What age do we bring to the conversation?

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all4peace

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What age do we bring to the conversation?
« on: April 20, 2018, 12:24:25 PM »
Still prepping for re-contact with parents, deciding how I will initiate that, what my terms (spoken or unspoken) will be.

Practical brought up an awesome point in Working on Us about sometimes having conflicts in which 2 child selves are showing up in 2 adult bodies.
I've done a fair amt of work on inner-child healing, reaching back to myself at different ages, and trying to offer what was needed then, to re-circuit this poor brain of mine.
As Dh and I start finding more effective ways to communicate, I've noticed that some of my responses are more description of a much younger age than my current adult self.

My last communication with my parents included me telling them any future discussion would be adult to adult, not adult to child, that I wasn't pleading with them from the stance of a child but talking to them as a fellow adult. It's one thing to say it, another to completely inhabit it.


When we've had abusive PD parents, I think it's completely understandable that we could still be emotionally cringing or cowering when we approach them with requests, boundaries, expecting the interaction to be as imbalanced and disrespected as our childhood interactions were.

Even when we manage to stand tall, perhaps their poor reactions send us right back to our child selves, now cringing and cowering.

Or maybe we go back into defense mode, fighting back, just like we used to need to fight for our own lives and sense of self.


I barely touched on re-contact in T this week, heading out the door, and T told him he thinks it will be tough for me to define my "jurisdiction."  I will clarify with him later, but I think he means standing in my adult self, unshaken no matter how they respond, not swayed by how my siblings feel about it.

Just thinking out loud, if anyone wants to join the conversation :)

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looloo

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2018, 12:47:13 PM »
When I reflect on how I would try to communicate with my parents—and fail!— I was probably channeling an unhappy, frustrated, powerless version of myself.  A furious yet threatened small child, an indignant yet dependent teen, a seemingly competent adult who was making all the wrong relationship decisions and had horrible anxiety and self doubt.
Now, you’re in a different place, and yet, you’ve probably got this unruly “committee” of voices, all representing you at different stages.  It’s really hard to integrate it all, and then go out into the world, communicating clearly with everyone—let alone your parents!!—and represent yourSELF completely.
And rest assured, if your parents are PD, they aren’t willing or able to see this in themselves, or do any of the hard work to meet you halfway.
I don’t have any advice for you for making this process easier or more effective, but hope you post again after speaking with your T more.  Good luck!
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”  Oscar Wilde.

"My actions are my true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand."  Thich Nhat Hanh

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Starboard Song

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2018, 01:01:58 PM »
It is easier for me. I was raised by two of the most loving and decent people the Earth has ever produced. But I really recommend adopting a persona. Atticus Finch is a good one. It isn't you as child, or as juvenile, or as adult, who is speaking. It is some independent, authoritative guide, who speaks to your PDs. They do so dispassionately, and kindly, and wisely. They do not argue about things they KNOW. Atticus Finch lays out facts for those with eyes to see.

Replace age with timelessness.

The last time I addressed the PDs in my life, I was astounded at how much disinformation they were carrying in their heads. I wondered that they were able to stand, with so much rocky ballast between the ears.

So I'd get [mis]quoted, for instance: "And you said [thing I manifestly did not say]."

[inner child just tears up]
[inner teenager screams "you lying son of a..."]

But inside, I'd hear my wife saying "stay in the board room," meaning "pretend you are at work." So I'd pause, cock my head, maybe twitch around the eyebrows. Then, in a very easy pace, say, "FIL, that is not correct. That is not the actual content of that email."

I'm trying to be Atticus Finch, over here. And it worked. I stayed in control of my message. I was calm. I was clear. My boundaries are solid and safe.
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
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Malini

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2018, 08:42:41 PM »
It's a tough question. Like starboard song, I have been able to adopt a persona and observe and not absorb . This helped during my last and possibly final convo with my NM where I was practically channelling Yoda (his wisdom not his syntax) by the end. However, I'm firmly NC and emotionally detached from both NParents, which makes adopting a persona much easier as I have no need for authenticity and connection, just self preservation.

For me, there is adult Malini, this is who approaches her parents from a place of emotional maturity  and requests a relationship built of mutual respect and equality.

There is inner child Malini, who in the best case scenario has been nurtured and/or reparented.

And finally there is adult child Malini, as in offspring or descendant of my parents. Becoming an adult doesn't automatically turn our parents into random adults we interact with, relieving them of their title of parents. And in my role as adult child, I would still hope for unconditional love, a deeper level of care, appropriate cheerleading and support in my endeavours from my parents.

I have approached my parents many times from a position of adult Malini. The true difficulty has never been to maintain adult Malini but rather the fact that because I was a function, extension, object, pawn, non-entity other than their means to an end, it doesn't matter how I stood before them, they never saw me. (Shrug).






« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 09:32:20 PM by Malini »
"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

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practical

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2018, 10:40:12 PM »
I think taking on a persona is an excellent idea, it adds a layer of detachment.

