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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, this is my first post on here, I am feeling very depressed at the moment and need somebody to talk to. I will tell you my problem.
My family lives in another country, I moved in the UK to live with my bf approximately 2 years ago. I struggled to find a job a lot, now I found a part time job about 3 weeks ago and I can finally help my bf with the bills a bit. We are renting a place.
My mum had a stroke last year, she has serious speech difficulty and her arm sometimes twitches painfully and she can't use it. My sister still lives at home and has a full time job. My aunt and her children live above my family; my parents both have lots of siblings by the way, my dad's ones are old.
Now, my dad is in hospital and my sister is understandably getting stressed dividing herself between daily visits at the hospital and her job. I can understand she is fed up and needs a break. My mum cant possibly go to look after him due to her condition and because the hospital is far away and nobody could take her there. The same goes (as far as I have been told) for my aunt or other relatives. I know I should go and be looking after him and I told my sister I would go in December when I have the money from my first wages (he has been in hospital less than 2 weeks and my sister didn't say at first to go back there with all this urgency. He is not about to die but still he is not ok). At the moment neither me or my bf can afford to pay for a flight (I won't have any money of my own until I get paid), especially with such a short notice. She is not happy with this, she is saying by the time I get there, she would have done all the caring and I would go there when my dad might already be out of the hospital. I would lose my job anyway to go back there obviously and I wouldn't know exactly for how long I would need to stay there. She said it's no big deal if I lose my job... my dad is more important I agree.
Anyway my family expects me to drop everything and just go regardless of the fact I cant pay for a flight right now and that I have a job and need to talk to my employer first, I can't just disappear like that. My sister told me my mum said not to bother going back in the summer to visit and my aunt as well is angry with me. They just think I don't wanna go because they think I am just being selfish but I have explained I can't right now for objective reasons and I repeat, I said to my sister I would go in December when at least I would have my first wages. I guess she didn't tell them all this or they just don't understand I don't know.
I am worried about my dad, it's not like I don't care, as they make it look like. Earlier when I talked to my bf about what my sister told me, I got all blotchy and red on my chest, as it happens when I am very stressed; I don't wanna fall out with my family, the mere thought makes me wanna kill myself really. I can't imagine them hating me. I did have some suicidal thoughts unfortunately.
I just need some advice, I am telling you in advance I do feel like a selfish bi*ch; my bf is saying they are emotionally blackmailing me and shouldn't be telling me such things.
Thanks for any reply in advance, don't bash me too much please.
 

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What are you expected to do... walk back to the UK?

Explain once that you can not afford to fly home and ask if there is anything you can do from where you are. It sounds like there are a lot of people there who can help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I do think my relatives could help my sister, but she says, my dad's siblings are all old or can't go to the hospital due to lack of transport. They expect me to go as I am the older daughter. She knows my situation but I guess right now she is just tired and wishes I was doing what she is doing. She probably thinks I am in a kind of holiday, while she can't make any time for herself and this makes her angry.
 

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I agree that you need to go there, but you need to do it logically and realistically - after telling your boss and asking for a leave of absence. Call some relatives and ask them if they can loan you some money (wire to you or pay for the ticket) so you can get there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I cannot ask for a leave of absence, I am doing my probation period, I don't have a contract yet, I only started 3 weeks ago. If I tell my employer I need to leave for an indeterminate period, he is not gonna wait for me, he will probably have to replace me for good (unless he shows an unexpected sympathy but I don't see it very likely).
Thanks for the answers anyway!
 

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That doesn't matter, stream. What matters is that you go to him and tell him the truth. He will remember that, when faced with a bad situation, you showed grace and integrity and tried to do the right thing by all concerned. That way, when you take care of your family and come back, you just may have a receptive person willing to give you another job. If nothing else, he could give you a good recommendation.

It's like when DD22 was working as a teenager and had to miss work for some reason or come in late, I'd have her call in and ask for a manager, and explain to them. That was more than most of their employees did, and she now has a standing invitation to work any time she comes home from university.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for your words. My main problem was that my family expected me to go immediately, not taking into account I need to buy a flight, the costs and the fact I found a job, my bf sees it as inconsiderate of them to demand I go back in a hurry; they are angry because they perceive these as just excuses, so how could I erase these wrong perceptions of me?.
Even if I go back now, it would be considered too late for them by now, I should have done it at once in their opinion.
 

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About what I figured. I'll tell you what I have told at least a couple dozen people your age.

Your family is NOT the basis of your life any more. It's not healthy to revolve your life around keeping family members happy. You are an adult now and, although it doesn't really feel like it yet, you ARE an adult on your OWN adult journey and your family has done its job - helping to raise you, being part of your childhood, as you grow and mature and learn to make it on your own.

I know from your perspective, your family is one of the most important things in your life. That's good, as long as they are not dysfunctional. Yours is dysfunctional. But I'm speaking to you from the OTHER side of the bridge, having lived 54 years now. You have a LOT of living to do. A lot of things to experience. A lot of decisions to make. Trips to take, kids of your own to have and raise, memories to make, traditions of your own to start...

And none of these - well, very LITTLE of these - have anything to do with what your siblings, parents, or cousins/aunts/uncles think or do or want.

I remember still being embarrassed at 30 for having sex with my husband - to whom I'd been married for 9 years. It really takes that long to feel 'grown up' and to feel you have the right to live your OWN life, regardless of what they all think or do or want.

They've done their job. Now you are free to make your own decisions. And the fact that they still manipulate you to the extent that you would feel suicidal if they don't 'approve' of you is just proof that it's an unhealthy relationship that you need to start, if not severing, at least loosening.

You're free, ok?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You have pretty much the same opinion my bf has of my family. He says I have my own life here, they can't expect me to drop everything and go back to them every time they want. I know I have issues with trying to please everyone, I just hate the thought of somebody angry with me.
I have moved away about 2 years ago, they told me many times to go back, but I said no as I wanna be with my bf, I have been firm about that.
You said they are dysfunctional, what do you mean exactly? It seems to imply the same thing my bf said, that they are emotionally blackmailing me, which I kind of think too.
Thanks again for replying, I appreciate it and you are helping me see things in a different perspective now.
 

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See if any of this rings a bell:

Shame is so painful to the psyche that most people will do anything to avoid it – even though it’s a natural emotion that everyone has. It’s a physiologic response of the autonomic nervous system. You might blush, have a rapid heartbeat, break into a sweat, freeze, hang your head, slump your shoulders, avoid eye contact, withdraw, even get dizzy or nauseous.

Why Shame is so Painful and unlike Guilt

Whereas guilt is a right or wrong judgment about your behavior, shame is a feeling about yourself. Guilt motivates you to want to correct or repair the error. In contrast, shame is an intense global feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. You want to hide or disappear. In front of others, you feel exposed and humiliated, as if they can see your flaws. The worst part of it is a profound sense of separation – from yourself and from others. It’s disintegrating, meaning that you lose touch with all the other parts of yourself, and you also feel disconnected from everyone else. Shame induces a belief that isn’t always conscious, such as:

I’m a failure.

I’m not important.

I’m unlovable.

I don’t deserve to be happy.

I’m a bad person.

I’m a phony.

I’m defective.

Chronic Shame in Codependency and Addiction

Like all emotions, shame passes, but for addicts and codependents it hangs around, often beneath consciousness, and leads to other painful feelings and problematic behavior. You’re ashamed of who you are. You don’t believe that you matter or are worthy of love, respect, success, or happiness. When shame becomes all pervasive, it paralyzes spontaneity. A chronic sense of unworthiness and inferiority can result in depression, hopelessness, and despair, until you become numb, feeling disconnected from life and everyone else, like the walking dead.

It can lead to addiction and is the core feeling that leads to many other codependents’ symptoms. Here are a few of the other symptoms that are derived from shame:

Perfectionism

Low Self-Esteem

People Pleasing

Guilt

For codependents, it can lead to control, caretaking, and dysfunctional, nonassertive communication. Shame creates many fears and anxieties that make relationships difficult, especially intimate ones. Many people sabotage themselves in work and relationships because of these fears. You aren’t assertive when shame causes you to be afraid to speak your mind, take a position, or express who you are. You blame others because you already feel so bad about yourself that you can’t take responsibility for any mistake or misunderstanding, meanwhile apologizing like crazy to avoid just that! Codependents are afraid to get close because they don’t believe they’re worthy of love, or that once known, they’ll disappoint the other person. The unconscious thought might be that I’ll leave before you leave me. Fear of success and failure may limit job performance and career options.

