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    Dear Anita, thank you for getting back to me 🙂

    I definitely don’t expect my parents to be the kind of support system I need at this point in time. And yes, unfortunately, I do still have some anger/resentment toward my family. I actively try and work on this though so I really appreciate spaces like these where I can talk about it. As I said, I think everyone is just trying to do their best with who they are, so it’s more productive to focus on myself and on what I can change for myself.

    “Personally, I know that I need to go beyond doing the best with who I am (as in being a constant, remaining the same): I need to become more of who I am: more understanding, more patient, etc. – this really resonated with me – I’m the same way. I once heard a therapist say that some people have the emotional capacity of a tall glass but others only have a teacup-sized emotional capacity. So often, the people with a bigger emotional capacity give much more and expect more in return. Only they can’t get it all back because the teacup-sized capacity people can only give as much as a teacup.

    I think this really helped me put into perspective the relationship I have with my family. It helped me manage my expectations of them and also taught me to not pour all of myself out. I hope this makes sense.

    Many if not all of the reasons for losing the work gigs had to do with circumstances and conditions out of your control, right? – yes this was generally the case. It’s challenging to not be in control or feel like you don’t have control. Esp when it comes to practical things like jobs/work/income etc. I’m sure many people are experiencing this right now.

    My suggestion: add goals in regard to what you do have control over, and make these your primary goals.- when you say primary goals, do you mean breaking them down into smaller, daily goals? So for example: let’s say I need to look for work, a primary goal would then be to search and apply for at least one job a day. Something like this?

    I’m also interested in hearing your thoughts about feelings of powerlessness and feeling like a victim. I sometimes struggle to keep these feelings at bay, esp when things are out of my control.


    Dear Roberta,

    Thanks so much for your advice! I do agree with you when you say you don’t have to share the same DNA to be a family. I have often found kindness among strangers, so this rings true.

    I think going on a retreat is a good idea. Grounding myself before the new year could help me change my perspective. Thank you for suggesting it.


    Hi Anita, it’s good to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed response, I appreciate it.

    To be honest, I’ve worked a lot on my relationship with my parents these past 2 years. I’ve set some boundaries and honestly expressed my feelings. Though progress is slow, it’s surprisingly improved. I understand and accept that they do the best they can with who they are. I’m not as angry toward them as I used to be. I also talk to them about comparing me to my brother, and they actually make an effort to understand. It’s helped me stop comparing too, and has really changed my self-worth.

    Unfortunately, my relationship with my brother isn’t as great. I have tried to have the same honest conversations with him, and he isn’t ready. I still keep my distance from my family though, because I think it’s for the best.

    All of my goals for this year were actually self-focused. As you said, I needed to “find value outside the context of my family”. I actually managed to do this. I did the work to make sure I put myself first. That’s why I’m a little disappointed about the practical goals I didn’t achieve. I feel like I let myself down. When I say I’m hopeful, I definitely mean for myself, not for anyone’s approval. I’m just looking for reassurance I suppose. How does one bounce back from setbacks and try again?



    Hi Anita,

    When you said

    “he is your brother, not your friend, and not your therapist”


    “it is very unlikely for any adult sibling to have an adequate and accurate understanding of another sibling’s subjective experience of childhood and parents (when it is different from one’s own) because a sibling is not objective enough to have such understanding. No matter how much one sibling shares with the other, the other can’t really get it”

    something clicked for me. I totally understand what you’re saying. I guess I got so lost in the hurt of the past stuff that I was being myopic. I think maybe I tend to take even little things personally because of how we grew up. But that’s on me not on him. I do struggle to stay present if I’m being honest, so I will have to work on that more.

    I know this situation isn’t that serious, but I do get trapped in my head a lot so thank you for talking this through with me I really appreciate it!


    Hi Anita, I see what you mean. I don’t mind the going away part, I’ve done it before so I don’t think it will be hard doing it again.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d still like to be part of my brother’s life, esp now that this big thing is happening for him. We have the type of dynamic where we tell each other important life stuff first, even before we tell our parents. Basically, he’s my emergency contact. I think whatever role I have in his life currently is going to be lessened pretty soon, which is why I don’t feel as guilty about leaving.

    Am I insane for still wanting to maintain a relationship with him?


    Hi Anita, thanks for having me back 🙂 I’m sorry I don’t have more pleasant things to write about.

    First, thank you for taking the time to read over this and give a response, I really appreciate your time and energy.

    Second, I have been thinking about leaving ever since I returned, it’s terrible but true. I’ve been looking at moving out too, but financially, it’s not an option rn. I feel guilty about it, but I think again at this point, parental/familial guilt is something we all have…

    I think what you’re saying is true. I guess I was angry that I was being treated differently, maybe picking up on it even when I was young. Now that I think about it, I lashed out a lot when I was a child, and even now, being around them makes me want to lash out. I don’t want to resent any of them for this even though it really hurts. It’s pointless when they’re so ignorant to all of this and I’m sure there were some deep-seated cultural reasons for the fact that my brother, a boy, was given favor over me, a girl.

    Is there a way to move past this without an acknowledgment or apology from them?



    Hi Anita, thanks for your response. I’m so sorry for not replying earlier.

    I wanted to say thank you for your insight, you’ve really helped me alot. As I mentioned before, I don’t have many close friends so reaching out online was really all I could do, and I’m so glad I did.

    My bf and I have spoken, perhaps more honestly than we have in years. I laid out my expectations and he laid out his, we discussed the how reasonable and realistic they were and we talked about what we’d like to see going forward.

    We aren’t seperated, but we aren’t going back to how things were. We decided to do things differently, give each other space, but still talk and check in. We are together, but taking things slow.

    I would like to believe that things are different this time, of course that’s all down to faith and trust. He agreed that he was prone to falling back into old patterns and that if he didn’t make an effort to make better choices for himself, then it would hurt us both and hurt the relationship.

    I’m going to try this again. I know your quote from the bible says that love is virtuous, but no one ever tells you how difficult it can be and how much work it is sometimes. If I have to love anyone though, I’m happy for it to be him.

    You’ve taught me alot. I can’t imagine how I can return the favour.



    Hi Anita, thanks for responding.

    I understand what you’re saying. I also think it’s important to prioritise my mental health, I took this year off just to do that.

    To be honest, I’m starting to feel like I’m the toxic partner in this relationship. Everyone has a different journey and different pace, and I feel like I’m being unfair by asking my bf to speed up his pace, even change his journey to meet me on mine.

    You are right when you say I am motivated by fear. I omitted to mention that the conversation where I decided to take a break happened on our 9 year anniversary. That’s why we were discussing the relationship. I felt fearful and afraid because I’ve been making progress and he doesn’t seem to have. Again as you pointed out, he never got a chance to take time off, so how could he make any progress.

    I suppose what I’m really afraid of is that we’re no longer on the same page anymore and I’m scared of what that means. That’s why I accused him of not making any effort to grow or change, when the reality is that he may just simply be moving at a pace that suits him and his journey.

    As I’ve mentioned before, he has been tremendously supportive with my mental health issues. I don’t have many friends, and again, my relationship with my parents is dysfunctional so he is someone I consider very important to my support system. I’m the same person for him.

    I don’t think it’s fair to ask people to change, but I’ve done just that by making him afraid of losing me and forcing him to introspect.

    I think I’m also afraid for him, it’s difficult watching  someone you love engage in damaging behaviour, and worse being in denial about it.

    In some of his emails, he mentioned that he felt as though he needed me to guide him through this introspection because I knew him best. He said that even if we weren’t together he would always support me and asked if I could still advise him and guide him because he genuinely feels incapable of doing this himself.

    I don’t think he has considered professional help, ie therapy, for a host of reasons. But as I said above I’m still going to suggest it to him.

    In the meantime, I don’t really know what to do from here, I’m quite heartbroken and sort of just going through the motions of life right now. It doesn’t feel good or right. I feel like I have no right to complain though, since I made the decision to walk away.


    Thank you for your response Anita. You’ve really helped me alot and I appreciate it.

    It’s extremely painful knowing that I can’t help him, but I think you’re right, he needs a professional, maybe someone who can help him objectively as well.

    You’re correct when you say fear was a motivator for him opening up with his emails, to be honest I think it’s always been fear that motivated him all along. This isn’t healthy.

    I think I’m going to suggest these things to him, and perhaps step back a little. I do love him and miss him, but this might be for the best for now?

    Thank you again.



    Hi Anita, thanks for the response again I appreciate it.

    Thank you for using the metaphor it really helps me understand things better 🙂

    I think you’re right, I’m so used to sharing my emotions that I couldn’t understand why he was incapable of doing the same. It’s probably hurting him terribly that he can’t give me what I want, I certainly don’t want to add to his pain.

    You’re right about the pressure as well, I think I’ve been selfish and demanding. I feel terrible knowing that I’ve made his emotional state worse by creating more pain and anxiety.

    He recently wrote me a couple emails, where he opened up about the things that cause him stress and make him feel pain. He said writing it out was the most difficult thing he’s ever done.

    I understand him, this situation, alot better. Do you think wanting to help him address the glacier is more harmful than helpful? He seems willing to try, but hen again it may be painful and I don’t want him to hurt.

    On the other hand, engaging in unhealthy behaviour, ignoring and being in denial of the glacier may actually hurt him more. Maybe it’s not my place to make that decision for him?


    Hi Anita, many thanks for the response!

    So when you say:

    – here is a possibility, and it is only a possibility, for you to consider, accept or reject: maybe you repeatedly expressed to him that your own parents never did any wrong, that your anxiety and depression had nothing to do with the way you were raised, and you expressed to him otherwise that parents are never to be criticized. So, he didn’t feel safe enough to share with you anything that may be critical of his parents.

    The truth is we have both talked about the role our parents played in our dysfunction, as mentioned above, me more than anyone. I’ve always been forthcoming about the difficult relationship I’ve had with my parents and never hidden any of those emotions from him. So the floor was definitely open for that.

    I have to say that over the years, he has had quite a breakthrough in terms of dealing with his issues regarding his parents, though again, he never wants to share or delve deeply enough into them. I’ve sometimes overstepped by questioning things he says, does, allows or even tolerates when it comes to his family, and though, again, he hears me out, it’s often extremely uncomfortable for him to introspect on whatever his own feelings are.

    I want to say thank you for this:

    On the other hand, he never took time off from taking care of his family, or from the expectation that he will be taking care of them (?) which may explain why his mental and emotional health did not improve.

    I’ve honestly never thought about it this way, since he always acts as though things are fine, and that he has things under control. Maybe this might be something he has to consider doing….

    I wouldn’t call him a people pleaser, but he definitely has trouble saying ‘no’ to the people he loves. He often struggles with this, he always tries to make everyone happy by giving them what they want, while simulatneously trying to find a way to make himself happy and it never works out. He hates letting people down, particularly his mother and father, and he hates the idea of them or anyone he loves thinking of him as a faliure.

    After all these years though, I honestly don’t know if he’s capable or even willing to try with any of this.


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