Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system

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daughter

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2018, 10:58:36 AM »
What I know is that my NBM and NF often explicitly told me "not to tell", to not disclose, whether to extended family, or my friends, or later, to my husband, in regards to the "bad stuff" they said and did towards me.  That edict, "you don't tell; you keep our malevolence a BIG SECRET" is both entirely self-serving, and ultimately harmful only to myself, to my self-worth and ability to acknowledge my responsibility to protect myself against harm.  As a child, I abided by that dictum.  As an adult, I shared, with friends, with SOs (who saw the dysfunction and recognized the malice), and with DH.  Disclosure is "sunlight for the soul".  You don't need to go into explicit detail with each encounter, when the question arises "how are your parents; how often do you see them", but it's certainly appropriate to state:  my parents are difficult people, and I've distanced myself from them

Me, I'm amazed by how many people I've encountered in similar situations of estrangement, from low contact to full-stop no contact, due to malevolent, often intentionally cruel, dysfunctional parents.  Recently had our furnace fixed, and the HVAC guy, unprompted by any comment by me, never having met me before, gave me a short synoposis of his own dysfunctional FOO Family history, his malevolent father, how he'd used that bad parent experience to intentionally craft himself a successsful life as a HVAC contractor.  My response was to congratulate him, for taking his life-experiences to positive good rather than remaining enmeshed, passively compliant and dutifully obedient to a bad parent.     

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candyapple

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2018, 11:23:16 PM »
All I can say is...SAME. I am struggling with this, too.  :wave: There is this whole family dynamic that the entire family clings to as truth. And then there is the truth. I find when I "out" the insidiousness of the behind closed doors abuse, I rarely get responses of validation I seek. I get a lot of, "Maybe they meant well." "Maybe it's you." "You misunderstood." If I responded to my actual family with the truth, I would get blamed as the disordered one. I would feel invalidated and shamed for speaking of it, that feeling that is so deep inside to always keep up the show and never reveal the truth to anyone, makes me feel almost at risk by speaking the truth. They might up their game to make me look disordered to shut me up, with smear campaigns and calls to my therapist with lies about my well-being. It's happened before!

It's tough because most people who know my family act like nothing was ever wrong. They do wonder why I don't show up. Why don't I ask my NPD mother what to do? Don't you guys talk? And I struggle with, if I go along with their act, I am not my authentic self anymore, and my cPTSD symptoms worsen. If I am my authentic self, I have to speak the truth. But if the truth will put me at risk with my family, then I may have to disconnect contact with most of the family in order to just be me and not play a role. That's a sucky thought because I am losing what little support system I had, becoming someone who really just depends on a select few now, not to mention there is love there for me and I have to grieve that choice to distance myself from aunts, uncles, grandparents.

I don't really have answers, but I can definitely empathize with your situation as I am going through something very similar. And most days, I tend to doubt my truth and fall back into their truth as they outnumber me. I've been gaslighted so long, it's hard to stay in the light every day. It's such a struggle, and it really never should be a struggle to just be your authentic self and be honest and compassionate. These are all foreign topics in a narcissistic family, though, and they won't really ever allow for these. My best wishes to you! As my therapist says, you will deal with revealing your truth slowly, with patience, with distance, with boundaries. It's okay to feel it out and figure out what will work best.  :)

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FinallyPeace

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2018, 01:51:14 PM »
Thank you OP for inviting me to this thread.  It's very validating.

I've realized, as I've gotten older, that you don't need to share everything with everyone.  The majority of people don't care about the heaviness of other people's lives.  "How are you?"  "Fine.  How about yourself?"  I leave it at that.

A lady I used to work with... :stars: You were best to just say, "Good morning" and move along."  DON'T EVER SAY, "How are you?"  You'd be stuck for 45 minutes, or longer, listening to her husband's ailments which included food intake, bowel movements and medicine consumption (I am not exaggerating).   :blink:  The one time in the lunch room, I overhead some poor, unwitting person ask her how things were going and she went on about her aunt dying, hospice, and then added, "She died a horrible, painful death."   :aaauuugh:  Lordy...I steered clear of her!   :tongue2:

We have family secrets, too. 

I often think about if people "really knew" what had gone on in our extended family they would be horrified.  Our family is well known from a small town.  The spouses of my cousins and siblings have no idea what has occurred behind closed doors (physical, mental and sexual abuse).  Do I feel the need to inform everyone?  No.  Because I don't think it would do any good.  I would be labeled a troublemaker/stirring up trouble and more harm would come from divulging these secrets.   

We have shared among ourselves/within the family about certain situations to help each other with healing or constructive validation.  I think that has been helpful.

I appreciate everyone sharing here!!   :yes:
"Behind the smile, a hidden knife!"
― Ancient Chinese saying describing passive-aggressive behavior
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Moxie890

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2018, 01:57:32 PM »
When it comes to explaining my family situation, I first try and look at who is asking, and what is their motivation to ask. Are they a flying monkey, or someone sincerely wondering what's troubling you? Sometimes it's really hard to tell.  Answering a flying monkey's questions tend to turn in to JADE and are met with a lack of understanding (I have been struggling with this). I am doing my best not to engage at all in convosations about my mom and NC with flying monkeys. On the other hand, it can be so nice to open up to someone who genuinely cares, and isn't looking to judge. For me this is usually my husband and a few friends outside of my FOO. With them I might be guilty of over sharing, but they never make me feel bad about it and they respond in a kind supportive way, even if they don't understand.

So in a nutshell, my advice when deciding what to share is look at who is asking and if your responding would be JADE or simply sharing.

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Griffen

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2018, 12:30:28 AM »
I find I am struggling with the difference between secrets and dignity/privacy.

So I was raised to believe that I was not allowed to discuss any of my mother's secrets, and that I was not allowed to have secrets or privacy. I've really struggled with this too.

Here's what mostly works for me.

1. Will not knowing this information harm the person I'm talking/interacting with?

If no, then they don't need to know.

If yes, then I ask a second question:

2. Will them knowing this information harm me?

If yes, then THEY DON'T GET TO KNOW THAT INFORMATION. Even if it would harm them not to know it. And I get to decide what "harm" means. That's my decision, and mine alone.

This has helped me sort what's actually private and what's a toxic secret.
"The people who hate it when you set boundaries are the people who benefited from you having none."

Queer male autistic with a uNPD/uBPD lesbian man-hating mom - gee, what could possibly go wrong?

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all4peace

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2018, 03:45:48 PM »
daughterofbpd, I've shared with those most important to me, and they believe me. I think I will find a phrase that indicate enough without hopefully too much.

springbutterfly, there are absolutely gag orders in my extended family. When cousins talk about the violence of their childhoods, one of my parents raises their voice to shut them down. When I used to talk about some of it, I was laughed into silence. What a fascinating way your friend and his parents acknowledge the damage!

Bloomie, I am probably misusing the word "dignity." What I mean is treating them with acknowledgement of their humanity. I love that you remind us of the possibility of an entire family system becoming more healthy, even someone realizing that a neutral hosting place might work better for the family.

daughter, it's helpful to me also when I hear of others who struggle with their parents. I haven't met anyone who admits to being NC or even VLC, but plenty of dysfunction.

Maisey, you summarize it succinctly. Secret keeping benefits the abusers. I have cousins who've gone missing from family gatherings. I have believed the stories about their loss of mental health, drug use or other. Now I wonder how true those stories are.

adria, I love your idea and have used it in another situation recently, asking for guidance on what to say and what not to say.

candyapple, yes, it's a catch-22. Speaking some amount of the truth is vulnerable. Not speaking the truth holds it inside of us, or it can feel that way. I love your reminder that this can happen over time, that we don't need all the answers on how much to say or not to say right away.

finallypeace, I'm glad to read that your family has found ways to share when it was to aid another.

moxie890, that is a good reminder. There are some family members who like to repeat gossip everywhere, and for sure I won't be explaining to them or those who confide in them.

griffen, that's a brilliant flowchart! It's perfect for sorting out what is a toxic secret. I'm not holding onto anything that falls into that category, more like disappearing from events with no explanation and being possibly hurtful to those I love by not explaining why.

Thanks, all. Great conversation and things for me to think about.

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artfox

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2018, 05:03:00 PM »
I do struggle sometimes with everyday small talk questions. It was drilled into me for so long that I shouldn’t burden others (her) with my problems, that offering anything other than “everything’s great” feels like an overshare.

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Griffen

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Re: Privacy/dignity versus unhealthy secrets in a PD family system
« Reply #27 on: December 24, 2018, 12:19:04 AM »
griffen, that's a brilliant flowchart! It's perfect for sorting out what is a toxic secret. I'm not holding onto anything that falls into that category, more like disappearing from events with no explanation and being possibly hurtful to those I love by not explaining why.

Actually, that still fits. Look at the flowchart:

1. Will them not knowing why you disappeared from the event without explanation be harmful to them? It appears you are saying "yes, it will." So on to the second question:

2. Will it harm you if they know why you left without explanation? Sounds like a "yes" to me.

And if it will harm you, then it's none of their business, even if it harms them not to know.
"The people who hate it when you set boundaries are the people who benefited from you having none."

Queer male autistic with a uNPD/uBPD lesbian man-hating mom - gee, what could possibly go wrong?