the true grief of switching roles

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all4peace

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the true grief of switching roles
« on: January 31, 2018, 01:51:26 PM »
I have my firstborn soon to graduate.
And I have a mother who is being forced into retirement by GCB as a desperation move to get her out of the family business.

For years, I have been anticipating my children's impending transition into adulthood. My main focus has been on trying to provide them with what they need physically/emotionally/spiritually/relationally to be ready to make that transition. And they know we will be here for them if their feet slip on that journey. I'm also looking ahead to DH and my marriage, what it might need to be on more solid footing as we move into those empty nest years, places I might want to develop professionally now that I will have the emotional/time/financial freedom to more fully move into what is meaningful to me. I'm nurturing my friendships, my hobbies, my life.

And then there is my uNBPDm. I felt the psychic rumbling inside me 3 years ago as I looked ahead to this point in her life. I was worried for my mom. I know how much she identifies with her job, and how desperately she would try to hold onto it. I also knew that it was impacting my B and his family, as a PD in a family business is apt to do. I started asking her way back then if she was thinking ahead to retirement and planning how she would prepare herself for it. She hadn't and she didn't. And now she's here, and I hear she's waifily crying to SIL about how she'll have to "somehow find her way."

This is also when she started her "conversation" with me, which ended with her characterizing me in a lot of unpleasant ways and then listing a very long list of all the things she wanted us to do together. It makes me ill to think that I was my M's retirement plan. Or at least part of it. She actually never considered that she couldn't toss me aside for years, treat the entire family badly in a variety of ways, and then pick me (us) back up again when she needed me (us). And I have far more energy and thought invested in worrying about my mom and this rough transition in her life than I do for my own self or my teen son.

Cognitively, I understand I'm just living inside the dynamic of being the daughter of a PD parent.
Partly, I'm processing a lot of relationships and transitions at once.

But as I go through old photos of my son, his old schoolwork and writings, along with some sadness over how fast it has all gone, and some worry/hope that our connection will remain throughout life, in whatever form it takes, mainly there is so much joy and pride. We really poured so much love into him, we made so many good memories, and although he's about to leave us, he is ready to do so and this is what we've been pointed towards all along.

With my mom, I just feel grief. Just worry for her and terrible grief. I understand that the only way for me to make her happy is to do something that would harm myself. It's an impossible decision, but one I will make. There will be grief on either side of it, terrible pain either way.

My kids will never know any differently than what they've always known, but I know so very clearly that the most precious gift we can possibly give our kids as they transition away from us, is our own health, our own relationships/hobbies/meaning, our own ability to thrive and survive in a life that does not depend on them for our happiness (even though we would love to share lives, love and happiness with them!) We can offer ourselves as a soft landing spot, a foundation, support when they want it...and be happy and content if they don't need it.

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Fightsong

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2018, 03:18:44 PM »
A4P  what a beautiful intention to hold.  And yes What a stark contrast.   Beautiful words.

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Malini

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2018, 03:54:35 PM »
Yes to everything you wrote with respect to how you've parented your children and your plans for the new phase ahead of you. You broke the circle of abuse and that is a wonderful gift to your children, even if they don't realise it because they knew nothing else, you and many others know and appreciate this at its true value

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I understand that the only way for me to make her happy is to do something that would harm myself. It's an impossible decision, but one I will make. There will be grief on either side of it, terrible pain either way.

No, all4peace, nothing you can do will make her happy. She might get some twisted satisfaction of having managed to draw you back into her dysfunctional and toxic circle again, she might even enjoy seeing you do that against your will, and suffer.

Rest assured that it is an easier decision to make if you look back on all you (and I assume, your siblings) went through and did for her for many, many years. Catered to and put her needs before yours, accepted physical and psychological abuse, never held her accountable and gave her second, third chances, and were prepared to wipe the slate clean in the hope of new beginnings. Look back and evaluate if any of it made her happy and grieve for the mother you never had and not the daughter you couldn't be. 
 :hug:





"How do you do it?" said night
"How do you wake and shine?"
"I keep it simple." said light
"One day at a time" - Lemn Sissay

'I think it's important to realise that you can miss something, but not want it back' Paul Coelho

'We accept the love we think we deserve' Stephen Chbosky

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Pepin

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2018, 04:07:40 PM »
Your last paragraph nearly has me in tears because I feel the same way.  All I have ever wanted and said over and over is for our kids to be HAPPY and HEALTHY.  It WILL NOT be their responsibility to take care of me -- but rather themselves, their spouses and children first.  And my heart is very heavy when I think about this because it is coming all too soon.  But as the daughter of a PD and the spouse who also has a PD parent, this is what I know it has to be.  I want so badly for my daughters to have what I COULD NOT have. 

And I have far more energy and thought invested in worrying about my mom and this rough transition in her life than I do for my own self or my teen son.
 

There is a lot of truth in this statement that I sadly share.  The time spent worrying about my own father and even my own mil has been a real loss in my living.  No one should have to live like this.  With the support of therapists, friends and coming to this site, I have been able to move forward with my head held up.  I remind myself still to take it one step at a time.    The stars just did not line up for us with parents and inlaws.  We deserve for our children to transition into adulthood without all that we have been through...and yeah, grief lurks until we can finally have a reason for it to disappear for good.
NPD F (overt) NC
DPD MIL (covert) VLC
FALLEN GC SIB
GC#2 SIB (covert) LC headed to NC

No PD is going to tell me what to do.

