Jul
23

The Fear of Setting Personal Boundaries

By

Setting personal boundaries
The Ring

“Drawing boundaries is one of the hardest things that we do. We are so afraid of the consequences of standing up to a controller in our lives. I was afraid that if I stood up to my mom, I would never get the diamond dinner ring that she promised would be mine. I realize that this sounds really “off” to me today.” Darlene Ouimet

That was the comment that I posted on the facebook page for this blog yesterday and it generated a fantastic discussion, so here is the long version of it. I was so afraid of my Mother but if you had asked me why, I could not have come up with an answer but lets just say that our mother daughter relationship was one sided at the best of times.

I didn’t give much conscious thought to why I let people walk all over me. I had these fears that I didn’t totally understand about what would happen if I told my mother that I was sick of her pushing me around. She had this diamond dinner ring that she had made for herself after my parents divorced. It was made out of the diamonds from her weddings rings from my father. I loved it for its sentimental value, something left over from their marriage, and it was a beautiful ring too and my mother promised me that it would be mine one day.

When my mother re-married I hoped that she would give me the ring, but instead she kind of dangled it in front of me for the next 16 years or so. I didn’t think much about it, until one day when I was visiting her and we were sitting on her bed looking through her jewellery box.  The ring was in there. She hadn’t worn it for years but she still didn’t want me to have it. I tried it on; it was such a pretty ring, and it fit me just right. After a few minutes, I put it back in the jewellery box, but my mother didn’t notice. She started frantically looking around. She looked at my pockets; I am guessing to see if I had snuck it into my pocket when she wasn’t looking. She looked all around the bed and floor and since I realized that she thought I had taken the ring, I just sat there stunned, not saying a word.  Finally she looked at me and in a stormy voice she asked “Darlene, where is MY ring?”  I told her it was in her jewellery box. Before she even looked in the box she demanded  “WHERE?”

Something in me snapped that day. She knew I wanted that ring, and she used it against me, but now she was willing to think that I might steal it to get it! I was hurt but I was disgusted too. She had no reason to think that I might just take it. I have never done anything like that! I would have understood if she wanted to keep the ring for her own sentimental reason, but to taunt me with it, and then accuse me of stealing it was just too much. I vowed that I would never want that darn ring again.

So it was interesting when she gave it to me for my birthday a year or so later. Why did she decide to give me the ring then? I had finally decided that I didn’t want it. Could it be that the ring didn’t serve her purpose anymore and that the ring no longer had any power over me?

By then I was in therapy and well into what I call in my head “the real process of recovery”. I remember opening the gift box and thinking my first thought which was “OH MY GOSH she finally gave me THE RING”… and my second thought “well you just gave me the only “thing” I ever wanted… now what are you going to hang over my head?” At some level this thought proved that I knew her motives with regards to that ring.

I had some weird feelings when I got that ring and although I wore if for a few months, I have trouble wearing it anymore because it reminds me of how many years that I put up with people having control over me and how I took it. It reminds me of how my own mother treated me like I was inconsequential. It reminds me that her illusions of being a fantastic loving mother are more important to her then I am! In my new healthy mindset that sounds WRONG to me on so many levels.

I don’t think this was just about a ring. I think the ring was just a symbol of the real fear, which was that if I stood up to my mother, she would remove herself from my life and for most of my life I was pretty sure that I did not want to risk that consequence.

This is just one small example of the thoughts and the fear of abandonment that I harboured below the surface. I hope that you can relate in some way to this story and please feel free to share one of your own. 

Exposing truth one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family

21 Comments

1

I think we all can relate. Love and approval was the “diamond ring” held over my head as a child. I wanted it more then anything and was willing to allow my abuser to define what boundries were respected or not. This is an amazing story with beautiful analogies of how we can taint and be blinded to etching boundries lines with people. You know Jesus drew a boundry when He wrote in the sand..set a good example for us all. Thank you so much for sharing Darlene.

2
IAmEchad Twitter
July 23rd, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Setting personal boundaries with my parents is one of my biggest issues regarding my relationship with them. So much so that I never heard of the concept of boundaries until I was in college.

I hate to admit this, even with the anonymity of a pseudonym, but I kind of wish my parents hated me or loved me. The back in forth is scary, confusing and unpredictable. I have a hard time setting boundaries because they can hold my house over my head. Due to medical illnesses I am no longer employable. So my parents paid off what was left of my mortgage.

See what I mean?

3

Wow Darlene bless your heart. It amazes me how we humans can treat other and devalue each other honestly your life is way more worth than that diamond ring in other words you are priceless I just wished your mom could have realized that.

My parents tried to make up to me by buying me a puppy and a brand new flute and even still today they try to make up for what they think they did that cause me and my siblings to go lacking. I have to reassure them that they don’t have to buy me. My mom and I have come a long ways the other day my mom finally admitted to me that she thought that if she ignored the problem that I have (bipolar disorder) that it would go away (which I already knew that she ignored me but didn’t know why she ignored me) I told my mom I said yes and when you ignored it you left me to deal with it alone therefore you ignored me not that I am the disorder but that by not helping me to deal with it she ignored me. She went on to say that I was her inspiration because I have had to fight real hard and on my own to get where I am at today..

For my mom to actually share that with me it has been a long hard road there were often times she would refuse to talk at all she would change the subject, deny it, or blame me. But now its not like that and at the same time I have learned to stand up to her and to my dad as well as set my own boundaries and that has been hard for me to do.

Money isn’t everything and neither is material possessions. We came into this world with nothing and we will leave it without taking any of it with us. The only thing that we can bring with us into this life is love and the only thing we can carry with us when we leave is love.

I have had to learn the hard way myself that I don’t have to sale myself out to get the approval of others. Don’t get me wrong I like having the approval of others but I think we are all that way to a certain extent. What I am learning is there is only two approvals in this life that I have to really focus on and that is God’s approval and my own. I think that goes with acceptance too. And that is another thing I am learning is God is not like our earthly parents He understands us more than we understand ourselves so comparing Him to my earthly father or to another human being is not who He is. I am having to really rewrite my own belief system in so many ways because for most all my life I have felt that God was just like my earthly dad.

Thank you for sharing this Darlene you give me much to think on! (((HUGS)))) to you for being who you are and being willing to share as you do.

4

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Darlene Ouimet and Splinteredones, Sharon Sanquist. Sharon Sanquist said: RT @DarleneOuimet: New blog post: The Fear of Setting Personal Boundaries http://bit.ly/aPXRl5 […]

5

There you gonagain, writing about exactly is on my mind! I posted a blog I think yesterday about this very thing–boundaries. I never thought to develop them basically because my life belonged not to me but to my pimary perp. Which happens because he was a gun freak and was very serious in his threats to blow memapart from one orifice or another when I was from I’d say five or six to twelve. So it was just coincidence that I was still alive all this time. Disposable hence valueless. Huh, who knew.

I have recently become aware that this thread runs in me. I was talking in therapy about some bullshit thing and it hit me like a lightning bolt. Disposable, I’m disposeable. C says you were. In just another minute i heard myself say valueless. Life threatened, disposable, valueless.

It’s been a pretty quick trip to finally getting these beliefs outside of mento fake a look and see how totally untrue they are. At this level anyway. So if I have value then I can have things i want and things I don’t. I have no idea how to establish boundaries and it would be unwise for me to try until I know what I’m doing.

Anyway, that’s the process in me. It is frutrating the shit out of me because if sems everywhere I look, especially in my marriage, I just want things changed. But I need to remain patient so I can take it in bits and pieces, see where it goes. Thanks again my dear 😉

6

Hello Christina W.
Love and approval are certainly the most commonly withheld, and then given at the will of the parent. Such an untrue definition of love and yes it is so often what causes us to allow our abusers to define any boundaries well into adulthood and beyond. (I think I had given up hope for love or approval and just wanted the freaking ring.. LOL, just kidding.) Actually I wanted acceptance, love and approval more then anything else too and I went through a major grieving process over the mother I longed for but that I would never have. The ring now serves as a reminder of my grief. I tried to make it represent my freedom, but it didn’t work so I keep the ring in a box.
Thanks for your beautiful compliments on my post.
Hugs, Darlene

