...My path forward is to bury my feelings. I will pretend its ok, because my self sacrifice is what will pay for my marriage to remain intact and to give my kids a more normal view of whats normal. I will swallow my pain and hopefully I can learn to stop feeling. I hate them all. I survived my Dad beating my Mom, my parents cheating on each other. My parents losing everything through their drug habits. You can't escape it. The dysfunction is like a disease that poisons your life and colors your choices. I can't imagine how my kids see me sometimes. I feel like a black cloud is hanging over my head all the time. That because I held down a good job and escaped, my cross to bear is maintaining relationships with people who hurt me. Or the other option is amputation and living with emotional phantom pain. It is just so hard. I don't know why I posted, I just feel dead inside today.
I'm sorry this has been so hard for you. Have you ever talked about this with a therapist with experience in PDs? Therapy helped me a great deal early on when I went NC with my dNPD father. I plan to never speak to him again. He has done enough harm to me. I am at peace with that decision. A few thoughts to consider--have you been assessed for depression? I have PTSD and one of the symptoms is depression. I was against taking meds, but gave it a try and I'm doing much better. Perhaps you are sad because you are depressed or because you were mistreated by these people all of your life. For me, when I went NC I had to face the reality of my father's abuse of me and other family members. It was incredibly painful.
Also, you are imagining your mother and brothers are happy. It sounds like they are abusers and users and that is not where happiness comes from. It comes from giving, not taking.I wish you the best. You don't need to do this all on your own. Recognizing and getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
Wookiepunch, The replies here are of the best I have ever read and I pray that they will help you on your journey OOTF. What came to my mind was the phrase "looking back through rose-colored glasses." I found this anecdote below to be so true of us on this lifelong trek breaking free from the past. https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/seeing-the-world-through-rose-colored-glasses/
Wookiepunch, your posts are always so honest and REAL. I admire that about you. Your pain is real, too, and I totally get that. I have lost my whole FOO also and I FEEL the loss as you describe. It is worse than losing someone to a death, because with the loss come the unjustified feelings of self-blame and--let's face it-- societal blame. Also, it isn't final like a death. There's always the sad and pathetic longing that if we do something better, say something better, maybe just maybe, these people whom we love (as much as they hurt us) could be back in our lives.
Can I gently suggest that some of the torment you are feeling is coming from fleas? One way the PDs control us is to make us respond to bad behavior. To vie for their love. The result of this flea is that we tend to take for granted and overlook the kind, normal people in our lives because we have a deep-seeded NEED to put our attentions on winning the favor of the difficult people in our lives. That's how we grew up. We survived by catering to the crazy people and attempting to appease them by being "good" (meaning perfectly compliant). This is why so many of us naturally gravitate towards PDs long after we are out of our FOO household. We aren't repulsed by PD people, like normal people are. We meet them and we strive to make them value us! We have an unconscious desire for them to find value in a relationship with us and we end up getting used and manipulated over and over by people who are no good for us. Meanwhile, we neglect and don't appreciate the "safe" people in our lives, the reliable and dependable people who just love us and like us and don't dramatically keep us as their emotional slaves.
You have somehow managed to find a wife who loves you for you. She is a treasure! She values you and sees the best in you and gets her pleasure not from seeing you hurt or thwarted (like a PD would) but by seeing you happy and strong. She sees that your FOO makes you sad and weak. So do you. But your fleas make you go into the old pattern we all must unlearn. We turn away from our lifelines (your wife) in order to keep trying to win back the love of people who DO NOT KNOW HOW TO LOVE. You can still love them. You can still value the good times you had with them. But you can never rest safely in their love because it isn't real love. Love to them is a tool, a manipulation they use to keep you trying harder in your relationship with them.
Like you, I went NC with my FOO more out of protection and love for someone other than myself. If they all hadn't tried to pin my non-compliance on my daughter, I would still be in Dysfunction Junction. But my attitude towards my daughter is different than what I see in your words about your wife. I am so thankful everyday that my daughter's strength helped me to be strong. I think your fleas are making you seem resentful of your wife. Like, if you didn't have to protect her or stand up for her, you could go back with a new approach and Master Plan to make them all love and appreciate you. But THEY DON"T KNOW HOW TO LOVE. Your wife does. You know this. Your fleas are making you take her love for granted and seek the unattainable love of your FOO. Fleas sap strength from the host. They make the host constantly uncomfortable. My hope is that, by showing you a flea that maybe you just can't see in yourself, you will be able to eradicate it from your life. You will feel so much stronger and more comfortable in your own skin when you do! I know you don't mean to sound resentful of your wife, but your flea is affecting her as well. She is your ally. With my daughter, I don't focus on what I lost due to my FOO forcing me to choose between my loyalty to them or to her. I focus on being thankful that she showed me how to be strong. I was not strong at first, and I have days where I feel very sad. It's Ok that you miss them and are sad! But don't overlook the blessings in your life (wife and kids who actually know how to love you) because you are so busy trying to earn the love of people who DON"T KNOW HOW TO LOVE.
What is the "gray area" you are missing here? My personal feelings about NC is that you never completely get over the pain of disappointment that you were dealt this disordered family that is never going to live up to your hopes because they are incapable of it. But that pain significantly diminishes over time. As you consciously make an effort to work through the pain by channeling your energy in a positive direction, you carve out a new life for yourself. The "new path" you take becomes more familiar over time and less scary. Your FOC replaces your FOO and you have a new sense of belonging to a family that cares about you. Right now you are going through the worst of it, feeling the isolation of the old and familiar which although dysfunctional, is at least familiar. The unknown can be a frightening thing. So give yourself some time to work through your feelings-- including the isolation and anger. As others on this website have pointed out, NC is rather like a death and there are various stages of grieving you go through. I have personally found that trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle-- i.e., diet and exercise-- goes a long way to improving my mental state. Take good care of yourself.
Rather than "burying your feelings", I recommend a stint of therapy with a competent empathetic therapist.You note that you were a "good brother and good son"; that doesn't mean your mom and brother have reciprocated, your mom's not been a "good mother" TO YOU, nor your enmeshed brother a "good brother". Their past behavior is disrespectful and disdainful, you do realize this? You noted your own "old habits", which include: 1) being super-helpful to your FOO Family; 2) being super-tolerant of their abusive behavior; 3) being super-selfless when attending to them. It's a list of obligatory "do for me's", symptomatic of a SG child valiantly trying to "please mom", evidence of significant expectations and obligations unduly placed upon ONE PERSON, and not reflective of a loving supportive mother and adult-child relationship. By definition, that dysfunctional dynamic is emotionally unhealthy, and warrants emotional distancing, which you've appropriately done, with encouragement from your wife.
Even though NC is quite appropriate, it may still feel alien (to your self-imposed expectations) and wrong (to your childhood upbringing's "mom can say and do whatever she wants; I just need accept it"). I think subconsciously you're somewhat "blaming wife", because of that childhood "mom's always right, even when she's wrong" sensibility, rather than rightfully assigning responsibility for the estrangement to the guilty parties, your FOO Family that believes it's okay to be badly behaved and disrespectful to you and your own family. Therapy would provide you with more validation, from perspective of a professional therapist versed in pd-disorders and dysfunctional families, and help absolve you of that misplaced guilt and remorse. Your emotions are real, your sense of abandonment is real, but re-engagement, without genuine reconciliation and remorse on their part (not yours), is just an invitation for more abusive behavior and emotional turmoil.
I believe your "self-sacrifice" was what you already sacrificed to your badly-behaved mom, and your FOO Family's expectations that you "obey and abide". Your expressed notion of "self-sacrifice" now, to give your own family "normalcy", is instead just plain old self-preservation and fundamental consideration of your own emotional commitment to your wife and children. Your FOC Family comes first. Given what you've described here in your post, I suspect you were the "parentified" child expected to "fix things", to place no expectations or demands on your parents (or brother), to quietly execute their demands and comply to their expectations with nary a contrary word. My role in my own high-functioning (no drugs, no alcohol) dysfunctional FOO Family required me to do same: be that selfless dutiful child. I also felt I was "doing something horrible" whenever I didn't comply with my parents expectations and demands, that I "owed them" despite my sad childhood as the exemplary daughter with two neglectful punitive parents, that my FOC's preferences and needs came second to my parents' entitlements, and any "deviations from script" would result in disaster. I was in my mid-50s before I summoned enough courage to "go NC", long long overdue, my own FOC long negatively-affected by their exposure to my npd-enmeshed FOO. With therapy, I was finally able to realize I was a valued person too, my feelings and needs mattered too, and that my relationship with my parents (and nsis) was emotionally-harmful to me and my FOC. I think you need more validation to gain full acceptance that your NC decision is the correct choice for you and your FOC too. Best wishes to you.
Hi Wookiepunch,I'm very sorry that you're going through this tumultuous, emotional time. It is very painful, and I've been in similar shoes in the past. Last month was in fact a very low period for me when some news of my FOO surfaced in an unexpected place when I was just trying to mind my own business online (Twitter). That's a long story that I won't go into, but I will tell you that the effects of certain knowledge about my FOO triggered me into what seemed like the Dark Ages, and I thought I wouldn't see the light. But here I am, one month later and things are much better.Like you, I have a very large extended family, and I have been ostracized from everyone. Like you, I was the good child, a caretaker who bent over backwards for people while my two brothers got away with everything, reaped all sorts of benefits, and walked off into the sunshine without ever looking back at all of their very dark ways. Like you, I am now the "bad child (daughter)" because I am NC with NPD parents. Technically, I've only been full NC for 9 months, although I had been extreme VLC for two years before that (no communication at all other than my sending 5 snail mail cards per year on holidays, bdays, etc.) and was LC for 5 years before that.Like you, my partner, in this case my husband, is the healthiest person I've had the fortune of meeting, and he also did not like the way I was treated by my FOO. He thinks that we and our young children (5 and 7) are so much better off without FOO. I know that he is right, but like you, when I get triggered and am in pain, I want so much for FOO to acknowledge me in some way. A part of me still deeply craves validation from them. I want an apology from them more than anything....but I know that I will never get one and that they will never acknowledge any of their actions. Remorse is impossible for them.What I'm finding is that you absolutely cannot bury your feelings. As painful as it is, letting these feelings out---deep sadness, anger, hatred, desperation--is key to healing. About 2 weeks ago, I bought a new CD. I hadn't done this in years but heard a song I liked and so bought the whole album. This turned out to be very helpful (the album, by the way, is called "Spain Forever" and it's a duo with a pianist named Michel Camilo and a guitarist named Tomatito). I only listen to the CD when I'm driving, and what happened was sort of amazing. I was so deeply moved by the music and had to pull the car over to cry while listening to some of the songs. Last week, I did this many times. Each time, I would think about all of the horrible things I've endured with FOO, and how unfair and unjust my situation is. It was a very emotional week for me and I felt drained. However, I must say that I have felt completely reenergized this week. It is as if I had to get all of that pain out. I do not cry a lot, and indeed crying was frowned upon or mocked in my FOO so it became very hard for me to do even when I was young. Being able to cry and let the pain out that way has been immensely helpful. As for medication, I think that sometimes we should not block our depression but should let it wave over us. There are of course cases where medication is necessary, if one can't get out of bed, for example. But if you're just feeling this deep sadness, anger, pain, etc. I don't think you should medicate yourself but that you should go through with feeling your feelings. One thing that could help, however, is some anti-anxiety short-term medication that will help you if you're feeling really anxious. I use benzodiazepines on an occasional basis, usually for if I'm ruminating at night and cannot sleep.Sending big hugs your way, and a wish for you to find strength and love in your FOC, the foundation of which is the healthy family you are building with your wife and children. Although it's sometimes hard to see, a dysfunctional, very large extended family is rotten to the core and not as strong as a healthy, loving, small nuclear family.footprint
That last part of the quote I bolded above-- about how you feel there are only two options. That's engaging in black and white thinking and it's not healthy. There is a gray area here that you are missing. And this sense that you have to bear a cross. That you are "paying the price" for having a good job. You are jumbling up cause and effect here. That's fallacious thinking.