How often do you think you should talk to family members? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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How often do you think you should talk to family members?


So my dad phoned today, he calls about twice a week. He mentioned that he feels bad because he's always the one calling and me and my brother don't call him and that he feels like he could die and we wouldn't know because we'd never call.

A bit later in the conversation he was also talking about how he'd spoken to my brother about visiting our nan more and some other things because he wished he had seen his dad more before he died and felt guilty. I don't remember what exactly the conversation was about when following thing happened but a bit later I kind of broke down and spoke to him about how overwhelming it is for me to be around people and how everything overwhelms me. Even the sound of traffic outside where I live (it's a main road and very busy.) if I go outside is a bit much. This has gotten worse as I've aged too but always been a problem to some degree. My phone conversations with my dad have gotten worse lately because many discussions are uncomfortable for me due to the topics. I'm fine with intellectual conversation but personal stuff kind of really bothers me. He said it's good that I've opened up and that this is the most I've ever told him about my problems though, and that I should write it down (he doesn't know I post on this forum I'm not 100% open here but do sometimes open up about stuff.)

I've spoken about this before in posts but I have a very dismissive/fearful avoidant attachment pattern and probably schizoid personality disorder, so really any kind of excessive signs that someone really needs me or clingyness bothers me. If it's someone I don't know and I pick up on that vibe (coming on too strongly,) I'll shut down on them automatically and write them off, but I can't do that so easily with people I'm close to obviously.

When I was living away at uni years ago we would communicate a lot less and I guess at that time of his life that was OK for him, or maybe he just knew I was busy (which I was.) He wasn't really doing well at that time though for reasons I won't go into here. We also texted more which I'm more comfortable with then talking on the phone. Another thing is that over the years I haven't used the phone to talk to people often so I also have bad memories of phone conversations with someone who used to be abusive to me when I was a teenager.

Sometimes I worry about his reaction to me being open about how I feel because I'm worried about coming across psychopathic because in order to cope I shut down a lot and because I've been accused of being a bad person a lot so I kind of model myself as a bad person. He takes a lot of things personally but in an unpredictable way because he's very sensitive.

Anyway. So for me I don't get lonely or miss people too easily generally though there are specific individuals where I might form a more parasocial bond and think about more. I would miss my family occasionally while I was living away from all of them but for example talking to my dad twice a week might be more then I'm comfortable with already but I tolerate it. Although sometimes if I'm not doing well I'll engage with my usual unhealthy coping mechanisms like go into the shower or something (like when he calls the landline.) I guess I feel pretty guilty about that though, it's not that I don't care but it's complicated. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed I kind of wish I could just disappear somewhere far away from people into the wilderness or something (which I guess is another schizoid thing.) I always have my phone switched off (except while reading stuff on it in bed at night sometimes,) to try and lower my availability too so he calls the landline.

I dunno I think deep down he really cares about me and my brother despite all his own issues and stuff, and I know that talking to me makes him feel better because he said that. But I don't think I'd want to call him as often as he calls me. I'm not sure when I'd be tempted to call on my own impulse (and realistically I would text,) because he's never not called for that length of time. One time a while ago he didn't call for two weeks and complained that nobody called him.

I'm kind of a very robotic person, like when my mum's dad died both my mum and my brother started crying and I was just poker face. I did cry at the funeral a bit though I think, for my other grandad too. Also after I got back from the after event of one of the funerals but that was for selfish reasons because I found it so emotionally overwhelming being around extended family for the first time in ages so I just lost control. I'm actually kind of glad when my dad's dad died I was completely alone because then I didn't feel like I had to react in a certain way and I think someone texted me instead of calling too, can't remember who but someone was also worried about me because I was alone but really it just wasn't hitting me that hard. It probably would more if it was someone in my immediate family. I think I have trouble with reacting around people too because for example if I watch emotional stuff in films or read certain things, then I experience and express various emotions tear up etc.

I know a lot of people don't even talk to their family at all or do so rarely, many of them don't experience guilt about it so I try to bare that in mind though they also usually live further away and stuff or maybe their family never really cared about them that much or were abusive, so there are justifications. My dad can be a bit emotionally manipulative, but I dunno I'm not exactly great either.

Hmm there is more about some other family stuff and other stuff I'm worried about, but I think I'll just talk about this in this thread.

