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 Post subject: Breaking old patterns
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 10:42 am 
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I posted a while back about my mom doing a short sale on her home and moving to the beach (because this 16th move and 20th job next to the beach will make her happy....this time right?). She has a pattern of buying and selling homes and losing money every time until now....where she is broke. She CHOSE to quit a good but stressful job in a terrible economy, has done some credit card consolidation thing where they can't have credit cards, and now she is living in a 27' trailer next to the beach with my dad. This was a CHOICE. She didn't get fired, but shopped herself into so much debt that she could only afford her bills with that ONE job and decided that one job was too stressful. So she just left her remodeled home which put her into debt to begin with. She said she would be fine in the trailer for a year or so and could save money to buy another home. Stupid decision but not mine to make. Oh....and she is 1 1/2 hours closer to me.

At the same time, my sister is unemployed (you know....because she too asked to be laid off the first time and the second time she thought the company should mold to HER ideas and wouldn't shut her trap till she got fired). Again....with 2 kids, an unemployed,disabled boyfriend, and a crappy economy. WHO DOES THIS?

We are all co-dependent. My sister has been going to my mom for years to watch her kids, home school them, buy them the basics, bail her out of trouble, etc. My mom has bailed them out. She would not only give my sister the shirt off her back but her underwear too. It is ridiculous. It is part of what caused her to be in this position. I too have been guilty of bailing my sister out. Paying for her vacations. Giving her money. Paying for her boyfriends teeth. My husband finally convinced me that my sister needed to take responsibility for her own choices. We stopped giving her money about 2 years ago. My mom stopped about a year ago but I think she lies to me about it.

Now, my mom has decided she can't live in a 27' trailer and she wants me to co-sign so she can rent a house. Another bad financial move. She has a million reasons why it wasn't her fault she is in this situation, but the bottom line is she has made seven years worth of really bad choices and as much as it sucks, she probably needs to face the consequences in order for the shopping, moving, job changing addiction to go away. That's what it is.....addiction. My sister wants me and my mom to save money in case she is offered this job in Florida because she will need $10,000 to move there. She also wants me to co-sign on a house there since my parents can't. Oh...and she keeps telling me if they forclose on the home she hasn't paid mortgage on in almost 2 years, she will be moving her family in with me.

Saying no to my sister sucks but I can do it. Saying no to my mom was barely doable. I talked to my therapist and my husband and everyone seems to agree that I am co-dependent and shouldn't be paying for them or loaning my credit to perpetuate the problems. My mom has never asked me for anything. She helped pay for my college. She paid half my rent through college. I kind of feel like I owe her this. But everyone keeps telling me I don't. My therapist said I need to say "no" and live with all the guilty negative emotions that go with it. This is what addicts avoid with pills and I need to do it without. So I did. I said no. It was horrible. Therapist said to expect her to be upset and maybe even "punish" me a bit. Sure enough, I haven't heard from her since. We have a pre-planned vacation to NY together in 2 weeks. This is going to suck. I feel like an asshole. I have no idea if I did the right thing.

Co-signing wouldn't really hurt me. I have a credit score of 802 right now. My mom is good for it. I just don't want role reversal where my parents kind of become my sister and I become my parents and start bailing them out of every bad decision they make. I just want to stop the insanity. My mom could rent a smaller place that wasn't big enough for my sister and her family and I "might" consider co-signing for a short time. But I know her and she is pre-planning for my sister to need her. I have been trying to get my mom into therapy but she is insulted every time I say anything. My mom defends helping my sister get to Florida even though she needs every penny she has. I don't want to be a part of all this insanity. This economy sucks. I am saving every penny I have for emergencies. Why do I feel like the worst daughter in the world? Is this really the right decision or am I being overly influenced by my husband (who kind of thinks people should be punished for their actions) and my therapist who has probably heard too much from my husband?

If you read this far I totally appreciate it. I tried to shorten it but couldn't. At least I don't feel the need to drink or use drugs. But this still sucks. I can't stop stressing on it.

Cherie


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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 10:53 am 
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For what it's worth, I think you did the right thing saying no. Perhaps in the short term she will be upset with you, but I firmly believe it will be SHORT term. On the other hand, if you co-signed and something went wrong and it cost you money, well, that would cause LONG term problems, wouldn't it? Saying no won't destroy your relationship, but saying yes could. Especially if the worst case scenario were to happen.

I know you feel like shit, I think that's normal. But I also think you said no for all the right reasons. Try to remember that. And maybe it's also better for your mom to have to live within her means and do this on her own.

Try not to be so hard on yourself. Put the bat down! You know I love you!

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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 11:16 am 
Co-signing WOULD hurt you. Your 802 credit score is something you EARNED. And don't you have a mortgage/rent, insurance, car, medical bills utilities, etc., etc. that you pay while still trying to save a bit? I can honestly say I know how you feel. My circumstances weren't the same, but I have a highly co-dependent family who I had to start putting up appropriate boundaries with, and the guilt and obsession were eating me alive.
If you want to help your Mom in appropriate ways that are comfortable for you that's fine. But I think it was a healthy decison for you and your marriage not to co-sign. If for no other reason than that one of you could get hurt or laid off and then you would be in the hole. Take care of yourself and try not to feel too guilty (I know easier said than done). You're getting healthy and learning to take care of yourself - they're not. It's hard to watch. But I think most of us addicts come from dysfunctional families and this pain is part of the process. (The least fun part).
Stay strong,
Lilly


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PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 2:45 pm 
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Saying no to my sister sucks but I can do it. Saying no to my mom was barely doable. I talked to my therapist and my husband and everyone seems to agree that I am co-dependent and shouldn't be paying for them or loaning my credit to perpetuate the problems. My mom has never asked me for anything. She helped pay for my college. She paid half my rent through college. I kind of feel like I owe her this. But everyone keeps telling me I don't. My therapist said I need to say "no" and live with all the guilty negative emotions that go with it. This is what addicts avoid with pills and I need to do it without. So I did. I said no. It was horrible. Therapist said to expect her to be upset and maybe even "punish" me a bit. Sure enough, I haven't heard from her since. We have a pre-planned vacation to NY together in 2 weeks. This is going to suck. I feel like an asshole. I have no idea if I did the right thing.

Co-signing wouldn't really hurt me. I have a credit score of 802 right now. My mom is good for it. I just don't want role reversal where my parents kind of become my sister and I become my parents and start bailing them out of every bad decision they make. I just want to stop the insanity. My mom could rent a smaller place that wasn't big enough for my sister and her family and I "might" consider co-signing for a short time. But I know her and she is pre-planning for my sister to need her. I have been trying to get my mom into therapy but she is insulted every time I say anything. My mom defends helping my sister get to Florida even though she needs every penny she has. I don't want to be a part of all this insanity. This economy sucks. I am saving every penny I have for emergencies. Why do I feel like the worst daughter in the world? Is this really the right decision or am I being overly influenced by my husband (who kind of thinks people should be punished for their actions) and my therapist who has probably heard too much from my husband?


Cherie -

I read this yesterday before work and I was thinking about it for a while. Firstly, I'm sorry that you're having to struggle with this difficult situation. It seems like whatever choice you make, you'll be dealing with some negative fallout and that's just not fun.

What bothers me about this is that you said your therapist said you need to say no. From my life experience and my experience lately (I'm in school for counseling), I believe that it is your therapist's job to help YOU discover what YOU think you should do...not for him to tell you what he thinks you should do. In other words, he should be helping you sort through your conflicted feelings, figure out where your boundaries are, what you can and can't live with, and help you figure out a plan that you can stick to.

From reading what you wrote, I hear that you are feeling frustrated. You kind of want to help your mom...but you don't want the help to go so far that you are totally taking care of her. You want to help her in a way that will actually help her, rather than just prolonging her dysfunctional behavior. You feel guilty because she helped you a lot, and you are now in a position to help her. You are maybe also feeling guilty or conflicted because your husband and therapist are pressuring you to not help her. And you are stressed trying to take care of yourself and your family in a crap economy.

All of that, and I didn't even get into the issues with your sister. Well, no wonder that you are feeling like you don't want to be part of this! That seems healthy to me :D

The way I'm looking at this situation, it doesn't have to be all one way or the other, does it? Does it have to be: a) You do exactly what your mom wants or b) You do exactly what your husband & therapist want and cut her off? Is there a middle ground that you can live with? You said that you might be willing to co-sign for a smaller place for a shorter amount of time. If that's what you feel comfortable with, why not offer your mom that compromise? Or, if there's some other help you feel ok with, offer that.

The bottom line is that the only person you can change in this system is yourself. It's ok for you to set boundaries with your family members, but try to be sure they are boundaries that you can live with because you'll have to enforce them and you'll have to live with the consequences of doing so (or not doing so). Of course you should also take your husband's opinion into account if this effects him...but honestly, your therapist's opinion doesn't really matter, because this isn't about your therapist, it's about you.

I hope that you'll be able to have some good conversations with your husband or a friend or someone who can help you sort out how you really feel about all of this so you can figure out what is the best decision for you. I would also recommend reading any of Harriet Lerner's books...she is a family systems therapist and is really great. She really explains how and why it is difficult to change in the context of a family which is naturally trying to keep you from changing...even when you're trying to change for the better.

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PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 10:54 pm 
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Hi Cherie! Wow, what a situation. I feel for you, I really do. I think everyone so far has given you excellent advice and I don't think I would have anything else to add that would be good , smart advice. LOL. The only thing I can say is that if I were in your situation I'd help my mom and co sign. Would she do it for you if you were in her situation? That's what I think about. But, Im not in your situation and I don't really know everything that is going on and what would happen after you co signed, etc etc. As for your sister I have no idea what to say about that. It s a very hard situation. Since I have no great advice I just wanted to let you know I'm here for you if you meed to talk or just vent, Im a great listener! Hang in there! (((hugs))

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Laura

Of course there's such a thing as angels. Only sometimes they don't have wings... and we call them mothers. -Unknown


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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 8:27 am 
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Cherie:

I'm so sorry that you have to deal with this kind of crap. Family stuff can be very difficult. My family is pretty stable and well adjusted, but my wife's family is extremely dysfunctional. My wife has 4 sisters. One of them is dead now, from an overdose of oxycontin about 5 years ago, another one just got out of detox for oxycontin addiction, another one of her sisters has a 27 year old daughter who has 5 children and is on public assistance AND taking methadone, and the oldest one is relatively stable, but very, very controlling. Oh, and my wife's brother is morbidly obese. It's astonishing that my wife isn't a basket case, she's the youngest of 5 children and easily the most responsible and well-adjusted member of her family, despite all the baggage and despite the fact that she lost her mother to cancer when she was 17 and her father to a heart attack two years later.

As for me, I grew up in a very violent home. My father was physically abusive. His abuse easily rose to the level of criminality by today's standards (hell, even by the standards of the 60's and 70's breaking your kids arm while beating him for coming in after the street lights went on instead of before the street lights went on was, um, kind of frowned upon :roll: ) But I digress.....

Based on what you've written here, I don't think you're doing anything wrong. In fact, I am kind of in awe of your strength and courage. It takes a LOT of character to stand up and do the right thing under these kind of circumstances. But you've done just that. And I support you and applaud you, Cherie.

Don't let self-doubt creep in. Stay strong, because you've done what's right. And that's what really matters.

Sincerely,
J781


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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 9:45 am 
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First I just want to thank all of you for actually reading all that and for responding. I sincerely appreciate honest opinions about the situation and of course, the replies are a mixed response for good reason. It is a tough decision.

DOQ: After some thought, I agree with you about the therapist. Usually he doesn't give me his opinion and helps me come to my own conclusions. I will be talking to him about this because I don't like it.

I can't say my parents "would" help me if the situation were reversed. They have given everything to my sister. The two times I ever asked for help they said no....because they couldn't....because they gave everything they had to her. This is fine as I made it through my situations (on my own) and have become extremely independent. My backup plan is ME.

My husband tends to be more vengeful than I do. He is a bit harsh and thinks they have to pay for their poor decisions and since they wouldn't be able to do it for me then why should I do it for them. I don't really look at things like that. I think about whether or not it is a healthy decision. In hindsight, I wish I would have co-signed. They still rented the place but had to give an extra two months of rent in the event they couldn't pay. This is everything they had saved so they are back down to zero again. I don't have kids. My family is my husband, my sister, my nephews, my mom, my dad and my stepson. As my therapist says, "you can't pick your family and you have to accept what you have". I can accept they aren't the most functional bunch. But we love each other and we take care of each other. I should have co-signed for the house. If they continued making poor decisions then it would have been fine to say "no". But I should have helped them out since it was the first time they asked.

Then again, since they tied up their savings, my sister won't be able to depend on them to pay her way to Florida so at least I know she will have to figure it out on her own. That is WAY PAST DUE!

Thanks for the support and opinions. I value you all tremendously. I always know you guys have my best interest at heart!

Cherie


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