Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door

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Pinkos

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Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« on: July 09, 2020, 09:11:50 PM »
I can't even believe I just wrote that title. It sounds like click-bait. I received a voicemail from a stranger (I swear it's my Nbrother disguising his voice after listening to it several times) saying an uncle had a heart attack today and is probably going to die today and I need to call my Dad. The person didn't introduce himself. Of course my immediate reaction was to call my father. I had been NC with my whole family for 5 years. Broke NC in February of this year during an extremely triggering moment (after reading Pete Walker's book a few months ago, I now understand this to have been an 'emotional flashback'). I kept up contact every 2-3 weeks for about 31/2 months or so testing the waters to see if maybe they would behave. I was only in contact with my father during this period. He would hand the phone to my mother the first couple times I called so I did speak to her but I didn't initiate directly and didn't answer her calls. I'm the scapegoat of the family by the way. I had basically decided to go back to NC after a couple of unpleasant, passive aggressive calls with him. It brought me back to that place of rumination and dread that I had managed to quiet down somewhat after so many years of NC.

So anyway, I call him. He answers the phone right away. I tell him about the call I received and he tells me he received a similar call a while back from someone saying that they heard my uncle had Covid. It was a prank apparently. And he says he also just received a call today from an unknown number just like I did but he didn't answer. He says it's someone prank calling because my uncle is somewhat of a celebrity and I guess people are just screwing around?! This has never happened before and I fail to see why someone would do it. It is just so outlandish. What would be the incentive? Hmmmmm.....the whole thing just sounded fishy. He didn't even say he was going to call his brother and find out if he's OK.

Then he immediately says he's been trying to call me and was worried that something might have happened. And he asks when am I going to come visit them in their city. Did I know that the airplanes are flying again? I said it's still not safe and I'm not planning any travel for the year. Then I tell him I have to go because I'm still on the clock working from home and I have a call in 5 minutes. That I just called because I got the disturbing call. He doesn't push back and says OK right away, and says we should call each other. And that was it! I just had an urge to get off the phone quickly because I felt disturbed by it all. (By the way I'm also NC with the uncle in question. Not like we had much of a close relationship but he's an entitled, chauvinistic  egomaniac and I refused to do him a HUGE favor that required considerable time and effort on my part and he bullied and antagonized me as a result.)

I don't know whether to be upset or laugh. Of course I feel manipulated. But I'm also just curious what their game plan is? OK so they got me to call them this one time. Are they sitting there laughing at me now? Patting themselves on the back at how skillfully they played me? Is that what this is about?  :stars:

I guess I'm still in shock and I'm going to stop now because I don't want to ramble. I just had to post in here because I knew this group would understand the shenanigans.

(I'm deleting my post in the other thread and moving this here because I think this is prob the right place for it)

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2020, 09:39:27 PM »
Hi Pinkos - this sounds like such a laughable situation... I'm amused by how desperate these family members seem to be and how far they'd go in such a ridiculous way to have contact with you and try to drain you again (if that's indeed what was happening, which it seems that way to me).

Wouldn't it be easier to just have an honest and healthy relationship with you rather than pulling something this silly? Wouldn't it be easier and wouldn't they seem more respectable if they just, well, respected you? Instead of jumping through these absurd hoops to tap your resources and validate to themselves that they still matter and impact your life, just because they can get you to do something?

I too have had PD/PDish FOO do one-sided things for validation that are so ridiculous that I'm not so much hurt as I am just amused at how dysfunctional their behavior is and how ridiculous they seem. Silver lining, I guess. And a good laugh to myself.

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Pinkos

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2020, 10:46:20 PM »
Hi DistanceNotDefense - Yeah, I mean it is just so ridiculous that I can't even muster the energy to be upset about it!! :sadno:

I almost feel like I dreamed the whole thing.

Of course you're right - it would be much easier if they gave a hoot about  me and respected me. All they care about is one upping me.

It's sad because a year ago they initiated family therapy - this was about 4 years into NC and really no effort on their part to reconcile during that whole period. I basically stopped making all the effort 4 years prior and they felt indignant and I got the Silent Threat. I had a feeling the family therapy was a ploy to get me to visit them in their city. They didn't even call or email to ask me after such a long time of no contact. They had the therapist harass me, and when I finally told him to leave me alone I got a very distant but polite email from one of my sisters copying everyone saying they wanted to reconcile. I declined to do it in person and joined by phone. It was an ambush of course. My siblings outright denied things that happened and minimized everything. So 2 sessions in, after we agreed on a 3rd, I hear nothing from them for a whole year. No one bothered to even let me know they had decided to stop it - my guess is their trick to get me to come to their city didn't work so they lost interest. The 'family therapy' was really just bait. And that's what this was too. Smh.

My Nparents are desperate for me to visit. Of course they could've visited anytime in the past 5 years but didn't! So it's not really about seeing me. It's about making me come to them!! Validation for them, I suppose. Visiting them on their turf at this point would be walking into a snake pit for me!

