Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system

  • 27 Replies
  • 2955 Views
*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« on: December 04, 2018, 03:29:32 PM »
I have a question for us as adult offspring of PD parents, or grandparents.

In childhood, we are helpless victims of a PD family system. What goes on behind closed doors stays there. The entire family has secrets. Public behavior is very different from private, and implicitly or explicitly we are taught to keep those secrets, in protection of our PD parents. The shame is ours to carry, so that their shame need not be exposed.

And then we grow up. We hopefully start to heal, grow, develop, mature. It is no longer necessary for us to keep those secrets. We start deciding, intentionally, what kind of adults we want to be. What will our values be? How will we behave? How will we do better than those before us?

I find I am struggling with the difference between secrets and dignity/privacy.

I don't feel a need to hide the dirty laundry.
I also feel like it would be unhealthy to air the dirty laundry.

The same PD family system that created a need for secrets is unlikely to be able to healthily integrate those secrets decades later into the fabric of the family. When I start barely explaining to extended family members why I'm not showing up for events like I used to, I feel uncomfortable either way. If I explain that things aren't good between me and my parents, I question my motives. If I say nothing, I'm still silently bearing the shame and secrets.

How do you navigate? The only thing I can come up with is to keep it very general and simply refuse to go into detail: "Things aren't good between me and my parents, I'm not comfortable getting into detail, but I'm so glad to still spend time with you." What about you? How do you walk this line?

*

Starboard Song

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 3554
  • Be good. Be strong.
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 03:52:46 PM »
Oh wow.

This is yet another case where I see my wife struggle with something, coming from a distressed family, that to me seems obvious and easy, coming from a healthy one. I have no problem at all distinguishing between between dysfunctional secrecy and TMI. My wife, on the other hand, struggles to answer even the most casual, "Hey there, how ya' doing?" She doesn't know, really,  whether to say "fine" or "well I've been struggling with my mindfulness because of an interaction with a high school classmate last Tuesday related to...."

I think analogizing to areas where you don't find this difficulty could help.

When someone asks, "So how's work?", you make a snap judgement about how much they really want to know. The answer is usually along the lines of "oh, can't complain." If they are really asking, you characterize your answer into one of just a few simple answers: fine, busy, crazy; whew! or tough lately; or good, exciting, really great right now. And we all know how to express the high level details about why it's busy or crazy, or tough or exciting -- without getting into a whole big story. If the questioner is one of the few who wants to dig in, we all know how to slide into further details.

Here's the thing, though. My wife struggles about the secrecy vs. TMI issue on all such questions. "How's work?" "Doing an new paintings?" "How's school?" "Is your son driving now?" She struggles to give what to me are easy answers to all these, just like she would struggle with "So y'all aren't seeing your parents at all this Christmas?"

Do those of you from distressed families find it generally difficult to offer such neutral palaver on all topics, like my wife, or only when it comes to family? I just wonder if the answer to that question might not generate some insights. If not, don't let me derail the thread.
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

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 04:01:41 PM »
Only family abuse.

If someone asks me about work, I can quickly and easily figure out if they're being polite, filling a conversational gap or genuinely interested. I can navigate variations of the resulting conversation in real time, adjusting as I read their body language, engagement, tone of voice.

Ditto for someone talking to me about my kids, my husband, my hobbies, whatever.

The issue isn't the motivation or interest level of the person I'm talking to.
The issue is honestly knowing MY motivation, and this type of conversation could involve abuse and someone else's reputation.

If I give TMI about other types of conversations, I've simply bored someone else.
If I give TMI about the type of conversation I'm talking about here, I've possibly become a smearing person who assassinates another's character.
If I stay silent, I'm still a part of the secrecy and shame, when those 2 things aren't actually mine to carry.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 04:10:07 PM by all4peace »

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 04:06:54 PM »
A PD family system goes to great lengths to hide the family secrets. It was very, very, very well understood among us children that what happened at home was not to be shared. That gets worked into our DNA from the very beginning, so that could explain why it is so hard to untangle it later. I imagine it's a fairly common dynamic since "not airing the family dirty laundry" is a classic concept.

