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Thread: Family Communication Breakdown

  1. #1

    Family Communication Breakdown

    I have a family concern/question but am not really sure what it is I am asking. But I hope this makes sense. What do you do when communication levels are deteriorating and maybe even in some cases are close to complete breakdown. This is happening a lot lately between me and my family for many reasons but almost all are related to my injury. Do you make more space between you and them and give it time to simmer down and hope it works out? Or do you force the issue and hope that fixes the problem then and there? I was taking an avoidant approach and banning everybody from visiting me but that seems to be making it worse. Some have been trying to force the issue and while I realize I am being unnecessarily difficult, that makes me more resentful. Where that happy medium is, I don't know.But more of a problem is what do you do when this is happening with someone who burdens a great deal of very close personal care. It is not a situation of abuse or anything at all like that, but how can that tension be resolved? Or at least brought down to a level where you can be civil to each other. This communication breakdown is not exclusive to the family members who help with my personal care, but it seems to be worse with them. I fully admit I am not blameless in this, so if anybody on either side of the relationship, person injured or caregiver, has some suggestions I would be grateful. Thanks.
    Last edited by orangejello; 04-20-2007 at 01:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Speaking from having a Mom who spent many years in a wheelchair, my advice would be six words...

    Try to make GOOD memories too...

    Easier said than done, but whenever possible, put injuries and caregiving aside, and just have FUN. Even telling a joke, or watching a TV show together...it doesn't have to be something BIG, just something you do TOGETHER with that person...

    I can remember just sitting down with my Mom and watching TV and laughing SO hard...And I remember something as simple as getting a box of greeting cards down and picking one out together to send for someone's birthday...

    LITTLE things...

    It will help you all I think...it did us...

    Take care...

    Teena

  3. #3
    Senior Member Foolish Old's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangejello
    I have a family concern/question but am not really sure what it is I am asking. But I hope this makes sense. What do you do when communication levels are deteriorating and maybe even in some cases are close to complete breakdown. This is happening a lot lately between me and my family for many reasons but almost all are related to my injury. Do you make more space between you and them and give it time to simmer down and hope it works out? Or do you force the issue and hope that fixes the problem then and there? I was talking an avoidant approach and banning everybody from visiting me but that seems to be making it worse. Some have been trying to force the issue and while I realize I am being unnecessarily difficult, that makes me more resentful. Where that happy medium is, I don't know.But more of a problem is what do you do when this is happening with someone who burdens a great deal of very close personal care. It is not a situation of abuse or anything at all like that, but how can that tension be resolved? Or at least brought down to a level where you can be civil to each other. This communication breakdown is not exclusive to the family members who help with my personal care, but it seems to be worse with them. I fully admit I am not blameless in this, so if anybody on either side of the relationship, person injured or caregiver, has some suggestions I would be grateful. Thanks.
    Okay, why did the customer slap the smiling fortune teller? She wanted to strike a happy medium!

    OJ, I am neither a PCA or the recipient of those services, so I have no advice to offer from that perspective. I have, however, had some success in getting along with people under difficult circumstances.

    One of my favorite strategies is, when possible, to postpone decisions. I often find if I schedule a resolution for some future date, the problem goes away. Scheduling the date let's others no you are not blowing them off. Waiting gives you time to consider the solution.

    Heat is rarely productive in conflict resolution. Neither is insistence on validation of one's position. On the other hand, letting someone know that you hear and consider their side often helps.

    Families are tricky. So is fighting to establish your independence and self determined lifestyle while still requiring assistance.

    I trust that you will find the best path.
    Foolish

    "We have met the enemy and he is us."-POGO.

    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it."~Edgar Allan Poe

    "Dream big, you might never wake up!"- Snoop Dogg

  4. #4
    Senior Member Timaru's Avatar
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    OJ, I'm sorry if this is stating the obvious but you must grab them one at a time and talk about the situation.

    I've always followed your posts and the impression I get is of a strong willed intelligent SCI surrounded by a loving family.

    Tell them (they already know) how frustrated you get and how you sometimes take it out on the ones you love most, remind them you don't mean it but occasionally you can't help it.

    Here endeth the first lesson.

    Chin up, Jonathan.

  5. #5
    I agree with all the above, but also, you must remember that it goes both ways. They too get extremely frustrated, and perhaps take it out on others, including you and perhaps each other - as Jonathan said, they don't really mean it, but occasionally they can't help it.
    They are in a tough position, too. You may argue - and quite rightly; I'm sure they would agree too - that their position doesn't hold a candle to yours, but nevertheless they are themselves, and they will sometimes feel put upon that they have to do so much because of you, that is, because of your injury.
    Which makes me think of something else. You, and your injury. They are not the same thing! You may have to work at it a bit in order to ensure that the two will not get confused in their minds.
    That brings us to Teena's suggestion of some gentle, relaxing time with them - try to set up a situation where they can be with you and can put the thoughts of caregiving aside for a while. Where they can be with you, and you with them. Not where they are tending you or you are a recipient of their care.
    Is there some little thing that bugs them (or you)? It seems like my wife is always giving me requests that pile up on each other, so before I'm halfway through the first one, I'm getting a third! In the other direction - I only found out yesterday that something I had been doing for a year and a half after the BP was bothering the heck out of her. Sure, she had mentioned it before, but I had not realized how important it was to her. So now we're figuring out how to accomplish that bit of cleaning without causing unnecessary aggravation.
    One more thing - you need to lighten up a little, both on them, but especially on yourself. Much easier said than done, I know. I have consciously tried to do this over the years, and I think it has helped. Another thing is that I work hard at understanding what's going on in the other person's head; over the years I think I've gotten better at it. That has helped me immeasurably in my profession, and it helps also for situations like this.
    Best wishes,
    - Richard
    Last edited by rfbdorf; 04-20-2007 at 02:45 PM.

  6. #6
    .....
    Last edited by orangejello; 04-21-2007 at 11:21 AM.

  7. #7
    OJ -
    For me, I had to basically let go of those who could not accept or be of help. It took many years to juggle getting my needs met without losing my dignity. There will always be compromises, but if possible, I stay away from those who cannot enrich my life. I only have so much energy to "fix" others. There are those who don't need "fixed" and who can - as someone stated - separate your injury from YOU. Best of luck dealing with this.

  8. #8
    Moderator Obieone's Avatar
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    This is a great thread OJ ..... I think you've gotten some very thoughtful and smart responses here !
    I wonder if its different for men and women on how to resolve an issue like what you're talking about .... men being from Mars and all ! Just a thought ....

    I had a little melt down at the hospital yesterday after visiting with Bill ... I realize in retrospect I probably shouldn't have gone in the first place .. I was really tired from being at work all day and was in a off mood to start with .... and I ended up upsetting him because he felt I was ragging on him for everything .... I get so frustrated with him for not taking more charge of his own care and showing some initiative .... I ended up feeling bad because ultimately I was able to get in the car and drive home and leave it behind me for the night ... of course then the "guilt" sets in yada yada ..... geez ... sorry wasn't meaning to hijack here but what I think I'm getting at is to make the point that everyone around you may just be trying to figure out how to fit in with your sci life and just not doing a very good job because of all their "own" issues and junk and fears ... you've made them have to face themselves in a very uncomfortable way ... could be a lot of guilt at work here ... some handle that with more grace than others ..... everyone is continually (including you) trying to figure out what the right way to "live" is especially where relationships are concerned whether its close family or friends .... I think Quadvet really hit the nail on the head with his comments .. its kind of a weeding out process that can be very painful because you (we) all want so much for it to be the way it used to be ....... and this injury forces a person to reach way down into their soul and find out who they really are .... inevitably there's collateral damage !

    Not sure if this was helpful ... I can hear the struggle in your posts ... I'd love to make this better for you and I sure wish there was a pat answer .... but we all know .... there's not ...
    At least we have each other .... here ... to make us stop ... and just think for a minute .....

    Obieone
    Last edited by Obieone; 04-21-2007 at 11:12 AM.
    ~ Be the change you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandi


    " calling all Angels ...... calling all Angels ....walk me through this one .. don't leave me alone .... calling all Angels .... calling all Angels .... we're tryin' and we're hopin' cause we're not sure how ....... this .... goes ..."
    Jane Siberry

  9. #9
    Moderator Obieone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foolish Old
    Okay, why did the customer slap the smiling fortune teller? She wanted to strike a happy medium!

    OJ, I am neither a PCA or the recipient of those services, so I have no advice to offer from that perspective. I have, however, had some success in getting along with people under difficult circumstances.

    One of my favorite strategies is .......... etc.
    Absolutely nothing "Foolish" about you .... that was great advice for anyone and I plan to take it under advisement my own self ..... thanks !!

    Obieone
    ~ Be the change you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandi


    " calling all Angels ...... calling all Angels ....walk me through this one .. don't leave me alone .... calling all Angels .... calling all Angels .... we're tryin' and we're hopin' cause we're not sure how ....... this .... goes ..."
    Jane Siberry

  10. #10
    Thanks everybody. I appeciate the responses. Helps me lots to read everybody's thoughts. Later I would like to respond more to some things in the the replies but right now I can't. Right now I am thinking about what Obie said about having a meltdown. This happened to me yesterday. Somebody in my family who does not ever have melt downs had a very big one. Afterwards they felt very bad about it and I also did because I became very belligerent once they lost control. Mostly it was the same thing you said Obie about feel guilty they could leave and not have to deal with all the injury stuff at least for a little while. It was nobody's fault just too much stress on both of us and nobody coping well that day. But what I thought about after was how tired I am and how tired this person seems. I don't know where I am going with this really. It is not about giving up but it seems more easier not to deal witht things when you are that tired and there does not seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. But I was reading these responses and I get from them that you have to try even in spite of the fatigue or the relationships and communication will become even more broken. I guess I always know there is no quick fix but it is hard to stop thinking or hoping there is.

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