Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?

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free_thoughts

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Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« on: November 09, 2017, 02:45:27 PM »
The last few months I have been having very limited contact (text only) with my parents due to a meeting we had to try to build bridges and improve our relationship which turned into a huge bust up (of course!). The contact has only been around birthdays, fathers day etc.

My Mum sent me a 'reconcile' text a few months ago which I posted about on here: http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=68158.msg600279#msg600279 and I eventually did reply to her to say that I felt there were a few issues that needed dealing with before I would be happy to meet with them.

I have now had a text from my enabling Dad to say he heard that my mum had offered me an olive branch and I had turned it down. He went on to list a few people he knew that had died recently and that didn't speak to one or more of their children and isn't that sad... (guilting?). He finished up his text to say that we didn't need to see loads of each other if I didnt want to, but that the occasional meal or catch up would be good. He also, for some reason, informed me that my mum didn't know he was sending this text to me. Truly, I was so utterly hurt by this text message, there was no love or empathy in there whatsoever. I replied to say that I wasnt ready to just meet up with them, but my offer still stood of meeting with a 3rd party/mediator to try to work out how to move forward with our relationship. He has now replied to say that they still don't want to meet with a 3rd party, that it was just an idea to reconnect and re-bond, but he would leave it up to me to let them know when I was ready... though the longer I wait the harder it will be.

Sorry for rambling on about texts, my main question is... have any of you managed to reach a point where you are happy to just meet with your PD parent and their enabler without having discussed any of your relationship problems or set any boundaries?

I have so many concerns with this, especially because I am sure that although it may start as a meeting every couple of months, as time goes by the demands to increase the number of visits are inevitable. Also I think back to a year ago when I was actually doing this, and the time I spend with them was filling me with anxiety and making me extremely stressed and unhappy - what is the point? I do not get anything from them, we don't have much in common, I am struggling to understand why they actually want to see me - probably only to keep up appearances?

Does this work at all? And when I eventually reach a moment (if I ever do) where I want to see them again, will they actually agree to meet me or decided that my silence has been too hurtful and that first I must apologise etc etc etc demands demands demands... I am at a real rough and negative stage of my healing process where I literally have no optimism for a future with my family.

Any wise words are welcome!

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FromTheSwamp

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2017, 03:16:13 PM »
"He has now replied to say that they still don't want to meet with a 3rd party, that it was just an idea to reconnect and re-bond, but he would leave it up to me to let them know when I was ready... though the longer I wait the harder it will be."

You're not ready.  Take him at his word and let him know when you're ready. 

The last part where he says the longer you wait the harder it will be - that's his opinion, and it may or may not be true.  It's hard enough right now that it seems like a bad idea to you.  That may change for the better or worse as time goes on.  Why not wait and see?

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kazzak

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 04:25:40 PM »
I read your post with interest, because my situation is different. My DS7 hasn't seen his mom in years. There's nothing easy about it - including me on the sideline as exNPD/HPD was in icu and near death. i can understand how it can become an emotional tug of war.

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have any of you managed to reach a point where you are happy to just meet with your PD parent and their enabler without having discussed any of your relationship problems or set any boundaries?

I don't think so, unless you don't put your needs first. you simply deserve better - ime.

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moglow

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2017, 04:48:15 PM »
"Happy" is all relative. I'm not comfortable being around my mother, so I just don't. I'm honestly happier and overall healthier the less contact we have. After a lifetime of being pushed aside as nothing or a target of her rages, I'll go with this. After one of her rages, am I comfortable playing nice and acting as if it never happened? Absolutely not. That's when I tend to pull further away.

I can and have occasionally seen her for a meal, but it's strained and often an underlying tension. Kind of what I'd imagine with your parents, trying to go along to get along - but to what purpose? Everyone's tippy toeing around, not sure when or if "something" will be said it done that either sets the other off or shuts them down.

If thethe declined meeting with a mediator or third party, not much you can do really. Sounds like you're not likely to be heard without that, and they just expect you to tow the line as always. Can you do that, or do you think it would only make the resentments worse for you? And what's the consequence if they start the same old same old? Could you then just lay it down and walk away?
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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2017, 08:29:03 PM »
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have any of you managed to reach a point where you are happy to just meet with your PD parent and their enabler without having discussed any of your relationship problems or set any boundaries?
I'd have to answer this as a three-part question.