Further adding to the complexity, ALL adult family members are in some way complicit. When a child is being harmed, their entire childhood, the adults in the family are usually in some way complicit.

Where did the violence come from? The addiction? The distorted beliefs and patterns of behavior? We know where it came from, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. For someone to be able to hear me speak about the violence and neglect of my childhood, they might be in the uncomfortable position of examining their own childhoods, how they treated their own children, how they relate to my parents, how they feel about abuse, estrangement. Lots of uncomfortable things there.

My job is a neutral topic. Even my kids are relatively benign subjects for conversation. To me, family dysfunction ranks way above religion and politics for being hot-potato, highly-inflammatory topics.


Since this is obvious for you, SS, I'd love to hear how you respond to questions of you regarding your ILs. (although I do find it much easier to explain our distant IL relationship than that of my parents)
« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 04:08:41 PM by all4peace »

*

Starboard Song

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 3554
  • Be good. Be strong.
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2018, 04:13:31 PM »
I will think about this one some more, first, and discuss it with my wife.

Of course, please understand that I don't mean it ought to be easy. It plainly isn't. But I think the difficulty may be a scar from the upbringing. All very interesting. Since you don't have my wife's general small-talk trouble, i may be seeing patterns that aren't there.
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

*

openskyblue

  • Guest
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2018, 04:17:26 PM »
I don't come from a PD family, but I sure did marry one. My ex got into quite a bit of very public legal problems, so it was often the case when I'd see an aquaintance who'd ask "How are you?" and I'd never know if they'd seen the latest horrible thing in the news or were just being polite. There I'd be standing on the sidewalk feeling sideswiped.

This may sound weird, but I started channeling Jane Austen at these moments. I pretended I was in one of her novels and responded per 18th century manners. Those people were great at responding in a polite, thorough way, but really not revealing nothing at all. As in, "How are you?" and "I'm doing well, thank you. And you? I hope things are well." I became skilled at adding my own observations about the weather, the traffic conditions, recent stock market changes, the wonders of silicon muffin pans, etc. I also got comfortable saying my teeny piece, shutting up, smiling, and having to take my leave.

My theory is that modern life and media has gotten us into the mindset that we actually have to answer the questions put to us about how we are. We really don't. We can keep our own counsel. And I have a feeling that many people really feel the same.

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2018, 04:18:16 PM »
Starboard, I appreciate your perspective, as a healthy-FOO adult who is navigating a PD IL family system in adulthood, and seeing the struggles that your wife has, coming from a PD FOO. It's a unique and valuable perspective for me.

I took your "wow" not as condescending or unkind, but as being startled by yet another evidence of damage and struggle for someone from a PD family system.

I would love to hear your feedback. Having been in T for almost 2 years now, I'm very accustomed to asking questions that are agonizing for me and startlingly obvious to the other adult in the room :)

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2018, 04:20:53 PM »
openskyblue, I love the Jane Austen concept :)

I should clarify--I don't feel obligation to answer questions I don't want to answer. I feel like I'm in hiding, losing out on family time, and I WANT to explain but cannot feel certain about my own motives and what is appropriate.

My parents are humans who have made some bad mistakes. I don't think I want to expose them, but I also hate feeling like I'm hiding due to something I've done wrong.

*

Malini

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1533
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2018, 09:15:58 PM »
I believe that growing up in a PD family is like being part of a mafia family or cult. Even if it’s not explicit, you learn that “bad things will happen” if you divulge what is going on behind closed doors, even if the bad thing is that you will be “shamed” and family loyalty is very strong. Children often feel responsible for things that go wrong in the family, in divorce or separation situations, it’s often pointed out that the children need to know that it wasn’t their fault. If you’ve been raised by PDs, I think that feeling of responsibility is even greater and so some of those feelings of shame come from inside us (as if it was my fault that my dad fell off the wagon when I was 8 years old ! )

I think with respect to “dirty laundry” there’s lightly soiled, soiled and heavily soiled. 5 years ago I would never had imagined that I would share the abuse and dysfunction with a therapist, the heavily soiled stuff. When I started posting here, I was waiting to be struck down by lightening because I felt so disloyal and knew I was breaking the “vow of silence”.

i choose what laundry I share with whom. I live in a very reserved but direct culture which makes it quite easy to dose the level of sharing and most people get the lightly soiled version.

However, I refuse to be the one having to field uncomfortable questions, I shouldn’t have to listen to guilt inducing platitudes or barely disguised judgement about my “good daughter” qualities. So, what has really helped with the shame and feelings of responsibility is when I turned it all around and now answer “My parents don’t get on with me”, “My parents are not speaking to me”. It puts the ball where it should be, in my parents court. I’ve done everything I possibly could to make our relationship work and they have done nothing.

I’m not assassinating my parents character, I’m not dragging them through the mud and smearing them. People can see I’m a friendly, reasonable, kind person, so if they want to waste any time pondering my situation, they can ponder my parents behaviour instead of mine.

I struggled with this for a long time and understand why it’s challenging for you.
"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

*

Kiki81

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 215
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2018, 02:36:45 AM »
My approach: I don't answer intrusive questions that at the end of the day, don't matter to the questioner.

I don't justify how I spend my time or my money either.

I either don't respond at all (dead silence) or I ask why they want to know. Put it right back on them and watch THEM squirm for a change.

Really, light conversation is polite at social gatherings and asking a grown adult proving questions doesn't fit the bill.

*

Fightsong

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 703
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2018, 10:04:35 AM »
Hi A4P, I  know what you mean.  The veil / gag of secrecy that my PD family put around me left me also feeling like Malini when I came here- waiting to get struck down talking even anonymously.

No one in my daily life currently knows my FOO, and yet I feel so guilty still trying to judge if I can / should/ want to/ am allowed to speak about it. The ‘ are you going home for Xmas question’ perhaps.  Some people in my life know of the dysfunction and I do / can sometimes talk about it. But my comfort with it depends a good deal on, perhaps the age of my ego state if you like. If I’m fullyembodying my adult self I think I know how to do / wHat it’s ok to share and how to do so. If I’m ‘younger’ ( I think you know what I mean?!) then I struggle with wanting to tell and feeling I shouldn’t, or I speak and want to suck the words back in incase i am being disloyal or mamma finds out what I’ve been saying. I struggle with feeling I’ve made it sound more awful than it was, and the. Tie myself in knots that I have ‘made people think it was worse ‘ than it was.

It’s really tricky.

And with other questions -ie
How’s work?  Hobby?  Again I feel can get it right, but sometimes feel I’ve over shared- ( and polluted someone else) or else undershared and feel  I’ve let myself down.


*

Summer Sun

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1250
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2018, 12:51:10 PM »
A4P, I am a pretty open, transparent, naturally warm person.  As such I have a tendency to overshare.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  Not always so good.  So, I have learned to hold back unless I know my audience is safe.  It is safe with T, DH, BF. 

If others naively probe, as in unaware, I will just redirect, no, not this year, what about you?

If others try to meddle, as in aware of the situation, I have stated that my FOO is very complex, very dysfunctional, I have been a good (         ) and at this point, need to look after myself.  They can do with it what they want.  It is an honest answer.  With extended family, I don’t bring up PD’s, if they bring them up, I keep my comments neutral or positive where I can but keep the cards close to my chest.  Redirect.  Redirect. 

About the dirty laundry.  My T knows almost all.  DH knows most.  BF knows some.  Some of it will never leave my lips.  I’ve learned most others do not want to hear about dysfunction - when I’ve found it necessary to allude to dysfunction - apparently every family is dysfunctional these days?  I think to self, really? REALYY?  Your (        ) molested you too?  Your M beat you too?  You were neglected too?  Your D was a drunk too?  Did your D try to kill your M in front of you too?  Instead, I respond, “yeah, I suppose” and redirect.

I think the answer to your question in not hiding, or, not sharing the secrets is in knowing your audience? 

You know, an acquaintance of mine is an author who wrote and published a book that her family recognized themselves in.  It was her truth, couched in fiction.  She is now her FOO SG.  Should she have done it? Tell her story, her truth, her experience?  (And by comparison to my stuff, was really not that bad).  The problem others in her FOO have is that it paints them in a somewhat unfavourable light.  Had they not been (        ) they’d be white space.  Who has the right here?  An abuser has the right to privacy?  But the abused must protect the abusers privacy?  The victims of parental neglect, abuse, or sibling dominance must protect others and suffer in silence?  Morally, what it right?  I think gossip is spreading untruths, or, sharing “others” dirty laundry.  Sharing one’s own truthful experience, from their perspective, IMHO is their right.  There are slander and libel laws to protect the innocent?  Dunno, just got on a TMI ramble lol.

Summer Sun
"The opposite of Love is not Hate, it's Indifference" - Elie Wiesel

*

Bloomie

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 14262
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2018, 02:32:43 PM »
all4peace - if I am understanding you this is a question concerning close, intimate loved ones that you are thinking through the filters of information sharing with. That is more complicated because there are those we love that may actually appreciate an answer as to why we have stopped attending certain gatherings. Those who miss us and our family and are seemingly in the dark as to why we are absent.

In some instances, I believe we need to speak the truth and share a bit of our story for our sakes and theirs. I have erred too far on the side of protecting one and all (which is not at all my responsibility as we are talking about grown adults  :doh:) and thinking I was covering another's offensive behavior out of respect, love. And at times, I realize now, I have hurt those peripheral to the situation and who are directly affected by our stepping back by not offering some context for what is inexplicable to those on the outside looking in, who love us all.

Sharing respectfully and appropriately a small bit of my story and the "why" relationships are broken and fractured was a huge step in my own healing and acceptance piece of recovery btw. It is humility, not pride or a vengeful heart, that shares that primary relationships have broken down to the point they are untenable despite our very best and most passionate efforts to restore and heal them. That the need for distance has been brought on by years of harmful behaviors that we no longer accept for ourselves and our families.

You are right, it is important to check our heart and motivations. I respect that your starting gate position is that of self awareness and self examination before speaking. At the same time... as a daughter from a toxic, abusive, destructive home where to speak was to suffer swift and terrible abuse and total invalidation... I can say it feels very good to be able to speak a small bit of my truth and offer some context to my choices for others I care deeply about to consider. And it should feel good as we reclaim our story and share it how and when we believe it is most loving to do so. For us and others. :hug:




*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2018, 04:11:00 PM »
Malini, I had forgotten how scary it was to share here in the beginning. I came for IL issue, then started reading this board and sharing here also. I felt exposed, and totally off balance about what was too much to share.  I really like your "ball in their court", fair, direct, not-too-detailed explanation. "My parents aren't speaking to me." That's perfect.

Fightsong, I think you're hitting on a really important point--child vs adult. I will pay close attention to whether this is the child inside wanting finally to be heard and validated (which is unlikely to happen in this context) or the adult who wants beloved family members to know that I haven't disappeared without caring or love.

Summer sun, I'm learning how to do that tongue biting when someone makes comments that aren't empathetic. It's hard to do, and it's one of the ongoing wounds of having a painful family history in a world which persists on perpetuating the myth that all mothers are loving and nurturing, and all fathers care for and protect their children.

Bloomie, you're understanding my dilemma precisely. Some events I still attend, but not those in my childhood home. I do not know how to be in the home of someone who refuses to speak to me. Since my family hosts a fair amt, I will possibly be missing out on a fair amt of contact time with my extended family who I love. I was questioned by several beloved family members the last time, and I didn't know how to respond. I told one "enough" to get the point across, and another somewhat less. I had one completely supportive, loving, non-intrusive, accepting response..... and another one that was caring but not understanding at all.

I realize that explaining at all opens me up to the pain of others not getting it, and I think that these are really ugly stories to tell, really painful wounds to expose. No matter how my parents have behaved, they are humans and I will give them dignity.

However....... it can be challenging to sort out what is allowing them dignity, and what is continuing to hold the shame inside of me.
If I'm silent, I become the one with "issues," at the mercy of whatever story my parents are telling.
If I open up, it can get ugly.

I'm considering this: Responding to public family invitations with "Love you all, wish we could be there but we won't be this time." and then answering questions about our absence directly but without much detail: "Unfortunately my parents aren't speaking to me and I don't feel comfortable attending at this time."

If I get "But why?" or "You need to forgive" or something else that isn't helpful, that's where I get stumped.
Maybe "There was a lot of wounding in childhood that has impacted our adult relationship." (too blaming?)
Or "I'm not comfortable getting into the details" (too little?)
How about "I hope my parents are able to work through their issues" (way too blaming?)

This is where I get stuck.

*

daughterofbpd

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1219
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2018, 04:15:13 PM »
I don’t specifically recall secrets being a big thing in my family. Mainly, I was made to think that I had caused M’s behavior, therefore, I felt ashamed and refrained from sharing.

Maybe if you think of it in terms of you shared these family secrets here, and with your T, and your DH and close friends, so they aren’t really secrets anymore?

Sharing the details of family dysfunction with cousins, etc. is a difficult thing to do without coming across like you are smearing your parents. I know that isn’t your intention but sometimes these things are interpreted differently by family members. Perhaps your sharing would get back to your parents (maybe by a well meaning family member who is only trying to help). You might end up looking like you were trying to start a smear campaign, when you actually weren’t. I think it is okay to elude to the dysfunction or say something along the lines of it not being a healthy environment for you right now, if you feel the need. You could simply say something along the lines of “We aren’t able to make it this year but we’d love to see you another time.” If this is an event that you religiously attend every year and now suddenly you are not attending, I think that statement says something without really saying anything.

Good luck and take care.
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

*

Spring Butterfly

  • Spring Butterfly
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 17177
  • You can be free and heal ❤️‍🩹
    • One Key to Better Boundaries
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2018, 09:02:45 AM »
The question and distinction of privacy/dignity vs unhealthy secrets to me comes down to this: privacy and dignity has to do with me revealing what is someone else's business. So talking about a third party and their issues would be revealing private and personal information. Anything toxic that happened to me personally is my business to reveal and keeping it private for the sake of appearances of a third party (uPDm and enF) makes it an unhealthy secret. Just because it involves a third party doesn't mean I have no choice in whether or not to talk about something that happened to me personally or issues I have as a result of an event because it is my personal trauma and I get to choose how I talk about it and with whom. If I feel there's some sort of gag order around whether or not I get to talk about something that involves me personally that's a flag it's a toxic secret.

Now if we're talking about how exactly to talk about my personal trauma as it relates to events and other people I employ a similar method openbluesky mentions:
Quote
This may sound weird, but I started channeling Jane Austen at these moments. I pretended I was in one of her novels and responded per 18th century manners.
except as I was often said here I use Downton Abbey characters.

That said I have a dear friend who has absolutely no trouble talking about family dysfunction but does so in a way that I find amazing. He will often talked about how much he "loves his parents but..." finds being around them damaging or has to do something to work through past trauma or deal with the present interaction etc. It's all from his perspective and reinforces that it doesn't mean he doesn't love his parents just that interacting with them is terribly difficult and damaging on some level. The parents know he's been to therapy and he talks with friends about his difficulties. They don't have a problem with this and I guess that's the difference between a PD person and a non PD person who knows hey my kid is messed up with some of the things I did and is doing his best to work through. I find the whole family dynamic mind-boggling but I guess that's the difference between a dysfunctional family and a non dysfunctional family.
· Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
· Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
· It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth blog

*

Bloomie

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 14262
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2018, 12:35:43 PM »
Quote from: all4peace
I realize that explaining at all opens me up to the pain of others not getting it, and I think that these are really ugly stories to tell, really painful wounds to expose. No matter how my parents have behaved, they are humans and I will give them dignity.

