Wondering how I ever learnt to make my own decisions or know what consent was

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Lisa

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Hi All!

Since I last wrote on here, I have only had messages from my Mom in a group chat with my siblings about mundane things that barely need a response, that's my happiest level of communication and was a lovely reprieve!

Back in July she completely ignored me saying I was too busy in August for her to visit and that I was thinking of a trip back to her area fall or winter.  Well this week she finally acknowledged that message and texted me "when are you coming in the fall".  I told her that I changed my plans and then tried to change the topic to the weather as she had been sending a lot of weather related messages in the group chat.  She responded "then we need to arrange for me to come visit you".  I explained that the reason I changed my mind on visiting back her way is because I don't feel comfortable with COVID numbers right now, so I also don't feel comfortable with her travelling to see me.
She starts rambling about how she's not worried about it and she's double vaxxed and has to wear a mask on the plane so she's not worried about it all and she has it planned where she will fly out of.  I simply repeated that I am not ok with it.
She put laughing faces and said she was just trying to convince me and I can't blame her for that.
 :aaauuugh:

This simple exchange is blowing my mind.  How she completely dismissed and didn't even acknowledge my feelings about health and safety and her entitlement to try and convince me to go along with what she wants!  I've been really thinking about this and other growing up experiences and wondering how I ever learnt to make decisions for myself or trust myself or understand what consent is.

I'm thinking of how I put up with and went along with terrible things people did to me.  Of course I felt like I had no voice or what I want didn't matter.

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JollyJazz

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I'm so sorry to hear this. It's great that you are noticing these things though. With awareness comes healing but I really hear you, it's painful to have your feelings and wishes ignored and invalidated.

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Cat of the Canals

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This sounds so familiar, Lisa. When we cited COVID as the reason we weren't ready to plan any visits with PDmil, she told my husband, "COVID IS OVER!" She'd been vaccinated, but her husband and neither my husband nor myself had been. So it was "over" for her and I guess that's really all that matters to her. Our safety and concerns are meaningless (even though some of that concern extends to her, as she is the oldest of all of us and has underlying health issues.)

And I've had the same thoughts as the title of your post with my own PDmom as well. I wonder how I ever learned to have boundaries. Or how I ever learned to say no. My mother pretty much overtly taught me as a child that if someone wanted me to do something, and I was physically capable of doing so, I should do it. The notion that I should have a choice or a voice was not considered. She trained me to be a perfect people pleaser, ready to ask, "How high?" when she or anyone else told me to jump. And it's taken years for me to figure out how to simply say, "NO" without feeling guilty. The irony is that she likes to think of herself as a mega-feminist.  :roll:

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AlisonWonder

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I'm sorry you had to go through all that, OP, and I know how it feels to have emails ignored as if they never happened.  It's not just painful, it's very confusing as well.

It took me many years but I finally realised that a lot of the "backbone" I have, comes from the school I was conditioned to believe I hated so much.  Generally speaking, they treated me like everyone else.

I hope you find the next piece of your personal puzzle soon :)
child of the 60s, clinically disturbed mother, responsible cptsd father, much-older abusive siblings

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LemonLime

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Wow, I can relate to so much of what has been written already.  It's a miracle we've all come as far as we have.

Cat of Canals, similar to what you so eloquently stated, my mom (although not PD but very codependent, enmeshed, and without boundaries) taught me that I HAD to do whatever anyone else wanted me to do.  There was a boy in elementary school who called me several times a week at night, and just wanted to talk.  He had a huge crush on me and I didn't have a crush on him.   Mom would answer the phone and hand the phone to me, looking a bit apologetic but totally hapless.  Like, what else can I do but hand the phone to you?  He wants to talk to you.
He kept me on the phone for an hour at a time, and I politely listened to whatever he wanted to talk about.  I felt guilty because he seemed a bit lost.  But never did my mom talk to me and tell me that "hey, I know Mark is lonely and that he really likes you, but you have the right to put up boundaries around your "relationship" with him.  You can tell him not to call, or that you can only speak for 5 minutes".   Never.   So I just spent hours on the phone, miserable, learning that the worst thing in the world was to make someone ELSE embarrassed or uncomfortable.   
She often recalls a time when she and my sister and I were in the car with a family friend who was driving way too fast.  My mom tells how she was so scared for herself and her children.  But what could she do?   She couldn't possibly tell a man, a family friend, that she was uncomfortable and would he please slow down.  I'm sure he would have.   So she continues to regale the family with stories like that, oblivious to the fact that the lesson for her two daughters at that time was:  even if your life is in danger, don't make a scene.

OMG.   It makes me mad if I think about it too long.   It's taken me so so long to undo the damage.

We're on our way, though.  All of us.  We are changing the course of our history and the story of the people who know us.

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Cat of the Canals

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So I just spent hours on the phone, miserable, learning that the worst thing in the world was to make someone ELSE embarrassed or uncomfortable.   

OMG, yes! I had a very clingy neighborhood "friend" who my mom would just invite over on my behalf without asking me. When I told my mom that sometimes I didn't want to play with this girl, she accused me of being unkind and trotted out her usual guilt trip: "It means so much to her." (The subtext I only realized later is that the fact that having personal space and the ability to decide who I'll spend time with and when meant something to me was inconsequential. My needs are always secondary.)

It's taken me most of my lifetime to undo my mother's lesson that "nice" means never saying "no, thank you."