Can You Escape Your Family To Save Yourself?


As a 20-year-old college student with as much baggage as accomplishments, I always have the nagging feeling that some (if not most) of the problems that I am carrying in my life are things that my family has dumped on me. So My question is simple yet complex. Are we ever able to recover from the wounds provided by our family and friends?

My sister, who we shall call T, and her fiancé have split up after three years together and the ripple effects of their breakup have negatively affected everyone on both sides of the family… especially me. She has since dove into another (premature) relationship and let’s just say there are going to be lasting effects from this one no matter the outcome of this new relationship.  I love my sister deeply, and despite the situations, she has/will get herself into, her struggles along with my other family issues have been bringing me down mentally and spiritually.

Excluding my eight-year-old niece, I am the youngest in the immediate family and also the most flexible with time and the most intelligent (according to my family). Since I am looked at as “the chosen one” (a term I hate btw) and the most intelligent, I am used as the middle [wo]man when situations come up like the one(s) my sister is going through.

I am constantly asked to travel between boroughs at the last minute (in the middle of the night) and deliver different items, asked to watch my niece when I have classes or need to catch up on work and buy my family items that they will never use but they think they need, etc. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful or problematic because my life is really not that bad and I don’t believe my family is intentionally taking me for granted, but I am getting to the point where I want to buy a bus ticket to the middle of nowhere and marry a man who has never used or heard of the internet and lives in a run-down shed.

Can you successfully escape a dysfunctional family? I don’t know but trust me I am constantly trying to find ways to dodge out of certain situations caused by my own. One I hear every now and then is “if you don’t like the family you were born into… then create one for yourself.” I guess that’s the most reasonable solution, which brings me back to the man in the shed idea I mentioned earlier; if the drama continues, should I pack up my stuff when I graduate college and move to the middle of nowhere then marry and have kids the first decent man I see?

Sounds good to me.

However, I hate kids (at right now in life) and even though I’m not sure where I want to be in five years, I know for sure pushing a stroller is not in the foreseeable future. So what if I don’t want to create a new family to escape my old one? What if I just want to escape? Am I selfish for even asking those questions?

So many questions that I’m not sure if I’m ready to hear the answers to.

All I can say that after talking to countless school counselors over the years and doing my research and family dysfunction I can honestly say it I don’t believe it will get better with time and patience- the problems will just get more complex and harder to navigate through. As I am attempting to amend the problems caused by my family by buying them things and helping them through their struggles, I’ve begun to realize that attempting to “fix” my family through assertive behavior has resulted in becoming the family scapegoat.

As I get older and slowly trying to find my place on this earth, I am trying to help my family by giving them advice to try to help them and making them admit their own behavioral and social problems, they stick to the denial stage and making excuses for those who are the source of their problems and project their passive-aggressive behavior towards me, and now I’m “crazy” and “rude” in their eyes because I am actually trying to give them advice to help them through difficult times. Their “reasoning” causes them to discount anything I have to say as rude and selfish and prevents them from fixing their family issues (which is them projected to others).

So I guess to answer my question is no. You can’t ever escape your dysfunctional family and the wounds they provide you in your childhood. You can try to run away from it and by creating your own family but the issues will still be there unless you address it head-on. You need to talk to therapists and your family to deal with these issues. However, this is easier said than done and It can be hard and even impossible depending on the person to have those conversations. On the contrary, if the people you are trying to reach out and talk to show no real emotional connection with you then you are possibly dealing with narcissists who it will be impossible to try to negotiate with.

As I get older I realize that I am becoming more disconnected from my family. Maybe it’s because I am very independent and don’t enjoy dealing with the drama that is not mine. Or maybe I just don’t have enough in common with them to engage in conversation with them, but I don’t want to get to a point where the drama projected on me will lead me to a point where I begin acting out the same actions that my family is projecting. Due to my family scares, I have found friends that I’ve had would take advantage of me and treat me like a doormat, just like my family does. If I run away and create my own family without addressing my problems, in a couple of decades, I will realize that I’m only trading in one dysfunctional family for another.

Here’s hoping that I along with others who relate to my story will do well in our own paths in life, and find a way to heal from the pain and have a happier life than what we are currently experiencing today.