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How to say no to possibly toxic family

(16 Posts)
toxicfamilydestroyingme Thu 03-Oct-13 17:12:48

Not sure where to start. I was raised by abusive grandparents while my siblings were raised by our toxic mother. I spent a year living with them and mother beat and starved us.
My siblings have issues with the way mother behaved and understandibly too. I only lived with them for a year and was glad to get away in my early teens. They stayed and continued to be abused.
I made my own life and had children as I was so desperate to escape the abuse and my past. I needed someone to love so badly. My siblings stayed at mothers until they hit 18 and then ran away as fast as they could. Mother died several years ago now.
I have almost no contact with family now. My grandparents call me and I speak to them. I don't cope to well with that but am afraid to stop answering. I still have contact with my sister and I feel a huge amount of guilt for leaving her to stay with mother.
She seems to be aware of this and comes to me with problems. Things like money, childcare and anything else. She has her exes family and keeps saying how they are her only family. I am completely ignored until she needs something.
She spends her money on stupid things and then runs to me for money. Stupidly I give it to her over and over again. I can't afford it and she doesn't even thank me. I am making myself ill with all the stress she causes due to her stupidity yet I still can't say no.
She is family and I'm so afraid to lose her but it's breaking my heart how I am only good enough when she needs money. Whatever I do will never be enough to make it up to her for leaving her.
Sorry this is so long and I hope it makes sense. I just really need someone to say it's ok to walk away or give advice on how to deal with it

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 17:16:44

It's OK to say no. A lot of us have family members that are quite happy to sponge money off us and they have no excuses like being brought up in an abusive home. Be honest with your sister, say you can't afford to give her more money and, if she rejects you for being honest, you will have lost nothing worth keeping.

looseleaf Thu 03-Oct-13 17:19:58

I'm so sorry you've had so little healthy support OP. and you sound incredibly kind to your sister. But you definitely need to communicate more if you haven't told her the stress the money is causing and that you can't afford it. Can you explain exactly what you've said, say that you're longing to be close and how it's become stressful that you're short of money when she asks instead of spending time together and that it can't continue. I think you need to be really clear as to be honest even if you had unlimited money it's wrong that she asks you for it and sounds so unappreciative of your own needs.

toxicfamilydestroyingme Thu 03-Oct-13 17:30:25

Thanks for the replies. My sister is aware that she is causig me financial trouble. She actually earns more than me. The whole situation is made worse as I am ill and working extra hours to help her out is making me feels worse. I have not been in hospital for 2 years now and she is not concerned about that or me anyway.
I almost had a breakdown a year ago due to stress so I should really take it easy. I know I'm making my sister sound horrible. She is not but due to her childhood she treats everyone like they owe her. Her exes family now no longer want anything to do with her due to the way she treats them.
She has had issues with drugs in the past too.
My grandmother talks to my sister a lot and its always made clear to me that I have to bail her out or my grandmother will stop talking to me. My grandmother knows how afraid i am of losing her and the last remaining familiy I have. Hell I go as far as speaking to the person who sexually abused me for 3 years just to make sure I keep my family.
I know how messed up this whole situation is. If this was a friend I would tell them to run away as fast as possible but I don't think I can.
My sister was so little when I left and she had to go thorugh so much. I feel so much guilt for that. It is my fault that she is so messed up now. She was left to deal with far too much.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 17:37:08

"due to her childhood she treats everyone like they owe her."

Whilst you clearly love your sister and whilst she had a bad childhood, she is now exploiting both facts for her own ends. Your grandmother and your sister are both taking advantage of your (misplaced) feeling of responsibility and that level of emotional blackmail is quite unforgiveable. What happened to your sister is not your fault. If she is messed up she needs professional help. You going bankrupt or being seriously ill will not make her less messed up

Have you ever received counselling to help you sort your thoughts about all of this ?

EasyToEatTiger Thu 03-Oct-13 17:54:21

It sounds awful. Congratulations to you for getting away. You can't be responsible for the actions of other people even if they are your relations and it really isn't your problem that your siblings remained in the family home while you escaped to have a wretched time somewhere else.

I have a brother who does nothing but take take take. It's dreadfully sad, but I have learned that there is no point whatsoever in getting involved in his life because I am not a qualified professional and I am just used as a sounding board.

It may help to re-think the leaving her bit of the relationship. It wasn't her you left. It was the abuse. When we're young we don't talk about these things; we just do them. Some people are open to discussing these things. The brother I mentioned is not capable of having a sensible conversation. He rapidly starts sounding very very odd and with very strange ideas.

toxicfamilydestroyingme Thu 03-Oct-13 17:54:23

I never had counselling or anything as I don't thhink I could really cope with it all coming out. I am very worried how i would function and it's not fair on my kids. I love them so much and they saved me. They gave me a reason for being.
I am a good mum to them and do a lot for other people. I try my best to be a good person. I always tried my best to not let the past damage me and those around me. I try my best not to be a victim and to live a normal life. Hard sometimes but I have to keep going for my kids.
I am one of lives copers. I deal with everything alone as I ws always alone. I never had anyone to rely on before.
I have a partner and he tries to protect me but he never stops me when I help my sister. He just tries to support me but I think he does get upset at the way i'm treated by my family.
I just want a normal family. You know, a mum and dad who love each other. Happy kids, nieces and nephews and a happy sister.
Thank you for listening and letting me get it all out. It does help so maybe counselling wont be a bad idea. I just really dont want my kids to be damaged by it all. Thanks again

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 17:56:37

Do have a think about counselling. It's a lot like talking to strangers on here, really. Just lets you articulate all of those things that you've probably pushed to the back of your mind in order to get on with life and be the good person you are. It can be uncomfortable if you're not used to talking about yourself but sometimes all you need is someone to listen.

EasyToEatTiger Thu 03-Oct-13 17:57:51

This organisation is brilliant www.napac.org.uk/ They are worth keeping on at as it can be hard to get through on the phone.

something2say Thu 03-Oct-13 19:38:33

Hi toxic,

I too cut my family off. Similar sort of thing to your story.

My advice is....be brave and then don't be afraid to lose things. Think to yourself, lets see if she really loves me, and if not, then she can go away.

So, say no to the money. See what she does then. Will she be horrible to you? Or will she suddenly start valuing you as her sister?

If you are too scared to force this issue, then it will carry on.

I let it carry on until I could do that no longer, and then I called them out and they said no to me, and so I said goodbye to them.

It has been a change in the hurt. No more upsets from them. But I won't deny that it hurts to be alone in the world with no one who is family to you. But that hurts less than faking family to myself when they are not truly there.

Have courage. When you stop the new hurts from new incidents, healing begins.

Here are some othe tips.

Get support for yourself when you feel bad. Know where you can go and who will listen.
Get outside and get into life. Do not hide away.
Expect high standards of yourself, do what you know to be right, do the things that need doing.
Develop ways to comfort yourself that do not hurt you.

But mostly, let the bad decrease and the good increase. And that starts by making yourself safe from further abuse, say no to your sister and then see what sort of person she is.

Hugs xx

something2say Thu 03-Oct-13 19:39:37

I think it's time to accept that you do not and never will have a normal family. Grieve that and clean the wound. It will hurt less.

There are plenty of us as well xxxx

EasyToEatTiger Thu 03-Oct-13 21:34:13

Fuck it hurts sometimes

Anniegetyourgun Fri 04-Oct-13 08:38:02

This will sound a bit harsh, but by the sound of it you are not actually helping your sister by giving her money. The more money she can cadge from everybody, the more she will fritter away in ways that are not good for her. She would not be happy about it, of course, but the best thing you can do for her is to make her stand on her own two feet. Different if she were unable to earn and would starve without your input.

It does you great credit that you feel responsible for her, but really - when you left you were a child yourself and not in a position to do anything practical for your siblings. You simply did not have the resources. It's too late now to make up for what you couldn't do then by doing it now - everything has moved on. That is totally not your fault, it's just the way things are now.

Although you can't put the past right, you can put the future right, and that means making sure your DCs have a good life. You do that in the most important ways, but you are struggling financially because your sister - who does not need it and should not be dependent on you - is leeching the money you should have available for your children. This is wrong. Your children are not an extension of you, who you may subconsciously feel deserves to go without. They are people in their own right who are, for the time being, totally dependent on you. You do fabulously well for them, but for this one weakness, which is to put undeserving adults ahead of them when it comes to parcelling out the family resources.

Have you ever thought that if your grandmother stopped speaking to you, she would be the one who lost the most by it?

cjel Fri 04-Oct-13 08:54:58

I feel so sorry for you living like this, you are still being abused by your family and now you are an adult you can stop it. I would also recommend counselling. It may be difficult for you to do at times, but it will be at your pace, you will be shown how to keep yourself safe emotionally as you deal with things and never have to feel bad about your looking after yourself again. Please get in touch with a good BACP counsellor. Iwould say one who is person centred will suit you.xxx

Meerka Fri 04-Oct-13 11:30:52

I'm afraid that sometimes there are no good choices. Your family hurts you, but cutting them off will hurt too - especially your grandmother and sister. It may get better in time, is the good news. Perhaps always a real sadness, but I'm afraid that no one gets out of life without scars and heavinessess that just have to be lived with and around.

But I think you need to choose your husband and any immediate family (ie kids, if you have them or they come) over a sister who drains you of money, whom you have to go out and work extra hours for, and who earns more than you. She is an adult; no matter the wounds of the past. As the above poster says, it's not helping her to fish her out of the soup all the time - and it's taking money from your own family.

It sounds to me like you're trapped in the pattern of the past feeling guilty but you were a child and it was not, never was, your responsibility. Yes, skilled counselling sounds a very good idea.

good luck.

cumfy Fri 04-Oct-13 14:22:20

Possibly just say that DP is handling finances now.

It sounds like he will be quite willing to say no to her, and possibly point out her income is greater than yours.

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