the consequences of avoiding or attending to family

July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

The most innocuous encounters with my family of origin trigger PTSD reactions. I don’t know what to do about it. I am realizing that a lifetime of trying to avoid encounters is not working. Now what do I do? I have tried to talk to different family members at different times about what it has been like for me to be part of this family. Not everyone responds the same way, but the overall effect has been to feel shut out of the family unless I am willing to not be who I am. I really don’t know what to do to improve the situation.

On the surface my family presents a unified front of photogenic creativity, coherence, and resourcefulness. It is this image that leaves me feeling crazy and alienated. Were we even in the same family? The same situations growing up?

Brother1 just wrote a story from our past, an event that I was part of. I was there. In his telling of the story, I did things that I know for a fact did not happen. Now what do I do? Refute his version of the story? In his story he casts himself in this heroic role, he paints a picture of the conditions as much more dangerous and dramatic than they actually were, and he describes actions I never took. So what do I do? I suppose I have to tell my side of the story. But then I have to challenge his version of history.

Anyway, I am exhausted with the effort of either trying to distance myself from the family by avoiding contact and suffering the loss of family connections, or being part of the family and dealing with the crazy incongruence of history and storytelling, and undercurrents of emotional distress and family representations of accomplishment and admiration-seeking.

The fact of my life is that I have a great life today. None of my current life accomplishments have anything to do with my family – they have not been involved or part of my life in any meaningful way. I find any contact with them triggering.

Am I getting worse? Is my PTSD getting worse or am I simply becoming more conscious of the effects of these dysfunctional family relationships on my mental well-being because I am no longer suppressing my real emotional reactions?


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