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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Dearest Human Who is Struggling with Their Family

You’re probably wondering if it will always be like this with your family.


It’s painful, and I’m guessing you’d like a little hope.


Since you’re reading this letter, it’s likely you care about your family and you want something better. Otherwise, you would have simply thrown them to the dust and carried on with your life without them.


"Caring Hurts" Watercolor by Jackie Schuld

You might even be frustrated that you care so much, given how they treat you.


You’re not alone in your struggle.


As a therapist, I encounter people daily who want better relationships with their family.


As a human who is part of an evolving family, I have also struggled with my family. I have cried over its various states at different points in my life. I wondered if it would always be so painful.


It isn’t. I’ve had grateful moments. I’ve had moments of awe. And I still have moments of utter frustration.


Will things change in your family?


Maybe. Fate may bring events that shift your family (a birth, a death, an illness, etc.).


I wouldn’t recommend waiting on fate though.


You may not be able to directly change your family or the individuals within it, but you can change yourself.


I’m not here to say the problem is you. I’m here to say you can do things differently so that how you feel about your family shifts.


If your family is deeply unhealthy, you can learn new strategies so that you can construct appropriate permeable boundaries and navigate out of sticky situations that bring pain (i.e. “Sorry mom, but that’s not a topic I want to discuss.”)


You can also examine your feelings related to your family. You can look at the pain that has swung your ways across many years. You can heal and resolve the impact in your own life.


These things are not easy. I do not say them lightly. It takes work. Real work. And frequently work WITH someone who can provide you insight and skills. I sought help from trusted friends, therapy, and coaches.


It did make a difference.


Is my family what I wish it would be? No. But I am also no longer as attached to that ideal image in my head. I am more capable of appreciating what exists, and navigating difficult conversations that spontaneously arise.


I am more capable of honoring myself when those around me are not.


It takes time.


If the thought of that exhausts you, listen to it. Your feelings are giving you important clues. They’re saying this is too much for you. That means it’s time to get extra support.


If you grew up in a difficult family, it’s likely you never truly learned how to take care of you.


Maybe it’s time to shift the focus from your family to you.


It’s time to take care of you.


I hope you do so, for I do not like to think of you suffering.


With Love,

Jackie

 

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