Four Years of Freedom from Reunions

  • 8 Replies
  • 727 Views
*

Big Bear

  • New Member
  • *
  • 3
Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« on: May 09, 2021, 02:25:40 AM »
     When I started to realize the extent of personality disorders in my family of origin (FOO), I started to lose interest in spending time with my family members.  While I still visit my parents occasionally, it has been over four years now since I have attended any family reunions.
     At first it was difficult to give up these times to get together; however, now I actually feel relieved to avoid the drama and stress that these would inevitably entail.  To summarize the situation, my mother and sister are at the core of the dysfunction.  My father and brother and unwilling or unable to improve the situation. 
     My mother is a deeply insecure person who avoids directly talking with others when disagreements or problems arise.  Instead, she criticizes others behind their backs, and she has done this to all the other members of my FOO.  At times she resorts to flattery and fake affirmation while behind your back she will complain to anyone who will listen about how upsetting the situation is for her.  For example, a family member will ask if she could stay at her house.  She says that she would love to have her stay and is looking forward to the visit.  Then, she turns to me and complains about how exhausting it is to have company and how she wishes that the guest would stay at someone elseís house!  Or she will compliment someone to his face and then turn around and ruthlessly criticize him to others. 
     I have privately confronted my mother about her tendency to talk harshly about people behind their backs and implored her to simply address issues directly with the person involved.  I believe that the best policy is to be honest with friends and family.  However, these habits are so deeply ingrained that she appears unable or unwilling to change.
     My sister is a wounded narcissist who is incapable of experiencing empathy.  She will commit to plans and then change them at the drop of a hat with no concern for the impact this could have on others.  She expects to be the center of attention and only accepts praise and compliments from others.  She will often laugh at the misfortune of others.  She seems more concerned with keeping up appearances than being a genuine person.  I have tried my best to connect with her, but to no avail.  I have resigned myself to the reality that keeping up with this type of person is not worth the effort.  She has planned some family reunions over the past few years, but I simply donít attend.  At best they are uncomfortable and at worst they become full of drama.  It helps that my siblings live far away.  The expense of travel makes it easy for me to simply avoid these reunions.  I would rather spend my time-off enjoying my wife and kids.  There is also so much within my state that I enjoy visiting during my vacations.
     
     At times I mourn the fact that my family is not as close as I would like.  However, I know that accepting my reality is the best thing for my health and well-being. 

sincerely,
Big Bear

*

Starboard Song

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 3514
  • Be good. Be strong.
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2021, 08:48:14 AM »
Well done.

We have great roles in this world, like Rhett Butler, Rick Blaine, Indiana Jones, and mother-in-law. And we really love the roles and want them in our lives. And often, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, or Harrison Ford is picked by casting. In my case, the role of mother-in-law was terribly miscast.

So I can want a mother-in-law, and my DW can think with sweet nostalgia about the role of mother, while neither of us want to see this particular movie again.

It is that way with all family. And I encourage us to realize the enormous value of even a cranky, weird family. But when it is pervasively destructive of your peace, it is right for you to carve space out: sit at the back of the theatre, just read the reviews, or flat-out don't go.

Did I stretch my metaphor too far?
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

*

stowaway77

  • New Member
  • *
  • 6
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2021, 12:58:29 AM »
I am in a very similar situation to you, except my mom would freely express her displeasure at others through passive aggressive language. It's the only way she knows how to communicate.

Well done for setting your boundaries. I've come to the conclusion that there is no point in going to family reunions where I'll feel my sister's competitiveness and put-downs at every turn, and be blasted with my mom's passive aggressiveness. My other siblings are too busy trying to keep the peace that there is no genuine connection at any of these events. Like you said, the time is better spent on people who actually want to build you up rather than tear you down. Any info I share with my enabling siblings eventually reach my NPD mom and sister so I've reduced contact with them too. It feels very empty at first, but you'll use the time you would've otherwise spent on them, to build better relationships, and it will become easier with time (at least that's what I'm aiming for).


*

nanotech

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 867
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2021, 09:37:26 AM »
I am in a very similar situation to you, except my mom would freely express her displeasure at others through passive aggressive language. It's the only way she knows how to communicate.

Well done for setting your boundaries. I've come to the conclusion that there is no point in going to family reunions where I'll feel my sister's competitiveness and put-downs at every turn, and be blasted with my mom's passive aggressiveness. My other siblings are too busy trying to keep the peace that there is no genuine connection at any of these events. Like you said, the time is better spent on people who actually want to build you up rather than tear you down. Any info I share with my enabling siblings eventually reach my NPD mom and sister so I've reduced contact with them too. It feels very empty at first, but you'll use the time you would've otherwise spent on them, to build better relationships, and it will become easier with time (at least that's what I'm aiming for).
Stowaway  so accurately describes my family set up. I no longer feel obliged to attend either. Iím glad you are out of it too.
I used to become so anxious and stressed leading up to a family party. My FOC were affected.
Stowaway talks of Ď having no genuine connectioní. with these family members.
I used to force myself to attend them. I actually thought I had to?  Itís the old story about the elephant and the leg rope. 
Then I did a lot of work on myself.   8-)
Now,  I really donít care what they think of me if I donít go.
 Thatís been a huge liberty for me.  :fireworks:

PDs like to hunt in packs, and so for them thereís nothing to beat a Ďgoodí family reunion for gaining Nsupply from us.
Party? What party?  I seems so Ďniceí on the surface.
Mine were stuffed with passive aggressiveness, blatant ghosting, nasty digs, indirect and direct mocking, plus  blame, shame and guilt -invoking stories told.
About ME.
Not.
Fun.

To be quite honest, thereís no pleasing them anyway, I was devalued/ discarded anyway, and I came to recognise the love- bombing for what it was, a regular intermittent reward system to keep me in their view, keep me seeking the respect and approval they were never going to give.
Good for you for getting free. Good for all of us.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 09:40:43 AM by nanotech »

*

yarlanzey

  • New Member
  • *
  • 13
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2021, 02:15:12 PM »
I'll also be skipping most, or all, future reunions, most likely.

It's kind of annoying that I just have to do this no contact / limited contact thing without explaining why (even to relatively innocent family members), but that's the way it is I suppose.

I dunno. Whatever.

*

Call Me Cordelia

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 1403
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2021, 02:29:13 PM »
 :yeahthat:

Iím in the same boat. I decided simply to ghost everyone in the extended family. The attempts at contact were almost nonexistent to begin with but they didnít really do me any harm either.

Youíre right, itís the way it is. It is sad but Iím freed up to pursue safe and fulfilling relationships, which I was convinced my extended family had a very poor chance of ever being.

*

Big Bear

  • New Member
  • *
  • 3
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2021, 01:50:32 AM »
Greetings,

Like some of you may have experienced, my mother is strongly passive-aggressive.  This has made problems in my family simply inevitable.  No amount of talking, planning, or trying to remedy the deeper problems seems to do anything.  The best I can do is minimize my communication to her with medium chill answers.  At times I have to go against my tendency to talk through issues and try really hard to keep silent, but this seems to work the best.  In fact, when I am able to medium chill, I am often surprised how effective it is.  I have given up hope of having "adult" relationships with my parents and siblings.  They seem to be stuck in disordered habits and ways of interacting.  I don't know why they appear to "enjoy" spending time together.  I suppose that they must derive something from these tension-filled events.  Maybe it's about keeping up appearances?  Living a fake life?  Saying yes to things they don't want to do out of fear of disappointing someone?  I also don't understand why my brother is so committed to being a flying monkey.  I have long thought that he was the relatively healthy and normal one.  I guess that he feels "needed" in this role?  I wish that I could talk him out of the endless triangulation but I guess that I am better off just medium chilling.  Anything I say would probably just end up in the wrong hands anyways!  So, I will continue to simply try my best to avoid these conversations, keep my distance, and continue the VLC and medium chill with my entire FOO. 

I have had to let go of trying to "fix" my family members and simply let them live their lives while I continue to live my own life increasing independently.  I guess that these roles had been cast poorly!

I guess that I will just skip out on this movie . . . for the next several years!

Big Bear

*

The Inner Light

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 31
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2021, 01:28:43 PM »
I feel everyone's pain about family reunions being a negative experience due to my uNPD dad and sister.  We've made a decision to avoid going to our paternal family reunions anymore.  It's going to be difficult because my mom died 3.5 years ago and my uNPD dad guilt-bombs us all the time.  A huge guilt-bomb is that he wants us to go so he can ride with us for a 9 hour round trip so he can see his extended relatives.  9 hours in a car with dad...Wow.  Thankfully I have an aunt and uncle that live five minutes from him and they go to the reunion so he can ride with them if he wants to go.  Still we get the guilt-bombs about it.

My maternal relatives always have a summer reunion.  None of us (dad, sister or me) got an invite this year.  I'm convinced that my maternal relatives (who are great people and not a narcissist among them) didn't invite any of us because they're lumping us all together (dad, sister and me) and don't want my dad or sister there.  My dad told one of my maternal uncles at one of these a few years back that he (maternal uncle) will be going to hell because he doesn't go to church enough. 

I know reaching out to my paternal relatives to explain our position wouldn't help because they enable my dad or stick by his side (e.g. he had a hard life, he's got good qualities, nobody is perfect, that's just how he is, etc).

*

nanotech

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 867
Re: Four Years of Freedom from Reunions
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2021, 12:37:11 PM »
Hugs to everyone on this thread.
Itís fun and games for me next year with Ndadís 90th coming up.
If we were a normal family weíd be planning the party together and splitting the cost. As things ARE, Ndad will plan at least three parties, spaced throughout the year, and we will be expected to contribute to and attend two. ( He keeps his golf friends separate and has a party just for them). Everything is on dadís terms. This is what he did ten years ago.
At his 80th someone chose the wrong meal, which left my gluten intolerant auntie with NO meal. Ndad had arranged the food orders and due to my new medium chill approach, I had not let myself get involved.
It was cringeworthy. My clearly fuming dad stalked round from table to table with his notepad, interrogating his own guests, trying to Ďdiscover who was to blameí
Of course an attempt was made to target my FOC as the culprits.  :roll: :stars:
Once it was established that it was a member of GoldenchildN brotherís wifeís family, I was firmly told the matter was closed.
Not going to either party next year.