Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior

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vijaykumari

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Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior
« on: June 13, 2020, 09:33:34 AM »
Hi, sorry for the long story here:

I am not in contact with many family members.  I regularly talk to my niece though, who is 16 years younger than me (she's 35 now).  She's been anorexic, recovering ok-ish, and I don't have a lot of a problems talking to her.  But whenever she starts any relationship with a man I get triggered. I'm worried that she is like the rest of the family and has a PD and I should avoid her.  Yesterday something happened that was very upsetting to me and I don't know why:

background: Her first long term bf turned out to be very abusive.  He got her to eat and gain weight, but he was sexually abusive and controlling in some weird ways.  Her behavior/reactions seemed unhealthy to me.  (I have a history of sexual abuse so this made me actually stop talking to her for a few months. And I explained this to her.)

Recently she has been sexting someone she met randomly online, not on a dating app.  At first I made a point that this is one of those amusing things that people might do, and I won't judge, but it's not a relationship that would lead to marriage for example.  I've done the dating app thing and I've chatted like this before.
 The guy starting saying things like I love you, I would marry you etc, but I could tell this was just him playing around with words and I said, he's just having fun with this, these are words.  But she started to get attached (even though she knew he was dating other people and even told her about them, sent photos, etc).  He kept telling her if she wanted to meet/have sex she needed to gain weight and said that he helped another past gf with anorexia.  Then abruptly he said he found someone else and said something like good luck, bye.  As if it wasn't a big deal.   I was absolutely not surprised and I told her that.

But now she still talks like they're friends/best friends/in some kind of relationship that is in a rough spot. I said don't text him, it's over, because I assumed that she would agree; seems obvious right? Then she got mad at me (which has never happened).  I said something like, hey I  assumed it was over that's why I said don't engage with him, as tempting as it is, and I said I get upset to see someone in an abusive relationship.  I got very quiet, from some kind of shock; then she said she felt like she had annoyed me.  I repeated, it's more that I get upset when I see that someone is with someone abusive.  I felt like I couldn't talk, like my face was frozen.  She said things like, you should know how I feel because you said you've been in similar situations and you would understand.  I wanted to say, "yes I have done this type of thing and that's why I'm saying end this because you'll make it worse."   She made it sound like she needed to play through.  It was like she was saying well you've done dumb stuff  so why can't I.  I shared some things I've done so she wouldn't feel ashamed but it's not one of those "learn from your mistakes" things.  You just keep traumatizing yourself and you don't learn anything.  The guy has a pd and she will never get the closure from having another text conversation with him.

I was so upset, I didn't even know how to respond.  I felt like there is something so very wrong with me because I can't figure out anything to say to her and I don't want to even talk to her ever again.  On one hand she's got some problems, but on the other hand I feel like I'm worse because I don't know what to say to explain my feelings or just what to say in general.  I'd like to say no I didn't do things like this at all-because yes I have talked to men online with terrible results, but no I have never talked about it with someone else and claimed that this was a relationship.  If at the time someone would have seen me, and said wtf are you doing, I would have said omg please stop me this is sooo dumb.  I would have appreciated the intervention.  So I am very confused that she didn't respond like this.  It's like if you said I'm about to cut my arm and I said I'm going to stop you, and you got mad and said hey you've done this so you should understand and not try to stop me but just listen. 

I'm really shaken and disturbed and I'm not sure I'm able to put it together and I don't trust my feelings and interpretations.  This might sound dumb, but it's a very familiar feeling and I've cut ties with people over things like this. 

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PeanutButter

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Re: Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2020, 10:16:15 AM »
Im sure your intentions are the best.

My own experience was one of finding out that I enmeshed in my relationships with others. I tried to control others while fighting against being controlled by them.

ime we all have to make are own mistakes and learn our own life lessons.

 Maybe when a situation reminds me of something Ive been through, if I have not healed my wounds from it, then I want to say (especially if its someone I care about) "'oh no dont do that i know better than you do on this subject since I already learned this lesson the hard way." Now I would not be surprised that this is not recieved well.

Also comparing someones reactions to what I would or wouldnt do and judging their's odd if they dont do what I would do limited my ability to accept people as they are.

imo. EVERYONE is different. NO 2 persons react the same to anything. Even if they are biologically related to me is not an indication they should respond or react the way I do. If I love them, or if they love me does not change that.

I should NOT focus on others and try to control or change them.

My focus if I want to be healthy emotionally is ME.

I had to do a lot of work after I realized I had 'controlling others flea.' Anxiety, worry, and upset brought it out strongly in me. I was trying to control my external environment instead of ackowledging my internal experience. My emotions were something I reacted to not something I acknowledged, observed, and allowed to be. I had to change that. I want to choose how, when, and whether to respond.

 I have no control over others but I now have more control over myself.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2020, 10:26:54 AM 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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vijaykumari

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Re: Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2020, 11:22:06 AM »
Thank you for that perspective. I'm so embarrassed/ashamed right now.

I tend to interact with others only if I feel like I can somehow help them.  I don't think I really get connecting with people in any other way.  It's frustrating because I'm so wrapped up in my own reactions that I can't have normal relationships or what I imagine is normal. 

I think it makes me feel connected when (in my mind) someone is just like me.  Finally! I'm not alone! Someone else who thinks and feels like me! Then when I find they are different I feel very alone again.  I accept that people are different and with all my therapy I logically see the truth in that but it doesn't feel good. 

I think when she talked to me I got caught up in the feeling that someone else is just like me, and I attached too much to that idea.  It was just too hard to resist that feeling. 

I just feel alone.  I live alone, I'm single, and yes I have kids but they are on their own path and they are very different from me. Even when I try to find others who were abused etc of course no one is just like me.  I just don't know where to go with this.  If you're "normal" and grew up healthy etc do you still feel like this?  I don't get it.  I don't get what would be the healthy end goal.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2020, 11:26:27 AM by vijaykumari »

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moglow

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Re: Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2020, 12:57:07 PM »
Hello, and welcome to OotF!

I'm not sure why you would feel embarrassed, to be honest. It seems several assumptions were made about this guy/their "relationship" based on your experiences and you shared those views. It doesn't make you (or them) wrong or that there's anything to be ashamed of. On the flip side, your niece may have felt judged by the insistence that her behavior was wrong and she them lashed out accordingly - that happens too.

She may be messing up and pushing too far - and that's her choice. She will either learn from her mistakes or not just like the rest of us, and life goes on. For you though, would it help if you took a step back from those discussions, change the subject to things that aren't triggering for you? Even end that conversation if need be and just agree to disagree on that one.
It doesnt mean you have to write her or anyone else off, you simply remove yourself from discomfort so you can work through why it bothered you. Maybe sometime later talk to her about it - or just let it go as your own stuff that she doesn't have to carry.

I'll be honest, what concerns me for you is the deep involvement and heavy emotional investment in *her* stuff. Being so upset over her talking to and about this guy? And there's the presumption, insistence even, that either or both may be PD - based on what? Honestly if either or both or even all of you are PD, you *still* get to decide what kind of relationship you have with them. Or not. It doesn't have to be all black and white, good or bad, all or nothing.

On feeling connected - I get it, the need to find people who understand. That's why *we're* here! In that, we all have to learn and accept that we're all, every one of us, different. We have our own experience, histories, education, thinking, and there will always be differences. If there weren't, what a boring world this would be! How would we ever grow as human beings if all were the same?
“Nothing exposes our true self more than how we treat each other in the home.”  ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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PeanutButter

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Re: Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2020, 01:18:17 PM »
Thank you for that perspective. I'm so embarrassed/ashamed right now.

I tend to interact with others only if I feel like I can somehow help them.  I don't think I really get connecting with people in any other way.  It's frustrating because I'm so wrapped up in my own reactions that I can't have normal relationships or what I imagine is normal. 

I think it makes me feel connected when (in my mind) someone is just like me.  Finally! I'm not alone! Someone else who thinks and feels like me! Then when I find they are different I feel very alone again.  I accept that people are different and with all my therapy I logically see the truth in that but it doesn't feel good. 

I think when she talked to me I got caught up in the feeling that someone else is just like me, and I attached too much to that idea.  It was just too hard to resist that feeling. 

I just feel alone.  I live alone, I'm single, and yes I have kids but they are on their own path and they are very different from me. Even when I try to find others who were abused etc of course no one is just like me.  I just don't know where to go with this.  If you're "normal" and grew up healthy etc do you still feel like this?  I don't get it.  I don't get what would be the healthy end goal.

I want you to know that I use to have ALOT of shame/self blame towards myself for my 'reactions' to. IME this was a continuation of the rejection and devaluing from my abusers in early life that I was continuing in their absence on myself.

One of the best steps I took was to work on self compassion, acceptance of me, and forgiving myself!

IME that may be what you are needing. You may be helped if you accepted yourself just as you are. An unique, loving, and valuable individual. Maybe if you used loving compassion as a replacement for harsh judgements about yourself this would help.  :hug:
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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Kat1984

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Re: Triggered by family member's odd dating behavior
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2020, 08:37:21 PM »
Thanks for your story.  I can't add much to what others have said, but wanted to add this:
I grew up with pretty normal parents, though my mom is codependent, likely because both her parents were alcoholics.
She gossipped a lot with me, ever since I was a child.  So I grew up thinking it was normal for me to be all up in other peoples' business.  My mom never told people to their faces what she thought, but she endlessly analyzed them behind their backs.  And she was often jealous, but cloaked that in other emotions, like disdain.
It wasn't til I was 40 or so that I realized this way of being was a choice, and I chose to change my focus to creativity, ideas, etc.  What a relief.
I now tell my kids:
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people"  (?Eleanor Roosevelt)