In my heart I want to go NC…

Today’s thought is this: In my heart I want to go NC.  In my head I am too scared to deal with the consequences of that, mainly, upsetting my grandparents.

This realisation came to me after talking to my fiancé last night about our wedding and the reality of that day without my mother and stepdad in it. I know that it wouldn’t only be them two that no longer came, it would also include my sister and her boyfriend, possibly my step-siblings and their partners, aunts and uncles, possibly cousins and, the hardest of all, my grandparents.

There is a chance that my grandparents would come, although I am not entirely sure about that BUT what I think would happen is that my Nan would make me feel such intense guilt and sadness at how upset SHE was on behalf of my mother (feeling sadness for her daughter). I don’t want to make my nan feel like that, I really don’t and what’s more, I don’t want to have to hear all the shame-inducing and guilt-tripping things she would no doubt say in attempt at getting us back together.  She would mean well, but all that would happen is that she would get upset and I would end up defending myself or feeling invalidated and getting angry. I really, really, REALLY want to avoid that situation.

Equally however, I don’t want to live my life in FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) and possibly more importantly, I no longer want to dance to her tune. I am done with acting the good girl, faking it out to please her or even just smiling and not biting until I get home where I then spend hours crying and going over all the shit things she has said or done, or even just feeling the emptiness of the relationship and lack of connection. I don’t want that anymore.

So where does that leave me?

In my dysfunctional family, you can have a HUGE argument, say awful things and then at some stage, my mother would decide to act like nothing had happened at all. The event would not be acknowledged and I would be expected to just play along. I did that 3 years ago after our first huge argument (where I confronted her with childhood stuff for the first time – I had just started counselling and found out she is narcissistic). This time, I am not willing to do that but equally I have realised that talking won’t get us anywhere because we see things far too differently for there to be any kind of middle-ground or compromise.  My mother would have me believe that acting like nothing had happened and carrying on was some kind of forgiveness – that if you didn’t do that, YOU had the problem and were harbouring bad feelings unnecessary (and cruelly) but now I see it as denial and a refusal to take any ownership for her part in things.  (I am SO glad I have got to this point at last!).

I read an article this morning on the way to work which said that the daughter of the narc mother felt she was in “Low or No Contact Purgatory” where she wasn’t prepared to make a decision to go no contact so she just did nothing. I can so relate to that feeling at the moment! She wrote “I just did nothing, I didn’t call her and she didn’t call me” – oh hi! How similar are our stories right now?!

My sister and I aren’t speaking still and the sad fact is that my sister has been “promoted” to golden child in the years since I made a conscious effort to limit my contact with my mother and to emotionally distance myself. She has changed so much and it is so sad to see her exhibiting narcissistic tendencies.  We argued the night I fell out with my mother, in fact it is what started the arguing off in the first place, she is now very much “on my mother’s side” so I know that if I go totally no contact, that I won’t have her in my life either. I never imagined my sister wouldn’t be in my life.. she is meant to be one of my bridesmaids (not that she has shown the slightest bit of interest in the wedding)… it is very sad.  I also know that at some stage when she feels depressed next, she may possibly come to me and my fiancé and she will want to discuss my mother and slag her off to us…. I do worry about that and I worry about how a relationship between us would realistically work when she would tell my mother everything about me and my life – even if I asked her not to. That is just the dynamic with my mother and she will want to keep her elevated place with her in-between the depression phases.  I don’t like that one bit, but I sadly understand it. My sister is unable to remain neutral or not to involve herself, she just will.

My mother triangulates with me and my sister and always has. My mother taught me and my sister not to have a healthy relationship. She taught us to slag each other off to her to gain some perverse approval… she has told me so many times that HER mother hates her getting along with my aunty (her sister)….she has told me so many times how she LOVES it when me and my sister get along. That is a giant head-fuck because it is a lie.  Maybe my Nan does dislike it, but she also hates it.  Dysfunction repeating itself…

It is sad but the longer there is no contact, the less I want to return. It’s why I have some weird hope that she doesn’t contact me (maybe ever?) so that I don’t have to do the dirty work and that I don’t have to be the bad guy. Maybe I wouldn’t lose my sister or my grandparents if it were my mother that made the cut.  It’s some kind of fucked-up shame that won’t happen (what a strange sentence to type!).

