Needing to be the one to make the first move

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all4peace

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Needing to be the one to make the first move
« on: September 21, 2018, 11:16:12 PM »
I adore my siblings. I have 3 of them, and we tend to see ourselves as a unit, although one sibling is kind of a loner and not as much a part of that unit. For the others, however, we consider each other when dealing with our parents.

When talking with my dear S recently, she expressed dismay that our parents aren't speaking to me, telling me that it's "not okay like they're acting like everything is fine with me when they're not talking to you." And then she said (paraphrased, again) "You know F won't be able to make the first move. It will have to be you."

When I relayed this to DH, he said "How many times can you take the first step? You've already done that more than once."

So, my question--if we have a PD parent, and if we're relatively healthy ourselves, it's highly likely that any concerted effort toward repair will have to come from us.
*How do you sort out what is a wish to avoid what promises to be pointless, versus residual hurt?
*How do you determine if parental "wishes" to reconcile are genuine?
*Do you have witnesses at those first meetings?
 
I agreed to a face to face with one of the parents. I cannot fathom anything except for doing this in the presence of a witness, preferably my and DH's T. The only purpose I can see is to discern if this parent has a genuine ability to acknowledge the harm done, acknowledge present behavior, and present a path forward.

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SmartyCat

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2018, 12:04:00 AM »
Hi A4P - I think your S's statement may be true in terms of what your parents are capable of. However, I think it's missing a big preamble: "If our parents were to tackle the extensive, necessary work to be eligible for a relationship with you, and if their behavior showed genuine remorse and a clear desire to treat you well, they may still lack the skills to take the initiative"

From the sounds of it, your parents do lack the skills to reach out and repair things. But in addition - in the things you have posted about how they treat you, I have yet to see anything that shows a desire for a genuine, healthy, reciprocal family relationship. Their intention to have everything their way, IMO, is unspeakably worse than lacking the people skills to take initiative and repair things.

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Starboard Song

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2018, 09:12:51 AM »
*How do you sort out what is a wish to avoid what promises to be pointless, versus residual hurt?

*How do you determine if parental "wishes" to reconcile are genuine?

*Do you have witnesses at those first meetings?

I think question 1 means: I don't want to do this, and I cannot tell if that is a rational decision or an emotional reaction. I think you are experiencing both. Your hard-earned hurt does not invalidate your judgment of their sincerity.

I think question 2 is inapposite, applied to people with PDs. Of course they want reconcile, just like a three year old wants a cookie. They want it now! The question is whether they have the capacity to sustain behaviors consistent with any normalizing of the relationship. If they do not, their sincerity is quite beside the point.

Question 3 is hard. If they put on a charm offensive, they can fool a sibling in a heartbeat. A sibling witness could be a disaster for you. The wrong T could be even worse. I think who is present is highly dependent on very special details we do not know. But I recommend either conspicuously taking notes to document key points, or recording. For notes, I mean saying "That's an interesting accusation. Let me write that down.....there. Do I have that right?" If you are in a single-consent state, record every word and do not tell them you are recording.

I tread dangerously close to being called out as a perpetual appeaser here. Even though we are NC from my in-laws, it remains true that I will take their call at any time. I will always take that call and hear them out. That does not mean I am right: it means I personally need that to assuage my latent guilt. I distinguish between that and "giving them another chance." Giving such folks another chance, offering provisional trust, risks more heart break. I do not do that.

I think you need to have in mind what the hell they want. Do you know what their key is? What do they need to get them to calm the hell down and respect your space a little better? Not to "reconcile," a magical mystified word: just to calm down, for the love of Pete, and behave?

I think you also need to have in mind your goals for a future-state relationship. If your goal is to be a warm and close family -- you call him Dad and she tends DH when he is sick -- that's pointless. Ain't gonna happen. How about reducing the current state of war, agreeing to some boundaries, and making a "dignity exchange."  Based on the history you've shared on these pages, that is plausible and maybe very valuable to you. I think you need a clear answer to this question: is there another relationship state you would prefer that does not require a magic wand that makes them different people than what they are? If the answer is 'no', just stop now.