Nikki,
So great to hear that you are working things out with your parents. That is so excellent! So many of us are scared that freedom means letting go of parents but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. The truth is that everyone can heal, and relationships CAN thrive and recover!
Hugs, Darlene

7

IAmEchad,
Well, do I ever hear you! The back and forth is about the power and control. It is the nature of the beast. Scary, confusing and unpredictable enables others to keep us off balance, therefore more easily manipulated. I smiled when you wrote about your parents paying off the rest of your mortgage… ah yes…. and you see what I mean too.
Hugs, Darlene

8

Darlene … Sounds like our moms are the same. My mother always had things to hang over my head too. Her gifts weren’t really gifts – they were always a tool to use to control.

9

Splinterdones,
Ah yes.. we get restless in the process of recovery, don’t we? Sometimes things don’t go fast enough.. and then other times they go TOO FAST.. and that bugs us too. All I can say is keep striving to go forward, or at the very least not to go backward…and the changes will come at all the right times too.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Paulette,
I could tell a million stories about gifts that were not really gifts, most of them about my husbands father….. and yes, always a tool to control.
Thanks for stopping!
Hugs, Darlene

10

[…] the singles dances she liked to go to. She had money for her, but not for me. My mother had a diamond dinner ring made for herself from the diamonds out of the wedding set my father bought her. I knew that it cost […]

11

(Sorry such a long post, just kinda needed to get this outta my system! :-S )
“”” … why I let people walk all over me. I had these fears that I didn’t totally understand about what would happen if I told my mother that I was sick of her pushing me around. “””

I appreciate these words so much right now! (long story about to happen, prepare yourself …) Because it felt like I was getting beaten down every time I had contact with my FOO … I was getting tired. I am finally realizing that it does not make me a bad person to ask to be treated with love. I finally felt strong enough to stand up for myself and my household. My past experiences of trying to speak with FOO about how poorly their behavior effects me had only met with some variation of: “You’re too sensitive.” “You just don’t have a good enough sense of humor.” “Just assume that – If I or any of the rest of us says something hurtful – think of the best possible thing our words could mean and assume THAT’s what we meant, even if YOU think it came off differently. You have a problem with twisting peoples words..” .. etc. Because of these reactions, we decided (DH and I) – since we are unable to change people’s behavior, we must change the way we react to it – or the amount of exposure we have to it.

SO, recently DH and I decided to limit our association with my FOO … though we didn’t tell them why – we did tell them that “our family has decided to change the way we’re budgeting our time .. just trying to be more balanced” (We decided to make three -reasonable- changes. Each of these decisions had legitimate, logical reasoning behind them. Even leaving emotional issues out of the equation, we STILL had our reasons beyond that. (It would take too long to get into all the reasoning behind each of these decisions) Here they are, we decided:

1. that we would not do things socially with my FOO more than once a month

2. Our children would not be spending time with my parent’s without us present. (this does not mean they would never see them, it would just be limited to times that my husband and/or I would be able to accompany them)

3. We ask that people call before their coming over to make sure it was a good time for our family. And, if we don’t answer, assume that we’re probably in the middle of something and don’t expect us to be able to answer the door.

THIS. DID. NOT. GO. WELL. At first my FOO laughed at us – like we’re being ridiculous -(in this condescending attitude as if to say: ‘oh, look at those kids trying to pretend like they can make rules. How cute.’) The laughing/mocking didn’t work. So, this was followed by their efforts at going outright against our wishes. (again, didn’t work.) Then they turned to bribing our 3 year old with candy to make him BEG for whatever my FOO wanted at the time. Once they saw that we were still sticking to our guns, things started getting UGLY … well, uglier. They began throwing hateful comments at us (i.e. ‘you are causing disunity in the congregation because of your behavior’, ‘your example is teaching your children disrespect for authority! Is that REALLY how you want your children to behave!??!?’ and ‘TRUE Christians would NEVER treat their family like YOU are!’ – uh, like what? we’re not being hateful, we’re not going around rallying support from others against you. We’re just saying -from our family to yours- please be more respectful of our family’s needs and schedule. Pretty sure that’s still ok.) They then insisted that because they were “family” they “shouldn’t have to” have such “restrictions” on them. (Actually, its mostly just common courtesy stuff, guys. It’s us looking after our kids, and also not tolerating dis-respectful behavior. Sorry our requesting you to act with decency restricts you. Whatever.)

