Family pushing your buttons

2 Nov 2021

A while ago I wrote a comment, why do families know how to push your buttons?

Answer: Because they installed them.

I am guilty as charged. I come from a fairly large family. When my mother was pregnant with my younger sister she engaged me in the new baby, to prevent jealousy and for some help. I became like a second mother. Actually, neither my sister nor I wanted these roles, but when we started to divert from them, our mother pushed us back to them. As adults we both work hard to stay away from the childhood roles. I walk on eggshells around my sister to not give her advice, or anything that could possibly be construed as direction, and even when her plans are flawed, I don’t say anything up front, and act surprised when the inevitable happens.

And the broader family? Well today my buttons well and truly got pushed. My siblings are great people, non-conventional, with a very dry wit and I love them. However, we never really got along as one unit, but we managed, and in smaller combinations did get along very well. This dynamic changed when partners arrived with a series of rules of behaviour that were not explained but implemented as universal standards of truth. Then we were judged against them, harshly and as failing. Small fractures, became chasms and volcanic eruptions, this meant some relationships were irrevocably harmed.

I opened facebook today (a mistake I know) to see some snide comment, which to the rest of the world looks an innocent amusing aside, but to me is an arrow straight to my heart. Breathe deeply, don’t dwell, don’t react, I tell myself. I calm down, and anger is replaced by sadness as I retreat to lick my wounds and know this is another thread severed in a fragile connection. The shattering of the family I love and my closeness to the place I was brought up, seems like an irreversible disintegration process and impossible to rebuild or repair.

I know that I am not alone, that many, many families have similar experience. I know that evolutionary biology, programmes humans to break from their families to search new lands. But the logic doesn’t make it less painful.

How do you cope when your buttons are pushed? Is it better to segregate or engage?


A Moodscope member.

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