Two things stood out to me here... dignity is a quality a person has based on behavior and character ime. I don't know if we can actually give another person dignity, but we can show honor and the respect we would give any human being (in particular a parent)  by not revealing their most vulnerable weaknesses and exposing the issues beyond how it involves us and what we believe is necessary.

I have also found that sharing a bit of what I own - my experiences, perceptions, the why behind certain decisions around certain events or my availability or the change in level of contact with a shared family member, I am sharing about healthy decisions I have made from a position of accepting what I cannot change and love for myself and others. I have not experienced that as ugly - painful, yes, but when I have done the hard work of breaking up the hard soil of my own heart and released bitterness how can it be ugly?

Yes, it does open us up to further scrutiny and vulnerability and yet when we step away from family events, vacations, close contact, we are vulnerable. There will be speculation about the why either way because our taking distance affects others. I think about something you reminded me of a while back on another thread... and that is the difference between hurt and harm/pain and injury and it seems to apply here. 

Sharing your why behind not attending certain family events with those you love may be painful for you both, but is it harmful? Is it injuring another? The reality of your absence is painful I would imagine for those that love you and the discomfort is an opportunity for growth for the whole family system.

Possibly going forward, others would see that the current way of doing things is not working and step up and begin hosting family events putting things on a more neutral ground. Maybe it is time for some traditions to change and life and love to be breathed into family gatherings for all. :hug:

*

Maisey

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 253
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2018, 03:44:55 PM »
The keeping of secrets is major in the foundation of my IL's control.

 Its proved to be destructive in the family as a whole and devastating to individuals on a personal level.

The secret keeping is protection for the abuser. Victims are struggling to keep themselves from losing their minds, or think they are losing their minds and still  guarding the secrets that have put them in that position.

The secret keeping helps keep family members complicit in the  dysfunctional  system, and kind of "off balance" because you don't want to divulge secrets all the while knowing the secrets are the basis of the problem.

M.

*

Adria

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1211
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2018, 06:32:44 PM »
Something that has helped me immensely with these tricky situations is saying a prayer before I walk in and face people who are going to judge me or question me. I ask God to give me the right words to say or keep my mouth shut depending on who the audience is. It helps me relax, and usually I walk away feeling better for what I have said or didn't say, and then I don't question myself as much later on because I was trusting that God was helping me. I usually pray quick before I pick up the phone if I know it will be a tricky phone conversation. God really seems to come through in this way for me. Otherwise, it is just too hard to do it on your own.

*

stormyandbright

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 41
Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2018, 05:59:46 AM »
I will think about this one some more, first, and discuss it with my wife.

Of course, please understand that I don't mean it ought to be easy. It plainly isn't. But I think the difficulty may be a scar from the upbringing. All very interesting. Since you don't have my wife's general small-talk trouble, i may be seeing patterns that aren't there.

I’m not sure if I’m reading into this correctly but do you mean she gives either curt answers or in some cases goes into too much detail because small talk makes her uncomfortable?

I have issues with small talk overall but it might be more of an introvert thing? Is your wife a bit reserved?

Most introverts aren’t super natural at bouncing into a full blown conversation from a generic small talk question.

I don’t blame people for small talk - it’s easy and sometimes necessary, and we all do it from time to time, but I do struggle with responding to small talk more often than not.

With a stranger, it feels like a lot of pressure to start entertaining them, and with a friend or even acquaintance, it feels lazy or shallow.

My usual instinct is to give brief and vague responses which can come across as either rude or boring to some. Don’t know if it has anything to do with my dysfunctional upbringing or if it’s just more of an inherent personality trait but I definitely sympathize with your wife!