Have you ever uttered this phrase? You are not alone. I have uttered this phrase many a time. In fact, this very phrase is the reason I became a Licensed Psychotherapist in the first place. As the cliche goes, I was on a quest to “figure out my family … and myself.”
But first, before we go on a self-important rampage blaming our family for being “crazy,” let’s establish one thing. If everyone in your family iits seriously crazy, chances are, you are crazy too. However, here are the most important caveats that will weed you out from the rest of ‘em:
Have you already “worked through” your crazy? Have you made changes in your life?
Do you take responsibility for things, past and present, that make you seem crazy?
Do you strive to better yourself? Have you already?
Can you acknowledge when you are wrong or do wrong to others?
If you can honestly answer a resounding “yes” to these questions, then the good news is, you have moved a LOT further along in life than your crazy family, and you now have the right to call your family crazy without categorizing yourself in that bunch. Doesn’t mean you are better than them. But it does mean you are a whole lot more mature than they are and you can learn how to have a calm, peaceful life despite their crazy.
Here is my advice to you as you seek out that calm, peaceful life:
Be Wary of Questions:
Picture your most crazy family member. Is it your self-absorbed mother? Your narcissistic father? Your controlling sister? Now, recall the last time they asked you a question.
Have you figured out yet that the question is a trap? That it’s never really a question, but more of a statement/criticism/demand? It’s disguised in the form of a question, though, isn’t it?
It took me decades to figure this out with my own family members. Questions aren’t questions. Silly me all these years for taking them at face value!
Questions asked by crazy family members are statements/criticisms/judgments/and/or demands in disguise.
Don’t fall for the booby trap of the question! If you answer the question honestly, you fell for it! First, determine what the root of the question really is. And if you feel like answering honestly, by all means do, and be prepared for any following statement/criticism/judgment/and/or demand that comes next.
But also remember, you can exercise your right to ignore a question. Yes, really! Just because someone asks you a question, doesn’t mean you must answer it!
No Matter What You Do, It Will Be Wrong, so Let that Go
Picture your most crazy family member again. It’s painful, I know, but do it. This is a critical son of a bitch, isn’t it? When it comes to the critical personality, you can’t ever do anything right.
So stop seeking their damn approval! They can’t give it to you, anyway!
No matter what you do, in their crazy mind, it’s wrong, so let it be. No matter what your personality style is, it will be wrong, so let it be.
Are you a relaxed kind of person? They see you as lazy, dependent, inefficient, messy, dirty. Are you a go-getter? They see you as controlling (all the while not realizing their own controlling nature!) Have you started standing up for yourself and being more assertive to them? Now you’re a bitch/asshole. Let it go.
Do you cut the potato length-wise? You are doing it wrong. So let it be. They think you are wrong. But don’t worry, as long as you’ve done the 4 things I mentioned above to accept responsibility for your own crazy, we all know who is really in the wrong here!
You Will Never Win an Argument, so Let That Go Too
This is my most common mistake. I’m stupidly optimistic and think that one of these days, my family member(s) will “get it” and they will see the error of their ways and see how they are hurting my feelings. That one of these days, I can rationally explain something to them about me, or about an argument we are having, or about the way I feel, and they will get it. That they will man-up and say, “I’m sorry” without getting defensive and over-explaining themselves.
Boy was I wrong all this time! What an idiot I was to think a crazy family member could ACCEPT and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their crap the way I was able to do the times I did wrong or hurt someone in my life.
If your family member is truly crazy, they will never see the way they are hurting you. They will only see the way that YOU are hurting or wronging THEM.
And be wary of any apologies you do get. It might be a fake apology just to move on from the subject. And even if it’s a genuine apology, there will be no change in future behavior. So, the same issue will keep coming up. Let it go.
Go Ahead, Tell That White Lie
Have you learned yet that, with crazy family members, it can be much easier to simply answer those trapping questions with lies? If it makes life easier to tell a white lie with your crazy family, then by all means do it!
Remember, the question that elicits the lie wasn’t really a question in the first place. So as long as the lie doesn’t harm anyone, go ahead and tell it and save yourself an argument. Especially if you know that they really didn’t want to know/couldn’t handle to know the truth in the first place.
Telling a white lie can close the can of worms that telling the truth would have unleashed.
Crazy family members can’t handle the truth. They can’t cope with it. If they could, they wouldn’t be this crazy.