Wondering who I am

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MyLifeToo

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Wondering who I am
« on: October 15, 2019, 04:42:34 PM »
I've been staying away from here again. I can't decide if I feel better or worse when I'm regularly reading the forums. The validation I get here is immense, and I know I'm not alone in what I've been going through all these years (it's not been that bad really but I've played her game and been manipulated).

On the other hand it's quite scary realising that I've not had a normal upbringing, even though I thought I had. I always thought me and M were best friends (only because I only ever did what she said and believed what she told me to believe), and now I find that's not really normal either. Now, although I want to care for her, I don't want to be her friend, and my values are completely different from hers. If I was the type to get angry, I'd be angry that it's taken me 60 years to realise this! But I don't often get angry and I don't really feel much else either, never really happy, never terribly sad. I think all my emotions are tightly wrapped in a box. I want to let them out, but I'm afraid to open the lid.

I get confused in my mind, wondering who I really am, who I'd like to be. I try to use the tool box and obviously updm doesn't like it one bit. But I'm not sure I like it either, and I suppose a lot of that is guilt that I'm not the daughter I used to be. I feel bad about myself. I hate to see anyone or anything suffer, and I think my mom, now in her eighties, is genuinely suffering. It hurts me to stand back and lower contact or even medium chill. I've tried, and I don't feel right about it.

My mom isn't the person she used to be either. Undiagnosed narc, borderline waify tendencies, often loving and generous, often a spoilt brat who can be manipulative in order to get her own way. Now elderly, bitter and twisted, confused, vulnerable and alone. I grieve for the fun person that (I thought) she was, years ago.

I live two and a half hours drive away. I phone her every day and visit about once a month. I was due to go this past weekend. She phoned me on Friday night, in one of her darker moods. I was blamed and shamed, nothing new, just the same old same old. I tried to stand my ground but got sucked into JADEing again, however i did end up telling her everything that had happened wasn't my fault and that she'd always had choices, and had made the wrong ones. I felt quite pleased with myself for that. Anyway, she ended up telling me not to bother visiting. A year ago, after learning a lot from OOTF, I would have called her bluff and not gone. But I've learned from experience that, for my situation, it's not worth it. I feel worse, she can't cope, everything gets worse.

On the drive there I gave myself a good talking to. I was going to be firm, set my boundaries, say what I wanted to say instead of what she wanted to hear. I felt very determined. But when I arrived she was in bed with a migraine. I looked after her, she felt better by the evening and we had a nice time. On Sunday she told me she was really glad I came, and how nice it was to have a clean house and food in the freezer. She didn't try to manipulate me into leaving later than I wanted to. It was lovely, peaceful.  Then I realised I'd stepped straight back into little girl who does anything and everything to please mommy mode. No boundaries were set, nothing was discussed. Again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Where and when will it end? How do I discover which version of me I really want to be?

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Wondering who I am
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2019, 05:55:04 PM »
I relate to a lot of what you are saying. I also took a long break from these forums. I find them an incredible source of comfort and validation, but at the same time itís overwhelming  to see how much dysfunction there is. I also find it triggering to read about people who are in similar marriages to mine or have similar childhood experiences.  It brings me back to that time and makes me feel hopeless.

I am in therapy but itís a limited amount of time and coming here helps me feel that Iím not alone and to make sense of my thoughts and feelings.

The more work I do the more I see how abusive and neglectful my upbringing was. How the things I believed about my childhood simply arenít true and were coping mechanisms. I also am starting to see how few life skills I was given by my parents and this is bringing up a whole new depth of anger. I understand that this is the healing, but it doesnít make it easier.

For me I have decided that I will not be able to heal and build any kind of fulfilling life while I am still in contact with my family. I am now NC with my father and siblings. I feel that for me personally I cannot focus on my issues while Iím exposed to theirs and having to be the person they expect me to be and fill my role of being the outlet for all their hurt and angry. Who knows what the future will bring, but I my life is much improved since I made this decision. I am focusing on what I can handle, which is me.

Right now Iím feeling very overwhelmed and broken. I feel like I will never be whole or ďnormalĒ enough for anyone other than someone equally broken, but I canít go back to that kind of relationship again.  Feeling overwhelmed is why I came back here. Itís the best place for me to work things out. The kindness and understanding of the responses I get here have brought me to tears more than once. 

Itís so hard to break out of our patterns, to form new ones. Many people are not even aware of how dysfunctional their situation is. We are. We are healing and forging new pathways. I think you should be kind to yourself and acknowledge how far you have come.

Pete Walker says healing is two steps forward, one step back. We will get there in the end though.


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MyLifeToo

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Re: Wondering who I am
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2019, 02:45:36 PM »
Thank you for your long and considered reply, GettingOOTF.

It's not been a great week. The glow of the good weekend faded fast. M has been very stressed and seems not to be able to cope with the normal day to day things. She's panicking about her medication, blaming me because I've "hidden things and not told her". She's been extremely angry because a parcel was taken in by a neighbour and she was convinced it was stolen and she can never trust buying anything online again. It's been a constant series of dramas. And I don't know if she's deliberately exaggerating, genuinely over-anxious, or pushing for me to take her in because she really can't cope.

Her neighbours have been doing diy today and she barked at me that I don't care about her because if I did I wouldn't let her live like this. I reminded her that it's the first time in ages they've done anything and she shouted at me that I always take the other person's side. I have to admit I'm not very good at validating her when I don't agree with the reasons for her anger, and don't see why I should, and I'm just trying to get her to see reason. She is in exactly the type of mood that makes me remember why I don't want her to live with me, and makes me want to lower contact, and have some peace.


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AD

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Re: Wondering who I am
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2019, 04:27:38 PM »
MyLifeToo, when you said "But I don't often get angry and I don't really feel much else either, never really happy, never terribly sad", it really resonated. I'm sorry that you're feeling this way.

If it's ok to make suggestions here, I really like the Baggage Reclaim podcasts (and blog posts).

There are a couple of recent one about feelings, where the podcaster says that we can't switch on feelings for positive emotions and shut off negative ones - there's one switch for all of them, and it we block certain emotions, we become numb. She has good suggestions for starting to feel again, including journaling - starting by just asking yourself how you feel each day, and writing in a stream of consciousness for a good ten minutes. Apparently by around minute 8, some truth comes out. I was skeptical but tried it this week, and was surprised by what came out the first time. I made the link between something that had been bothering me with a friend, and something that bothers me about a parent and myself.

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MyLifeToo

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Re: Wondering who I am
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2019, 04:35:00 PM »
AD, that's really interesting, thank you. I will certainly look out for baggage reclaim!

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Adrianna

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Re: Wondering who I am
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2019, 08:29:18 AM »
I can relate so much to you MyLifeToo.

You had one good day with your mom, which is rare, and fell back into the caretaking role. Iím sure that felt good, for her and for you, after all you were groomed for that role. You were raised that caring for her is your job. And it worked that day. She seemed content, thanked you, and you felt like you were finally appreciated and maybe, just maybe, in a small way, loved back from her.

However she went right back to her default mode shortly after.

I noticed you said you were trying to reason with her. Thatís a mistake. You canít reason with someone who is unreasonable. It doesnít work. I tried for years. Frustration level was high because itís like talking to a wall.  You think how on earth can this person not see their role in this? They canít. Their disorder prevents it.  They donít take responsibility for their behavior, ever.  They put that on YOU. Itís your fault sheís miserable, and lonely, and people donít do enough for her, and her life sucks. Well we are here to tell you itís not your fault. Never was. Not your job to fix her or her life. I know exactly how this feels. My grandmother basically told me my entire life my role was to make hers better, and that I was doing a lousy job at it.  Underlying sentiment that Iím no good. And she was happy to tell others that as well, that I donít do enough or care enough for her. I literally talked to her almost every day for probably at least 20 years., to listen to her whine and dump all her emotional garbage on me.  Every day, called her because she needed it, basically demanded it through guilt, although I didnít want to do it. What a waste of time! It was never appreciated.

Narcissists and I assume other cluster b personalities lack object constancy. Unless you are doing something for them RIGHT NOW you may as well have never done anything for them. They canít hold onto good and bad qualities of a person.

If youíre giving an acceptable level of  attention, as you did that day, they may think they actually ďloveĒ you. Love to them is getting their needs met. Itís not about you as a person at all. You are a source of attention. Itís why so many on this board are confused why the pd person doesnít seem to care about them as a person or value them. They canít see us as people. We are here for one reason and that is to provide narcissistic supply aka attention.

If you are not giving the acceptable level of attention, or dare to request better treatment from this person, or express the desire to be treated LIKE AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING, you are discarded without a second though, until the next time they need attention. They may tell you to go home. They may even rage or use guilt trips to get you to fall back in line, being the good dutiful servant you are expected to be. They YOU may actually end up apologizing to them for asking to be treated better! So outrageous yet every narcissist I have known has done that to me. It is to teach you to not set boundaries. Or if you are in constant communication with them, you may get a silent treatment to teach you to stay in line. Itís all emotional abuse and they all use the same tactics.

I recently went through the anger stage. Not a fun place to be. Iím still going through it but getting towards the end I hope. I realized Iíve been emotionally abused by this woman my entire life. My father too. You have to get to the point where you see, yes, it is THAT BAD. No more denying it.

I told a friend recently that I was asked by my grandmothers doctors office if I could live with her. I told them absolutely not. I told this friend in fact, Iíd kill my self before I lived with her. I felt bad about making that statement but it speaks to the level of abuse I had endured. I literally could not live with her. She would drain the life out of me. I believe these types of people are dangerous to our well-being.  We have to look out for ourselves and put ourselves first, something we were trained NOT to do by them.

They get worse with age! My grandmother is 97 and worse than ever. Learn the lessons now and go low or no contact if you can. There is no happy ending with them. They will die as they lived, miserable and bitter, never seeing their role in their own misery or the misery they put on others. We can put a stop to that by learning about the disorder, having no expectations of a mutually loving relationship with them, and keeping our distance.

Many of us have had to care from afar, working behind the scenes to make sure the person is cared for, while limiting or eliminating contact. Thatís where Iím at right now.




Practice an attitude of gratitude.