All in my head?

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Blackduckdiva

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All in my head?
« on: February 28, 2017, 11:39:13 AM »
Hi all,

I'm new to this forum. I've read the toolbox resources on the website - just excellent, thankyou.

For background: I'm the adult daughter of a undiagnosed BDP mother. I am the sole parent of two small children. No contact/support from the children's father. I work full time and have a complex range of daycare/nanny options to care for my kids while I'm at work. I have a good job but at the end of each week, my bank account is in the red.

My parents are very financially well-off and often skype my children from overseas - Hawaii, France; China, Europe, the UK, just to mention a few recent destinations. Money is their weapon. I do not want a cent because it comes with so many strings. But it rips me apart that they are travelling overseas several times a year and I can barely afford shoes for my children. They wear one pair til they break, then I buy another pair. The same goes for me. I wore two pairs to work all last year - one summer and one winter. I've just replaced the summer pair. The winter pair are 10 years old and I will wear them again this year. And yet I constantly receive emails saying how much my parents love me, and love my children, and how they would so anything for us. A week ago I replied, saying there was nothing we needed but suggesting they contribute to an education fund for the boys. No reply to date. In other words, the silent treatment.

What I'd love please is some feedback on whether this feeling "is all in my head". I've struggled my whole life thinking "things aren't really that bad". Like, if I had been physically abused, it would have been easier to prove the abuse and justify my feelings.

Are these little examples really that bad? Do they all add up to "really that bad"? When is it enough to justify going no contact, when each little act really is just a small misdemeanour?

Whenever I recount an incident to a friend, it sounds so minor. I try to impress on my friends that this a lifetime of emotional abuse. But when I try to justify it, my own voice sounds hollow and I sound like I am the one with the problem!

And yet it comes down to this: Can any loving parent stand by and watch their child and grandchildren struggle? As I parent now myself, I know I would do anything for my children. And it is my job, no matter what hardships come, to NEVER EVER hang them out to dry - alone, suffering, struggling. My mother has done this to me since I was 18. I left home because my father asked me to, because he saw it as the best way to end the conflict. I got hung out to dry by my own father. And my mother has been punishing me ever since for abandoning her.

Reading the posts on this forum makes me shudder. It's like reading various versions of my life story. Nothing is really THAT bad. And yet do normal parents behave like this? Do they? That's what I'd like to know. But are ours worse? How do we ever really know?

These are lots of words. But I'd appreciate some feedback.

Thankyou for reading and responding.


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coyote

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 11:58:27 AM »
Blackduckdiva,
Welcome to OOTF. Since you have already started reading in the Toolbox you have probably come across the Common Behaviors section. While none of us can diagnose this section can often give you an idea of what you are dealing with.

I understand the feeling that no little incident is that big of a deal. But I am not so sure it is only the individual incidents; but much more so the accumulation of incidents over time; starting when you were 18. It is possible that your dad is an enabler to your mom. This might explain him asking you to leave at 18 as the only way to resolve the "conflict".

I think of "Love" as being more of a verb than an adjective. IMO we show our love by our daily actions. It certainly does not sound like you expect you parents to support you totally and you are more than willing to bust your butt to provide for you and your children. But I would think your parents could express their love with a little financial encouragement from time to time. As least I know that is what we do for our kids and grand kids. And I can guarantee we are nowhere near the socioeconomic level of your parents.

Read some of the posting on the Dealing with Parents Board. Post some of your stories there and see what responses you get. I may or may not be on track; just my opinion. Once again welcome and wishing you peace and strength.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
 Wayne Dyer

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
Capt. Jack Sparrow

Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been. -Marcus Aurelius

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practical

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2017, 12:07:15 PM »
Wlecome to OOTF!

You are asking a question many of us ask ourselves: Yes, it is that bad. All those "little" things, they add up to a big mountain, they contribute to a climate where you feel unseen, unheard, unacknowledged and this can destroy your self-esteem and more. Yes, if you had gotten physically abused, it would be easier to see, there would be bruises and broken bones, but your soul sustains bruises and breaks too, they are just not visible to the outside. This is a post that really helped me understand what damage emotional abuse does:
http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=13369.0

It isn't just that your parents aren't helping you now in some way, but rather rub it in how great their life is, it is also that your F put his own peace above caring for you and therefore booted you from their home when yo were 18. There are many layers to the dysfunction, and only when you can see all the layers at once do your realize it was really that bad and still is, because it continues into adulthood. The unhealthy family dynamic doesn't change because you become an adult, it continues and only ends when you break out of it.

About going No Contact, this is a very personal decision. I went NC three times with my M, and there was never "the big event" that caused it, things had piled up over time till one more little incident "broke the camel's back" and I had to go NC to protect myself.

Do your children have any positive connection to your parents?
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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daisy.m.d

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2017, 12:20:34 PM »
Good morning, and no, not at all in your head. Emotional abuse is slippery, difficult to put your arms around it. I would imagine your parents let you struggle when you were growing up. You don't say much about how things were then, maybe hard for you to discuss. My feeling is that you have a different, clearer perspective on the cold, manipulative nature of your mother/ enabling role of your father because it affects your children now and you are protective of them. You see clearly that love does not equal talk (or the silent treatment). Love and compassion from your folks would mean real support: emotional support and financial support (because they seem to be able to afford it). How would it feel if they asked how you are? Empathized with your daily grind and sang your praises for the courage it takes to work hard and keep your family together on your own?  How would it feel if they offered to pay part of your child care expenses so that your could relax a little and have a new pair of winter shoes? Trust in your sense of things, no need to have to prove anything to your friends, that a + b = c. You feel it so it is real. You can speak your truth here.

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Blackduckdiva

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2017, 12:24:51 PM »
Thanks both.

