Would love some advice on how to deal with this situation

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Sheppane

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Hi everyone , Im recently joined here and looking forward to coming OOTF. Im having a very difficult day today and would love if anyone can make sense/ hear what I am experiencing , or have any viewpoints they could share.

Right now I am working through some very difficult patterns with my FOO.  Like most others here I guess I come from a very dysfunctional FOO and have done the best I could over the years in trying to unentangle myself from what I could see were unhealthy behaviours. At its simplest  this was really just me trying to separate out of the family system in a bid for more manageability in my own life. What I am finding is as the years have gone on, the behaviours are getting worse , or perhaps now I am seeing them with more clarity than before.  About one year ago I found myself looking up the words "narcisiist" and "covert narcisiisit" and when I did that a lot seemed to suddenly make sense. I am the scapegoat in my family, the hold all for everything that no one else can't say,feel,or wont take responsibility for. I am only beginning to realise how I grew up with this idea that it was my "job" to keep everyone happy, to keep the peace. How I sacrificied myself in the process, and what very strong internal messages I carry around with me.  I am trying to change these internal messages but boy is it hard work !! I get so caught up in guilt,  shame, and more  and more I am seeing how physically triggered I get at most interactions with members of my FOO.
Recently I got frozen out of a conversation  - I could not quite beieve it was happening  - and afterwards of course started mistrusting my perceptions - until I replayed it and replayed it and told myself in the strongest words I was not imagining it.
I went into panic for days.  Hugely physically triggered.  It was all due to the fact that I had laid down a very gentle boundary about something, and this was my punishment.

Iam learning to listen to what my body tells me - as often my mind shuts down and freezes  - but this time I knew I could trust it. Nothing , I mean nothing, could make these feelings go away,  exercise,  yoga,  all the soothing strategies in the world.  It was as if something had been detonated inside me and nothing could roll it back.  Eventually the feelings subsided, after a number of days. The only thing that would work at the time was a mantra that said " I am safe, I am safe, I am safe".  It felt like a bomb had been detonated inside of me and there was nothing I was going to do that would calm my system down.
decided the only thing I could do was care for myself  -  I debated whether or not to call them out on it  - I am onuly beginning to learn to set boundaries and a part of me thought I needed to stand up for myself, not take it lying down. Then I realised all that this would do would be to turn the tables, I would be told by ucovertNMom that I was imagning it,  and worse,  I would then be acused of "how dare you" suggest that she would do that to me.  So all that was going to happen was that I would be on receiving end of more gaslighting.

I did not contact anyone  for a few days  - and then I did, because I could take the silence no more. Silence is a powerful weapon of control and is also very triggering for me.  I didnt say anything about it - I decided not to, as an act of self care. Or maybe thats just my excuse.  To avoid the fear of the punishment and consequences.

I thought a lot about boundaries in recent days, and how I need to set them around abusive behaviours. Things like baiting/invalidation/ projection/ aomeone deliberately creating confusion in conversation to throw me off  :stars: :stars:/ nitpicking/accusations /discrediting me/ controlling me in conversation/ patronizing me ...and so on. I made a list!  These are the bottom line behaviours I need to see, and then communicate a boundary around if they happen in real time. The problem is, often I dont "see" them when they happen.  Its like Im really dumb, and it is only afterwards, when I have a very physical feeling and know I have been triggered that I can trace it back. SO now I plan on being like a detective and watching out for them. I have a lot of work to do on this.

I called uNarcMom , was very afraid before I did ,body trembling.  But I knew if I let a few days go I would be "punished" for not calling.  So I called really in an attempt to make me feel better. But I knew I would need my boundaries. But guess what - she was delightful, cheerful, so glad I called, even messaged me after to say how lovely it was to talk to me . Again  :stars: :stars:. I think it may have been a hoover to get me back into the cycle. Just at the moment when I was ready to use my boundaries ,when I felt empowered  -  I didnt need it.

