Nice sister who's not

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Kat1984

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Nice sister who's not
« on: May 23, 2020, 02:09:12 PM »
I'm wondering if anyone can relate to my story, as I think I'd feel a bit less crazy if someone can.

I've told the story of my sister before on this forum, but here's the short version.   She's 3 years older than I, and was seemingly born with quite a different temperament than I have.  She is very strong-willed, stubborn, and prone to having a chip on her shoulder.  She seems to have always seen herself as being left out by others, disliked, given the short end of the stick in life.   My mom says she was a very difficult child to comfort, and my mom was at her wit's end with my sister through her teen years due to rebellious behavior (nothing super-serious, just the usual sneaking out and smoking and teenage sex but my mom was very prudish and this was very threatening to her).

Well, I was the easy "Golden Child" and my sister clearly resented me for it.  I think I'm probably just wired as "easy" but I'm sure I also became a conformist in order to avoid being the "difficult kid" that my sister was.  My parents tried to deal with my sister but she was quite negative, and my parents did not have the skills to deal well with her.  No physical or sexual abuse happened in our home.  I'm guessing my sister would say she was emotionally abused by my mom, as my mom was not all that validating of my sister's temperament.  But there was warmth and laughter and inclusion in my family.   I just always felt that my sister was seething inside and felt that we treated her unfairly and unkindly. 

As a result, I kept my head very low as a child.  Didn't take up space, didn't really talk with my sister much.  I was afraid of her judgment and her obvious resentment of me.  I achieved in school, as did she.  But I may have outshone her a bit.  Mostly that was because she didn't like group activities and quit most things.   I did sports and she didn't.  I kept going in band and she didn't.   She acted as though she was too good for all that stupid stuff, but I always felt her self-esteem was so fragile she didn't want to put herself out there and possibly humiliate herself in sports or other activities.  She also did (and does not) deal well at all with criticism (such as from a coach).   She is now very musically and artistically talented and seems to enjoy those endeavors.

We were not friends growing up, but were not enemies.  She did try to be supportive of me at times, but by then I'd really gone numb to her I think (kind of felt to me like "too little too late").   In our 20's and 30's I went to grad school and went onto marry and have kids.  She got married very early, divorced, did some work abroad, moved back with my parents and seemingly "made up" with my mom, apologizing for her behavior as a teen.   My relationship with her improved and we became friends, with her leading a much less conventional lifestyle, waiting tables and doing creative work on the side.   Along the way there was always quite a bit of drama in her life, from friends that seemed great but then "let her down", to swarms of bees invading her small town, her house burning down, etc.   I tried somewhat to be supportive, but frankly was sick of the drama and was busy with professional school.  I wasn't the best sister then, as I think I never fully trusted her, and maybe resented her for our childhood tension.  I didn't give her the support I should have when her house burned.  Of note, all this time she would have "little rages" or episodes of emotional disregulation, aimed at mom or dad usually, occassionally at me.   And we, as the good codependent family we were, would go along with "forgetting all about it" after it was over and allowing my sister to not apologize.

A few years ago she had a huge rage at me while on vaca, in front of my parents and my kids and me, as well as her husband.  She called me names.  She refused to take back what she said the next day when I asked her about it.  I told her that the name-calling was "big" to me and that it would change our relationship if she refused to clarify what she meant, or to take it back.  She refused to take it back.   I was calm (thank you meditation practice!) and she was red in the face, bloodshot eyes, shaking.

And she expected me to forget all about it.  And she gave me extra-nice birthday gifts.   But no apology or explanation or anything.  So for 2 years it's been very very chilly.  She writes short emails trying to be friendly, and I write back in a cordial and business-like tone.
She lives far away and I only see her twice a year, but since this happened I have not seen her at all.  Too awkward.

She is 95% nice.  But the 5% is so bad.   I think she is a covert narcissist.  I think she has a bone to pick with my Mom.  But she's taking her anger out on me.

It's sad that I have to choose between putting up a boundary and feeling emotionally safe, or having an aunt for my kids and a decent relationship with my sister.
Apparently I cannot have both.  She apparently will not allow it.

