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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
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I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Relationships - Choosing Your Family

Families are…hard to deal with, any way you look at it. They consist of the people who are supposed to love you the most, care more about your welfare than anyone else, treat you more kindly than strangers, and keep you safe from the world’s evils.

But they don’t. In fact, they quite often do the opposite. Which leaves all of us feeling pretty damn confused. If my family is supposed to love me and nurture me, provide for my needs and keep me safe…but doesn’t…then how can I expect anyone else to love and encourage me, provide for my needs, and keep me safe?

That’s a question I don’t have an answer to. So I spent yesterday morning researching articles on families and the holidays, hoping to offer some sage words of wisdom in my post on family relationships, and researching took so long I used up the time I would have used writing the post. The worst part was the best advice I could come up with was…

Just say no.

That’s right…just say no. If your family is toxic…then just don’t go to those holiday events, reunions, and family affairs. Article after article after article said the same thing.
Being the kind of person who much prefers to see everyone get along, this message was rather disappointing to me. But it trumped the message boards, hands down.

And I have to admit, that if you follow the advice in my previous posts, about making friends with yourself first, before you make friends with others, and about choosing your friends wisely, and choosing to spend time only with those people who exhibit the qualities you would most like to develop in yourself—how many of us would choose our own families?

Some of us have families that are truly supportive, encouraging us to be the best person we can possibly be. Others, unfortunately, are pits of dysfunctional hell. If you have PMDD, due to the correlation between childhood abuse and PMDD, chances are your family falls more firmly into the second category. Which also means the relationship you’re in right now is probably unhealthy. Which only adds to your problems with PMDD. Like attracts like, (even if you’re opposites—you’re the same in your ability to have a healthy relationship), and if you were abused as a child, the chances are good you will end up in a relationship that is abusive in one way or another. Which will only make your PMDD symptoms worse.

I’m jumping ahead of myself here, because my next post will be about dealing with your immediate family…but the facts can not be denied…studies have shown there is a strong correlation between abusive relationships of any kind, and PMDD.

So…if you have PMDD, chances are your extended family relationships are strained, and holiday gatherings are not pleasant. Taking us back to the first relationship post, where I said relationships begin with you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn to listen to yourself, to your intuition and your body, to become more aware of your feelings about everything, and let them guide you.

Emotions are just that, emotions, and they will pass. But feelings, true feelings, will resonate in your body. If the thought of going somewhere and spending time with people you don’t like and who don’t like you fills your body with dread, churns your stomach, gives you a stress headache, puts you on edge, or makes you reach for substances that dull your pain, then yes, you need to stop and think twice about why you are doing this to yourself. Remember, if you don’t look out for yourself, nobody is going to do it for you.

If you don’t set the boundaries of what you will and won’t accept from other people in the way of behavior, be they family or strangers, nobody is going to do it for you. People with abusive personalities don’t recognize or observe boundaries—they will push and push and push as much as you let them. You can either 1) push back—which benefits no one—2) set your boundaries and quietly but firmly enforce them—which abusers will then call abuse, since you are no longer letting them have their way—3) simply refuse to engage, by not answering (unfortunately, this method has its own drawbacks) or 4) not attend any event in which you are likely to be treated with any form of disrespect.

In the end, it all comes down to you again, and how healthy you want to be. PMDD and stress are like the chicken and the egg. Nobody knows which comes first. But they do have a strong correlating relationship, and one affects the other. How you handle stress affects your PMDD and how you handle (or don’t handle) your PMDD definitely causes stress.

The best thing to do then, to get a handle on your PMDD, is to remove all sources of stress from your life. This in itself can be extremely stressful, but in the long run is much healthier than taking drug after drug to solve a problem that can not be fixed by taking drugs, no matter what the drug companies tell you.

So the same advice applies to forming or perpetuating family relationships that applies to forming and maintaining friendships—are the people you spend time with people who exhibit the positive qualities you would like to have more of in your life?

If not, then why are you spending time with them?

Sometimes you have to go out and create your own family. This works, too, because once you get right down to it, a family, like a home, is simply a place in your heart. You can create a home anywhere, and you can create the kind of family you’d like to have anywhere as well. To do that, however, you might have to first let go of the old one. Or at least limit contact with them until you are strong enough to stand up for yourself and can comfortably deal with the stress of the situation.

Until then, they’re going to keep getting to you, your PMDD will continue to worsen, and you’re going to continue to dread every family event that comes up that will be attended by people you don’t really like and wouldn’t choose as friends.

The choice, as always, is up to you. I can hear the “But you don’t understand!” comments now.

I can, and I do. Been there, done that. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fun, but I came out on the other side of it just fine, and this year, for Christmas, I had two of the best and most memorable holiday dinners I can ever remember having. I looked around and thought, This….now this is what I was aiming for all those years.

So I know it does exist.

And I wish it for each and every one of you.

Take care, God Bless, and I wish us all a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.


  1. Fantastic post as always Liana. I agree, and do tend to avoid people who stress me out. Sometimes, I can handle them, when I'm feeling strong, but if I cant, I cant.
    I have had to distance myself from certain friends I used to have, and still get a bit of backlash even now. I am glad I did it though, and my life is getting better and better. No people around me to bring me down (i'm good enough at that myself!)

    Thanks again... and Happy New Year

    Cat xx

  2. I only stumbled upon this now but oh how GRATEFUL that I did! This solidifies what I've been feeling for months now. I'm about to hit my 40's and let me tell you, most of my 20's and 30's what having to deal with my immediate family and their BS. I'm done, I'm tired, I have to look out for myself and my happiness and get rid of all the toxic relationships, related or not. THANK YOU for this!! It starts today!