Feeling Disconnected in Family

By March 8, 2021No Comments

I lived with a narcissistic single mother for the first decade of my life. My brother rescued me from that situation, and he and his girlfriend raise me now. She is like a sister to me, and we quickly grew an immense bond. I loved her with all my heart. We lost my brother’s father to cancer, and she has had to take on two jobs to pay off debt. She’s constantly stressed out and tired. And that love that we once shared has started to fade. It feels like it’s become a one-sided relationship. She prioritizes her own convenience over my happiness and education, she only finds flaws in my housework, and she rarely makes an effort to spend time with me. The only family time we ever have is because my brother persuades her into it. When he is working late, she usually just makes me do something by myself. I convey love through physical touch too, and until now she has let me and reciprocated it very well. But now she acts touch repulsed towards me, she told me that she only feels comforted by touches from her partner but her mom told me that she likes physical affection from family too. Sometimes she will touch me as if it was back to normal but a minute later she’ll push me back and get upset if I’m too close to her. Why is this happening? Is she finally realizing that she doesn’t want to raise me? Does being biologically unrelated really play such a big factor in her love for me?


  •  Thank you so much for reaching out to us at TeenCentral for support. It sounds like you have had some stressful experiences when it comes to family relationships. It also sounds like you have the STRENGTH to overcome them. We appreciate you trusting us with such a meaningful and personal part of your life story.
  • Experiencing any kind of change in an important relationship can be hard to handle, and you aren’t alone. Especially over the past year, we’ve received a lot of stories from others going through similar struggles – We encourage you to check them out. Another good read is the article on “Missing affection” within our “What’s New” tab. If you feel like you need extra support, we have a “Tools” tab with great resources you can use daily such as a support plan, and even a daily positive reminder if you need a little mood boost.
  • It’s really great that you were able to create such a strong bond with your brother’s girlfriend, and what a special gift that they took you and in committed to raising you. It can be a challenge to build a good relationship with a caregiver that isn’t a family member but it sounds like you had a good start despite some of the recent hard times. You mentioned it’s hard to spend time together but has there been any chance to try and talk with her so you can share how you are feeling? If you don’t want to or can’t talk with her, is there someone else you feel comfortable talking to like your brother or another trusted positive adult?


  • Everyone has different ways they handle and are affected by stress, including both you and your brother’s sister. Is it possible that she’s having a hard time coping with the extra stress she’s experiencing? This doesn’t mean what you are feeling is less important, it just means we all struggle at times and it can affect those we care about. What is important is that you find healthy ways to cope with how this makes you feel. Have you tried journaling? That can be a great way to express and organize your feelings. You could even use it to help you communicate with your brother and his girlfriend.
  • Consider what may be going on with your brother’s girlfriend that may help understand the change you’ve seen in her. It’s not unusual when we get really stressed and tired to have trouble focusing on things because we get caught up in our thoughts and our stress. Consider what it would be like to talk with her and your brother about this disconnected feeling. You may be surprised that they have some similar feelings. Because you’re struggling to find time together as a family, consider making the most of it. Commit to having dinner together, playing a game together once a week, going for a walk together if the weather is nice, etc. Think quality over quantity. You may feel just as connected and loved with one hour together really connecting versus four hours together with everyone on their phones and just sharing space.
  • Physical contact can be important in feeling connected and cared about. That can be hard these days, especially during this pandemic but don’t worry, there are creative ways to help with this need. We have an awesome “Virtual Hug” that is both in the article we recommended above and also in our “Tools” tab. Some people even enjoy things like weighted blankets or wrapping themselves tight in a preferred blanket if they don’t have a weighted one. Depending on your preference, some people even use stuffed animals sprayed with their favorite scent for a calming effect. Most important part is finding something that works for you.