Triggered by a "normal" email

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Peace Lily

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Triggered by a "normal" email
« on: January 14, 2019, 05:00:34 AM »
I have been feeling great since Xmas. Now it''s New Year, awful old year of family dysfunction left behind and moving forwards with new awareness from all the work I've been doing. En Dad's birthday came and went, he'd received my card and sent a pleasant thank you email. Nothing from my unN mum since Xmas eve, so 3 weeks. Yesterday she emailed and I found myself triggered, feeling depressed and emotional. The email is like a normal email / conversation  from her from before I went vvlc, which means it's full of poor me waifing. The awful xmas, the illnesses, the CT scans, my enabling Dad's chest pains. They have not been out except to force themselves on my Dad's birthday.  These illnesses are most likely real, they are in their 80s, but I still feel I am being guilt tripped. I feel bad for thinking that. I showed the email to my partner who said that it was "normal" for my mother. I didn't used to feel like this on receiving " normal" emails. Is it because I'm now more aware of the game she is playing? Because I am trying to resist being drawn in?
"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

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Starboard Song

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Re: Triggered by a "normal" email
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 11:30:25 AM »
I think that is exactly right.

There is a thread on the forum today about when a PD let the mask drop, and raged and hollered and abused expressly. The OP there found that dropping of the mask to be liberating.

In cotnrast, when things are so not right, but someone cannot see it and seems to whistle right past the graveyard, it is profoundly unsettling. It is terrible to be business-as-usual with someone where business-as-usual is so not-healthy. We all, I suspect, want clarity. We can get clarity of an unhealthy sort by piling in for a fight. We can get it when the mask drops.

But the drip-drip-drip of PD behaviors is maddening to us. It creates a sort of limbo, so long as we are in the FOG. And then I think, after that, it can still create grief.

Good luck to you. I haven't any answers, but I do have the potential comfort of knowing you are not alone.
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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Malini

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Re: Triggered by a "normal" email
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 07:05:46 PM »
Peace Lily,

First of all, how wonderful that you were feeling good since Christmas, a small but important blessing.

I remember those messages so well from my parents, especially enNF and I can empathise with what you’re  going

These messages made me sad for a couple of reasons -
- I was reminded of how unhealthy and toxic my « normal » had been for years
- I was reminded, by the complete absence of any interest or concern about me in these messages, about how little I existed and continue to exist for them
- I was reminded that instead of using the time and energy to write me a loving, constructive message that would make a relationship possible they chose to write guilting, waify messages designed to make me feel bad about myself.

I also felt angry because (before coming OOTF) I had expected and wanted to be there for them in their old age and they were giving me nothing to work with.

Each time, whatever hope I had for normalish parents and a more healthy relationship died a little.

Maybe some of these reasons make sense to you. I found it helpful to sit with these feelings, journal about them and allow the grief to wash over me, whilst carving out moments of self-care to keep my head above water.

It’s tough, but it will pass. Take care.

"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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Peace Lily

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Re: Triggered by a "normal" email
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2019, 04:53:40 AM »
Thanks Starboard. It is good to feel understood. You seem to get why I am feeling like this. There is a small part of me that wants to provoke her into doing something or saying something outrageous so I can stay strong. Does that make sense? Maybe I need to get angry at her to maintain my boundaries?

The drip drip drip of guilt inducing comments is maddening. It is intended to initiate an immediate compassionate response, but I have promised myself to wait a few days before replying.

I know what she really wants is to see me in person, but she will not ask. I haven't seen
her in well over a year and still don't feel ready. Will I ever?

Malini, thank you for your understanding. I have had a pretty serious injury to my arm and I did break medium chill to tell her so she didn't have to find out from a third party. She is now using this as a way to engage me in email dialogue. The message subject is always "arm update?? And a nod to my injury without too much concern like " how's the arm? " Then straight to the real point of the message - on and on and on about the terrible time she's having.  So, not a complete absence of concern at least superficially, but really, not that interested!

Peace Lily,

- I was reminded that instead of using the time and energy to write me a loving, constructive message that would make a relationship possible they chose to write guilting, waify messages designed to make me feel bad about myself


Thank you for this comment and YES, any normal parent would try to make you feel good about yourself and not out their energy into manipulating / guilt tripping you because they resent you having any fun or having your own separate life to lead.  There has never been any  sign that I remember of my mother trying to build a healthy relationship with me. Tbh I don't think she knows what one is and that IS the saddest thing.

I have NEVER wanted to be there for my parents in their old age! Since a teenager I have thought this an impossible task. I might be able to be there in small ways. The time is drawing near when they will need help, but I expect they will get professional help. My mother does not want me to be that close as to have to care for her physically. One time she fell in the bathroom in my presence and I rushed to help her up, but she pushed me away and shouted for me to get my father.

Malini, you're right, journaling would help, I need to take deep breath and get back to it.
"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

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Starboard Song

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Re: Triggered by a "normal" email
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2019, 11:42:23 AM »
Thanks Starboard. It is good to feel understood. You seem to get why I am feeling like this. There is a small part of me that wants to provoke her into doing something or saying something outrageous so I can stay strong. Does that make sense? Maybe I need to get angry at her to maintain my boundaries?

I have, this very morning, drafted yet another provacative message that I will not send to my MIL (until I totally lose it one day). I want to provoke her. I want to tell the truth. I want her to understand. I want justice. But no, I am not going to send it. I am not going to provoke them.

You do not need to be angry to maintain boundaries. This is going to sound grandiose, but really: Benjamin Franklin, in his rules for self-improvement had one about humility, I think it was, and it said "immitate Jesus and Socrates." Talk about aiming high! So think about it. Can we emulate the Dalai Lama, or Desmond Tutu, or Mother Teresa, or Bob Ross? Like, really, whoever your hero of kindness and calm is, aim high. I'm not preaching to you, here. I am preaching to myself.

Quote
“We're trying to do two things: One is not get hurt so that we can keep doing the thing we love to do, and two, we're trying to do it with less effort and more efficiency,” In other words, the better your form, the easier it feels—especially when you start to get fatigued.

That is a quote about proper running form for athletes, from here. It is perfectly apt. We are trying, in this world, to not get hurt, so we can keep doing what we love with people we love. And we want to so with an understanding that life takes energy and energy needs to be conserved.

Great runners don't ball their fists: their wrists are neither flappy nor tense, and their fingers are at ease. They don't waste energy. They do not grit their teeth.

A spout of anger certainly is motivating. Like a housefire.

I understand you so well it is embarrassing. I will resist provoking my in-laws, though, because that is bad form. It just wastes energy, and it increases the chances of me and the people I love being hurt further.
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