all of this so well: he is a drug addict (meth) and an alcoholic. He's nominally functional.
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« Reply #8: June 11, 2011, 04:05:19 pm »



Wow. I come out sounding pretty "normal," I guess.

Parents married in their early 20's (1951, Mom was nearly 21, Dad was nearly 25--June wedding, Nov/Oct b'days respectively). I didn't come along until 1958; that in itself seems unusual, at least to me, for that decade's cultural expectations. I never heard (nor did I ask) if there were any miscarriages or what have you before me; family records make no mention of any, so I take that as fact.

My mother was raped at the age of 9 by a cousin of hers, aided and abetted by his mother (on whose farm the incident took place). My father still doesn't know this. She told ME when I started showing an interest in boys, in about 6th grade. I wasn't allowed to date until I was in college. One of the boys who liked me in 7th grade gave me an inexpensive cross necklace from the local dimestore; she found it in my purse (I was afraid to tell her) and made me give it back. He stopped talking to me then. Thanks, Mom . . .

Also, it's important to know that Mom didn't get much of a chance to be a little kid. Her mother suffered from Parkinson's, rheumatism, arthritis, and because she had fallen ill with St. Louis encephalitis in 1918, as a young woman, she was also unable to speak clearly; the Parkinson's variant was a result of that (lethargic Parkinson's, which most dr's know about from med school but rarely get to see up close and personal), and also her vocal cords were partially paralyzed. The only words I ever heard her say clearly were "OH SHIT!" when a pot of eggs boiled dry on the stove and exploded. I guess that adrenaline rush affected her speech. :-) (It was a family joke for years after the event, too. Never failed to make us all smile.)

But I digress. Mom was the "woman of the house" from about the age of 9. She did the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the marketing, etc. Her dad worked in the paint shop of Woodward Governor all through the Depression and WWII, and she ran the house when she wasn't actually sitting in school. There wasn't time for the usual "kid stuff" in her life. That colored her views on what I should/shouldn't/could/couldn't do, I know.

My father was dx'd about 20-25 years ago with clinical depression. Mom had NO IDEA what that was like, or what it meant, or how to deal with it. I'd been dx'd myself before then, so I took her to lunch while he was in the psych ward having a breakdown and explained it to her. She still didn't really "get it," but at least she was receptive.

I was never physically abused, but Mom had her moments of emotional abuse--often related to my weight. "You'd be so pretty if only" was a favorite. I didn't see it as abuse at the time, but I knew it hurt; it wasn't until years later I realized, it WAS a form of abuse. Not severe, not actionable, and "she meant well"--but it was emotionally abusive, and we were never very close because of it. Not, at least, for many years; we made our peace as adults after her second bout with cancer (she had three kinds, three different occasions, and beat it twice).

Neither of my parents were physically demonstrative, with me or with one another. Hugs were reserved for . . . . Hm. Hugs were pretty much just not done, in our house or at relatives' houses. It wasn't until I was in college I started getting used to that kind of physical contact. Same goes for showing emotions. I learned very young not to let anyone see me cry, as it only brought down heaps of criticism. Laughing was okay, anger was okay--crying was not.

Dad worked nights driving a truck (not long-haul, only local, the same route nightly), so I didn't see him a lot except on weekends. When I was very small, he read to me from the family Bible on nights he didnt' have to work (Fridays and Saturdays). We all went to church together on Sunday. He was active in the congregation; our family was one of those that founded the congregation in 1847, and built the first church (wooden) and the first stone church after that one burned down. Mom went, and sat in the pew with us, but she didn't participate in any of the ladies' groups at all. I learned from them that it was important to be there when one was expected to be there, and to treat others as one would like to be treated--but beyond that? ::shrugs:: I left the church when I went to college.

I guess that points to a low level of dysfunction. I never thought that much about it, honestly. It was what it was, and I turned out mostly okay. I think.
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« Reply #9: June 11, 2011, 08:21:27 pm »

... I learned very young not to let anyone see me cry, as it only brought down heaps of criticism. Laughing was okay, anger was okay--crying was not.

THIS.

My mother was raised that way and to some extent, so was I.

At my grandparents' home, you pretty much didn't discuss much of anything that had the world "love" in it or would cause an emotional reaction of any sort. "Love" was a term used in the most dire of circumstances. You knew that Gramma and Grampa cared because they would give you sappy cards on all of the holidays and anything that could cause you pain was never discussed in your hearing. That's how you knew that they loved you. Emotions were not expressed unless they were happy, either real or artificial. Anger was an emotion reserved only for my grandfather and only when my mother was a kid. I don't think I've seen him mad... ever in my life.

When it comes to crying, it just isn't done in public. You cry in the bathroom, in the dark of your bedroom, and all by yourself. My mother did that and I do that and I know my kid brother does. I've tried to break out of that mold with my Hubby and my son, but it can be difficult. I use the L-word with my family ALL OF THE TIME and we are very affectionate. (This, occasionally, proves problematic for the reserved nature that I was raised with. I'm handling it as best I can.)