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2020, 12:19:25 AM »
Oh my gosh, Pinkos. That phone ambush sounds so awful! My blood pressure just went up reading about it.

It does sound like they'd want you back around just for their own amusement, not because they care about you in the way people should be cared about and respected.

I can't help but imagine that you're living a very full, whole life without them, and meanwhile your FOO is fixated and obsessed with how to get you to visit and that's one of the few things they can thin about. Sometimes I think it's so hard to be the scapegoat (which I am in my FOO 100%) and then I realize how sad the reality of FOO members caught in dysfunction must be.

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Pinkos

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2020, 02:29:20 PM »
Oh my gosh, Pinkos. That phone ambush sounds so awful! My blood pressure just went up reading about it.

It was a total of 6 hours. Two 3 hour sessions.  :aaauuugh:

Since there are a handful of us, this is apparently the norm in family therapy to give everyone a chance to talk. The therapist was completely useless; he wasn't even a family therapist. After they just dropped it with no warning, it took me a while to process it all and come to grips with what happened. Cause it's all the members of your family essentially gaslighting you and telling you you're the problem because they don't have a problem. I'm sure you are painfully familiar with the routine. After a 4 year break from them, it was like a wave had swept me back into the middle of the ocean.

I wish I could say my life is full and I'm content. My life is still a work in progress. It took me a while to grieve and just deal with the shock of going NC. It was an extremely, extremely triggering decision for me. However, compared to where I was 5 years ago dealing with them and being an emotional caretaker and a doormat........I have come a looooooooonnnng way for sure! I have become a more assertive, self-assured person. And I actually started to put my needs and feelings ahead of theirs for the first time in my life. I'm very proud of that progress, and I feel like they can probably sense that and feel threatened. Their obsession with having me visit scares me a bit to be honest.  :unsure:

In a way my momentary dance with LC and quick withdrawal has unintentionally served as a 'taste of their own medicine.' Because despite the ambush, I actually hoped  :-[ that they would try to reach out to me more and try to resume some form of contact. Especially because it was my birthday right after the last session. And it was crickets. And thinking about it last night, I feel like they must be feeling (in their dysfunctional, twisted way) what I was feeling back then and this trick was a way to regain some control.

Anyway, it's an awful thing to be in this role in one's family. I hope you've managed to stay grounded amidst all the waves. Of course it's not a straight line and sometimes it feels like we make huge strides and then we go backwards for a while and have to cover the same distance again! *sigh*

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2020, 09:44:55 PM »
6 hours. How awful is that...

It wasn't family therapy per se, but the worst conversation of my life was last year with my uPD sibling, and that lasted 7 hours. Also an ambush. At the end, after launching all manner of toxic and manipulative claims and projections at me, she stared at me coldly and said "that was a great therapy session." This was also after accusing me of using another sibling close to me (non-PD) of being a narcissist and using them as a therapist, and driving a wedge between us. It was chilling.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. You'd think family therapy would be safe but this definitely doesn't sound like a safe environment, and that therapist sounds like they failed at their job.

I'm becoming familiar with the routine, slowly... or more accurately, becoming reacquainted with it again. For years I thought my FOO were healthy despite all the trauma. But patterns I thought were temporary in my childhood have re-emerged and they are painfully familiar, it's like I forgot them but always knew they would happen again deep within my body. Lo and behold, they reemerged the past couple of years.

I know what you mean Pinkos: I think fullness and contentedness is something that is impossible to achieve permanently, but more so I mean that you have the ability to feel that self-assuredness, that rightful assertive ability, and that "putting yourself first" in a healthy way that they will never experience (or who knows, maybe they will, things do change, though it hurts and makes you vulnerable if you hope, just as you expressed).

Instead, they're fixated and obsessed with controlling you, and in a way they've completely trapped themselves! And will never feel the progress you've felt, as difficult and hard-earned as it may have been. And the sacrifice and work you've put in to get where you are now: to a freer space. They are not free.

Where you were 5 years ago is where I'm at now, on the precipice of going NC with all FOO (I'm NC already with the uPD sibling). And the only thing standing in my way is how triggering it is to do that, and how terrified I am of the consequences to follow. It's crazy now before some boundaries and LC so with full NC, I'm strapping myself in for a circus full of flying monkeys. I am very scared. I see it all clearly, I feel grounded, and I really can't "unsee" everything about FOO now, but my emotions are haywire and they're trying to find any reason to hold on to hope and to second guess my logic. And I still feel crazy sometimes. It's like my FOO is under my skin.

They're also obsessed and it scares me. UPD sib willing to go so far as to dig up dirt from my spouse's ex in order to mess up our relationship from afar and to "protect me" from him (our relationship is totally fine). I just found this out recently by happenstance, but my FOO also probably checks my Facebook page multiple times per day. It's a long story how I know this and it's bonkers and even seems a little creepy. I put my needs and feelings ahead of theirs for a short period of time and when it was at odds with what they wanted, they went nuts.

How awful to not get in touch and wish you happy birthday, to not be able to love and adore you despite your differences and not do precisely what they want, and not be able to love you unconditionally. That's just the lowest of the low. You deserve to have a family that wishes you happy birthday, no matter what.

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Pinkos

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2020, 01:42:31 PM »
Yes, their obsession with us and their determination to regain the upper hand can be terrifying indeed. I think that's the intent - they escalate/intimidate and take things too far as a way to force our hand. They are so threatened by any individuation on our part. And for the ones that are not so extreme but caught up in the gossiping, alliance forming, & fawning they are also terrified of the extremes so they are not going to jeopardize their position in the family (I read your other posts so this is partly in response to that).

It sounds like you are right on the edge. It's normal to hesitate and feel threatened by them. For me, it triggered all my abandonment fears and I had night terrors for a while. Cried a lot. Was panicky and vigilant for a long time. Depressed. I still get those flashbacks randomly but they're more manageable now. I did a lot of journaling. A lot, lot of processing. A lot of self-validation. A LOT! OVER AND OVER! A lot of verbal ventilation. A lot of angering. Grieving. It's a lot. And once you go through it,  you understand why your siblings do NOT want to go through it and choose to stay in the muck. And you also understand deep down that you can never go back and pretend anymore like you used to. Unless they do their own emotional work and get on the other side with you, there can be no genuine relationship. You are simply not the same person once you do this work.

Even for that short period when I broke NC with my father, he felt like a stranger to me. It felt like all my time growing up with them and all that time I spent fawning, trying to fix things, wishing for their love and support.......that was another version of Pinkos. I had to revert back to some version of that old Pinkos in order to re-engage. Because he's still trapped like you said in that (for me) older reality. It feels like riding a child's bike. You can try it but it's very awkward and uncomfortable. If I were to be myself, we wouldn't get past 5 minutes on the phone. And I choose not to confront them because I know it will only validate them -- because it gives them an opportunity to gaslight, outright dismiss me, or vent their resentment, which is all they did during the so-called family therapy. Denying them that opportunity gives me a small win.  ;)

Anyway, it's a process. Go at your own pace. IME you have to try with them until you're so bored and exhausted from trying. That's why I can't even muster the energy to be too upset about this latest prank, I am so disgusted and bored with their bullcrap at this point!! As painful as it was, I'm glad I did the "family therapy," it added to my sense of futility about it all. Which only helps in moving on!

 :bighug:
« Last Edit: July 12, 2020, 01:51:15 PM by Pinkos »

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Tricked by VM; uncle's had heart attack/at death's door
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2020, 06:50:41 PM »
Thank you, Pinkos! By the way, I feel I jacked your thread...I'm sorry!

Your family seems out and out obsessed with you for sure. I still can't get over this voicemail trick, I'm glad you can just laugh it off! If only they could see how ridiculous they are being. Don't they have hobbies? Jobs? Friends? All that time to think and plan and do this, seems like they could have been doing something much more enjoyable. But maybe that's the deal, is they enjoy it.

The threat of individuation is something I'm seeing clearer and clearer now, it's new to me that this is a thing PDs in FOO might try to squash, and I definitely see it in your situation too. In my case I've always felt independent and very unique as an individual, even had my FOO praise me for these traits, but I realize it was only acceptable when that level of individuality and separateness fit with what they are comfortable. It's so confusing. I thought getting married, starting successful businesses, buying a house, being my own person and even having some space from family, etc. would be a point of pride, not sabotage and destruction.

That's such a great analogy with the child's bike! It's awkward and painful to go back, you've outgrown it. It's amazing how so much changes in life and in the most unsuspecting situations and relationships, and people.

Thank you for sharing your emotional process through what you went through going no contact - abandonment fear, flashbacks (they're so sneaky!), insomnia, and some nightmares, and even not wanting to be alive anymore (though I wasn't exactly suicidal) were part and parcel to my process for the last 1.5 years. I'm not having a lot of that come back thankfully, except a deep pit of anxiety in my stomach sometimes that's like a sickness and shock at what FOO is doing, and feeling unsafe in interactions with them. But I seem to have a good sense of safety and gratitude for my present surroundings to anchor me when I didn't before, thank goodness. Plus, I live very far from them, that's good.

And yes a huge part of me thinks dialogue is futile, but another part of me wants to give it all one last chance, just to prove it all to myself and know for sure, to really get a sense of their character even if it's going to be painful. You put it extremely well. I literally can't wait for closure and more peace of mind, whatever it costs.

Thanks for sharing your story Pinkos, your perspective and experience helps me so much to know there is another side that's so much better and less turbulent (still turbulent in some ways but still better) when we stay strong....and that there's an end in sight when all the dust of confusion and toxicity settle within us into clarity!

 :bighug: