How to start contact again??

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soonfogfree123

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How to start contact again??
« on: May 18, 2020, 01:17:23 PM »
Hello OotF community, first time poster here.BOTTOM LINE; how do I change myself to have a cordial relationship with PD father, who has no ability to acknowledge, remember, or even comprehend his PD and abusive history?

Haven't had a relationship with my father in 5 years since I finally ran out of steam trying to change him, make him see how toxic he is for me, enforce ignored boundaries....etc. Much therapy, a year of failed family counseling watching him writhe in his seat, ending in the long-overdue divorce of my parents. For these past 5 years, I've enjoyed lower anxiety, higher happiness, and healthy relationships. I've also been able to work on overcoming my bad-habits I got from him. In some recent conversations with my sisters (who each live far away), they shared with me that my father is completely unchanged and has all of the same behavior patterns he has always exhibited (lashing out, disregard for boundaries, inability to see a point of view other than his own, inability to handle criticism). They say having a conversation with him is like talking to a toddler, where you have to always have the next distraction ready to go and need to be able to calmly say "I'm going to need to hang up now if you continue pushing like this".... all that stuff. They say they have to meditate before returning his calls, and still end up getting triggered.

So..I live 10 minutes away from my dad, I'm the oldest sibling, my wife and I are considering having kids soon, and I'm trying to grow up, here! Two weeks ago I was unexpectedly in the same place as him and I did my best to keep my cool.  However, I got completely triggered and upset by his boundary pushing- I haven't gotten that upset in years and after all the therapy I've been through, I thought I'd be able to keep totally cool. I realize I still have so much pain and anger in my heart from the 25 years of emotional trauma from him. I want to be rid of this emotional burden and just see him as the emotionally handicapped person that I know he is. But MAN- I do not know how to get myself there! Does anyone have some advice for how to forgive someone who is incapable of having the re-conciliatory/healing conversations that would happen with a healthy non-PD individual?

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PeanutButter

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2020, 04:58:49 PM »
I dont know how to forgive someone if the problem is continual.
 If the problem was only in the past and wouldn't continue on, then forgiveness is an ongoing choice by you to give compassion and empathy to the person.
Reestablishing contact could happen without forgiveness if you could accomplish emotional detachment to protect yourself some.
IME you would need to prepare yourself to accept continued harm though.
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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AD

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 01:44:07 PM »
Good for your for taking the distance you've need and working on yourself.

Are you thinking of re-establishing contact, or wanting some peace so that you will not be triggered if/when you see him?

I got the sense from your post that maybe you want to be able to have contact again and see this as being the more mature thing to do? (Though I may be reading this wrong) If so, I would say that you've already done the mature thing of working on yourself, and going no contact from a toxic situation.

As PeanutButter said, it's difficult when the problematic behaviour has not changed. Maybe the best that can happen is that we grieve the loss of never having a proper parent, and try to accept that they are broken people who will likely never change.

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freedom77

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2020, 12:51:50 PM »
 :yeahthat:

My .02 cents: when I was young like you....I was NC off and on with BPD/N mother...I gave her chance after chance, and allowed her to be around my DD I had in my 30s...

Much to my regret.

Now in my mid-40s I have gone NC for good. Final.

She never changed, she is the same as she always was. She only acted and pretended when the outcome suited her.

Honestly, if you truly are looking for the opinion of others...mine is stay NC.

No matter how hard you try, how many hoops you jump thru (and there will be MANY of them), you cannot, ever change a PD.

My prediction is you are setting yourself up for more misery that will impact your marriage, your health, your peace, and your future children. Your siblings are outright telling you this in their own way.

I get the sense that what may really be going on is you are grieving. You are realizing, as you "grow up" as you say, that you never really had a proper parent as AD stated, and on some level, I think you realize you never will.

If I let myself ponder too long on the topic, I get filled with unease, resentment, rage, and sadness and grief at wondering what it would have been like if I'd had even a halfway decent, caring parent. I feel so cheated, jipped.

You've done a lot of work on yourself, a PD will dismantle that in no time. Recall how bad you felt just randomly bumping into him in town.

p.s. I find it concerning that you are considering "changing yourself". Never do that for a  PD. Change for the better for you and your FOC (family of choice). Besides, changing yourself, won't change them.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 12:56:55 PM by freedom77 »

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doglady

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2020, 09:37:32 PM »
I have often felt the need to Ďchange myselfĎ too. I believe that this is because it is my default position is to think Iím the one at fault if I have a difficult interaction with someone. Gee, I wonder who planted that idea in my head from about the age of two!
However, the adult part of me knows that the facts are that Iím usually pretty amiable and I do get along with a wide range of people. I generally try to avoid conflict, but I find when I do assert myself that others often donít like it. This reaction seems to come mainly from those who feel I should always be in some sort of subservient position. ie. my bullying, controlling M and MIL.