I feel for you. It is early this morning, and I spent half an hour on my desire to "set my FIL straight" on one particular fever dream of his. This cognitive dissonance is very painful. Being approached by family intensifies that. Someone will call your sis a FM. She does not sound like one to me. So stay close: you deserve more love and support, not less.

Good luck.

Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason    |    Emotional Blackmail, by Susan Forward

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daughter

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2018, 09:58:46 AM »
I think the supposed inability of a pd-disordered parent to make 1st move towards so-called reconciliation doesn't mean the estranged adult-child then must assume burden of obligation to initiate that first-step of contact. 

I think an estranged adult-child has legitimate reason to not seek re-engagement, to demure when told "you need to make 1st move".

Our siblings' expressed "well you know how mom/dad is" accommodation serves to enable and appease a badly-behaved parent.  There's a cruel assumption that there's no need for said parent to acknowledge the genuine hurt and profound dismay caused by their inappropriate expectations and demands, by their hurtful and disrespectful behavior, by their notion of self-entitlement to "say and do whatever" without consequences.

There's the expression: you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  Likewise, our pd-disordered parents aren't genuinely motivated to "change", nor to sincerely pursue self-work needed to achieve true "reconciliation".  As you know, "reconcile" means "submit" in our enmeshed FOO Families, meaning accept that it is what it is, they are who they are, and it won't change, they won't change.

Such a face-to-face meeting, whether facilitated by a therapist, or witnessed by a third-party, will be met with more disappointment, and exposes us to more emotional harm, whether from direct frontal attack, and/or from more quiet realization of how emotionally-inadequate our parents are, incapable of providing us a stable empathetic relationship-basis.

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all4peace

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2018, 10:48:20 AM »
I do not believe my siblings are FMs, nor I to them. We have grown in this process, and we support each other while allowing space and for each of us to deal with things as we need to. But we also see ourselves as a unit, the "children" of our parents, so if our parents are going to be "good parents", then any insights or change should apply to all of us.

My biggest preference would be to left alone for life, now that I'm past my bigger preference of having wonderfully loving and supportive parents. I have worked hard to get to this place, and I don't want to consider going through a process in which I may be left to determine if they have genuinely changed or not. I do not think they have changed, but I'm also trying to stop playing God.

My and Dh's therapist would be the only witness I can imagine. He knows the entire back story, he cares about humanity enough to be fair to my parents, but there's no way he'd allow them to get away with bs. He's way too perceptive for that. I would never, ever call on a sibling to be a witness, though I would ask a sibling to be co-participant if my parents wanted to actually deal with their stuff in a meeting.

My goal would be to offer them a chance to heal. I think this is a primary relationship and I don't think it's fair to severe it without once dealing with the issues in person. I do not want anything from them. I offer them basic civility, and I want to be able to attend large family gatherings.

SmartyCat and starboard song, you both nail the obvious--wishing to reconcile is one thing. Actually having the tools to do so is quite another. It gives me hives to think of a conversation in which I'm supposed to "prove" their harm, and so I wouldn't take this route whatsoever. I would open up a chance for them to admit to their harmful behavior, and I could easily walk away if they tried to turn it into a blamefest instead.

Daughter, i totally get that. I would only do this if T agrees, and I'm in a good place to deal with the fallout, the one last time, only because I've not done this in person.

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practical

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2018, 10:31:10 PM »
It looks to me like one last battle for you to convince yourself you left no stone unturned, it is FOG brought on by your sisters comment even if she didn't mean it that way.

As far as I remember you have brought up specific issues with your F in person in the past and where shrugged off. If he couldn't handle smallish and concrete issues, how do you think he is going to be able to handle the larger issue of your relationship, which is much more abstract?  Similar most likely applies for your M. For me the sign that this is most likely a dead end is that they pretend to your sister that everything is fine, which is different from them being unable to take the first step. Also, being unable to take the first step - meaning at least some level of self-reflection and taking responsibility - is for me a sign of emotional immaturity and what you do need to make this work is an emotional mature partner in your parents.

I have been reflecting similarly on whether I should reestablish some kind of superficial contact with F due to some FOG, knowing it won't be him doing so - I just cannot. I cannot go through any of it again. Like you I have given him a million chances and am left empty handed. Maybe in a year I feel differently, but right now I feel like you
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My biggest preference would be to left alone for life, now that I'm past my bigger preference of having wonderfully loving and supportive parents.
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« Last Edit: September 22, 2018, 10:37:24 PM by practical »
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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Liketheducks

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2018, 11:36:32 PM »
I'm struggling with this very thing, as well.    My mother cut me off.    I offered her a place to live, outside our home, and she told everyone that I made her homeless.   We've been VLC/NC ever since.  This wasn't my intention.    My SIL's have performed the flying monkey roles.  My mother won't communicate with me other than via text....so that she has a record of what was said.  Sigh....
My mother is expecting me to reach out to her.   She keeps telling the SILs that she doesn't think I want her in my life.   When I do reach out there are a number of weird conditions and a push and pull cycle when things don't follow her prescribed hoops.   
In my mind's eye, I don't think the old relationship is going to reappear.  Something new will have to happen.   As this carries on longer and longer....I feel so much like I'm being punished for my standing up for myself.    Through the SILs, she wants to meet with me one on one to clear the air.  In my mind, if she wanted to meet me.....why doesn't she?  It takes two people to have a relationship.   The expectation is for me to carry that on.  I feel terrible that I don't want put myself in the firing line.     
So, I will invite the entire family - and her for a holiday meal.  I will be kind, a polite, and it feels so cold given our former enmeshed relationship.  I can't fathom doing this sort of stuff with my child when he's an adult. 

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all4peace

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2018, 01:42:45 AM »
I think for me this is the emotional version of dotting i's and crossing t's, but I need to be sure my motives are what I believe them to be. I need to be able to answer to those who matter to me, including myself. And I do need to give it a face-to-face opportunity now that my anxiety is manageable. But I have nothing emotionally on the line (as far as I can tell) at this point.

I do believe that what I would offer--a meeting with MY therapist present--would be denied. But I will not meet alone, and I cannot think of a single other reasonable witness. Siblings not yet steady enough themselves and way too involved, DH way too angry. I would not trust an unbiased 3rd party, as this isn't a he said/she said situation with 50/50 stock in each side. So I do believe that what i would offer they would never accept, but i want to be sure that's not why I'm considering offering it. I truly can't think of another option. There is too much possible stored rage on their side for me to do this alone. While I highly doubt my F would explode at this point in his life, he certainly has repeatedly in the past, over literally 3 decades of his life, and now he is losing so much more than he has ever lost, so I'm not eliminating that possibility and that's why I wouldn't meet alone.

Thanks for the feedback.

liketheducks, I'm sorry you're facing this also. It's so frustrating when they pull in 3rd parties.

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Peace Lily

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Re: Needing to be the one to make the first move
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2018, 10:25:02 AM »
All4peace, I don't know what your motives are, but your parents have had plenty of opportunity in the past. I remember when you met up with your F before and how difficult that was. You have been a good daughter in that you have tried beyond what most people would attempt in the face of the horrible and outrageous abuse you have suffered. You should not feel obliged to make the first move, no matter what your sister thinks. You have been brought up by the same parents, but as I'm sure you are aware, your experiences will have been very different. I know that mine and my sister's were. I !like you am lucky as We both support each other and no one gets it like my sister. However she was victimised being the scapegoat and I was the golden child who has come out numb, not knowing who I am and with a large dose of survivors guilt. Big hugs to you as you work your way through this latest dilemma.
"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