Abuse obsession neglect

Postby Ames1021 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:27 pm

Ok this is my first post. I came here looking for help and advice for my little sister. She came to me for help last night and I helped her the best I coul. But I want to get some other thoughts on what's could be going on with her..possibly subconsciously.

So there's a lot to unpack here thanks in advance to anyone who sticks around to read all this. I'm going to try to keep it as to the point as possible and I can fill in any questions as needed.

Ok so for starters she's 19 and starting her second year of college soon she believes she is gay which I fully accept however some of her actions lead me to feel she's sexually lost however I could be very wrong. (I can expound on that more if necessary)

So she's been in a "talking" relationship with a girl for the past few months. However she pretty much immediately realized the relationship wasn't for her. But it continued then they decided to be just friends (I realize this is all very juvenile but I'm closing in on my point) she's told the girl wants them to be best friends and she doesn't want to lose her. However that's not actually how she feels about her. She told me last night that this girl is too abrasive and domineering. That she could never even really be friends with her. The girl yells at her a lot which my sister doesn't handle well she shuts down at conflict. The girl has also started "talking" to another girl. However she still expects my sister to be kind of an understudy. Anytime the new girl isn't available she expects my sister to drop everything and run to her and gets hostile if she runs late. She never tells her no. I asked her why she's doing this to herself. Her response is because she doesn't want to be alone. . She even said if school was in session she'd just move on from this girl completely because she'd have other things to do.
But I pointed out to her that it's obviously more than that. As she lives with me and my husband and daughter (though we rarely see her because of this girl. I've gone weeks without seeing her) I'm a SAHM so she'd never be alone. She just wouldn't be completely immersed in distraction. Our lives are mundane we don't run all over the state at a moments notice run off to clubs or party.
I asked her what would be so wrong with a little time to herself. She couldn't answer that. I asked her since it's not about being completely alone why she needs to be immersed in distraction all the time she couldn't answer. I suggested she needed some time to understand herself better but that that would take some time to herself free of distraction.

This is a pattern in her life she will forsake family over and over to chase after friends that aren't good for her by her own admission. She's repeatedly left myself and her niece who adores her hanging or ditched us for people who are no part of her life anymore. Additionally she has some excellent true friends. And she knows this. They too get cast aside at times.
She truly becomes obsessed with a single person at times and no one else matters. This pattern has been going on for roughly 5 years and has involved 3 different girls at this point this girl being the 4th and only one involving more than friendship. However she's believed she was in love with the other 3 girls but they were straight and unaware of her feelings. This girl the first to be able to reciprocate she does not feel in love with or even like that much. However she's still repeating her obsessive pattern anyway.

She said they had made so many plans for the summer together and she doesn't want to miss them. I asked her why she thinks the plans will actually be fun when she has said she's not compatible with this girl. This girl who yells at her and dictates her every move. (She got up at the crack of dawn this morning to go to the lake with this very same girl after saying over she really didn't even want to go) so why? I can't understand it.

So my questions are what might cause this need for constant distraction? (even doing things you don't want to do with people you dont like in the name of being occupied)

Why the forming of obsessions to the point of forsaking well founded healthy relationships with friends and family?

Why the need to continue the pattern of obsession with someone she doesn't like?

Why the deep fear of missing out when logic indicates it's not going to be a good experience?

Thanks to anyone who has anything to offer.
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#1

Postby Ames1021 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:34 pm

Anyone have anything to offer?
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#2

Postby Livetowin » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:53 pm

Hi Ames1021. I have a daughter that has gone through exactly what you are talking about but, she is slowly beginning to find her way out. The short answer is she is incredibly insecure and feeds off the perceived "affection" of her peers to allow her to deal with her inner demons. It's a tough issue because they're at that age where they are still tied to reasoning everything in life through their emotions. So if their emotions are off the tracks, it pretty much takes them with it. I gave my kid the best talks I could muster under the best conditions I could place her in and ultimately they were just words if she couldn't feel them.

The great angst here is feeling rejected. My daughter got involved very early in life with a boy that swept her off her feet at 15 and by the time she was 16 she got herself pregnant no matter how much we tried to discourage and derail her efforts. It's been a very frank reminder to myself that the only person you control in life is yourself. I've heard it all about the parents being to blame when kids make bad mistakes, but I can honestly say that is just a throw away answer for those who honestly live in a fairy tale world of thinking they have control where they actually do not. You can see I am still cleaning off the frustrations that have accompanied this.

So having a baby so young added to her insecurities,especially after the boy took off. We are helping raise her son and doing everything we can to provide her stability while she wrestles with her own anxieties and misplaced identity. But having a baby so young cost her allot of friends (a blessing in my book since they proved unreliable when she needed them most) and adults frowned on her sometimes in a shameful way. That added to her feelings of isolation. So seeking approval had become a more hazardous process because she would dabble with people who were not good for her. But they give her attention so she found merit in them for that reason. It also made her a chronic liar which I deplore. She could tell a lie as easily as she could take a breath and it could be as trivial a situation as you could imagine.

