Does low contact/medium chill/gray rock look like a superficial relationship?

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AdultChildinthefog

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I went low contact (twice a week contact compared to everyday contact) and medium chill / gray rock with my parents over the last 6 months after a light bulb moment that I posted about in this forum as my very first post a few weeks back.  My Dad is an un-diagnosed overt narcissist and my mom is an un-diagnosed borderline.  My light bulb moment occurred after years of enmeshment, on and off silent treatment from my mom, and the straw that broke the camel's back was when my mom tried to blame me for their current financial crisis from decades of over spending and tapping multiple home equity lines to fund their life.  This after I "helped" by giving them over $10,000 in the last year.  I know, now, that I was rescuing and enabling and have shut it all off.  Also my mom gambles and I told her it was not acceptable if I was giving her money and taking away from my family of four.  She said how dare I question how she spends money I give her and that I need to honor my mother and father!?!

Tonight while on the phone with my dad for my bi-weekly checkin, my mom said in the background, "I wish I had less children than I did" and then she said, "Oh now we just have a 'superficial' relationship".  The first comment hurt and I am trying to keep up my emotional shield.  My question is about her second comment.  My head is spinning a bit.  Can the forum confirm to me that low contact / medium chill / gray rock might look like what would be described as a "superficial relationship"?  Or am I doing something wrong? 

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WomanInterrupted

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Hi Daughterinthefog,  :)

This is blatant emotional blackmail by somebody looking for a fix, but her dealer has cut her off.

Please be clear on that.  You cut off the money, so she is going to get EVIL - and if you give an inch, you're done for.  She'll never stop - and I mean NEVER.

I had an unBPD  hoarder mom who didn't want my money, but my unlimited  time and attention - and a free nurse/slave.  Not a loving adult daughter to care for her as she aged, but another primary target to abuse.  Another thing to use, rage at, blame and discard if the thing didn't perform up to whatever she expected it to do in that moment - yet she also expected the thing to work perfectly if she needed it 5 minutes later.  She didn't want a daughter - she wanted a robot.   :stars:

Medium Chill/Grey Rock is a way to have a superficial relationship with somebody who acts like an invasive species, looking for ways to pick at you or chip you away, bit by bit.

It's how we'd treat strangers we meet - we're cordial, civil, reveal nothing about ourselves and keep it nice and light.

So yes, you're treating your mother like a stranger you met while waiting for a bus - because you *have to* for your own survival and sanity.   :thumbup:

The commodities my unBPD mom wanted from me were time and attention - I couldn't talk about my life at all because nothing I did or how I spent my time, to her, were VALID.

All my stupid crap - job, marriage, FOC - could be put on hold and weren't important.  To her, nothing was more important than her, so the less I said, the better.  I was always, "Busy...you know...never a dull moment..." - and I'd switch the conversation back to her, she'd complain about one of her real or made up health problems, I'd advise her to speak to her doctor, she'd get pissed and that would pretty much be it - she'd slam the phone down.

And I was FINE with that - it meant I was *successful.*

I wasn't fine with it initially - it cut me to the core, but it also showed me what she *really* thought of me and it gave me strength to continue to lower contact and put up even more boundaries.

No, I didn't intend to piss her off - that was never my goal - but I didn't *engage.*  I didn't take the bait.  I didn't make her problems my own or rush to rescue her.

The main commodity your mom seems to seek from you is MONEY to fuel her gambling addiction.

The *last thing on earth* you should talk about is anything involving money.

Nothing at all - no vacations, home renovations, the kids growing like weeds and needing new clothes, kids' tuition, your tuition, how much you spend on groceries, *that promotion you anticipate* - how you're finally getting your bills down to a dull roar and have a little money in savings - hell, you can't even tell her you bought a pack of gum because *she's keeping track of it all and making her own mental tally of how much you OWE her and SHOULD be giving her.*

She might throw out a figure here or there, but you know what the real answer is?

ALL OF IT.  EVERYTHING.

And it still will never be enough.

Get a second job!  Get a third job!  Remortgage your house!  Take out a home equity loan!  Make the kids pay rent - they're 12 now, for God sakes, and should be pulling their weight!   Open a new credit card!  Open another new credit card!  Cosign this loan for me!  Reverse mortgage your house!   :pissed:

Suppose you did all that - you'll still hear  you *never do anything for her and you need to learn to honor your mother and father.*   :roll:

Mine wanted a robot - yours seems to want an ATM. 

