My poor scrambled head

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bohemian butterfly

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My poor scrambled head
« on: March 14, 2017, 01:33:58 PM »
Hello Everyone,

I've been a lurker for awhile (just registered) and I first wanted to thank you all for your posts and your advice.  I'm glad I found a safe haven with people that understand.

I'm 40 years old and am the child of an alcoholic (father) and enabler/codependent/uBPD? (mother)

I've been in therapy for years, but last year I found a really good counselor.  For some reason with her, I have been able to make more headway this past year than the past 15-20 years of therapy combined.

I'm here because I am confused;  I feel like my brain has been scrambled and I just need some advice from people that understand.  In therapy, I'm finally, really starting to see that my family is really dysfunctional.  The main issue I'm having is trying to disengage from my enmeshed mother.  But, I'm confused because this anger seems to have come from nowhere and I feel like I am stuck in the past???    Perhaps PTSD?   I'm confused because my parents seem to have gotten better and seem to be trying (dad quite drinking 15 or so years ago) and my mother has been buying us (me, my brother and his family) gifts.   But my mother also wants to be with us all the time (they live 800 miles from us, so when they come, they stay for a week or two and want to do this several times a year)  And before even one visit is over, she starts discussing "OK, when are we going to get together again???!!!"  Very needy!

A little background:

My parents married young.  My mother hid my father's alcoholism from my brother and I until I was 19 years old.  He came home from work (drunk) during Christmas break and she blurted it out to me.   As my father lay on the couch completely skunked, my mother yells "your father is an alcoholic and I've hidden from you guys for years!"  Now, my father was never an affectionate/emotional man and I knew that he would come home from work and hide out in his shed and drink until bedtime, but I never really considered alcoholism until she announced it.  That did two things to me that day.   1)   I realized that never again could I trust men or women to tell me the truth    2)  I was an idiot to not see the signs;  I became hypervigilant from that day forward.

Growing up, I knew the houseplant more than I knew my father.  He literally went to work and when he came home, would eat dinner with us and then retreat to his shed to "tinker" and drink.

My mother wore the pants (was a bully at times) and she seemed like she was always angry.

To the outside, we were a perfect family (dad never took a sick day), we were middle class and had a savings account.

My brother and I were incredibly close (we still are) because I think we subconsciously knew that we had to depend on each other for emotional stability.  We were the perfect children because well, we were scared of my mother.  She used to brag that all she had to do was give us "the look" and we'd fall into place. 



A few fu**ed up things my mother has done......

One day (I think I was 11 or 12) I went to my mother crying.  I had been watching a tv show that triggered a memory of mine (when I was 10 years old, a stranger grabbed my butt in a toy store) and I was just seeking some comfort from her because I got scared (of the flashback) and she scoffed at me.  "Get over it, that was a long time ago!" and she continued cooking.  I remember even then as a child being absolutely stunned.

During my 12th or 13th birthday party, she got into a huge fight (verbal) with my aunt.  My aunt ran out of the house crying, dragging my 2 younger cousins behind her.  I was devastated.  My grandmother comforted me.  I don't think that my mother ever apologized.  Tension for the rest of the party.

She got into a verbal fight with my aunt (same aunt as mentioned above) and uncle during a 4th of July party at our house

She gave me her childhood dollhouse, but expected me to keep it pristine (and return it to her). 

When I was 9 and my brother was 8, she bought my younger brother a puppy.  When I asked if the family cat was mine (because who gives one kid in the family a puppy?????  isn't it supposed to be a family gift???)  She said "no"  the cat is mine and the dog is your brothers.

I was 10, 11 or 12 years old???  My mother had always wanted to learn how to play the piano, so one day she decided to get a piano and take lessons.  After listening to one of her lessons, I expressed an interest in taking lessons too and she said "no, piano playing is mine"

In middle school, I decided I wanted to be in the middle school band.  My mother was excited because she too had been in the band.  She asked me what instrument I was interested in and I said, "the flute!"  She said, "no, I still have my old clarinet, you can play that."

