Severe Family Drama

One side of my extended family and my immediate family experienced severe drama shortly after I was diagnosed 10 years ago. It ended with my immediate family deciding to cut off contact indefinitely, and ten years later it’s still in full force. The oddest part about this fiasco is that everyone had their own good (never malicious) intentions about the entire situation.

My psychotic episode acted as a catalyst to enable a series of events to unfold, which brought up old pains and perceptions about family dating back to before I was born. My parents did the best they could to keep me out of the middle of it, and they did a good job save for what was pertinent to our immediate family and to me. I had enough trauma to deal with at the time, and I had to fight tooth and nail to keep my head above water. My parents were taking care of me, so it was in my best interest to side with them on everything. As a result, people got burned.

At the time of this whole fiasco, each party had its own agenda to try and remedy someone or something or another. I had many agendas in that I wanted counseling for a separate personal problem as well as counseling for my immediate family as there seemed in my mind to be issues there. My aunt shared many of the same beliefs that I did and wanted to help me bring those ideas forward. She offered whatever support she could give in the process, including an open offer for my sisters and I to stay the night if we needed to while everything was being processed. My grandparents wanted everyone to stop fighting, to fix the problem and move on.

In everything, no one was in a position to own up to anything, myself included, and that put gasoline on the fire. I wasn’t able to stand up for what I believed, either, partly because the truth may have destroyed my immediate family at the time. My immediate family was treading water, too, after the stress I put forward. I ended up turning on my aunt in the interest of self preservation and keeping my family together. In hindsight, I believe it was the right thing to do, but it is still a band aid, and that just may have to do.

What ultimately did our extended family in is that we decided against getting a professional third party involved. As a result, everything blew up in our faces. I believe that two things need to happen if there is any hope of reconciliation. One is that both parties (my family and everyone else) need to get to a point where they want to resolve the situation. The other is finding an appropriate third party to mediate. The second part is in place, as my therapist knows the situation very well, understands the complex dynamics involved, and she knows me as well, the catalyst. She does house calls and I have her cell phone number for after hours.

While finding the third party is the easier of the two, at least it is in place in case the miracle happens when everyone wants to give things another go.

Opening Up to My Aunt

This post is on the personal side, even for me. At my extended family gathering yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk one on one with one of my aunts. We’re both introverted at heart and needed to go downstairs to recharge, where we start talking.

We start off with the topic of losing weight as that’s something we’re both striving for. This leads to a discussion of my mental health and my medications. I explain to her where I am at, and she says she had no idea because I have left her in the dark. I tell her it wasn’t her fault as she tried to reach out and I pushed her away. She says to me, that my old self became lost and I turned into a different person after my initial trauma occurred ten years ago. I agree with her, and I’m inadvertently trying to get some of the good parts back of my old self.

She’s incredibly happy that I feel the way I do about my bipolar, that it is a very small part of me that I don’t think about other than here or in private conversations from time to time. She says it seemed to define me before, but not so anymore – not at all. I also share my desire to reach a point where I can go back to school and pursue a career in writing – at least give it a shot, if you will.

She suggests that I write down my story according to exactly how I feel first, and go from there. It’s hard for me to do that, as this involves real people whom I love and are close to me, and to share that stuff with certain parties would ruin them. The main one being that my mom played a very big role in pushing me over the deep end early and initially. I know that going over the deep end would be inevitable, but that’s how things went down.┬áMy aunt points out I need to get these feelings out sometime that I hold tight to in order to protect others, that it’s not good to keep them in. I know I’ve shared plenty with my therapist, but that’s different than sharing it with family or friend.

I also realize, something I failed to tell my aunt yesterday, that I pushed her away because of other extreme extended family drama from ten years ago and I feared I would repeat that pattern by opening up to her about my feelings.

It’s taken 10 years for me to have a truly meaningful personal conversation with extended family like that. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.