I would forgive her, but she refuses to ask.   This really sucks. 
I am in therapy, and my therapist agrees she likely has a PD or at least traits of a PD.   It's really hard being the target of this. 
I haven't been a perfect sister, but I think I've been reasonable given how much she resented me for just being me. I think I reacted in a way that would be expected from a little sister whose big sister clearly didn't like having her around.  I do think she is still trying so hard to get my parents' approval.

But it's not MY fault, right?  I am not responsible for the fact that my parents were not terribly validating of my sister when she was a kid.
She's so nice to them, but not to me.   I suppose it's easier to be angry at your little sister than at your aging parents whose approval you've wanted all your life.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 02:29:23 PM »
Of course it’s not your fault your parents created the dynamic.

It’s sounds like your sister was the scapegoat. I was the scapegoat too. My mother said exactly the same thing about me - that I was difficult to comfort as a baby. I internalized that to mean I was difficult in general. I now see that my mother’s inability to comfort me was her failing as a parent. Babies aren’t “difficult” they have very basic needs that are easy to meet.

I get that my mother was probably overwhelmed and didn’t have support, but again that was her failing as a parent, not mine as a helpless baby. She put her failings on me to make her feel better.

Every sibling had a unique experience growing up even in the same home and with the same parents. It’s the parents who create the sibling dynamic. My siblings and I were horrific to each other growing up. My parents always commented on it but looking back I see they created the “kill or be killed” environment and they pitted us against each other with their parenting style.

I am NC with my siblings. My personal view is that there was too much damage. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am and I k ow my siblings haven’t done the same work. I don’t think the family dynamic ever changes and I won’t put myself through that any more.

Similar to you my siblings are in touch with my abusive ex. One of them has been reaching out trying to open up our relationship again. I was tempted but we had a family tragedy and my ex got in touch and said he’d heard about it from my sibling. She knows her relationship wirh my ex is why we are NC yet she chooses to keep it over a relationship with me.

They never change. We can only move on or accept their behavior. My sister won’t give up the relationship with me ex, who she doesn’t even like, and my ex won’t stop being abusive. I won’t respond to my sister. She has shown me who she is. The police are now involved with my ex.


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Adria

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2020, 08:36:09 PM »
I agree with GettingOOTF,

It's not your fault. Your parents created this through the divide and conquer edict it sounds like. 

As I was reading your post, I truly thought my GC sister had come to the forum. I was the Scapegoat.  I grew up with my mother telling me that my GC sister was the baby they had always wanted.  Later on was told that GC sis likes being the only child. GC sis got the expensive clothes, expensive college of choice, the big fancy country club wedding (mine was in the backroom of the church) new car, and on it on it went while I was ghosted and made to feel invisible in our home, never being good enough to deserve anything nice.

The funny thing was,  my mom always wanted me to baby her, read her stories, take her to parties, etc., It was a very maddening, antagonizing and difficult position to be in.  My middle sister and I could hardly stand GC sister because her experience was so different than ours, and we could never do anything to change it. Not even to this day can I change it because they have deemed me unworthy of their attention. I have been NC with all of them for nearly 30 years, and they have never tried to contact me. I miss my GC sister. But, the damage my parents have done is probably permanent. They smeared me to my sisters, and I don't know how to fix it. 

Everything I've read says that both the GC and the SG are victims in different ways.  I am so sorry about your sister.  She probably has a lot of issues regarding the way she was treated compared to the way you were treated because even though it is not the siblings fault, it was still very unfair. 
I don't know if you could ever talk to her and acknowledge the unfairness and neglect she lived compared to you.  I know if my sister did that for me, it could change a lot of things.  If your sister does have a PD it may not work, but you never know. 

But, to reiterate, this was not your fault. Not your sister's fault either. You both probably survived the best way you could and turned out to be very different people because of the different way your parents treated the two of you.  I wish you all the best. Keep us posted. Hugs, Adria

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2020, 09:27:05 PM »
I’ve been thinking about this all day.  One thing I realized that my parents did that was was SO grossly inappropriate was complain and criticize us to our siblings. Of course we would use that against each other “well mom says you are ...”.

