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Messages - blues_cruise

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t's still in that early phase where they haven't "noticed" yet (which is just more proof of the "narc cloud" hovering over all of them, I feel), it's only been a few months, but today I got all stuck in my head about what I'd tell a LC sibling when they finally decide to confront me on it, if ever. What I'd say, what I'd confront them about myself, how I could possibly pass the guilt and shame I feel in isolation back on to them so I don't feel like it's on my shoulders so much, because it's so unfair; but most of all, the itching feeling like I owed an explanation.

I always find it baffling how some people with personality disorders just straight up don't recognise that a family member isn't full contact with them any longer. In my experience, if you're still serving them from time to time and stoking their ego enough then they don't really acknowledge a problem. I was quite low contact with my father for years with him only contacting me when he wanted a favour doing, which was all fine until he took offence at the one occasion when I wasn't able to meet his demands. The idea that we ever had a loving, genuine relationship and that he misses me is actually laughable. I think if family isn't even noticing low contact then the shame for the situation truly isn't yours to bear, as they're clearly not seeing you or taking any accountability for their role in the circumstances. 

Where I always get to when I'm caught in these spirals also is that I know FOO well enough to know they don't spiral over these things in the same way - except my enabler sis maybe, but she has the toxic support of my other FOO members to keep her feeling validated that she's in the right if she has doubts (which, of course, is why she's enabling and fawning, to feel safe in the dynamic, like she always has). Meanwhile, I dont have that.

Then it makes me realize that there isn't a capacity for empathy on their side of things like there is on mine. If they truly cared, they'd be spinning their wheels in the same way figuring out how to get through that they care for me genuinely. Only, they don't, obviously! They would have done that by now if I was a priority.

Yeah definitely, the lack of empathy on NF's part is something I always forget when I'm triggered into shame. I often project my feelings of sadness and guilt on to him, all the while forgetting that he's coccooned in his usual dynamic and has expressed no wish to address reality. He's validated by enabling people around him who choose to maintain the status quo so there's no incentive for him to attempt change.

PD people (and their flying monkeys) are like flame, if you toss them any emotion at all it just feeds them like dry tinder. I think I'm learning this. I was just watching a show and there was an awesome line: "What do they say about arguing with i***ts? They pull you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience." (Sorry to quote an insulting term! I don't think PDs are i***ts, but I think the concept applies to dealing with PD folk too, sorry if it comes of too harsh.)

But you're on a different level. Medium chill is a concept I really like: the only way to deal with fire is to be like ice. Preserve yourself. Even showing that you care gives the opportunity for the fire, and thus more abuse, to spread. Every emotion is a tool against you. So why outwardly show that you do care by writing them? Why expose yourself?

The only reason: the pangs of guilt, shame, and sadness over being scapegoated are painful, and you want an outlet for them. But the thing is that they're a sign of your humanity; that you do care about them deeply. But that's an emotion you have the beautiful privilege and power to keep completely to yourself and know what it means. When they have access to it though, it gets warped and turned into something ugly (and turned against you, for that matter), so preserve it for yourself and don't give them anything.

We don't owe anyone (especially a fellow peer adult - great point, Jazzy!) an explanation about what we must do to feel deserving of self-confidence and peace of mind.

Oh absolutely, I think NF's personality disorder thrives on the chaos and he gets a high from feeling a sense of power. I first really recognised this after the first communication boundary I tried putting in place, after which he came to my home out of the blue and showed no emotion whatsoever. He seemed to have a really odd energy about him though, as if he was enjoying (and even excited by) my obvious discomfort over him being there. He was whispering about me to his now wife in full earshot with no respect for my feelings and went as far as to aggressively poke me in the ribs, which I'm just shocked by now when I recall it. It's something he always used to do when I was a little girl if I ever dared show any defiance and is actually very painful, more so than you might think. When living in relative peace it's so easy to forget what the reality of his demeanour actually is.

Medium chill is really valuable when contacting any person who has demonstrated time and time again that they have no respect for your feelings. I've been reading up on Myers Briggs personality types recently and although there's some controversy over how accurate it is, it is an interesting insight into how some personalities are dominated by feeling whereas others might be dominated by thinking, plus how that changes our perceptions of and reactions to events. I'm very much a feeler and I think because I'm naturally sensitive it is very easy for someone such as my father to exploit this for his own amusement.

The thing with NPD is that it's often referred to an illness and we possibly assign some leniency to the affected person as a result (against my better judgement, I've read many articles which show a lot of sympathy for them), because most people with illnesses more than anything want to get better. Narcissists rarely do this. My father has disordered, unhealthy patterns of thinking which no doubt stems from his own abusive childhood, however he can also think logically when it comes to choosing which social mask to wear on any given day and is very skilled at hiding any evidence of his abuse towards others. The latter demonstrates to me that he knows his behaviour is unacceptable but chooses to go ahead and treat people badly anyway because he knows he can so easily manipulate people's emotions and get away with it. Is failure to take accountability really a result of narcissistic illness, or is it just the sign of a very unpleasant person who doesn't care? We can't make this call and personally I find that my viewpoint varies depending on how I'm feeling in myself. Currently I'm feeling calm and well-rested and can clearly see that he should be taking accountability rather than being let off the hook, so it's probably a good time to get these more reality-driven thoughts down on paper, if only for my own benefit to reflect back on when I start beating myself up again.

Post submission edit: I appear to have written a short essay, apologies.  :whistling: ;)

One thing that may help with the shame is to write down all the reasons you went NC and read that when it rises up in you. We are good people doing something that does not sit well with our values so we need to reinforce why we went/stay NC.

If you do think you'd feel better letting him know why you have chosen to go NC, I like the examples you came up with already - honest, short and to the point.

My suggestion FWIW: "Three years ago I made the decision to end my relationship with you because far too often in my life your behaviour toward me was harmful, abusive even. I reached a point where it became too painful and I saw no possibility of you taking responsibility or changing. It was not an easy decision to end the relationship but I wish you well and ask that you respect my decision not to have any further contact."

Thanks Kizzie, I'll try making a list of why I feel NC is essential for me right now.  :) I do have a list of pivotal moments that I think contributed to this situation and I could do with reflecting on it more. I think I probably look for too much validation from other people about being no contact and feel all sorts of wrong when I imagine that they're thinking badly of me. I guess essentially it's people pleasing and what I was ultimately trained to do in order for the abuse to remain behind closed doors. I lose my own truth and reality in the process though and try to fit other people's narratives, when they're not the ones that have had to live through and cope with any of it.  :thumbdown:

I've written some further lines based along your suggestion and it's come far more easily to me today. I wrote this without realising until I read it back how important it feels to get it across: "...I am not going to provide examples [of previous bad behaviour] because these are numerous and past behaviour I can forgive to a point. It is in fact the likelihood of continued mistreatment and the harmful, ill effects of this that I refuse to subject myself to." If I could remain in contact without being hurt constantly then I would, but he seems to get off on the disorder and power plays. That's what I'm making a stand against and want to make abundantly clear.

I have been through these thoughts again and again blues_cruise and know how excruciating and even maddening they are. My experience has been that whatever I have said / written to FOO over the years has not got through to FOO. I say "over the years" because I have been NC with one FOO mbr and gone back to contact and NC with another and gone back to contact and VLC with almost everybody and gone back to gradually more contact since it had seemed they'd understood and changed until two utterly devastating incidents where it was obvious that they hadn't changed in the least and where it became obvious that I'm still FOO Scapegoat no. 1 aka the family garbage dump. Since then I've been vvvvvvlc with everybody, adding more and more 'v' to that as I realise (1) the depth of dysfunction in FOO and (2) how much it has been damaging me on a daily basis.

I've written a lot of Recovery Letters on here (non-sender letters to FOO mbrs) to get my feelings out. I also read over at OutOfTheFog and sometimes asked questions. I remember one mbr there, who'd gone through similar to me in a way - out of contact, back in, out again several times - saying that FOO can't understand us because it's as if we speak a completely different language to them. Our experiences as we try and make sense of what we went through and the steps we take to heal - it's completely foreign to those who haven't done this type of introspection or taken these steps so it's impossible to say or write anything that they'll understand. I've explained things before and FOO particularly enF claims to be clueless and oh so hurt.  Even me simply stating my boundaries used to be too much for FOO - they 'forgot' or 'got confused'. Needless to say my parents are now older than they were when they 'got confused' and enF though not yet suffering from dementia is getting more forgetful, but they no longer 'forget' that I don't accept phone calls from any FOO mbrs. They still 'don't understand' though and play mind games with me by forgetting other very important information (I'm Exceedingly VLC not NC).