Her and I had many talks about these issues and it got pretty hard for a while because she knew I would make her accountable for her mistakes when she found herself in bad company or on the wrong side of a tall tale. She walked up to the edge many times, but I was there telling her if she took another step she would be footing the bill for her mistakes. She knew dad wasn't playing and she thankfully began to learn 'consequences' were not just some misplaced ideal from a lecture. Whenever she got smart and talked about walking out the door I always said, " Go right ahead. Freedom awaits you out there. But guess what? It's not free. Understand what you're asking of yourself instead of posing the threat at me. I've got my end covered. Do you?" She learned real early that I promote walk the talk, so she better know what she was talking about before she pounded on her chest.

She has dabbled in the Lesbian lifestyle which I supported her on but my wife couldn't find her way there. Another setback when our daughter finds rejection from her mom. I tried and tried telling my wife not to voice that in the open because our daughter needed the support rather than a finger wagging judgment session. So I had to double down and really run to her aid while she explored her identity. Ultimately she decided it wasn't for her and has found a solid boyfriend who seems to be giving her a descent foundation.

If there's anything I can tell you about your situation it is this - Be consistent with your message of support. Stay consistent with the values you believe in and be that shining example to her every day. When she makes mistakes love her more but make sure she pays for her mistakes. Don't enable her weaknesses because she will only feed off that. Stand by the values you hold dearest and don't allow her to walk over them because she elects to be "lost". Understand you can't control the outcome, but you can control what she hears from you. I tell my kid every day to believe in herself and to always do the right thing whether that feels right or not. If she's not sure, just ask.

So when I say I have tremendous empathy for your situation, you can believe it's heartfelt. Just be a good role model to promote a positive environment, but balance it with a realistic message to her that says she needs to be accountable, because life DOES collect if she ignores that responsibility. She doesn't have to know who she is right now, but that doesn't mean she gets a free ride on making bad decisions. Saying "what ever' comes with a price tag. There's allot to weather but if you remain consistent with a positive message while offering a structured environment where rules DO apply, then eventually...hopefully... she will learn to quit banging her head against a wall that is not going to budge. I wish you all the best..
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:17 pm

She continues because, like all the previous girls, she believes this girl has something no one else can offer, hope of intimacy. That is a powerful combination.

Your family and her other relationships can't offer intimacy. There is a 0% chance. There is not even the glimmer of intimacy. With this girl, your sister feels one step closer to developing the intimacy she is seeking. The other person does not need to actually reciprocate, they just need to show up in order for hope to stay alive.

Your sister wants intimacy. How can you help her meet this need? Can you introduce her to anyone?
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#4

Postby Ames1021 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:59 pm

Livetowin
What you've said rings true in many ways. I know my sister has a lot of insecurity. She's always been seeking acceptance and has found very little. We both attended a small private Christian school. However I'm 10 years older than her so we didn't have much in school interactions and I moved out of our parents home and 2 hours away when she was 8. You can see that she was not in an environment where she was going to feel accepted as she developed. By high school she was in a deep depression. My parents told me they feared she may kill herself. However they never spoke to her about their concerns. I did. At that time she came out to me. I promised her that it changed nothing in my eyes and that it would stay between us and it did. However about a year later after extreme pressuring from a teacher she admired and trusted she came out to that teacher. Thus began a torrent of abuse and hate from not only students and teachers but other parents. Our parents were not and are not accepting of her sexuality. They sent her to therapy (which I know nothing about the details of) I was blamed for the whole situation because I knew and didn't tell our parents. The hate continued all the way through until she graduated. They tried to stop her from graduating then they tried to stop her from walking. They were not successful however she lost her title as valedictorian. My parents wouldn't fight it because they didn't want any more attention on the situation than already there. Clearly acceptance is a core issue. However she has friends and family who do love and accept her.

My parents raised us very differently. Taking a very authoritarian approach with me. I was allowed to do very little. I eventually got to the point where I quit asking to do things because I'd become physically ill dreading the not only denial but incessant lecturing. I missed out on most social events outside of school days the sports I played and church functions anything non structured was rarely permitted. The reasons driven in were that blood is thicker than water and you have to be with your family. (While I appreciate the importance of family it was driven home overly hard and lead to feelings of guilt even when I could make my own decisions) I said all that to say this the only hard stance they ever took with her was on her sexuality. She never had consequences of any kind. She was allowed to do whatever she wanted and could miss any and every family event she choose. Let alone just having to be home because she belonged at home. She'd be out into the wee hours of the morning at 16 and while my parents didn't like it they never even addressed it. So accountability is a huge factor. She has none. My parents foot her bill for everything still. In that sense I have little say in her accountability. She was supposed to get a job this summer but that would cut into time with her newest obsession so she hasn't done it. My parents continue putting money into her accounts. She does a lot of things that worry and scare me. I fear she'll learn accountability the hard way. By facing jail time or a serious tragedy. I don'twant that for her and I've addressed these things she falls firmly in the category of it won't happen to me. That's where she lives. While I have always been a it can absolutely happen to me person and that fact itself kept me grounded even during my wildest days.
I'm at a loss for how to instill these lessons when I have little say. (Kicking her out would do nothing she'd be delighted to live with her obsession and basically does) not to mention I feel she's done nothing to warrant that and with her acceptance issues I'd be concerned about what message I'd be sending no matter what I said I think she'd hear something else.

Thank you for your input and sharing your story. I really like the way you worded your points and I'll be borrowing your phrasing in our future talks. I wish you and your daughter the best.
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#5

Postby Ames1021 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:22 pm

Richard could you expound on intamacy a bit more? I assume you mean sexually. She's had that type of intimacy with males and now a female. However that doesn't seem to have solved her larger issues.

She stated that the happiest she's been in years is when she was free of anyone to obsess over which was at the end of 2016 beginning of 2017. She said it was because she was doing what she wanted to do instead of being completely wrapped up in someone else. I can only imagine how exhausting that would be.

If you're referring to the deep intimacy one would have with a soul mate. Intamacy on all levels. We all spend time searching for that many search a lifetime but it doesn't drive such wreck less self harmful behavior. On some level yes we all do stupid things in such pursuit I know I did. But not to such extremes and I saw what I was doing to myself and self corrected.

Because actual intimacy is so much more than a sexual relationship I didn't have zero intimacy when outside of a sexual relationship. Certain levels of intimacy can be filled by friends and family. I had and have profoundly deep and fulfilling friendship. She too has a few friends which she has deep and secure bonds. In my opinion this is a type of intimacy.

I guess to say it again I need more clarification on how you're defining intimacy in this instance so I could follow your advice in helping her find someone to fill that void.

Again if it's a deep fulfilling sexual and emtional relationship then yes I'm sure that would be an excellent thing for her however I don't feel that excuses or explains her behaviors. And would only be a bandaid that would eventually lead to more pain and suffering because putting a bandaid on unresolved issues will result in them coming back potentially destroying that beneficial relationship. Leading her straight back to the original cycle.
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:39 am

Ames1021 wrote:
Again if it's a deep fulfilling sexual and emtional relationship then yes I'm sure that would be an excellent thing for her however I don't feel that excuses or explains her behaviors. And would only be a bandaid that would eventually lead to more pain and suffering because putting a bandaid on unresolved issues will result in them coming back potentially destroying that beneficial relationship. Leading her straight back to the original cycle.


When I refer to intimacy, I'm not talking about the platonic intimacy of a good friend. It is the hope, the desire for a physical bond.

I agree with you about the cycle, yet it is a tough and subjective issue to tackle. How much "neediness" is healthy as to not constitute an abusive and/or co-dependent relationship?

On one end of the spectrum you have the monk like state of transcending beyond earthly needs, including love. From there you go to the philosophy of loving yourself first, before you love another. You are okay with being alone. On the other side you have the truism that we are a social species, that no man is an island and that we are all a collective. At the extreme, to not have need is to not be needed.

Personally, I fall on the monk side of the equation and in here I often discuss the need to first love yourself. But, I realize that is my personal, skewed worldview and that achieving monk status is not necessarily right or even healthy for everyone. In my opinion, it is not about true belief, but functionality of the belief. To what extent does the belief you hold about how the world should be negatively impacting your life?

With you and your sister, it seems you have different beliefs. You are more independent and she is more codependent. You see her codependent belief as dysfunctional and want her belief to be more inline with what you believe. If she believes what you believe or at least closer to what you believe, the cycle of abuse/neglect should stop, right?

How then do you change what another person believes? It is not easy, but obviously people do change their beliefs, either slowly over time as a result of mounting evidence or instantly in the face of overwhelming evidence. For instance, the more evidence that builds regarding the possibility of life on another planet, the more you shift to believing aliens are a possibility. On the other hand, if the doorbell rings and there is unmistakably an alien at the door with a spaceship parked outside then you go through a radical if not all together traumatic shift in belief instantly.

If I was a therapist dealing with your sister I would try a scaffolded approach. Focus on the belief that it is okay to be alone, but don't go to that extreme. Your sister expresses that she is unhappy, so she is already questioning her own beliefs. This provides the opportunity to introduce an alternative, but the alternative cannot be a radical shift on the spectrum. That is why I suggested another person, but I would retract that as potentially counterproductive. As you stated, it is a bandaid. Instead, challenge her to spend small amounts of time alone (no social media) and then discuss with her the worst part of her time by herself. Was she bored, what did she do, what did she think about, did it feel better than being neglected, why or why not, would she do it again? Repeat the process with more and more time alone, building her comfort and understanding of the value of being alone.

As her sister with a family of your own, you are probably not in the right position to help your sister shift her beliefs. Your role is sister, not therapist. This means I would offer to help your sister find a therapist and even volunteer to go with her for the first few sessions or as needed.
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