Just like the article I read this morning says, my mother doesn’t want me to talk about my childhood. She wants me to “move on” – basically she wants me to shut up and not upset her or what people think of her. I can’t do that anymore. In that article there was an image of a letter and it read:

“Thank you for your voicemail Sunday night. I’m sorry I haven’t had chance to call you back. I am working on some personal issues regarding my emotional health and I am requesting time away from our relationship while I work on improving myself. When I am finished I will let you know.  During my time of reflection and work, I do not want to receive any calls from you. Of course if there is any kind of emergency I will let you know and ask that you do the same. 

Please understand this is about my emotional health and well-being. During this time I will be working on letting go of some of my unrealistic expectations. It is important to me that I give myself the opportunity to repair my self-esteem so that I can continue to work on being less emotionally reactive during our encounters. I also am working on eradicating negative internalized messages into positive ones. This is what I am choosing for myself right now because I have come to an understanding that I need time to heal.”

I thought this letter was wonderful. The only concerns I have is that it makes it sound as though I am owning/accepting 100% of the “blame” or “fault” and that doesn’t sit comfortably with me. But I guess it is the least controversial way out.  Is it telling her too much to say that I would be working on my self-esteem or my unrealistic expectations? I mean, it is the truth but….?

That’s where I am with it all today (so far!).

 

Article referred to and quoted from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/fridaynightheretics/2015/09/breaking-up-with-mom-part-1/ Part 1 and Part 2

 

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Empaths & Narcissists: Wising up

Hi all, happy Sunday.  I’ve been having a lot of inner-dialogue today so thought I would take some time to sit and write and clear my brain out a bit.

I feel pretty good really although busy in my brain.  The main thing occupying my brain space at the moment are thoughts about empaths and narcissists.  I’ve been Googling a lot about the toxic and dysfunctional attachment they have with each other, or more accurately, myself as empath and the narcissists in my life.

I’ve been doing my usual Googling, looking at quotes on pintrest and reading books to help really cement things in my brain and I’ve learnt a lot of stuff.  I have never really read much about empaths and what they are but I now see that I fit that label very well.

As an empath I pick up on other people’s emotions VERY quickly and easily. I can feel their emotions and I have clearly internalised growing up that it is my job to make those people feel better. To be some sort of healer or something.  I am highly sensitive. I care what other people think about me to excess. I have some sort of antenna for mood changes, facial expressions and various other things that other people probably don’t notice.  I now understand that the purpose of being so aware of these moods/emotions is basically that I have lived constantly hypervigilant.  Always living in fight or flight mode – it was for my own protection! My unconscious plan was that if I stayed alert, I would be able to quickly eradicate any perceived danger from someone who was dangerous (someone who is angry or upset that could cause me harm) and that I could learn to “fix” whatever the problem was for them, I would then be safe again. Hence why I am such a people-pleaser.  It was actually a clever defense mechanism but one that I now need to stop using.

All throughout my life I’ve been called “sensitive” and “needy”. My mother and my ex work friend (hereafter to be named “Tina”) always told me I was overly sensitive and made it clear that was a character flaw, however…… from what I now understand, that is exactly how they liked and needed me to be! If I wasn’t such an empath, if I wasn’t so “sensitive” then I wouldn’t have been able to provide such a wonderful source of narcissistic supply for them. Isn’t that ironic?

Moving on to them, the narcissists in my life – they are attracted to empathetic, people- pleasers like me because we provide them with everything they need to feel good about themselves.  Narcissists are not empathetic people, they do not have the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes, they are not kind and considerate and they need a lot of admiration. They crave everything that an empath happily provides. So unfortunately its a sick kind of win/win situation.  Everyone’s happy.. right? Unfortunately yes, until the empath wises up to whats going on and gets some boundaries OR the narcissist decides to discard of  the empath through boredom and moves on to a new source of supply.

Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes and the two I am writing about, my mother and Tina are very different types. My mother is your more stereotypical narcissist, she is loud, a know-it-all, she is always trying to be the centre of attention, she is fake, a chameleon, she thinks she is beautiful and cares VERY much about material possessions. She is selfish and bossy and she does not care what people think of her because in her eyes, she is the creme de la creme.  Add to that the fact that she is my mother and she had a lot of control over me, plus she had all of my life to train me to please her properly.

The way that my mother controlled me was mainly by her never giving me her approval or love. She was emotionally (and physically) absent and unloving. I never felt good enough for her and so I would do and try literally anything. Every now and again, I would get a very tiny snippet of approval as a reward and I would then know what I needed to do more of .. except it was like she dangled a carrot that I would never reach.  This “approval” made me invent a whole new “self” a fake personality that was much more like her. Luckily that didn’t last and the real self is still here and fighting to get back out. Unfortunately my sister is now at this stage and is clearly becomming more and more sucked in to narcissisim herself for the same reason… our mother’s approval. It’s sad.

Tina on the other hand is a more covert narcissist. She is not physically that interested in her appearance, in fact she is obese. Her narcissism comes from her ability to play the victim card very well. She makes you feel sorry for her. She makes you want to look after her or make her feel better about her miserable life but yet, confusingly at the same time, she makes it clear that she is above you, better than you somehow and much more knowledgeable and well put together than you are. She controlled me by playing on my people-pleasing need and used to guilt-trip me into keeping her happy.  If I did not keep her happy then I would pay the price of her guilt-tripping me (look how sad I am already, are you really going to leave me like this?), making me feel I was being extremely selfish (after everything I have done for you?) or by being more passively aggressive by not talking to me for hours/days and sulking very obviously by slamming and banging things and muttering barely audible things under her breath.  She did also outrightly tell me I was selfish and “rude”.  Tina kept me in a down position. She kept me weak and vulnerable and needy. She kept me small.

And so I spent the last 8 or so years trying to keep her happy at my own expense – as an empath I had no boundaries and I didn’t know where I ended and someone else began. I genuinely didn’t realise that it wasn’t my sole purpose in life to make everyone else feel better! I didn’t even consciously know that I did this.

Its sad actually that I ever attracted Tina in the first place because what drew me to her was how different to my mother she was!! Little did I know she was actually going to be the same (in a different but toxic way).  Tina was bundles more maternal than my mother was, she had children and she doted on them. She spoke about them all the time and she sold me this story of what a wonderful mother she was. It was everything I ever wanted and so I wanted in on that. She called me her “adopted daughter” and I called her “work mum”.  Now I realise how sadly sick that was.

So, here I am now 29 years old, nearly 3 years into some pretty intense therapy for “insecurity in relationships” which actually turned into therapy for attachment based issues, having a narcissistic mother, childhood trauma of various types and other things that I am only just learning about… but I feel genuinely relieved, pleased and, dare I say it? proud that I am understanding all of this for the first time. I am seeing it through clear eyes for the first time in all its distorted, murky, twisted, sick dysfunction and it feels weirdly empowering.

This is what I’m thinking today. I am an empath – I accept that 100% and that being an empath doesn’t make you this sweet, innocent, perfectly nice girl it actually makes you give away your power. It makes you weak and vulnerable. It means you have no self-esteem and you rely on everyone else to tell you who you are. That is not good. Being an empath is a weakness, not a strength.

My mother, and Tina (and my old friend who I’ve previously written about that I walked away from last August) are all narcissists which yes, does make them all selfish and abusive to varying degrees BUT I allowed them to be that way. It is ME that let them have that power over me and ME that encouraged their control to continue.  I accept that too, I own that. [I guess I have slightly more sympathy for myself where my mother is concerned because I was a baby and child who knew no different but hopefully you know what I mean.

So I now understand what part I play in all of this and in life generally I guess. I also understand what parts they play and that means I can change it. I’ve now ended two friendships with narcissists that were bad for me and bad to me. They are now out of my life and the guilt for friend 1 has totally and completely gone. The guilt for Tina is lessening every day, particularly this weekend since I’ve read and understood all of this stuff, it’s really helped to ground me. It is very hard to undo everything you’ve ever known, and it has clearly taken me nearly 3 years of therapy to get to this stage which sounds INCREDIBLY slow doesn’t it? but I think I needed that long to get my head around this, to fight through my defences and to really accept all of it enough to be able to look at it more objectively and change it.

My mother continues to be a hard case to crack, clearly she is never going to be as easy as friend 1 and Tina – there is a lot of deeper stuff involved with her, but one thing that is helping is to know it isn’t actually about me at all. It truly isn’t – I see that now and that takes the sting out of things so much.

On that note, I was with her last night at a gathering at my aunt’s house. I sensed as soon as I saw her some sort of aggression or anger or something. It’s very hard to describe, I can sense it on her. It may be in her eyes or something.. I can FEEL it (see, empath me!) and I acknowledged that to myself. During the course of the evening she got visibly worse, probably helped by alcohol.  By the time we had left the gathering she:

  1. Completely ignored me when I told her me and my fiance were heading to a wedding show today. She literally went “umm” which in my mother’s language means “I couldn’t give two fucks”.
  2. She later called me by another girl’s name who she is friends with. That girl wasn’t even there.
  3. She clearly got jealous that I was having a good time and dancing to the music that my uncle was playing and so turned his music off and replaced it with what “everyone else wanted”. She then told me “it isn’t all about you!” which irritated me beyond belief at the time because I had nothing to do with my uncle’s choice of musi, but today I more clearly see the blatant projection of how it is actually “all about HER”.
  4. She then invited two people to my wedding in front of me! People we had only met once, a year or so ago who absolutely would not be invited to our wedding. I couldn’t believe the front of her. I am not sure whether it was done to get a reaction from me and enjoy my night, because she was visibly irritated by my enjoyment – or – whether she just invited them because she thinks she has the right.
  5. And lastly, on the way home she told me how at a party recently her and my cousin (who I dislike BECAUSE of my mother – long story) were talking together for hours and hours and how she wished my mum was her mum. She literally said “she loves me and said she just wishes I was her mother because we are so close“.  It riled me up so much at the time but today it makes me laugh. What a pathetic attempt at making me jealous! That cousin gives her everything she needs. She showers her with admiration and affection and they are “close” yes, very.. I would go as far as to say dangerously enmeshed. Good luck to them, rather her than me!

So, watch this space. I am making changes and I am feeling good about them. A new me is in the making.

removing toxic ppl

this is the part wherecant change ppl

stage 4 boundaries

Some links that I found helpful:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201602/10-traits-empathic-people-share

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/the-toxic-attraction-between-an-empath-a-narcissist/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-orloff-md/are-you-an-emotional-empa_b_697483.html

 

 

 

Get Out Of Jail Free Card: Toxic Friendships/Relationships

I don’t know if anyone remembers me talking about my work friend a while ago, the lady who is in her mid-fifties that gets very angry and sulks if I don’t go to lunch with her? Well, earlier this week before things went to shit with T, she did it again. The story itself is pretty long and boring so I won’t bother to go into that, but she is currently doing her usual sulking and ignoring me thing which is seriously pathetic! Anyway, me and my boyfriend have just been out to lunch together and we were talking about it and it just made me realise a few things very clearly.

I am suddenly so aware of the amount of friendships and relationships I have had over the years with toxic people or people who are dysfunctional to me somehow. I realise that I attracted these people because it was a familiar dynamic to me. For example I was used to being put down and taken the piss out of by my mother and so I attracted a narcissist as a best friend for 8 years right up until she gave me the perfect get out of jail free card last August. One down.

I then started to realise that work friend is also unhealthy and I realised a while ago that she was also attracted to me for similar reasons. She isn’t out-rightly abusive like the other friend was.  She wouldn’t call me names or tell me I looked ugly BUT she does demand my constant attention and if I choose to do something other than see her, I do get punished. Emotional blackmail.

I found myself saying to my boyfriend today that I was secretly quite enjoying the fact she hasn’t spoken to me since the beginning of the week because I felt relaxed and able to do what I wanted to with my lunch hours at work without feeling guilty or without having to be the subject of her aggression when I walked past her desk (she has previously shouted things out to me as childish as “OH BYE THEN!!!” if I walked past her desk in front of other colleagues which is just pure cringe.

I told him that I was enjoying the silent treatment she was giving me this time and he asked “how long can she carry that on for though?” and I said I didn’t know but she is extremelly stubborn and has never apologised before. She usually blames it something that maks it impossble to argue with (usually that it was the anniversary of someone’s death) and so it gets swept under the rug. He then asked “how long can you carry that on for?” and I said I would quite like to carry it on indefinitely – if only that was possible.  I told him I had thought about how nice it would be if I were to get a new job and be free of her and also said that I’ve imagined what it would be like if she were to leave herself.  I have no doubt that I would feel so much happier every day at work (I know this makes me sound like a cow).

My boyfriend made a comment about how many people like this I have in my life and how he found it rather amazing and I explained that, actually, it isn’t a surprise at all – that was my normal and these two friends of mine were, at the time, exactly what I wanted and needed. People who kept me down, kept me in my place, kept my self-esteem non-existent and kept me dependant on their approval.  I was programmed this way! All things I was used to with my mother. I attracted two more women, both in their fifties (like my mother) who acted in very similarly abusive ways – one just more subtle than the other.

We chatted about this for a while and he made a jokey comment about “who was next” meaning who was next to get “cut” from my life. I think he was joking although I do wonder if there is a little bit of worry about it being him one day in the back of his head. It will never be him because he is so genuinely kind and loving to me. I’ve never felt love and acceptance like it in my entire life. Still, it must make you worry a little when your girlfriend is in therapy for years and you see her change and make adjustments to what she will and will not put up with – and when that includes actual people – it must be a bit scary, right?

scissors

The thing is that I am linked to the two that are left: bitchface (mother) and work friend in ways that make escape very difficult.

With bitchface there are all sorts of difficulties there, family ties, taboo and possibly (although I find this hard to even write at the moment), POSSIBLY a tiny bit of hope that hasn’t quite gone awayyet that she will suddenly get better (I know, I know..).

With work friend, I have to see her EVERY DAY. I have to walk past her desk constantly every day to get to the bathroom and to get to the kitchen – to leave the office – everything. We also have to communicate about actual work now and again but that is easy because we have email and so that helps.

The point I am trying to make is, I feel kinda stuck with this unhealthy “friendship” and as awful as I feel saying this, if I didn’t work with this woman, I would absolutely not consider her a friend. I would not meet up with her and I imagine the polite texts that would no doubt be exchanged if one of us left our current job, would pretty quickly stop… until we no longer spoke at all. I feel equally as mean saying that I live in hope that something like that happens to free me from it.

Now I imagine reading that you are probably thinking that I have a massive victim mentality but I don’t mean it like that, I don’t mean it as a “poor me, what can I do” just I feel I am limited in what to do about it without causing great difficulties and heaps of guilt and awkwardness at work. Does that make sense?

I’ve written previously about my weird fantasy that my mother would do something so awful that I could cut contact with her and walk away without guilt – without having to try to get my family or family friends to understand. I know this isn’t going to happen because the abuse my mum put me through is over now (well in that I am an adult and in therapy)  – that all the undeniably bad things she did have already happened and nobody did “see” that ….  but it doesn’t stop the get out of jail free card fantasy that I have about it.

I know it is so cowardly but I wish they were all as easy as removing my ex narc friend from my life. I say easy now but obviously it wasn’t easy at the time at all. I went through lots of grieving for the friendship and felt heaps of guilt and sadness and doubt – but now I see very clearly that it was a very big step for me in terms of healing and removing one of the abusive people from my life.

What makes it so hard with the two that are left is that you can’t talk sense into these people.  They do not think they are doing anything wrong – who am I to moan having put up with it for so long? There are no “you did X and it made me feel like Y” chats to have with them.  One I am trapped into seeing because of taboo and family and the other because I have to see and work with her every day.

So what happens next then?

I guess the only “escape” is to strengthen my personal boundaries (hate that word) and start to make it more clear what I will and will not accept.  I guess that in time, they have to accept that I have these new boundaries or perhaps I will lose my appeal – either way I guess I am a winner LOL. I’m just wishing there was an easier way out – I guess its my own feelings I am trying to hide from, wishing there was a way not to have to feel the fear, the guilt, the sadness and everything else – fast-tracking to the end. If only things were that simple eh?

With work friend, I’ve got better at sticking to my guns. When I tell her I am not having lunch with her and she gets angry or sulks, I’ve stopped responding to her – I used to apologise or defend myself and enter into conversations about it which I no longer do. I state what I am doing and that is it, BUT unfortunately it does still get to me and as much as I hate to admit it, I do still feel the fear. I feel intimidated and nervous when I will then see her or walk past her desk not knowing if I will be ignored or shouted at…… I know it is abusive and childish behaviour but it doesn’t stop me feeling that internal panic – fast beating heart etc.  It’s a proper body reaction. So with that in mind you can imagine what subconscious fear I have in going against bitchface!!!

I guess I just have to find a way to sit and feel the fear, the anger, the sadness, the guilt and not take the easy way out. I guess I need to get brave.

I put on a good front that I am brave and confident but I am not and she/they both know that. They both play on that. I am desperately trying to get stronger and healthier and they are both desperately clinging onto my legs trying to pull me back down.

keep you down

Sometimes when I realise the impact having a narcissistic mother has had on me it still shocks me.

I can only just allow myself to think and write these thoughts without fear of being punished or judged because I understand that I am not a bad person, I am allowed to think “nasty” or “bad” things because we all have these thoughts. I am no different and nobody is perfectly nice and good all of the time. Yet I still find myself saying “I feel bad but.”, “I know it sounds horrible but…” which I guess is still me saying “please don’t tell me I am bad for this.. but“……….

the saga continues…

brave

 

Related posts for background: Life without the narcissist friend, outgrowing roles, emotional blackmail