Idk if all families react in detail the way my FOO does but faced with a statement like "There were constant occasions where you were very unpleasant to me and showed no signs of remorse or desire to change...I got fed up with it." certain mbrs of my FOO including both parents attack the statement: they parse the sentence, look for inconsistencies, explain how illogical it is and that I used the wrong words (e.g. do I really mean constant as in 100% or could that be an exaggeration? or 'unpleasant' what does unpleasant mean? give us examples / prove it). By that time I'm so triggered because that's how they acted in my childhood and all through my teen years and later... that I can't do anything for myself except maybe cry or dissociate (in person). If it's by letter, I can handle it better, but it still doesn't change anything on the outside.

This has got rather long but I hope it helps you a bit blues_cruise. It's not on you, it's on them.  :hug:

Yes, the thoughts are so maddening! Life is generally very peaceful until something triggers me to think of him, then I quickly descend into feelings of chaos and shame. I think the fact that your FOO couldn't move on from seeing you as the scapegoat is very telling of the dysfunction and how difficult it is to be expected to step back into that role once you begin to learn who your real self is. There's very much a set way of thinking and doing and if you dare step out of line you leave yourself open to abuse. It's true, they do speak a different language and have a different perspective. I think from NF's point of view I never used to stand up for myself and the rest of the FOO continues to show allegiance and subservience to him, so to him I'm blatantly the problem because I'm the only constant that changed. If I had remained in contact then perhaps I could have worked on boundaries and relentlessly attempted to have these respected after being trampled over and over again, but I don't think my self-esteem was up to it. When I started that route before no contact he seemed to take great pleasure in putting me in my place and ignoring reasonable requests designed to protect my sanity (i.e. I requested that we stay in contact via email or text messages as opposed to phone calls...such a simple thing but he flat out refused to do it). It seemed very much like a game to him and I felt he was mocking and undermining me every step of the way. I was fast approaching 30 and really felt like my time would be better spent working on the assertiveness that I had never been taught and had been holding me back in my work life, rather than engaging any further in the dysfunction.

My NF can react in detail the way that your FOO does and gets stuck on the particulars of a discussion rather than seeing the bigger picture, interjecting it with mockery and acting like he's above whatever you're trying to get across to him. When I was in contact with NF I wouldn't even attempt it as I knew it would result in him attempting to humiliate me. I'm pretty much 99% sure he won't take on board anything I put forward in a letter or email to him (most likely email) and will choose the usual route of smearing me and mocking everything I've said, but what I say will come from a place of honesty and years of self-reflection so I feel the outcome on his end doesn't matter too much. So long as it doesn't prompt drive-by visits and harassment, that's the only real worry.

Thanks Blueberry, yes it has helped very much. :) :hug:

I've asked myself this many times trying to deal with my M. So, I'll just share some of what I learned in my situation, and hopefully something will be helpful to you. Sorry if this isn't the best way to post. I have a hard time with giving too much advice/telling people what to do. I try not to be bossy, but sometimes it feels like the only way I know how to talk. Anyway...

I think the most important thing I learned is to re-frame things in my mind, and think about them in terms of an adult/adult relationship, instead of a parent/child relationship. I am extremely lenient with my M, as she is my M, but I still make it a point to think how I would act/feel if someone I wasn't related to was acting as she did. If nothing else, this helps me to keep things from getting too far out of hand.

Another thing is that I don't owe M an explanation for LC/NC. A relationship (and contact) requires both parties to be involved. She is just as involved as I am, and should be able to figure things out by taking just a minute to reflect on the situation and the history. The fact that she really can't figure it out shows just how bad her NPD is/how disconnected from the real world she really is. That's unfortunate, and sad, but ultimately not my responsibility.

Attempting to explain why LC/NC was just another opportunity for more gas lighting/abuse, and no matter what/how I said things, she was going to feel attacked. It took me many years to realize this, and it never went well for me until I accepted this, and was prepared for it before I said anything.

IME, it is far easier to write it down in a letter or email rather than talk about it. Verbally arguing/talking back/discussing with M is impossible for me. It also isn't a conversation (unless you want it to be, of course), and a notice in writing gives far less opportunity for rebuttal/interjection.

