Family Communication Landmines


I want a normal family.  My therapist swears that there is no such thing, but surely many families function much better than mine.  Navigating personal exchanges with my family feels something akin to skipping over landmines (and if you haven’t read why those landmines exist, read here Part 2: Trapped in Hell, Thank You, Dad, for PTSD.)  When I walked away from my dad, I walked away from everyone.  Everything I read about narcissists said that the best thing to do would be to cut ties not only with the narcissist but those who are close to the narcissist.  So, I lost not only my father, but my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents….everyone.  It was definitely the most painful thing I’ve ever done, but I also know that it was the healthiest decision that I could have possibly made for myself and my children.

Three years later I hear from my brother for the first time.  He tried to friend request my husband on Facebook.  I have everyone blocked on social media so they can’t find me, but apparently they can find Hubby. My feelings are suddenly all over the place.  I was on my brothers mind, he had actually been thinking about me/us/my family.  Was this him wanting to reach out and start a relationship again? Does he miss me?  Or, did my dad put him up to this?  Why now?  Why not three years ago? Is there an ulterior motive behind the friend request?

What would I even say to him if I talked to him?  I never said goodbye.  I never gave an explanation as to why I was leaving.  There wasn’t any time.  I had planned on leaving them notes, but then my dad found out we were packing, so we had to stop what we were doing and just run.  But the problem comes in now, no matter what I say my brother won’t believe me.  Whatever gets told to my brother will make its way back to my dad and get twisted around.  My father will make me sound even crazier than I already do.  I know how that game gets played, I’ve watched it happen enough times before. Still, part of me wants to reach out and tell him that I love him and that I’m sorry.  I want him to understand why I’m keeping my distance even though I know that isn’t easily explained.

I want my relationships back with my siblings, and part of me is beginning to question whether I should still keep those walls up.  I know by taking those walls down, I’m putting myself at risk of having to deal with my dad.  I don’t know if I’m strong enough to deal with him. I’m so mixed up and I wish a crystal ball would let me see into the future.  Should I message my brother? What do I say?  Should I just ignore him and continue life?

Ugh.  Normal families.  Maybe “normal” doesn’t exist.  But deciding to message a sibling shouldn’t involve this much forethought and fear.



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