Anxiety attack over family conflict..advice please

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by hopeful4, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Can you help? I'll try to get to the essence of the problem without being too long.

    My condition: Weak, detoxing, treating lyme, increased fatigue and fog, low stamina. This isn't likely to change anytime real soon.

    Also experiencing increased anxiety, fear, and worry over upcoming visit by my daughter from out of state.

    Why? Daughter and I have always been close and caring. Last year she got married. Our family, esp. immediate family, is not too big on her husband (he is not coming). She is totally in love.

    I wouldn't want to ever hurt her for the world, but, a big explosion happened the morning of her wedding (totally out of character for me), and since that time has not been resolved.

    Said son-in-law is difficult for us to be around. He is dismissive, arrogant, insulting, and manipulative. His innappropriate sexual comments and actions have disturbed us.

    I did bring these things up to my daughter months before the marriage (kept thinking: should I? shouldn't I?), but she did not see it at all. In the days before the wedding, tension around this grew. I had an anxiety attack and melt-down the morning of the wedding, and all of our concerns came up again, including confrontation by myself and other family members, not the best timing.

    OK. I've been saying the Serenity Prayer a lot. I cannot change it, I can only change myself. I'm praying a lot about this.

    So, due to all of the above and more, my son, her brother, is so angry at his new brother-in-law (he was insulted by BIL, saw through BIL, observed some inappropriate sexual behaviors, and does not want his sister married to BIL), that I'm afraid things might explode when sister visits.

    My son and I have a loving relationship, but talking is difficult. He does have valid feelings about this. However, it's almost impossible to talk to him, he justs gets angry and either walks out or shuts down about it. (He's all grown up and lives on his own.)

    He has resentments about past hurts, and although he does love his sister, and she him, they have a sibling rivalry backlog, and there's a LOT of tension. It feels like an explosion waiting to happen between us all, and I JUST CAN'T HANDLE IT.

    Aside from not wanting to be around a volcanic eruption, my fears are that my kids will push/pull me into taking sides, or that a possible very hurtful schism could occur which would estrange us. That's just too much to handle.

    Daughter and SIL are married. It's going to stay that way for quite some time. I don't want to drive her away, but I feel so uncomfortable around SIL.

    In the past, I've gone to counseling for all of this, helped a little, but I can't manage the "talk" therapy right now.

    All of you wise ones out there...what's your advice?

    Blessings to you,
    [This Message was Edited on 03/03/2006]
  2. Jana1

    Jana1 New Member

    I think you should just stay on a loving mom and daughter relationship and agree to disagree...but keep lines open. I don't think you should say ONE word against sil..if she does, don't comment, just listen.

    As far as for your son and his sister...if ANTHING starts...say...if you two want to talk..please go somewhere else from the house. I love you both, but I will not be in YOUR relationship.

    Keep activites light and fun...maybe doing a photo album or make cards or make anything together! Ask her about her job, her old friends, anything but discuss him.

    Just my ideas, Jana
  3. kdeenak

    kdeenak New Member

    I hate it when there is tension within the family. I feel for you. I grew up in a tension filled family filled with abuse and yelling and fighting. I know that is not YOUR situation, but I understand the conflict aspect.

    All you can do for now, in my opinion, is seperate the siblings. You are in no position to be referee to the two of them. If your son can't be around her without exploding, then maybe he should avoid her. I know even that might cause some tension, but it would be better than having a knock down drag out fight. I mean he could talk to her about his feelings, (maybe one-on-one would be best, away from you) but only if he can control his emotions. Is she going to be staying with you?

    It is sad that she has married a man who seems to be so unhealthy for her, but until she sees him for what he is, there is really nothing you can do. She is an adult and it is her decision. We make a lot of stupid mistakes as young adults. We think we know everything and no one can tell us what to do. Then we look back on it with regrets. I think at the time I made some of the really stupid, even borderline dangerous relationship mistakes I made, if someone had pulled me aside and said something to me, it would have just made me absolutely furious because I thought I knew what I was doing at the time, but in reality I didn't know anything--however no one could tell me what to do, i had to learn for myself.

    It is a tough situation, and I know it is tough because that is your daughter and you don't want to see her getting hurt, and it sounds like she is so it is hard to be quiet about it. If she brings up her relationship, of course I would talk to her about it in a calm manner. Just try not to tell her what to do, offer a shoulder to cry on, and listen to her, and offer advice if she asks.


  4. Dee50

    Dee50 New Member

    How about reading some of Barbara Johnson's books. They help me so much in dealing with anxiety. She writes so I can find the humor in my anxiety and I always feel better after I read some of her writtings.

    If we can find some humor than we're half the way If I can find the humor than I have JOY and I'm not stuck with the anxiety. I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say:)
    Take care
    [This Message was Edited on 03/03/2006]
  5. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    You can only counsel, not criticise. Try saying two positive things about anyone prior to one negative.

    You know your daughter will know if her DH is a jerk, and probably will not need reminding. This is one of those hold your tongue moments for sure.

    Even if she starts criticising him herself, just keep saying you are sorry that is how it is, how can I help? rather than joining in.

    On the hopeful side, maybe your daughters influence will change him????

    Love AC
  6. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    You can only counsel, not criticise. Try saying two positive things about anyone prior to one negative.

    You know your daughter will know if her DH is a jerk, and probably will not need reminding. This is one of those hold your tongue moments for sure.

    Even if she starts criticising him herself, just keep saying you are sorry that is how it is, how can I help? rather than joining in.

    On the hopeful side, maybe your daughters influence will change him????

    Love AC
  7. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Thank you all so much. Just talking about it helps a lot. Conflict has always been hard for me, even pre-illness.

    Jana, you are right in saying I don't want to be "in" my kids relationship. I've tried to be more removed, sometimes it works, sometimes not; but just holding that image in my mind should set a tone.

    Deena, I really hear you. The same for me, I've made choices that were less than good, that no one could have ever stopped me from. Yes, we all have to go through life and learn many lessons on our own, even if they hurt.

    Dee, I will try to get one of the books from my library, I could use some humor on this subject for sure.

    Grg and Cromwell, yes I do have to accept my daughter's choice, and leave the criticism behind. I once asked someone what their advice was for me, just in a general way, for becoming a new mother-in-law. She made a motion across her mouth with her hand and said: duct tape!

    Just knowing that you all understand, and are helping me get re-focused on "accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you can" is worth a million, at least.

    Acceptance, creating boundaries, non-judgement, unconditional love...I will focus my efforts on these, and let the fear and anxiety loose.

    Thanks so much. (((((Hugggggs))))),

  8. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Another thing is that I know my DD is going to ask me direct questions about how I view her marriage, and all that has happened. I really DO NOT want to repeat everything that's already been said, that's pointless.

    She is going to want to know how I feel about her DH and why is it that our family is not supportive, when his is...etc. (That's another fear...his family is really nice, am I driving her away?)

    I don't want to dig a deeper grave. I do want to be honest without re-hashing the whole situation.

    So, what can I do to make this visit more about healing our relationship, and less about being grilled? More about being the Mom I've always been, and less about being some kind of evil MIL?? I'm thrown here.

    I've always been the quiet, accepting, nurturing type. I'm very out of my comfort zone. I'm also going through major detox, and lyme treatment, including some tough mental health balancing.

    I know you all understand. Blessings to all.
  9. neen85

    neen85 New Member

    Say,my Dear,I hope that time will allow you to figure that one out for yourself. Remember whrn you are not near,how much we all love you and that you are in our hearts. As somebody above pointed out,no matter what you say now,she will not see it. Daneen
  10. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Thank you Neen. That's exactly what I want her to know. She is a loving, caring person. She's been so supportive of me through this illness, lyme, and breast cancer, and financial crisis, and more.

    I do just want her to know that we love her very much, always, and want her to find her best self and highest happiness. Isn't that what every mother wants for her children? I will definately keep this in my mind.

    The things I normally do to stay in the present and centered do not seem to be helping as much as usual.
    My reserves are so low, it's after lunch and I still haven't brushed my teeth. My center of gravity is weak and lost.

    I've always relied on my spiritual side to center me and lift me up. I'm the girl with the affirmation cards written up, and the evening mediation tapes rolling. I'm the one who turns to yoga and qigong for physical and spiritual help. I talk and pray to G-d all day, like he/she is with me.

    But I'm feeling so weak and low. I'm so sensitive to the energy of those around me, I easily fall apart, or get irritated, over just nothing. I feel like I've lost even more levels of control over my emotions and behavior.

    I know it's part of my treatment process, and detox, and whatever, but that doesn't make it any easier to live with, and try to function with some level of balance (Libra that I am).

    Thanks for listening, and for offering your support. I'm going to write up a few new affirmation cards, in color, and focus on keeping it all simple and real.


  11. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    I think that your daughter may meaningfully try and draw you into discussing things in a negative way, sometimes our kids do this so they can dig out some positives to defend the situation, but you must stay above it for sure. You could say something like, "Oh I really care about you and I want you to know I will always be there if you are in a crisis, but I just don't feel comfortable giving you advice right now honey as it is between you and your husband. Let;s just try and forget all this stuff and have a good time, as you know men will be men, and we women will never change them, they can only change themselves.

    It occurs to me that the more he can see a good functioning family the more he will see that is the norm. So if he calls and you answer, try and be bright and welcoming, no matter what, as guess what, you know that you will get the blame from him if the marriage fails, so stay above it all. I know it is hard.

    I am blessed with the best MIL in the world as she does not like housewor, or cooking and is a poet and writer, so I never have any fears around her. I used to intimidate her though, when we first met asn she saw me as this superwoman type stealing her son away. That passed, and we are the very best of friends and have been for 20 years. When I think if either of us had let that first impressionable year
    cloud the rest of our relationship, then we would each be mising a bets friend right now. She is 80 this year and so young and carefree, was playing tennis daily till last year when she broke her arm, she skis too, wears a bright pink hat and is just always so great.

    In the Uk we say mum not mom so mum is the word.......(LOL)
    Good luck and stop stressing yourself out with this go with the flow dear.

    Love Anne C ps it occurs to me that a little note to him saying how ill you have been and wanted to apologise for ever saying anything that may have caused upset may be a good step too, I know this is hard but it beats bearing grudges. My SIL gardly speaks to me even though I know she cares for me due to a grudge she has held for 19 years.
    [This Message was Edited on 03/04/2006]
  12. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Thank you Cromwell, for your words of wisdom. I'm trying to take a deep breath, and "be here now". The anxiety gets to me easily at this time.

    I did apologize to my daughter and her husband in a sincere way afterwards. I'm going to try to just enjoy being together, and do what we've always done.

    I know what you mean about grudges, they really do no good. Your MIL sounds like a wonderful, lively person.

    There's some kind of saying that what we focus our energy on is what we get. So I'll work to shift my energy in favor of the positive, the good, the enjoyable, and the present. Thanks.


  13. Shananegans

    Shananegans New Member

    Just curious, is your daughter's husband not joining her because of how you and your family feel about him? Or is it because he can't because of previous obligations, work, etc? Or is it to give daughter time with mother?

    I know my mom has always been really good about hating my bad boyfriends, and hiding it until the end and believe me, it has always been appreciated. I can't imagine how difficult that is for a mom! My mom and I have always been best friends, but she's definitely a mother first. I know there have been quite a few that she's been thankful I didn't marry... just to throw some humor in there...

    My best advice is to try your best to search for the good points in her DH, whether or not he cares for her, loves her, and is there for her... He may be coarse to deal with but as long as he loves her and would never do her wrong, then maybe her good up-bringing will rub off on him eventually. Also, to point out, of course his family is supportive, they got the good end of the deal by the sounds of it... not to help with the negativity but maybe to add some laughter... they got to add your daughter to their family and in return you got their foul mouthed son... sorry... but it's something to think about. Okay, back to positive things... With son and daughter, brother and sister, my brother and I are also as close as my mom and I are... I love him dearly now that we are adults (I am 26 and he's 21) but there has also been a boyfriend I had that he didn't like, but he took it in stride and tried to find the good things in that particular case... and waited til we broke up to pull out the "I told ya so's". Maybe this advice will work for your son, to support her choice, do his best and leave everything else for if something does go wrong and then be there then to, to support but always know to himself he was right.

    I hope this all works out for you, family anxiety is always tough, but usually each part rises above and remembers that family is always first and foremost.

    Best wishes!
  14. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Thank you for your reflections and advice. I will take them to heart.

    I think the reason SIL isn't coming is a combination of both work obligations and the family tension.

    Yes, there are good points, they have a lot of common interests, they get along well, they have tons of friends, he is hard-working, is generous to family and community, he supports her in pursuing her interests, he loves her.

    To support her choice and be there for her is the essence of the issue. Thank you for putting it so well.

  15. hopeful4

    hopeful4 New Member

    Yes, protecting myself from the stress of it all is critical for me right now. I'm fragile physically and emotionally.

    I've heard of the book you mentioned, Boundaries, so I'll see if my library has it. Can you tell me who the author is? That's what I told my husband the other day, that I must have those boundaries.

    Someone above mentioned that I should let my kids know that they can take their conflict between themselves to another location (if that occurs), and that I love them both, and will not "take sides". Good advice. (Isn't that creating boundaries?)

    Thanks for your suggestions, be well,
    [This Message was Edited on 03/05/2006]
  16. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    where it did any good to criticize a prospective spouse. Some people seem determined to pick a terrible partner.

    My brother always has girlfriends who believe in the occult, who (if they work at all) do something like teach clog dancing 2 nights a week, who have a history of relationships w/ abusers, addicts, etc.

    Finally in his 50's he married one. She had three adult children. One of them, the drug addict, moved in with them and stole everything not chained to the wall. I predicted this mess would last 6 months. Actually it was over in half that time.

    But I never criticized her to him, so at least he didn't get mad at me.

    I live thousands of miles away from my dysfunctional, toxic relatives. I stay out of their entanglements.
  17. Shananegans

    Shananegans New Member

    Just wanted to let you know I read your reply and I'm always happy to help anyone with my little tidbits and stories. I hope all goes well.

    Take care,

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