Arguments & False Apologies

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G. Muffin
Arguments & False Apologies

I'm going through kind of a "thing" right now with my parents.  I am very upset with them and cancelled a dinner party.  They carried on without me, as they should.  But then I get the weepy phone call.  "I'm so, so, so, so sorry.  Just remember I'm always on your side."  Well, they're patently not sorry nor are they on my side, as evidenced by the betrayal that occurred that made me furious and them "sorry."  What am I supposed to do with that shit?  "Oh, you're sorry?  Oh, then, never mind, I'll come right back over and have dinner with you.  My bad."  Fuck off.

Bacchus

A toxic situation won't help, even with superficial "lets play nice and apologize' crap. Better to absent yourself so they know its a real issue that won't going away and must be dealt with.

 

Went through it for years with my mother, sister and brother. Mom's dead now but as a result of the toxic manipulation and crap from mo, my sister and I don't talk anymore neither does my brother with me or my sister.

G. Muffin

Yes, I fear that's the way this shell of a family is headed too.  Most of the good ones have died or divorced me. 

Bacchus

To be honest, I miss none of the family on my fathers side (users all) and seeing my wife's family fills whatever niche need for family I have. I am much much better off and happier

RP.

If you're resolved to give up on them why even post this?  Unless it's for support, which is understandable. 

G. Muffin

RP. wrote:
If you're resolved to give up on them why even post this?  Unless it's for support, which is understandable.

I don't know why I posted it.  Just upset, I guess.  Only happened a few hours ago. 

RP.

Don't get me wrong, that's understandable. 

I remember a friend coming to me to tell me the difficulties she'd had with her family.  I pointed out that she'd pretty much given up on them anyway, so what's the big deal.  She had to point out to rather clueless me that it's family, it still hurts when they've given up on you.  That was not a night where I was particularly helpful.  (15 years later she's good again with her family)

rework

Be careful of burning bridges, you may regret it later in life.

I disowned my parents when I was about twelve. I have a deep seated guilt, that won't go away.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Bacchus wrote:

 Better to absent yourself so they know its a real issue that won't going away and must be dealt with.

 

 

I've always found this to be a good approach and it's always a work in progress.  At different points in my life, I've had to distance my parents and occasionally my sisters when they're too judgemental.  It seems to have helped.  My sister's have all admitted the wisdom of it.  Mom and Dad still chide me on it but we're all getting along better.

 

Anyone else have one of those families with crisis mentality, where there's always some family member that needs fixing?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

rework wrote:

Be careful of burning bridges, you may regret it later in life.

I disowned my parents when I was about twelve. I have a deep seated guilt, that won't go away.

 

Good advice rework and it's brave of you to share.

G. Muffin

Bacchus wrote:
Better to absent yourself so they know its a real issue that won't going away and must be dealt with.

Nothing ever gets dealt with in this family.  We're just a bubbling, seething cauldron of resentment.  Or so it seems tonight, anyway.  I certainly intend to absent myself but that's just for my own peace of mind.  Nothing will get resolved. 

I'm feeling guilty though.  It's one thing to be outraged, justifiably so.  That's not an excuse for being mean.  Perhaps "Judas" was a trifle harsh.  I regret some of my words from earlier this evening.  Not the substance of the message, just the words.  Not sure what to do about that. 

Fuck, I hate these messes.

remind remind's picture

being a mom and all that that entails, means that I have regularily fucked up with my daughter as an adult woman,  and transgressed the adult to adult relationship.

She is still my baby....and I guess always will be...but

 

...am getting better at manovering the adult to adult realtionship...and cross way fewer boundaries these days....

 

swore I would not make the same mistakes of my mother in transgressing adult children boundaries, and  I definitely  haven't, but  have made  my own and am sure I will make more

 

My 2 cents is that  you ask your parents directly what they want and expect from you as an adult child...you may not get an answer...but they will think about their internal dialogue about who you are to them as an adult...

know it sure worked in my case...because the list narrowed right down to wanting her to be safe and fairly secure about her own person...and everything else was gravey.

That way I was/am able to stay on my side of the boundary, if I can help her be safe and secure and she asks for my assistance, I will give it and besides that I mind my own business.

 

G. Muffin

That sounds great, Remind.  I don't know if it's possible to establish new rules with my own family, however.  They simply cannot mind their own business.  Such a strange family dynamic at play here.  In my teens, they were clueless and absent and I suffered from their benign neglect.  Then at university I got very ill and, ever since then, we've been what the psychologists call enmeshed.  The information I find myself sharing with them is outrageous.  They have a fucking opinion on everything:  whether or not I can have my own dogs, how I should best settle my divorce action, what kind of hours I should work, how I should interact with the mental health system, whether I should go back to school, it's endless, literally endless.  They're taking the kind of interest that would have been appropriate 30 years ago but 30 years ago I used to stumble up the stairs to my bedroom every school night after drinking a mickey of gin and they never even noticed.

