Experiments in validation

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Experiments in validation
« on: November 05, 2020, 06:42:10 AM »
Apologies, Iím posting rather a lot just now but i just sense that Iím heading for a crossroads soon where in order to no longer betray myself i may need to sacrifice relationships that do matter very much to me. Brief backstory: possibility of me being subtly groomed for a caregiving role for parent/s.

Weíve been in touch every day (with two exceptions) since my mother took ill nearly a month ago - sheís been out of hospital a couple of weeks and on the mend but needing to work on her mobility along with a couple of long term problems that genuinely cause her discomfort. My dad isnít in the best of health but they are coping and COVID restrictions here make things simple at the moment with regard to decisions about myself and GC helping.

As time has gone on, Iíve been the one to contact them rather than the other way around for updates by phone (Iím okay-ish with doing this as they need supplies and i want to know theyíre ok). I let one day slip a couple of weeks ago despite having a text update from him and me replying. He called in the evening (we donít normally talk in the evening) and i could tell he was annoyed with me for not having called.  At the time i thought ďfair enoughĒ as things were still in turmoil, although i didnít guilt myself as I had good mental health reasons for not wanting to speak to them. 

 One day at the weekend i again didnít phone them - they are getting along better and in a routine, plus there were things going on with OH which needed discussing and it was getting to early evening when i realised a message had just been left.  It was my dad sounding incredibly waify (i feel so terribly describing him like that) saying sheíd had a bad night the night before and that other pre-existing health issues were playing up.  I called back approx 15 mins after the message was left, he answered literally singing copying his ringtone and full of the joys  :stars: I spoke to him, he was in a jokey mood, then spoke to my mother who also sounded extremely upbeat  :-\  AND, itís probably worth mentioning that GC bro and his family had visited them that day too, so obviously there was a lot of scope for comparison and annoyance towards scapegoat me  :roll: GC and his wife had cleared up autumn leaves in mum and dadís garden, and apparently it was ďa shameĒ for GC after doing it as more leaves would fall  :stars:

Two days ago i called mid morning (i pre-planned it to suit my day and know Iíd done my duty), then yesterday i dropped in to see them and drop off some supplies.  I kept it light, they were fine and in good spirits, albeit both tired.  I asked if theyíd spoken to GC bro and my dad crossed his arms (defensively??) and said that he was busy (following a carbon-copy of my dadís career path) on day shift  :stars: (although admittedly heís covering for a colleague too). Dad quickly changed the subject. I offered to do a couple of things to which they said no thanks, then i left on good terms (that does happen a lot giving me a false sense of security).

So today i plan to not text, not call, and not visit (just like GC - not judging, itís normal to go without contacting parents for a few days, just not permitted for me to do likewise). Iíll see what happens, whether there are any waify voicemails today/tomorrow, any guilt trips, etc In a roundabout way, Iíll know that if they react negatively itís probably a sign that Iíve behaved as any normal person would be expected to under the circumstances. Why does feeling in control of my own life need to feel pre-meditated and like a game? :'(



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Re: Experiments in validation
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2020, 03:02:27 PM »
Brief backstory: possibility of me being subtly groomed for a caregiving role for parent/s.

can be discussed ahead of time with all siblings:  who buys groceries, drives them to appts, do repairs at house, write their bills/do banking, etc

also,  if it becomes unsafe for them @ home, do you get caregivers to stay overnight, make meals, help them shower OR do they go to assisted living or long term care facility

nondysfunctional parents become very needy as they age
however, a PD parent will have 3X that neediness esp. if they have always been a needy person

be prepared for a lot of denial
(I'm ok, I can drive even if Drs say "no they can't drive")

best to you

« Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 03:18:18 PM by Jolie40 »
be good to yourself



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Re: Experiments in validation
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2020, 03:36:16 PM »
Hi Happypants,

Don't worry about posting as much as you need to. So many of us can relate to what you're going through and I know how much it helps to write it out and get such great support. I also find that I learn when I read other's posts about this subject especially (aging, ill parents.)

You are in the thick of it with you parents and I know how hard that is. I like how you are taking a mental step back and very carefully observing to see patterns and expectations. Something in you is being careful because you know these people well and that's good.

Keep checking in on how you are feeling. If you begin to notice guilt and irritation then take a pause and step back and re-evaluate. I think we have to always look at our situation thru the lens of the trauma we are recovering from as well as their physical and mental health requirements.

The bottom line though is we don't have to take care of our toxic parents. There are professionals who are trained and paid to step in and help and they are not triggered in the way we are as their children. It is your parents responsibility to manage their emotions and how they treat other people, including their children. A natural consequence for treating someone badly is they back away.

I guess finding the sweet spot is what we seek when get to this stage of their life. Is dropping off groceries and saying you have to go all you can manage? Is fast forwarding thru phone messages or having someone else listen to them to get the gist of an option? Find what feels best.

If it gets too much though, you'll know. You'll hit overwhelm and realize it and if this happens it is OK to go into maximum self-care mode and back away completely. If someone guilts you about this, you have to stand by yourself and be your best ally. Be your own best advocate and let go of that FOG. If someone does not respect your boundary that is the red flag  where you consider what needs to do next. It's a hard place to be but with PD parents it's not an unusual place to get.

As survivors we always have to consider our old trauma and healing bc otherwise the PD will take advantage.

It's so hard. I know bc I've been going thru it with my elderly parents. I continued to try to maintain limited contact with them but every time I went it was an opportunity for my uNPD father to pout, ignore and punish me bc I wasn't doing exactly what he wanted. I had been doing my best to manage my C-PTSD around them AND help them and that was very damaging to me. My parents had no idea how much pain I was in, or if they did, they didn't care. I had to choose my own self-care finally after a last straw experience with my uNPD father.

This may not happen with you. Please though, keep your recovery at the forefront of your mind.

Keep posting whenever you need to. I know how hard this experience is, and I wish I had had this forum when I was going through it.

« Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 03:40:13 PM by Hepatica »
ďThere 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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Re: Experiments in validation
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2020, 06:33:50 PM »
Why does feeling in control of my own life need to feel pre-meditated and like a game? :'(

I hate that feeling, too.  You'd think that we could just be ourselves, our most authentic selves, around our parents.  Unfortunately, PD parents create an alternate reality.  They may lie, exaggerate, gaslight, manipulate, whatever, in order to create their version of the world.  Some of the "rules" in their world are ridiculous, such as the rule that "a good daughter must call every day, no matter what."  To counteract this, we need boundaries, and boundaries need to be well thought out and deliberate.  We need to detach and observe their behavior and then remember how best to react.  It can feel exhausting at times.  That is why self-care is so important.  Take time for yourself, back off when you need to, and don't feel obligated to call every day or to care for them totally on their terms.

 Do what you are willing to do, not what they unreasonably expect you to do.  Remember that you are not obligated to explain yourself.  When they ask why didn't you call? I was busy.  Why can't you do xyz?  Well, I just can't right now.  And I know, that is all easier said than done.  So post here as often as you need to, there is so much good advice on this forum.



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Re: Experiments in validation
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2020, 08:13:49 AM »
Jolie40 - thanks for the advice.  I do need to sit down and decide what Iím willing to do.  Thereís an additional unknown in that my brother has mentioned in the past he might move his family abroad when he retires (which will be within the next year or two) ďdepending on what is happening with our parentsĒ. Iím unsure what he means by that but he did say to my father that they could move with them and theyíd look after them - heís not the type to avoid responsibility at all.  BUT, itís unlikely my parents would move and even more unlikely that theyíd want to hinder his life in any way.  Whatever i decide needs to be with the possibility of a future where Iím the only one in the country left with my parents.  Your reply has really reinforced that i need to decide sooner rather than later where i choose to stand in all this. Thanks for the kick up the bum x

Hepatica - thanks, and Iím so sorry you didnt have this forum when you needed it  :'( I hope you get a lot out of it now as you move on x Yes, that seemingly unobtainable ďsweet spotĒ is the crux of it all - i think establishing my limit (ie the limit of my flexibility, time and putting my own life on the back burner) is crucial, but having the boundaries in place so they know that operating at that limit isnt available routinely.  But the sweet spot must also take into account my desire to help and thatís where Iím struggling. I guess thatís what i need to figure because once i start helping itíll be difficult to go back.

Sneezy - Thank you. Isnít it amazing how easy it is to get sucked back into that alternate reality without realising?  :stars: ďBoundaries need to be well thought out and deliberateĒ - this is so important.  I can look back on areas where i realise theyíve stopped doing certain things and can pretty much trace it back to an uncomfortable experience of setting of boundaries, either verbally challenging them or simply not rising to meet expectation.  I believe successful boundaries mean discomfort, whereas Iíve also emotionally rallied against them (my parents) in the past, thinking i was putting boundaries in place, and all it did was give them ammunition.  Thanks for giving me some clarity on this x

Update - As planned, i didnít call them on Thursday (after visiting them on Wednesday), but received a funny political meme via messenger from my father on Thursday evening.  I didnít respond (that was excruciating). On Friday morning i messaged asking how my mother is and if they needed anything (this, Iím happy to do) and received a short, slightly formal answer ending in ďhave a good dayĒ, so that was fine. I had planned to call yesterday evening (as i was comfortable with that time frame setting a precedence for the time being given their circumstances), but fireworks plus nervous dog meant we had classic fm blaring from 5pm, so i didnt call.  I received another funny political meme from my father early evening, i responded, he responded, then that was it.  Iíll call them today. Iíll also, from now on, give myself the same consideration that they give my GC brother with regards to their expectations of him and see how that goes - i predict it wonít go well but hopefully Iím proven wrong.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2020, 08:21:09 AM by Happypants »