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Have I done the right thing?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by thecomputer, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Sorry I'm not sure if this is appropriate for this forum, but I thought it might help me, as the people on this forum tend to be very thoughtful and considered :)

    Without going into too much detail...

    My cousin has been in a dark place for a long time, and on and off through his whole life. He is extremely volatile and since we were kids he always smashed things and flipped out when things got difficult. The last 7 years or so have been riddled with drugs of all kinds, lots of alcohol, arrests in various countries for smashing hotels etc. He hasn't been totally sober for any substantial period of time. Last year his mum/my aunt died of cancer and he hasn't dealt with it well.

    I thought I would go and live with him in his mum's house for a couple of months, to help him move out and sort stuff, but also because I felt the need to get away myself.

    I have listened endlessly to his rants, his constant negativity and extreme bitterness to anyone who is remotely happy. I have to take deep breaths constantly to not challenge him. It feels like he uses me to purge all his negativity without any thought to my wellbeing, let alone my voice/throat pain (which is my TMS problem!). It's all about him all the time.

    If I do challenge him and maybe reflect back some of the things he is doing to make things worse or drive people away, which I do very gently, he will get angry and break something. He always walks out after losing it. It always scares the hell out of me. He never says sorry, he rarely says thankyou or anything nice to me, or asks me how I am. I have talked for hours and my throat has been in agony, and I tell him I need to stop because of that, and he doesn't care at all. Everyone is too scared to say anything to him so he never really learns to do things differently, although on some level he must know it's not ok.

    In one way he is completely attached to me, and depends on me as one of the closest people to him, yet he also behaves in a way that makes it impossible to be around.

    Last night he talked and I listened for hours, all about him, everything I suggest he just says 'yeah but...'. I have tried just hearing him and saying I understand, just being there, but he is never talking about the core feelings, he just talks negatively about what's wrong with the world and his life. He is so caught up in the tragic story he is telling himself. He has no gratitude for all the things he has in his life, and he has everything you could I want materially, and people who care about him. Every time he was struggling with an emotion he pours another glass of vodka. It's so hard to watch.

    Then he was listening to loud music and making weird noises, shouting, and he's kept me up before doing this. I said if he was going to do it I would stay elsewhere, but he says he would stop. I heard him banging things outside, maybe the car, hitting things, it felt like he was trying to get me to come out. I did go out and tell him I was trying to sleep, and I was in a panics hearing all the crashing. He was just in his boxers and had been self harming which is a more recent development...but it's so hard to see. He said he would be quiet but was wasted.

    I went back to bed and basically didn't sleep for hours, hearing him smashing bottles against walls and self destructing. I was so angry this morning but as usual unable to voice anything for fear of more drama.

    As always he did not say anything, just moped around feeling hungover and sorry for himself. He never says sorry, I wonder if he even thinks he has done anything that might affect me, being so self involved.

    The day has been horrendous, my throat pain is worse than is been in so long, talking is hard, I felt emotionally spent.

    He knows I was meant to be leaving in a couple of days for good which he has known all along. I always knew he would lose it when I left, I was dreading it and it's happened.

    So this evening I told him if he wanted to repeat last night I couldn't stay around. He mumbled that I should go then. I explained a little about how difficult it is to be around but he nearly flipped out and said I was guilt tripping him, and he'd rather be alone than feeling guilty. I really was in no way trying to guilt trip him, just saying how I felt and expressing stuff that I've bottled up forever. He would barely look at me. He was about to go to the shop and buy alcohol.

    I felt the need to try one last time. So I asked him if he would just get one beer, take a valium and we could watch a movie and take it easy as I didn't want to leave it like this. But he said no he didn't want that. So he just chose to self destruct.

    I packed up everything I own, and I'm now sitting in the packed car somewhere not too far away! I am going to stay somewhere and then tomorrow I will go back to my home town a few hours away.

    I feel a mix of extreme relief and extreme guilt. I was so nervous there and actually beginning to feel scared, I'm unsure exactly what of, definitely that he might kill himself, but also that he might hurt me. When he has knives on his table and is cutting himself and is so out of it he's not in control I can't help but imagine anything could happen.

    It feels therapeutic just to write his down, as I don't have anyone around close by, and I've been dealing with this all alone in a big house in the middle of nowhere for far too long.

    I guess in some ways I'm looking for some confirmation I did the right thing, or did what I could, because the guilt is really getting to me. I could stay with him, but he does not respond to my offerings of help, and I would have to endure nights of torment and abuse.

    It's so hard to walk away, but I genuinely think me being there wasn't helping and possibly enabling him to get worse.

    If anyone else has experiences with living with destructive people, addicts, people whose self harming or smash things, maybe they could share anything that helped them deal with it.

    I feel quite lost and conflicted. Thanks for listening I really appreciate it, and I said it wouldn't be long and of course it's a huge post!

    Thanks :)
    Lily Rose likes this.
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    I'm up to my eyeballs right now, technically on hiatus but touching base with my inbox and by happenstance I read your post and so you must forgive my rough and ready response.