Hidden Shame

Because shame is so painful, it’s common for people to hide their shame from themselves by feeling sad, superior, or angry at a perceived insult instead. Other times, it comes out as boasting, envy, or judgment of others. The more aggressive and contemptuous are these feelings, the stronger the shame. An obvious example is a bully, who brings others down to raise himself, but this can happen all in your mind without actually bullying anyone. It needn’t be that extreme, you might talk down to those you teach or supervise, people of a different class or culture, or someone you judge. Another tell-tale symptom is frequent idealization of others, because you feel so low in comparison. The problem with these defenses is that if you aren’t aware of your shame, it doesn’t dissipate, but persists and mounts up.

Theories about Shame

There are three main theories about shame. The first is functional, derived from Darwinian Theory. Functionalists see shame as adaptive to relationships and culture. It helps you to be acceptable and fit in and behave morally in society. The cognitive model views shame as a self-evaluation in reaction to others’ perception of you and to your failing to meet certain rules and standards. This experience becomes internalized and attributed globally, so that you feel flawed or like a failure. This theory requires self-awareness that begins around 18 to 24 months old. The third is a psychoanalytic attachment theory based upon a baby’s attachment to its mother and significant caretakers. When there’s a disruption in that attachment, an infant may feel unwanted or unacceptable as early as 2 1/2 to 3 months. Research has also shown that a propensity for shame varies among children and their temperaments.

Healing Shame

Healing requires a safe environment where you can begin to be vulnerable, express yourself, and receive acceptance and empathy. Then you’re able to internalize a new experience and begin to revise your beliefs about yourself. It may require revisiting shame inducing events or past messages and re-evaluating them in a new perspective. Usually it takes an empathic therapist or counselor to create that space so that you can incrementally tolerate self-loathing and the pain of shame enough to self-reflect upon it until it dissipates. Codependency for Dummies and 10 Steps to Self-Esteem provide steps and exercises to raise your self-esteem and begin to heal shame. Find links here and at Counseling Therapy Counselor Therapist Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Culver City, CA, California - Darlene Lancer, MFT.
 

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Or this:

Codependent individuals experienced a traumatically empty childhood. Their present-day relationships are empty. They attempt to use others, their mates, friends, and children, as their source of identity, self-esteem, value and well being in an attempt to restore childhood emotional losses. Most codependent individuals are unaware that they are doing so. Having constructed a more idyllic existence, many codependent individuals are completely unaware that their childhood was troubled!

The following are statements portray relationally addictive people:

