soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"

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40andfab

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soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« on: September 11, 2018, 02:20:56 AM »
Grief is a funny thing. Like so many of you here, I struggled so much in my relationship with my uPDmom and GC Nsis and flying monkey-filled family. When she extended her silent treatment to last for months on end, I was very, very sad. I cried almost every day. Certain things would remind me of her and I truly felt the sadness, I latched onto "good"memories and wallowed for a while. When I went NC, this stage passed and I found myself very angry. Very, very angry. In these times I focused on what was so very awful about our relationship. The parts that hurt. The things I can't believe a mom would do to her daughter. I seemed bound to my sadness and anger. There were other stages along the way, the bargaining, the denial.

But now I am entering a new stage. It feels very honest and real. It's like the cloud (or fog) has finally lifted for a bit and I can evaluate things I never did before, or maybe I did but didn't have the space and time to really see them clearly.

And I realize that this so called family I have hasn't really acted family-like since I can remember. It's a kind of detachment that feels so very good. The honest to god truth of all of it, that what a family means to me was NEVER there in the first place. Ever. The drama, abuse, parentification, scapegoating, etc., etc., was all we had. A deep and binding enmeshment that held us all together with the PD's at the center of the universe. But not a family. Not in the sense that I understand a family to be, now that I am healthier.

I am finishing a very difficult degree this year. It has taken me years to complete and is a huge challenge and success that I am really proud of. My family of origin won't be there. They won't even know that I am finished and to be honest when I started ticking off the times something life changing happened to me or my little family, I can't remember a single one of them being there for any of it. No one at my high school graduation, no one was there for my wedding, or when my kids had birthday parties or when they graduated high school. They were invited, but "traffic" or "people they don't want to see" or "being tired" stopped them from sharing in all the wonderful things that happen in life. The times I was in need were ignored or shamed. The times I really could have used a shoulder to cry on were used against me at a later date. Any failure or loss was thrown in my face. Any secret used against me.

All these years later I realize I had fooled myself into thinking I had something I didn't and now I am free and know the truth. Not just the angry or sad truth, but the reality of what my life has been and what it can be. That I have really been alone this whole time, and now I can move on without the dysfunction. I can breathe and know that everything will be okay.

Can anyone relate?
"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance" – Nathaniel Branden

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Starboard Song

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 09:55:25 AM »
Ours is a little different. My wife feels that her mom tried to be nurturing when she was little. But as she became independent, that independence was not respected. And now 3 years NC, we reflect back and realize that we had tolerated a lot of very weird behavior, and a lot of disrespect, for a long time.

For me, I've changed my entire concept of what loving acceptance means based on it. I now think we should have addressed minor grievances sooner, and with calm and kind clarity.

For my wife, she sees that she didn't lose her parents 3 years ago: they had melted away.
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason

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VeryUncertain

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 11:57:02 AM »

All these years later I realize I had fooled myself into thinking I had something I didn't and now I am free and know the truth. Not just the angry or sad truth, but the reality of what my life has been and what it can be. That I have really been alone this whole time, and now I can move on without the dysfunction. I can breathe and know that everything will be okay.

Can anyone relate?

I can relate, and yet there's a part of me that still would like to have a foo.  At a rational level I know that I never had a FOO, I was just acting as if I did towards manipulative and hostile strangers with a Personality Disorder. 

Yet each time I'm hoovered I still get angry/sad all over again.  I've blocked messages from most of my FOO, but I haven't been able to fully write off NPDm, even though I was told she's NPD by my therapist and a family therapist who met with NPDm. Some part of me hopes she's capable of change, that there's something in there that is human.  :sadno:

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Dukkha

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 12:23:18 PM »
Bravo!
I too can relate.
I cried myself to sleep for years as an adult - grieving what was essentially my fantasy family.
Letting go and moving on feels great most of the time.  It took me almost 50 years and loads of therapy but I am coming out of my grief and embracing life.
Hope you realize how huge your realization is and enjoy it.

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Salsera

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2018, 06:45:59 PM »
I absolutely can relate. I am over 5 years NC with all of FOO.

The sadness is still there, like when I am clothes shopping and I see a mother helping her young daughter buy clothes, or an elderly mother being assisted by her middle-aged daughter to buy clothes.

But, I have accepted that this is my situation, and nothing can be done to change it.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Gaining Clarity

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2018, 09:49:48 PM »
 :bighug: to you 40andfab! You've done something your FOO will never be able to do: Show vulnerability, sensitivity and insight. It takes an incredibly strong and empathetic person to open up and express the rawest of emotions.

I could have written your post verbatim. Logically, I know I'm better off. But society tells us all families should be happy, love and support one another with messages like "family first" and "blood is thicker than water". For years, I've been obsessed with the Hallmark movies on tv, especially the Christmas ones. Throughout my journey of healing, I've come to realize that they kind of act as a placebo for the yearning for a real family. It will make me sad for the family I wished I had but didn't. For a split second, I think "maybe I should try one more time, maybe it'll be different this time". Then I read through the journal I've kept of all the turmoil they've put me and my FOC through over the years  :sadno: I'll stick to the Hallmark Christmas movies.

Congratulations on your degree  :cheer: :banana: Give yourself the accolades and festivities you so richly deserve.

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KeepingMyBlue

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2018, 06:29:47 PM »
The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, goes the whole saying, and it's true. FOC is stronger than FOO. The ppl that choose to stick around even though we carry all this baggage are the real saints. Not ghe martyr mom that reminded me that she didn't have the heart to abort, but some days she wondered. Or would demand I tell her why I'm so depressed because I can talk to her, wouldn't let me leave the room until I said something, then minimize, belittle, and mock me if God forbid I did.  :stars:

No, you are in good company, 40andfab. Hugs!

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BentNotBroken

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 08:34:55 PM »
It's the rejection that hurts from being tossed aside like you never mattered...like you're an option...that's hurt most yet has been such an eye opener for myself. Having children of our own makes it even more clearer that these types of behaviors should not be tolerated because we know we wouldn't treat our kids this way. Our pd's are teaching us everything not to do as parents and the first hand sensitivity of it will hurt but I also hope it will help me handle things more emphatically in the future with my own adult children. I know its helping already with my teens.

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KeepONKeepingON

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2018, 11:35:48 PM »
Congratulations on your degree 40andfab,

That's a great achievement.

I think I go through cycles of grief, sometimes I really miss not having had a family. It's painful to remember how malign my mother's intent is towards me and how my father didn't stand up for me as he didn't care what my mother did to me as long as he didn't have to deal with her. I am sad that neither of my siblings are Out of the FOG and that my sister is hostile towards me and like my mother.

I remember when my daughter was really little, feeling almost tearful when I saw mothers with young kids with their mothers. I just wanted a mother who was kind, warm and supportive to hang out with my kids and I. Sometimes I feel angry because I was parentified and really didn't have a childhood as I was taking care of my mother. I didn't enjoy so much of my life like going to university or special occasions like my wedding or children's Baptisms as my FOO were pulling some stunt or other and manufacturing needless and stressful drama. 

I think I am slowly coming to a point where I feel generally happy and able to focus on the good things in my life. I know there will be times when I will feel sad and remember that I don't have a real FOO but that's ok. My childhood was pretty awful but I feel like I've come to terms with that with therapy.   

I am so glad that I am no longer enmeshed and trying to please my crazy FOO.

I am proud that I have made sense of my upbringing and do not and will be passing on my FOO's dysfunctional behaviour to my husband and kids.

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Summer Sun

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2018, 12:24:32 AM »
Grief is a funny thing. Like so many of you here, I struggled so much in my relationship with my uPDmom and GC Nsis and flying monkey-filled family. When she extended her silent treatment to last for months on end, I was very, very sad. I cried almost every day. Certain things would remind me of her and I truly felt the sadness, I latched onto "good"memories and wallowed for a while. When I went NC, this stage passed and I found myself very angry. Very, very angry. In these times I focused on what was so very awful about our relationship. The parts that hurt. The things I can't believe a mom would do to her daughter. I seemed bound to my sadness and anger. There were other stages along the way, the bargaining, the denial.

But now I am entering a new stage. It feels very honest and real. It's like the cloud (or fog) has finally lifted for a bit and I can evaluate things I never did before, or maybe I did but didn't have the space and time to really see them clearly.

And I realize that this so called family I have hasn't really acted family-like since I can remember. It's a kind of detachment that feels so very good. The honest to god truth of all of it, that what a family means to me was NEVER there in the first place. Ever. The drama, abuse, parentification, scapegoating, etc., etc., was all we had. A deep and binding enmeshment that held us all together with the PD's at the center of the universe. But not a family. Not in the sense that I understand a family to be, now that I am healthier.

I am finishing a very difficult degree this year. It has taken me years to complete and is a huge challenge and success that I am really proud of. My family of origin won't be there. They won't even know that I am finished and to be honest when I started ticking off the times something life changing happened to me or my little family, I can't remember a single one of them being there for any of it. No one at my high school graduation, no one was there for my wedding, or when my kids had birthday parties or when they graduated high school. They were invited, but "traffic" or "people they don't want to see" or "being tired" stopped them from sharing in all the wonderful things that happen in life. The times I was in need were ignored or shamed. The times I really could have used a shoulder to cry on were used against me at a later date. Any failure or loss was thrown in my face. Any secret used against me.

All these years later I realize I had fooled myself into thinking I had something I didn't and now I am free and know the truth. Not just the angry or sad truth, but the reality of what my life has been and what it can be. That I have really been alone this whole time, and now I can move on without the dysfunction. I can breathe and know that everything will be okay.

Can anyone relate?

Absolutely.  Could have written, verbatim. 

 :bighug:

Summer Sun
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truthseeker4life

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2018, 10:34:45 AM »
40andfab (and everyone else)

I can totally relate!

I too am sad a lot when I see mothers and daughters and grandparents and grandchildren enjoying each others company.

My mother lives 5 miles away. Refuses to call me (silent treatment for 2 years since I stood up for myself to her abuse). She has no interest in a relationship with her grandchildren. All because she honestly believes "it is my job to have a relationship with her". It is psycho really.

She has been smearing my name and lying to my siblings for who knows how long. Consequently I have no real relationship with my 3 sibs. We don't trust each other.

And it gets worse. She was so verbally and emotionally abusive to my mentally ill (now deceased) dad he basically shut down and I had no relationship with him either.

And the list goes on. She has given "relationship advice" to me and my sibs to ignore problems, put up with neglect and abuse and do everything for yourself.

I honestly think she wants us to have problems so she has someone to take care of and is needed so we don't abandon her. She in fact told me after I came out of a year of insomnia and severe depression that she "liked me better when I was having problems." Who says this to anyone let alone their children?!!

It is so messed up that I walked away from my entire FoO. I only text them on birthdays. If I see them at family functions - to say I am distant is a severe understatement.

I am ambivalent. I am struggling moving toward acceptance that this will never change. It is one big mess that I am powerless over. I cannot participate and keep my sanity any longer.

It is so lonely to be the only one not in the fog in my FoO- the only one not holding onto the fantasy family that I never had.

Sure we are a bunch of broken individuals but it goes way beyond that - lies - stealing - denial - neglect and abuse - mental illness and addiction - etc.

Meanwhile we are supposed to paint this picture of a close family so my mom can continue in her behavior and feel good about herself? She can keep the image of a church going woman who is a victim to all the circumstances of her life.

No thanks!

I participated in the illusion for over 40 years.

But the things I have witnessed in word and action in the past 7 years in particular cannot be unseen.

Quite frankly I struggle with obsessing over it all. Is it complexe post traumatic stress disorder? I don't know.

But I want so badly to get the longing for my fantasy family out of my head. That coupled with obsessing over the crazy and abusive things said and done has kept me stuck. I believe I do this to validate reality.

I need to take the next step and work on self care and building the life I want but I am struggling in so many areas it feels extremely overwhelming.

