Ongoing enmeshment with mother

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Erebor

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Ongoing enmeshment with mother
« on: July 19, 2018, 01:48:46 AM »
Hello everyone, I don't know how to go about rewriting this in a way that conveys the necessary information concisely, so I'm largely copying from my journal. Sorry for the length. If you want to read the longer but slightly different journal post, that might shed some further light on my situation. I have an NPD-F who I'm NC with, and a CPTSD-M who I live with and am financially dependent on. Now it turns out I'm also enmeshed with M, and there's an emotionally incestuous side to it too.

Both of us have raised concerns about being unhealthy for each other at different points in the last few years, but M always and immediately jumps to the drastic solutions of living in different houses (with her paying the rent for both, out of a finite and constantly shrinking amount of money) OR 'never seeing each other again' as a way of dealing with it, instead of a less drastic and more practical and constructive plan - that I now realise would have to involve working to build better boundaries and learning to live as separate individuals under the same roof.  We both have our own private spaces, so it's not like we're stuck in the same room all the time... however, she responds negatively to my spending time in my own room beyond sleeping (even reacts to my having the door closed - NPD-F didn't let me close my door so she doesn't see it as normal, I think).  She frequently complains of missing me, and as we used to live in cultic/isolating environments I'm the only person she has any real contact with.

Like I said, she has CPTSD too, but has lived with it and further abuse for a much longer time than I have.  We both attempt to support each other, but I'm beginning to question how much of this 'support' is healthy... there's so much to be said on it, more than any one post could contain.

My immediate concern is this:

1) Since an incident during my early/mid childhood when my rage was stifled (M couldn't deal with me asking her why she didn't protect me from NPD-F's abuse, she defended him, I said I hated her, she broke down in tears, and I felt so guilty I abandoned my own feelings in order to make her stop crying) I have largely been either 'happy' (beginning to work out that it's artificial, but it seems real when I'm in it) or depressed.  Outbursts of anger and pain paint the gaps between those two feeling states.  There are some memories of what must be real happiness(?).

2) Both parents glorified my 'happy' state and referred to it as my identity and true state of being, at all times - M still does.  NPD-F hated me being aware of my pain and would hound me back to being happy - M does something similar but more covert/passive and seemingly caring? Both parents have particular pet names/pet phrases they sometimes use to refer to me that solidify my identity as 'someone always happy'. M has long denied any comments I have made stemming from my occasional awareness that I'm nearly constantly miserable, in at least some part of my soul.  Instead she insists that I am a happy person.  (She says this, despite having at many points acted as my support and heard a great deal of how I've suffered.)

3) The 'happiness' (I refuse to give this state of numbed suffering the title and status of actual happiness as FOO chose to) is an automatic state of being, or mode, that triggers upon interaction with M. My true feelings disappear like mist when it fully activates. As far as I can tell, it isn't a dissociated part, but perhaps it is?  I've noticed that my voice can change to sound happier when I talk to her, even if the mode doesn't fully activate.

4) This is the worst bit. M either can't or doesn't want to deal with the discomfort and stress it causes her when she loses our 'connection' AKA enmeshment and loss of boundaries.  In other words, she can't cope with me leaving the Automatic Artificial 'Happiness' Mode (I guess that's AAHM for short - there must be a way of making a joke about 'an AAHM and a leg'). She responds by being timid, crying sporadically, asking me what's wrong, assuming (rightly, in one sense) that I'm upset with her, trying to 'fix it' so I go back to being 'happy'.  She can progress to being angry or outright rageful, and making threats about throwing me out.

What's happening now, is this. I left the 'happy' state out of a reaction to M refusing to change her stance on something I didn't agree with - it was a personal belief that should have had no impact on me, yet because of the enmeshment it does (I can feel my brain shifting my opinions to match hers, so the abusive dynamic of it is that there are some opinions/preferences/beliefs that negatively impact my mental health and in order to avoid them, I think I have to convince her to avoid them - distancing myself from her for the last few days has helped me to see this behavior and identify it as unhealthy and abusive.)

So I am now perpetrating the same abuse that she and NPD-F have inflicted on me - not allowing someone else to have their own preferences.  I refuse to do this going forward, and will work hard (not just for her - I really need to find myself and be myself!!)

Number 4 describes today.  M's been faking happy herself, as though to solicit the same response from me (to get me back into being what she thinks is 'me').  She told me I'm being distant - yes, I am. Because I don't know how to stay afloat in a sea of automatic reactions that threaten to steal away my independence and identity.  Usually the rage takes a while to show up, the acting nice has to fail at getting me back into enmeshment for that to happen.

For most of my life, I have sporadically had the urge to withdraw from her (interesting that John Bradshaw, in his book 'Home Coming', refers to withdrawal as the only weapon a child has... I may be paraphrasing). I can't tell if the withdrawal is the right way to deal with this or not, I'm quite physically tense and feel guilty about not talking to her - but I don't know how to broach this topic with her in a constructive way, and any harmless dialogue seems to trigger the AAHM (same thing used to happen with my F).  I've spoken to her a bit today because  of the guilt, but I can feel the AAHM starting up.

Any advice and support is greatly appreciated right now - this feels like a lot to wrap my brain around, and I don't yet have anyone else to talk to about it, apart from her.  For further clarification, M thinks she is codependent and faun/freeze.

Edit
Quote
Children are often anxious to please their parents and a Parentified child will often take their responsibilities very seriously. They may even feel honored initially by being treated like a ‘grown up’ and entrusted with responsibility for other family members or their parent. However, the child will generally suffer from having his or her own emotional needs neglected and from being compelled to live up to the burden of expectation.
Parentified children may struggle with lingering resentment, explosive anger and difficulty in forming trusting relationships with peers, issues which often follow them into adulthood. Forming close, trusting romantic and spousal relationships may be particularly difficult.

Just read this on http://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/parentification - that's definitely me.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 02:08:14 AM by Erebor »

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Jdog

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Re: Ongoing enmeshment with mother
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 01:15:04 PM »
Erebor-

I have no real advice, as it sounds like separating from your M is not realistic at this time for financial reasons.  I take it you don’t have resources to move out on your own at this time, or probably would have done so. 

I send support and encouragement for you as you continue to be as strong as you can and resist the attempts to force you into acting a part you do not wish to play.  It is a difficult balancing act, as I know from my much more limited experiences with emeshment.  You sound very strong, and you will get through this.  Be kind to yourself, and realize that you do not have to view yourself through the eyes of others.  You alone are responsible for your feelings, responses, and thoughts.  You cannot control the thoughts, feelings, or responses of another.  Only your own. 

Hang in there.  You will make it.  Get whatever help you can from supportive people in your life.  If there are none, think about ways of cultivating some.  You deserve care, compassion, and the freedom to live your own authentic life.

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Erebor

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Re: Ongoing enmeshment with mother
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2018, 02:52:21 PM »
Thanks for your kind words Jdog. It's rough but I think I'm going to get there!

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Jdog

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Re: Ongoing enmeshment with mother
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2018, 01:51:42 AM »
I like your positive energy and hopefulness.  You are not alone.  Stay strong, one step at a time.