If you have experienced childhood trauma (or some may say a difficult upbringing), dealing with family members around the “what happened or didn’t happen” or “he/she is not like that” arguments is a common struggle. It is also likely that you were/are not supported by siblings or aunt/uncles or cousins as they are either in denial or see things differently and obviously did not have the same experience you. Managing these conflicting beliefs and stories can be difficult, especially in the age of social media where is seems easier for people to bombard you with their views and perceptions on your personal experiences.
For some reason a lot of people are quick to say things like, “well that wasn’t abuse” or “it wasn’t that bad” or “that’s not what really happened” or even, “well, you were a difficult child” or some other victim blaming statement. I could go on and on. This is just a continuation of the invalidation and lack of support that you received growing up. The abuse culture just continues.
It’s hard enough navigating these problem at holiday gathering (if you still go to them), but I’ve noticed a rise in conflicts in the age of social media.
The availability of new ways to communicate behind a screen often allows people to say things they might not say face to face giving rise to some of these problems,. Another reasons is because if you are sharing blogs/articles or memes or just saying things on social media that you believe in/support/don’t support you are sharing your views on things, that these family members, likely do not agree with. Basically just sharing almost anything, could spark a conflict.
What do you do if a family member attacks you on social media?
Well, there are a lot of options here. If they comment in a public way for others to see I would recommend deleting the comment and blocking them so that it does not cause a war, because you will likely get a war because people will jump in with their two cents. Even if people want to support you and you may want that, it’s probably better to seek their support privately because this will just pour salt on wounds and make the situation worse.
Worried about backlash of blocking family members?
This is when it gets a little tricky and will really depend on what kind of relationship you want to have with someone. If a family member is saying, I’m not going to talk to you anymore because you blocked so-and-so then I would question the value that person brings to your life. If they say something like “it’s too bad you and so and so can’t get along” then I would validate this person and say, “yea it is too bad, but I hope you can honor my decision to do what is best for me.” If they’re worth having around, they’ll honor your decision, even if it makes life more difficult for them and they can explore their own feelings about it.
Should I respond to a private message?
Again, up to you. You can not respond and block, or you can respond in a nice way. I wouldn’t recommend telling them off. Just remember what you say can be shown to others things can be screenshot and used against you. So I wouldn’t say anything you wouldn’t want this person sharing with others. (I know it’s sad to think about this but necessary). So if they send you a PM invalidating your feelings or whatnot and you want to try to keep things civil I would recommend something like, “I appreciate your concern about my perception/my feelings on things but this is where I am at in my process and this is my experience and I am entitled to my feelings. So thank you for your concern, but it will not be changing my feelings/my opinion on the matter.” Or something like that in your own words. First share that you heard the other person, then stand your ground. If they get all upset, they can always block you too. Or you can even tell the person: I really don’t appreciate you continuing to bring this up, if we can’t move on to another topic I will block you. And then follow through – if they bring it up again, then go ahead and block the person.
Depending on how you approach any situation will be dependent on the relationship you want with the person but the important aspects are to 1. Be nice and 2. Be firm with your boundary.
OK, I followed through and now I’m exhausted
Dealing with issues like these are likely triggering because it’s opening up old wounds and they can affect you differently depending on where you are in your healing journey. It is important to honor your triggers and reactions and validate yourself and your feelings in the process. See support from those that validate and support you and be kind to yourself as you recover from an event. Telling yourself to suck it up, is no better than the invalidating and attacking family member that you just had to deal with.
If you googled this and found this article, I’m sorry you are struggling and hope you found value in this article. I invite you to comment below if desired.