Avatar
Please consider registering
guest
sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register
Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search
Forum Scope


Match



Forum Options



Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
sp_TopicIcon
Phase Two?
May 11, 2007
1:52 am
Avatar
healintime
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 27, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

So...

I guess I've been on the boards almost nine months now. For all that time I've been reading, posting, and sometimes lurking - but always on other people's threads. Felt like it was time, finally, to start my own as sometimes (my stuff) I wonder whether I'm nosing my way into conversations. I've watched people start a thread a day at times as things have come up - and I know that folks have their own threads with regulars.

I left an abusive relationship two years ago - about the time that I stopped drinking (coming up to two years sober. Shortly afterwards I moved 10,000 miles back "home" and had to face my own alcoholic Mom for the first time in many years. She's now in recovery. I guess I started reading about codependency at the same time that I moved back here - and slowly started to make sense of my life, the people I had chosen to be in it, the reasons that I had stayed so long with a man who was absolutely no good for me, the way I threw myself into work - the list is endless.

I got rid of a lot of the "symptoms" of my codependency and I'm working, hard, to learn about boundaries. I think at times in the last nine months I've felt like I have no business on the boards - I'm not in crisis - I'm not living with someone abusive anymore - I don't have any immediate, burning issues. And I haven't, ever, started my own thread because I've kind of felt like I need "something to talk about" if I do.

But really, that might just be self-protection. Am I just posting on ther people's threads because I'm too frightened to start my own? Possibly. Hence the thread. I retreated for a long time when I started recovery - a little bit like hibernation. Lately though, I've had a few instances where I've felt like situations have been recycled - and it's hard to know whether I'm setting healthy boundaries - or coming from a codependent place. I know that sounds vague and I don't mean to be but there have been some great posts on the libs side recently about one thread in particular that has troubled me in the past. That's the best illustration I can think of. I had a friend from the bad old days pop up recently in my real life email. He's in real trouble - and I chose recovery at the same time that he went right off the rails. He swings between crying out for help and pretending that everything's okay and this time, when he popped up again, I told him that for my mental health, I had to be done.

It hadn't hit me until today that it was such a big trigger (and it was - I was shaking while I wrote to him) because that was so much of my teens. Being asked to pretend that everything was okay while also being asked to pitch in and clean up after my Mom. Being expected to deal with the problem and pretend at the same time that there wasn't a problem at all.

I realised last week that I just didn't want that kind of chaos in my life anymore. The part of me that was conditioned to help out, to be available, to drop everything to help hold things together.... well. She feels pretty guilty for adding to his load at a time when he's obviously hitting bottom.

This is a big ramble. I guess my point is that I'm -still- struggling with "normal" and second guessing myself left, right, and centre. I don't want to be a heartless bitch - and sometimes it's hard to know whether I'm setting good boundaries or being heartless. Would a "normal" person have been able to maintain contact while keeping good boundaries? I don't know. It just felt too hard to hear from him, hear the insanity, feel his pain and then have to wonder when he dropped off the radar whether the worst had happened - until he popped up again and things were worse still. It will be one year of NC with my ex in about three weeks time and I think that's bringing up some "stuff" for me too.

So. While I'm feeling 100 percent less anxious, and more centred than I was even one, or two years ago, I am by no means "done" and maybe by not having my own thread I've been pretending (or wanting to think) that I am. So here it is - all comers welcome. I have a lot on my plate at the moment and I'm going to try to post about it rather than soldiering on this time around.

H x

May 11, 2007
6:20 am
Avatar
sleepless in uk
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi Healintime

I think you raise a really good question and one that I struggle with too. The fine line between setting firm boundaries and acting selfishly. As it happens, I dont think your actions were at all selfish, they seem to me to be more the actions of self preservation.

But I do understand your point and there have been many times when I have felt that way too. I discuss it often with my councellor usually in regard to family members and their expectations of me.

The way I try to work it out is to really think hard about whether I am compromising my own well being to comply. It sounds straightforward but isnt really, but it does encourage me to really think about my actions more.

Another thing I struggle with is the thinking around not being influenced by others. I agree to a point but find it difficult to accept that we go can through life oblivious to the impact we are having on other people and refusing to let others behaviour impact upon ourselves. We are social animals concerned with how others see us.....at least I am. Probably too much. I guess that is when it becomes unhealthy and re evaluation is required.

I have always struggled with altering my behaviour to please other people and that is what I am trying hard these days not to do.

Much kudos to you for getting away from an abusive past and all the good work you are doing in getting healthy.

Good thread!

May 11, 2007
6:53 am
Avatar
healintime
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 27, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi Sleepless,

Thanks for posting - and you absolutely hit the nail on the head. Firm boundaries vs. acting selfishly. If I weren't codependent - or in recovery, then I could maybe afford to have found more of a middle ground in this instance. But I've worked so hard to find some semblance of peace that I a) don't want to be reminded of where I could have ended up had I not nipped my drinking in the bud when I did and b) I can feel old triggers firing left right and centre because I am also the adult child of an alcoholic.

I also read somewhere that there can be a "rebound" of sorts for codependents, where you might end up going from total people pleasing/no boundaries to the other end of the spectrum when you first start trying to set boundaries at all.

In this case, he is in no shape at the moment to be having a sound, centred conversation about anything. And he lives halfway across the world. And to be honest, I think that he's expecting me to just hang in there, no matter what, in the way that I would have three years ago. I am just not in the same place anymore. Hard to convey that to people who knew me before.

It is very hard when someone is in a really fragile state. But I don't want to be the "no matter what" girl for anyone anymore. I have limits - I just don't think that he was expecting me to set them and to really mean it.

Family - also a great example. If you've spent a lifetime being go to girl then they tend not to take it well when you say "no." So making those boundaries in a setting where your life is filled with people who aren't used to hearing the word from you, ever, and who don't like it - leaves a lot of room for second guessing.

Maybe in another two years the dust will have settled - but I feel at the moment like I'm still flushing toxins and sometimes I wonder when/if this is going to get any easier.

H x

May 12, 2007
8:56 am
Avatar
bevdee
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 259
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi Healintime

"I guess my point is that I'm -still- struggling with "normal" and second guessing myself left, right, and centre. I don't want to be a heartless bitch - and sometimes it's hard to know whether I'm setting good boundaries or being heartless."

I know exactly what you mean by this. I was raised to clean up messes and pretend there is no mess.
I still grope for a middle ground. Now, I wonder if my triggers and fear of being taken advantage of cloud my ability to see a situation for what it really is.

"Maybe in another two years the dust will have settled - but I feel at the moment like I'm still flushing toxins and sometimes I wonder when/if this is going to get any easier." I don't know if it gets easier, but I wanted you to know that I have felt like I was shedding skin. I never thought of it as flushing before.

I really like the way you phrase things.

May 14, 2007
8:11 am
Avatar
healintime
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 27, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi Bev,

Thanks for posting "shedding" - I think that is a great description. Sometimes I feel like an onion - there are layers, and layers, and layers of understanding. It is definitely a process - I can look back on things that happened even a year ago and I know that I would probably handle them differently now.

There has, definitely, been a shift in who I let into my life and how. Some of the folks I picked up along the way (the friend I emailed is a good example) were either people I took care of, people who reinforced my worst feelings about myself, or both.

I had a pretty rough weekend - family stuff. My sister, since I stopped drinking and started setting boundaries, has been a monster to deal with. She's eight years older and when my Mom started drinking, more or less designated herself as my third parent - with all the perks and none of the care or responsibility.

She lived at home with my folks a long, long time (moved out, finally, in 2003) and when I moved back here I decided to stay with them until I got on my feet. It's the first time, ever, that as an adult I've had one on one time of any sort with my parents without her being on-site. Literally. And there were things that I really, really needed to work through with my Mother.

She has been utterly dismissive of my recovery of the last few years. I needed, desperately, to talk with my folks about how Mom's drinking had affected me. I've had some great conversations with both of them that have helped enormously. Tough conversations but worth it. It has been a slog. Meanwhile, from her, I've gotten continuous snide comments about my "psychobabble," my "issues" and she has gone from crying down the phone at me three times a week about how worried she was about my Mom when I lived in another country - to taking the position that "Mom drank a little - so what? You're such a Drama Queen." The blackouts, the hangovers, the passing out and the vomiting apparently never happened. I totally imagined having to put my Mother to bed every night.

She had been to college and moved back again as an adult as my Mom started drinking. I was in my early teens at the time and really, truly, felt like I had lost my Mom for the better part of 20 years.

This last weekend - yeesh. I don't think I'm ready to post about it yet. But it was pretty awful. She comes here every Saturday and Sunday - and I work a big, full week. I've just been offered a scholarship to do the Masters that I would have done right after undergrad had I not left the country. To "travel" but really, to get as far away from the mess at home as I could without joining the space program.

I'd love to do this Masters. But I don't know if I can swing full time study as well as my own apartment on my student funding. I pay rent here (my folks have a large house - we don't live in a big city) and had planned to leave in July - until the Masters became an option.

But I have some serious thinking to do - because if my sister is going to keep causing the kind of friction and upset that she has in the last year - I don't think that I can live in a house where she comes and goes as she pleases. I doubt that I would see her more than once a year if I didn't live with my folks.

An honestly, I have no idea what to think. There were so many years of "pretend it isn't happening" with my Mother. It took a lot of work for me to open up about how it had affected me. She talks about my "making things up" and "exaggerating" - but truly - I don't think that I am. All I can be sure of is my feelings - both then and now. But she aims right at the most tender of places - I'm making a fuss, I'm "dragging up history."

I think, actually, that it's more a matter of my having a voice nowadays and not being willing to roll over and play dead. Mom's fully functional and doing great. I am not eight to her 16 any more and won't be treated the way that she's used to treating me. And she is hanging on for dear life to the old family system.

Buuut... Maybe I am making a fuss. Maybe I am going too far in the other direction. Hard to know.

Thanks for listening. This was a monster vent.

H.

May 14, 2007
2:08 pm
Avatar
bevdee
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 259
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hey Healin

If your sister admits to any of the past, she will have to admit to the effects it had on her. She will have to face that she has problems as an ACA, a caregiver, enabler. Denial was the toughest for me - to admit there is a problem, and admit the part I play(ed) in it.

One of the hardest skins for me to shed has been the skin of *family*. And of their expectations. When I broke the pattern, by leaving an abusive relationship and starting with my first therapist, I was ostracized from my mother's family most of the time. (I believe it was the therapy that was more frightening to them than my putting a stop to getting whooped up on) When I was even invited to the family get-togethers, my mother would wait until we were all seated and start ridiculing me, my clothes, my decisions, and my life in general. Like, making fun of me for getting beaten. Kind of her open season on me with the rest of the family laughing at her clever remarks. The perspective I have now is that it was their way of showing me how miserable I could be by not playing into the dynamics they had established- those dynamics being *don't talk about it, con't go changing* At the time it just hurt. But looking back, I think they had to do it, because I was scaring them.

*and she has gone from crying down the phone at me three times a week about how worried she was about my Mom when I lived in another country - to taking the position that "Mom drank a little - so what? You're such a Drama Queen."* It sounds like she is trying to draw you back into her *old family system.*, and gets very angry and lashes out when you don't take the bait. Dismissive - I know that feeling. It was so hard to hear, *Are we really that awful?* or *Don't you love us anymore?* from my mom, because I loved everyone and I had been trained to believe that my loyalty to that family was the most important thing in life . It took me a while longer (2 ½ years) before I fully comprehended that the love would never be returned. Not the kind of love I needed. Loyalty with strings attached is just too damned painful.

What I thought I needed for my healing - as a result of growing up in that dysfunction - was not coming from them! I changed and they didn't. They have never forgiven me. Sure they send cards and tell they miss me, but I imagine I just bug them by my absence. The missing face, the empty chair at the table - a niggling reminder.

Oh- I understand this! *She talks about my "making things up" and "exaggerating" - but truly - I don't think that I am. All I can be sure of is my feelings - both then and now.*

Finally after years of trying unsuccessfully to communicate with my mother and her family about why I feel the way I do, I started thinking about my need to be right.

That's where my need to be right came from. Because no one listened to me, no one validated my feelings or opinion. They told me I was wrong in a hundred different ways! It was after I got out of that dynamic that I was able to see that, but it took me a long time. It's still a lesson I am learning.

Venting is ok- I vent and sometimes I rant, and from that- sometimes- I am able to gain some perspective.

Good to talk to you.

May 14, 2007
5:43 pm
Avatar
healintime
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 27, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi Bev,

Thank you - I needed to hear all of that. I definitely enabled - no two ways about it - even as a child. And my Sister -absolutely- did. Especially in the years that I was away, just as my Mom was bottoming out.

In some ways - still, I think that my Mother favors her for being "caring" during that time. I meanwhile cut and run, then came home wanting and needing to have some full and frank conversations. Those conversations didn't always make me popular.

In a family system where "don't upset your Mother" was the motto even before she started her drinking career - there was only one way for my sister's frustrations to flow - and being eight years younger I was the easiest target to offload on.

No one validated my feelings or opinion either. Spoke to my Mom yesterday about the weekend and asked her, honestly, if a friend treated me the way my sister did this last weekend and does in general how she would react. She said she would be "furious" but that she "has two daughters." That is the closest that she has ever come to having an opinion - and it makes me feel as though all the conversations we've had since I got back were just my Mother humoring me.

I know exactly what you mean about needing to be right. I rarely let anything show - until very recently. If I did I was told that i wasn't feeling what I was feeling. Chin up, move right along. That's what I meant about going to far in teh other direction. Right now I'm in a phase where I feel like, for once, I need to be heard. I need to be right. And I don't know whethter that's any healthier.

I want a relationship with my parents - but at 32, I see no reason why it has to be a package deal. I've worked to hard to make the changes that I have without re-living the worst of the verbal abuse of my relationship with my sister. Standing there with her saying (screaming) the things that she did last weekend, honest to God, was like being in a room with my ex again. And there's another layer of the onion. I thought I had done so well in picking a man who wasn't an alcoholic and instead I was with my freaking sister all that time. And I developed a drinking problem all by myself. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

I am so sorry about those family dinners - I cannot imagine sitting at a table where your abuse was made into a joke. That's monsterous. I'm sure that they do miss you - and it's their loss. I'm slowly accepting, really accepting, that recovery isn't necessarily a team sport. I don't want, or need for it to be - but I do mind being attacked for wanting to address my own stuff.

It's like we all have a yard. Everyone's responsible for their own and for a long time I spent many hours lending a hand in my Mother, Sister, and Father's gardens. By the time I had a chance to look at my own yard, it was totally overgrown with weeds. For two years I've been weeding - and it's getting to the point where it's it's in okay shape. It won't win any prizes and there is clear room for improvement - but I'm doing what I can, when I can and it's looking a lot better than it has for a long time. If my neighbors want to help out, they're welcome to - but I don't expect it. What I do mind, nowadays, is someone breaking through the fence and taking a dump on the lawn I've worked so hard on. That's how it feels with my sister - like she's crapping on my garden.

H x

May 16, 2007
4:52 am
Avatar
bevdee
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 259
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Healintime

*That's how it feels with my sister - like she's crapping on my garden.*

Yeah, you have a way with words. I know this crapped on feeling, and sometimes it feels like a grudge dump. It doesn't fertilise the garden, does it? They don't want us to get better, they need us in their sickness. They need us in their cycle. Maybe that's why "still, I think that my Mother favors her for being "caring" during that time. I meanwhile cut and run, then came home wanting and needing to have some full and frank conversations. Those conversations didn't always make me popular." Sure- your sister is still in the game your mother needs. You aren't.

I tried for years to incorporate being a part of the family into recovering from my family. I still don't know if I will achieve this. It's a tight circle and it doesn't allow much growth. I thought that if I could understand my family, it would prevent me from being hurt by them. It didn't.

My mother desparately needs to be needed. Only those who play into that need are worthy of her love. Since I left that abuser, since I have moved forward (ever so slightly) and don't play into her game, she tries to *punish* me. Most recently, since my withdrawl from the rescue triangle we had built around my sister and her crack addiction, I am treated with confusion or hostility. Not only does she withhold her famous, toxifying love, she rubs my nose in the favoritism she shows my sister.

I learned not to share personal information about myself to either my mother or my sister because it will be used against me in some way, as long as I refuse to play into their dynamics. When I have tried to share things about myself, my life, I got burned. Therapy, for instance. That was just a weapon in my mother's hands. But still, I tried for years to incorporate being a part of the family and recovering from my family. At this point, I don't see how I can do that. It seems like an oxymoron to me.

I do know now that there is no way I can say to a woman that does not accept any responsibility for her poor parenting and abuse - *I am struggling to recover from growing up in your home*, without some backlash from her. The hardest lesson was letting go of this image I had of her as a loving person that wanted to see me grow. It was my childish expectation, and sometimes? I still want it- and I still grieve for the loss. Because how it is is not how I want it to be. But maybe seeing how it is for what it is will make me stronger someday. I hope so.

Thanks for your response, Healin.

Forum Timezone: UTC -8
Most Users Ever Online: 247
Currently Online:
32
Guest(s)
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Top Posters:
onedaythiswillpass: 1134
zarathustra: 562
StronginHim77: 453
free: 433
2013ways: 431
curious64: 408
Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 49
Members: 110935
Moderators: 5
Admins: 3
Forum Stats:
Groups: 8
Forums: 74
Topics: 38542
Posts: 714222
Newest Members:
jessicawales, documentsonline, SafeWork, thomasalina, genericsmartdrugs, 才艺
Moderators: arochaIB: 1, devadmin: 9, Tincho: 0, Donn Gruta: 0, Germain Palacios: 0
Administrators: admin: 21, ShiningLight: 572, emily430: 29

Copyright © 2019 MH Sub I, LLC. All rights reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Health Disclaimer