Unwelcome at family wedding & taken to task for not waiting on the couple's baby

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sandpiper

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I ran into a friend of my nephew's from their university days. The boys used to spend a lot of time at my place, being country kids, as my place was inner city & a fun place to be for them when they needed somewhere to stay on weekends. I spent a lot of time with my sister and her kids while they were growing up, right up until her first marriage ended when her kids were at uni, and she paired up with an old boyfriend who drinks even more than her first husband. Sis had moved to the city 'to be near me' (Translation: to be near the boyfriend, she never came near me unless she wanted something) which drove me crazy because it was just way more contact than I wanted with someone who binge drinks on weekends till she's under the table and hangs out with the loud shouty party type. I don't drink so that was never going to end well.
So.
I hadn't seen the friend for well over a decade and in that time there's been NC with both my sisters & of course their kids are required to think of me as the devil, too.
Anyhow.
the friend is now in his mid forties and he took me to task for being NC with my nephew who is about to turn 40 and living on the other side of the world.
'You know they've got a baby,' the friend said, in accusing tones.
I didn't bite, I just said 'My family is complicated.' and I didn't offer more information.
The thing that I don't understand is this - I was not invited to the wedding and nephew went No Speaks with me when his mother did.
My sister has been No Speaks with me since I told her that she needs to start respecting my boundaries and get help with her alcohol intake.
I had reached the point where I simply couldn't take it any more - I felt like I was sitting in a leach pond and I was drained and had to set boundaries and create some distance if I was to survive.
So...if I'm not welcome at the wedding, and nephew has ignored my few attempts to contact him over the years, why, then, are they telling their friends that I'm a terrible human being who doesn't engage with their baby (on the other side of the world).
It just feels like my family like to run smear campaigns, have no interest in resolving any issues and just want to blame me and punish me for not rolling over and going back to being their doormat, an on-call restaurant and B&B, and an emotional punching bag for my sisters - which is what I was doing prior to therapy.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I said that to some of their enablers but then I remind myself it would just re-engage the drama and I was probably wise to take it on the chin & respond with 'It's complicated.'
Sigh.
I just wish that they'd be honest and say 'We didn't want her at our wedding and we don't want her in our children's lives.'
I just felt really blindsided by this one.
It's very typical behaviour of my uBPD sister. It has me wondering if in the 15 years since I've seen him, nephew has become just as much of an alcoholic as his mother and he's developed her thinking patterns :(
I do wonder, sometimes, if I should let go of my 'yes, it's complicated,' statement - which is designed to quietly defuse these moments, and instead, try to tell my side of the story.
The friend was a good guy, a really good guy, and I never imagined a scenario where he'd be snowed by my family. God knows he saw some of the weirdness and he commented on my sister's enabling (she wrote all her kids' assignments all the way through high school and university. The friends who didn't have parents to write their assignments were less than impressed by my genius level sister doing the work of her C-average sons)
Ah well.
Thanks for listening.
This one is just hurting me, today, and I'm sad about this.

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doglady

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Hey Sandpiper,
I think you did a great job keeping your equanimity with this guy. He was being really intrusive and assuming a hell of a lot. I think your saying to him, ‘It’s complicated’ is a perfect response. It’s not giving him anything to work with. And who wants to feed this sort of stuff anyway? I often say similar when pestered by FMs about my FOO and the fact that I have nothing to do with them, and people really don’t like it when you say something mild and noncommittal, because they either want you to dish the dirt or they want you to defend yourself. And let’s face it, that would only result in them having a go back at you. So now I don’t really engage in any level in these kinds of ‘conversations.’
Anyway, I think you did a great job in holding yourself above all that. I totally get why it was so triggering though. After all, who needs it, particularly after so many years with your nephew and his mother not making any effort. Sounds like you’re well off out of it.

Your comment: ‘It just feels like my family like to run smear campaigns, have no interest in resolving any issues and just want to blame me and punish me for not rolling over and going back to being their doormat, an on-call restaurant and B&B, and an emotional punching bag for my [FOO]’
I can really relate to this. I reckon I could have written it pretty much word for word. 
Keep up the good work. Your boundaries sound excellent!!
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 07:41:47 AM by doglady »

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Blueberry Pancakes

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Hi sandpiper. I certainly understand why running into your nephew's friend unexpectedly and the accusatory verbal exchange would leave you feeling hurt and sad. I think the way you handled it was perfect, especially when taken off guard like that. It sounds like maybe you fell back on a behavior that you learned serves you best, which is to remain unemotional and not give anything away. Well done. I believe trying to tell your side of the story would perhaps give you an immediate release which would feel cathartic and wonderful for about 10 seconds. Then reality would come back around when you see the reactions and age-old narratives swirling around that would be so familiar and remind you why you went NC years ago. I am sorry that happened. Of course it gave you pause. However, I think the path you are on is a good one, and I can only suggest to keep doing as you have done. This is kind of an illustration of the heartbreak of it. Trying to explain to others who are aligned with those that hold up a narrative that does not support us will probably never end in our favor.   