One last thing: Once, I asked my mother what her opinion of the Manson murders or Ted Bundy (this was during my de riguer serial killer phase) happened to be. I just wanted to know what she had felt or thought when the news reports first came on TV. I mean, after all, my mother lived through the advent of serial killers, so to speak, and I was curious. She stared at me as though I had blasphemed and cried, "We don't discuss such things!" Pretty much, the story of her life and a portion of mine.
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« Reply #10: June 12, 2011, 10:28:23 am »

<snippage>

One last thing: Once, I asked my mother what her opinion of the Manson murders or Ted Bundy (this was during my de riguer serial killer phase) happened to be. I just wanted to know what she had felt or thought when the news reports first came on TV. I mean, after all, my mother lived through the advent of serial killers, so to speak, and I was curious. She stared at me as though I had blasphemed and cried, "We don't discuss such things!" Pretty much, the story of her life and a portion of mine.

While I never had this precise experience, the next-to-last sentence is precisely the same for me. "We don't discuss such things." LOTS of things fell into that category. I'm positive I still wouldn't know about the rape if it hadn't been for a couple of friends who were boys hinting around at wanting to be boyfriends, and my telling her so. She kept it from my father for over 50 years, right to her death-bed. Some things (IMPORTANT things!) are simply not discussed.
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« Reply #11: June 12, 2011, 01:17:40 pm »

When it comes to crying, it just isn't done in public. You cry in the bathroom, in the dark of your bedroom, and all by yourself. My mother did that and I do that and I know my kid brother does. I've tried to break out of that mold with my Hubby and my son, but it can be difficult. I use the L-word with my family ALL OF THE TIME and we are very affectionate. (This, occasionally, proves problematic for the reserved nature that I was raised with. I'm handling it as best I can.)

At first, I thought I had nothing to contribute to the thread, since I believed my family to work just fine. But Sekhemib-Nymaatre's post really struck me.

We also don't cry in public; I don't know why, it's just not done. I think one of the reasons is that my grandma finds it difficult to see others cry or be sad, so we unconsciously try to keep it from her. For example, when my grandma called to say that my dad was dying  she basically forbid me to cry. I assume it was because she felt like crying, as well, but tried not to. But still, it was kind of impinging on my right to be sad and to show it.
Same happens when a sad song is on the radio, there's a sad film that we're watching as a family, etc. With my fiancé I try to be more open, but it's really difficult.

Come to think of it, my family finds it very hard to apologize, to the extend that it's just not done. If you have an argument in the evening, what you do is go to your respective rooms and then meet again in the morning as if nothing has ever happened. So basically discussions about what went wrong and how to avoid it the next time around have never happened, really. I still have problems with it when I do something wrong today.

Other than that, a lot of the problems we had as a family have kind of disappeared since I moved out, or rather, they haven't really disappeared but we can tolerate them better when we only see and live with each-other in the holidays.
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« Reply #12: June 12, 2011, 03:52:29 pm »


Come to think of it, my family finds it very hard to apologize, to the extend that it's just not done. If you have an argument in the evening, what you do is go to your respective rooms and then meet again in the morning as if nothing has ever happened. So basically discussions about what went wrong and how to avoid it the next time around have never happened, really.

Hah!
This is familar to me, when I was small the adults in my family followed this scheme.
I try not to.
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« Reply #13: June 12, 2011, 04:10:37 pm »

Hah!
This is familar to me, when I was small the adults in my family followed this scheme.
I try not to.

You know, just if it doesn't defeat the purpose of the thread, I'd like to know how you cope with trying to cry in public and/or trying to apologize.

I'm asking because especially with apologizing I only realize a long time after the fact that what I should have done is just go up to the person in question and say "I'm sorry for doing/saying x". With my fiancé it's fairly easy to accomplish since we both live together, but, say, if I had an argument with a friend, I find it so difficult to call him/her and put things right...
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« Reply #14: June 12, 2011, 04:25:16 pm »

I am very interested in family of origin issues, and am wondering how many of the people here come from a family of origin in which either parent was abusive (emotionally or physically), had a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness/personality disorder?

My father was an alcoholic, which resulted in him not being around much - he'd leave for work before I woke in the morning and would stay at the bar drinking until after I went to bed.  Weekends he was in front of the TV and woe betide anyone who got between him and his football.  When he'd get mad at my mom, he'd sulk and pout - there was none of the violence that can be associated with alcoholism.  I also think he suffered from depression, but that wasn't something that was diagnosed in his generation. 

I always remember him being kind to me, when he was around.  (He died when I was 13.)  He was apparently very authoritarian 50's dad with my brothers, but I was the youngest and he always wanted a daughter.  I think my brothers still haven't forgiven me for that...

So, my mom basically raised me by herself.  She's the "stoic"/martyr type so all of us kids have difficulty with strong emotions, but overall I think she did a good job.  We're very close.
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