The idea our closest relationships are meant to be difficult is a myth.
Life is meant to be difficult; our close relationships are meant to support us in getting through life. In difficult times we bond closer - the relationships themselves should not be creating the difficult times.
They are meant to make us feel good despite what is going on in the outside world. In close relationships worth having you do your best to support the others you relate to, right?
Not everyone thinks like this though.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are thinking 'well I know relationships are meant to be difficult but I did not think they were supposed to be this difficult', and you have been thinking this for some time, it may mean you are missing out on a fact staring you in the face but too painful to face up to yet:
you are not in a relationship worth having.
You may not, in fact, be in a relationship at all. Relationships are two way. At least two people see themselves as being in 'a relationship'; contributing to and benefitting from that relationship and each cares about the experience the other is having. The most important factor is a sense of trust. By thinking highly of them you have opened your Unconscious Mind to this other person and they can now dip right in and affect your feelings directly - so trust is vital.
The main criteria for developing trust in a relationship is that all participants relate. If relating is blocked because of mistrust there is no relationship. Do they mistrust you?
If the other person or people refuse to relate to you as you wish to be related to, if they treat you with mistrust or you find them untrustworthy, you need to acknowledge this and decide accordingly.
Your commitment, your investment of time and love and energy, the hopes and dreams you have for the future of this relationship could be yours and just yours alone.
Those negative emotional responses you might be having, the occasional outbursts of rage or crying or grief in response to how you are treated or not treated and then which you feel guilty or really bad about? Those are signs your Unconscious Mind knows what is going on but your Conscious is refusing to listen to it.
We are surrounded by relationships working just fine without all that angst. The people in them are having no difficulty making them work. They just work. You can have those kinds of relationships too - but you have to accept not everyone is suited to you; not even, unfortunately, blood relatives.
No, you cannot change your blood relatives genetically - but you can change whether or not you relate to them physically and emotionally.
If you are dealing with blood relatives who hold the threat of 'excommunication from the family' over your head while they act abusively towards you, relying on the myth of your having no choice but to put up with it (a myth you yourself maybe perpetuate and need to change) I would suggest you challenge those relationships.
But there is a risk you could lose them. I have. Two blood relatives of mine borrowed money from me continuously week after week for seven years.
One repaid me by stealing from me while the other ended the relationship when I explained I did not mind loaning the money so much as I minded the lack of warmth and communication in our family - when I loaned money I was 'liked' but if I did not loan money or the money was not wanted I was belittled - I wanted us to be a proper family. I was met with a cold, heartless stare and an 'I never want to see you again' in response.
I respected that decision.
There are other blood relatives I have disconnected from for similar reasons - but really I have not disconnected from them so much as made it clear what kind of relationship I was willing to have or not have and stuck to my 'guns'. I used to be emotionally very ill because I could and would not make this kind of tough decision - relationships that do not serve you and the others involved emotionally are a form of self-imposed torture system.
I have not come away from these things completely blameless - I often got very negatively emotional along the way. But I have learned that when I feel helpless in getting a relationship to work it is because usually the relationship is unworkable.
We have no power, right or ability to force others to like, respect or value our contribution to their lives. When we feel helplessness in a situation like this it is because we are genuinely helpless!
The benefit of going through this experience is we get better at spotting, taking part in and enjoying empowering relationships as a result and avoid those potential relationships that would leave us high and dry and possibly emotionally sick again.
Testing Your Relationships
One way to test whether or not you are in a relationship worth having is to ask the other person straight whether or not they think the two of you are in a relationship worth having - when they ask why you are asking just tell them you are going through a phase of testing all your relationships.
How do each of you feel about the relationship? Each of you should be able to explore the highs and lows and the worries and history of the relationship without either of you becoming too defensive. This is not intended to be a slanging match - this is exploring the wonder of having a relationship at all. How do each of you see the relationship developing?
Talk about the future of the relationship. This may seem like a strange, frightening thing to do but we need to bust through that other myth: relationships are like magic and if you talk about the magic the magic will not work any more.
In every single relationship I have had that worked (and still works) this kind of discussion was seen as a perfectly natural and valid thing to have. In those that did not work, and which were extremely painful to work on, these kinds of discussions were a taboo and were met with aggressive responses.
My personal experience is that making tough decisions in this area of life is of primary importance in emotional self-care (not just for yourself but for the others involved, too).