Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next

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Dakotagirl

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Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« on: June 05, 2020, 07:43:19 AM »
Hi everyone
Im new here - just wrote long post and deleted by mistake so Ill make this quick !
Really need somd help today. Narcissistic family ( mom and sibling) , I am the scapegoat. History of enabling, bery dysfubctional FOO. I am never " enough". Was golden child for years but as soon as started to detach ai have suffered more and more to point that most interactions make me feel physically sick.

I will write more later but this is ky current problem and I feel SO stuck and triggered and sick today I don't know what to do.
So yesterday I arranged a family tele call so they could see my 4 kids. Yes I do all the calling,  if I wait no one contacts me and then its my fault,  somehow. This is the pattern always. " we never hear from you, I say why dont you call, they say I might be busy). ANYWAY. I provoked a huge narcissistic rage some time back with Mom by calmly stating a boundary ( not to yell and mock me). This was the first time I clearly saw what a narc she is. Followed hoovering,  false spology ( which i accepted,  in the hope maybe that i was forewarned now but would continue the relationship with this new knowledge and be more careful. Sister is victim/ waif type. Also has lost her job, has small kids of her own, divorcing and now living with Mom. So yes a difficult time. I am supporting her  but the relationship is exhausting. She never calls , she manipulates, I am never " enough" etc. Between both I am not good enough as a daughter or sister though they can be v sweet to me at times.

So on the call yesterday I noticed neither of them would speak to me. No eye contact,  no acknowledging me, just spoke through kids  i asked one of them a question but had to repeat it twice tp get an answer. I felt sick again and was trembling as I could see I was being punished and stonewalled. Not over anything in particular, prob ably a build up of being " not good enough", possibly due to not responding in the manner they wanted me to after a message. Maybe I should have said more in the message but I knew I waa being baited, and even if I didnt say what they want - im human ! Maybe I made a mistake but that does not mean I can be stonewalled like this.

So what do I do - option 1 is I call them out politely and say I saw what was happening and if there is an issue to bring it up with me directly. This might provoke a large narcissistic rage attack  but maybe I need to see it as often I make excuses for their behaviour/ or believe what they accuse me of.

Or they might deny - what are you talking about/ youre crazy- gaslighting.

Or I could say nothing. But they wont contact me so I know I will eventually cave and contact them and I just cant behave like everything is normal after this agsin. I am working on not caving in to contact them when they dobt contact me but im not quite there yet.

Dont know which is best option. Feel so trapped and sick today.
Really appreciate any insights or suggestions or if anyone can relate


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looloo

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2020, 12:28:03 PM »
I’m sorry you’re going through this - it is SO hard and painful.

Can you take this time, since they froze you out on the call, to do nothing more than “sit with” (as they say in meditation) these horribly unpleasant feelings?  I know from personal experience that the reflex to crawl back to them WILL diminish.  Of course, other thoughts and feelings will come and go too.  But you’re changing, and so the status quo will change as a result.  It’s a positive thing ultimately, but it is SO HARD!

Hope you write again with an update. Hugs 🤗
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”  Oscar Wilde.

"My actions are my true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand."  Thich Nhat Hanh

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Bloomie

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2020, 12:56:46 PM »
Hi there and welcome Dakotagirl. I am so sorry for the atmosphere of risk and obligation, the feeling of impending doom,  the hypervigilance that our bodies begin to express as we become saturated with stress from these unstable and unsafe primary relationships. So very hard to hold up under! I am thankful you have reached out for support.

The toolbox and traits info at the dropdown menus above are so helpful to validate your experiences are not normal and you do not have to continue going toward emotional harm from anyone. The pattern of covert abuse, kindness, then overt abuse - the flash of rage you experienced - is disorienting and some call it the sweet/mean cycle or Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse. (a great article that helped me understand the dynamic a bit better is here: https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2015/05/the-narcissistic-cycle-of-abuse/)

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However, when a narcissist is an abuser, the cycle looks different.

Narcissism changes the back end of the cycle because the narcissist is continuously self-centered and unwilling to admit fault.  Their need to be superior, right, or in charge limits the possibility of any real reconciliation. Instead, it is frequently the abused who desperately tries for appeasement while the narcissist plays the victim. This switchback tactic emboldens the narcissist behavior, even more, further convincing them of their faultlessness. Any threat to their authority repeats the cycle.
Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

That feeling of separation anxiety and an overwhelming need to placate that you can almost not withstand and the inexplicable drive to keep the connection despite the reality that you are having such important physical responses to their nonverbal cues that they are displeased with you is something I can understand having experienced it myself.

I think for most of us, it may be fair to say, real healing starts when we begin to examine our boundaries and choices in unhealthy and damaging relationships. When we start to recognize that we are traumatized by even silent acts of intimidation and that these are our 'loved ones' it can be a catalyst to getting the support, insights, and help we need to make some good changes.

When dealing with potentially high conflict people who are baiting with easily deniable provocations I try to ask myself if confronting them would be productive. Maybe it would be productive to stand up for yourself and call them out on rude and disrespectful behaviors - not making eye contact and answering direct questions from a family member is highly antagonistic and aggressive behavior - or maybe it would open the door for more abuse and accomplish very little and so the appropriate response may be to take a time out from people who appear to not want to look at you or talk to you. Only you can know the answer to that.

What I do know from my relationships with similar family members is beginning to find my truth and establish for myself what does and does not work in relationship with me and setting boundaries around my own choices about what I will and will not pursue - healthy loving, reliable people, or unhealthy, unreliable, harmful people - is what has eventually lead to a great deal of change and healing in my life.

Some things that have really helped me... sharing and participating here on this forum where I see such similar experiences with the posts of others and I can begin to identify patterns of behavior and strategies for dealing with them. A therapist who understands disordered and abusive family systems who can unpack a lifetime of 'stuff' from my family of origin. Having a very small circle of trusted friends I could share with who understood. Reading everything I can get my hands on, videos, articles. (see our recommended resources - books and online resource boards for a wealth of options) And establishing core values for my life and from those values healthy boundaries I can live from.

When you make a bid for independence in a N family system, even a small move you can't imagine would be an issue, it rocks the entire system. Come back often for support and encouragement. We understand how hard and confusing this can all get. We are here for you!







« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 01:03:14 PM by Bloomie »
"You can understand and have compassion for someone and still not want a relationship with them."
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Dakotagirl

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 03:38:33 PM »
Thank you both so much for your messages,  i really appreciate the support.  Looloo thank you for hearing me and knowing that others recognise this pain has already helped me today, something about no I am not crazy, and others have been here before and are ok.Your comment that the reflex to crawl back will diminish over time really helps - because it is exactly that, a reflex. And staying with the feeling of not going back in to ease / appease the family,  as I have always done, is so so difficult. For lots of reasons this was how I developed and I always always saught affection and approval by doing what I knew would settle the family system. Until I could see how dysfunctional that behaviour is from my part, and also how it just adds to the whole thing.

Bloomie thanks for the link that is a great article.  I really recognize that pattern..the switch back. Choice is a good word,  as when I am pulled into this web I forget I have any choice, I feel so trapped. I am better now at " seeing" what's abusive, but often not until after the event. It is usually very covert so it can be hard to see sometimes. I also get blinkered by genuine difficulties that others are having,  and excuse their behaviour because of their own circumstances. Feeling obliged to call because of a need to check in and get the latest update, because that seems to be the right thing to do to support someone in a difficult time, but not really looking at how one way that is, how there is nothing nurturing for me, how I am so drained by it, - how the victim narc controls me through this , and how the expectation is that I should call and see what's up, on a regular basis, getting nothing nourishing in return.

 I am lately frequently induced to say what they want me to say but I don't,  and they dont like this. This is a new boundary I am practicing - to communicate honestly and not just " provide the line" to keep things manageable for me, as that is emotionally dishonest on my part. I am guessing I am being punished for this and they translate me not saying what they want me to say as being " unkind/ unsupportive/ not enough" . I completely understand anothers need to vent when going through a difficult emotional patch, but when it feels so toxic,  when it feels like I am literally drinking poison, i know that is not something I experience supporting other people.

My therapist has done a lot of work on this with me and she talks about speaking my truth without fear of the consequences.  She also tells me to just " not call" and wait ...however long it takes...for them to call me. I find this almost impossible to consider doing,  never mind actuslly doing. I dont feel strong enough right now.

I think you are right about the wisdom of calling them out on this - especially as it would be very easy for them to deny how they refused to speak ( we were distracted, etc etc. ) and it may just be inviting them to gaslight me.

I know right now what I need is to look after me. I think I will take a short time out over the weekend to look at boundaries in relationships and what works for me / what the bottom lines are. I will look and see was I unsupportive in my last few communications? Maybe I was , and if I was I can take responsibility and apologise. I dont have to do that straight away, I can take my time. Though I think my therapist would say I have nothing to apologise and this is me going back in to appease them which furthers the whole situation.

Making a bid for independence sure does rock the narc family. For some reason I think with this episode I would cause myself more harm by approaching them about it, and achieve nothing.  I might just stand back, learn from it that this experience is showing me I need to figure out my boundaries better - and next time round have a clearer plan of what's what.

But if either of them try to manipulate me with inappropriate guilt about how - I am guessing here but it is usually about how I don't do " enough" , contact " enough", say the "right" things, and critically I no longer participate in conversations where I can feel I am being controlled by long silences) - I will have to strategize what I will do/ say and a script as to how to communicate it. Usually at the time, in the moment, I lose myself,  get so physically triggered that my voice goes, and I can't think clearly what to say as so much is coming at me and my system cant cope.  I literally need a script.

 I find I constantly question/ doubt myself- am I overthinking this ? Am I seeing something thats not there ? Maybe I am what they are thinking/ saying?? So I need to get clear on seeing it. Even today, so often I have thought- maybe they are right, maybe Im not doing enough, i haven't called much lately as Ive been busy, but in a normal relationship I guess even that wouldnt disturb the system so violently.

For now, I think I will try and recognize I have not done anything wrong here - and if I could hold onto that, and REALLY believe it, that would be progress.  I believe their narrative of me, I think that's a large part of the problem.

Its exhausting, and so physically overwhelming.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 03:45:05 PM by Dakotagirl »

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PeanutButter

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2020, 04:46:36 PM »
Ime self abandonment creates more pain and continues the longevity of suffering uneccessarily.

Nothing you ever do will please them. Yet you sacrifice your children's mother trying to please them.

Your children can see how you are being treated. At some point (dont know how old they are) it will effect their internal 'model' of how to do relationships.

What if you didnt read between the lines. What if you didnt respond to long silences as if instructions were being given to you. What if you took everything at face value only?

Would that help?

To not interpret their words or looks or no words or no looks as meaning anything. If they dont specifically tell you whats on their minds then dont worry about what is on their mind since you cant read minds so unless they tell you you cant ever really know. Could you stop guessing. Could you stop trying to guess?

« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 05:02:23 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

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Dakotagirl

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2020, 05:03:24 PM »
Woah. Reading that - sacrificing my children's mother - thank you, this is so true.

Until I heal from this I cannot be the mother I know I can be.

I need to pin that to my wall and remind myself every day how serious that is.

Thanks for putting it so clearly for me. I get so lost in the fog and confusion.

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PeanutButter

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2020, 05:21:29 PM »
The trauma ime (which is a deep whole system wounding) freezes at least parts of us in time. Any time we experience abuse again it returns us to that time (emotionally.) Imo. When you were faced with that agressive double attack disguised as 'phone visit with los' you were returned to a little girl yourself. Transported into the 'role' assigned to you. IME of the most important steps for me was finding compassion for myself. And like Hhaw says "drop all judgment" and "get curious about our inner worlds"
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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Dakotagirl

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2020, 05:38:17 PM »
Peanut butter I was in such a rush to reply I didn't see the rest of your message!

As I was replying this thought crossed my mind - what is gonna help me care less about how they behave?

You have hit onto something big there in what you said about what if I didnt read between the lines - this feels huge. The reason I know is as I read it , for the first time today something physically lightened in me.

I have NEVER thought about this. I - like many others here grew up walking on eggshells. I have spent my own life thinking about what others are thinking, reading silences. Reading why my body feels so sick and tense and knowing that it is fear and panic, and feeling fearful of what's coming next.  Some of this may be the current reality, some of it may be triggering old wounds.

Sure I have thought that I can't control others behaviour, what they do is up to them  etc etc. But that I could actually refrain from reading the unspoken? That I could just take it at face value and stop exhausting myself? When I spend so much time " thinking " about their behaviour then I am already stuck in there. If I think of it more as a boundary issue , then I guess all I need to do is leave when my boundary is violated, and know my bottom lines?

I am me and they are who they are.

That's what I need. To feel fully separate and individuated. They are not me, so their messages/ perceptions designed to suck me back into their toxic system can stay with them. This business of disentangling myself is SO hard.

If I could really feel that,  it would be a huge breakthrough.

Thank you for the support, I really appreciate
 

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PeanutButter

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2020, 03:26:03 AM »
I edited my comment sorry about that. I always remember something else to say later. Lol

You are so very welcome anytime.

I am only a half a step at best ahead of you.

I was not aware of the physical response I was having. I was 'stuck" in my head so much that I didmt even know anything was happenning to my body. I finally become aware of that after an in between stage of beoming aware only just after it was over. Now I can feel its happening in the present so thats great for me.

Then like you mentioned I needed to have an internal boundary (along with external boundaries) that I wasnt going to try to 'fix' or 'figure' anything out while I was in that 'condition'. I will make a note to myself ie"ok peanut you are really having a fight or flight response right now so your rational brain is getting shut down. Thats ok you are safe you can walk away (or not) or you can refuse to address anything right now since you can't think calmly."

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I have NEVER thought about this. I - like many others here grew up walking on eggshells. I have spent my own life thinking about what others are thinking, reading silences. Reading why my body feels so sick and tense and knowing that it is fear and panic, and feeling fearful of what's coming next. Some of this may be the current reality, some of it may be triggering old wounds.
This is exactly what we were conditioned to do. This is what our abusers need us to do so they can remain in control of us.

Ime we should disconnect from them in these moments, turn inward to ourselves, because we are truly in control, there control only exists through our continued cooperation doing what we always have. And if we look to ourselves for acceptance and comfort then we break the 'hold' they have had over us.

You are doing great. You have a high level of insight and understanding as to what is happening. You are going to get to where you want to be.

I would compassionately soothe myself ime. This is not a thing that one can just talk therselves out of. We have to imo first stay present with ourselves through the trauma response to experience that we will be alright with or without their acceptance.

Keep coming back here if it helps.

 I know it is my life line.
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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PeanutButter

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2020, 03:33:14 AM »
See i forgot something again hehe

PS Breathing exercises that calm the para sympathetic nervous system helped me sooth myself during a fight or flight.
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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Bloomie

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2020, 12:40:58 PM »
Quote from: Dakotagirl
like many others here grew up walking on eggshells. I have spent my own life thinking about what others are thinking, reading silences. Reading why my body feels so sick and tense and knowing that it is fear and panic, and feeling fearful of what's coming next.  Some of this may be the current reality, some of it may be triggering old wounds.

Sure I have thought that I can't control others behaviour, what they do is up to them  etc etc. But that I could actually refrain from reading the unspoken? That I could just take it at face value and stop exhausting myself? When I spend so much time " thinking " about their behaviour then I am already stuck in there. If I think of it more as a boundary issue , then I guess all I need to do is leave when my boundary is violated, and know my bottom lines?