For me I got grew up more and more in my interactions with F the more I detached/unenmeshed, the more I accepted I was unseen, unheard whatever I did. It feels somewhat like a delayed individuation, unfortunately it goes along with losing my love for F, so it isn't exactly the normal healthy individuation Non's experience in their families, because you aren't allowed to go through it at the right time and in a safe environment with a PD parent.

I have written this before, on my last visit with F I kept touching my wedding band to remind myself I'm a grown woman, who has her own life and is no longer dependent on F. So maybe for your upcoming encounter you can come up with something like it? And while I mostly managed to stand tall while being in the presence of F, it did send me back to my childhood at occasion afterwards, when I decompressed and let go of being a grey rock.

Good luck!
“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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daughter

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2018, 11:39:23 AM »
I think however you present yourself to your parents, whatever "age" your presentation, your parents, our parents, still view us as they see fit, as serves their pd-disordered viewpoint.  As often noted here in forum: OOTF you can modify your own actions and expectations, but you/we can't command change in your/our parents' attitudes and behaviors.

Last time my enNF visited our house (5 years ago), I actually asked him to leave, 1st and last time ever, for what he'd consider his normal behavior.  Upset that I'd calmly expressed my concerns ("issues") that lead to my FOO Family"time-out", he fumed, again, even though he initiated this conversation.  His response was to angrily reprimand me (again), as if I was a petulant misbehaving 10 year-old disobeying my parent, and he did so in front of my children.  My kids were upset by his rant. I realized that a civil discussion of "issues" was impossible.  EnNF was reinforcing his own ground-rules for engagement:  "you owe me", "you're getting bad advice (via therapy)" and "you're emotionally strong enough to endure it (NBM's cruelty, ignoring his own cruelty)".  It was a flash-point moment for me, where I saw futility of dialogue with my "Mr Nice Guy" covert-NPD enNF.  My enNF's bullying despotic manner conveyed his "I'm boss of you" presumption: middle-aged me was obligated to dutifully obey, diligently defer to, and steadfastly comply with whatever demand expressed (or expectation implied) from my parents.  Otherwise, I was a Bad Girl, a bad child to be punished. 

I don't think I presented adult-me as "child" to my parents.  The problem was my parents viewed their two daughters as duty-bound to "love, honor, and obey" them, without question or challenge, no matter how inappropriate or plain ridiculous their commands.  This was their privilege for having birthed us, I suspect.  My parents refused to see us as independent adults, wives of husbands, mothers of children, professionals with significant work-histories and credentials.  Nope, didn't serve their purpose to do so.  We were expected, me in particular, to be "little servants" at their beck and call.  NBM liked that platitude "a daughter is a daughter for all her life". 

We were to be locked into our childhood roles (SG and GC), always to be defined as CHILDREN, and likewise, resolutely attentive and rigidly obedient to our NBM's every whim, expectation and demand.  EnNF likewise presumed we would comply in lock-step, no matter the outcome elsewhere in regards to our other relationships (w/in-laws, DHs, our children, our friends, our workplace duties, etc.).  Non-negotiable, even when clearly flagged as emotional abuse and otherwise indefensible.  And yes, I think an adult-daughter can be both parentified and infantilized by same parent in same conversation.     

So, even as you present yourself as "adult-A4P", do you think your parents will ever be receptive to fact that you must be their Equal, as a separate and independent adult-person, for a genuine relationship to evolve between you?       
« Last Edit: April 22, 2018, 12:04:16 PM by daughter »

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all4peace

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 12:31:16 PM »
daughter, Oh my goodness, no!! My parents are likely never, ever going to be able to see me as I present myself. I don't intend this conversation to be about how we change their behavior based on how we present, not at all. I have found that I need to be in a very solid place, inside myself, so that I can not be as shaken when I interact with PDs. It doesn't change their behavior. In fact, it likely ticks them off even more. That's beside the point.

looloo, I love your example of a "committee of voices." Again, they will hear what they hear, but the important point is where I stand, for myself, to be resolved, to be settled. It doesn't really matter if they hear or understand, and based on the past they are very unlikely to at this point.

starboard, great idea to have a persona :) Perhaps easier as an IL than an adult child, but still worth considering.

malini, I get it. And I cracked up over "not his syntax" :D

practical, I am seeing this process also, "outgrowing" my parents. As I told my B, I didn't want a conversation with them, but as it has unfolded they have shown their thought processes in a way I can't unsee, and it's actually helped me get more detached.

I want to pay more attention to what might be going on inside when things are upsetting or confusing, and try to understand if part of it is an emotional part that didn't get developed enough back then.

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Malini

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2018, 12:42:45 PM »
Quote
My parents refused to see us as independent adults, wives of husbands, mothers of children, professionals with significant work-histories and credentials.

