In my family, I have the clash of two different worlds. My dad's family is loving, stable and steady as a rock. They cry with me when I am sad and rejoice in my accomplishments. I have no doubt that they have read every article that I have written to date and probably have them printed out and tucked away in a pride of place . Most of all, I know that I can trust them. Another side of my family is the other extreme. They are a dysfunctional family not by choice, but rather by default. They would be the last people in the world to see this in themselves. As with many dysfunctional families, denial cuts deeply. The roles of scapegoat, hero, saint and caregiver are all played out. These roles often change depending on who is "in the loop" and when the others decide that someone in the family needs to be pulled "back into line." It is played out by isolating the" nonconformist" by gossiping about them, lying and threatening them.The cycle continues when the much maligned nonconformist picks up the" family rope" to tow the line in the interest of keeping the peace. They do so while ignoring the past and realizing that their decision to conform with the status-quo always comes back to haunt them. These particular family members had been falling out and in with each other and engaging in self-created dramas for longer than I have been alive.
I took my fair share of psychology classes in college, but for many years I could not apply it to my own extended family dynamic. I was too close to the situation to really understand what was taking place under my own nose. It was only after I received a serious threat for befriending an innocent person, did it ever occur to me to dust off my Psychology books. I didn't realize that it would answer many of my questions or that I was taking my first baby step towards breaking the cycle. I had to realize the seriousness of the situation and I had to acknowledge that dysfunction had been in my family for generations. The irony is...
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