    Get the hell out. Do not look back. Do not engage. Just leave.

    Some folk are irreparably damaged. They have 'personality disorders'. They are crazy-makers. They do not care. They do not comprehend the harm and hurt they cause. You cannot fix them, help them or change them. They are not your responsibility.

    I appreciate how crushing that may sound to a good and gentle soul like yourself but your love and light is best served by investing in people who are capable of reciprocity. You deserve that.

    Some people are black holes of hatred, bitterness, resentment and rage and they will take you down with them. You cannot save them nor should you try.

    God bless you for trying though. Such a beautiful and hopeful gesture possesses more gold and kindness than most hearts dare dream of. The best thing to do now is let him go and let yourself be at peace.


    Plum x
  3. I agree with Plum. There is nothing you can do to help as much as it it hurts to watch him self-destruct.
    He didn't ask for your help and he doesn't want it. You are wasting your time and energy.
    Ines likes this.
  4. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thank you for your replies.

    I feel the need to defend him now, as I don't believe he is irreparably damaged or unable to reach a state where he could be ok. Of course my post only shows that dark side of him, but he has in teh past had periods of being more stable, and although always been incredibly self involved, we have shared many good times together. In some way i always felt responsible for him as he is so fragile.

    I know he is just incredibly scared. I have been in some extremely dark places myself, near suicidal....and I know at that point I could not see good in teh world, in people...I was frustrated and angry with everyone. yet I managed to contain it and not take it out on others, which is where we differ.

    I do agree with you both that I am unable to help now despite my best efforts, but I do not like to write anyone off, especially someone close to me as 'beyond help'. I don't care much for the labels and acronyms that everyone gets pigeon holed with, we all suffer in similar ways... he is just at the bottom of the barrel, swimming in anger, regret, shame, guilt, fear and all the rest. Dont we all feel these things?

    Yes he needs to accept he has a serious problem, and find a way to accept help and also to take responsibly for himself, but I have to believe he can get better.

    I appreciate your replies :)
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I completely understand and respect your insight into the personal nature of the relationship. All I can say is as someone who has been abused and quite recently sexually assaulted, that an integral part of my healing has been to face up to the elements within me that rendered me vulnerable time and again to predators.

    Forensic psychology does not casually label people. It recognises patterns derived from catastrophic experience. Everyone has their story (the backstories of serial killers are exemplary distillations of this). At one point I seriously considered moving into forensic psychology (doubtless driven by an unconscious drive to fathom why and what had happened to me), and my fascination lead to much exploration of the subject. I decided against it because I did not wish to be immersed in that world. It would be another 25 years before I truly and deeply engaged the reality and emotional wounds of my encounters with people guilty of acts no decent soul should have knowledge of. My most terrifying moment in recent years was giving evidence in court. These things tend to make one take stock.

    I accept that my position now comes less from naivety and a tendency to minister to lost souls (my parents were good people who took others into their hearts and home to help, a charitable gesture I have oft repeated), and more from strength and clarity. I thank God for it and for compassion it gifts me with.

    For me these situations are boundary issues and are integrally tied to self image and self esteem. I appreciate that may not be the case for you. I suspect any woman who has read 'Women Who Love Too Much' will understand where I am coming from here.

    I wish you and him well, and hope all works out. I would rather have overshot in my reply to you than risk the greater harm that some people are capable of by not speaking out.
    Lily Rose, MWsunin12 and Ines like this.
  6. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thanks plum

    I'm sorry for what you have had to deal with, and it seems you've dealt with if the best way you can. Of course none of us can know the intricate nature of each others lives from forum posts, and again it's my experience of the story.

    I agree completely that it's about boundaries and knowing when to get out of situations that are potentially incredibly damaging, emotionally or physically.

    Up until recently I only ever thought my cousin was a danger to himself, and in many ways I still do. But when alcohol I heavily in the mix I don't really trust many people. It brings out people's darker and more violent side.

    Thanks for your support....and confirming that I've probably done the best thing by stepping back :)

    Time for some much needed sleep !
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sleep is the ultimate healing balm and I hope you have slept like a babe.

    I feel it would be remiss of me not to bring this discussion full circle by neglecting the obvious TMS ramifications. The gift of intense and trying situations is how they hold a mirror to our psychological face. It's a beautiful opportunity to step back from the persona and let our darkness shine through. I have long felt that Sarno's work is more greatly enriched by Jung's theories (as opposed to Freud) because Jung eloquently described not only our personal shadow but our collective shadow.

    There are many rich questions circling addiction, and as you mentioned earlier we all have experiences of sinking pretty low. How much we can extrapolate from them into the nightmare of alcoholism, substance abuse and the like is something to reflect upon. Those are specifics unique to each case. More generally speaking it does well to consolidate matters in terms of chaos and order.

    The yin~yang is the perfect form for this. You know it well. The spot of order within the lick of chaos and the spot of chaos within the lick of order. Mastery is achieved in the balancing.