I think this need to change ourselves comes from the childhood dictate from our Nparents that, because they are never wrong, itís somehow axiomatic that we, their children, must therefore be the ones at fault; therefore this perceived need on our part that we have to be the ones to change. Well, Iím completely done with that after 50-something years. Sure there are things I need to keep working on but Iím now that the point where Iím pretty determined that one of them isnít to keep on being someoneís else doormat. Iíve tried everything and none it pleased them so I am now free.

Like you, though, Iíd previously often thought, and it still occasionally drifts through my mind: if I could just change myself then I could get along with PD FOO members. Like if I was the Dalai Lama or Jesus Christ, yeah maybe. But I am me, and Iím very imperfect and I accept that now, even if my uPDMís message that she hammered home for decades was basically: if itís not perfect then itís defective (howís that for some black and white thinking?). But I know Iím far from evil and so I donít need to keep twisting myself up in knots to put up with being around these people. I cannot do it and I will not do it and I now fully accept that. Even if I am smeared by all and sundry and implored to be the Ďbigger personí etc, I will not change myself to put up with bullies who have no interest in my emotional wellbeing.

Basically, if you feel youíre the one who has to do all the changing itís a major red flag in my opinion. There is nothing you could do. As I found, they just keep shifting the goal posts anyway. Bloody hell, who made these people the emperors of the universe?

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blues_cruise

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2020, 11:02:05 AM »
So..I live 10 minutes away from my dad, I'm the oldest sibling, my wife and I are considering having kids soon, and I'm trying to grow up, here! Two weeks ago I was unexpectedly in the same place as him and I did my best to keep my cool.  However, I got completely triggered and upset by his boundary pushing- I haven't gotten that upset in years and after all the therapy I've been through, I thought I'd be able to keep totally cool. I realize I still have so much pain and anger in my heart from the 25 years of emotional trauma from him. I want to be rid of this emotional burden and just see him as the emotionally handicapped person that I know he is. But MAN- I do not know how to get myself there! Does anyone have some advice for how to forgive someone who is incapable of having the re-conciliatory/healing conversations that would happen with a healthy non-PD individual?

I'm not sure you have to forgive him as I believe your feelings and hurt as a result of his past and ongoing behaviour are entirely valid. if you were really set on having some kind of relationship with him I think you would just have to accept that he wouldn't change, that you would need steel boundaries and that the connection would remain potentially turbulent and unsatisfying. If you are willing to tolerate that then I would consider exactly what kind of boundaries would be necessary to put in place and to practise medium chill in your exchanges with him.

Do you really feel ready for that though? Your reaction when you unexpectedly came to be in the same place as him suggests you might not be at that place yet. It's entirely understandable and I'm in a similar position where I would be overwhelmed and panicky if I found myself in the same place as my father. It speaks volumes about what you must have endured from him to be honest and I wonder if it's really the healthy path for you right now.
"You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become." - Carl Gustav Jung

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou

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35andnewlife

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2020, 01:19:25 PM »
I really feel for you because I have felt how you feel so many times. I only ask this:

How can you forgive someone if they continue to mistreat you?

I have often tried to forgive my parents for the past, but then the past becomes the present and I keep having to try to forgive. In my humble opinion, and I am still new in this journey, to forgive does not mean that you have to allow yourself to be mistreated over and over again.

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raindrop

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2020, 10:50:58 AM »
I don't think you need to forgive him necessarily, unless you truly feel that is your truth.
If you want to work on how to not be triggered when you see him (or are reminded of him) though I would recommend finding your closest Adult Children of Alcoholics 12 step group. It may help you at least lessen the impact and you will get tonnes of support from people in your local area.
Best
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"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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blacksheep7

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2020, 11:14:20 AM »

Basically, if you feel youíre the one who has to do all the changing itís a major red flag in my opinion. There is nothing you could do. As I found, they just keep shifting the goal posts anyway. Bloody hell, who made these people the emperors of the universe?

I've been there.   NM didn't change the time I decided to break nc.   I'm nc now for the second and last time.    I did hear from family that she still hasn't changed...plays the victim, the poor old little lady on her own, her kids that don't visit and/or call enough.

To forgive means that the parent accepts responsibility for his/her actions with a Sincere apology and takes measures to have a healthy relationship with the child and accepting certain boundaries that you will put in place without having to mention them, just being able to say NO without guilt.