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 09:12 PM
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I think it depends on culture too. I'm Hispanic so my parents expect me to call them everyday and they get really sad and upset when we dont talk to them on a daily basis. To them that communication is very important
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 09:36 PM
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it depends on your relationship. my whole family is so distant and emotionally not there.

i cant discuss anything with my dad. I have almost zero interest and he has almost zero interest. the last time he called me he went on and on about irrelevant details of his life, rambling because he's old and lonely I guess. maybe that was a year ago. he texts or I text him maybe once every couple of months. and he basically likes my other brother a lot more than me so...

with my brother I can talk about philosophy a little when I dont avoid him completely for the last time he was an *******. he invited me to his place a few times for lunch/dinner since I lived near him at the time. that was like 3 years ago... we had never spent time together for many/any years after he left for uni etc. and we never talked or even texted at all except at whole family things like christmas.

my other brother was the same except he wasnt an ******* but he wasnt interested in philosophy and now he's dead. we didnt share any activities or anything in adulthood.

my mum is also dead but we couldn't talk about anything. I tried to get her to teach me to sew once but she has no patience. she went for walks with me when I started therapy back when i was anxious about kind of everything but that lasted maybe almost a month and then she was like what am I meant to hold your hand forever and stopped doing that.

it doesn't really upset me that we're distant. it's not what a family ought to be but bleh. that's the way it is. my brother is getting married at some stage and want my dad to move in with them so at least someone is going to take care of him. his partner is really over the top caring/submissive/trad fem so she seems to enjoy that and dad loves it lol.

if I imagine having kids, I'd imagine teaching them stuff, taking them to do things etc. my relationship with my parents doesn't really compute on that level because idk what they were thinking having kids would be like. so it ok because it was broken from the start or near the start anyway so duh yeah it's still broken. no surprise.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aqwsderf View Post
I think it depends on culture too. I'm Hispanic so my parents expect me to call them everyday and they get really sad and upset when we dont talk to them on a daily basis. To them that communication is very important
Jesus, I wish we were Hispanic. My son stopped telling us anything once he got to about 15. Very private. He's a bit better now but it's still sometimes like getting blood from a stone.

My wife constantly hassles him to see if he has a new gf or something - but he likes to keep that stuff pretty quiet too.

I think if we talked every day I would run out of things to say - although that's sort of impossible with me.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 09:50 PM
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Jesus, I wish we were Hispanic. My son stopped telling us anything once he got to about 15. Very private. He's a bit better now but it's still sometimes like getting blood from a stone.

My wife constantly hassles him to see if he has a new gf or something - but he likes to keep that stuff pretty quiet too.

I think if we talked every day I would run out of things to say - although that's sort of impossible with me. <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_rolleyes.gif" border="0" alt="" title="" >:-)</a>
Lol I'm pretty private too and you can trust my parents to do most of the talking. Our phone calls are usually just about day to day things, like how was work, what's for dinner, what are you planning on doing later, etc. It doesn't have to last long, it's more of a thoughtful gesture. They like knowing we're thinking about them too.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 12:08 AM
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it depends on your relationship. my whole family is so distant and emotionally not there.

i cant discuss anything with my dad. I have almost zero interest and he has almost zero interest. the last time he called me he went on and on about irrelevant details of his life, rambling because he's old and lonely I guess. maybe that was a year ago. he texts or I text him maybe once every couple of months. and he basically likes my other brother a lot more than me so...

my mum is also dead but we couldn't talk about anything. I tried to get her to teach me to sew once but she has no patience. she went for walks with me when I started therapy back when i was anxious about kind of everything but that lasted maybe almost a month and then she was like what am I meant to hold your hand forever and stopped doing that.

it doesn't really upset me that we're distant. it's not what a family ought to be but bleh. that's the way it is. my brother is getting married at some stage and want my dad to move in with them so at least someone is going to take care of him. his partner is really over the top caring/submissive/trad fem so she seems to enjoy that and dad loves it lol.
I can totally relate. My dad calls me once or twice a week and visits me on a strict schedule the same exact time and day once a week. Anything we do together which is usually going to a sports game, I always have to initiate it. I stopped calling him because when he does rarely pick up, within 5 minutes he is already basically winding down the call, and i have to hear a long explanation of how he was up early today and is actually kind of tired so he wants to get off the phone and go to bed. I hear this "i'm actually kinda tired" routine to get me off the phone every phone conversation, whether he or I calls, makes no difference. I know better than to bring up a problem or a real opinion with him, because he has so little patience for my problems and his opinions are so overly positive about everything. I am convinced he loves my sister 1000 times more than he ever did me. If I bring up a conflict to him, his first reaction is, did i initiate it? what did I do? and i never handle any conflict correctly. He is just generally fed up with hearing about any problem i have or even very minor conflict. He has amazing patience with my sister throughout our entire childhood, unlike me.