Keep in mind, we're only as good as the last thing we did for them - and they have very  short and selective memories.

I could have busted my butt, given up everything and been at unBPD Didi's every beck and call - and even if I could have found a way to go without sleep for years at a time, not have the need to eat, use the facilities or have any needs at all - it wouldn't have been enough and she'd have said I was *neglecting my mooooooooooother.*   :dramaqueen:

I chose to start disengaging with Medium Chill and be yet another in that long line of people who'd either abandoned or disappointed her so bitterly - or both.

She will never understand - she's incapable of it.  All she can do is be an insatiable black hole of need.

All you can do is put up boundaries - and sometimes that means treating your mom like somebody you just met, but on a permanent basis - and lowering contact as their behavior starts to escalate.

It sucks, but you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it.  Her problems are of her own making and she'll continue to make them, with or without you.

 :hug:

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Fightsong

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Hi daughterinthefog, yes - i think it can and does at times feel that way , for both sides. But that doesn't mean it's not useful and crucial .

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Malini

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Yes it is and so it should be.

Superficial, it's 'on the surface' and a method of protecting yourself while remaining in contact.

The moment you let them scratch the surface, or God forbid, get below the surface, there are things like your heart, your feelings and your 'soul' and you don't want them to get anywhere near those again, because you know how that will turn out.

Good for you for initiating and maintaining a behaviour that keeps you safe.
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Tamzen

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Daughterinthefog, it doesn't sound to me like you're doing anything wrong -- quite the opposite. It sounds like your mother is trying to make you feel guilty so she can suck you back in to an unhealthy situation.

I went LC last summer from a situation kind of like what WomanInterrupted described, realizing that my mother wants a robot she can call any time she's upset and have me take away the upset. Despite me jumping every time she called and spending as much time on the phone with her as she wanted, she would still say things like she felt I didn't really love her. Mine also says she wishes she'd had more children, so that some of them would've stayed living close to home.

I can tell she's mad at me for the LC and my version of medium chill -- which is to write myself a list of safe topics before we talk each week and stick to those. And I'm sad that she's upset. We have had good times together back when I gave in to her needs. I miss the idea that I had a mom who was sometimes supportive. I don't feel so much that she revealed how she really feels about me in how she's being about the LC, rather that she's revealed how messed up she is and that I never mattered as much as I thought I did.

It's natural to feel guilt (which she'll try to make you feel) and to feel grief about the change in your relationship. The place to look to see if your low contact/medium chill is working is not over there with her, it's with you. Do you have more money to spend the way you want to? Do you have more time, energy, mental space, sanity? If the answers to even some of those is "yes," then it's working.


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all4peace

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What a horrible thing for your mother to say. She is having a tantrum since you are no longer enabling her addiction. I do think that MC looks exactly like a superficial relationship. It's a way of maintaining contact without putting up with the abuse. For some people, it may be a "place holder" until we decide where we want to go moving forward. For others, it might be a way to stay in touch with extended family while no longer allowing the closer relationship that is abusive. It might be a way for our kids to still have a relationship with extended family, while protecting ourselves. Etc. Many ways and many reasons, but I do think you're correct that the bottom line is simply a superficial relationship.

My husband describes it as his family being "just like any other neighbors." Polite, kind, distant.

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Spring Butterfly

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Similar enmeshed background and very similar question I had early in my journey. Here's the conclusions I came to:

First sniping passive aggressive comments like that are meant to manipulate FOG which only exists in our own head and only if we allow it. It's abuse.

Taking a step back and looking in from the outside, that's the exact reason we've pulled back and had to protect ourselves. See how it's a vicious cycle where PD persons sabotage receiving the very thing they crave?

Further looking at this from a detached point of view, a disordered person who defines love as compliance and care as enmeshement isn't a good judge of how to define a close relationship.

