I became unreasonably dismayed that my online art therapy teacher asked me to make a family tree as one of the projects. I pushed pause and walked away. (Nice advantage of an online class.) I took all day to hash through why I was so unreasonably upset over a simple assignment. Well, with my family nothing is simple. I thought perhaps part of the reason was it only had my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, no room for children and grandchildren who are more important to me. That was only part of the issue. I realized that part of my resentment is our family is dysfunctional for generations. I thought longer about the assignment. Then I remembered something that one of the adult children of narcissists suggested. Sit down and work out the family role of each person. In most dysfunctional families there is the main controller (could be a parent or child), there is the enabler, care-giver, scapegoat, favorites and other very specific roles. All is well with the main controller as long as everybody lives by their unwritten rules. Things get upset when people break out of their designated places. My sister and I worked together on this assignment. We came to an agreement how each person in our family was enmeshed with the main controller. Please understand that the main controller may be the quiet teary eyed victim. Most people will be puzzled by this apparent contradiction. I learned first hand a person can use their victim-hood to manipulate others into dancing their tune. Weird strange and twisted only a few of the adverbs that come to mind. I stepped in range and sure enough the crazy dance started up as if it never ended. Perhaps it didn’t, just a pause. First thing you have to do to assign these roles is to stop lying to yourself. It is difficult to take a hard look at how your family is functioning or dysfunctioning. (My counselor said that our family put the fun in dysfunctional. He also recommended that I go completely no contact. I didn’t but I no longer lie to myself that all is well and comfy. It isn’t. It is sad.) I am working at changing how I interact with my children. Breaking the chains of generations of abuse is no easy task. In some ways I blew it. In other ways I did better for my children than was done to me. Hopefully my children will improve on what I did. Unraveling dysfunctional families takes time and effort. However, it is worth the struggle to feel like my own person. I needed to accept that I was not a beloved daughter but a feared enemy, bad guy, all around it’s my fault. Not that it actually my fault, reminds me of the quote,”I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I am going to blame you.” Step out of my role. Let things fall where they may.