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    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; 20 Apr 2007, 1:32 PM.

    #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

    Comment


      #3
      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

      Comment


        #4
        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.

        Comment


          #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; 20 Apr 2007, 2:45 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            .....
            Last edited by orangejello; 21 Apr 2007, 11:21 AM.

            Comment


              #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.
              get busy living or get busy dying

              Comment


                #8
                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; 21 Apr 2007, 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

                Comment


                  #9
                  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

                  Comment


                    #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.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hi OJ

                      Were you ever able to get your attendant help straightened out, and feel more comfortable with them? Is your family still having to pick up a lot of their slack?

                      Exhaustion can make any sane person behave in crazy ways. We all say and do things we would not do under the best of circumstances, and then want to smack ourselves silly afterwards.

                      I'm sure they are worn out, as you also must be.

                      I have no answers for you. Just that it all gets to the best of us.

                      It does sound like you have a wonderful family. I'm sure you are feeling terrible pressure and guilt that they have to do so many things for you. Just as they are feeling guilt that they can do things you can't. They also want to make life as good for you as possible, but trying to juggle their own can make for feeling very overwhelmed.

                      I hope you can find some resolution, and that your family remains as close as it sounds that you all have been.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        .....
                        Last edited by orangejello; 22 Apr 2007, 10:20 AM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have been in a funk and posting then deleting what I write all morning. I wrote something last night here and in case the people I was addressing it to did not read it, I am going to re-post what I remember of it.

                          Teena, Richard, Shelly, and Obie thanks for your insights from the family side of things. It is always very helpful for me to hear from the other prespective.

                          Foolish Old and Timura I will take your advice about the importance of opening up and maintaining a dialog with my family. I am going to try harder this week to talk rather than avoid. Thank you both.

                          Quadvet thank you for articulating some of the problem I am having. It can be difficult to begin solving a problem when you can't find the words to describe it to yourself or your family. Your post did that very well and you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for that.

                          Unfortunately Shelley the caregiving situation continues to be an issue and a large burden of it is still falling on my family. This is not helping matters any. Hopefully there will be some relief in sight with an anticipated funding increase from the provincial government that will allow for higher salaries and help the care agencies recruit and keep good people.

                          In general although everybody is worn out and things are feeling very bleak we have gone through worse times with this injury than this. I guess the most worry some thing is just the level of fatigue that has seemed to set in among everybody and the effect it is having on relationships. But they are still there unconditionally for me so finding a solution to the tension is important. I will reisist any urges to later delete this.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Amanda, it's kay to write what you write, to write what you think and feel. You aren't being disloyal to anyone to write those things here.

                            It's also okay to delete, but with us, it's not necessary.

                            It seems you've been offered good advice in this thread. While maintaining communication and keeping it open can be difficult, it really is worth it.

                            When everyone's tired and stressed and worried it just amps up what's happening, especially when we feel we're the cause of that fatigue and stress and worry.

                            Just know we're here for you, for each other. I think that's what we do best here. Through this site, we know someone somewhere understands exactly what we're saying, and often what we're not.

                            I hope the coming week is less stressful for you.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              To add to what LaMemChose said so well - not are you not being disloyal (how can a triple negative be a positive?!), but you are being helpful to everyone by writing - to yourself, the people with you, and the people "out here." Without the expression of your problems, they remain bottled up within you. By describing your problems, others can at least discuss them with you, tell you about theirs, and tell you about ways they've tried to solve them.
                              Our attempts to help may often seem feeble, as these problems are never easy to solve. It's much easier to tell someone to "open up" than to do it yourself, although this is a very individual matter, easier for some than others. When I suggest to "lighten up" I'm being somewhat hypocritical - although I know how important that is, that's one of my problems, too - both on myself and on my family.
                              All we can do is try, hope for the best, and be here for and with you.
                              - Richard

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