    Some people are chaotic. Dangerously so. This I know because I long lived there. For me bringing the spot of order to bear was/is the counterpoint. Others, particularly the overly conscientious, may need a touch of chaos to loosen their obsessive hold on consensus reality. To each their own.

    I had to step back from trying to rescue and save people. It's a discipline I have to maintain else I get dragged back into chaos. I've done a lot of shadow-work on this and I find this to be a key to healing. One of the best things you can do for a person in chaos is to be a powerful, stable, balancing force for the good. A calm eye in their storm. You don't go in there to fix things, to help them, to save them, you simply are someone they know who is reliable, strong and emotionally well-balanced. You hold your centre and in so doing you help them to find theirs.

    It's all grist to the healing mill :)
    Lily Rose and Ines like this.
  8. hodini

    hodini Peer Supporter

    I could not agree more with Plums initial post. GET OUT!
    It is obvious that you care for this person. Yet, it would be advisable to recognize you are perilously close to the event horizon of this black hole. Save yourself.

    Because of your personal relationship with this person, you are not the one to be attempting to aid them. I know this sounds counter intuitive but it is true.

    Despite your good intentions, the both of you will be well served by removing yourself from the mix.

    Bottom line is, this persons relationship with drugs and alcohol superceeds anything you may have to offer them.

    I have personal experience with this having spent several years in a relationship with an alcoholic. This was well over 15 years ago. She is still fighting her demons after 5 stints in rehab, countless court appearances, jail etc.

    It is heartbreaking to see someone you care about activley try to destroy themselves. It will destroy you in the process if you do not remove yourself and stay removed. There s no happy ending at this point. You obviously do not feel safe in that Enviornment. Take heed of what that feels like and protect yourself.

    Educate yourself on the pitfalls of addiction, with particular attention to how it affects those around the addict.

    Understand that it is possible to be in a relationship with a great person who is also an addict. But that the addiction makes any semblance of a healthy relationship virtually impossible.

    While the internet may be a good source for initial information, you would surely benefit from some in person support. You need to look into someone's eyes who understands your current plight.

    It is extremely rare for me to use the phrase "you need" to someone, especially a stranger, I have tried to find other words but have not been successful, given your description your situation is dire.

    My thoughts are with both you and your cousin.
    Lily Rose and Ines like this.
  9. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    The sad result of alcoholism and drug addiction is that it makes people completely selfish.

    I don't think you should give up on him, but I also will say this to you: One body. One soul. He is going to have to take care of his own "soul." You should, too. I don't mean this in religious terms. I would use "soul" for his "being."
    I think he is steeped in self-shame about being given opportunity and having blown it again and again.
    You will not help him to have self-esteem by being an outlet for his denial.
    He may not make it, but he definitely won't make it with people picking up the pieces for him or being hesitant to set boundaries. In fact, probably a lot of his anger comes in the form of resentment towards his "rescuers."

    I would venture to say that he is using you as a distraction from the truthful stuff that is coming up for him.
    It's a kindness for you to leave. No one can predict what he may do...and certainly people have done substance abuse to death, but he's not going to wake up and grow up until everyone stops doing for him and he sits in the chaos he has created.

    I wish you well...FOR YOU! You need wellness for your yourself. You are lovely. There is no need for you to be in pain. Don't take his on.
  10. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    Thanks to all of you for your replies, its helpful.

    Plum, what you say about a spot of order in chaos and a spot of chaos in order makes a lot of sense. In many ways I am the opposite in that I have always been very controlled, probably why I got TMS! I have had some serious breakdowns, but even then I was just reduced to a quiet and reclusive mess, never really letting it externalise.

    Hodini I think you are right, sometimes its doing what feels counterintuitive, such as stepping away. But the doubt creeps in so quickly, especially if they start behaving a bit easier again. And MWsunin, I agree that maybe he does resent many of us for our attempts to help.

    Thats the odd thing, I would understand if he was difficult to people who were trying to support him if he didnt want it and felt smothered. But he craves it and becomes incredibly dependant on me, otehr family members, friends, yet treats us all the same. It's as if we are only there to serve him when he needs it, yet he wont accept it.

    I actually have lived in a community for people recovering from addiction and various mental health issues for a year and a half! I have met so many addicts, and a lot of them have ended up dying or killing themselves, and the vast majority relapse at some point. the big difference is that they have all been incredibly sweet people, trying their best to recover and get well. I didnt ever see the bitterness and disdain, and selfishness in most of them that I see in my cousin. But maybe that is the difference between being ready to get help and not being ready. Also, I imagine many of them would have been much more difficult to the people closest to them.

    Thanks again for everyones input....hopefully things will work out ok. Even after me leaving the other night, and how difficult it wsas between us, I emailed the day after just to say I really hopes he finds a way through it. He responded as if nothing had happened, he never actually talks about it! Its infuriating for me. But its another reason why its time to step back

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