If you are back just for his distraction and entertainment on his terms, I can assure you that you will be back to square one. 
 If this is your choice, be wise and take your time, think this thoroughly.  ;)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2020, 11:15:53 AM by blacksheep7 »
I may be the black sheep of the family, but some of the white sheep are not as white as they try to appear.

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Adria

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2020, 12:47:30 PM »
I tried to start contact again about five years ago after 25 years NC.  Stopped unexpectedly at my narc father's vacation home.  It actually went pretty good, went out for dinner a couple times and visited afterwards.  But, never heard from him again.  I realized he was just playing to the crowd, he had to make it look good to his new wife. I had high hopes, but they quickly diminished. 

I understand how you feel you want to reconnect, and I don't blame you for that.  Sometimes, I think we need to try and try again until we realize nothing ever changes. And, if that is what you need to do for yourself, then that is okay.  Eventually, you will come to a conclusion as to whether or not  he is worth it.

My husband always told me, "Never let them change who you are." For the last 30 years, I sent my narc father birthday cards, Christmas cards, Father's Day cards . . . because that's who I am and that's what I do.  (I sent the cards more for me than  for him to keep bitterness from setting in.) I never, ever, once got anything in return.  This year, I decided I wasn't going to do that anymore. I made a change.

My point is, your father will probably never change, however, YOU will. 

If you do anything for your father, don't do it because you expect something back. Do it because you want to do it. Do it for your own reasons. Do it for you.

I did many things before completely giving up.  Yes, many times, I was the one that got hurt, but I had to do it for me. Eventually, their message was received loud and clear, and that was painful.  However, in the end, I know I did everything I could, and because of that, will never have regrets. Others here on the forum handle it very differently and I can understand why and respect that as well.  Our stories are the same, yet different and we each have to find our way to equilibrium. You can't change or control your father. You can only control how you deal with him. 

Forgiveness is the tricky part.  Not as easy as a minister standing at a pulpit throwing out the word "Forgive" like forgiving someone for eating your birthday cake.  In these situations it is a process.  I used to say I forgive you dad out loud every day until it finally sank in.  However, don't confuse forgiveness with forgetting.  We don't forget lest they abuse us again.  It helps, even though it seems they don't deserve it, to understand something terrible must have happened to them to make them such miserable human beings.  That is not an excuse, because we chose to do better, even though we lived with terrible situations. However, it brings our heart to a place of empathy and can lead us to a better road.  That doesn't mean we still don't get upset or hurt at how we were treated. But, the end goal is to try to heal our own soul so we can go on and live a healthier and happier and more meaningful life.

You were given very good advice here by people who know what you are going through and understand.  Take all the parts of the advice given that ring true for you.  You will know what to do. And, if it doesn't work out, you can do something different next time. In most cases there are not clear cut paths, there are many thorns, briers and bumps along the way. Eventually, though, we find ourselves on the right path, a good path, and we move on.  I wish you the best, Adria


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PeanutButter

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Re: How to start contact again??
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2020, 02:41:51 PM »
The wounds are there. There is no way to remove them. We can slowly heal but ime it is a long, long journey. Acceptance is the first step in healing.

 I have accepted that I may always need to manage the residual damage from my abuse as a child that continued until I went No Contact as an adult.

 My experience is that one of the things that kept me stuck was lack of awareness of the emotional field still operating within me (the unconscious) that held my FOO talk, FOO emotions, and FOO beliefs. It is in the limbic brain. Seperating this from my identity (my real self) so I can remain calm and not be led into a fight or flight trigger state reactivity.

 A turning point for me was when I started focusing on my physiological responses to triggers. It gets me 'out of my head' so that I can regulate my emotions by simple breathing techniques, observing not absorbing, and self soothing. Remaining outwardly calm even if Im not calm on the inside is my goal.

 The lack of contact is NOT my failure! I no longer need any of them to validate me! I validate me! I am healing and becoming a more authentic me. But nothing I do is going to change them. I dont expect them to ever change. I dont expect a reconciliation. I ACCEPT that I came from a broken FOO, that is too disfunctional to allow individuality. I accept that total enmeshment is the price to rejoin my FOO cult. I reject that as an option for myself.

 Although I work on myself and will continue to, the purpose of that is not so that I can return to my abuser one day with a higher tolerance to enable their atrocious and destructive behavior. I work on myself to break the cycle. I work on myself because I need work to be the best me. I work on myself because I am happy when I focus inward. And I am choosing to be happy.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 02:49:36 PM by PeanutButter »
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle