When a Sibling’s Abusive Behavior is Breaking the Heart of the Family

Dear Liz,

I am a college student having serious family problems centered around my high school aged sister. I don’t say this lightly, but my sister is basically an extremely narcissistic and manipulative person who has hurt me time after time. She has stolen from me more times than I can count, puts me down in any way she can, lies to me, has stabbed me in the back, and has basically taken the attention away from me, and my parents give all of their energy to her. She suffers with anxiety and depression which I completely understand contributes to why she acts like this to me. My parents also say to me that the reason I’m the target of her terrible words and actions is because she’s always been jealous of me and I understand that too. However, my parents always excuse her behavior because of her mental illness and that really hurts my feelings because they’ve always held me to a higher standard than her, even when I suffered with serious depression in high school. She never gets in trouble for her language or behavior, or even seriously abusing drugs in the way she does, but if I came home five minutes past my curfew in high school, I’d be grounded for a week. This has made it extremely difficult to come home from school ever and be in my house, and it sucks because I want to spend time with my parents, but this is making me resent them and especially my sister so much. I’ve completely lost hope in repairing my relationship with my sister (at least for now) because I don’t feel as if it’s my job to do so anymore, but how can I save my relationship with my parents and get to a place where I can enjoy coming home again without letting this affect me so much? Continue reading

Is it wrong of me to expect loyalty from my mom?

My mom’s friend’s son’s girlfriend has had a long, close relationship with my mom. The girl and I were never close; I could tell she didn’t like me. In the past she mentioned (to my mom) being jealous of me. Despite all that, I wanted us to try and be friends. I kind of felt left out. So one day, I asked my mom if I could tag along whenever they hung out. Guess I kind of inserted myself into their relationship. I soon realized her behavior was way too toxic for me. A day prior to ending our friendship, I walked outside and overheard a conversation she was having with my mom (my mom had her on speaker). She didn’t like me calling when she and my mom were together and blamed me for something I knew nothing about. She then began talking about me. My mom didn’t even say anything to her, and she knew I was standing right there. I voiced to my mom she was more concerned about hurting the girl’s feelings, than she was about setting some boundaries. The next day, my mom said she had a talk with her. I cannot for the life of me understand why she still insists on being close with her. I have expressed to her that their relationship now makes me feel angry and hurt. She’s mad that I am making her choose. I guess I am. I don’t know if I’m being ridiculous. If you need more details, please let me know. Continue reading

When Siblings Disagree: Caring for an Elderly Parent Amidst Family Discord

Dear Liz,

I have four siblings, we are all in our 50’s. My mother passed away 40 years ago. My father is now 85 with Alzheimer’s for the past 7 years. I am the youngest of the four and my father gave me his health directive 8 years ago. Now that I have become my father’s legal guardian, my eldest brother has taken the role to be the “overseer” of me and reports on me to attorneys and a trustee of my Dad’s trust, in fact insisting that I report to these people on a regular basis every email, every call, every issue. Continue reading

Blending Families: Dating as a Single Parent

Dear Liz,

For several years I have been madly in love with a wonderful man. When I found him, I was a mess and needed to work on myself, which I did, wholeheartedly. (Antidepressants, therapy, and reading). He stuck by me, the whole time, offering support. I gained a lot of strength and confidence. He’s inspired me in lots of ways to be the best version of myself. We both have children from previous relationships. His children lead a different life then mine do. I won’t get into specifics, but basically, his children need his attention constantly in ways mine don’t need me. I think his commitment to his family is wonderful, and part of the reason I respect and admire him so much. But because he is so focused on them, he has little time for me. (At this time, the idea of blending our families has not come up in conversation). I’m at a point in my life where I don’t “need” anyone. But I do want him very much. I want him to be my life partner. He’s focused on other things though. How can I show him my love and support without sacrificing myself here? He was able to show me love and patience and kindness… I want to do the same….but I also don’t want to pine away for him while he tends to his family. Continue reading

What is a home and how do I find one?

Dear Liz,

They say home is where the heart is. But I don’t know where my heart is…

My life has been one of inconsistency. I am 21 years old and already I have lived in 15 different “homes” (houses). That number doesn’t include the two separate places where both of my parents currently reside while I attend school (also not counted) on the opposite side of the country. I see them for a few weeks every 6 months, the case for the last 3 years. If I define a place I’ve lived as a place where I have a permanent bed I can call my own, the number is nearly 20. Almost one for every year that I have walked this earth. This doesn’t bother me, except the inconvenience of travel (I’ve had to drive cross-country about 4 times now, once by myself which was fun). I like to be independent.  Soon I will be faced with a strange predicament where I could choose Oregon, Nevada or New Hampshire as my state of residence. This is not where my struggle lies, though.

Small talk with peers always includes my least favorite question: So where are you from? Sometimes I say California, sometimes New Hampshire, other times I just say it’s complicated and that I’m from nowhere and everywhere. I have discovered a very interesting form of homelessness. While I am not living on the streets, I feel as though I have no real home. There is Continue reading