Happy to meet them? Not necessarily happy or seeking their company but it doesn't send me into full-blown panic if they are going to be at a family gathering or Community event like it used to and I can reach out with an occasional phone call. However the reason for this is the answer is part 3 of the question.

Discussing relationship problems? N because I'm not going to change them and they will never understand, I will never agree that families should be enmeshed because enmeshed compliance equals love. Neither of them will never see that uPDm behavior is toxic, hurtful, bullying, etc. We've been down the road of trying to discuss differences and we cannot agree so this time around DH and I just created a new normal and ran with it.

Boundaries are absolutely essential even if one is not dealing with a PD person or toxic Behavior. Boundaries are essential to human living and interaction. One must know where others end and they begin in order to effectively function. One must also understand what is an is not acceptable when interacting with others. So for me part of The New Normal was boundaries and they were spoken in the moment as needed.

When interacting with a PD or toxic person there is a need for constant awareness as to what your words or actions may open up or lead to so medium chill is very helpful for keeping the interaction neutral. The interaction is not relaxed or natural but manageable. Medium chill also helps when stated boundaries are ignored so consequences can be stated and enforced.

It's been my experience every interaction with a PD person will result in some damage so there is need to set aside sufficient time post contact for some self care and safe self-soothing.
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
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daughterofbpd

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 08:50:27 PM »
 :yeahthat:
Spring Butterfly posted while I was still composing my response. I love how she worded her response, its basically the same idea as what I was trying to communicate, below.

I can and have occasionally seen her for a meal, but it's strained and often an underlying tension. Kind of what I'd imagine with your parents, trying to go along to get along - but to what purpose? Everyone's tippy toeing around, not sure when or if "something" will be said it done that either sets the other off or shuts them down.
:bawl: I've had the same questions, I just keep thinking that is has to get better, it has to get less uncomfortable and awkward. I can't imagine going on like this for years to come. At the same time, I can't ever imagine letting my guard down. Thanks for sharing your experience, Moglow.

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... have any of you managed to reach a point where you are happy to just meet with your PD parent and their enabler without having discussed any of your relationship problems or set any boundaries?
I have taken mostly this approach with my parents so far. I haven't bothered addressing the past, just worry about the present and calling behavior out as it happens, if needed. Most of my boundaries are unspoken. The relationship is really superficial and I don't feel I get much out of it, but NC doesn't feel right either so I just try to set limits (amount of communication and time and effort spent). If you decide to meet up once in awhile, do so in a place you feel more comfortable and safe and know that it is okay to cut a conversation short or visit short if it gets abusive.

I was thinking, recently, about what it might be like to get counseling with my parents. I think they want to "repair" our relationship and become "close" again but their version of that is for me to put aside my boundaries and let them do and say what they want. I have no real hope for repairing anything at this point, realistically, all I would really ask for is for my boundaries to be respected and for things to remain as they are right now. All I want is NOT to return to their emotional slave and dumping ground (their version of a close, repaired relationship). Coming to that conclusion, I'm not sure that therapy would be any help to us. I do find your parent's refusal to meet with a third party to be hurtful and doesn't seem to show that they are open to change or open to considering your needs.

Have you thought of telling your dad that you aren't "refusing the olive branch," you just need a time out for a bit? Can you let him know that you are open to meeting in the future but you aren't ready just yet? From your post, it sounds like you aren't ready.

I went back and read your unsent letter to your enDad. I can totally relate to that, same situation with my enDad. I'm sorry, I know that's painful, especially this new message he just sent.
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free_thoughts

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2017, 06:51:22 AM »
Thanks everyone. I am very aware that I am not ready to meet with them yet, as I cannot trust myself not to bite back at their comments, defend myself or let them get to me, so it doesn't seem a great idea when I know I will come out of the experience more bruised than before.

An added issue that really makes me question if I will ever be ready is their refusal to acknowledge or accept my relationship with my boyfriend of almost 6 years, that I live with and intend on marrying and having children with. I cannot be myself around them, I do not like talking about my life with my boyfriend as I feel it is a topic I want to protect from their comments... but that essentially is my life now, and if I cannot talk about it it means they will never know me and any future meetings will always be fake, uncomfortable and unsatisfying.

