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My Messed Up Family

by BRD

I am a 42 y.o. female. I have been married for 20 years to the same great guy. I have an 18 y.o. son. We as a family unit are able to function in a capacity that's decent. We all have our quirks, but talk about it and move on. That's not the problem.

I recently contacted (Candi R.) and have asked for assistance with very serious issues. We have a 16 y.o. niece that showed up on our doorstep Saturday evening about 10 P.M. with two overnight bags. She was in tears. We questioned her about why she just showed up out of the blue and we were of course lied to.

She was fighting with her mom and grandmother. They all live together in a two bedroom apartment. There are seven bodies sharing the apartment. The children range in age from 16 to 4, plus mom and grandma. My sister, the mom, is a stripper. She has admitted to my brother that she uses drugs (coke, crack?) to cope with the job she MUST do in order to feed her family and pay bills.

I don't buy it. I feel it is an excuse for her to not be responsible for her family. My mom, the grandma, is the main caregiver. She always has been. My sister got pregnant when she was 15. I had just had my own child. I was married and 23 at the time. I believe she got pregnant on purpose because she didn't like me getting all the attention? I could be wrong. Sis is the youngest of the three of us and has always been the spoiled 'pretty' daughter. You see, I HAD to be the smart one and my brother, well, he is the only son. It was always pointed out that way. Fine.

Back to Saturday. Our niece said she was being accused of using drugs and claimed to be clean. The following day I suggested my brother take her down to the sheriff's station to file a report so we wouldn't be accused of kidnapping or abduction. This would be the sort of thing my mom and sister would do in a rampage. So he said he took her to the station and talked to a female officer and filed the report. Only now I kind of don't believe him. I think he is covering for my sister in order to avoid his own problems stemming from his own habit of smoking pot at his home. He has a 13 y.o. daughter.

I am strongly opposed to this sort behavior if one has children. It came out that the mom is accusing the daughter of stealing her stash of coke/crack? Really? It also came out that the 16 y.o. was in fact high and coming down when she showed up on our doorstep. I had my suspicions, but my husband said to trust but verify. I like my gut feeling. We learned the 16 y.o. girl is partying and using alcohol and drugs.

But this is what she sees her mom doing. How could she know any better? And my mom, the grandma says/does nothing? Enabling this to continue? My mom likes to fight and verbally break people down. She did it to my father and to me. Actually, she has done this to all of us. I left home at 18, when she beat the crap out of me because I left work early and did not let her know. But I couldn't let her know, she had the phone off the hook on purpose! It felt like an excuse for her to beat me! So I took a beating wound up with a concussion, moved in with dad's parents and stayed there until I got married.

Years before, I realized she had some serious problems, tried to get into counseling with her to help me, but she said I was the one who was crazy. Forget therapy. So this same cycle of behavior has continued up until today and everyone has just accepted it as 'normal'. I guess that is how some cope, hiding their heads in the sand?

I am definitely harboring anger/resentment for all the ways our family has been torn apart by my mom. Now it is affecting our children, not just us. Apparently, the niece feels that grandma picks and antagonizes her for no reason. But now I see that she may have some valid reasons.
But all the other mental abuse is just out of control. It's a real mess and I feel like I need to try and do something so the kid knows she has options and hope. My anger issues were brought up by a priest I spoke with in the past few days. He said my own anger towards my mom needs to be dealt with in order to effectively help the rest of the family.

I sort of get it. I have told myself in the past years that I do not hate my mom, I hate what she has done to us. There may not be visual scars, but its the scars you can't see that are that real problem. I do my best to be a good person, stay involved in church, and try not to do the things my mom has done to me, to my son. I am not perfect and I do get mad when he doesn't do as we ask. He is clueless about the world and as parents we only mean to help. But does this mean I have an anger issue?

I know I do have a bad temper and mean streak, if I allow it. Most times, I just keep to myself when I get like this and calm down. Then I can be reasonable. My husband has been very helpful over the years. I have felt the improvement in my person and see it when I can stop the anger from becoming a problem. I have been practicing yoga for the past four or five years and this also seems to help. But it is a practice because we are never perfect, we can only keep trying. Every day is a chance to be better than the day before.

I suppose a person is supposed to get mad when kids are not being treated right? Is anger ever really okay? Or is it in how we handle it that separates us? I am not mad right now, just exhausted by the events of the past few days. If I call CPS, my brother will take sides, and it will go nowhere I'm afraid. And I need to make sure that if I were to call, it would be for the kids, not out of revenge or anger towards my mom and sister.

Little kids don't have a choice about what their parents do. Their father is out of the picture and was also involved with drugs. He used to be my husband's business partner until we learned that all the money in the bank was gone and house payments and car payments hadn't been made for three months or so. We have had a rough road to travel these past four years and it seems that this evil is still among us.

I am getting too old and tired for this kind of thing. I desire peace and simplicity in my life and I know how to go about it. But outside family things are starting to infiltrate like cancer into my own family's well being. Besides volunteering for the next mission to Mars to escape family drama, what do you suggest for me, my family and anyone else that may have the same troubles?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello BD, and thanks for telling your story here. There are many pages on this site devoted to exactly the kinds of questions you're asking. I suggest you read at your leisure, and I think you'll find what you're looking for. Here is a page about letting go of a relationship. And you can assess your anger level here: anger management assessment.

That assessment will help you determine your own anger level and escalation process.

Focus on yourself, BD. Only when you are at peace within yourself do you have anything of quality to offer others.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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