I try to have compassion for my siblings as I know what they went through and I see why they are the way they are but I won’t have that in my life any more.

I mean of course my siblings think I am all those things they believe about me. Our parents told them those things about me and spent a lifetime reinforcing it with how they treated me.

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blacksheep7

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2020, 11:57:24 AM »
I’ve been thinking about this all day.  One thing I realized that my parents did that was was SO grossly inappropriate was complain and criticize us to our siblings.

 :yeahthat:  Yes, very grossly inappropriate!

My NM also criticized my siblings when we were adults with our own family so that also meant she criticized me to them.
That is so Toxic for a parent to do.  That is exactly what I told my sibs when I was coming ootf  «a parent should never do that!»  My bro no.2  said «I could understand that you're having issues with M»  He didn't give a hoot about what she was doing to me.  He could boss her around, she mainly listened to him but complained to us.   Such a dysfunctional dynamic, all because of the parents who created this and let it happen.

But I could never say anything negative  to NM or a dislike I had about my  Nparents behavior, I would get the look or a comment bringing it back to me, my behaviors as the black sheep.

Nothing has changed as I heard this month from my niece.   My siblings wounds have not opened yet and I don't think they ever will.  They have been numbing out the pain since their teens and/or early adulthood.
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: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2020, 12:08:17 PM »
I remember the day a light bulb came on in my head. It was over at my middle sister's house when we were having a discussion about the family.  She looked at me and said, "Yeah, but I'm not stupid."  It set me back because it was at that moment that I realized she was calling me stupid, and in my heart, I knew that she heard that from my mother. She also told me later that I was stupid and didn't know how to play their games. 


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Outsiderchild

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2020, 12:10:57 PM »
My FOO dynamics were hard for me to sort out.  What I think was going on was I was the GC for my parents who were never, ever involved with us.  If you needed help or time you got at best a guilt trip, at worst a horrible tongue lashing that left you with emotional scars.   So I got the most scraps, because as the youngest child I was the most skilled at making my Mom feel better.

Naturally this enraged my older sisters who verbally and physically abused me while my parents left them in charge for endless days of latch key “daycare.”  If I told my parents what was going on, my sisters would be punished severely and then I would be left alone with them with no oversight.  Not so good. 

Who was at fault here?  My parents.  Yet, the damage has been done.   I sort of have a relationship with my sisters, but I am very aware of the nasty tempers they both have and can break out at any time.   Neither one has ever apologized or acknowledged their own behavior as anything but correct.   They are 95% nice, too.  That 5% is why I am cautious when I’m around them.  Yep, not walking on eggshells exactly, more like I’m a farmer walking my fences, making sure no repairs or upkeep is necessary.  Even when they are not trying to be mean they can say things that reveal how their minds work that just take me aback as if they were raised in a different country than me.  And they were.

I live hundreds of miles away from one and thousands away from the other.   And that is just fine.  After my parents are gone I’m not sure how much contact there will be between me and them.   I know it is MY choice.  Some days I feel sympathy for them, others I am impatient with their lack of self awareness.  Just because I know why they are emotionally stunted doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them. 

I just reread this before hitting post and I want to let you know that I am definitely not as okay as it sounds.  Some days I am still that child abandoned by indifferent parents to cruel, unrelenting hateful siblings.  With no one who will care enough to help me.  But those days are fewer all the time.   

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Liz1018

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2020, 12:11:07 PM »
Well, I not only get it, but have lived this story. It’s all so confusing, scary, depressing, and challenging to have a big sister like this. It sounds like uBPD but I am no doctor.

Your sister’s erratic and reactionary behavior parallels my sister’s very similar   conduct and patterns:

- 2 years older than me, resentful that I came along (I was the baby of 4 kids, and the only other girl)

- Chip on her shoulder, blamed others for her situation in life: friendships with people who “let her down” and relationships with men who were great but “needed therapy.” She is 50 and single. The things that went wrong in her relationships were never her fault. Also quit most things she started - hobbies, jobs, etc.

- Always jealous of me. Everything I achieved was a personal slight, even if I was just being me. Better grades, talent, looks and ultimately DH (25 years and strong!) and a career. I married into a wonderful family and that was somehow offensive- I got along with my sister-in-law and she despised that too. Apparently I couldn’t have both families- somehow that was a rejection of mine.

As a result I kept my head down, learned to be modest and tried not to offend her. Because if I didn’t, I was “stuck up,” or “thought I was better than her.” As if there was this contest that I certainly never signed up for, and only years later realized my mom pitted us against one another. But that’s a different story....

But I tried. I would prove her wrong. She called me selfish? I would show her how selfless I could be. She accused me of being two-faced? I would show her and everyone else how loyal I could be. When I achieved things and got accolades, she would find a way to get the attention back on her, even if it was throwing a tantrum. I just went on with my life, determined to contradict all of her (baseless) accusations of my supposed personality flaws.

I wish I could say she was 95% nice and
5% not nice. I am not even sure it was 50/50. My uNPD mom was always there to drive a wedge in between us. And she always  believed my mom, not me. There was really never any trust there at all. I learned to just try to not anger her, be a better person, and move on.

- She moved back in with our parents more than once (as an adult) but never for like 2 weeks. More like 2 years at a time. For a long time, jumped from job to job.

- NEVER apologized for inconsiderate or mean behavior. Usually acted like nothing happened - isn’t that crazy-making?

- I tried to have a medium chill relationship with her. Over time, it got to the point where I was wondering why I kept trying. I got nothing out of the relationship but pain and self doubt. One day she blew up at me, told me never to call or text her again, hung up on me, and so I respected her wishes.

There is much more, of course. But the main thing to understand is how much of this is totally not your fault. What could ever be fair about being enlisted in a game you didn’t sign up to play? A game with rules you didn’t write, or with shifting rules meant to confuse you.

Eventually we hit a wall where these relationships drain us to the point of no return. We are forced to pick a reality- our healthy one or their hell. Again, we didn’t create this situation, and yet we feel bad for somehow “failing.” Walking away is all that is left.

Sadly, PDs refuse help. They’re stuck in a hell of their own creation (partly - I blame Nparents for most of this). I wish her no ill nor harm, want her to be happy and have a good life. But it’s not my responsibility to keep trying to break through a brick wall of resentment and fear. I can’t have her in my life and I am done trying to prove to her that I am not the awful person she wants to believe I am.

So never blame yourself. You paid your dues and did your best with the hand you were dealt.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 12:13:45 PM by Liz1018 »

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PeanutButter

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2020, 12:15:58 PM »
I couldnt have said it better than Adria and GettingOOTF!

I also remember all the inappropriate triangulation done by ubpd/uspdM. She was always confiding adult things to us and talking about me (SG) to my sister and about my sister (GC) to me.
 
IMO you and your S may still be acting out the attitudes and emotions towards each other that M created whan you were children.

This kind of narrative is red flag of a mother who was not appropriately responsive to her childs needs! NOT proof the child was born diffiicult ime
"My mom says she was a very difficult child to comfort, and my mom was at her wit's end with my sister through her teen years due to rebellious behavior (nothing super-serious, just the usual sneaking out and smoking and teenage sex but my mom was very prudish and this was very threatening to her)."

I think I would agree with you S on this:  ".. my sister would say she was emotionally abused by my mom..."

"to invalidate means to attack or question the foundation or reality of a person’s feelings. This can be done by denying, ridiculing, ignoring, or judging another’s feelings. Regardless of the means, the effect is clear: the person's feelings are “wrong.”"
"If a parent or caregiver interprets the child's responses as overreactions, they are likely to respond with behaviors that discourage the emotional response.
"Discouraging a child’s emotional responses, particularly if that child is temperamentally predisposed to have strong emotions, probably does not work to calm the child. Instead, it likely has the opposite effect—the child’s emotional response is heightened, leading to an intensification of the emotion."

"Invalidation can be quite subtle and may reflect a general way of interacting. It is generally characterized by intolerance of the expression of emotional experiences, which often leads to extreme displays of emotion."

https://www.verywellmind.com/emotional-invalidation-425156
https://www.verywellmind.com/invalidating-environment-contributor-to-bpd-425186
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 12:27:28 PM by PeanutButter »
🍃"The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice."🍃
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🍃“That which is created in a relationship can be fixed in a relationship.”🍃
Murray Bowen, MD

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overitall

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 10:05:50 AM »
All of our stories are so similar...it is so sad, but for me, confirmation of the dysfunction of my uBPDm, uNPDf, and the entire FOO......

I was the youngest daughter, only three years younger than the oldest....my uBPDm was utterly and completely overwhelmed and unable to deal and/or cope with any type of daily stress that comes with have three children under the age of 5.  GC sis was elevated to a level that is unattainable for anyone...according to my uBPDm, GC sis was the most beautiful, smartest, funniest, and overall the best person in the universe...The actual truth is quite the opposite...GC sis has always been negative, jealous, vindictive, and feels that somehow things are never "fair to her". 

Growing up, I recognized that my FOO had some serious issues, but as a child it is difficult to explore and define what exactly was wrong...While GC sis was praised and adored, my other sister and myself were criticized, ignored, and shamed...If middle sister or myself received any type of praise from someone outside of the family, we were told that is was not warranted, or it was a mistake....The FOO dynamic revolved around making sure GC sis remained firmly on her pedestal and no one was to mess with GC sis..

I left home at 17 and never returned...I feel lucky because I escaped...it hasn't been easy, but over the years I have been able to educate myself regarding PD's and have separated myself from my FOO...Middle sister is still stuck in the loop of yearning for affirmation, only to be criticized and demeaned over and over again...Middle sister is in her late 50's and has suffered greatly....she may be a PD, but she operates more as if she may be bipolar...huge highs and lows and wildly inappropriate and explosive rages....She is unable to self-regulate and cannot keep friends or relationships.  I don't blame her, she is a victim....I tried to help middle sister for years and years.  We were very close for many many years, yet when I had children things began to change...In a strange way, she was jealous of my children.  She wanted me to continue to "mother" her and she was resentful of my children.  She would vacillate between being kind and loving to being jealous and cruel to my children...After she had a very very public and inappropriate rage at one of my children, the relationship never recovered..I went NC with her for several years, but then gave her a second chance...It took her a few years until the behavior returned and I have been permanently NC with her.

As Peanut Butter pointed out, invalidation by one's parents is deeply troubling...when I was a child and wanted to join a group or try a new hobby, the response was always the same, "that's stupid, you won't like it" or "why bother, it's not for you anyway" or "that group wouldn't want you anyway because those people think they are better than us"  The amount of negativity and criticism in my FOO was so overwhelming that it made my life so, so dreary...there was nothing to look forward to and there was no positivity.  When one is raised in this environment it feels as if you are always drowning...Thus, the story of my middle sister...

I have been NC with GCsis for almost 20 years...Yep, live in the same town and do not see her or talk to her.  From what little I know of her, she is exactly the same as she was growing up....Negative, opinionated, and demanding.  She spends all of her free time with uBPDm, who continues to lavish her with praise...the dynamics of my FOO have not changed one bit, but I changed...I removed myself from FOO and it is the best thing I have ever done for myself....


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GettingOOTF

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 12:12:36 PM »
The sad thing is that it looks like no one escapes unscathed, both the SG and GC have their own issues.

When I wasn’t being picked on I was largely ignored, my therapist describes it as “neglected”. I think this why I was able to get out like I did when I was 19. While I made a lot of mistakes and didn’t thrive until my 40s I was able to build a life not being enmeshed with my FOO. I have found greater success, travelled and had a better live overall than my siblings. One still lives with my father. She is basically his wife - irons his clothes, cleans up after him. She has a small job in a small company - something acceptable to my father. The other is in an awfully abusive relationship. She is so jealous of the other sister and fights for my father’s approval.

The sad thing is that my youngest sister is actually much smarter than me and I’d say a harder worker. She’s had no real life as it revolves around my father. I wonder what will happen to her when he dies. She is married and has kids. They live with my father. The husband ignored her and the kids. He has a low level job and when he’s home he has headphones on playing video games. It’s all he does when not working.

The whole situation is desperately sad. So much wasted life. I see the patterns being repeated with my nieces. My family is textbook for how these things are inter generational.

I was always close, as close as possible given the circumstances, with my middle sister. Reading Overitall’s comment I see the relationship began to fall apart after I divorced and started getting my life on track.

Again just my personal view but I don’t think the majority of people are able to get over their upbringing. I think those of us on these forums are a tiny minority. Once a PD is present then that is is, there is no coming back from that.

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PeanutButter

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 01:52:54 PM »
Absolutely! I have said it before but ill continue to say it, I thank God that I was somehow different than my siblings and able to see through my ubpd/uspdM at an early age. Im glad I was rejected by my older (by 3 years) GC sister even though it hurt at the time I was better off left to my self.
🍃"The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice."🍃
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🍃“That which is created in a relationship can be fixed in a relationship.”🍃
Murray Bowen, MD

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 02:12:27 PM »
My therapist said that something happened to me where I was able to build resiliency. She said that people who make it out have that.

I commented on how people who had it way worse than me do things like get in to Harvard etc. she said that in every single one of those cases the person has a mentor who helped them overcome their past.

For me I think I had a few relatively “normal” years when my parents were still young and hopeful. I remember the bad times starting when I was 6 or 7. By the time my youngest sister came along my mother was a full blown alcoholic dealing with addiction issues and my father was completely controlling and clearly resented being a husband and father.

It was chaotic and frightening. We went without out a lot of basic care. We were never shown how to do simple things like cook or put together an outfit. We pretty much lived in our school uniforms. I think we spent our childhood fighting to survive and didn’t get the opportunity to develop skills others take for granted.

« Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:23:01 PM by GettingOOTF »

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blacksheep7

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 02:33:58 PM »


"to invalidate means to attack or question the foundation or reality of a person’s feelings. This can be done by denying, ridiculing, ignoring, or judging another’s feelings. Regardless of the means, the effect is clear: the person's feelings are “wrong.”"
"If a parent or caregiver interprets the child's responses as overreactions, they are likely to respond with behaviors that discourage the emotional response.
"Discouraging a child’s emotional responses, particularly if that child is temperamentally predisposed to have strong emotions, probably does not work to calm the child. Instead, it likely has the opposite effect—the child’s emotional response is heightened, leading to an intensification of the emotion."

"Invalidation can be quite subtle and may reflect a general way of interacting. It is generally characterized by intolerance of the expression of emotional experiences, which often leads to extreme displays of emotion."

https://www.verywellmind.com/emotional-invalidation-425156
https://www.verywellmind.com/invalidating-environment-contributor-to-bpd-425186


thank you Peanut Butter
Very informative

So many sad stories here.  :(
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:36:37 PM 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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PeanutButter

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Re: Nice sister who's not
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 03:11:35 PM »
And I recently had an ephimy about how far back my scapegoating might have went. That is, it is possible that from birth, yes in the very beginning of my life.

If nothing else proves a scapegoating is happening then that would. How could any one NOT see through a mother's projection if it started the MOMENT her child was born. Before she leaves with the baby from the hospital how could any doubts or troubles in the 'relationship' be blamed on the infant?

Im sorry but that is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Talk about denial. Any adult going along with someone who's narrative is that FROM BIRTH they somehow knew or felt "oh my what's with this with my baby's personality, im worried' is sticking their head in the sand. And I have heard about multiple stories of mothers who say this about their 'o so problematic children'.

What do you guys think?
🍃"The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice."🍃
–Peggy O’Mara
🍃“That which is created in a relationship can be fixed in a relationship.”🍃
Murray Bowen, MD