Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel

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Happypants

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Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« on: September 12, 2020, 12:30:32 PM »
**Long post with little point**Not really sure where to start or the point, i suppose it’s just a vent. Things have ramped up a little since lockdown easing - to anyone else, even my other half, it all sounds like nothing but i hit my tolerance threshold today and it was innocents who suffered.

I know I’m being groomed as future caretaker of my parents, something i had a suspicion of before but invalidated myself, but over the last few weeks the incidents, despite small and predictable, have been pretty telling.  TheIr usual overreactions on behalf of my GC brother (who takes nothing to do with my parents rubbish but has a good relationship with them) - they choose to see things i say as a slight against him at any given opportunity.  Them pushing that his family are too busy/shouldn’t be bothered etc but asking me to do things for them - that’s fine, i dont mind but i do object to being manipulated, guilt-tripped and minimised in the process of getting me to help. 

The clincher (in my opinion) and a sign of things to come was last month they bought a gazebo (for outside social distanced meeting up). They didn’t know exactly when it was going to arrive but I had told them to let me know if they needed help erecting it (I’m only 5 minutes drive away).  A couple of days later I had just got back from the beach with my dogs and was bathing one of them (having rolled in something) when i heard my phone ringing, so i checked when finished 5 minutes later.  While listening to the voicemail i realised there was a message on the home phone - the mobile message was my panicked mother saying my father was trying to erect the gazebo by himself, that he was struggling and to please call back (back story - he has a bad heart, no patience in waiting for help, and gets angry and frustrated easily). As i was mid way through listening to the home phone message (another message) , my mobile rang again - this was 3 phone calls in the space of 5 minutes about something that ultimately wasnt urgent (if you discount his impatience and lack of restraint - he could have waited, but no, this was all on me to drop everything and get there asap).  I answered, she was seething and fake over-apologetic at the same time (an interesting skill), asking me to come up and help before he hurts himself (because he isn’t capable of waiting  :roll:).  I went up, helped, said “no thanks” approx 25 times to an offer of a drink (that is no exaggeration), eventually gave in and had a drink.  Major alarm bells, they’ve done similar in the past (she had emotionally blackmailed me using my fathers heart issue before), but this felt like a test.

There have been a few incidents over the last couple of weeks re boosting GC bro and his family to me whilst simultaneously minimising my life and devaluing my time (otherwise known as letting me know my position).  I thought i was getting a handle on it, but i had a two week holiday and although she was in touch regularly by text (random excuses using tenuous links between things), i was relatively free of them.  But they are back full throttle and I’m feeling pressure to do something, nip it in the bud, new boundaries.

Today i took my dogs to the beach having spent all morning wallowing in my SG state and going over and over how i could have responded (yes, i know, boundaries) when they remove any connotations of value from my time and life in general for the purpose of grooming their future carer.  I wasn’t in a good place, not angry but just that feeling as if you dont have any control over any aspect of your life and how you feel.  Then one of my dogs took off (this didn’t help the feeling of lack of control) and i could see her making a beeline for where i knew there was a rotting seal, waaaaaay off in the distance.  By the time i got to her, i was absolutely furious, not because she’d done anything wrong in rolling in it (dogs don’t do anything “wrong” imo, they just do doggy things that are inconvenient to us), but because i just felt completely useless, incapable, idiotic, powerless, etc The whole situation just put the seal (pardon the pun) on the whole narrative I’d been going over all morning. I felt like i was everything they subtly tell me i am, that they need me to be.  And, i was angry, the immature anger that my father experiences, the anger that he denies in himself and tries to cover with passive aggression, backhanding compliments and dismissive remarks (usually aimed at me). 

I put her on a lead walking downwind behind her 🤮 , let my other dog have a run, took them back to the car, put her on a towel in the car with a lie-and-stay request that lasted all of 30 seconds, came home and bathed her.  The entire house is honking despite bathing her 3 times, the car seat covers are cold wash only ( :doh: )

My first thought when I’d finished clearing up the stinking mess of towels, seat covers, etc?  “Please phone me, mother and father.  Please phone me now, give me an excuse to let it all out once and for all!”  They didn’t thankfully.  My dogs are looking at me sheepishly, they think I’m angry at them and that is breaking my heart in two.  I think it’s time to take another look at the situation. Their agenda and tactics are a little more nuanced than previously  :stars:
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 12:34:49 PM by Happypants »

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Hepatica

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2020, 02:55:29 PM »
Happypants, as hard as this is your instincts are kicking in and giving you the sign. Anger is not a bad thing. It is a boundary setting emotion. I feel for you, because, I know esp. being 5 mins away and in the daughter role (aka carer) they will be expecting you to behave they way they imagine it, and you know it isn't going to go that way.

And you also probably know setting boundaries will shove you further in the SG role. Ugh. I really get it.

I can only say that I have gone and am going thru it bc my parents are elderly and disordered and live very close to me. They can show up at any time and they will. Always uninvited. And when my mom went into hospital the expected me to do way more than I would ever agree to. (The hospital is 5 mins away.) I had to grow a very thick skin over the years to learn not to care about the rumour mill that told everybody I was the selfish daughter snubbing her poor, sick, old parents.

I have grown a thick skin though. The anger I feel has actually been the saving grace for me. I recommend keeping a list of everything they do that's abusive from this point on and keep it handy to review, so abuse amnesia doesn't set in, as it did with me. Brush up on all the reasons you know they are disordered. Get armoured. And stand by yourself the way you would your best friend or partner.

And don't react to them. Do nothing when they lash out. Keep your karma clean. Don't give them stories to spin. Just state your boundary clearly in one sentence and get out quick until they get used to it. If they behave badly after that, it's on them. People have seen how bad my parents behave over time. I think they must, even thought my parents and sister spun stories, people do see how disordered my family is and they also see how peaceful I have behaved, never lashing back, just staying the course with my boundaries.

Good luck. I really understand.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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Happypants

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2020, 04:12:28 PM »
Hepatica, thank you.  I don’t know where to begin in responding.  But this ‘setting boundaries will shove you further in the SG role’ is a huge issue and one I’ve experienced already. One of the unmentioned scenarios was my mother saying they were planning to drop in on the way past but saw my car wasn’t there so thought i was out - my car was being serviced, but i stole myself to say “probably just as well” seeing as I’d already told her i was up against 2 deadlines  -  i don’t think that went down well. Thanks for suggesting a list - i started writing one 10 years ago but tore it up during a self-invalidating moment before i understood the patterns of manipulation.  I will start another as i do use up a lot of mental energy making sure i remember every incident when I’m questioning myself.  Thankfully, there are a few absolutely unmistakeable crackers i can call upon any time.  All i know is that I’m not progressing through life how i should and that all flaws considered, i don’t wish any bad on anyone, i don’t have the energy or inclination to manipulate and i just want a quiet life.  I’m sorry you’re going through the same scenarios, and thank you so much for passing on what you’ve learnt x

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Hepatica

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 04:39:10 PM »
I'm so sorry. I feel exactly like that, just wanting peace and not wanting to hurt anyone. I don't know your parents and your situation, but I could be wrong about how they react to boundaries. Maybe they will handle them okay? I hope so.

I think the thing that I've come to accept is even if I am being the best daughter it's never good enough, bc I've always been the SG daughter. (My sister is GC.) I tried to be really really good when my Mom got out of hospital but nothing I did was good enough. My father has even told people I don't give birthday cards, when the week before I had went over and dropped off a card and flowers for his birthday. It doesn't matter what I do, they make me look terrible.

So at that point I was like eff it. If I'm going to be the bad guy, fine. I really have come to a point where I don't care what they think or say. It's a miracle and it's exhaustion. I really don't care. Because they are just mean, mean, mean and I know that I am a decent person. It's good that you know that all you want is a quiet life and no manipulation. That's where you begin.

Maybe imagine how you want life to look like, your best scenario and put your energy into that so much that you get closer and closer to it. Your parents gave you a life to live. That's where I start. I have failed miserably at making them happy, so now I'll try to see if I can make myself happy or at least peaceful.

You are not the bad guy here. You just want what is right. It is okay to disappoint them. I promise you. You can never make disordered people happy. They will drag us down and the only way to break the pattern is to distance, distance, distance. Otherwise they make us sick.

“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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Hepatica

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 09:49:07 PM »
HappyPants, wanted to add that I'm reading the book But It's Your Family by Dr. Sherrie Campbell. I'm just finishing it now and it's really helped me in regards to all of this.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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MamaDryad

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2020, 04:47:48 PM »
Sometimes it's useful to differentiate types of SG. Because there are two different common SG/GC setups.

In the first, the SG is treated as incompetent, talked down to/about, generally treated poorly by the family, while the GC is praised as super competent and wonderful. In this setup, very little is expected of the SG (besides showing up to be abused if they are still in contact).

In the second, the GC is the one who is incompetent, but never blamed for it, just coddled, while the SG is the responsible one who does all the crap work and never gets any thanks for it. This setup is a lot more work for the SG, though maybe less overtly humiliating and painful.

In my experience, most families have a mix of the two going, because PDs are nothing if not consistently inconsistent!

It sounds like right now, your family's mixture is leaning toward the second setup. Setting boundaries might well shift the balance toward the first one, but honestly, it's probably a better place to be, just in terms of the quality of your own life.

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Happypants

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2020, 06:38:18 AM »
Again, thanks Hepatica.  I feel like there’s always a push-pull of them keeping me near to help but struggling to cover disdain, although my father does soften a little towards me when he has a drink. They have very different tactics to keep me in my place.  Thankfully, I’ve gradually gotten over a health issue that limited my ability to work and get around, so although I’m in a major dip at the moment where my parents are concerned, I’m living more of a life.  It’ll be interesting to see the dynamics change when they can’t argue my reasons for not being available at times.  Though I’m sure they’ll try. Distance indeed.

MamaDryad, thanks.  I hadn’t realised there were two common SG/GC setups.  My situation definitely falls mostly within the first, but a lot IS expected of me in the sense that my time/life are considered less valuable and the purpose of a lot of the chat is to make me believe that.  So it’s me who is called upon to help, they “don’t want to bother” GC and family. GC does have a busy life, and to be honest, I’m lucky in comparison to other SGs in the sense that he doesn’t play along with their rubbish despite having a great relationship with them.  He has believed the smear campaign in the past, but i think he has perhaps realised what goes on.  I’ll never know.  My belief is if i increase/strengthen my boundaries with my future in mind, my relationship with GC and his family will be affected (mother is behind the smear campaign and is a master at it).  But i believe it’s a risk I’ll need to take.

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Hepatica

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2020, 12:58:36 PM »
HappyPants, sorry to hear about your health issue but glad you're on the mend. I think the good thing in all of this, for all of us here, is we have education about personality disorders and toxic families, and therefore a new perspective. (I know I mentioned the But It's Your Family book already) but it is a good book to frame what we're going thru in a new way - that we don't have to put up with anyone's abuse, even the overt or covert abuse of our FOO. My mind grapples with guilt around this and reading that book really helped me set that aside. I'll keep revisiting it for sure.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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Happypants

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Re: Feeling as helpless as they’d like me to feel
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2020, 01:44:27 PM »
Thanks Hepatica, I’ll definitely download it.  The more validation, the better  :yes: