I'm trying to live my own life and move on, but I still want a relationship with my family.
— The Good Kid
The Good Kid: That signature.
It’s everything. Don’t you think?
You have a rigid and punitive father. You have an accommodating mother. You have, reading between the lines, a brother who is just so done with all of this, and rightly so, given the pettiness and severity of the (latest?) tantrum. A brother who I hope is creating a safe and warm family apart from and in living protest of the tyranny of your vain and self-centered dad.
Or, your ailing dad.
You don’t say whether your father has always been like this, and if he hasn’t, then he could be newly descending into illness instead of living out the latest test to an abusive nature.
For your purposes, though? Your father is who he is now, past or future notwithstanding, and that’s the challenge you need to face. Your inability to sleep, your “suppressed anger” — and, oh, that signature — are all saying you can’t “compartmentalize” this. They also say the nature of your challenge is to separate your identity and sense of well-being from the feedback loop of your father’s approval.
You need to know what you believe in.
You have to trust your own judgment.
And you must summon the courage to live by the code you write for yourself in those first two steps.
I would suggest a narrower, less ambitious solution if I thought one would suffice. But knowing who you are and not trying to answer to anyone but your own moral code — that is how you “live my own life and move on,” that is how you sleep at night, that is how you silence the noise and Kondo the clutter hanging “in the background every time I visit.”
That is how you keep a relationship with your family while also not kowtowing to anyone, or feeling as if you have to just to hang on.
It’s possible that, once you decide where you stand in this familial cold war, your father won’t like your position and will cut you off, too. It’s possible you can’t have your integrity and your family relationships both.
However, coming at it from a position of integrity cuts through the torment. It reminds you that you had only bad options to choose from and this was the one you decided, after careful thought and self-analysis, you could live with.
Good family therapy might be just the sleep aid you need. The more years you’ve spent under Dad’s emotional rule, the more stands between you and your peace.