Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried

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JohnSmith

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Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« on: June 29, 2020, 02:33:50 PM »
Hello,

I need help and advice for an upcoming event where my wife and I will be forced to see again her NPD brother with whom she has been no contact for some month. We are very worried. I try to explain a bit the context below but it is difficult to say enough without wrighting a book, also english is not my first language, I hope I can be clear enough.

My wife discovered a few month ago that her brother suffers from NPD after he spent some time in an institution following a suicidal attempt. He was the one who told us the doctors and nurse gave him this diagnosis, since that day he seems to have forgotten this diagnosis. The diagnosis was very helpful for my wife (and I) because it shed light on so many behaviours of his that made my wife feel bad whenever she saw him. Very long story short, my wife later decided to cut contact with him after a fallout. She has been badly damaged by this event and refuse to expose herself to anymore harms. She doesn't know if or when she could see him again. She has refused to answer his calls or read his messages, she is very afraid. Her wife has sent to me insults by email and social medias, I never answered them and my wife and I were very relieved by her decision to cut contact and sure that it is the right decision for her.

However, a family member died and we will have to meet him and his wife at the upcoming funerals. We are very worried by this event and we don't know how to act or react to whatever her brother or his wife will do. It is even more difficult because the whole family put pressure on my wife to see him. They admit that the brother behaviour is often "wrong" but they have not been the target of his abuse nearly to same extent than my wife (my wife and her brother were very close, although it was always a very painfull relationship). They consider that he is sick and depressed and need the help and presence of her sister, all the more because following the fallout and my wife decision to cut contact with him he has called everyone to tell them he miss her and need her. Discussion and justification with them as been useless. My wife has always taken care of her brother and he has always done everything in her power to calm him and mitigate his mood and behaviour (with no success at all. Whatever she does, he will attack if he feels bad), and the family want her to resume this role. She can't stand it any longer.

So we expect to have no support from anyone at these funerals, yetit is garanteed that the brother and/or his wife will try hard to force my wife back into the game and abuse or to force a reaction. We expect very bad things but don't know exactly what will happen and what they will do. I guess they will be on their best behaviour and try to force my wife to justify her decision, but she don't want to explain herself, she doesn't believe it could do any good (I fully agree with that, there is no understanding possible with this man).

If anyone has ever experienced similarish situation, any advices is extermely welcome. If the situation is not clear enough, I will gladly provide more informations.

Thanks in advance for your answers.

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Starboard Song

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2020, 02:49:20 PM »
Quote
the brother and/or his wife will try hard to force my wife back into the game and abuse or to force a reaction. We expect very bad things but don't know exactly what will happen and what they will do. I guess they will be on their best behaviour and try to force my wife to justify her decision, but she don't want to explain herself, she doesn't believe it could do any good

You write very well. I understand your dilemma.

Please consider how we react to an infant crying. Let's say they've dropped something in the dirt, and cannot have it back. They cry and kick and scream, even waving their fists. How angry do we get? How much time do we spend telling our spouse that it wasn't our fault? Do we argue? Not at all. We are confident in ourselves, we know the infant just doesn't understand, and we are generally bemused by them. Every parent I know at some point had to stifle a laugh at their infant's tantrum. I'd like your wife to sit very still and very calm, and reflect upon this situation. She should strive to feel as confident, as calm, as detached, as that parent with the angry baby. Nothing will anger either of you. You will never raise your voice. These people's opinions do not matter, and neither do they even understand their own words.

The other thing is to read about JADE, and to promise one another not to do it. JADE stands for Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain. When we get caught up justifying ourselves, arguing about and defending our choices, explaining our decisions, we are playing their game. You can read more about it on our JADE page.

You do not need to persuade these people, only to inform them.

So, if they confront you, be ready to say what you do or what you will do, to say that exactly once. I found more success making a positive statement ("we remain in close contact with those who respect us") rather than a negative statement ("we do not communicate with those who abuse us").

After saying something once, move on and never repeat yourself. If they keep going, you can give the most anodyne, empty responses imaginable, until you can physically get away from them: "I understand," or "Thanks for telling me," or "that's not true, but I understand you," even "We're staying focused on remembering [the deceased] today."

I really hope they play very nice. But if they don't remember: getting angry lets them win, JADEing lets them win. You are calm. You are confident. You are kind. You are right.

I don't believe this is easy. This is hard. I've expressed it all in confident statements of truth, because that is how I hope you can come to feel about it. Good luck!
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 02:56:22 PM 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

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JohnSmith

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 06:58:44 AM »
Thank you very much for your answer Starboard Song, it is very usefull and comforting! My wife feel better now and we are less worried. This forum and people like you are a blessing for us who are learning how to deal with NPD siblings. Thanks for sharing your experience!

The analogy with toddler's tantrum is especially spot on because it is the go to strategy of my wife's brother when he want to make a feel bad and play victim.

As for JADE, it is a great advice. We knew already it was the way to go in our gut, but somehow it still seems very difficult to apply. We (and my wife especially) has been so used to JADEing all the time with her brother and family...and we also feel it is basic decency to explain to someone why we don't want to see him anymore. It is still difficult to grasp how differently a NPD person function in comparison with us.

Thanks again for your precious help.





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Starboard Song

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2020, 09:59:28 AM »
...and we also feel it is basic decency to explain to someone why we don't want to see him anymore. It is still difficult to grasp how differently a NPD person function in comparison with us.

I personally very much agree with you: it is basic decency to explain ourselves. We did. In two very brief sentences we stated what was no longer acceptable to us, and then explained what contact we would allow going forward: none. We also left a door open. We wrote that we hoped they'd one day be willing to _______________.

Our requirement is personal, and so I won't share it here. But I swear, any healthy person would have seized on it, taken a few basic steps, and regained my trust. Because they were unhealthy, they did not, and never have.

When we say "do not JADE," it is only about the ongoing repetitive behavior. You should feel free to make a few brief statements about what you require from a relationship, or cannot accept in one. Just keep it clean, avoid accusing details, and never repeat yourself.

You are trying to be full of love. That is so admirable. Good luck and strength to you.
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

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whole hearted

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 09:34:55 PM »
Hi there, I am in a very similar situation with multiple family members but especially a brother very much like your wife's. The advice previously not to get into JADEing is the best advice.

I practice beforehand when a difficult situation is looming. I think the situation though carefully and imagine where the problem moments might arise and I have a loose plan in my mind in place as a form of boundary. I imagine a boundary line around me like a golden circle of light.  Being very clear about what my boundaries are before going into a situation that makes me anxious has helped me many times, because in the stress of a particular moment it is sometimes not easy is it ?

 For example at a relatives funeral, my strategy was :

1. Do not to sit within my brothers line of vision and preferably where I could not see him.
2. Engage with people who are friendly and maintain no contact or give absolute minimum time to anyone intimidating or hostile.
3. Family will often use occasions such as this to ambush you or demand explanations. Avoid any form of personal discussion - NO JADEing. Try to stay in a 'friendly ' group to restrict opportunities for the brother/others to stage an ambush.
4. Stick with my partner at the event and show a united front.
5. If feeling overwhelmed or unsafe, make a polite excuse and leave.

Inevitably the whole situation may be anxiety provoking and may cause a resurfacing of old emotions and griefs. That's completely normal if it occurs. I've had to quietly process and release these emotions many times myself. It often takes a bit of time and lots of my partner's support. Your wife is lucky to have an involved, supportive and caring partner. You are doing a good job.

You both have a right to feel and be safe. Best wishes  :)

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Maxtrem

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2020, 01:10:53 PM »
Hi JohnSmith, I have a narc uncle with whom few family members had contact after he tried to empty my grandmother's bank account that had alzeihmer. At my grandmother's funeral he was present but didn't talk to many people and kept quiet. In my family there are a lot of PD's, but at a funeral they kept quiet. In our society it is expected that people who come to a funeral act with respect and dignity. It is part of our culture and your wife's brother will probably have to do the same so as not to lose face.

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JohnSmith

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2020, 12:08:49 PM »
Hi everyone,

Thanks a lot for all your answer and counsels. We had the funeral yesterday and we followed these advices, and it went well! Except for cold "hello" at the beginning we avoided each others which is exactly what we wanted, and the family didn't try anything.

We were a lot more serene with the advices you gave us, so thanks again. I'm relieved that I have found this forum and I now know were I can ask for help if (when) difficult situation emerge.

Best to all of you.

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Starboard Song

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Re: Incoming confrontation with NPD sibling, very worried
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2020, 05:30:52 PM »
Congratulations on a small success.
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