Dear Captain Awkward,
I wrote to you a while ago because I wanted to move and felt like my boyfriend, who I was then living with, was holding me back. Well, the good news is I moved. I’m living with my parents now and I’ll start a education here in January. My boyfriend and I are trying to make our relationship work long distance, with no promises for the future made, which is exactly what I want right now. I’m also trying to find a place of my own.
The problem is, my sister, also living at home, and my dad fights a lot. I have a hard time dealing with noise in general and it’s really hard for me to relax when people are yelling at each other in the other room. I’ve tried several times asking them to be less loud, but that doesn’t really work. My dad tends to overreact to any criticism and my sister has a problem with accepting that confronting him about behavior she finds hurtful or annoying will never lead to him actually changing or even apologizing. My dad also has some problems with alcohol, and while he’s never violent and manages to function anyway, I suspect it might be a reason for his behavior. However, the combination of this leads to them spending hours fighting, several times a week. It’s making me resent them both a little. I really need some advice for coping with that situation. I get along great with my sister. We have fun together and she’s a big emotional support for me. I also get along fairly well with both of my parents, although less so with my dad. But it’s hard for me to deal with the fact that whenever the two of them are home at the same time, there’s a big possibility that I’ll have to listen to them fight.
Is there something I can do to make them fight less, or at least make less noise? And if not, do you have any suggestions for dealing with the negative feelings the situation is causing for me? I’m working on just finding a new, quiet, place to live, but that might take a while.
I’m glad your move worked out. Re-reading my answer, I was kind of a jerk about your boyfriend, so I’m glad the two of you found a balance that works for you.
I’m sorry to say that there is nothing you can really do about your dad and your sister. A “Hey, can you guys quiet down?” may work, but probably won’t. Their relationship is their relationship. Your sister will deal with your dad in her own way and figure it out in her own time. If you insert yourself in the middle, you might find them both yelling at you instead of each other.
I can relate to your situation a lot. I am noise-sensitive like Poe character. I like long interrupted silences where no one talks to me, and it’s really stressful and awful to listen to other people bickering or yelling. As a child, I would read a book and tune out all other sounds, which would lead my dad to snap his fingers in front of my face and yell “What’s the matter with you, huh?” because he’d been talking to me for the last 10 minutes and I hadn’t heard a word. My folks took me to the doctor to test my hearing several times because it worried them. Turns out no, I wasn’t deaf – I was just ignoring them.
It’s a good call to look for your own small quiet place to live. In the meantime, I suggest you invest in a set of noise-canceling headphones and go the fuck to the library to get as much quiet and alone time as you can. Figure out your dad & sister’s schedule and try to find a regular activity (working out, reading at the library, seeing friends) when you know they will both be around and you need a break.