When I was in high school, I joined the cheerleading squad.  My parents went to every game, but my mother used to cheer loudly and obnoxiously in the stands (right behind my coach) laughing LOUDLY and joking the whole time.  I was mortified.  Even the coach was pissed at her behavior.

In high school she flirted with my male friends when they came over to the house, like she used to hang out with us.  My friends thought she was "cool."

When I was 20, I dated a man that turned out to be abusive.  He ended up breaking into my apartment and stealing some of my belongings.  I begged my mother to let me move back home for just a few months until I could get myself back together.  She finally caved, but wouldn't let me move back into my childhood bedroom because she had already redecorated it and didn't want me messing it back up, but allowed me to move into the cold basement.  She hung up a curtain for privacy.


Although she isn't as bad, she is still a bully.  She complains that her grown sisters don't want to visit with her when she comes into town, she tries to dominate conversations, needs to know all details of my life, expects a weekly phone call that used to last an hour or more, says hurtful things when in a group setting.

But in the same breath, she can be caring and sensitive.  But it seems like there is always an underlying catch.  I feel like she is keeping track of her presents and her niceness so that she can say that she is such a wonderful person.

My God, it's really like my head is scrambled.   :stars:

So fast forward (sorry this is so all over the place!)

Along with therapy, I've been reading a TON of books about: ACOA/dysfunctional families, enmeshment, BPD, narcissism, etc.  I've taken notes and I've implemented some boundaries (like some MAJOR boundaries).  but , I think that I've moved too quickly and I'm afraid that I'm not strong enough.

The stew is brewing (no, bubbling over)

I've stopped calling my mother every week (this started a few months ago).  When she complained, I told her that my life had gotten busier.  After a few weeks, she then added some guilt to this bubbling stew ("I really, really miss our talks!")   :-X     (notice not a peep from dad.  He rarely talks to me on the phone and if he does (answers the phone) he quickly passes the phone to my mother)

Now I'm mad.  >:(   I'm mad because I've finally gotten some space, some space to breathe and I can't believe that I'd been torturing myself for so long.  I mean, I'm freaking free and I had no idea that I'd been a prisoner!!!!!   

But now I'm also feeling guilty.  Perhaps she wasn't so bad.  Perhaps she has changed.  Perhaps she is trying to make amends.  Perhaps I am crazy, I mean, I am the one in therapy.  The only one that has sought help........

I feel so crazy right now.

It's been 3 weeks since I last talked to my mother.  I've been so relieved.  But each day that passes is another day closer to a blow-out.  I know it is coming.  I know that she will not calmly ask if anything is the matter.  She will either go off on me or she will withdraw and start shaming me.  My sister-in-law just told me that my parents are coming into town in 2 weeks.  I haven't heard a thing.

So as I type this, part of me doesn't feel so crazy because if the family were healthy, i wouldn't have gravitated to this forum and I wouldn't be studying dysfunctional families.  I would be living my life and because I'm not (and am anxious about it) I KNOW that there is something wrong.

Please, I beg for your thoughts advice.

Thank you so much for reading.   

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looloo

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2017, 02:35:19 PM »
"...The main issue I'm having is trying to disengage from my enmeshed mother.  But, I'm confused because this anger seems to have come from nowhere ..."

Hi Bohemian Butterfly,

Have you ever expressed anger towards your mother?  If so, what usually happens?  And if not, why do you think you haven't?
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”  Oscar Wilde.

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bohemian butterfly

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2017, 03:23:45 PM »
on the few times I have challenged her, I got the silent treatment.

One time in my late teens, I talked back and she slapped me across the face (I had actually forgotten about this incident.  My mother reminded me of it a few years ago.  "Remember when you talked back to me and I slapped you across the face?"  and then she laughed





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bohemian butterfly

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2017, 03:34:54 PM »
And I haven't expressed anger for a few reasons.....

1)  she is always right. She wrote me a letter last year (after I started distancing myself).  The letter was two pages long.  She started off saying, "I'm sorry that you think that you are mad at me, parenting doesn't come with a manual and I did the best I could.  We stood by all your past bad relationships and although we could have helped out, we didn't because it made you the person you are today. "

By the end, she was looking for me to apologize to her because I had caused her pain.

2)  It would disrupt the entire family tree.  I mean, it would shake that tree so hard, all the apples would fall to the ground.    Even last Christmas, with even just a slight pull-back from me, I could feel the ice crystals psychically emanating from my aunt and my grandmother's soul.   I KNOW I will be "scape-goated"  After all, it is well known that I have suffered from depression/anxiety in the past, so it will be MY fault and I will be all alone. 

3)  I'm still scared of her.  I feel like she owns me.

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looloo

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2017, 04:12:59 PM »
I can relate in many ways.  Although I really was angry growing up with my FOO for many justifiable reasons, I wasn't allowed to show anger unless my mother felt like provoking me into a rage, which she did regularly (when no one else was around, of course).  Then she would turn things around and make it seem as if I was the unstable volatile one, and she was the one who had to calm me down  :stars:.  Ugh....I always felt terribly ashamed for losing control of my temper, even though she instigated it deliberately (but I didn't realize that until very recently).  And I never learned that it was ok and normal to get angry, and that handling one's anger is a really critical skill.  I just learned this within the past few years--incredible!

My relationships with friends, coworkers and bosses, romantic partners, with everyone -- they all had this common denominator of me feeling unsafe, or not allowed, to express anger.  I've lost people I considered friends instantaneously not even by acting angry, just by voicing my displeasure or disagreement.  Just, BAM, I was ghosted.   

When I was about 18 (I'm almost 50 now), I remember suddenly becoming incredibly angry with my father.  There was no way I could express it without, like you said, the entire family tree being disrupted.  I had no real skills to even begin to know what to do anyway, but I mostly remember feeling how unsafe it would be to "indulge" my anger, so I just ignored it, and let everything stay status quo.  Doing this I'm sure kept me enmeshed and in the FOG for years longer than was necessary, but the idea of being frozen out by my FOO was too much to take on back then.

I still have rage -- I mean RAGE -- filled dreams about my mother.  Where I'm screaming, being violent, the works.  I'm sure no matter how much progress I make, how much peace of mind I find, I'll never completely eliminate my anger towards her.

Sorry for making this all about me!  I was going to suggest you discuss this with your therapist.  I had a therapist a few years back who was great about guiding me through setting boundaries and communicating when I get angry.  I'm nowhere near perfect at this, but she really helped me.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 04:14:48 PM by looloo »
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”  Oscar Wilde.

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Crayola13

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2017, 04:24:19 PM »
My dad is still an alcoholic but he doesn't rage anymore. He is still controlling, but not to the degree he used to be. For example, he allows my mom to go to lunch with her friends, but always makes a hateful comment about it. I've had multiple types of anxiety disorders because of my dad. My mom and I were afraid to stand up to him. After I left home, she packed her bags three times before he was willing to stop his rages. He's still a drunk, but he's not a mean drunk anymore. Our relationship is great now. I wish he would stop drinking, but just the fact that he is kind to my mom and no longer acts belligerent towards her is enough.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2017, 08:12:56 PM »
Warm welcome and it's great to have you here in the community. Honestly it doesn't sound when little bit like you're confused or scrambled. It sounds like you know exactly what you want, to be not enmeshed. That's very normal for a child to grow into an adult and separate and want an individual life.

The thing is PD parents do not raise their children with this mindset and do not possess this way of thinking at all. For some reason very often the PD parent feels the child will be forever subject to them and tied to their emotional and mental well-being.

"I'm still scared of her.  I feel like she owns me." This is not the way the individual adult separate from the parent would feel and that is likely why it does not feel good for you.