Practical, my boys skype with their grandparents weekly. I set up the skype but I don't talk to them. Any communication with me is via email. One of my boys really loves skyping with them, his brother less so. Already I can see my mother manipulating them with favouritism. The one who is least fussed over, is the one who is less interested. Three or four times a year my parents come to visit. They stay in a holiday rental and I drop the boys around each day. They would be here every few weeks if they could be - we live an hour's flight away - but I've imposed what is, I suppose, a medium chill.

The next visit is in late March and I can't bear the thought of having to 1) drop my boys off or 2) see my parents. I am so completely over it. I could get a friend to do the drop offs, but I feel my boys need me and they also need me to model good behaviours and boundaries.

I had excellent grandparents - they loved us unconditionally. And I want that for my boys. I don't want to do anything that damages my boys. But as March approaches, I become more and more stressed. I can't go through another weekend of subtle emotional punishing, and endure the weeks afterwards it takes me to recover.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Thankyou.

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practical

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2017, 01:10:07 PM »
It doesn't sound like your parents give your boys unconditional love like you got from your grandparents if there are signs of manipulation and having a preferred grandchild. Dysfunctional parents usually don't turn into functional grandparents, but rather see their grandchildren as another source of supply for their needs. So I would suggest to evaluate carefully how much time you let your boys spend with your parents for their sake. If they create any kind of unhappiness between your boys, that is a warning sign. I don't know how old your boys are, but would you be able to talk to them about what they want, how they feel about seeing their grandparents?

The hand over must be very stressful, it seems you have set ground rules, which is key for your own protection.
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Malini

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2017, 01:18:42 PM »
Welcome Blackduckdiva,

It's a struggle for so many of us to put a name on all those multiple tiny little paper cuts to our heart and soul. Bruises and fractures would be so much more evident and we question ourselves over and over. Was it really that bad, am I imagining it, am I overreacting, am I being petty, they're doing the best they can, etc.

Speaking with friends, my list of woes sounded really petty, so I don't do that anymore because I think you really have to have experienced it to really get it.

The best way I can explain it to myself is not by thinking about every little act, but thinking about the INTENT behind it and this makes it clearer for me. Once I started examining how these small acts made me feel and what was their intent behind it, it became evident that it was abuse.

Humiliation, shame, fear, guilt, obligation, manipulation, punishment are a few things I could name, and I realised that they were intentionally trying to make me feel these things so that they could feel better about themselves and force me against my will to participate into a toxic family dynamic that was extremely harmful to my wellbeing.

Any normal parent would step in and ask what they can do to help you in your current situation. Who stands by and does nothing when they see their child is struggling? Our kind of parent.

Your parents are incapable of unconditional love. They've already started on your boys, as you have written, and yes, it is important to model good behaviours and boundaries to them. For what it's worth, I regret every single moment I let my boys be in contact with my NFiL and my own NParents. At the time I didn't realise I had a choice. I'd seriously rethink the March visit. There is always time to make a change to that and figure out what is best for you and your boys for this upcoming visit and how you want to handle things in the future.

 :hug: to you for your difficult situation.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 01:20:13 PM by Malini »
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"How do you wake and shine?"
"I keep it simple." said light
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BreakAway

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2017, 01:31:42 PM »

Your parents are incapable of unconditional love. They've already started on your boys, as you have written, and yes, it is important to model good behaviours and boundaries to them. For what it's worth, I regret every single moment I let my boys be in contact with my NFiL and my own NParents. At the time I didn't realise I had a choice. I'd seriously rethink the March visit. There is always time to make a change to that and figure out what is best for you and your boys for this upcoming visit and how you want to handle things in the future.


It is not all in your head and I have to agree with Malini here. Oh how I wish that my kids had never experienced the dysfunctional dynamic of my FOO. Now that I am OOTF I am doing that damage control/repair. Favoritism is abuse and it will damage the relationship between your boys. It ruined my relationships with my siblings and it also affected my children's relationship with their cousins. The only reason that it did not harm their relationship with each other was that they both experienced the "unfavorite" designation together as compared to the other grandchildren. 

You do not owe them time with your children!! They are using them to feed their own gratification and dysfunction.

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daughterofbpd

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2017, 06:53:49 PM »
First of all, I am sorry to hear that you are struggling financially. I have a husband and only one child and daycare is still a financial strain for us, so I can’t imagine trying to do that as a single parent.

My parents are the same as far as offering to “help” me and asking me if there is anything they can do but then my mom really only wants to help in ways that SHE decides that she wants to help, the help that she thinks I deserve, which isn’t ever really help at all but an inconvenience to me disguised as help. She’ll offer me something like I can drive across town so she can watch LO for me when we’ve already paid for daycare for that day and the daycare is right next to my work. She gave my sister $6,000 towards her wedding and none towards mine because I got married “too late” and didn’t deserve a wedding in her eyes. But when you really care about a person, I think you want to give them something that they could really use or something they would really want and my mom only wants to give what SHE thinks you should have. So maybe that is your parents mindset as well.

Your parents asked what they could do and you gave them a very modest suggestion. What kind of help did they expect you to ask for? Was it just an empty offer to give the illusion that they care? Probably. Your parents have chosen to put themselves and their needs above yours every time, which, in itself sends the subtle message that you aren’t worthy. It isn’t all in your head.
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

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Blackduckdiva

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Re: All in my head?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2017, 07:12:13 PM »
Thanks all for your brilliant responses. You are asking questions that I only ever allow myself to ask in my head.

What are the options for going No Contact? I'd love your thoughts, and am exploring the relevant threads too.

I feel as though I need to give some comprehensive reason, which of course I don't.

Has anyone found a smooth transition which limits the attack which will almost certainly follow?