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My family look down on me

Solve your life dilemmas with advice from Maura O’Neill


Families can be rude for many reasons.

Families can be rude for many reasons.

Families can be rude for many reasons.

Dear Maura:

I go home most weekends, but I don't know why because I get nothing but putdowns. My mother thinks that unless you're getting dirty working then you're not really doing much. My sister and her husband run the family farm, and mam lives with them.

The whole time I'm there it's all, 'God help them, there's not enough hours in the day for them, they don't have time to eat'. All this kind of thing. I work in a solicitor's office and I'm there most nights until 7pm. But nobody asks me about anything to do with my job. I have an important job and I love my work.

One afternoon I called in because I couldn't visit that weekend and the remarks about my suit and general appearance were undermining. What's going on here? I can't understand it on any level.

My mother was pleased when I went to college, but dad was the person who always supported me. I miss him. He passed away two years ago. In a way, I realise that I don't really feel like I belong at home now he's gone. It's so sad - I'm very much a person who does her duty as far as family visits are concerned, but it's getting harder.

Answer: I think the reason you go home as regularly as you do is because of your dad, and to keep his memory alive in some way. Maybe some bereavement counselling would help you work through this? There is still a sense of duty for you even though you are far from being welcomed with open arms when you visit now. I am not sure what that dynamic is all about.

Could they feel jealous of you? Are they judging you incorrectly thinking that you are looking down on them? It's very odd.

Chat with a therapist and find the strength to describe to your family how you feel when you come home. Then take a break from that routine. Let them think on what you've said. Not being controlled by the obligation to visit is key.

Am I in danger of becoming a recluse?

Dear Maura: 

Query:  I’m 55 and live on my own. I’ve a daughter, (27) working abroad. I find that since the lockdowns I’m less inclined to go out even now with everything getting back to normal. I do some substitution teaching at primary level and I get on with the staff but I wouldn’t have ever socialised with them. My worry is that I’m too cosy at home. I’m on holidays and my days are mostly spent at home where I’m happy. I try to make myself go out, but I love just being at home watching a good film with my cat. Am I becoming a recluse?

Answer: You certainly seem content and have worked your way through the pandemic with a positive attitude.

The fact that you’re worried about staying at home so much makes me feel that somewhere deep down there’s a niggle telling you not to settle for this. Have a think about what else and what sort of outings you might like to do.

Try taking a favourite book to the coffee shop and see how you feel. Balance is important. An odd outing will make coming home to the couch more inviting. Mix it up a little and see how you go.


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Email your problems to
Dr Angela Brokmann dr.angela@sundayworld.com
Maura O’Neill maura.oneill@sundayworld.com
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