People who don't bring joy, let them go.

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Fightsong

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2018, 06:39:02 AM »
Every day I strive to break the cycle. Some days I hear her words barked out of my own angry head, some days the sunshine and laughter , or tears of real life break through and I know we are doing it differently. Doing it BETTER, actually, I hate boasting but it dawned on me recently that my  instinctive  response of ‘they did their best’ , does not actually negate the fact that it simply wasn’t good enough, even true as I presume it was.  So there. And I will do it better, I will. I must.  And we do not need to be ashamed of calling ourselves superheroes.... it is not boastful,  it is true, our superhero cloaks tucked under our house- pants or work suits.  As we strive day in day out to break the cycle of  dysfunctional conditioning handed down to us.

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daughter

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2018, 10:09:03 PM »
Congratulations on the pending graduation!

On the other hand, yes, there's that obvious contradiction.  We strive to launch our children into adulthood, while we know our mothers preferred to "clip our wings".   And as they age, our mothers still feel compelled to opine on our supposed faults, chastise us for their every disappointment. And yet our mothers also expect us to abide by their every demand, to somehow "be friends", in a master-servant way.  What our mothers want is for their daughters to be their reliable old-age companion, always attentive, quietly shuttling them from place-to-place, accommodating their requests and providing their entertainment, selflessly serving at their pleasure.  That role reminds me of those Victorian-era paid-companions, those poor spinsters and sad third-cousins drafted to minister to a cranky dowager, to be abused and used.   Like some Maggie Smith-type character, serving as the defacto eldercare nursemaid-companion, I, for one, was destined to become before I finally went NC.

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daughterofbpd

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2018, 08:57:00 PM »
I love your last paragraph. That is what I strive for with my daughter.

I think Malini and others have it right though, you can't make her happy no matter what you do. An underlying issue with many (most? all?) PDs is that they haven’t developed their own identities so they rely on others to fill their emptiness. My M has no hobbies, no real friendships, despises the job she has worked for 20 years…she essentially has nothing other than my dad (whom she bickers with constantly). Her relationships with both her daughters are poor and she ran off any other family she had. My daughter is her one last hope for someone to give her life meaning. But I refuse to allow that burden to be put on my child so I limit contact and watch with a careful eye. It is sad, my daughter is essentially all she has...but it is no one's fault but her own. If I let her have unlimited access to my daughter, would that make her happy? Maybe for a bit but then she would always want more. Even when I did everything she asked of me, she was never happy, it was never enough. She always wanted more. My mom is the only person that can fill the void in her and as long as she looks for someone else to fill that void, she is going to remain empty.
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

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all4peace

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2018, 03:23:02 PM »
malini, thank you for the reminder that we can't "make anyone" anything. I'm trying to break that thought/word habit. It is so true. She thinks time together would make her happy, and she might enjoy it for a few hours but she fundamentally is a black pit of need that will never be filled.

An even better question would be if all we did made US happy. It didn't. There was a lot of relative peace in our family for the last 20 years. And it was all based on a lot of what my F would call "tolerance." It required a lot of "not seeing." And I'm still not sure if it's me coming OOTF or if she is getting worse, or both, but it definitely has gotten pretty crazy the last few years. So even if we had some good middle years, they're not good any longer and that can't hold us forever.

Pepin, I can hear your pain. It is hard to imagine how much you have hurt because of your own DH's inability to let his M take care of her own life. What a terrible and tremendous loss. I hope you've been able to carve out places of joy and growth in your own life, with your daughters, even without your DH.

Fightsong, it will have been worth every bit of pain and tears if we've broken the cycle. It's hard for me sometimes to really "feel" how bad childhood was until I flip it around and imagine my own kids going through it. Then it slams into me like a wall and I can more fully appreciate how different their lives have been. Keep up the good fight!!

daughter, you gave me an idea!! Since our families both come from places of wealth, perhaps our lovely NMs could hire that kind of companion for their elderly years!

I feel so gross and used by uNBPDm. Her level of absenteeism in our collective lives is rather incredible. I prefer that. Now the Eye of Sauron has swung around onto me and I'm supposed to look lively, humorous and ready to play with her again. Gag.

daughterofbpd, I'm so sorry that her focus is on your D. How do you manage that, and are you willing to share approx. how old your D is? My uNBPDm is focusing heavily on my brother's children and their friends for supply. I am so thankful my kids are too "controlled by me" and boring for her at this point.

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daughterofbpd

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Re: the true grief of switching roles
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2018, 10:01:05 PM »
daughterofbpd, I'm so sorry that her focus is on your D. How do you manage that, and are you willing to share approx. how old your D is? My uNBPDm is focusing heavily on my brother's children and their friends for supply. I am so thankful my kids are too "controlled by me" and boring for her at this point.
DD is only a toddler so limiting contact and supervising most contact is how I am handling this so far. I don't pander to my M's desperation to see or talk to DD. Usually, if she sounds desperate then I tell her it isn't a good time. I'm not sure if that is helpful or not but it forces her to concentrate on something else since she can't get her "fix." I think she sees DD as her last chance to get someone to love her, her last chance to leave some sort of legacy, as she doesn't have many happy relationships or accomplishments. It is sad but too much pressure to put on a relationship with a child. My hope is that I can keep things healthy by keeping a watchful eye and adjusting boundaries as needed. I'm not really sure what will happen as DD grows...
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni