Just bumped into flying monkey cousin in my city, what would you have done?

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footprint

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I've basically been estranged from my parents since the birth of my first child in 2009.  However, I maintained some sort of strained VLC relationship with them for years, which dwindled to full NC about a year ago.  Going full NC was very important for me, and I am healing faster now than I ever was during the years of VLC.

So I have a very large extended family.  uNPDF has 9 sisters and 1 brother, and they all had kids, so I have many cousins.  There's a lot to say about that, but I'll just say here that I've realized the extended family functions more like a cult.  My father, the firstborn son and GC in his family, is treated like a god.  So after some horrible events following the birth of my first child in 2009, I was pretty much ostracized from the family.  This was very painful for me at the time, but I've come to terms with it since then, and now I am actually happy not to have them in my life. I do believe many of them are dysfunctional.

I have a few cousins living in and around the same city that I live in, a major city on the west coast.  All of these cousins dropped me like a hot potato years ago when things went south with my parents and brothers.  So the point of my post is to say that today, about an hour ago, I was on a walk and bumped into one of these cousins.  This is a younger male cousin who I helped many times over the years.  I was very hurt when he stopped communicating with me around the time that the larger extended family ostracized me.

It was very awkward, I haven't seen the cousin in about 6 years even though we live in the same city.  He looks at me and the first thing he says is, "How's pops?"  I said, "Pops?" And he said, "Yeah, pops." I replied, "My father? I've been estranged with him for many years, really since DS was born (2009).  I figured you knew since I haven't heard from you in so long."

He then said that he did not know, and I just mumbled something again about how I had figured he did know.   I know he of course knew and that he was lying.  His body language also told me that he doesn't particularly like me.  I said that it was a sad chapter and that I'd had to move on in my life.  After that, we had about another 5 minutes of awkward discussion during which nothing else was said about NPD parents or brothers, and I just talked about how great my two kids are doing.

Right after it happened, I felt very triggered.  I also felt that perhaps I hadn't handled it in the right way.  In retrospect, however, I think that I handled it well.  I didn't tell him about my parents.  He asked and I responded, stating right away that I was estranged. I then didn't go into it, didn't explain it, didn't need his validation.  I just said it was sad and that I'd moved on, then went into talking about the happy things in my life--my two kids.

This cousin's mother just so happens to be the worst of NPDF's 9 sisters.  She's a real mother hen who wants to maintain the image that the entire family is perfect.  I suspect that she is raging NPD.  I know that this flying monkey cousin will go to his mother with what I've said and I'm actually kind of happy about it.  I think it's good that I said flatly that I'm estranged and didn't try to conceal it in any way.  The family has a long history of concealing its abuses, estrangements, imperfections, etc., and I'm glad that I didn't do that.

I think I'm posting just to tell you guys about this and see what you think.  Was it a good response?  Should I have said more?  Should I have been less nice to the guy (we hugged awkwardly, chatted awkwardly, etc.)? 

Like the rest of the extended family, the guy ostracized me, and he did some pretty mean things.  I found out, for example, that he went to another family's home (not our family, just people who live in the city) and cooked a meal for them after the birth of their first child.  Their child was born 2 days after my second was born, and that time was very hard for us--we had no family here to help, we had an older child who was a toddler, etc.  The cousin never contacted me and in the meantime was going to some random people's home (they live on my block, which made it all the more hurtful) to cook them a meal (it was their first child and they had the woman's mother in the house helping them).  This is so typical of the type of thing the whole damn NPD family does---they do acts of kindness to other people so that they look all good and kind, then they completely ostracize, ignore, denigrate, or treat cruelly other people, including of course the family SGs.

Maybe I should have said something like, "Let's not be phony.  You haven't contacted me or reached out to me in years."

What do you think?

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Fergie2

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I think you handled it excellently! This jumps out:

"I didn't tell him about my parents. He asked and I responded, stating right away that I was estranged. I then didn't go into it, didn't explain it, didn't need his validation."

To handle an awkward situation like this without JADE : Justify Argue Defend Explain, to speak your truth (I thought you knew I was estranged) and to change the topic gracefully and walk out with your head high is a great feeling. It does show how far you are along on the healing process and you should be happy with how healthy and maturely you handled that interaction. Thanks for posting this, I think it is a great example because a run-in with a NC PD or someone from a NC fallout and how to handle it is usually a dreaded thing for most people. I'm happy that you navigated it quite well!

« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 01:54:31 PM by Fergie2 »

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footprint

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Thank you, Fergie  :) I really appreciate what you've said and the part of my post that you picked out.  Now that some more time has sunk in, I feel that it was the right thing. I even feel empowered by it.  Back when I was in contact with the cousin years ago, I would never say anything about my parents and would even just say things like, "Yes, they're doing well" if he asked me about them.  I think that every time I covered up the truth in those instances, it was alike a small stab to my own heart.  I didn't go into the truth today, but just stated it, and that feels so liberating. 

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VividImagination

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I like your last line. :D
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do.. so damn well do what's best for you!

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practical

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 :applause: Really well done! Those encounters where you are not prepared are really hard to deal with and you really thought on your feet and stood by yourself. I'm taking notes  :)
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Hillel

"You can forgive, but you cannot forget." Otto von Bismarck

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footprint

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Thanks, Vivid and Practical!

:applause: Really well done! Those encounters where you are not prepared are really hard to deal with and you really thought on your feet and stood by yourself. I'm taking notes  :)

Practical, I totally don't think well on my feet, so this is a huge compliment! 

One thing is that I was definitely nervous when I was talking, at least in the beginning when I said the thing about being estranged.  I lightened up a bit when talking about my kids.  This is totally normal---I haven't seen the guy in years even though he lives near me, he is so clearly a proxy of my NPD parents, and it is just plain weird to talk about estrangement with anyone, let alone someone like this.  But knowing how these people twist the truth, I wouldn't be surprised if he spins the meeting and says I was "angry" or something like that.  I was definitely not angry, but yes, I was a bit nervous and heart was racing.

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Seichan

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Right after it happened, I felt very triggered.

I'm not surprised!

I too have whole-FOO ostracism and am regarded as suspect by the extended family. The only one I'm obliged to see occasionally is a second cousin who happens to be long-term friends with my H; she introduced me to him. Sainted Mother has done a great job over the years of smearing me to every blood relative I had.

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I didn't tell him about my parents.  He asked and I responded, stating right away that I was estranged. I then didn't go into it, didn't explain it, didn't need his validation.  I just said it was sad and that I'd moved on, then went into talking about the happy things in my life--my two kids.

This is probably as good as it gets. I don't know how many times since I went NC 25 years ago I've just bitten my tongue and let relatives think whatever they think. I wish they could have taken me at face value but I know they can't unhear what they've heard, and I had some of her lies repeated to me -- all designed to make her look like the injured party and me the petty spoiled brat.

Problem is we come away from these encounters feeling like the pieces of crap we've been smeared as. I do, anyway.

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I know that this flying monkey cousin will go to his mother with what I've said and I'm actually kind of happy about it.  I think it's good that I said flatly that I'm estranged and didn't try to conceal it in any way.  The family has a long history of concealing its abuses, estrangements, imperfections, etc., and I'm glad that I didn't do that.

You and I were the ones who put our hands up and said: "This isn't right", so we had to be ostracised. I agree, you were right to do so, and you get brownie points from me for not attempting to say what you had to endure before you chose NC. I know, we don't do that because we know for a fact that we won't be believed. Another difficult thing for me is knowing I can't control what family members say about me and what gets back to my FOO.

This guy helping unrelated people and not you sounds like deliberate malice, to me. My NM actually is a lovely person to everyone but me, the FOO SG. I don't suppose I'll ever understand how she could compartmentalise her cruelty this way and whether taking her dysfunction out on me was what enabled her to be So Very Nice everywhere else.

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Maybe I should have said something like, "Let's not be phony.  You haven't contacted me or reached out to me in years."

Would you have felt any better for that? I don't know. Damned if we do and damned if we don't, really. The SG is forever in this double-bind, trained to give up and sink into hopelessness. I'm glad you have a great FOC. I guess we just have to endure these reminders of our original role from time to time.

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daughter

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Your response was succinct and accurate.  If after all these years of your visible absence from his FOO Family events, the only thing this cousin could bark was "how's pops?" at you indicates that he's perhaps: 1) socially inept; 2) Flying Monkey; 3) "not-nice-person", or all three.  Now think, do you really miss interacting with this socially-inept Flying Monkey "not-nice-person"?  No, that's right, you don't, and your low-emotion response to encountering him was spot-on.   

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footprint

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Thank you for your responses, Seichan and Daughter!

This is probably as good as it gets. I don't know how many times since I went NC 25 years ago I've just bitten my tongue and let relatives think whatever they think. I wish they could have taken me at face value but I know they can't unhear what they've heard, and I had some of her lies repeated to me -- all designed to make her look like the injured party and me the petty spoiled brat.