Another worry I have is that although they have said they would like to see me, I have spent that last year and half working on myself and understanding the situation I am in - I very much doubt (although I do not know) that they have done the same, and it is not like my mother to let a grudge go. I may at some point be able to let the past go and look forward, but will they ever be in that position?!

I'm not comfortable being around my mother, so I just don't. I'm honestly happier and overall healthier the less contact we have. After a lifetime of being pushed aside as nothing or a target of her rages, I'll go with this. After one of her rages, am I comfortable playing nice and acting as if it never happened? Absolutely not. That's when I tend to pull further away.
Moglow, you have hit the nail on the head here, this is exactly how I feel right now, and if it means sacrificing my relationship with my Dad too, then so be it, that relationship has turned out to be more superficial that I thought it was anyway.

I was thinking, recently, about what it might be like to get counseling with my parents. I think they want to "repair" our relationship and become "close" again but their version of that is for me to put aside my boundaries and let them do and say what they want.
daughterofbpd I suppose I haven't really thought about what we might get out of counselling and I think because it has worked so well for me I assumed that it might have some magical powers on my mum, that was probably hoping for too much though - as your thought process is more than likely closer to the truth. Also I have told my Dad that I am not ready, and I explained that I turned down the 'olive branch' because it came with conditions of not discussing any of our 'grievances' and I wasn't comfortable with that. I am so sorry that you are in a similar situation with your Dad, it is so upsetting realising that you do not come first and that a genuine relationship with them may not be possible.

Thank you for your support.

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Peace Lily

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2017, 06:57:34 AM »
Hello free thoughts, I read your post as your question is my next question. I have just sent the email to say I don't want to see uPDm and enDad until I feel up to it as I'm really not in a good place at the moment after a recent episode.  I would like to have a good relationship with them, but with boundaries.  Reading your post and the response is a bit depressing as I think I just got my answer too.  Like you I am just learning about boundaries and when my T first brought them up I had no idea what she was talking about! Very telling I think.  So I am trying to find out as much as i can. I read a really useful link on here and will try to find it for you as I think it could help. I may have to do it later as I've got a few things I need to do this morning, but I will do it.
"It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind". Aisha Mirza

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free_thoughts

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2017, 07:19:23 AM »
Thanks PL, that would be so useful to read too. I find boundaries so difficult and confusing to understand! Don't rush, whenever you have the time is perfect  :)

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practical

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2017, 08:48:26 AM »
You have already gotten a lot of great answers. For me the red flag in your post is, that your parents are not prepared to see a counselor with you. It doesn't seem they have an interest in a true relationship with you, a healthy relationship with you, but want to go back to how it used to be, for you to play your old role again, which means they don't have to make any changes to their own behavior.

As for your F's statement that he knows such-and-such who has died and the family didn't talk: Yes, it is sad, sad isn't the same as guilt, obligation though, and your parents have one key to potentially change this (see above) which they won't use. I didn't talk to my M when she died as I was NC, what was sad about it is was the finality of knowing I never had a true mother and now never would. Talking to her wouldn't have changed this fact, because she was incapable of change, it would only have opened me up to more hurt. I had grieved not having a true mother long before she died.

"Happy" -I'm not even happy to talk to F never mind seeing him. I'm never sure whether he'll be Jekyll or Hyde, so I go in with my guard up, always on high alert, always ready for fight or flight. Those short phone conversations we do have now every one or two weeks after I took a Time Out to heal and regroup are solidly MC on my side and with boundaries. Problem is, he doesn't acknowledge the boundaries, which I wrote to him several times. He still might try "to get his say", and yes, I respond with establishing my boundary, but the blow already landed, possibly triggering me, and the boundary setting occurs in defense to prevent any further ones.

There is another thing, yes, I have a relationship with F, if you want to call it that, but because of MC I only talk about the most superficial things, nothing personal, while he talks about himself, rarely if ever truly asks about me - I don't count "How are you?" as it is perfunctory, no different from "Good morning" and if I would truly answer it, he would have little interest in the answer. - So what we have is totally artificial and stressful for me, chatting to a stranger on a train feels more like a relationship and a lot less stressful. Why am I still talking to him at all? A certain sense of compassion as he is quite old, and me still trying to figure out whether I can find a way where I'm protected well enough.

Please do what is right for you, take time away from your parents if that feels right for you to heal and work on yourself and it very much sounds like it. As I said I took a Time Out with F, and I was actually NC with M multiple times.
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)

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

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daughter

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2017, 10:56:40 AM »
Their motivation should be understood by you before you begin greater engagement with them, that is, if your ultimate intention is to resume face-to-face regularly-scheduled visits beyond "weddings and funerals" level of in-person contact.  I think some of our pd-disordered parents' motivation for "reconciliation" is really all about their face-saving "yes, all our children came to X event" status, rather than meaningful relationship-engagement with their estranged adult-child.  A dog-whistle "reconcile" text is not an "olive branch".  I think a genuine reconciliation message begins with "I know that I've hurt your feelings, and I'm so sorry; please let me know how we can fix this."

During 1st year of my NC (I did so in my mid-50s, no other options remaining), my enabler-enforcer NF frequently hoovered with "talk to me/i]" messages, and I did, on several occasions, for those conversations to quickly devolve into him shouting at me that I "had no right to have issues", "owed him", "that he endured far more cruelty from NBM", and finally, that I was "getting bad advice" (from therapist) and that I was "obviously crazy; poisoned by my house" (yes, makes no sense, but repeatedly "house" was flagged as another cause of my rebellion).  The emotional damage my parents have caused, pre-NC, and even post-NC, in their manipulations, bad-mouthing, and gaslighting of our oldest DS young-adult (still in contact with his grandparents) make it impossible for me to reconcile, because there's no emotional bond left here, given how extreme my parents' disdain, disrespect, and willful malevolence has been towards me.

You know your parents, and whether they're capable of genuine reconciliation and sincere effort to improve relationship dynamics.  Your hesitant to meet with them at this stage; I respect that gut-feeling and keep contact to text-responses.  Your parents did fail in their relationship with you; that's something worthy of acknowledgment and concern.  Notion of "people die estranged" is a statement of fact, not reason alone for you to capitulate and obediently resume being the "good girl/dutiful daughter" they expect.   Yes, some relationships fracture, but usually for quite good reason.  There's zero reason or obligation for an adult-child to "offer-up" himself/herself for more emotional abuse from a pd-disordered malevolent parent.

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Peace Lily

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2017, 11:01:14 AM »
Here are a couple of links posted bt Spring Butterfly that I have also found useful.  I'm still looking for the other one that I actually wanted to send you.
http://hellogiggles.com/detaching-with-love/
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~eap/library/developingdetachment.docx
"It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind". Aisha Mirza

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Peace Lily

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2017, 01:51:35 PM »
I am sorry I have not been able to find the link to an article I mentioned earlier. However, maybe someone else who is reading this might know it. The title of the article is "Self-Regulation" and is on the website "Good Therapy.com".  (however the site is so vast I still could not find it again!).  It talks about relationships being like pizza, one person is the crust, one the cheese and one the tomato sauce. If any one of the three does not keep it's identity the pizza falls apart. It then gives an example of how to maintain your boundaries when you are on a diet and someone tries to get you to eat some unhealthy food. I felt it illustrated the boundary thing very well and wish I could find it again for me as well as for you FT. It made me chuckle a bit as earlier this year my uPDm was trying to force feed me when I was on a diet and using a lot of guilt tripping me into eating. I thought, aha! So that's how I should have dealt with that!
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 02:44:04 PM by Peace Lily »
"It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind". Aisha Mirza

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free_thoughts

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Re: Will it ever feel right to see my parents again?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2017, 06:54:23 AM »
PL sounds like an interesting article I will have a go at trying to find it too. I love the idea of using something other than a family relationship to describe boundaries, might get my attention a bit more with it being about pizza!!
I had similar issues with my mum, though it was the other way around, trying to make me diet and weight myself in front of her even though I was happy with my weight and eat healthily/exercise a lot! It seems she was always in a competition with me as to who weighed less!