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I mean really, if your own mother doesn't show you love or treats you like a child when you're 45 or tries to sabotage you in some way — how can you not want to fall on the floor in a heap and cry your eyes out?
And sadly, these relationships tend to bring out the worst in us, regardless of how evolved and self-aware we might be.
And of course, I don't need to tell you that when your family member behaves this way with you, it has very little (or more likely nothing) to do with you personally.
It's all about them, who they are, their past experiences, their unmet needs, their inability to communicate in healthy ways, their fears, etc. But if that difficult person is your mother, your father, your sibling, your child, or God forbid, your spouse, it's hard to just remember it's all about them and calmly let it roll of your back.
If one or both of our parents is toxic, not supportive, hypercritical, narcissistic, resentful, controlling, unloving, or mentally ill — it can infect your entire life and turn you from an emotionally mature adult into a wounded, infuriated child.
As you grow into adulthood and realize how difficult and hurtful your parent was when you were a child — when you couldn't understand their behavior — you'll have buckets of your own anger and resentment to sort through.
And depending on the dynamics and interactions of your own extended family, you can have other difficult family members (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents) who are regularly in your life making you miserable.
(I'm going to leave spousal relationships and relationships with your own children for another discussion, as they are your primary family unit and problems here must be handled differently.) So how can you cope with and manage these family members who are so difficult and disruptive?
Perhaps they had difficult childhoods or never learned how to express their feelings, pain, and anger in appropriate and mature ways.
Maybe they are lacking in self-esteem, they are coping with their own bitterness and regret, or they don't have the emotional strength or motivation to create positive change in their lives.
I was talking with a friend this week who was telling me about some encounters with her mother.
My friend is one of the kindest, most loving, self-aware people on the planet. I can't get over how anyone who knows my friend could treat her poorly, but dang — her own mom??!! She has spent a lifetime trying to win her mother's love and approval, but her efforts are consistently met with coldness and disapproval.
If you can intellectually understand the source of your family member's behaviors, then make an intellectual decision about how you want to treat this person in spite of their behaviors.