Same here, Seichan.  I also know some of at least a few of the lies told to smear me, and I suspect that there have been many more.  The thing is, as I've grown since the initial ostracism 8 years ago, I now see the whole extended family as a dysfunctional interwoven mass. They feed off of each other, and they refuse to believe that they are anything but a wonderful, beautiful, loving family...the exact opposite of what they are.  I was brainwashed as a kid into thinking that the family was just that, but now that I've had time to step away from them, I see the dark and ugly underbelly so clearly.  And I guess the point that it's bringing me to is a healthy one: I am starting not to care what they think of me, and whether or not they believe PD parents and PD brothers lies.  I also know from a few reverse proxies, friends of theirs who are also friends of mine, that weird shit continues to go down with my parents and brothers....but I've been gone for so long that they no longer have their convenient scapegoat to blame all of their drama on.



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Maybe I should have said something like, "Let's not be phony.  You haven't contacted me or reached out to me in years."
Would you have felt any better for that? I don't know. Damned if we do and damned if we don't, really. The SG is forever in this double-bind, trained to give up and sink into hopelessness. I'm glad you have a great FOC. I guess we just have to endure these reminders of our original role from time to time.

I've had time to think about it and definitely think that I would not have benefited from commenting this way.  My cousin would have quickly and easily framed me as an "angry person," validating NPD parents' statements that I'm just ("sadly") an angry person.  No, by standing there and talking to him for a few moments, even smiling and happy when talking about my kids, that was perfect and pure justice.  I know that his NPD mother, the worst of the worst when it comes to my father's sisters, will be enraged to know that I'm acknowledging I'm estranged but have moved on, at least enough to the point that I can chat happily about my kids.

Your response was succinct and accurate.  If after all these years of your visible absence from his FOO Family events, the only thing this cousin could bark was "how's pops?" at you indicates that he's perhaps: 1) socially inept; 2) Flying Monkey; 3) "not-nice-person", or all three.  Now think, do you really miss interacting with this socially-inept Flying Monkey "not-nice-person"?  No, that's right, you don't, and your low-emotion response to encountering him was spot-on.   

Yes, your comment is so to the point, daughter, and I've thought about the "Pops" comment made by my cousin yesterday.  Here he is, hasn't seen me in 6 years even though we live in the same city.  I'm a mother who has been raising two young children alone with my husband, living thousands of miles from my parents.  I think that the first NORMAL question would be something like, "how are the kids?" or "how are you?"  But no, the question is: how is my father doing.  To me, this "How's pops" comment further exposes the fact that the entire family is just a toxic, patriarchal enterprise that only cares about upholding the biggest of its narcissistic members.

Feeling pretty good today.
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Seichan

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I now see the whole extended family as a dysfunctional interwoven mass.

I don't. I think my lot are all just ordinary folks doing their best. They can't be expected to understand family scapegoating, especially as my M presents as so perfect. What I hate is the probing looks as they wonder when I'm going to start showing all the hateful qualities M's talked of. The reflected self makes me feel sick.

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now that I've had time to step away from them, I see the dark and ugly underbelly so clearly.  And I guess the point that it's bringing me to is a healthy one: I am starting not to care what they think of me, and whether or not they believe PD parents and PD brothers lies.

There's power in that, and I envy you! The occasional run-in with one of them, in which you keep your cool while focusing on your new and better life seems manageable. It's just a Bad few minutes in a Better life.

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I also know from a few reverse proxies, friends of theirs who are also friends of mine, that weird shit continues to go down with my parents and brothers.

I'm glad I don't have to listen to any of that!

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...but I've been gone for so long that they no longer have their convenient scapegoat to blame all of their drama on.

I'm almost certain everything that goes wrong is still my fault, but at least I don't have to hear about it.

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My cousin would have quickly and easily framed me as an "angry person," validating NPD parents' statements that I'm just ("sadly") an angry person. 

Exactly. And I wish it wasn't so, but I too still care about what gets back to Saint Mother about me. She would be so smug if any relative said: "Wow, Seichan really is a bad egg, how awful you had to raise her, poor you." And I know why that troubles me: because my worst and most crippling fear is that I've become what she always said I was.

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I know that his NPD mother, the worst of the worst when it comes to my father's sisters, will be enraged to know that I'm acknowledging I'm estranged but have moved on, at least enough to the point that I can chat happily about my kids.

Maybe it was a good encounter, after all?

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I think that the first NORMAL question would be something like, "how are the kids?" or "how are you?"  But no, the question is: how is my father doing. 

Good point! You've got a much better handle on 'normal' than I have. Possible alternative: "I don't see 'pops' any more, but I've no doubt he's still the *expletive* he always was. And we're all fine, thank you for asking."

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Inurdreams

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I've had similar questions posed to me by suspected FMs.

What's interesting to me is that they know the answer to the question.  They are not really wanting to know what they just asked, they are wanting to gauge our reaction to the question.

I think you did fine, footprint.  And like you said, I hope the cousin goes back to tells how well you are doing with your FOC.

