Relationships: When Family (or Any Relationship) Hurts

Relationships: When Family Hurts

Family. Love them or love them not, there’s often a limit to what you can do with the difficult ones. You can’t live with them and you can’t make them join the circus. When there’s a lifetime of emotional investment involved, it’s likely that any response will hurt and will require a huge push, whether it’s walking away or fighting for the relationship.

Even if you decide that the price of being in the relationship is too high, it’s not always easy to leave. Sometimes it’s just not an option. Whether you’re on your way out or bracing for more, here are some ways to protect yourself from the ones who scrape you:

  1. Don’t let anyone else’s behaviour change who you are.

    Be dignified. Be brilliant. Be kind. Don’t let anyone reduce the best of you. 

  2. Make it clear this isn’t personal.

    Insecurity is at the heart of a lot of broken relationships. Insecure people will feel attacked even when no attack is made. If this is a relationship you care about, do whatever you can to help the other person feel safe and secure. Insecurity is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who are insecure will often respond to the world as though it’s going to hurt them. They’ll be cold, they’ll judge, they’ll take the first strike – all to protect themselves. In response, the world walks away, confirming the insecure person’s view that the world just isn’t safe.  

    Show them you’re different. Let them know that you don’t mean anything personally, that you appreciate their point of view and that you want to understand how they feel. (You might need to say it a few times!) Whatever you do, don’t blame. If you need to point out something they’re doing wrong, end it by letting them know that the relationship is important to you and you want to work on it. The more positive you can be the better:  ‘Every time I see you, you’re pointing out something else you don’t like about me. I really want to have a good relationship with you but it’s really hard when I feel like everything I do is judged harshly by you. Can we try and do things a little differently?’

  3. Now remind yourself not to take it personally.

    People will judge you, hurt you, put you down and try to break you – and most often, this will have nothing at all to do with you. 

    You don’t have to stay around and you don’t have to invest, but if leaving the relationship isn’t an option, seeing someone’s behaviour for what it is – a defence against a world that has hurt them once too many times – will help to protect you from the pain that comes from taking things personally.

  4. Find compassion

     Difficult people weren’t born that way. Generally the way they are responding to you is the way they have learned to respond to the world to keep themselves safe. It might be an ‘adversarial’ ‘I’ll get you before you get me,’ response. It might stem from having to control everything in their environment because they’ve learnt (somehow) that unpredictability  isn’t safe. Perhaps they have no idea of their impact on people and all they know is that relationships seem to fall like broken toy soldiers around them. Just because it’s painfully clear to you what they do, doesn’t mean it is to them.  

    There may be little you can do to change the relationship, but you might just be able to change the way it affects you. Feeling compassion is important because of the way it changes things for you. Compassion is an empowering choice you can make when you feel like you don’t have any choice at all.

  5. Hold the space. For them and for you.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do for a relationship you care about is to hold steady and give the other person time and space to work out whatever it is they’re going through – while you stand still beside them. This is different to the space people give when they stay away for a while. 

    Let the person know that you’re not going anywhere, if that’s what they want, and that there doesn’t need to be any resolution for the moment. Do this without judging or criticising. It’s so difficult to be in an uncertain relationship but sometimes that’s exactly what the relationship needs – time to work through the uncertainty without fear of losing the relationship. There’s no need to hurry a relationship worth fighting for.

  6. Accept what is.

    One of the greatest sources of unhappiness is the chasm between what we want and what we have. The gap left behind by a family member who hurts you can be immense. What makes it worse is that the pain is often recurring, hitting you every time you’re with them. Who knows why some people have amazing families and some have families that drain them, but not everything makes sense. You don’t deserve a difficult relationship, but don’t allow yourself to be ruined by that. Acknowledge what it is, let go of what it isn’t, and flourish despite it.

  7. You don’t need to convince anyone. 

    You are not here to win anyone’s approval. None of us are. Run the race you want to run. You don’t need to convince anyone of your reasons, your direction, or why you’re telling some people get out of your way. Just go around them – it’s much easier.  That you are silent, still and choose not to engage does not mean they’re right. It means you just don’t have to prove anything anymore. Because you don’t. 

  8. It’s okay not to be with them. 

    They may be your family, but you don’t have to have a relationship with anyone you don’t want to. If it feels too painful, explore what you’re getting out of the relationship by staying. If you choose to have a relationship anyway, let that be a testament to the capacity you have to make your own decisions and act accordingly. Change the way you look at it. If you have to maintain contact, let this be your decision made in strength, not in defeat. Own the decision because it was the best thing to do for you, not because someone else decided it was the decision that needed to be made.

  9. Acknowledge their feelings, but don’t buy into them.

    Acknowledging how somebody feels doesn’t mean you agree with them. Saying something as simple as, ‘I understand you’re really angry but I  see things differently to you,’ or, ‘I know that’s how you see it and I have no interest in changing that. I have a different view,’ is a way to show that you’ve heard. Letting people know you’ve seen them and heard them is so powerful. Doing it and standing your ground without getting upset is even more so.

  10. Set your boundaries. And protect them fiercely.

    We teach people how to treat us. Imagine a visual boundary around yourself. You’ll feel when it’s being stepped over. Your skin might bristle, your chest might ache – it’s different for everyone but get to know what it feels like for you. When it happens, let the other person know. They might not care at all, or they might have no idea they’ve had that impact. If your boundary isn’t respected, walk away until it feels as though it’s been reset. Explain what you’ll tolerate and what you’ll do when that doesn’t happen. ‘I really want us to talk about this but if you’re going to scream at me, I’m going to walk away until you’re ready o stop,’ or, ‘I really want us to work through this but if you just keep telling me that I’m not good enough, I’m going to hang up the phone.’

  11. Is there anything you can do differently?

    You might be dealing with the most difficult person in the world, but that doesn’t have to stop you from being open to the things you might be able to change about yourself. Is there any truth at all in what that person is saying? Is there anything you’re doing that’s contributing to the problem? This isn’t about winning or losing but about honesty, learning and growth. Nobody is perfect – thankfully – and the best people to be around are the ones who are constantly open to their impact and their contribution to relationships, good or bad. That doesn’t mean you have to take the blame for the mess, but this might be an opportunity for your own wisdom to flourish. What can you learn from the situation? What can you learn from them? Nobody is all bad or all good. Take advantage of the opportunity. Focus on what you can learn. Ditch the rest.

  12. Leave with love

    This is important. If you walk away from family don’t let the final words be angry ones. You never know what the future holds. However angry or hurt you are, death has a way of bringing up guilt and regret in the cleanest of relationships and forever is a long time not to have resolution. Anger is the one emotion that’s never pure. It’s always protecting another, more vulnerable one. Some common ones are fear, grief, insecurity, confusion. Tap into that and speak from there. That way, when you walk away, you’re much more likely to feel as though nothing has been left unsaid. Just because a relationship is ending, doesn’t mean it has to end angry. You don’t want to leave room for regret. Leave it with strength, dignity and love because that’s who you are. Trust me on this.

There will always be those whose love and approval comes abundantly and easily. They’re the keepers. As for the others, if the fight leaves you bruised, you’d have to question whether the relationship is worth it.

There will always be people who try to dim you. Sometimes this will be intentional and sometimes they will have no idea. You can’t change what people do but you can keep yourself safe and strong, just as you deserve to be.



How does a person take “You will never be able to take care of yourself” coming from a relative whom you looked up highly and trusted. My grandmother said this about me/to me recently and it has honestly shaken my whole world to the core. I have not spoken to her since and do not see a reason to anymore. I have not done anything outlandish nor terrible for her to say these things to me and she has yet to apologize nor reached out to me to reiterate. Though she has been using my mother as the middle man for conversations/questions and wont contact me since either. Am I reading too much into this or am I hitting the nail on the head when I say she was being rude/judgmental and she knows it yet she can not bring herself to apologize? This is not the first time she has shown narcissistic behaviors but this is the deepest hurt she has caused me verbally. I am lost for words on her…