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moglow

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Sandpiper, sometimes it really does help me to say "there are two sides to every story" and let people take from that what they will. One of my cousins was [I thought] firmly in my mother's pocket all my life. He just seemed to adore her and laughed off the few occasions when I talked to him about some of what she'd said and done to me. In the past few years we've still had scattered contact, but he's admitted to being appalled at some of the things she says. He's not said in so many words but apparently I'm the subject of those comments from her - she knows he and I have as much a cousin relationship as any, and probably thinks she can use him to get to me. Unfortunately for her, she's said enough that he now questions her version - she forgets he was one of the kids in the family once upon a time, who heard and saw exactly how she treated us.

What I'm saying in a roundabout way is, people change. Their attachment to situations outside their control change. Sometimes a light goes on - as has with my cousin - that something is truly not right here, and it's not necessarily the silent/absent one's "fault" [if fault there must be]. Sometimes that squeaky wheel demanding "justice" gets something completely different from what they're aiming for - people see through it for what it really is. Not always and certainly not when we'd like them to, but it does happen.

What hurts me is, this friend didn't bother to ask about YOU. Just flung it in your face that "you know they've got a baby" as if you're being accused. Well friend, they're obviously adults and able to make their own decisions. That they choose to kowtow to mommie dearest says a whole lot more about her and them than it ever will for me choosing to respect their decision. News flash for him - people really don't have to pick sides when others dont get along. They can choose to butt out and not add insult to injury, have whatever relationship they choose with either or both parties.

But maybe that's just me.  :ninja:
“Nothing exposes our true self more than how we treat each other in the home.”  ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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sandpiper

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Thanks for all your replies, it's so good to have the validation and cooler heads to help me reflect on this.
I have done a lot of work at these boards (we are old soldiers here, hey MO) and I know that when something gets under my skin, it's time to consider what is happening and to work on defusing the wires to another 'hot button'.
Mo - you have said exactly what I needed to hear, which is the reminder to have hope, in that people do change and sometimes they do wake up and see the light. And that there is really no need to take 'sides'. Divide and conquer is not healthy or useful for healing fractured relationships.
I needed that reminder. And also the reminder that yes - he could have asked about me, but he didn't - he just viewed me as Hands To Serve, which was the problem that I was having with my family.
It was good to stop and reflect on other situations where I have managed to turn things around.
When I first started at these boards I was having an awful time with DH's parents. I stepped out of that one (NC/VLC) and let him deal with it. Fast-forward to present times and I have gone from being the target of MIL's smear campaigns and everyone in her family believing it, to a complete 180C turnabout where everyone in his family has come to value me and they see her for what she is.
All it took was for me to refuse to engage in the games and petty nonsense, maintain my integrity and just get on with being me. I swear to Dog the entire process nearly gave me an ulcer & I am amazed that my relationship with DH survived that, but I weathered that process, and I have a lot more friends, allies and resources now - and I will weather this, just as I have weathered other blows and bruises.
Thank you for reminding me that once again my family have managed to make it All About Them and having seen nothing but love from me, this young one can still somehow look at me and manage to believe that I am the villain in their story.

I stopped yesterday and thought about the people who I have in my life now, compared to where I was fifteen years ago, and I realised that the reason this incident shocked me is because I've drawn such strong boundaries around toxic behaviour and personalities. Therapy and these boards helped me to shift my trajectory, so these days anyone who is in my circle of friends has had to pass through a filter extraction process. Those that don't care about me and who aren't working on developing their emotional intelligence simply don't make it into my inner sanctum. Fifteen years ago that filter wasn't working at all and I hadn't learned to discriminate between people who are good for me and those who aren't.
The lesson here - my filter is working.
Thank you xxx
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 10:02:56 PM by sandpiper »

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moglow

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Having excellent boundaries doesn't eliminate your humanity, thank goodness. It doesn't mean you won't be taken aback by an unexpected comment. It means you know that's really not your stuff at all. It's his/theirs. They made choices here, as have you. You chose to not listen to and live in bitterness and spite, and to treat others as you wish to be treated.

You damn skippy that filter is working!  :applause:
“Nothing exposes our true self more than how we treat each other in the home.”  ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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sandpiper

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Thanks hon xxx
Yes it was interesting to reflect that this is someone I knew before I redrew my boundaries.
He's a good person and not the first one to be suckered by my family.
I've been digging into Compassion Focussed Therapy lately & I'm trying to reframe things using that, it's very kind, but you protect your own heart which is important.