How can I heal when my family won’t let go of the past?
“I’ve been sober for four years, and I’m doing very well with God’s help. I have a sister that turned my daughter against me, my daughter says that she has forgiven me. But treat me like I’m just someone she met in the street.
I’m not included in her life – not for real. My sister acts like her mom, and it hurts so bad. I’m the only one that was there for her when had my grand babies. She says my mom did every thing for her, and that’s not true. My mom just acts like she did and won’t tell her no different because my mom loves praise.
No one respects me. No one remembers all I’ve done for my family. They bring up my past, I guest to make me feel bad, and it does.”
Thank you so much for reaching out and for trusting us. I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with the ways your family is responding to you and your efforts to connect even after all you’ve done to support them.
Family can be a very tricky beast when it comes to addiction and recovery. I also have a daughter, and handling that relationship has never been an easy thing for me to do. I have my own guilt from my past with her, and she has at times also tacked on her own personal list of why I should feel awful. It’s not easy, and support from other women has really helped me a lot.
Something that has taken me many years to make peace with in my own recovery is the fact that just because I’ve chosen to recover doesn’t mean the people in my life will. The chaos and drama that often comes with the “family” label when it comes to addiction and recovery can be a tremendous trigger. Mental illness has so many forms and masks to hide behind, and if/when people in our lives refuse to even acknowledge that there’s a problem, it can be terribly disappointing and even infuriating.
The only thing I know how to do in these situations is to keep my side of the street clean and try not to cause further harm. In some cases, that has meant taking huge steps away from family members and friends. In other cases, it has involved setting (and resetting) some really uncomfortable boundaries and doing my best to maintain them. I’m reading an incredible book right now called, “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero. In it she says, “You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.” I love this, and need that reminder…OFTEN.
Another thing that has helped me though a lot of that pain is having a therapist to help me process through which feelings and facts were mine to own and which were not. Do you have someone like this close by that you can talk to? If not, I’d be more than happy to help you find someone in your area.
I’m so happy you reached out today, Yalanda. You are not alone, and I hope you will continue to communicate with and through us.
Julie Maida lives in Massachusetts with her amazing husband and three children. She has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000.
Julie is eternally grateful for all the gifts of recovery and fiercely determined to advocate for, and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.