This hypervigilance you describe experiencing where you walk around shoulders hunched up to your ears, finger to the emotional wind body, soul, and spirit on high alert all of the time, anticipating drama and yet another conflict (spoken or unspoken) is very familiar to me having grown up in an N family system.

Learning about trauma responses... fight, flight, freeze, and fawn has been so helpful to me and recognizing what triggers me in what feels like instinctual ways to those triggers - like all of a sudden there is a 'chill' in the air from certain family members and I have no idea why I just know it means something yucky is headed my way and maybe if I fawn or please or apologize for breathing in and out I can avoid the pain of rejection or invalidation. Or I can run away, or I can stay and fight back, or I can freeze and my mind refuses to even recognize what is happening until sometimes days later to find a safe place in the moment.  :'(

It's a truly terrible way to live from a triggered and fear based foundation in our FOO I have learned.

Taking authority over ourselves.. or like Peanut Butter suggested.. forming internal boundaries around what we dwell on, think of ourselves in relationship with others, learning to apply the clean up rule which is another way to apply internal/external boundaries to our lives and relationships, where we begin to focus on cleaning up our messes and allowing other grown adults the room to clean up theirs as well is work we can begin to redirect all of that energy and focus to that will bring great benefits to your life and the lives of your precious family of choice (FOC).

I have found something as simple as reminding myself in those triggered times.. "You are able to keep yourself safe. You are strong. You make good choices. You are wise. You have 100% freedom of choice. You are okay." can begin to become absolute bedrock truth as I make the head/heart connection that all of these things are true and have been for a very long time I just didn't know it. :hug:

You are doing the hard work. The benefits will reach further than you can ever imagine. And yes, at times it is a steep and difficult climb toward a healthier, more peaceful life. Stay strong!



« Last Edit: June 06, 2020, 12:43:22 PM by Bloomie »
"You can understand and have compassion for someone and still not want a relationship with them."
Amanda E. White, LPC @therapyforwomen

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Dakotagirl

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2020, 01:30:19 PM »
Peanutbutter that is a great affirmation to use when feeling so triggered. I always need to remind myself I am SAFE.

Today I am feeling a good deal better, less triggered, focussing entirely on myself and not getting caught in the FOG. I think what ultimately really helped was realising that freezing me out was on them, not on me. I released myself from the need to step into it. I think I got triggered because it was an automatic response,  but now that I feel physically less triggered I am also thinking that a large part of that was how trapped I felt , feeling that I was now down some tunnel and no matter which way I turned it would just make things worse - contact them ? Stand up for myself ? Not contact them ( and get abuse for that). When I released myself from the need to manage what comes next from their behaviour, I felt more able to manage myself.

I think it was the right decision not to call them out on it. I may call / contact during next week but hoping before then to have done some work on boundaries in conversation and how to manage passive agressive silences / baiting etc. I haven't found a resource yet particularly around boundaries in communication / conversation but I will look around.

Bloomie it is very reassuring to hear that you recognize this also. Naming it as the N family helps too,  in seeing the totality of it. The chill you describe- gee I know exactly what you mean. I could be a million miles away and it would come to me. And the weird thing is it is in my experience 100% accurate. We are so attuned to such miniscule disturbances. It feels to me like a giant tornado but maybe I will get to see it as a tornado warning instead,  as an announcement to evacuate to a place of safety !

Living in a fear based and triggered foundation is so true. Each time I meet Mom / Sis I feel sick and anxious beforehand,  have to talk to myself in strong language that I will be ok, and then allow at least one hour after to decompress.  Nothing healthy there at all 

Id never heard of the clean up rule I will look at that too thank you for sharing that one!

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PeanutButter

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Re: Help....Stonewalling....dont know what to do next
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2020, 04:12:03 PM »
Me too. I hadnt heard of the clean up rule. Going to now.
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