Whose shoulders does it belong on?

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all4peace

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Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« on: June 26, 2018, 07:23:37 PM »
Those of us raised in PD families know, or are learning, how so many things are put on our shoulders that don't belong there. I've literally developed searing pain between my shoulderblades that I've noticed pops up when there's a lot of family "stuff" going on. So I've been figuratively taking it off my shoulders and repeatedly returning it to theirs.

For example, when uNBPDm characterizes me in a lot of unpleasant ways AND wants us to do a lot of stuff together, I take her at her word and let her start accepting the consequences of her words and past behavior. What she wants and what she says are not compatible, but that's hers to deal with.

When uNBPDmil and enN?fil are unable to listen to our requests/boundaries, when they will not stop pushing for what we have labeled as unwelcome, uncomfortable and unsafe for our family, they are choosing to not have a relationship with us. They keep trying to put the responsibility for the relationship on us, but it is not on us. We have repeatedly and clearly talked to them about what we need, what we're willing for, and what we cannot accept, and they choose with their behavior the type of relationship we will have with them. At this point it is nearly none at all. I no longer feel the weight of guilt and shame for this. It doesn't belong to me. It belongs to them.

In a book called "Anger" by Gary Chapman, he writes: "If after further confrontation (he first delineates how to try to mend a relationship) the person refuses to deal with his wrongdoing, you must eventually acknowledge that the person is choosing not to continue his relationship with you. We cannot make people confess, repent and reconcile with us. We must let them walk away (emphasis mine)..."

This was an epiphany for me. One I need to have a lot of times to re-wire the part of my brain that thinks relationships are entirely my responsibility. Certain behavior, repeated, denied, not made right, is someone else choosing to walk away from us.

I think part of the problem in seeing it this way, as it really is, is that WE start making choices which makes it feel like we chose this, when we're actually taking it off our shoulders and putting it back onto theirs, letting them walk away.

For some reason, I often test a new theory or insight with "If I cheated on DH" and it helps me see if the logic holds.
So, if I cheated on my DH, denied it, kept doing it, and he confronted me, and I refused to admit it and still cheated on him, could I insist that he be responsible for our relationship? Could I hold him accountable for our marriage and the state of it? Could I tell him I really, realllllly want a good marriage with him and he needs to forgive (what I haven't admitted to doing) and accept (what I am still doing, and denying) me or it would be his fault that our marriage was crumbling?

It's absurd, obviously.

And yet that's often what our PDs are demanding from us. We try to make it work in our hearts, minds, souls and body. But it doesn't work.

I've been trying to use language to reflect this new understanding. When a sibling recently asked if I'd be spending time with them and our parents my response was (paraphrased) that I would not since our parents have not yet acknowledged or changed their behavior, so I wouldn't be comfortable in their presence until they were willing to repair the damages they've inflicted on our relationship." NOT "I'm not willing, and I'm not comfortable" BUT "they haven't yet made it possible for me to be comfortable."

I'm going to keep working on seeing this more clearly and behaving/speaking in accordance.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 08:02:45 PM by all4peace »

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Moxie890

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 07:59:16 PM »
Thanks for posting! This was something I needed to hear and be reminded of today.  :yourock:

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HeadAboveWater

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 08:45:10 PM »
Thanks, All4peace! This is some interesting food for thought.

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LSK1999

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 10:13:21 PM »
Hi all4peace, I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I felt for a long time that I was abandoning my NM, I am recently coming to terms that it was her painful and horrendous abandonment of me in my times of deepest need (in childhood and adulthood) that have caused me a lifetime of trauma and pain. I refuse to feel like the one abandoning anymore, it is she that abandoned me OVER and OVER and OVER again. I know the searing pain you feel in your shoulders. My neck and shoulders have been tensed and painful for years. I often feel like I'm carrying around the weight of the world and ten lifetimes worth of grief. She continues to abandon me by pretending that the relationship is all one sided and that I am supposed to be the one serving her. If I don't say yes to her requests, she just throws me away and won't call for weeks. This behavior was going on for a lifetime, that with many other disturbing behaviors. Your 100% right, it's not us doing it, it's them.

One day I was feeling really guilty about going LC because my NM has cancer. I was feeling like I should be around her more and like I was leaving her. A member here said to me "You know that's not your fault right?" She could have stopped abusing you anytime she wanted but chose not to. So here I was feeling guilty and burdened by not being able to be around my mother while she's ill because of the horrible effect she has on me because she was abusive???? Like how you try to compare in your relationship with your husband I tried the same thing. If she weren't my mother and had been a husband would I ever feel bad about not spending time with her? NOOOO, her behavior is horrendous, and she's NOT EVEN SORRY. This is their choice, Amen, and thank you for saying this. Big Hugs and Thanks again for the post!

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Malini

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2018, 12:50:57 PM »
More thanks from me A4P for posting this. The bolded text is so validating,  healing and guilt reducing.

Many of us felt over responsible for the relationships with our PDs and also for their wellbeing. What a waste of our time, energy, kindness and generosity.

The notion of having to 'force' a parent to reconcile with their own children sounds ridiculous, especially to those of us who are specifically trying to be good enough parents to our own children. However, that is what it felt like each an every time I initiated or reinforced a boundary with my own Narents.

This is timely for me, first of all because I encountered NM on her regular stalking drivebys, with a face of stony thunder which always makes me think about how she is investing her time and energy (unwisely and destructively) and secondly, because the date of a family meet up with extended (overseas and distanced) FOO is coming closer and although there is no FOG, I can sense JADE and

"they haven't made it possible for me to feel comfortable"

is a great mantra to keep handy.

"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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Adria

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2018, 02:55:05 PM »
That was awesome, All4peace! Thank you again for your wisdom! :yes:

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OnwardUpward

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2018, 08:46:38 PM »
all4peace --  Thank you for writing this.  SO much of it really hit home for me.  I too have episodes of really sharp searing pain between my shoulder blades.  I started to realize that the pain is, for me, family related.  When my uNPD mother comes to town - before I even see her - the pain starts up again.  It is also really intense during times of conflict with my uNPD GCsis.  I actually didn't notice the correlation myself - my DH started to.  This most recent visit of M's I woke up in the morning and said to him that the pain in my shoulders was there again and could he rub my back?  As he was working the knots out he said "of course it's there again, your mom's in town."   I've been reading for years about what could cause the pain - medical reasons, posture issues, metaphysical stuff -- and I think you just hit the nail on the head. 


"For example, when uNBPDm characterizes me in a lot of unpleasant ways AND wants us to do a lot of stuff together, I take her at her word and let her start accepting the consequences of her words and past behavior. What she wants and what she says are not compatible, but that's hers to deal with."

(Sorry, I can't remember how to insert just part of a post)    :yeahthat:    I feel this exact same way!  Why on Earth would they want to hang out with someone so horrible as the way they describe me?  I would never hang out with the person they describe to me as being me.  But they need me around.  They need my strength and dependability - and when they don't they need someone to blame for anything that makes them uncomfortable.  Thank you for framing it like this - this makes so much sense.   


"For some reason, I often test a new theory or insight with "If I cheated on DH" and it helps me see if the logic holds.
So, if I cheated on my DH, denied it, kept doing it, and he confronted me, and I refused to admit it and still cheated on him, could I insist that he be responsible for our relationship? Could I hold him accountable for our marriage and the state of it? Could I tell him I really, realllllly want a good marriage with him and he needs to forgive (what I haven't admitted to doing) and accept (what I am still doing, and denying) me or it would be his fault that our marriage was crumbling?

It's absurd, obviously. "


Also this - I do this same thing.  Try to reframe the situation as if my in-laws or husband or someone else is doing the behaviors.  It becomes very black and white that way and much easier to see how unacceptable their behaviors are.


Malini -- "This is timely for me, first of all because I encountered NM on her regular stalking drivebys, with a face of stony thunder which always makes me think about how she is investing her time and energy (unwisely and destructively)"


Right?  When I think about the amount of energy and time that uNPD M and sis spend nursing their grievances, typing long nasty e-mails, talking to family members about me, plotting manipulations...  If a tiny fraction of that energy was spent actually taking the time to look objectively at themselves or try to listen at all to anyone besides each other, we wouldn't be where we are. 

(Then again, I spend a lot of time on here and in therapy, reading self-help books, so who knows.  I guess I also expend a lot of energy on this topic - just from a different angle.) 
 

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all4peace

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2018, 12:38:45 PM »
LSK, I'm sorry for your painful relationship. Someone once wisely reminded me that I'm 100% responsible for my half of the relationship. But it feels more to me like I'm supposed to maintain a relationship despite a lot of relationship-destroying behavior from my parents. That's what I'm trying to get back off my shoulders. 

Malini, that is so disturbing. I'm so sorry that you face this.

OnwardUpward, that's interesting that you have pain in the same place!. I've also thought of how much energy could go to better things. Something for me to consider for myself, too.

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LSK1999

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2018, 09:50:37 PM »
Thanks all4peace for your response. I have the same pain in my shoulders too. It's horrible and it feels so bad I spent years wondering what it was and searing is a good description of it. I always have tension in my neck, but the shoulder pain is different.

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truthseeker4life

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2018, 10:39:27 PM »
My mom actually says, "you're the child (I am 43) and I am the parent - it is YOUR job to have a relationship with me."

(This means I am responsible in her eyes for the entire relationship. If that is not dysfunctional that she outright says this then I don't know what is!)
!!!