1.We come from a dysfunctional home in which our emotional needs were not met.
2.Having received little real nurturing ourselves, we try to vicariously fill this unmet need by becoming a caregiver, especially toward people who appear needy.
3.Because we were never able to change our parents into the warm, loving care takers we longed for, we respond deeply to the emotionally unavailable person whom we find familiar and whom we try to change (to give us what we need) through our love.
4.Terrified of abandonment, we will do anything to hold on to a relationship and avoid painful abandonment feelings. We first experienced these feelings while living with people who were never there emotionally for us. Most often, we were not aware that we were not getting what we needed!
5.Almost nothing is too much trouble, takes too much time, or is too expensive if it will "help" the person we are involved with. Our thoughts are other-oriented rather than self-oriented.
6.Accustomed to lack of love in personal relationships, we are willing to wait, hope and try harder to please.
7.We are willing to take far more than 50 percent of the responsibility, guilt and blame in any relationship.
8.Our self-esteem is critically low. Deep inside we do not believe we deserve to be happy. Rather, we believe we must earn the right to enjoy life. We forget that we were all created equal and by the same maker.
9.Having experienced little security in childhood, we have a desperate need to control people, outcomes, and relationships. We mask our efforts to control people and situations as "being helpful."
10.In a relationship we are more in touch with our dream of how it could be rather than with the reality of how it is. We don't want to hear the little voice inside that tells us what is!
11.We are addicted to a person, people, and/or to emotional pain. This is not because we enjoy pain, but it is familiar; we understand it; it is all we know.
12.We may be emotionally and/or biochemically predisposed to addictions to substances, food, gambling, sex, etc.
13.Drawn to people with problems or to chaotic, uncertain, or emotionally painful situations, we avoid focusing on our responsibility to ourselves: to become all of the potential we were given!
14.Since we have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, it is easier to be concerned with others rather than with ourselves. This prevents us from looking at our ourselves. We give away our personal power!
15.We may tend toward episodes of depression and/or anxiety. We try to forestall these episodes through the excitement of an emotionally unstable relationship or through addictive behaviors.
16.We are not attracted to a person who is kind, stable, reliable, and interested in us. We find "nice" people boring or unattractive.
17.We "stuff" our feelings and have lost the ability to identify or express what we feel.
18.We tend to become isolated from people and become afraid of authority figures.
19.We become approval seekers and lose our identity in the process.
20.We can't stand it when people are angry at us. We hate criticism! We get defensive and "explain" ourselves in an attempt to show the other person how they are wrong.
21.Our world view is that of the victim. We sense and gravitate towards people whom we will allow ourselves to be victimized by.
22.We judge ourselves harshly. We use a more lenient yardstick to judge others.
23.We experience guilt when we stand up for ourselves. To avoid guilt, we give in to others.
24.We confuse love and empathy/pity and tend to think we "love" people we can pity and rescue.
25.We are reactors to life rather than creators of life.

Codependency: A Family Perspective
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I do recognize myself in some of the things you wrote. I know I should see a psychologist but can't afford it, I don't know how that works here in the UK either.
I would like to solve my issues but how do I do it in my circumstances?
 

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I'd start by focusing on improving your self esteem and by reading every book you can get your hands on. There are a lot of great books, which you can get for free at the library. Hell, I'd just start reading all the books in the self help section.

You can also find some self esteem workbooks. Ask your bf to help you. Takes work, but it can give real results, if you stick with it.

Books to read...I'd start with Healing The Shame That Binds You, by Bradshaw.
 

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Your father will understand your situation. The last thing your father would want is for you to upset and stressed out about him. He will love you no matter what and will not want to see you this way. He is proud of how your are moving on with your life and living the life you are living. Your family on the other hand will get over it, and if they don't then that is their problem.
 

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So you know, stream, I had a falling out with my own father after his wife did something horrible to me and my husband (and he refused to acknowledge it). I let him go. I never saw him again until he was dying. And after he died, I never saw her and her evil family again. It was no loss to us.

You CAN survive without family members. They are just friends by 'convenience' (blood) - not people you necessarily would pick to be around. So if they hurt you and make you feel bad, why be around them? Find yourself a new family. Millions of people do just that.
 

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No no no, don't give up on your family, they will come around to understanding you situation, you dad will for sure, and the others will too one day.

But for now, you have a family and they do have you, its just your a little far from each other that's all. If they didn't want you they wouldn't be bothered whether you were there or not. If you didn't want them, you wouldn't be bothered either.

So don't give up on them, you acting in the right way, get on with your life now and stop beating yourself up. Send you dad a get well card and give him a call, that's all.

Don't get your head full of all quotes and long stories on your thread, there is no need for most of it, and you know it.
 

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Is it cultural? You said it's your duty . . . call one of your cousins, ask them to look in on Dad. Tell them you'll send them $$ when you have it, and then do just that. You can figure out how much is reasonable with exchange rates.
My husband is from a place where his family expects the sons to drop everything to run to the parents' aid. At $5000 a flight, not feasible. He's got a couple cousins who are reliable, who, when his parents call, can drop what they are doing or take time off (one is a street vendor the other a university student) and handle those responsibilities. He covers their expenses plus some extra. Everyone is happy--his folks get taken care of, his cousins get compensated for their time, he doesn't worry.
 
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