So if I choose to create my own definition of an adult realationship with a parent coming from a nonPD point of view I see it as an individual adult separate from ones parents free to make choices without checking in for  approvals first, choosing ones own thoughts, emotions and actions without reporting in before or after. Choosing to have private thoughts, private feelings, private interactions with others. Choosing to go out with friends and not necessarily report in all details. To go about my day without reporting in during the day what I am doing, when I am home or due to arrive home when I live by myself and they have no sane reason to need this level of reporting. Basically, in a nutshell, to live my life without obligation to prereport or post report anything. That I get to choose what to share, if to share and let conversation naturally flow without interrogation.

Enmeshed PD persons do not like that adult definition of a relationship. They expect their child to remain a child subject to them and compliant with their wishes. The adult offspring are expected to revolve around them as the center of the adult offsprings life. This is just plain  weird.

Further on the weirdness and taking more of an observers look around I started to take note of other adults and their relationship with their parents. It only reinforced that yes, their relationship with their parents was exactly as I defined it in my head from a nonFOG non-enmeshed point of view outlined above. Anything the adult children shared with the parent, information, time, etc was only because the child chose to share it and not because they were FOGed into sharing.

The more Out of the FOG I became and the more aware of others relationships with their parents I became the more I realized my touchstone and frame of reference to define an adult relationship with ones parents was flawed.

The book "Cutting Loose: An Adult's Guide to Coming to Terms with Your Parents" really helped me see the light as it's not necessarily written with PD persons in mind but does outline the dysfunction of an adult worrying about a parents feelings and approval and how to interact with ones parents from an adult point of view. Thing is PD persons do not want an adult for a child, they often want to both paretntify and infantalize their child.
http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=28162.0

Interaction is always from a disordered perspective and each and every interaction will result in damage from which we need to heal. The fact we need to protect ourselves from our parents isn't normal but it's just the way it is when dealing with bullies and abuse.

From the outside looking in the level of closeness vs distance may look the same but the reason behind the distance is different. We are not distant and detached because we adulted and individuated in the normal way. I'm not sure I'm conveying my thoughts clearly so I'll leave it here.

ETA - steps to individuate are supported by nonPD parents, they want their children to grow up ad go live life. A PD parent views individuation as a threat and such action is punished from childhood forward, often the PD feels narcissistic injury rather than accept the normal course of children growing up rather growing up is punished.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 01:09:10 PM by Spring Butterfly »
· Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
· Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
· It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
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illogical

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...Tonight while on the phone with my dad for my bi-weekly checkin, my mom said in the background, "I wish I had less children than I did" and then she said, "Oh now we just have a 'superficial' relationship". 

How very astute of her.   :stars: 

What was it before?  A deep, thought-provoking relationship?  Don't think so.  Probably a very one-sided relationship.  All give on your part and all take on hers. 

She's just sniping and trying to blame you for changing the relationship, implying that it was deep and personal until you got your hands on it.  Now it's simply superficial-- no real substance--  and it's all your fault! 

Translation:  You won't give me any more personal information that I can twist and spin and further use to my advantage.  You're not allowing me any more quarter to abuse you-- and it's all your fault!

What rubbish.  Ignore her ridiculous attempt at trying to make out like the relationship once had merit.  Stay the course.  She has just validated why you limited contact.   
"Applying logic to potentially illogical behaviour is to construct a house on shifting foundations.  The structure will inevitably collapse."

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Bloomie

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Daughterinthefog - what MC and gray rock have done for me in my primary relationships with PD family members is give me really good information about the roots of the relationship from which I can then take whatever steps necessary to no longer allow myself to be in the position to be emotionally and verbally abused... which is what your mother did here. The roots of the relationship may very well be shallow and superficial based upon what sounds like her objectification of you.

Recognizing that the relational roots are superficial and not healthy and deep enough to withstand healthy boundaries and limits and the give and take of life between parent/adult child is painful and often leads us to change the level of intimacy we allow PD parents to have in our lives to more reflect the true nature of the relationship. So, yes... it looks superficial when in my own experience going LC and MC with certain PD family members I feel it actually is now an accurate reflection of what was going on all along in the relationship though I was somewhat duped into believing it was much more.  :blush:

Your mother got full fledged, total loyalty and generosity and love from you while maintaining a truly superficial relationship with you all along it seems and treating you like an object or resource. She may have merely been projecting her own attitudes and behaviors upon you while invalidating your very existence in a cruel and discarding off hand remark meant to get you back in line doing all of the real work and sacrifice in the relationship.  :'(

When we begin to walk in dignity and self respect and discern for ourselves that the behaviors of our PD parents are harming our very core - our soul, striking at the heart of who we are relentlessly and without remorse, it hurts terribly and we must acknowledge and grieve this while at the same time for maybe the first time in our lives, we begin to dismantle the hold that their approval/disapproval, vicious words, their endless traumas and dramas, life threatening pseudo health emergencies and relational troubles have had upon our hearts and lives.