Just about what your GM said to you. Im so sorry you have been through all if this. But just because someone says something doesn’t make it true. As you say she is narcisistic and clearly she is also very rude and selfish for putting her point of view on you, with no regard for your feelings. She should know your would value her opinion and she is highly irresponsible for saying that to you. In addition to me saying just because someone says something doesn’t make it true, she may be projecting her own interpreration of the world onto you. Ie. in her generation people had a a job for life, less fun, less freedom etc. Therefore, she cant compare her experience to yours. I would just think of her as being highly negative and not seeing the best in you. You know who you are and I think you should do your own thing I’m life and not worry about her – maybe you will prove her wrong in the end but not intentionally. Because you are living your life for yourself with no guilt or no self blame or self shame attached. Also think about all your good qualities and focus on those. No one is perfect but we owe it to ourselves to focus on the best of us. Lastly, if it was me i would reduce contact and when I see her show her just how happy and confident I am – that is the best revenge. Wishing you the best.


Latrece, your grandmothers words were rude and mean and your feelings are valid. My dad is similar and i used to look up to him as a child but i have hate and disgust for his personality now. Distance yourself from her and dont let her words or whatever she tells other people stop you from being successful and dont doubt yourself. Be strong, courageous and take care of your mental health 🙂


Your grandmother is a completely miserable b*+ch. I’m sure your mother can agree, just ask about her childhood.

J Ellen

This article really spoke to me. My dad was previously married and had 3 daughters – we were never close or really knew each other growing up. I could count on one hand the number of times I saw them as a kid. They weren’t nice to my mom and my dad was keeping a lot of secrets. When I turned 40 I decided to reach out to them so we could get to know each other. We spent a week getting to know each other and figuring out all the lies my dad told to keep us apart. Things went fine but it was tense and negative but we all became closer . . for a while.

I am now 52 and this has been the most drama filled 12 years of my life! What was I thinking?? None of the girls have seen my father for over 20 years. I care for him since my mom died. I became really close to one of the sisters and that’s only because she needed me because she had a falling out with the other 2. But when she made amends with them (after nearly 3 years) she turned on me after coming out for a visit and she spent the entire visit making me feel bad about how I care for dad. I was never so happy to see someone get on a plane. I will admit that I blew up at her while she was here – telling her I am doing the best I can for dad (which is A LOT) and considering NONE of them offer any help or assistance of any kind, she really needs to be quiet. But I apologized over and over again – basically begged for her to forgive me for blowing up. But instead she used this against me, told the other sisters how mean I was to her.
I really just want to be done – I don’t have time for this crap and honestly, if I were meeting her or any of them on the street, I wouldn’t want to be their friends. My dad is a drama queen and they are just like him. Once he is gone, I will have no reason to ever be in contact with them. They live in Florida and I live in Oregon – our paths will never cross.
But in the end, it hurts to have invested in this relationship with her – with any of them – only to be made the bad guy. And now I get these random text messages “Will you still be contacting me if something happens to dad or am I on the do not contact list?” Really passive aggressive crap like that. Good grief! I just want to be done!




Well my dad abondon me at a very younge age and my mom and I don’t have a good relationship even though its something I wish to change. She always say that I will not become anything good and that’s something that affect my life until now. I have no dad and my mom only likes us when we can give her times. I am so hurt, I dont trust people and I am afraid to talk anyone because I don’t want to have any feelings for them. I tried to commit sucicide but later on I tried therapist but it didn’t turn out good. But am just hoping that someday that happiness will comes my way. Am just really struggling with my toxics family members.


