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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I dont want to feel resentment for my mother and sister, but

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I don't want to feel resentment for my mother and sister, but I do. I know that it's not them, that it's me, but I don't understand why I feel the way I do and so I persist. I'm hard on them and it's not because I think that I'm perfect, but because I feel the need to bring them down to my level. Why do they seem to feel that they are good enough? I want to scream that my sister is shallow and entitled and my mother is mentally vacant and drinks too much, but the thing is, they aren't really that flawed and if I were normal I could accept our differences, love them and move on. I do love them, but being around them makes me irrationally boil. I don't get it. I'm so over it.

They think I'm sensitive, that I'm mean, critical and consequently they share a bond that I don't have with either of them. I have extended family that are cruel to themselves and other people in the same way that I am and I don't want to be like them.

Please help.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

Your question is very evocative that there is so much behind the simple few words you write. It also seems that you were cut off in mid sentence at the end. Would you like to finish what you were saying?

By the way, where was your father in all of this?

Was there trauma or abuse in your childhood? What about alcohol or dysfunction in your family when you were growing up?

Was your mother drinking even when you were growing up?

Were she and your sister close even when you were both kids?

What is your social life like now?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I don't need to extend my response, but I'll answer your other questions. My parents are together and my father is very much a part of the picture, but for whatever reason I don't have the same issues with him. I admire him a lot. There was never abuse in my childhood- I feel that I was truly given everything I needed by my parents. They both work very hard. I don't recall my mother drinking excessively as a kid. At this point she's probably not an alcoholic, but tends to get a bit out of control fairly regularly, which is evident through the uncharacteristically mean things she says and her general demeanor. I don't think that my sister and mom were especially close when we were little, but as the older sibling I think that I frequently was characterized as the bully. I a handful of close friends that I'm regularly in touch with and a boyfriend, but not a big mob of people that I always am with like my sister who I would describe as popular. I'm currently an architecture graduate student, which doesn't leave a ton of time for social activities
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. The most effective way to describe what you are experiencing is to draw on the family systems theory of Dr. Murray Bowen, who was very renowned in this area. And we're going to focus on one of the 8 interlocking concepts that comprise his important theory: triangles.

Triangles are the basic shape of stable relationships. Three. In a set of three, you have two that are in harmony and one in conflict. This is the basic family dynamic. In the family, two members will band together to give each other support and to exclude one member who is the "other", conflicting part of the dynamic. Your father as you so aptly said, is outside this triangle.

Here is a non-technical site that discusses his theory. And here's the page on that site on triangles:

Now if you and your mom and sister went to family systems therapy, you would all gain a lot. I'll give you a directory of therapists, but my sense is that this is not the right time for you to undertake this project. You're in the middle of creating your independent life away from the family. And that's good.

Given that I think you are not in the mode to undertake the therapy it would need for all of you to get past this triangle that has been created, I think you need to be accepting and seek your self confidence not FROM your family relationships but from your individual self and life and use that self confidence to strengthen your family relationships. to be more patient and accepting. It is easier to be accepting when you are self confident. And so remember:

Your confidence is not going to come from or be strengthened by your family, especially mom and sister. You need to bring your confidence INTO the family dynamic. Okay?

Here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (because they seem smart and not so easily manipulatable!) look at the listing and see if they list family systems therapy in their orientations.

Good Therapy is a non profit directory. Same idea as the one above:


Maybe one day all 3 of you will be ready for this. I don't' know. I have a sense you will make your own way and your own life and that is good. Take the time instead of therapy perhaps, to study a little Bowenian family systems theory and be a smarter part of the triangle!

Okay, I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

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