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Wed May 24, 2017, 10:17 AM

At what point do you cut ties with a toxic family member?

My nephew attacked me viciously over email last summer.
I tried to get him to talk to me about it in person, he refused.
(He wanted to argue over text, which I wasn't going to do).

Now, he's attacked my husband (after reaching out to him for help with his car, my husband said yes, he'd help and sent some follow-up questions about the scope of the project, which he (the nephew) lashed out at him for).

My husband continued to try and reason with him, via text, but only got the response of "I'm sorry I cursed at you, I shouldn't try to hurt someone just because they hurt me."

We gave this kid a car for a high school graduation present. We offered to pay for his college, if he registered and picked classes (which he never did).

He's currently living rent-free with my brother, after his mother (my sister) kicked him out for repeated violations of the contract they had drawn up (simple things like not breaking windows, doing his own laundry etc. He wasn't expected to pay rent there, either).

After getting my heart broken repeatedly, I'm thinking I have to take a step back to protect myself.

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Reply At what point do you cut ties with a toxic family member? (Original post)
Coventina May 2017 OP
sinkingfeeling May 2017 #1
Coventina May 2017 #2
get the red out May 2017 #3
Coventina May 2017 #4
lunasun May 2017 #5
Coventina May 2017 #7
PoindexterOglethorpe May 2017 #6
Coventina May 2017 #8
Phentex May 2017 #9
Coventina May 2017 #12
haele May 2017 #10
Coventina May 2017 #13
haele May 2017 #17
Coventina May 2017 #18
haele May 2017 #21
blogslut May 2017 #11
Coventina May 2017 #14
Kaleva May 2017 #15
Coventina May 2017 #16
mythology May 2017 #19
Generic Brad May 2017 #20
3catwoman3 May 2017 #22
Coventina May 2017 #23
3catwoman3 May 2017 #24
Coventina May 2017 #29
shenmue May 2017 #25
Coventina May 2017 #30
shenmue May 2017 #37
Ilsa May 2017 #26
Coventina May 2017 #31
Ilsa May 2017 #38
Coventina May 2017 #39
vlyons May 2017 #27
Coventina May 2017 #32
vlyons May 2017 #34
Coventina May 2017 #35
elfin May 2017 #28
Coventina May 2017 #33
lunatica May 2017 #36
mercuryblues May 2017 #40

Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 10:20 AM

1. How old is your nephew?

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #1)

Wed May 24, 2017, 10:22 AM

2. He is 20

He is currently working as a dishwasher at a restaurant.
He's held the job since last fall, which is by far the longest he's ever held a job, so we thought things were looking up.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 10:26 AM

3. Now would be a good time

He will have to figure out his behavior doesn't help him. You should not suffer for trying to help him, that just gives him an outlet for his seeming anger problem. JMO.

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Response to get the red out (Reply #3)

Wed May 24, 2017, 10:29 AM

4. Thanks. I was thinking along those lines.

And, yes, he definitely has an anger problem.

He had court-ordered counseling for it, after a domestic incident with his former girlfriend.

Doesn't seem to have helped, though.

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Response to Coventina (Reply #4)

Wed May 24, 2017, 10:42 AM

5. you may continue to allow his actions but chances are society will not . exiting and not enabling

may help him while he is young to get his act together or seek help with his issues
whats the ultimate time out forkids who do not change bad habits?
jail- if the family doesn't have consequences set up, society at some point will
it may not be jail just ostracism by being deliberately left out of a group or social setting by exclusion and rejection but either way if he can realize that hes not being accepted with his current temperament by family now it could help him in life later.
Sounds like his mother already is making him live with consequences

plenty of disavantaged kids in need of help trying hard to better themselves and doing good already in life if you feel guilty about your decision there are many groups set up for donations

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Response to lunasun (Reply #5)

Wed May 24, 2017, 12:00 PM

7. He spent 4 days in jail for the domestic incident.

He claimed that it was a life-changer for him, but apparently not.

All your advice is good. We are very supportive of the youth organizations of our community.

As my husband and I have no living children, we felt it was important to provide a legacy through other ways.
So, we seek to donate time, money, and materials comparable to a living child, had ours survived.
Unfortunately, it seems our own blood is not receptive to any kind of support.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 11:19 AM

6. Once a person is out of high school or college

they need to be working and supporting themselves. Period.

This nephew is 20. He has a job. You've already bought him a car and made an offer to pay for college which he didn't accept. He's on his own. And no more offers to fix the car. He can pay a mechanic. If other family members choose to enable him, that's their doing, not yours.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #6)

Wed May 24, 2017, 12:04 PM

8. Thanks. I was basically coming to the same conclusion.

I was only hesitant because of his relative youth, and the fact that he was raised by a creep (his father). While his mother worked 60+ hours a week to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

His father is now out of the picture, but it seems the damage has been done.