Tonya, I understand your pain, because I too had a parent who would tell me awful things growing up. My father would tell me things like, you’re a loser and you’re never going to amount to anything. I will admit, this has made me quite insecure in a lot of areas of my life and has led me down some very dark, roads. One of the biggest struggles for me was trusting anybody. Over the years I have learned that one of the biggest things it boils down to is, forgiving someone who has hurt you, even when they may have not asked for forgiveness. The power in truly forgiving someone and choosing to move forward in life is incredible. Once I chose to let those hurtful words spoken over me fall to the ground and no longer produce ugly, rotten fruit in my life, I was able to flourish in areas in my life that I didn’t even know were possible. I realized that a lot of things in my life that hurt me, were only hurting me because I chose to hold onto them. I allowed them to linger around and hold power over my life, only to hurt me more in the end. Once I came to the long, overdue realization that, I am not defined by those ugly, lies that were said. I came to know the Lord Jesus and what he says about me. He has shown me that I am so much more than I even realize. Once you tap into those positive things and let go of the negative, all while trusting that the Lord has your back. Everything else will fall into place. Even when things feel rocky and like you’re going to feel as though you’ll never be able to trust anyone. The only one you need to trust in is the Lord. He Loves us so immensely, we will never be able to quite grasp it. Any time any of those negative words try to hold reign over my life, I choose to believe that it’s not truth. It’s only meant to destroy me and who I truly am on the inside. I know my heart and my worth because of what the Lord says about me. So, on that note I will end with these words. You are loved and you are worthy of great things. ❤️


What great advice and counsel you have given to Tanya.
When we know what Jesus says about us we can make the changes we need to make to be healthier and happier people.
Thank you and look how Jesus is using you to help others.


I have a son who has an older sister and brother who are lovely. He (my younger son) has always had a wild streak but was always very sporty, loved maths but was difficult to control. When me and my wife went away on our honeymoon (we got married after the children were born) my friends looking after my youngest son fell out with him, withdrew him from the school play and would never baby sit again. He was 2 (nearly 3). However I (his father) have always saw this wild side as the fun side – we would go cycling every weekend and whilst I did get angry when all of the children were naughty (using the naughty step) I did not treat him differently. However, with each year he has got worse – he turned 12 in January and despite the fact he constantly steals snacks from the kitchen and money from our purse/wallet, I took him skiing in February to Andorra. However, things didn’t improve – he continued to steal more and just before the summer he stole my wife’s debit card and withdrew £500. We got the police in to have a talk but did not press charges as we do not want to hurt his future. However a couple of weeks ago he started regularly swearing at us (we never swore in the house – except occasionally when I got angry at his worsening behaviour), I now try to remain calm as fear is clearly not the answer and he now regularly calls me C*** 1 and my wife C***2. Tells us to F*** off and that his grandma is a B****. He steals any money or snacks (I am now unable to eat unhealthily) and is on a second school where he is about to bit ejected. I feel like unleashing my own temper and can understand how crimes are committed at home in these circumstances (but I will remain patient, as I have nothing left). We are now looking to send him to boarding school – there is absolutely no help out there and I fear that if I do not send him away I may end up doing something far more serious. This is a terrible miserable life I find myself in with my wife crying and having to only draw cash provided she spends it before she gets home, him being constantly expelled from school and around the house making our life miserable. Is there any help out there? I try to talk to him, setting out my options and asking him to understand but the minute I see him he closes doors in my face, swears at me tells me to shut. Conversation isn’t an option. We went to a counsellor and tried to talk it through several times but he would not engaged and just left. He is very intelligent, got 60-70% at school but did not complete 30% of the paper and leaves school whenever he likes (without the bell or the teacher giving permission). I was a naughty child arguably doing worse things but not being disrespectful or disobedient. How can I make him listen? This has been going on since he was a toddler, gradually getting worse.
We have not allowed him a mobile until a certain age (as with the others – 14) and this has become a particular point of contention but we refuse to budge on this as we do not agree with electrical items when they are very young. For the other two it was fine but this has been particularly difficult from his point of view. We are all well educated – I am a partner of a law firm, although working away from home 3 days per week (since he was about 5) and I live in South Wales. Is there any help or is he doomed?