Guess what type of n mom I have? The covert, ignoring type.

She refuses to be accountable for her awful treatment of me and I am done just sweeping it under the rug. She expects me to but I can't any longer. Thusly she has ostracized me from my 3 sibs as well. Nice.

Gee that's how I ended up in so many abusive relationships. Can't trust my gut when I am treated poorly. Can't stand up for myself. Learned behavior.

All4peace - thanks for sharing.

And yes my mom is choosing to walk away from me. It is painful but I am not responsible to fix that which is not mine.

As you say, she has not made it possible for me to be comfortable around her

so I stay away!

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practical

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2018, 10:51:00 PM »
In a book called "Anger" by Gary Chapman, he writes: "If after further confrontation (he first delineates how to try to mend a relationship) the person refuses to deal with his wrongdoing, you must eventually acknowledge that the person is choosing not to continue his relationship with you. We cannot make people confess, repent and reconcile with us. We must let them walk away (emphasis mine)..."

Thank you so much! This came at the right time. F didn't just choose to walk away from our relationship the day he broke off contact, he did so all the many, many times before when I asked him to treat me with respect and he walked right over my simple boundaries. I like the thought of you not being made comfortable by your parents - it is so little all of us ask for to be comfortable: respect, curtesy, maybe kindness. From F's perspective I think I was supposed to continue to feel comfortable with the abuse, and when I refused to do so I broke our relationship. I didn't, it was broken from early on and he as the adult and parent chose to not do anything about it. He walked away from it when I was still a child, and the later enmeshment, parentification changes nothing.

I'm going to keep working on seeing this more clearly and behaving/speaking in accordance.
So will I. Thank you again for sharing.
ďIf Iím not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Iím only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?Ē (Rabbi Hillel)

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

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Qilin~

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2018, 04:07:08 AM »
Thank you for a thought provoking thread. I have also experienced terrible neck and shoulder pain, just the burden of too much impossible responsibility that isnít really mine to bear. And recently some very frightening nerve pain.

I like the idea of reframing things, even just for ourselves, that it isnít that we are weak, or unwilling, but that basic conditions of respect and kindness have not been met.

One thing I might rephrase for myself at least, is that often the Pd parents are not walking away, but stubbornly pursuing an impossible relationship despite their past / continuing hurtful and damaging behavior. They just see us as objects or slaves or supply that shouldnít malfunction despite their cruelty and incoherence. In that case, it is ok for us to walk away, or run, or crawl, whatever is necessary.

Because they are still choosing a relationship, but it is the kind of relationship you have with a tool, or a vending machine, or a passing amusement. Not with a human being, or hopefully even with any being.

It reminded me of a book by Martin Buber called I and Thou. It has been a while since I read it, but one of the basic ideas is that there are ways of perceiving that affect the perceiver as well. Just by observing things, we categorize a lot as I-It: qualities, objects, knowledge, etc. But to be in relationship, there is a mystery or openness or dialogue between us, maybe even reverence, something he calls I-Thou. And that is an echo of the greater reverence for nature or life or God.

Not sure if I am explaining it well. But it seems to me that the Pd people in my life absolutely want to keep pursuing the relationship in this I-it fashion. And it is just soul destroying to be constantly seen that way, never even a glimmer of acknowledgement as a person, a soul, a Thou. There is no room for growth, or change, or surprise, or delight.

So it is ok not to subject ourselves to damaging misconceptions of what a relationship is, or of what we are.

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all4peace

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 09:35:55 AM »
truthseeker,  :doh: It seems obvious to most of us that relationships are 2-way situations!

practical and Qilin, I don't think I was very clear, but the point I was trying to make is that WE choose our behavior, but THEY have chosen to end the relationship. So it feels like it belongs on our shoulders because we choose boundaries, confrontation, VLC, NC, etc., but I love that the book is explaining that emotionally/spiritually/relationally, the other person has chosen to "walk away" from the relationship by refusing to be held accountable for their behavior.

practical, it is appalling to think of a parent expecting their child to be "comfortable" and make the parent feel loved and comfortable WHILE continuing to do the things we've let them know are hurtful and harmful.

Qilin, that book and concept sound fascinating. I wasn't sure I totally got it so I found this online: http://teacherrenewal.wiki.westga.edu/file/view/I+and+Thou+1958.pdf
I actually struggle with his writing, but your summary is very easy to understand. To me, it speaks of being objectified for the gains of another, not seen as fully human or "thou" at all. Thank you for sharing!

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Muggins

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 02:44:26 PM »
I think when the pd chooses to have a superficial relationship with the non, it's a form of NC. It nullifies the other person.

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BentNotBroken

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Re: Whose shoulders does it belong on?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2018, 02:50:53 PM »
This was very helpful. Thanks all4peace.