Standing on the sidelines, we did all we could while he was growing up to temper the effects. He's learned enough to keep his father out of his life, but the abuse he heaps on us has his dad written all over it.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 06:15 PM

9. It's easier said than done...

but I think you know when the overwhelming feeling is that you are going to be hurt *again*

Maybe he'll mature and understand what you were trying to do to help him. Maybe not. But it's okay to protect yourself and your family from further grief.

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Response to Phentex (Reply #9)

Wed May 24, 2017, 07:22 PM

12. Thanks. You are correct, it is much easier said than done.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 06:35 PM

10. Does he have a clinical depression issue? Checked for mental issues?

My step-daughter suffers from self-treated clinical depression (both her parents are still being treated), and she often flies off the handle in wild rages and retreats into a world of her own making where she hates herself and everyone is against her and wants to hurt her for being a horrible person. (Her mom went through a drug abuse phase, and would drag her from boyfriend to boyfriend until my husband managed to get custody, so there's some PTSD involved).
She's a smart girl, and very capable, sweet and generous when she's feeling stable, but any unexpected "stress" or setback, and she whirls into Mad World, dragging her husband and anyone else around her down with her.
If he's young - say, 18 - 25 years old, this is often when conditions such as schizophrenia and clinical depression manifest as the frontal lobe finally grows in and he emotionally becomes an adult.

Anyway, whatever you do, you need to protect yourself. You can deal with him, but you always need to be aware that he is what he is and set boundaries and conditions. And expect he's going to self-implode at the very worse time possible.

Haele

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Response to haele (Reply #10)

Wed May 24, 2017, 07:25 PM

13. He has been in and out of counseling a number of times.

It never seems to "take."

His father was a master at manipulating counseling professionals into confirming his persistent victimhood and martyr status. I am a little suspicious that the son may be following in his footsteps.

You are right, he can be the most loving person at times, and then suddenly bite your face off.

I just don't know how many more times I can heal. How can there be healing without trust? I've lost my trust.

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Response to Coventina (Reply #13)

Wed May 24, 2017, 08:10 PM

17. I know that drill.

You can love someone but not trust them. I hate that saying "it is what it is",but that's your nephew. Just be aware what he is, accept he believes what he's going to believe, and try to anticipate what he's trying pull.
Don't let yourselves be his tool; you need to set the boundaries of interactions and stick with them, even if he lets his Angry Monster (as we call it in our house)run unchecked. If you choose to do anything for him, it's because you see it as a need and the act is controlled by you, not because​ he says he needs something or gets your sibling to ask for him.
Don't fix his problems for him.

Let his folks know that even though you love him, you don't trust him and will require verification for any support he might ask you for. So he's going to be mad at y'all on occasion.
He may grow out of it, but he may not. You need to be the consistent adult in the relationship, even if he can't be.

Haele

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Response to haele (Reply #17)

Wed May 24, 2017, 08:18 PM

18. Thanks so much. It really helps to hear from someone who has been there.

I have been hesitant to involve my sister, I know her heart is already broken by this extreme dysfunction between herself and her son.

My brother (as I mentioned upthread) is now essentially his custodian, letting him live rent-free in his house. But, we have helped my nephew numerous times in various ways. We do need to think carefully about how and in what manner to approach him. Clearly, the "blank check" approach does not ensure a good relationship.

My brother's latest proposal is to tell our nephew that he MUST attend counseling to continue to reside in his house.

My husband and I are going to help underwrite that, if he accepts that proposal.

*sigh*



Thanks again.

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Response to Coventina (Reply #18)

Thu May 25, 2017, 12:15 PM

21. Make sure the nephew does attend counseling.

And realize it's going to take years for any change to manifest, especially if the boy has learned how to manipulate people.
Also, not all counseling works.

My stepdaughter has had a nasty habit of "firing" her therapists when they start trying to get her to think about stepping outside the world she's created for herself. She's getting ready to start with therapist #5 (since the age of 13 when we finally got custody), but unfortunately, she gets dropped off our insurance at the end of the year, so hopefully, this one may take - especially since she's got her own family to deal with instead of going through the motions of playing grown-up house.

She loves having someone to bitch at and blow up at, but she is afraid to learn coping skills or taking responsibility for her actions, especially since she's now physically an adult, and there's a lot of failed opportunities she's blown up on her own that she needs acknowledge.

If she can figure out how to live with herself and in the real world by the time she's 30, I'll count that as a success. Until then, we rather treat her like a ticking time bomb, anticipating when she's going to screw herself and limit the damage she'll do to our ability to function efficiently.

Haele

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 07:05 PM

11. If it were me, I wouldn't necessarily cut ties.

I would make it perfectly clear that hostility, disrespect and lies will not be tolerated and I am neither a bank nor a public service.