After a long, sleepless night, I have come up with a plan that seems like the only way I can reclaim my life.  I will indeed have the dogs here, love the socks off them, and then return them to my husband.  Then I can say goodbye and start life anew elsewhere.  I've always been fascinated with the east coast and once I've had the dogs I'll go out there for a while and see which place calls to me.  I'll stay in contact with my family but this obsessive micromanaging of theirs has to stop.  I am suffocating.

Bacchus

Good luck g.pie

Sometimes thats what you have to do!

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

Bacchus wrote:

 Better to absent yourself so they know its a real issue that won't going away and must be dealt with.

 

 

I've always found this to be a good approach and it's always a work in progress.  At different points in my life, I've had to distance my parents and occasionally my sisters when they're too judgemental.  It seems to have helped.  My sister's have all admitted the wisdom of it.  Mom and Dad still chide me on it but we're all getting along better.

 

Anyone else have one of those families with crisis mentality, where there's always some family member that needs fixing?

Actually, my family has a crisis mentality where I am the perpetual fixer. 

My mother has a studied helplessness where when things are difficult she just "can't" deal with things, ie:  "my nerves are bad" or "I just don't know what to do".  So the appeal is made with great emotion and I wade in and deal with the insurance company or lawyer or doctor or my nana's nursing home or the neighbour or whomever.  This has mainly been going on since my father died, but even before that I was asked to take on responsibilities that weren't really mine.  And to a degree, I didn't mind.

Right now, though, my business has sort of taken off and is a lot more demanding, I have two kids to raise and a home of my own to look after, and for a while I was driving myself nuts trying to take on a lot of the managing.  Then I just started saying no.  It has been met with some serious hostility, including the invocation "Your father would have wanted you to".

But I'm sticking to no.  This week, I've been traveling, haven't had a day off in a month and the blond guy is still on the road so I'm single-mom-ing it and she wants me, the atheist, to attend church for my niece's baby's baptism.  Apparently my father would have wanted it (Not!) and I'm antisocial for grabbing the one chance at a sleep-in I'm likely to have for a while instead. 

I can live with that.

Christmas might get interesting, though.  ;-)

remind remind's picture

GPie, that they are now taking such an interest, indicates to me they have regrets and guilt which is perhaps about their benign neglect of you..

they have, as of yet, failed to understand, it appears from your words,  that there is no going back and that the best way that they can now  make up for what they feel guilty about, is to support you in this moment, at whatever it is you are doing.

 

Bacchus

Ah Christmas, that and weddings/funerals are the cauldron which causes many a family 'issue' to boil over.

Sineed

To add a feminist take on this, (why the heck not?), in the past, I think it was easier to guilt women into taking on all sorts of responsibilities.  And the older generation of women sometimes uses passive-aggressive behaviour as a weapon because they weren't allowed to just say what they wanted for themselves, the way men could.  Women were supposed to subjugate themselves completely in the service of the family.  When we go against that, we're being selfish.

Sineed

Quote:
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. 

- Rebecca West

(Babble's Rebecca West had this on her fridge.)

G. Muffin

[Stop being such a fucking drama queen, Pie.]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Sineed wrote:

To add a feminist take on this, (why the heck not?), in the past, I think it was easier to guilt women into taking on all sorts of responsibilities.  And the older generation of women sometimes uses passive-aggressive behaviour as a weapon because they weren't allowed to just say what they wanted for themselves, the way men could.  Women were supposed to subjugate themselves completely in the service of the family.  When we go against that, we're being selfish.

I think that's very true, but the funny twist in my case is that it's the male role as it has usually been played in my family unit that I'm expected to take on.  And the guilt trip was used on my Dad pretty much the same way it's being used on me, so I'm not convinced it's a behaviour that goes along gender lines.

In my mother's case, the passive-aggression/guilt tactic is being used not because she's ever been shut down from being direct (I remember several instances where my father was tearing his hair out over the indirectness of her approach) but because she's internalized that nice, feminine women just don't behave that way.  It isn't ladylike.  While she requires assertiveness from me toward others, she's not above criticizing it at the same time and she resents the shit out of having the assertiveness directed toward her. 

I think there's still an element of indirect communication in female culture now.  It's one of the things I don't get about women.

G. Muffin

Astute observations, Timebandit.  For whatever reason, so many women feel compelled to contort themselves into pretzels to get what they actually need (and deserve).  And after years of being "ladylike," sometimes that volcano blows and it is an awesome (in the sense of magnificent and terrifying) sight to behold.  I know it's not all about me but there's a parallel worth pursuing here in the psychiatric system.  "Disinhibited" is a code word for "unladylike."  It's kind of a mug's game because if you've spent your life being praised for being "sweet" and "nice" and "quiet" and "compliant" and "dependable," once you finally kick off the traces, the people in your life will say "What's her problem?  That's out of character!"

Sineed

Seems to be more the older generation, pushing retirement, that are more indirect - the young women I work with are less like this.

Though I have noticed that women of any age who have been mistreated can be very indirect as a protective mechanism.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I have experienced the volcano, G.Pie, and it was not magnificent.  It was a lot like dealing with a three year old.  My parental unit actually wants to be "ladylike" and get what she wants.  There have been times where it hasn't worked and she's pitched a fit - because I "made her" lose her temper and she's not responsible because her "nerves are so bad". 

I do buy that it's partly a generational thing, but there are women in that generation who embrace not just the indirectness but cultivated helplessness, and I'm at the point where I have very little patience for it.  So far, avoidance is my tactic of choice, because getting drawn into the drama of the conflict just adds to the centre-of-the-universe-ness of it all.

And not unlike G.Pie, there are days when Halifax looks like a good place to go....

G. Muffin

Cultivated helplessness.  That's a good phrase.

I didn't explain myself well with my volcano analogy.  What I meant was sometimes by being that sweet lady you're living a lie and resentments are festering.  When my own volcano blew, I was a much better and stronger person afterward.  One of the things that I love about being my age (early 40s) is that I have the experience to know what's going to work for me and what's not.  And if someone in my life is passive-aggressive or intrusive or manipulative or otherwise imposing on my peace of mind, then they're just going to have to back off.  It was kind of an epiphany when I realized that I could just put on my coat and leave.  Nobody is allowed to abuse me and abuse includes belittling, diminishing, chipping away at my self-esteem.  Whether I share genetic material with the person is irrelevant.  If you want to be in my life, you have to treat me decently and fairly. 

Have sort of drawn a truce with my parents and we have agreed not to discuss the matter.  The situation is ridiculous anyway.  My parents should never have been involved in settlement negotiations with my husband and certainly not behind my back.  It's just an indicator of how sickly entwined the three of us are.  And pulling up stakes and finding a new life (and, perhaps, even going back to university) are how I intend to solve the problem.  I should say here that I really, really adore my mother and believe she's intelligent and insightful and funny and creative and strong.  But, on this one issue (feminism, for want of a better word), she is just wrong, wrong, wrong.  Now I have friends with whom I vehemently disagree politically and I enjoy debating them.  And if my mother and I want to argue the "ethics" of matrimonial law, then that's fine.  But if she's going to step in and do an end run around me (effectively sending the message that I brought nothing of value to an 8 year marriage and my poor little husband mustn't be disturbed by a division of assets), then I'm afraid we're done.  And I mean done.  If my parents proceed with this, then I have no parents.

RosaL

Somewhat off-topic: "indirect" communication is a feature of quite a few cultures, for both men and women. Since I belong to one such culture, I think it's important not to react negatively to something that may be a function of someone's cultural background. (I'm not talking about G.Pie's situation.)

Sineed

We may not be talking about the same thing, Rosa.  I hear what you're saying, but for me, the "indirect" communication we're talking about here is not being a bit metaphorical and such, but deliberately withholding information; being passive-aggressively obtuse as part of a tactic of emotional manipulation.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

RosaL wrote:

Somewhat off-topic: "indirect" communication is a feature of quite a few cultures, for both men and women. Since I belong to one such culture, I think it's important not to react negatively to something that may be a function of someone's cultural background. (I'm not talking about G.Pie's situation.)

I know what you mean, Rosa, but there is a difference.  The indirect stuff I'm talking about is inherently manipulative, where people of other cultures who tend not to be direct in the way our culture is are not necessarily.  I've taught Asian students, for example, who would come to me for help and then nod when I explained things - wasn't until a few weeks into the class that I figured out that they thought it was disrespectful to say no to me or appear to contradict me by asking a direct question, even if they weren't getting it.  So I do get that.  But this is a whole other thing.

Of course, the sort of manipulative behaviour we're talking about could be described as part of feminine culture within patriarchy, and I'm sure it is.  I'm just tired of having to deal with it.