You have the basic human right to live your life and your life only, to not be responsible for your parents emotional and mental well-being.
PD have no power, only words. We choose to give those words power, influence or keep them as they are, empty words. (thx WI) Accepting others are incapable of being anything other than what they are is step one. OOTF affiliate program http://www.outofthefog.net/Books.html

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Menopause Barbie

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2017, 09:53:47 PM »
Welcome, BB! You have come so far already and I am so impressed with all the things you have sorted out. Your post did not seem "all over the place"at all. And your head doesn't seem scrambled either--it seems like you are straightening out your thinking which your mother used to scramble to make you feel crazy or ungrateful or overly critical or whatever accusation of you made her point best that day. Your mom really does sound like a bully. I have only recently come to the understanding that bullies are big bluffing phonies desperate to hide their own insecurities. My uBPDmom was/is insecure too, but she flaunted her weakness in her efforts to make herself feel better without having to go through the stresses of personal growth. Although her behavior looked different than you mom's, they both made a career out of their  underlying insecurity and unhealthy need to never address the deep emptiness  within themselves. My mom used feigned weakness, while yours used feigned strength. Both were emotional bullies so I understand completely how difficult it is to explain what exactly was so terrible about their treatment of us. You did a good job, just through the examples you gave. It is very hard to pinpoint their abuse! That is a sign of how adept they were at abusing! I am basically the poster child for second-guessing if what my mom did was really that bad. Like you said so well, though, "I KNOW that there is something wrong!"

My dad was also an emotionally absent father who admits to being an alcoholic up until my teen years. He would do just what yours did--come home from work, drink, eat dinner,say a few really nasty things to all of us, and disappear, except mine disappeared by falling asleep on the couch at 7 or 8 p.m., depending on the TV schedule or his level of annoyance at my mother. Sometimes she would wake him up to yell at me or manhandle me (force my mouth open to get medicine in or shove my head under the water if I said it was too hot when my mother was washing my hair, stuff like that.) I suspect that my mother purposefully made the water hot and exaggerated my refusals to take medicine,etc in order to get attention from him at my expense. Sick.

I mention all that because I remember when I first started posting here how wonderful it felt to read other people's similar experiences. I wasn't sure if people would read my tales of woe and think, "What is she going on about? That wasn't REAL abuse!" I was terrified that no one would identify with a thing I said and it was such a relief when they did.  I want you to know you belong here and we get it.

As for advice, it sounds like you are instinctively doing all the right things, and your emotions sound completely appropriate to what you are experiencing. I think your goal should be to model for your mother what this new relationship will look like. Just start "doing" your new relationship as you have been by limiting phone conversations. When she inevitably blows up, you can start drawing your boundaries, as they call them here. "I'm sorry you are angry, but if you yell at me I am hanging up/going home." Then do it. If she comes to town, I would meet up with her at a place other than your house because it will be hard to extricate her if she starts in. She will definitely need some time to realize that the new you will NOT be bullied, but with strong boundaries, she may learn that bullying you no longer works. The key word for standing up to your mom's brand of bullying seems to be STRENGTH. I think it is important that you not cry (like your aunt did) because she seems to view that as a chink in the armor to be attacked. Congratulations on your new-found power!  :)

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Adria

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2017, 10:21:10 PM »
Congratulations! It sounds to me that you are on your way.   All of us here get what you are saying and we can easily read between the lines. Your post was not all over the place, but well thought out. Setting boundaries is usually not a one time deal. Some work, some don't, sometimes they need to be rearranged or reiterated.  It's kind of uncharted territory, but necessary. You are going to be just fine. One more thing, crazy people don't usually seek out counseling, sane people do. Take care. We are here for you.

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Blueskies

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2017, 04:02:52 AM »
You are not crazy - you have been programmed not to be angry with your mother. This second guessing and guilt is her programming. I do it all the time. Part of the therapy needs to be reconnecting with your own emotions and instincts - your body. Listen to it.