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Response to blogslut (Reply #11)

Wed May 24, 2017, 07:27 PM

14. Thanks. I think we do need to rethink our approach. It has always been unconditional.

Maybe we should make him earn our assistance, at this point, I'm afraid it's just been enabling.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 07:49 PM

15. As soon as they become toxic.

Save your energy, money, sympathy and other resources for family members who this toxic person damages and takes advantage of.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #15)

Wed May 24, 2017, 07:54 PM

16. Well, that ship has sailed.....

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 09:51 PM

19. It depends

 

I think it's when it becomes harmful to you in a way to aren't prepared to deal with. In my case, I cut my biological dad out when I was 17. Unfortunately it was substantially too late for my emotional health as I still struggle to deal with people because of how it damaged me.

But at the same time, I also understand the power of having somebody be willing to fight for you. The person needing help has to actually be open to getting help, but they need somebody to help them in the process.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 10:15 PM

20. When you are emotionally prepared to never go back

It is not possible to cut just a single person out of your life. You have to be ready to cut ties with everyone connected with this person because if he is as toxic as you indicate, he will still try to take advantage of you through others who are sympathetic to him.

I have crossed that rubicon. But in my circumstance the pain I feel over that decision is far less than what I felt during decades of drama and stress.

So sorry you are going through all this.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Thu May 25, 2017, 09:26 PM

22. I am so sorry to hear that you had a child...

...who did not survive. Please accept a cyber hug - ((( )))

I think you are right on target with one of your responses above about enabling. No longer enabling him may well end up being the best way to love him if it ends up, at some point, helping him to see some light.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #22)

Thu May 25, 2017, 11:10 PM

23. Thanks!! Yes, it is a pain I don't wish on anyone.

Thanks for the encouragement.

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Response to Coventina (Reply #23)

Thu May 25, 2017, 11:43 PM

24. The bereaved parent/sibling club is way bigger than...

...any of us know until we are in it. When I was 26, my younger brother and only sibling died in a scuba diving adventure gone awry. That was 39 years ago. My mom and I still get weepy sometimes when talking about him. Not all the time, but sometimes. Things soften, as they must, but you are forever changed.

Wishing you courage, and people to lean on when you need it.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #24)

Fri May 26, 2017, 10:13 AM

29. More hugs

Agree with all you say.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

The acute pain eventually heals, but the loss is always there....

I'm lucky to have my husband. You're lucky to have your mom.

(again)

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Fri May 26, 2017, 04:15 AM

25. I am sorry

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Response to shenmue (Reply #25)

Fri May 26, 2017, 10:14 AM

30. How are you doing, sweetie?

Did everything go as planned?

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Response to Coventina (Reply #30)

Fri May 26, 2017, 01:35 PM

37. Yes, thanks

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Fri May 26, 2017, 04:56 AM

26. I'm so sorry. It is a hard decision, and

your generous heart is telling you one thing, but your brain is telling you another, like don't enable him to dusrespect you and others.

You may have to also clear the air with your brother to help him understand why you feel the need to cut yourself off from the nephew. They may be understanding.

Good luck.

(I have a sibling on Block on my phone right now.)

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #26)

Fri May 26, 2017, 10:17 AM

31. I am very fortunate in that respect. My brother is very understanding.

He completely sympathizes with my hurt feelings and isn't judging me about trying to detach myself.
(although my offer to help pay for the counseling still stands).

I'm sorry to hear about your current issue with your sibling! That must really hurt.

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Response to Coventina (Reply #31)

Fri May 26, 2017, 01:49 PM

38. If you're ok with it, I'll send you a private message. NT

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #38)

Fri May 26, 2017, 01:52 PM

39. Any time!

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Fri May 26, 2017, 06:05 AM

27. It is heartbreaking to love a deeply damaged person

Your nephew is mentally ill, and emotionally immature. He obviously has a ton of anger issues, and I seriously doubt that he could hold down a job. There is not anything you can do to change him. He is an adult. He needs to get help. That is, see a therapist or a psychiatrist. He knows that he is damaged, disfunctional, deeply unhappy. He probably hates himself, and mentally nurtures all kinds of hurts, resentments, and feelings of unworthiness. You can suggest that he seek help and even offer to pay for it, but he is an adult now. So unless he gets himself into therapy, there is nothing that you can do to change him.

The last words of the Buddha before he died were, "All things are impermanent. Everyone must find their own salvation, with diligence." That was his best advice to everyone. To you and to me. Everyone. Everyone has to find their own path. Sometimes we have to let people continue down what we know are unhappy paths, because they will anyway. Some people have to learn everything the hard way. People have to want for themselves to change and to find a better path to live a happier life.

This is where you get to practice some non-attachment to the situation being different than what it is. This is where you get to love him, even though he is a big pain in the butt.

Sending you a ray of sunshine

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Response to vlyons (Reply #27)

Fri May 26, 2017, 10:20 AM

32. Yes, he most definitely needs help. And, it is clear he is not (yet) interested in truly changing.

Thank you for your thoughts and support.

As a fellow Buddhist, I do need to delve into my own practice and examine my own motivations.
Learn to balance compassion and non-attachment.

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Response to Coventina (Reply #32)

Fri May 26, 2017, 11:44 AM

34. I have a niece and a nephew, who are both messes

In their 50's and still not at peace. My niece was convicted of a felony and did time. My nephew was convicted of a felony violence and DUI, which is really stupid. Because he actually died of a heart attack from alcoholism, and was brought back. He needs to drink like he needs a new hole in his head. I let the niece come from Calif to Texas, where I live, to start a new life. She was here 2 days, had a panic attack, turned around and drove back to continue living as a parasite off her mother. At first, I was very angry about it, but after a while I resigned to the fact that she is simply not ready to do the work and self-examination to really change her life.

About 20 years ago, a very high lama told me not to tell people about Vajarayana and the secret mantrams and visualizations associated with that practice. Vajrayana is secret, because it needs to be taught by a well-qualified and authentic teacher. You can find all sorts of info and books on the internet about vajrayana, but they won't do much good without someone really wanting to know and an authentic teacher to teach. People, especially Westerners, will not understand it and get all kinds of crazy ideas about it. That old lama told me that people have to ask for teachings before they are given. That way, we know people are ready to begin a practice. And that's why Buddhists don't proselytize. People have to be ready and ask for teachings.

You can tell your nephew what practicing meditation and contemplating dharma teachings have done for you. You can even suggest that he also might find meditation helpful to calm down, when he gets upset and angry and needs to get a handle on his self control. But of course, you can't meditate FOR him, and you can't twist his arm to make him meditate. He has to want to do it for himself.

If you are a member of a Buddhist sangha, you could invite your nephew to attend its social functions, like a picnic or dinner, or a walk, of your sangha, so he can meet and interact with other Buddhists. No pressure to participate further. Just the warm loving embrace of people, who may say just the skillful words to ignite a little spark in his mind to want to live a more happy life. You have to be prepared to endure embarrassment, if he goes off the reservation and starts acting out. But it seems the most important thing is for you to stay centered and practice maintaining a calm abiding mind. When I get freaked out and scared, I recall the beautiful face of the Karmapa, who manifests to me as the perfection of calm abiding.

I find this Buddhist prayer of the Four Immeasurables to be quite helpful to remember my aspirations.

May all sentient beings be liberated from suffering, and the causes and conditions of suffering.
May all sentient beings be happy and have the causes and conditions of happiness.
May all sentient beings never be separated from the joy and bliss of no more suffering.
May all sentient beings be free from attachment and aversion.

Cheers

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Response to vlyons (Reply #34)

Fri May 26, 2017, 11:50 AM

35. Thank you for your very kind insight and suggestions.

It's a good reminder that I have been distracted from what I should be doing to maintain my own spiritual balance.

If I cannot be centered and calm, it is hardly fair for me to expect it of others.

Thanks again! Now is the time, so I will sign off for now....


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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Fri May 26, 2017, 07:53 AM

28. I dearly hope he doesn't have or get a gun

He is on a very bad trajectory.

I hope you can quietly detach without causing him to become even angrier.

Sounds like it won't be too long before your brother asks him to leave and then he may come to you for free housing and become angry if you refuse.

He is in a world of hurt that only he plus professionals and possibly meds can abate.

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Response to elfin (Reply #28)

Fri May 26, 2017, 10:24 AM

33. I doubt he does. Despite all the abusive behavior of his father, his father was very anti-gun

They never had a gun in the house as he was growing up, and my brother doesn't have any either.

With his recent domestic abuse record, I doubt he could purchase one legally. But of course, you and I know guns are very easily obtained other ways.

All that being said, I think the most likely thing he would do is to hurt himself, rather than anyone else. He has a history of cutting himself already.

Of course, if he were to try or succeed in killing himself, that would be beyond devastating.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Fri May 26, 2017, 12:13 PM

36. when only one side is making all the effort maybe it's time right now

If his way of thanking you is to attack you then you probably have a pretty good indication that he isn't going to suddenly change and be a decent person.

If he wants to have a relationship then he must work at it. Abuse is not a relationship. It's abuse.

I walked away from my sister more than 20 years ago and I sure haven't missed the abuse.

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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Fri May 26, 2017, 09:55 PM

40. for me the correct time is

after I have had my say. I let it be perfectly clear why their behavior/actions are not acceptable to me. They are welcome to call me when they have decided to have a relationship with me that shows respect. You get one chance.

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