I don't know if this makes sense at all... in my own case there were two very different levels of strict expectations from my adult parents and me - they were to receive and I was to give. Always. Everything. Without question in every way and never, ever dare draw a line in the sand and say no.  That is the definition of a truly superficial relationship - and I realized just how lop sided and easily and cruelly discarded that relationship was when I began to set healthy limits and boundaries around my life.

You deserve so much better than this from your parents.  :yes:

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daughterofbpd

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Keep in mind, we're only as good as the last thing we did for them - and they have very  short and selective memories.
WomanInterrupted - I remember reading this quote on the forum before and it is one that I hang onto when I am feeling the FOG. Thank you!

Daughterinthefog - What a hurtful comment, I'm sorry she said that to you. It sound like you are doing the right thing and making healthy choices for you and your family. I feel that my relationship with my own parents is superficial and I do feel sad about that. Unfortunately, anything personal I share can be used against me so I learned to protect myself by not sharing. I also have to limit contact in order to protect myself from becoming emotionally drained. If I don’t, I won’t have the energy to give to my own FOC. My BPDm has made plenty of sad comments like “I know we aren’t close…” – yes, she notices. I asked my therapist how to handle these kinds of comments (I initially feel bad because it is true) and T said that it is fine to comment back that I wish we had a closer relationship too or that I hope that someday we could have a closer relationship, without taking responsibility for the fact that we aren’t close. Relationships are 50/50 so I can’t take 100% of the responsibility for us not being close. At least 50% of that is her and if she doesn’t take responsibility for her 50%, then what else can I do?

Besides, like WomanInterrupted said, they always seem to want more no matter how much you give. When you were still enmeshed, was it ever really enough? PDs like your family roles the way they are and don’t like it when you change or assert your independence. So, yes, you are going to see some anger and hurtful comments along the way. Yes, you are going to be blamed for changing things. But at the end of the day, they can either choose to live by your new rules or lose contact with you altogether.
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

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moglow

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I'm sorry she's disappointed, but that's kind of the point. You're just acknowledging the relationship as it actually is and has been, rather than the pipe dream you were holding onto.


I backed way off trying to share my life with mommie dearest when it finally dawned I was just giving her ammo to use against me later. Well, when it registered with her that I'd said anything at all. More often than not she just glossed over anything I said with random bs anyway, rather than have an actual conversation. So I stopped wasting good air and energy on it.


And honestly, sometimes I think if I hear "honor your mother and father" One.more.time. That's mighty broad and convenient interpretation she's trying to rub your nose in.

"Expectations are disappointments under construction.”  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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scribblesandsuch

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Daughterinthefog--In very few other circumstances would we allow any kind of relationship with someone who treated us this way. This exception you make, maintaining even LC with your parents, is not a small thing. It is also not an obligation.

You've already gone above and beyond. That doesn't sound superficial to me.  No, you mother will not be rewarded with a Gilmore Girls-esque relationship having treated you the way she has. Relationships are formed things. They are built on what each person contributes and if your mother is unhappy, it is with her own contributions---or lack there of.

Since it sounds like you're fairly concerned with ensuring she is provided for, please consider that funding her lifestyle is not the same thing as providing for her. For example, if you were to save up any future funds (that you might have otherwise loaned her) in a high yield savings, it would provide you something to draw from when she is older and in need of of care. In that case, you'd also be managing those funds and allocating them appropriately. (No risk of them being gambled away.)

Your mom may hate this idea, because it's not what she wants. It would, however, allow you to address a need she may face later on, assuming you will be managing any aspect of her care.

You're there if she needs you, not at her whim. And that's OK.

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Liketheducks

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ALL OF THIS...YES!!  Beautiful advice!   Working through this with my mom, as well.    She's been giving me the silent treatment for weeks.   I've treated as LC and peace is coming back - slowly, but surely.   


Similar enmeshed background and very similar question I had early in my journey. Here's the conclusions I came to:

First sniping passive aggressive comments like that are meant to manipulate FOG which only exists in our own head and only if we allow it. It's abuse.

Taking a step back and looking in from the outside, that's the exact reason we've pulled back and had to protect ourselves. See how it's a vicious cycle where PD persons sabotage receiving the very thing they crave?

Further looking at this from a detached point of view, a disordered person who defines love as compliance and care as enmeshement isn't a good judge of how to define a close relationship.

So if I choose to create my own definition of an adult realationship with a parent coming from a nonPD point of view I see it as an individual adult separate from ones parents free to make choices without checking in for  approvals first, choosing ones own thoughts, emotions and actions without reporting in before or after. Choosing to have private thoughts, private feelings, private interactions with others. Choosing to go out with friends and not necessarily report in all details. To go about my day without reporting in during the day what I am doing, when I am home or due to arrive home when I live by myself and they have no sane reason to need this level of reporting. Basically, in a nutshell, to live my life without obligation to prereport or post report anything. That I get to choose what to share, if to share and let conversation naturally flow without interrogation.

Enmeshed PD persons do not like that adult definition of a relationship. They expect their child to remain a child subject to them and compliant with their wishes. The adult offspring are expected to revolve around them as the center of the adult offsprings life. This is just plain  weird.

Further on the weirdness and taking more of an observers look around I started to take note of other adults and their relationship with their parents. It only reinforced that yes, their relationship with their parents was exactly as I defined it in my head from a nonFOG non-enmeshed point of view outlined above. Anything the adult children shared with the parent, information, time, etc was only because the child chose to share it and not because they were FOGed into sharing.

The more Out of the FOG I became and the more aware of others relationships with their parents I became the more I realized my touchstone and frame of reference to define an adult relationship with ones parents was flawed.

The book "Cutting Loose: An Adult's Guide to Coming to Terms with Your Parents" really helped me see the light as it's not necessarily written with PD persons in mind but does outline the dysfunction of an adult worrying about a parents feelings and approval and how to interact with ones parents from an adult point of view. Thing is PD persons do not want an adult for a child, they often want to both paretntify and infantalize their child.
http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=28162.0

Interaction is always from a disordered perspective and each and every interaction will result in damage from which we need to heal. The fact we need to protect ourselves from our parents isn't normal but it's just the way it is when dealing with bullies and abuse.

From the outside looking in the level of closeness vs distance may look the same but the reason behind the distance is different. We are not distant and detached because we adulted and individuated in the normal way. I'm not sure I'm conveying my thoughts clearly so I'll leave it here.

ETA - steps to individuate are supported by nonPD parents, they want their children to grow up ad go live life. A PD parent views individuation as a threat and such action is punished from childhood forward, often the PD feels narcissistic injury rather than accept the normal course of children growing up rather growing up is punished.

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Fightsong

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 bloomie, again your words cut right to the core.

Medium chill worked so well for me, until I came Out of the FOG , ironically, then yes it laid bare the superficiality, the rootlessness,  and my medium chill became a betrayal of my true self, true needs.  And yes the dismantling  you describe, of the hold , may well be the hardest thing I have ever done.  It does , as you have found daughtinthefog expose the truth of superficiality. And that can hurt like hell.

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Mary_2015

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Yes it's Superficial but it’s very important to be this way. People here have explained why.
Anyway I wanted to say that while I was medium chill with N mom she would say the same and complain about how cold or Superficial the relationship was.
But she didn't understand that by keeping it cold I protected myself from her abuse.
Thing is she would never understand the self protection method I used because in her world she is a wonderful mother who is unable to hurt her children thus why would anyone wanna get away from her.

Sometimes I think that by putting myself in her shoes and seeing the world the way she sees it makes me less angry on her. I understand she needs to hurt people to cope with her childhood trauma and that is good to know. Abuse is actually a coping mechanism when dealing with unprocessed traumas.

So stick to being Superficial and trust yourself that this is the right thing for you and your growth.

Mary