I pray each day that I heal and can focus on becoming all that I can be. I know of no other solution.

Peace and love to all on this journey.

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Just Jay

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2018, 08:32:59 PM »
Oh, yes. I can relate. Does it feel a bit like you're the orphan of living parents? That's what it feels like to me.

I'm mid 40s and finally feeling free and happy in life. Not every day, not all the time, but mostly. Every human being has to work to be happy and it's not a constant, but it feels sooooooo wonderful to spend most days with what I think of as my chosen family -- not just my husband and child, but people who have become dear friends and I will treat like they're blood because they are good people.

Very best wishes to you as you continue on your journey. You seem like a strong and healthy person who has learned to deal with horrible things. Blessings to you.


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SnugglyHedgehog

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2018, 11:28:57 AM »
Hey,
I can completely relate to your post!
I am still in the early stages but wow the realisations just keep coming. All the way back to childhood. It is so overwhelming at times. It’s so strange to be able to see things clearly that deep down you probably knew weren’t right but didn’t put all the pieces together.
Something I cried over at the start was that I felt like an orphan. Even though I am on here due to my uNM, I went NC with my D 9 years ago. At the end of the day though. I would rather feel like an orphan than suffer at their hands in a relationship that damages me for their own benefit.
Take care of yourself  :hug:

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newlife33

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2018, 02:51:11 PM »
I feel you.  I look back on my time as an adolescent and it always felt very plastic and foreign.  My true self was invisible and i had to put on this facade to try and fit in.  Even then I hated it and felt fake and stale.  It wasn't till I moved out ten years ago that I really began to find and see real relationships and connections and realized that I never had a family.  I just had some bad roommates who didn't charge me rent and occasionally cooked or cleaned or bought me clothes and food.  O, and to the people who say "they took care of me.", that's b.s.  doing those things is like having a hamster.  To have a real relationship with a child is miles away from these people.

I think the two biggest things I realized was that normal families accept you for who you are.  You are supposed to be able to be yourself and NEVER have that mask.  For us that was the opposite!  Also families know about each other.  I guarantee you if you asked my dad what my favorite sports, food or colors are he couldn't guess.

Any way, I feel you and am sending you some hugs if you want them.  This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do and I can't do it alone. Thank you for being brave enough to go NC and sharing your story here.

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Gladiola23

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Re: soaking in the idea that I never really had a "family"
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2018, 05:34:23 PM »
Thank you for your post. Your insight as well as many of the comments ring true. I’ve been processing I never had a “family” too, and I’ve been NC almost 3 years. My therapist asked me many times “do you think your parents love you?” Took me a long time to answer that. I wanted to say yes, but their actions were not loving. Initially I was the GC, and my parents were at every school or life event. This, I realized later, was not about me. It was about getting them the attention of other parents and people. I was told to “perform”for them year after year, and I finally had enough and became the SG in college. Their “love”was much more about attachment. It’s taken me years working through this and a very loving husband to show me my FOO was so broken.
My current family and friends are so different from what I grew up with. I still feel guilt and sadness for not being in contact at times. No one wants to, as someone else on this thread put it, “feel like an orphan”. I ache at movies with mother daughter relationships that are repaired, like the movie “Brave”. I wish I could repair my relationships in my FOO, but my Mom chose my abuser instead of her daughters. I tried to “fix it” for many years, trying everything even with the help of a therapist. It was terrifying to go NC. It felt final. Like I was giving up. Truth be told, I stopped being supply to them a long time ago. I only hear from them around holidays when they try valiantly to see the grandkids, and send a bunch of “gifts” we don’t need. They generally get donated.
Something I was thinking about recently was what my ideal family would have been like as a kid. My mom would have never been late, or told me that all my feelings were wrong. She would have encouraged what I liked rather than ignored my interests. My Dad would have been around more, and not been so controlling. I wouldn’t have cleaned or cooked as much to get their attention. I wouldn’t have become such an achievement junkie. I think about these things so I can give these “gifts” to my own young kids. I want to have a loving family with space to mess up and be loved anyway. We all need that.