I believe when people ask us these questions that they know the answer to, that maybe it's some form of intimidation.  I can't quite wrap my head around it.  What difference does the answer make to the person who asks?  Unless they want to be the one to go back with intel, making them the golden person for a while.  I'm just not sure the purpose behind the question, other than it's some sort of game.


Peek not through the keyhole lest ye be vexed. - Stephen King


Response to a Flying Monkey:  Apparently you are suffering under the delusion that I give a damn.

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Seichan

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I doubt any of them think about it and analyze it anywhere near as much as we do. Given that this was an awkward encounter on both sides, cousin probably blurted out the first thing that came into his head. And a very revealing Thing it was, too, showing he was interested in footprint only in relation to her father.

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What's interesting to me is that they know the answer to the question.  They are not really wanting to know what they just asked, they are wanting to gauge our reaction to the question.

Deliberate FMs can be as subtle as serpents. I have only one relative left, and she's only in my orbit because she knew my H before I did (she introduced us). Last time we saw her, she waited until she and I were alone before saying, apropos of nothing: "All mothers make mistakes sometimes, but we're always doing our best." The implication triggered me badly, and although I straightaway told H I wanted to go, I couldn't let him know in front of her that what I actually needed was to howl and kick something.

We're supposed to be seeing her again next Saturday, and I've told H it would be better if he saw her alone from now on. He doesn't want to do this, and said if I didn't go with him he wouldn't see her again. I'm already dreading it. H is very much on my side where it comes to FOO, but not having had my experiences he just doesn't get the subtleties. Nor would he have the imagination or sensitivity to realise I've been well and truly shut up by something she's said.

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Tootsie Roll

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Ooh, I would've been so pissed if someone had told me, "Last time we saw her, she waited until she and I were alone before saying, apropos of nothing: 'All mothers make mistakes sometimes, but we're always doing our best.'" 

If it were possible, veins would've been popping out of my forehead, my carotid would've started pulsing outside of my neck, face would've turned deadly red...  Damn, that had to be tough not to snip back! 

Regarding your upcoming Saturday.  When I have to spend time with someone I don't want to, I do have someone else with me, a very public place, a strict timeline (because you know I have an appointment in 2 hours [they don't need to know the appointment is to take a nap]), and, I sit near the door, if possible, for emergency escape purposes if the stress gets too thick.  Think 90% preparation for 10% perspiration. 
To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.  To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own future.  To let go is not to be protective, it is to permit another to face reality.

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footprint

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I've had similar questions posed to me by suspected FMs.

What's interesting to me is that they know the answer to the question.  They are not really wanting to know what they just asked, they are wanting to gauge our reaction to the question.

I think that you could be onto something, Inurdreams, at least in the case of this particular cousin (and his ilk).  He has always been extremely tight with my NF.  I saw lie lie lie all over his face when he was saying, "oh, I didn't know" about my estrangement.  So then why did he ask, and why did he make sure he asked first thing, above all other things, about my father?  Well, we'll of course never know the answer to that.  But my gut tells me that he knows damn well what has been going on, and he wanted to see how I would react. 

I think I managed well, but it definitely irks me that my emotions and feelings are just game for someone else to test out when he so pleases to. 

Any thoughts on what I should say or how to respond if I run into the same person a second time?

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Inurdreams

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Footprint said:   Any thoughts on what I should say or how to respond if I run into the same person a second time?


I think it would depend on the "questions" asked.

The "How's Pops?" would problem get a "fine" from me and then I would change the subject, like you did.

But, of course, there are other questions they could ask, like when was the last time you saw/spoke to Pops.  I got one like that once and I said, I talked to the relative almost daily.  What I didn't say was that I talked to this person in my head, though.  That answer kind of stopped the questions.

And, I have been rather rude and offensive to one person because they were so rude to me.  I would not recommend that.  Because if the person questioning me wanted to upset me, then reacting that way showed them that they got to me.

One FM was always in my business.  But I just happened to know something about them that they probably wished I had not known, so when the interrogation started, I simply asked about their little "secret."  They couldn't get away from me fast enough.

I started another thread about a friend of DH's who was approached by the ILs wanting to turn him into an FM. He shut them down by whipping out a pen and paper and writing DH's phone number down and offering it to them, which they refused.  Don't know that this would work in your situation but you might think about answering the question with handing them Pop's phone number and telling them to call Pop's if they are so interested/concerned. Or simply saying, "You should call him."

It's hard to know what to you when you are blindsided like this.  But I would try to come up with some stock answers/phrases to have on hand if you run into this person again, then change the subject.




Peek not through the keyhole lest ye be vexed. - Stephen King


Response to a Flying Monkey:  Apparently you are suffering under the delusion that I give a damn.