So I am finding today very difficult. Very confused.  AM i overthinking this ? Have I seen clearly what just happened ? The key message that always comes from Mom is " you are not meeting my needs, you are not meeting the needs of your FOO, you are inadequate and must try harder.".
RIght now, I have decided not to contact anyone for a few days, to give myself some space. I know I will feel triggered when I dont hear anything back from them - which I probably wont  - as it is always "on me" to do the contacting, and, weirdly I always get accused of being the one in the relationship who does so little.  I know there are a lot of deep wounds and internal messages in me I need to change, and I am committed to working on that.

But how do I get through this now  - taking a break from contacting them in short term  - but trying to keep myself on balance. NC for me would be last resort so I am committed to working on it as best I can . But right now I feel like I would do anything, sell my soul, to go back in there and contact, yet I know this is exactly the behaviour I need to change, as all my life I have been appeasing those who abuse me, just to keep the peace. I am such a mix of emotions today , fearful, guilty, physically sick in my stomach,  and sad. Trying to do a few nice things for myself, but its not really working.

Thanks for reading !

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doglady

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Re: Would love some advice on how to deal with this situation
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2020, 09:35:38 AM »
Hi Sheppane
I really feel for in this situation. Youíve described it all so well and I can see itís such a struggle. It makes perfect sense that you want to work on your boundaries. And if course youíve found that your FOO donít like it one little bit. Youíre supposed to stay in your place.  :sadno: Covert Narcs are very tricky people.
I personally found Pete Walkerís book very helpful, along with journaling, Good self-care, therapy and having the support of a few trusted FOC and friends who really got it. But as you say, some days are really hard even when youíre trying your best. You sound very thoughtful, caring and intelligent and itís time for you to look after you.

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Starboard Song

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Re: Would love some advice on how to deal with this situation
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2020, 10:25:10 AM »
Quote
But how do I get through this now  - taking a break from contacting them in short term  - but trying to keep myself on balance. NC for me would be last resort so I am committed to working on it as best I can . But right now I feel like I would do anything, sell my soul, to go back in there and contact, yet I know this is exactly the behaviour I need to change, as all my life I have been appeasing those who abuse me, just to keep the peace. I am such a mix of emotions today , fearful, guilty, physically sick in my stomach,  and sad. Trying to do a few nice things for myself, but its not really working.

Imagine being a celebrated novelist: like, Mark Twain level of fame and respect. And one guy you don't know sniffs, "I for one think it is a very poor novel. It's embarrassingly childish, and one day we'll all be ashamed to have spent time on it." Then imagine being the governor of your state. You'd know every day that at least 30% of the state really dislikes you and thinks you are ruining everything. Switching policies would only switch out which 30% dislike you so much.

In both cases, you'd not feel at all troubled. The famed novelist with a lucrative movie deal would be so confident in her skill that criticism would roll right off of her back. She'd have thick skin because she'd know the critic was in the minority. The governor would know that it is in the nature of partisan politics to have opponents who talk bad about her, even protest her, so she'd not be terribly upset to here that 2,000 people were protesting and calling her a socialist or a fascist or whatever. She'd have thick skin because she knows it isn't personal.

It isn't a fair set of examples at all, though: you are dealing with family, who are supposed to be there for you, not strangers. Still, f you really take a minute to imagine being immune to criticism like this, accepting it like this, it seems amazing. People like the famed novelist and the state-level politician really do achieve it. I've watched my wife work from strong dis-like of self to getting out of that place to one that is more resilient and immune to criticism. It is hard work, and never done, but she is in a far better place. The books in the top line of my signature helped her most.

But I want you to know that you deserve to feel that above criticism. You can aspire to that sort of immunity starting right now today. You'll hear the criticism, and consider it, but it never gets at you yourself. Boundaries must be higher and stronger when we are susceptible of easy wounding. Boundaries can be lower and more porous when we are full of peace and strength and a feeling of safety. I wish that you may feel safe.

Be good. Be strong.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 10:35:23 AM by Starboard Song »
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason    |    Emotional Blackmail, by Susan Forward