This came up in the comments section of my last post. Nothing makes me angrier than people who tell you, “why don’t you ask your family for help?” when something bad happens and you mention you are in need of financial or emotional support.
I’m not in that situation right now, by the grace of God, but I have been. Many times. And I could never ask my family for help, either emotional or financial, because they’d either (a) say no; or (b) tell me all the reasons why I was being “entitled” and put me on a guilt trip for asking. And the answer would still usually be no. If it wasn’t no, there were always strings attached. But that was as rare as blue diamonds.
Whenever I’ve asked my family for support in the past, they made me feel about 2 inches tall, like how dare I ask for help at my age. At my age, I should be self-sufficient and never have to rely on family for anything. I’ve taken care of myself my whole adult life, and have hardly leaned on them more than I absolutely had to. I avoid asking them for anything and have not in years, even when most people would have. The shame involved in asking is too painful. Even if, say, I was about to become homeless or was terminally ill, I still wouldn’t ask them for anything. I’d rather die first, and that’s not an exaggeration. I doubt they’d care much. Once I turned 18, their responsibility to me was done. No one even paid for my college education, though my parents were far from poor and could have afforded it. I had to work full time and take out student loans. I didn’t even qualify for grants because I wasn’t living at home with my parents. They wouldn’t allow me to.
I remember when I was temporarily homeless during my divorce, and my mother told me to go live in a homeless shelter. With the kids. That’s how “caring” and “loving” these people are. She also sent an email to my father talking about how “she never learns from her mistakes” but she accidentally sent it to me! When I confronted her about her “mistake” (I think it was intentional), instead of apologizing or attempting to explain (of course there was no good explanation for this), she laughed and said “well, maybe it’s for the best you saw that.” She laughed! Talk about no empathy. Another time she told me I should become a nun and go live in a convent and get my needs met that way. She wasn’t joking.
Yet, oddly, she was there for me when my kids were born, helping out when I was recovering from my C-sections. She seemed genuinely caring and concerned too, and was wonderful with the babies. I appreciated her help then and actually believed she might have changed. But soon after I returned to work, it was back to business as usual.
Now I’m No Contact with her, I still hear about how she badmouths me to her other relatives (I’m a “loser” who “never learns from my mistakes.”) If I died, I bet she would blame me, saying things like, “well, she never could get it together and just got what she deserved.” She always found a way to take everyone else’s side but mine, even for things that weren’t my fault. She just always assumed it was me at fault and never gave me the benefit of the doubt, no matter what the situation. She’s a terrible human being but I still don’t hate her.
Maybe people who assume you can go to your family when you need help are well-meaning, and because THEY have supportive, loving families, who always have their back, they assume everyone else does too. Well, that is not the case, not everyone does. Especially when you’re the family scapegoat. People should realize that and not ask. It’s rude.
When people ask me why I don’t ask my family for help or support, I just look them dead in the eyes and say, “my family’s all dead.” That usually shuts them up pretty fast.
I hate tailgaters almost as much as people who tell me I should rely on my family for support, but not quite as much, and that’s saying a lot because I think all tailgaters should be lined up and shot.