Reading about Stephen’s son is like reading about my own son who is now an adult but continues to make my life very miserable. He has also shown a wild side since he was a toddler.From about 6 years of age, he then got into the habit of stealing money from the house and he would buy ice-cream for all his friends. He would lie that his deaf twin brother had stolen the money knowing fully well that the brother could not hear what he was saying. Eventually, I found out that it was him since the stealing became more frequent and occurred even in the absence of the twin brother. Initially I just thought well, he was just a kid and he would grow out of it. But as he grew older the stealing increased and he would catch my pin number for my bank card from more than a meter away as I made a transaction. He would then steal the card and withdraw money, at one point up to 300 dollars. By then he was in his late teens and he would show no remorse when I confronted him after having visited the bank where I was shown that the cameras had caught him while using the ATM to withdraw the money. They wanted me to press charges but I did not because i felt that I needed to try and talk to him again and maybe see if he could get help. He also got into the habit of shouting me down and being violent and that scenario has persisted. Many times he stole goods and even groceries from the house and sold them. At one point he then shoplifted despite the fact that he had money to purchase the items he needed for his retail job. He bought one load and went back to steal the other load and was caught by the security officer. I had to visit him in jail and my niece helped a lot visiting him with food and giving him moral support. But as soon as his jail time was up, he came home behaving like a monster and got into a fight with me because I caught him trying to steal from the house and reprimanded him. He then stole from the niece who had helped him so much and she was so hurt that she cried for hours but he was not remorseful and went to spend the money. He then stole groceries and I chased him from home.

He was 26 by then.He would sometimes work at stopping and would apologize especially after he turned 26. He would even cry very bitterly and ask me why he was incapable of stopping what he was doing even when he tried. He could spend a good month but just go back to it again and seemed to have no control at all. Today he is a fully grown men with a son and he is still stealing only now, I have learnt to secure all my staff. The violence level has increased and he drinks a lot . Now he also steals from the people who are closest to him, like friends and colleagues, even his clubbing buddies. All the time they come to harass me about him and he doesn’t care. I have now disengaged from him but sometimes I feel that he has a mental illness or a demon (for those who are spiritually inclined) and needs my help. But I too need to help myself and be safe since I have a chronic illness and he is an adult. Today, the police are looking for him and i am still being harassed by people he has taken from. Yet I don’t know where he is. He only called once on an unknown phone to say I am so sorry for everything.

Just imagine, it started when he was just a child, right when we expect these young ones to be innocent and it has grown out of proportion with age, the cursing, the drinking, the theft. He cant even take care of himself and yet he is such an intelligent young men who never needed to put much effort to get good grades in school. The dilemma for a parent is that one feels that maybe they must help the child even if he is an adult or is super rude and yet one also feels thatwith such a child, there is always a dark cloud hovering over one’s head even when he is not in the house. Even when you lough or are trying to move on and be happy with your life, you still cant be fully happy as you expect to hear something negative from his side. I have such a dark shadow following me everyday and even when i go to bed I fear the waking hours of brooding over the darkness in my life, the harassment from people stolen from and the negative expectations.

Stephen, you need to seek help NOW because these negatives that catch them young may suck the life and happiness out of the whole family because they become worse the older the child gets and prison isn’t even a solution. I sympathize and empathize with you. I too still hope that my adult son will meet God and get help. I am currently torn between watching him get arrested and eventually die since prison in Africa is a horrible experience. People are crammed together in hundreds and those who die, do so among the living and are removed in the morning and there is no food let alone medical care. The prisons are lice infested. I don’t see myself ever visiting him if he ever gets arrested again because it will be torture to me as his mother. My big question is how does it happen to them when they as young as 3 and so innocent? Is it biological and if so, how do we help them? Is there an online support group for parents like us? I am breaking apart right now, it is still my son I am talking about!

Nidhi S

Hello this is NIDHI
I know that when i was 10yrs old i did some thing by which some relations were broked with my parents..sometimes i think that Im a headache to my parents n my day my mother said that im an irritating person to them…n now I’m just 17yrs old..pls advise me how to get separated from my family..this is the only option I have

Karen Young

Nidhi, I’m not sure what happened, but at 10 you are a child. You are meant to make mistakes. I’m so sorry you feel as though you are an irritating person to your parents. You deserve to feel loved by the important people in your world.


hi, someone help, i feel worthless…. i think i just ruined my relatioship with my parents. im crying through this…i wanted to spend the night at a friends house….and unfortanly that wasnt the case because my mom goes to college, and she had to go that day. I felt sad because i really wanted to go, but i did something bad. I took it out on one of my friends. She wasnt mad, she understood that i was upset, but she just let it go. My parents looked through my phone and found out that i had been talking trash about them and i regret it. i wish i could fix all of this. but there is no hope…its almost like i just need to give up…i regret ALL of it. Now, i feel like a dumb person because i probally just lost my family, and trust. Now, my father thinks i hate him, and my mother? Well, ses very mad too. They both are. I wouldnt blame them. Someone…..please make me feel like i belong….and that i am a good person….please..


I know you probably don’t realize it at 15 years old but, everyone makes mistakes and do wrong things in life. I will say a prayer about your situation. I feel sure that if you have loving reasonable parents you can make a heartfelt apology with a promise to do your best to not make the mistake again they will receive it and forgive you. Please find a School Counselor talk to. You are definitely not a worthless person because you made some mistakes.. Jesus loves you and I am sure your parents love you. I am a parent and if my child come to me and sincerely asked forgiveness I would gladly forgive.


You are not worthless. Is very common for teenagers to act the way you have towards your parents. Most teenagers say they hate their parents. You have the sense to know that you have acted wrongly towards them. You can make amends. It may take some time but don’t give up on them coming back around to you. They are hurt and maybe even resentful right now. Maybe they want you to learn a good lesson. In any event, don’t give up. Your remorse shows me that you are worth everything!!!!?


I’m so sad right now…. I feel really horrible, I think I just lost my relationship with my family. I don’t feel like doing anything but dieing, but I know I shouldn’t, but at the same time, it’s all I can think of. I feel worthless, I used to be an amazing girl, who was shy, kind, and really kind to others, but now I’m a snobby brat because I’m a teenager. I know, this happens to all of us, and it sucks. I’m also 15 in 8th grade, and I feel really old. I can’t find anyone my age. My relationship with my parents was great, then I ruined in my assuming and talking trash about them behind their backs, I’m such a horrible person! and there is absolutely no hope, and I can’t fix anything. I wish i could take back my words, I wish. but it’s not possible…everything just feels……hopeless.


You are not worthless. Is very common for teenagers to act the way you have towards your parents. Most teenagers say they hate their parents. You have the sense to know that you have acted wrongly towards them. You can make amends. It may take some time but don’t give up on them coming back around to you. They are hurt and maybe even resentful right now. Maybe they want you to learn a good lesson. In any event, don’t give up. Your remorse shows me that you are worth everything!!!!?


Wife has denied access to both families for both of my children for five years. Berates me in front of the kids. We’re both professional people but something is horribly wrong. Kids started shunning me this past summer. I work two jobs and miss my wife and kids. And both sets of grandparents are heartbroken. One set, her folks live just blocks away. She takes Christmas gifts away from those left on the porch and throws them away. My kids can are under 10. They’ve stopped asking about Grandma and Grandpa. I’m heartbroken. My wife won’t let my kids talk on the phone with my parents on the west coast. If I disagree with her she takes the kids into a different room and says leave them alone. When I disagree with her but she blows up and my daughter cries. She hasn’t spoken to me since June. It’s almost Thanksgiving. We live in a small apartment. My son is 5. He turns to me punches and kicks me. She never once has taught him or her NOT to treat their dad (me) that way. I’m alone in my own house. During a cleaning before leaving too expensive a house rental…I could not keep up on payment alone, she threw out some of my irreplaceable keepsakes like a carving from my uncle who died years ago and a hundred CD s of mine. My kids now are indifferent to both sides of their families because they think both sides don’t want anything to do with them. My spouse is preventing contact. I disagree. I talk to my own parents but my kids would run back to their mom And tell. My family lives in effect”tattle tale” state. She won’t go to counseling. I’m dying. I’m now close to completely losing my kids. I love them all, but fear I’ve lost all of my family. Lost in Long Island…


my parents begged me to move into their home 3 years after they kicked me out in 2015 i was only 18 .i am their second child only daughter, when i moved into their home in july 2018 i was21 it was pure hell and in the following september they literally threw all my clothes and belongings out the house and called the police in front of all the neighbours A year has already passed but im still hurting i feel really ashamed and abandoned and two weeks ago my dad came at my job acting like nothing has happened asking me for money i just feel really sad and worth less …..because when i needed them to be my family they didnt want that and its like they always try to use me for money and through out the years it has gotten worse because they always call for money not to check up on me or even wish me happy birthday ……i feel really broken .all i wanted was to feel loved

Michelle N

I an a girl aged 21 and i am about to make a very hard decision. I have a son who stays with mu father and i dont want to lose him because i am not going back to my fathers house i am moving in with my fiancé and his brother in southAfrica where i had visited my Aunt and i have decided to settle here and look for a job here. My family is saying i must come back but i feel like i should take the risk and start a life here and look for a job. I’m afraid i will never be able to see my son again because I’m going against my parents and family wish but i feel its a necessary move to make. What should i do so i get to see my son again?


Don’t leave your son. I remarried when my older son was 15 . He stayed with his dad and I took my 12 year old with me. I’m married for 17 years now to a great man . Unfortunately I lost my son. His father and my sisters turned him against me. I cry every day . My heart is broken.


My biggest regret in my life – at age 62 now – is that I initiated re contact with my equally cruel and severely abusive parents after being horribly spoken to as an adult on 3 different occasions. They even borrowed 75,000 dollars they will never repay though my mother is 89 and has plenty of money. My father died a few years ago. As a child they were cold snd neglegent and emotionally, verbally and physically abusive. I have PTSD and panic attacks thathas only gotten worse with time. I wish I had not tried to have a relationship with them. They never contacted me even though they were clearly by any standards, the one or ones who attacked and jest personally destroyed me. I even purchased the “Narcissistic Recovery Program’ by Melanie Tonia Evans. I recommend it for people who have experienced the kind of abuse I have. I am not saying your abusers were narcissists – google it and see if they fit. Don’t do to yourself what I did. It ruined my life. It change who I am. It limited my potential. I have done very well for myself from an outside perspective but inside i am devestated and don’ trust anyone. I am so afraid of being vulnerable and I can’t survive any more attacks and cruelty. Listen to your intuition. I have always deeply regreted by passing it when it was screaming’STOP’ – get away from this person. Once abusers get away with it it gets worse and worse. And it all sets you up for future abusers. As I said walk away before it ruins you. At a point you will be changed irreparably for life if you don’t ge away fro the negativity. I am so mad at myself – but I was raised from birth with it so I was conditioned and we all want love, acceptance and respect I got NONE – just cruelty, disrespect and abuse and certainly I was never even accepted.They did not care about me and all their actions and inactions proved it. I just did not want to believe it because I was so afraid and hurt.


I really like your wanting love, respect, & acceptance. I believe there is no barrier because of age. I hear what your saying and I am 81 yrs. young! As hard as I try it’s like these hurts are burned into my memory never to be forgotten.I believe I have tried everything I know how. You sound like the type person who would listen and share, at the same time knowing your safe with anything to talk about. I wish you all good things to come. I think you deserve it.
Thanks for listening to me!

Rae-Ann Mackay

Jewel: This was my situation exactly. I had to cut myself off from my mother to save my sanity. Don’t blame yourself for going back – it sounds as if you are a forgiving person and you certainly did your best. Think of yourself right now.


No matter the age, you are correct that we just want to feel like we belong. Of course you want to feel like you belong to your family. Your vulnerability in sharing your life experiences is quite moving. I hope that you will find ways to release that shame and guilt for wanting what is so innate in each of us. you deserve to be wanted, to love, to be loved. Go to that little girl in your meditations or in your journal and let her know how very much she is loved. That the adults in her life are hurt children themselves. They know now what they do. Even at 62, find another family of souls that are looking to be nurtured or want a purpose in life. You sound healthy – you probably have more years ahead of you. Bring joy to someone else. Stay connected with a group of children or teenagers that would love to have someone like you listen to them. That giving back will heal you and offer solace for someone else. Thank you for taking the time to write.


I hve a very abusive sistr always brings me down from young,adults nw,she has had pda prelationships in her Marige tuk not much h interest in her children,takes her frustration on me,gave up her kids to her husband,an cont c me in a Marige of 16 yrs,always cont communicate without hurting me ,an I hv e den nthn to her,I am 60 me an is rest than it Eva was,I hv e told her the way it is,an gen her my blessings an finally said gudbye


I keep hurting my family. I don’t do it intentionally, I never do. I just get worked up and say things I don’t mean, which always ends with my mother crying on the couch. I don’t know if I feel sympathetic. I’m only 13 and it’s not like I can just move away from home. I don’t know what to do. I think it’s because of all the worked up feelings I have, and taking my anger out on my family is how I release it without really releasing any of my secrets? I’m unsure if that makes sense, but if I could get some help that’d be great.


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Anxiety has a way of demanding ALL of the attention. It shifts the focus to what feels scary, or too big, or impossible, or what needs to be avoided, or what feels bad, or what our kiddos can’t do. As the grown ups who love them, we know they are capable of greatness, even if that greatness is made up of lots of tiny steps, (as great things tend to be).
Physical activity is the natural end to the fight or flight response (which is where the physical feelings of an anxiety attack come from). Walking will help to burn the adrenalin and neurochemicals that have surged the body to prepare it for flight or fight, and which are causing the physical symptoms (racy heart, feeling sick, sweaty, short breaths, dry mouth, trembly or tense in the limbs etc). As well as this, the rhythm of walking will help to calm their anxious amygdala. Brains love rhythm, and walking is a way to give them this. 
Try to help your young one access their steady breaths while walking, but it is very likely that they will only be able to do this if they’ve practised outside of an anxiety attack. During anxiety, the brain is too busy to try anything unfamiliar. Practising will help to create neural pathways that will make breathing an easier, more accessible response during anxiety. If they aren't able to access strong steady breaths, you might need to do it for them. This will be just as powerful - in the same way they can catch your anxiety, they will also be able to catch your calm. When you are able to assume a strong, calm, steady presence, this will clear the way for your brave ones to do the same.
The more your young one is able to verbalise what their anxiety feels like, the more capacity they will have to identify it, acknowledge it and act more deliberately in response to it. With this level of self-awareness comes an increased ability to manage the feeling when it happens, and less likelihood that the anxiety will hijack their behaviour. 

Now - let’s give their awareness some muscle. If they are experts at what their anxiety feels like, they are also experts at what it takes to be brave. They’ve felt anxiety and they’ve moved through it, maybe not every time - none of us do it every time - maybe not even most times, but enough times to know what it takes and how it feels when they do. Maybe it was that time they walked into school when everything in them was wanting to walk away. Maybe that time they went in for goal, or down the water slide, or did the presentation in front of the class. Maybe that time they spoke their own order at the restaurant, or did the driving test, or told you there would be alcohol at the party. Those times matter, because they show them they can move through anxiety towards brave. They might also taken for granted by your young one, or written off as not counting as brave - but they do count. They count for everything. They are evidence that they can do hard things, even when those things feel bigger than them. 

So let’s expand those times with them and for them. Let’s expand the wisdom that comes with that, and bring their brave into the light as well. ‘What helped you do that?’ ‘What was it like when you did?’ ‘I know everything in you wanted to walk away, but you didn’t. Being brave isn’t about doing things easily. It’s about doing those hard things even when they feel bigger than us. I see you doing that all the time. It doesn’t matter that you don’t do them every time -none of us are brave every time- but you have so much courage in you my love, even when anxiety is making you feel otherwise.’

Let them also know that you feel like this too sometimes. It will help them see that anxiety happens to all of us, and that even though it tells a deficiency story, it is just a story and one they can change the ending of.
During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.

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