Family turned against me


Family turned against me


your avatar   Jane Doe, 51-year-old woman

I am recently divorced and have an 11-year-old daughter living with me. Alcoholism is in my family. Depression is killing me.

I marry verbal abusers. I feel abandoned by all. My family has decided it was best to put me away and have my daughter go to her dad, who is going through chemotherapy right now. I am sober and so is he.

I don't speak to my family anymore and my husband is making threats and telling me the same things he always has: I'm insane and he wants to put me away. The thing is, I am starting to have vengeful thoughts, and am very depressed. I hate me and everything about me.

My daughter is healthy emotionally, but very dependent on me. I have been around AA for 20 years. So I try to do my best. I have done pretty well, I think. But the pain is so much - I can't bear it anymore. I want to give up so bad. I'm tired of the crazy fights and anger. I am so depressed. I hate me, my siblings, my ex and his family. I am so angry with God, you can't imagine. And I feel completely abandoned.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

"Jane" my dear,

Anyone in your position would feel terrible. Your husband is wrong: that does not make you insane. The fact that you've stayed sober for 20 years speaks volumes.

I cannot help you to change your situation, or to offer practical advice on what you should do. Nor do you need such advice: you are the expert in your life, and no one else can speak about that. However, I may be able to point you in the way of reducing your distress and despair.

God is not responsible for your suffering. He has given us free will, and your relatives are exercising theirs in a way that has been damaging for you. The secret is that the stuff you say to yourself is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Language is magic. If you say, "God has completely abandoned me," then you will feel completely abandoned, and angry with God.

The Koran was inspired by the same God as the Bible. In there is a story about a farmer who woke up one morning to find his cow dead. He started shouting, "Allah, why do you do this to me? This is so unfair! I am a good man. I pray 5 times a day, give generously to charity, I am kind to all around me, and love my family."

As he was shouting this, he noticed an angel approach. The angel said, "Allah sent me to you with a message. Last night, the Angel of Death had an appointment to come into your house and take your wife. Because you have been such a good man, Allah sent me and I stood in his path. However, when the Angel of Death comes, he must take something with him. That's why he took your cow."

I assume that the farmer loved his wife more than his livelihood, as represented by the cow. The moral of the story is of course that we little humans have a restricted frame of reference. Perhaps, if you had the whole picture, you could understand and accept your misfortunes. So, you could change your inner dialogue to something like, "God never gives you something you cannot bear. Maybe my terrible situation is here as a learning opportunity. If I can get through it with wisdom and strength, I will have grown as a spiritual being, and be better for the experience."

Again, don't worry about my specific wording. Make up your own. But thinking like this is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your negative, angry thoughts are probably a long-standing habit, and habits are difficult to change. However, you HAVE changed other entrenched habits, like abusing alcohol. If you could do that, and stick to it for 20 years, then you can do this. Apply the 12 Steps to this habit change as well.

And here is a second secret. When you can think in a positive, strong, accepting way much of the time, other people's reactions to you will change. And so, in the long-term, my suggestion may end up being very practical indeed in improving your situation.

When you see your daughter again, give her a hug from me: I am a professional grandfather.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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