I talk to my mom more regularly but it has been trailing off more every few years, I talk to her maybe 2-3 times a week but she makes me out to be a victim vaguely in every situation i bring up to her, even when it has nothing to do with the situation. like "I am sorry! That sounds terrible!"

I hate my sister's guts, and she only texted me about twice a year for birthdays and christmas etc. Trust me, I was justified in hating her, just takes too long to get into the details now. I have had zero contact with my sister or other relatives in over 5 years (other than my parents), and that includes missing Christmas's and Thanksgiving so I can avoid seeing my sister. (she is evil)

If I think about it, it is pretty messed up that my mom is the only one i am close to in our entire family, and everything else is fractured with everyone else. If I just go about my life and day-to-day activities, I just don't think about any of that, but if i have downtime and i see or hear other tight-knit families, it can start to mess with your head. Welcome to my white family, disconnected, cut-off emotionally, critical, distant, vaguely positive about everything in a phony way, i guess not every white family but it seems to be pretty common
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 01:42 AM
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There is really no clear standard. Everyone is different. Really depends on how close you are with them, and various social dynamics one has with them like how much you trust and confide in them typically. There are those who are close by confiding in each other in personal things and willing to talk about all sorts of deep stuff, and those that are close with only shallow subjects like jokes, sharing hobbies, teasing and what not (but seldom talk about personal stuff).

Your dad sounds like it means well and sounds like he genuinely does care for you guys. Although it does sound like he's stressful for you to be around him, especially if you're not content with many of the topics he likes to bring up in conversation. That is indeed stressful and nerve wrecking, as in every conversation you have with him you fear constantly that he will dive into those areas you hate talking about in the back of your mind.



Quote:
because many discussions are uncomfortable for me due to the topics. I'm fine with intellectual conversation but personal stuff kind of really bothers me.

I have a very dismissive/fearful avoidant attachment pattern and probably schizoid personality disorder, so really any kind of excessive signs that someone really needs me or clingyness bothers me. If it's someone I don't know and I pick up on that vibe (coming on too strongly,) I'll shut down on them automatically and write them off, but I can't do that so easily with people I'm close to obviously.

Pretty much myself as well. I think mostly due to the way my mom is, whenever I opened up a bit, she will use that to invade into my personal bubble and try to criticize, take control, change and spiral everything into a mess. It made me have trouble opening up to people in life due to this in fear of other judging and criticizing me.

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 09:44 AM
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I talk to family whenever they're in the room, which is every few months on holidays and birthdays. I've never had phone conversations with family members, and the only one I occasionally email with is my mom (maybe an email a month). My family seems to like this arrangement, and I'm not going to complain about it because it gets me out of stressful communication. I get along fine with my parents, but once a pattern is established it's a lot less stressful to follow it than to risk trying to communicate more.

But as others said this is the sort of thing that every family has different expectations on. Your family's desire for closeness and regular communication is probably healthier in general, but it depends on individual needs. Maybe you can find a compromise.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 10:47 AM
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Well, normally, I think it would be good for family members to communicate as much as they can tolerate. However, for example, my family is extremely "dysfunctional" (whatever that even means these days). Pretty much every member of my family is set in their ways and they all pretty much seem to run on autopilot whenever triggering events happen. They do not work out their issues or come to mutual understandings whatsoever. Any disagreement or conflict at all will just turn into a massive schitshow. The only way to keep the peace in this family is for everyone to do their own thing and stay out of one another's way.

This was not so much of an issue until my dad retired. My mom and dad were not occupying the same general area often enough to get into arguments and in those days, entertainment was a bit more constructive (If you turned on the TV you'd actually see people discussing things intelligently). My parents turned off the cable and bought Roku devices and started watching mostly Youtube crud. From there, it was a race to the bottom of the barrel for the most mindless, delusional, high-conflict content. I would say that even though cable TV was not great, it kept people kind of grounded and kept them from getting too far into the weird stuff and destructive echo chambers.

So yeah. Now my mom and dad have realized they're pretty much polar opposites in every way that matters. They won't watch TV together. They don't eat together. They don't have good conversations with one another.

I think when your family doesn't want to talk, there isn't a lot to be gained by trying to make it happen. Other than a lot of conflict and stressful situations. If you're stuck with people who never change, you'd better like them as they are.

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-24-2020, 06:21 PM
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If you feel like you need to talk to them then you should when you have the opportunity. There doesn't always need to be a reason. But it's better to reach out rather than have regrets when they aren't here anymore.

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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-25-2020, 08:13 PM
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There is no clear answer here... each family is its own universe with very different dynamics. What might be normal for a family might be considered abnormal in another. It is truly hard when a person is born into a family that has a very personality.

E.g: A family member might be overtly sentimental while the rest of the family is very stoic. That family member might feel neglected because she or he feels that her personal feelings have little to no value for the rest of the family.Conversely, the rest of the family might think that the best way to cope with pain is to simply ignore the circumstances and "carry on".

These different personalities can create serious strains and conflict. A particular sad set of events, specially when these family members truly love each other. Kinda hard to see it when different parties are trying to row in opposite of directions. And much like a boat these events continue to cycle and move in circles without truly going to either side.

But if I were to give an advice it would be to talk to your family as many times as you feel comfortable. I would also say to do it when it is genuine and heartfelt as opposed to feeling obliged.


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Originally Posted by Persephone The Dread View Post

Sometimes I worry about his reaction to me being open about how I feel because I'm worried about coming across psychopathic because in order to cope I shut down a lot and because I've been accused of being a bad person a lot so I kind of model myself as a bad person. He takes a lot of things personally but in an unpredictable way because he's very sensitive.

I have a similar problem with my mother. I too tend to shut down when I am down in my luck. I don't like to talk about my feelings . She is the complete opposite, meaning, she is the kind of person that unloads a torrent of personal emotion with no sense of shame. It has always been hard for me to process that torrent of emotions all at once as some of the things she would say would be contradictory, erratic or simply trivial. It is very hard for me to place the same weight as she does on some of her problems.

About two years ago I opened up to her and we talked about our idiosyncrasies. In time she has come to understand that shutting down has no bearing on my feelings towards her. She is starting to see it more as defense mechanism rather than "selfishness" on my behalf.

Try explaining this to your dad. You might be surprised

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-25-2020, 08:22 PM
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If it adds value to your life to talk to family, then do so until the point that it doesn't. This can be constantly everyday for some people, or never for others.

My mom and dad would probably love if I called them everyday, but they were such bad parents for 20+ years that they are entitled to absolutely nothing from me for the rest of my life.

But I'm civil so I speak to them on holidays. I'd be happy if I could pretend they never existed though.

I talk to my brother regularly.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-25-2020, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses, I guess it does vary a lot based on individual circumstances. I feel easily stressed these days, and struggle to summon enthusiasm for most things. I would respond individually but I can't think of anything specific to say right now.

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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 12:27 AM
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I text with my eldest bro usually a couple times a week, my middle bro before I lived with him I could go weeks without talking to him(and months not seeing him) & unlike my eldest bro who lives out of town he just lived in the city centre. I have a very young half little bro who I haven’t seen or spoken with in a couple years I think but he lives with his mom elsewhere & honestly I want nothing to do with his mom or sisters(it’s complicated) but no bad blood with him. Lived with my mom forever until recently but it’s not as though we’re close and really talked to each other in depth, we have quite different outlooks on most things but I love her. Now we talk once or twice a week but still nothing in depth. My dad lives out of town and comes once or twice a year. We’ve never been close and there was a point where I could go up to 10 months without speaking to him and that wasn’t unusual at all. Now we at least have a brief text once a month I’d say
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 03:56 AM
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Depends on circumstances or if your family are/were weird in ways you don't like to be around or abusive etc, but it's healthier to talk to someone who's not a d!ck in person everyday, non judgemental etc.

No matter how different we are or feel being completely isolated doesn't help, for more extended family its up to you, I have cousins living far away I've never met or talked too.






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post #16 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 04:50 AM
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My mom was the only person who ever called me. We all miss her dearly.



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post #17 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 06:30 AM
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I only talk to my mother but just 2 or 3 times per week (on the phone - I live on my own in the capital). I have one older sister but I rarely talk to her, even we live in the same city. And relatives - never except new year's day, we have to reunite and visit each other's house. That's annoying when all I need is just people leave me alone, spend time with myself better than with them.
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post #18 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 07:58 AM
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I talk to my father a few times a week. He's always the one initiating the calls. The rest of my family, not so much.

Hmm, I have a similar experience of fearing being misunderstood by coming across as emotionless, even within my own family. My father is the only one I've truly opened up to, and not been rejected by. I feel like a stranger to the rest of my family. Well, it's interesting how I can write about this stuff to a bunch of strangers online, but when it comes to my own family it feels impossible. I suppose the internet adds that level of separation.
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post #19 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-26-2020, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Persephone The Dread View Post
So my dad phoned today, he calls about twice a week. He mentioned that he feels bad because he's always the one calling and me and my brother don't call him and that he feels like he could die and we wouldn't know because we'd never call.

A bit later in the conversation he was also talking about how he'd spoken to my brother about visiting our nan more and some other things because he wished he had seen his dad more before he died and felt guilty. I don't remember what exactly the conversation was about when following thing happened but a bit later I kind of broke down and spoke to him about how overwhelming it is for me to be around people and how everything overwhelms me. Even the sound of traffic outside where I live (it's a main road and very busy.) if I go outside is a bit much. This has gotten worse as I've aged too but always been a problem to some degree. My phone conversations with my dad have gotten worse lately because many discussions are uncomfortable for me due to the topics. I'm fine with intellectual conversation but personal stuff kind of really bothers me. He said it's good that I've opened up and that this is the most I've ever told him about my problems though, and that I should write it down (he doesn't know I post on this forum I'm not 100% open here but do sometimes open up about stuff.)

I've spoken about this before in posts but I have a very dismissive/fearful avoidant attachment pattern and probably schizoid personality disorder, so really any kind of excessive signs that someone really needs me or clingyness bothers me. If it's someone I don't know and I pick up on that vibe (coming on too strongly,) I'll shut down on them automatically and write them off, but I can't do that so easily with people I'm close to obviously.

When I was living away at uni years ago we would communicate a lot less and I guess at that time of his life that was OK for him, or maybe he just knew I was busy (which I was.) He wasn't really doing well at that time though for reasons I won't go into here. We also texted more which I'm more comfortable with then talking on the phone. Another thing is that over the years I haven't used the phone to talk to people often so I also have bad memories of phone conversations with someone who used to be abusive to me when I was a teenager.

Sometimes I worry about his reaction to me being open about how I feel because I'm worried about coming across psychopathic because in order to cope I shut down a lot and because I've been accused of being a bad person a lot so I kind of model myself as a bad person. He takes a lot of things personally but in an unpredictable way because he's very sensitive.

Anyway. So for me I don't get lonely or miss people too easily generally though there are specific individuals where I might form a more parasocial bond and think about more. I would miss my family occasionally while I was living away from all of them but for example talking to my dad twice a week might be more then I'm comfortable with already but I tolerate it. Although sometimes if I'm not doing well I'll engage with my usual unhealthy coping mechanisms like go into the shower or something (like when he calls the landline.) I guess I feel pretty guilty about that though, it's not that I don't care but it's complicated. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed I kind of wish I could just disappear somewhere far away from people into the wilderness or something (which I guess is another schizoid thing.) I always have my phone switched off (except while reading stuff on it in bed at night sometimes,) to try and lower my availability too so he calls the landline.

I dunno I think deep down he really cares about me and my brother despite all his own issues and stuff, and I know that talking to me makes him feel better because he said that. But I don't think I'd want to call him as often as he calls me. I'm not sure when I'd be tempted to call on my own impulse (and realistically I would text,) because he's never not called for that length of time. One time a while ago he didn't call for two weeks and complained that nobody called him.

I'm kind of a very robotic person, like when my mum's dad died both my mum and my brother started crying and I was just poker face. I did cry at the funeral a bit though I think, for my other grandad too. Also after I got back from the after event of one of the funerals but that was for selfish reasons because I found it so emotionally overwhelming being around extended family for the first time in ages so I just lost control. I'm actually kind of glad when my dad's dad died I was completely alone because then I didn't feel like I had to react in a certain way and I think someone texted me instead of calling too, can't remember who but someone was also worried about me because I was alone but really it just wasn't hitting me that hard. It probably would more if it was someone in my immediate family. I think I have trouble with reacting around people too because for example if I watch emotional stuff in films or read certain things, then I experience and express various emotions tear up etc.

I know a lot of people don't even talk to their family at all or do so rarely, many of them don't experience guilt about it so I try to bare that in mind though they also usually live further away and stuff or maybe their family never really cared about them that much or were abusive, so there are justifications. My dad can be a bit emotionally manipulative, but I dunno I'm not exactly great either.

Hmm there is more about some other family stuff and other stuff I'm worried about, but I think I'll just talk about this in this thread.
I was most likely a lot more manic before and barely read any of this - but I read a bit more now.

Something I just thought of now - maybe it'd be a good idea to write some of this down and send it to your Dad. You could even copy and paste this post and just edit out the bits you don't want him to see.

He's your Dad. If he's sensitive as you say it's likely he already knows you're not a bad person - something you mentioned that concerns you.

A lot of the things we learn about people - especially our own children - we don't necessarily need to be told about. We can often see it.
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post #20 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-27-2020, 11:18 AM
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I talk with my family over the phone about twice a month maybe. And we text about once a week. That's just on average...if I haven't heard from them in a while or if I have something specific to share or ask, I'll reach out. And they do the same. I see my family in person about once or twice a year.
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