Absolutely, as evidenced by every homemade photo album or collage I received from her. Only pics of me with Nparents. None of me with DH or my kids, as if, even at 50, I had no life separate from them.


Quote
And yes, I think an adult-daughter can be both parentified and infantilized by same parent in same conversation.
:yeahthat:

It's crazy-making behaviour, because on the one hand minor Malini is cleaning, cooking for the family,  parenting  younger SGB, emotionally supporting both parents and carrying immense responsibility whilst  50 year old Malini is being treated like a recalcitrant child who has no needs, no rights, no voice and should get with the programme ASAP and toe the line.

Why treat me like an adult when I'm a child and then treat me like a child when I'm an adult.

Thank you daughter for this insight as I struggled with either/or and nothing added up. I didn't even consider that I could be both parentified and infantilised at the same time.

"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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all4peace

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2018, 06:51:19 PM »
This child-adult mixup resonates with me. As a child, I was my parents' therapist, we kids did almost all the work, and we weren't nurtured or "parented" in most ways.

As an adult, it's apparently offensive how I spend time with them, and when, and for how long, and I don't apparently get jurisdiction over my own life, marriage, kids. It is frustrating. Really, as always, it's about what works for them and what they want/need, which for me explains how erratic and inexplicable it is.

DH and I were speculating on why it went ok for a while in adulthood with my parents. I really think it's the fact that for 10ish years what we wanted overlapped with what uNBPDm wanted, and so all was relatively peaceful. Now that our paths have veered in a different direction (much more individuated), we're finding that it wasn't that M was a "better mom" those years but more than she was getting what she wanted. And now she isn't.

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sandpiper

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2018, 08:54:13 PM »
RE: the 'why it went ok for a while' thought...I've often asked myself the same thing.
Our parents died young but my older sisters were forced into parenting me from an early age, due to both parents being pretty much unavailable for that.
I never managed to convince either of them that I was an equal and an adult in my relationships with them & I think it only worked by me humouring them and not making waves.
As time went on and I grew and learned from therapy and in life, I needed better boundaries and healthier relationships that could nourish me.
That wasn't a possibility.
I kept waiting and hoping for change but nothing that I did managed to create healthy change.
In the end I just felt like I'd been pushed so far back into the corner as they eroded my boundaries that there was nowhere to go but forward.
Me reclaiming lost ground was viewed by my sisters as a violation of their rights to trample all over me and to treat me like a doormat. And by that stage their grown up children had had a lifetime of watching how their parents operated so they shared their parents view that I was being completely unreasonable, in wanting and needing healthy boundaries.
I have the occasional spiteful moment where I hope that 10+years into NC, their adult children have had reason to realise that I had some valid points.
I doubt it, though.
The best post I've ever seen on this topic was, I think the 'poisoned well'.
I've got no idea where I found it, but it ran to the theme that no matter how skilled you became or what you bring to the relationship, the well is still poisoned. Even if you skill up to the level where you're at Golden Chalice standard of healthy relationships, the water that you draw from the family well is still toxic and it's going to disagree with your system.
I think that all you can really do is set boundaries and try not to get caught up in their level of operating, but it's really hard.
Its one of the main reasons that I decided to go NC with my mother's FOO.
I would just wind up frustrated and angry and depressed for weeks after the slightest interaction with them and it's just because the well is poisoned.
I managed to get through most interactions with dysfunctional FOO without biting or engaging on their level but the emotional fallout from dealing with them and weathering the spite, the venom, the passive-aggression, the games, the one-upmanship, the power trips, the triangulation, the ....(insert whatever I've missed) and just the general weirdness of it all...well, I would walk around for days, weeks or at times months after that in a state of resentful depression and generalised ill-humour that detracted horribly from my quality of life.
DH usually walks away from any interaction with his parents and his brother carrying that sort of tension, too.
Someone at these boards made a great comment, years ago, which has stayed with me.
Therapists and psychiatrists can spot the personality disorder not by interacting with the PD themselves, but by speaking to the people who have to deal with them on an intimate basis. They create so much carnage around them that you can measure the extent of the personality disorder just by observing how much they mess with the ordinary people around them.
I think it's an enviable goal, to try to stand strong in the presence of that kind of a storm, and stick with your hard-learned tools and your maturity and your integrity - but I'm with whoever described PDs as 'misery tornadoes' that wreak havoc on everything in their path.
Far better to stay a safe distance from the eye of the storm than to try to clean up the mess after the storm has swept through.

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practical

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Re: What age do we bring to the conversation?
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2018, 08:57:29 PM »
And yes, I think an adult-daughter can be both parentified and infantilized by same parent in same conversation.         
I agree. In my case more so with M than F, and it is crazy making when on the one hand you are treated as if you cannot take care of yourself like for example some minor health issue (M), how to boil water for tea (F) and on the other hand are expected to solve THEIR marital problems, major mental health issues and make them happy while you are doing it - and be happy you are allowed to do it -.  :sadno:
“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)