Their last act to get us to go back on our decisions was to have my dad meet with DH. The first two meetings together dad asked him NOT to bring me … (stating that DH is ‘level headed’ and that bringing me into it would just make things ‘too emotional’.) DH thought that maybe talking it out with him would help them understand our point of view and then things would be settled, so he agreed to those meetings. (DH is from a different, more reasonable family, and thus expected a reasonable response from my FOO … he didn’t get one.) Those two meetings ended up being more about them trying to convince my DH that I have always been a compulsive liar – and that anything I say about them that makes them look bad – well, because it’s from Kera it must therefore be considered inadmissible. DH told them, that their opinions wouldn’t change our family’s decision that we’ve made. That he has been married to me for nearly 10 years and not once has lying ever been a problem. And he told them that he felt it was wrong for them to continue demanding ‘private meetings’ which they used only to put me down. DH said “we are not having any more meetings without Kera present. It seems to me that you think Kera is the problem, trying to ‘fix the problem’ by talking about her behind her back is never going to work and I will no longer support that kind of behavior.”

After this meeting, we continued as planned. During our next monthly visit with my FOO, I was cornered by my mother. She told me that she feels like I ‘hate her’ because I no longer ‘give her the emotional support that she needs’ … I ‘used to be so loving’ to her, but she doesn’t know WHY I’ve changed. I simply said “I don’t see how our asking to be treated with love and respect must therefore mean that I hate you. I’m really not getting how you’re making that connection. And I’m not saying that your emotional needs aren’t important. I’m just asking that you recognize that EVERYone has emotional needs, and that EVERYone’s emotional needs are important.” Upon my saying that, she then resorted to tears (the kind of tears where she’s peeking out of one eye to check for a response. yeah. gross.) SO, I just walked to another part of the house to visit with someone else – preferably anyone who was not sobbing manipulative tears. After several times of my mother confronting me like this, I decided to write her a letter. (I literally stayed up all night writing this letter to make sure it was put lovingly and made things very clear) This is the abbreviated version:
—————————————————————————————————————-
“… You have recently made it very clear that you think I “hate” you, and things seem to regularly escalate emotionally if we spend any amount of time together. …. Our relationship has become an issue because you and I both need/desire different things from our relationships. Sadly, these ‘things’ have proven to be something that neither one nor the other of us is able (or willing) to provide. I would love, love, LOVE to be able to have open, calm, constructive, mature communication between us. To have an adult, ‘mother-daughter’ relationship. Yet, despite repeated attempts to clearly communicate why there is a growing rift, despite outlining what can and must be done in order to create an environment that lends to a positive, loving, up-building, respectful, mature relationship between us … there has been no progress. Those conversations & efforts at mending have consistently resulted in semantics being argued to the point of exhaustion and emotional breakdowns. It is not my desire to get into yet another debate over words or versions of historical facts. It is not constructive … I have forgiven the pains of the past, whether others accept their reality or not. But, regardless of past issues … our way of handling relationships is different – and somewhat incompatible. Due to our coming to such an impasse, it has been necessary for our relationship to change … friendships come in varying degrees. “Not every friend will be a close one,” … We tried. It’s just not working out on this level. Please, understand that this does not then mean that our relationship is over. It has simply changed in its ‘degree’ … I don’t feel that we are fighting and are at some sort of ridiculous standoff. And I don’t hate you, desire to punish you, or anything of that sort. … Our efforts at a relationship consisting of something deeper with one another have simply not gone well. I feel strongly that it is best for our well-being to not force a super-close friendship. It’s okay for us not to be best friends. … To me it’s like this: In the process of selecting marriage mate – you may decline some individuals as prospective mates. This does not mean that you are no longer friends with them, or that you hate them. It just means that you may not be compatible on a deeper level. It does not then lead to disunity and hate … when handled lovingly – each party can maintain a healthy relationship with one another based on the understanding that ‘a relationship just won’t work beyond a certain point’.

I hope that explaining things in this manner has cleared up any confusion as to the way things have been going lately. You are welcome to express your feelings about this change, though I prefer that it be done in written form. Please, do not bring up deeply emotional topics at congregation events … I would like those to be kept as an up-building place for me and my family to visit. Thank you.
Sincerely,
KR
=====================================================================

Within 3 hours of her getting this letter, my dad called my DH. I only heard bits and pieces of the conversation. He was demanding another meeting … DH asked: “why, what are you hoping to accomplish by our meeting again? I read the letter, it was very loving. I don’t see why we’d need to meet because of that.” I heard my dad angrily snarl “I’ll tell you what I want: PEACE!!!! I WANT PEACE!!!! The problem is Kera. She has a serious problem with slandering her mother and it needs to STOP!” … DH, trying to be reasonable, decided that if they feel they have a legitimate complaint, we should be loving and allow them to address it with us. The four of us met. It didn’t take us long to realize that they had no proof of slander – (which was supposedly their whole ‘reason’ for calling the meeting) – Rather, their entire tone of the visit was their working to get DH to ‘confess’ that he had based his reasons for making those decisions on “lies” that I had used to “manipulate him so that I wouldn’t have to be around my mother”. They were trying to convince DH that I was a great con-artist. (because the ONLY way someone wouldn’t like my mom is if they were lied to. heh. riiiiiiight.) When DH said that he’s drawn his own conclusions about my mother and the rest of my relatives based on the behavior he’s seen – not solely off of words from someone else, they then turned to me. My father kept calling me ‘sweetie’ … as in: “Sweetie, we just want to help you see that you have a problem. Sweetie, if you knew how serious it is for you to be twisting everyone’s words like you do … sweetie, after all that we’ve done for you – it’s terrible for you to be treating us like this” I asked him to stop calling me that. (I mean, is it ‘sweetie’ or ‘slanderer’ … seriously, pick one you guys) There was so much back and forth – them saying hurtful things and … it was pointless – in the end I just said “I’ve told you what I can give you … we’ll talk when we see each other twice a week (at our religious meetings), and we’ll make occasional visits to come see you guys when we can. Beyond that, I simply cannot give anymore because it only results in behavior that hurts me, whether you agree with me or not. So, this is where we are.” My father responded with: “Well, what about phone calls and texting, aren’t you going to show honor and respect and return those when your mother tries to contact you?” I told them that, at this time – I couldn’t handle that “because those things just lead into unpleasant conversation and I don’t want that. So, no. If it’s something urgent I’ll respond, otherwise – no. No calls or texting.” Dad just shook his head with this look of disappointment directed toward me and said .. “That is. just. so. SAD.” I said “I agree. It is. Very sad.” And that was it. End of meeting.

It is sad … All they had to do was respect simple, normal boundaries and speak lovingly – but, rather than doing something SO simple … they’ve turned it into what feels like an emotional warfare (even trying to rally support from other relatives against us) … No wonder it took me so long to take such a big stand. It’s like, deep down, I knew all hell would break loose if I stuck up for myself. But, now I’m strong enough to weather the storm. Funny thing is, I feel SO much better. Even with all this drama … I STILL feel better emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally … just being out from their cloud of confusion and on my own – in a safe home of my own. Their attacks are just last ditch efforts at control – and, while it stings a little, it doesn’t permanently cripple me. Because I realize that I am ok with drifting from people in my life that have such little regard for my well-being. I realize that if my requesting to be treated with love brings about a reaction from them like this … then it just makes it increasingly clear to me that this distance I’ve created, between me and them, is not without reason. Their reactions are serving only to confirm the validity of my need for separation from the crazy. For the longest time I knew something was off about the family dynamics I was surrounded with – all growing up I questioned it but was afraid to confront it. But now … I’m confronting the beast head on … I still feel a tinge of fear – but I just remind myself of the alternative – the painful cost of not having healthy boundaries. And on we go …

KR

Ps,
“”I could tell a million stories about gifts that were not really gifts … and yes, always a tool to control.”” I agree, my FOO is the same way! I’ve finally decided, if that’s what their ‘gifts’ entail – then I will no longer be accepting! It’s just not worth it.

12

Wow, Kera, I just read your comment, and whilst I am relatively new to all this and cannot comment with a great amount of depth, I have to say that it is relieving to hear that you have been able to cultivate a conscious connection to the the truth of your own self worth despite the the overwhelming but incorrect messages that your family of origin insist on sending to you. Good on you! Stay true and keep sending those messages of your self worth into the world, because you are worthy.

13

Thank you for the encouragement Annabelle! And I am happy that you found my experience ‘relieving’ … Its a tough process. But it is SO worth the effort! (hugs)

KR

14

[…] Recently someone wrote, telling me that because she stood up to her dysfunctional family and drew a boundary, she is now missing out on ‘the good things in life’. The first question that came to my mind […]

15

Kera,
Being new to EFB,I’m reading archived articles. I commented to you maybe a week or two ago on how helpful your more recent posts have been to me. But this one – wow. Thank you for putting your saga into words. You never know at what point in time it is going to hit someone like me out here in cyberspace. To see what others have gone through is really empowering. Thank YOU!

16

KathyA,

Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words to me – (I honestly worried that people would just see my impossibly long post and just roll their eyes thinking: ‘whine whine whine’ and then skip to the next one)- it means a lot that my experience could have a positive effect on someone! Shoot, the fact that you even took the time to read it means a lot to me! haha 🙂 I enjoy seeing your comments as well. I agree with you, its always refreshing when I find a comment or something helpful that I can relate to!
wish you the best on your journey! (((hug)))

KR

Ps,
It really touched my heart that you called me a ‘friend’ – on #207 comment from the March 25th 2013 EFB post- thank you 🙂

17

Reading this was like reliving the past 2 years of my own life, except add in Narcopath sister-in-lAw who tried to trick me into staying overnight in my mom’s room to frame me for stealing her ring. If I only knew what they were then, I would have called the police and had them search their car! I also would have involved an attorney to look into their undue pressure/ influence and financial shenanigans with bank accounts and property.

18

The carrot on the stick is one of my mother’s most well played moves. Anything she has or that she can do for me, is always leverage. It’s never out of the goodness of her heart. It’s never out of love or thoughtfulness or kindness. It’s leverage. To be used against me later if I actually GET the carrot and to be dangled as a ‘nanny-nanny’ if I don’t: ‘you COULD HAVE had/done/been included IF YOU (complied)’. It’s YOUR fault you don’t have this…

As I grew up and moved out and she did less and less for me and my daily needs, her leverage dwindled. My usefulness and purpose was little so she didnt bother with me much but she never missed a moment when she found one. Every time I went there, my sister would start with her baby nonsense tantrums for whatever SHE wanted and my mother would jump in to secure whatever it was for her. Which really served HER OWN purpose more than my sister’s. By not giving in to my sister and not paying her way and not letting her have and do as she pleases, my sister may leave too and then my mother has NO ONE to control which really means she has no one else to provide her sense of self esteem (‘look how great I am, I do all this for my daughter!’) or sense of value. Her worth lies in what she does for everyone else that she can tell people about so they feel sorry for her ‘sacrifices’ and revere her good deeds. She can’t brag about how great she is and what she does for me because she does nothing for me. What she does have though is a way to elicit sympathy with what an awful, rotten, selfish, ungrateful, horrible child I am ‘because she HAS DONE those things for me too’ (she hasn’t) and I ‘just don’t ever appreciate it’. Oh you poor dear!

When I moved out of college my junior year, she had promised to help me move out; a reasonable expectation of any parent. But when we had a big fight over my non-compliance, she left me high and dry during the week of finals with all this stuff in my dorm room and no one to help me get it out. I went to school nearly 2 hours from home and drove a sub-compact car. I had to pay a few friends to fill their cars with my stuff, drive it home and then go back for the rest. The feat cost me time and money as well as my grade for two finals. I was so busy trying to move out to avoid being fined and worn out from moving that I wasn’t able to study for one final and wasn’t able to make it to another. So I failed two classes. The professors weren’t quite so willing to understand that I had a narcissitic mother who’s power was more important than my education. Even now, I’m told: ‘well, you should have kept your mouth shut’ (and do as I SAID) and then I get berated for ‘bringing up the past’ when I mentione how this affected my life. I had to retake those classes and it added a whole extra semester onto my college career (as well as addtional loan money). It’s all my fault for not having done what she demanded.

When I’ve lived in places where I haven’t had access to laundry, I used to come do my laundry at her house. As everything else, it was conditional. Something as small as using her washer when I purchased my own detergent was to be groveled and grateful for! I should add that my generous employer gave her a grant of $500 towards a new one one when she lost the old one in Hurricane Sandy last year. A grant, by the way, that I applied for on her behalf…(PLEASE love me!). I was told that I didn’t contribute, MY firm did!(there are no words for this absurdity). I have to earn and keep my privileges but my sister is given these privileges freely! I was welcome to do my laundry there SO LONG AS I met whatever conditions she set forth as she demanded at the time. Of course if I declined to comply, the washer privileges were the first to go: ‘YOU dont do as I ask (DEMAND), THAT’s WHY I took the laundry away. YOU NEED TO LEARN to keep your mouth shut’. ‘YOU can’t get along with your sister (read: you dont acquiesce to her unreasonable demands and overlook your own comforts and needs which is really for ME in the first place because I am the one can’t have HER be upset). My ENTIRE LIFE, the way you get compliance is by taking away something someone else needs or wants. You FORCE them into it and if you can’t force them into it by taking things away, you attack them personally: you rob them of their self esteem and sense of self worth. You make their lives so miserable and unbearable that they would rather submit than take it anymore.

I have two bullies in this dynamic. My sister isn’t stupid. She’s getting something of tangible value: clothes, shoes, a paid off luxury car by living with my mother who takes care of her… and sadly those are the things that define HER sense of self worth: stuff. I’m a separate threat to both of them. I threaten to lift the lid off pandora’s proverbial box and they can’t have that. The only way to keep me from spilling its contents all over the place are to label me and abuse me and make me look at myself so I stop looking at them as you said. I’m a threat to my sister if my mother sees what she’s doing. I’m a threat to my mother if my sister sees what she’s doing. No one can be looking at mom. Until I found this blog, I’d been giving them their coveted proof by reacting poorly to their abuse. I didnt take it, I stood up to it BUT I didnt stand up in the right way. I lashed back and inadvertently sealed the deal that they could then walk around and say ‘look, we MUST be right, look at how SHE acted yet WE get along just FINE…’. I wish I could go back and change that. I wouldn’t have given them the satisfaction.

This feels really good to write this out and even if no one ever scrolls down far enough to read my contribution, I’ve helped myself by putting it here in the first place.

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Kelly, I read it. I understand. I’m thinking of you and sending good thoughts your way.

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My name is Elli and I am from Greece. I have been reading your posts since 17/7/2014 , the day that my mother’s last SEVERE emotional assault against me took place. I felt going crazy and just gave myself a chance to look her behavior up on the internet before crushing yet again into deep depression. Boy, was I in for a surprise when I discovered your blog! I finally realized I AM NORMAL! A few days after intensively reading posts and comments, like 8-10 hours a day, I felt the part of me that I carried around and contained all kinds of false labels had finally died. I felt reborn in a matter of days after realizing the truth of the extreme emotional abuse I have been receiving for my entire life. I didn’t even know the word boundaries, let alone when it comes to the “sacred” face of the MOTHER.

Today she invited me over for “something” she couldn’t say over the phone and of course she attacked me again but I stood up for myself, for the very first time in my life. And I was firm, and I did it successfully. First, she started off by telling me how much she used to cook when we were kids, with the insinuation that the love and passion that I have for cooking I got it from her… I honestly didn’t want to rip her a new one by telling her my grandma used to do all the cooking and off the few times she cooked for parties or Xmas and stuff the result was mediocre to awful. I was always considered too young to step into the kitchen. The real boss of it was my grandma, and she would find my mother in agreement that it would be a waste of ingredients had I messed up in the kitchen because I didn’t know how to cook…
So her story of cooking SO much was total BS again, just to prove a point, that she did a lot. As it is not every mother’s responsibility to do a lot, as I have to owe her if she has ever given ‘unconditional love’. As if I am forced to shut up for the rest of my life because she cooked sometimes on holidays and parties. And what a thing to imply, that this or any other passion of mine comes from her. The only time I learned how to cook things was when I finally had my own kitchen and Food network TV when I moved to America for some time. All my other attempts to cook were futile; no one has bothered to show me how. Sometimes the excuse was that I was too young, others that it was a waste of ingredients and my favorite BS excuse of all times was that I wouldn’t have to do the chores in my house because I was destined to have a maid so I didn’t need to learn any housekeeping skills… What kind of ridiculous belief to pass on to your child is that? What kind of sick, twisted mind would lie like that to a little girl?

But then the knife came out, the mask fell off yet again and the real reason I was invited over came out. It was because she was hurt by me being so ungrateful. That is because last time I visited her I told her she didn’t feel sorry for me when I had just stepped into her house and she asked me to dismantle a table and repack it, but I was too tired and told her no. As usual, she insisted on and on and on and on and on and then I was forced- and psychologically raped again- to do it. I was sweaty, because it was the middle of August, the heat outside was crazy and I was sort of breath. But no, I had to dismantle the table right then and there, because she had decided that was the best time, and that it had to be done exactly when she said. I did it and just told her you don’t feel sorry for me. Yes, I said it. But hell, not to discount every single time she felt compassion for me in my life. I said it for that very moment, the moment that she DIDN’T actually feel sorry for me. And she tried to repeat over and over again all the things she has done for me and all the things she hasn’t done for my brother because of me, and all the cr*p in the world. But now I was prepared, I was waiting for it. As cool as ever, I proved the lies one by one for what they were. F****ing lies! F****ing drama! I didn’t shout, I didn’t yell, I didn’t even tear her into pieces psychologically by affirming her insecurities and instability that she’s constantly trying to unload on me-that either she was a bad mother or I was a difficult daughter to raise. No, I just wanted to protect myself at this point, put some boundaries. I snapped every disrespectful comment at the rise of it. I didn’t ask for anything, I just protected myself. She tried the guilt trip road, it didn’t work. She tried the petty lies road, it didn’t work- she said I cursed her and I know I didn’t; I AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE!- .She tried the yelling road, and then when I demanded respect and treatment as equal the most amazing thing happened, my 22 month old daughter threw a ball to her face to protect me from the yelling. Hahahaha, guess who my mother will see as an enemy from now on besides me! She said many things, she tried to be hurtful, she tried almost every trick in the book. It didn’t work. I didn’t let it work. But now in that aching mind of hers she will start planning out her next attack, I know because it’s been like that for ever. And I will stand up for myself again. And I know she will not accept it. And I know that I will lose any hope of a healthy relationship with her, but I’ve spent 30 years of my life waiting for her approval. I guess I don’t need it now even if I will ever get it. THIS CRAZINESS IS DONE…

I thank you Darlene from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for helping me get my life back!

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Hi Elli G
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
Thank you for your lovely post today! I love it when my work resonates with others in a big way! YES you are normal! 🙂 Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. I totally relate to it and to the methods that you describe your mother using. I hope you will join the conversations that are currently going on here! (use the home button)
Hugs, Darlene

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