Obviously you probably won't get anywhere telling her about the anger - but you can work through it in therapy: feel it, understand it, understand where your boundaries are, and maybe come up with ways of protecting yourself. I have tried to tell my bipolar/BPM M when I was angry and she just goes into total denial - gaslighting - and makes me sound mad. You don't need to express anger to her directly. You can just use it to separate from her emotionally - to know what is ok and what is not and find a way to say no.

I am also terrified of my mother. But I think it's the inner child. If you can stay in adult mode then it's easier - they can trigger this helpless, terrified state  - maybe it's ptsd. You may lose some relatives if she scapegoats you, she may attack you - maybe work through this beforehand. There will be losses but in the end what you gain is yourself.

Guilt trips and shaming are bread and butter for abusive parents. I hate them. They are manipulative and designed to control but if you accuse them of it they can say that they are doing no such thing and use it to make you feel even worse. I don't know what you do about them other than going low or no contact. I guess working on it in therapy would help.

It sounds like you need the space to feel the anger and the freedom. The times I have had space I have healed sooo much - found myself again. I found this wonderful woman on youtube who does visualisations/affirmations for adult children of narcissistic parents. You need to use headphones with them as she uses binaural beats to make it go in a bit like hypnotism.

here is one on guilt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8Z8Jl1xkD0

and shame https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXzreQ7Svo0&t=20s

I haven't tried the first one but have done the second one tons. It's cumulative and works if you do it regularly. It helped with not feeling so scrambled - which for me is getting stuck between my anger and the guilt.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 04:05:07 AM by Blueskies »

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bohemian butterfly

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2017, 08:25:25 AM »
Wow!  I logged on to this site this morning and read all of your thoughtful and caring replies.   Thank you for taking the time to read, reply and share your own stories.

Some days are better than others........  some days I feel strong (today) and on others I feel as nervous as the last leaf dangling from a tree in fall;  holding on for dear life.

I'm so thankful I'm in therapy and I'm so thankful for the internet and sites like this.  I can't imagine feeling this pain without having some kind of access to information  (the why's, how's and how to overcome the dysfunction)

My soul yearns to share this information with my family because I seek happiness and peace and wish that for them, but I know that I can't.  From all that I've read, it's sort of pointless.  I'm thinking it's like talking to a first grader about Advanced Calculus.  They couldn't possibly comprehend Advanced Calculus because they lack the mental capacity.  They need time (maturity) and stepping stones (math, algebra, geometry, etc)  in order to be able to grasp anything that advanced (besides, that first grader might not even like math and resent me for telling them anything about it!) 

Last night I started having some happy memories of my FOO and normally I would use those memories as a weapon against myself (see, they aren't so bad!  You are the one that is messed up!!!)  but I didn't.  Of course I am going to remember some good times, but that is what makes it abusive;  there was no consistency.  I could never really appreciate and embrace the good times because I knew what lay ahead.  Or rather, I had no idea what lay ahead, but believed that if I was hypervigilant, I could control the mood of the room, or at least try to prep my soul for it.

Man, I don't think that i have ever admitted that what they were was abusive because it sounds so harsh. 

It sort of feels invigorating?  No, not invigorating, but it feels better to have a label attached.

This road seems lonely, this road to health.  But I've been walking down this lonely road for years now.  I just feel like I've walked for such a long time that as of late (this past year) I feel like I'm miles and miles away (mentally/emotionally/psychically) from my FOO; I can no longer relate to them anymore and that saddens me.

So my scrambled head isn't as scrambled today and I'm thankful for days like this. 





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caramelia

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Re: My poor scrambled head
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 07:17:07 PM »
" I had no idea what lay ahead, but believed that if I was hypervigilant, I could control the mood of the room, or at least try to prep my soul for it."

I still feel like this and I'm 50. I can completely relate to what you're going through.  :bighug: