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Jimmy

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  1. Obligatory tl;dr warning.

    Family drama just seems to be mounting over here as of late, and I'm just wanting desperately to get away from it all.

    Right now, my mum is the only person I can stand. She has seemingly no unlikeable qualities whatsoever and is an absolute saint to all of us. I love her dearly.

    My dad, meanwhile, has recently become a ticking time-bomb of rage. If someone dares to speak while he's on a train of thought (ie. all the time because actually he never seems to stop talking) then he'll either passive-aggressively shut up, and just stew in raging silence for the rest of the day... or take out all his frustration on all of us, to the point where he thinks we all hate him and are bored by his very existence. He has some serious demons that none of us can reasonably deal with, because he lets them develop into hideous cancerous thoughts about the world around him that can't be shifted. This came to be obvious to me some time last year when, after I'd become rather frustrated with his constant negative outlook on things, he stayed up all night typing a 2,500 word "letter" detailing how I was an ungrateful little shit who didn't appreciate any of the hard work he'd ever done for me. I don't have said letter any more, but it was the most upsetting thing in the world to read. His thoughts started out fairly honest and reasonable and I initially agreed with how I may have said some wrong things to him, but those thoughts rapidly degenerated into utter madness. I could tell he'd just thought, "James is a bit of a bastard sometimes", when he'd started, but he'd just allowed increasingly fetid and horrible untruths about me and the argument we'd had to spiral out of control from that one thought, and he condensed all of that vitriol into 2,500 terrible words. I spent the whole day feeling wrecked, staying in my room away from him, and seeing no alternative but to write a rebuttal, which amounted to 4,000 words and I had to show him the following day because I spent so long on it.

    I realize this all sounds incredibly pathetic. And that things could be much worse, like he could threaten me/the rest of us with actual violence, but the fact remains that it's not normal for my dad to be able to harbor such horrible thoughts so easily, and the way he deals with those thoughts is always so incredibly detached from reality. Could he not just, like, get into an actual argument with me? That honestly would've been preferable.

    Meanwhile, my brother seems to be getting increasingly bipolar. Most of the time he's just astoundingly silly and loud, and can be heard at almost any time of the day loudly regurgitating quotes from YouTube videos, or yelling at his TF2 teammates. He also animates with Flash occasionally (which he's still learning), and does voice-overs for other people on a voice-acting board. But even though he has all these things he loves doing, and does them, every week or so we see him drag himself out of bed utterly depressed and then require a lecture on self-improvement from my dad, which won't really reach a conclusion, but will definitely bring up how he's "afraid of success" and all sorts of other stupid bollocks. Neither me or my brother currently go to school or have jobs, so we have all the free time necessary to make whatever we want of ourselves. I'm doing what I love (making music and moving towards finishing our EP) but it's as if he doesn't like doing what he loves, as weird as that sounds. I think he sees it all as work, so he procrastinates chronically. He'll also get upset at the smallest things (like people not putting the biscuit packets back in the cupboard properly - seriously) and make a massive deal out of them. And most alarmingly, today at the dinner table he revealed that he'd been dealing with homicidal thoughts that occurred because people (i.e. us) had the gall to be in his room and he wanted to be alone. But those thoughts were gone now and it was over and not worth worrying about (bizarrely, my dad concurred with this). I'm like, "no, that's actually quite disturbing" - I seriously worry about his mental well-being, sometimes, and this just compounded my concern.

    Both these things collided a couple of nights ago when my brother, outraged at how a pack of biscuits hadn't been put back properly, interrupted my dad. At that point I had a bit of an "oh, fuck" moment, because my dad got this look that I can't really describe. After my brother had made a royal song-and-dance about the biscuits, my mum tried to steer the subject back to my dad had been talking about (something actually important, related to our financial position) but he took this as another interruption in the flow of the conversation, and just exploded. He was swearing and throwing insults and making up stuff about what we thought of him, like how he was incompetent and forgetful (he made this shit up on the spot but he believed it!). He has since apologized for the outburst and tried to make amends, but parts of his tirade still hang in my mind, namely how he was so convinced that we all thought he was worthless and boring and stupid, and how when he gets into these moods he can't be reasoned with.

    [Rough translation of how it went:]
    "You all think I'm boring and worthless."
    "No, we don't."
    "See? And now you think I'm wrong and a liar."
    "No, stop being childish."
    "FUCK OFF AND LET ME SPEAK. [insert uninterrupted 4000-word argument here]"

    At the end of all this we were all (him included) emotionally drained and thoroughly upset, most of all him because he managed to divert the subject by saying (through tears at this point) that he wanted me and my brother to be successful and not have to work in a boring office job, which is his absolute worst nightmare ever. (This relates back to how he was talking about money before my brother brought up the fucking biscuits.) You may remember that I actually wanted to get a boring 9-to-5 job of that sort at some point because I just wanted to motivate myself to do better and also get some independent financial reward... but that still hasn't happened. And now it looks like if it does, my dad will see himself as a failure of a father.

    For some reason my dad's currently talking with his mum on Skype about what happened two nights ago. Which means he's going to dredge up all the emotional turmoil from what happened and get his mum to give her input, which I can't see panning out well because she's likely just going to get him all riled up again. I really hope she doesn't, because for the most part she's really nice, but does have a bit of a habit of unwittingly stirring up a good deal of family drama.

    The truth of the matter is, my dad has been on a bazillion self-improvement seminars, during which he's tried to find happiness through all sorts of neuro-linguistic programming, and even religion. But he's still the same person underneath, just unable to really emote like a normal human being. I think he's beyond therapy of any sort and it'll just be another waste of expenses. I doubt that my brother would fare any better, because they just have those kinds of brains that don't take kindly to change of routine of any sort, and just gradually reform back to their original twisted ways again. I really feel like it's autism... because honestly my brother and I had to have inherited our Asperger's Syndrome-esque tendencies from somewhere. (My brother seems to still be affected by it, but I think I've "grown past" my "borderline-AS" diagnosis now.)

    Honestly, because I want to help, but feel powerless to, it's getting to the point where I just want to be away from this family. Move. Run away. It's looking increasingly like a preferable option. I don't want to have to deal with people who are so detached from reality they see goddamn biscuits as being the worst thing in the world. It's just driving me mad, and compounding the fact that I don't feel like I live like a healthy human being in a healthy family environment.

    I'm sorry for the long post you probably don't care about. I just had to get this bile out somewhere.

    1. Show previous comments  27 more
    2. Jonathan

      Jonathan

      Your Dad? Sounds like it's a combination of long accumulated psychological stresses, a mid-life crisis, and homesickness. Really though, who can say? We can't know, because we don't have anything to go on beyond your testimony, and you can't know because you lack the objectivity or expertise to make an accurate diagnosis. Frankly, it isn't a question of what is or isn't wrong with your Dad. The issue is how you choose to behave in response, as our own behaviour is the only thing any of us really has true control over.

      Firstly though, I'd question exactly what you want to get out of posting these blogs? Do you really want advice, or simply a place to vent and get some sympathy for how shitty your situation is? If it's latter then fair enough, you're certainly entitled to sympathy, as your situation is shitty, but there's not much point the rest of us hammering away telling you what we think you should do if that's not what you're looking for.

      Presupposing you do genuinely want advice, you seem like an intelligent person, so I don't think there's much we can tell you that you won't have already considered and understood, at least on an intellectual level. Of course, there's a difference between understanding something intellectually and understanding it emotionally, and then another gap to actually acting on that knowledge. You clearly understand intellectually that it would be beneficial for you to remove yourself from the situation you're presently in, but you don't seem ready emotionally to make such a decisive break from your family, and even less ready for the practical realities of doing so.

      Others have already told you in no uncertain terms to move out and yes, if you have the means and mindset to do so, then it would likely be a good course of action. However, perhaps it isn't practical. You only arrived in the country relatively recently, don't have a high level qualification, and may not have the money or support network necessary to move out. That doesn't mean though, that you can't take actions to improve the situation and to gradually engineer the circumstances where you will be able to move out and become independent.

      Your home situation reminds me of several people I've known, less the unhinged father, who stay in the family home rather than moving out and getting their own place or going to university. They enter a state of arrested development, somewhere between childhood and adulthood, where they are ostensibly mature and independent, yet still living in an environment essentially unchanged since their youth, reliant on their parents and treated by them as somewhat less than adults. Some of them even had jobs and cars and the means to become fully independent if they chose, but remained trapped in this state simply because it was easier.

      You mentioned going to university in one of your posts, and it seems like it might offer a good solution to your predicament. It would allow you to move out without necessarily causing a breach with your family, experience greater independence within a structured environment, establish a wider network of friends and acquaintances, help develop your musical ability and give you a qualification that may help you get a job (alongside the portfolio of work you could build up over the course of your studies). The value of the qualifications attained through higher education is probably significantly less valuable that the opportunity it provides all young adults to establish themselves as a person independently from their parents. It is a pain in the arse applying to university, I remember it well enough, but if you choose to make it a priority, and can get yourself excited about the opportunity it offers, then I'm sure you can do it.

      In the short term though, the question is how you choose to deal with the situation with your Dad. Like I said, you can only control your own behaviour. Repressing your anger until it eventually boils over in some apoplectic rant isn't going to help the situation. Find a way to defuse the anger you feel, by writing, hitting inanimate objects, meditating, whatever. Change how you react to your Dad's behaviour, by choosing not to get angry. Choose to see it for what it is, a symptom of illness, and rather ridiculous in its own way. Choose to detach yourself from the situation and observe it as you would a film or TV show.

      One way to deal with the situation when you Dad does start ranting is to physically remove yourself from it. When he starts, or when it looks like he's about to, simply leave the room, leave the house and go for a walk. If he wants to know why, just calmly explain that his behaviour makes you uncomfortable and you're not going to tolerate it. Seriously, just get up and walk away, even if it's the middle of the night. Don't get angry, don't allow yourself to be drawn in emotionally by threats, demands or any other kind of manipulation, just leave. You need establish boundaries, and the easiest way you can do so is with your own behaviour.

      Don't focus on trying to "fix" your Dad's problems somehow, that isn't your responsibility. If the opportunity arises, explain to him, (again, calmly) that you think he is unwell, and should seek counselling. Don't get into an argument, trying to "prove" he needs help with examples of his behaviour, or engaging with his paranoia or delusions, simply state that you don't see things as he does, thank you won't tolerate his behaviour or even discuss it unless he can do so calmly and rationally. Remember at all times, that how you react is a choice, and at any time you can choose to remove yourself from a conversation or a situation.

      Finally, try and find activities that will get you out of the house. Whether it's taking music lessons, playing sports, joining a book club, a knitting circle, a different band, a dungeons and dragons club, online dating, volunteering for a charity, bike-riding, exploring the wilderness, visiting a library, anything that helps to regularly get you out of your home environment.

    3. Jimmy

      Jimmy

      Thanks for that post, Jonathan. I'm still trying to digest it all but it's a great help.

      I think I'm going to make a concerted effort to get myself into university by February 2014 when the next first semester starts. I'm not entirely in favor of joining mid-term, as much as I'd like to be dynamic enough to go through the application process and be in a class by July 29th. What I do until then, I'm still not sure, but I'll keep searching. There must be something to do on this big old continent that I've spent most of the last 1.5 years exploring less than 60 square miles of.

      ...

      So my mum and dad had a blazing three-hour-plus row today that went all sorts of ugly directions. It started when my dad was telling his mum about the state of the family and perhaps being overly negative about the whole thing again. My mum was very dischuffed by this, and I'm still not sure a resolution to that has been met, because my dad got really defensive. Aggressively defensive if that's even a thing. As usual, I butted out, and while I wanted to say some things, couldn't find the ability to phrase them as I felt I'd just make things worse like it usually goes. My brother got angry at the degree the argument escalated to, said some things which I thought were fair, but then he left and the argument continued. At this point in time, I don't even care if my mum and dad's marriage is currently in jeopardy. I simply cannot find it in me to summon the fucks to give. I'm emotionally dead to the situation.

      There's no need for anyone to know about that, I realize, since it's just something that happens. But I just feel really, really shitty right now as a result of having had to listen to it - this house is a rental property with only one floor and no soundproofing between rooms, so everything that goes on is heard - and I have done since the argument ended (whenever it did, I lost track).

      I am extensively going to search for other places to be than this passive-aggression-filled cesspool of emotions of a house I'm stuck in right now. Whether it's a job, or uni, or some other way of getting myself out of the house and away from my functionally-retarded family, I don't care. The time I spend alone in the house when everyone else is out is the best time I've spent recently. I eat everything, play piano, sing songs and monologue mindlessly to my heart's content, without the fear of being heard or judged by others. I realize I probably won't get to do that often, particularly when my later life comes around, so I really try to savor it.

      Is it weird to absolutely love to a stupid extent the idea of being completely alone, that you're in an isolated-enough situation where your actions are neither seen by nor affect anyone in the entire universe?

    4. Cupboard

      Cupboard

      To your last point, no. I'm going to assume you are an introvert. A person with a rich inner life who prefers to have a close circle of acquaintances and a closer circle of friends. There are many advantages to having this trait in a business/educational setting. People will listen to what you have to say because you don't fill everyone's ears with small talk or display questionable judgment every chance you get. Being detached has its advantages; namely you don't rush into wasting money/resources or advising your employers to make frivolous expenditures. In an educational setting it's more difficult because western universities subscribe to the "group think" ideal, causing them to value group work, joining extracurricular activities, and anything that falls under the category of "getting involved".

      When people around me enter into meltdown mode is when I personally have to bring out my extroverted qualities. This involves speaking in multiple sentences, holding someone's mental hand as I walk them through my train of thought, assuring them along the way that I'm not 100% detached from the crisis but would prefer to calmly see all the bases get covered without forgetting anything.

      In my opinion you should take selected passages from the posts here and prepare a brief statement to present at those maligned family meetings.

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