There is also the old trick of "using I statements". "I felt hurt" is less hostile than "you hurt me". I realize this really is downplaying what was done, and I only mention it because it may help in a situation like this to make the LC/NC explanation a little easier. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend such a thing, especially when trying to resolve a problem.

That's about all I have to offer. This is a really difficult situation, but I hope you find some peace with however you proceed. Whatever happens, you will get past this and continue on with your life, so I hope it does not become too overwhelming between now and then. Wishing you strength, peaceful thoughts, and hugs if you'd like.  :hug: All the best!

You don't come across as bossy at all and what you've shared is really helpful! Reframing it as an adult/adult relationship is definitely something I could and should put more focus on. I find myself slipping into the role of caregiver/adult because his behaviour is so childish. I also find myself being lenient on him for this as I put it down to his developmental age being stunted but then I remember that he knows perfectly well how to act like a mature, sensitive adult when interacting with people he needs to keep on side. I always forget that he's perfectly capable of this and knows how to behave appropriately in social settings, he just chooses manipulation and guilt tripping with me instead.

The last thing I want is a conversation with him as he will just rage and gaslight me, which I'm not emotionally prepared for. I'm naturally better at expressing my thoughts in writing in most scenarios anyway, so it's my default preference with anyone the majority of the time. Using the "I" statements is a really helpful suggestion and something I'll definitely take on board. I've recently been listening to a brilliant podcast about boundaries ("Beyond Bitchy" hosted by Vicki Tidwell Palmer - it's really helpful) and this is something that's come up on there a few times. It takes aggression out of the exchange but still allows you to express that the other person has mistreated you. It does feel a little bit like I'm downplaying things but then he is a very volatile person prone to fits of rage without any clue about how to healthily express emotion. It's why I won't even contemplate sending anything until a while after he attempts to contact me again, and even then I'm going to ensure that it's done once lockdown has greatly eased so that he has more distractions and is less like a caged lion. Chances are he'll just end up ranting to my brothers on the phone who in turn will just say "oh right" at the correct places, but regardless it makes sense for this to be sent at a time when emotions are less high across the board. It might not even be until next year, but I really want to feel prepared for it.

Thanks Jazzy. :hug: It's one of those things I think I have to journey through in order to gain some peace and clarity and it does really help to discuss it all and think it through first.

Anyway, Blues you have to do what feels right for you of course, we're just sharing what worked (or didn't) for us  :grouphug:

And it's really helpful and reassuring to know that others relate and can share their experiences, thank you all.  :) :grouphug:

I didn't write a letter explaining no contact to uNF, however 3 years later given that he claims to be clueless about my reasons for no longer having any open lines of communication with him I'm getting to a point where I feel I would like to set this out in stone for him next time he attempts contact. It's for myself as much as anything as I feel so much shame for having just gone quiet and it feels like a big burden. In fact, just lately the shame has been feeling excruciating and I think I'm taking far too much responsiblity for it.

I've just tried writing a draft letter to practise what I might say when the time comes and frankly after only a sentence in I just felt like it was hopeless. I want to get across the point that it was his awful behaviour that led to this and pass the shame back where it should rightfully belong, however it feels impossible to do this without it looking like I'm attacking him...which will just trigger him further. It feels so ridiculous trying to explain to your own parent that being horrible is a valid reason for not wanting to talk to them. My reasoning is as simple as that too, basically: "There were constant occasions where you were very unpleasant to me and showed no signs of remorse or desire to change...I got fed up with it."

Someone with suspected narcissistic personality disorder is just going to feel attacked by that though and go on a rampage. He's got no ability to self-reflect and protects his ego by living out the delusion that he's great and everyone else is the problem. I guess maybe I could say, "I was left feeling sad and hurt by how you had chosen to treat me and saw no prospect of you self-reflecting on your behaviour and choosing to improve it" and leave it at that. I could maybe even suggest that he seeks professional mental help if he is unable to figure it out on his own. Must admit, it feels a bit cheeky (but empowering) saying that.  ;) I really don't see why I should have to spell it out to him though, plus in an ideal world the most healthy, positive thing and a way forward to reconciliation would be for him to seek help. There is no way he ever would, but I might feel better for suggesting it rather than ignoring the elephant in the room and enabling him the way that the rest of the family chooses to. There is no way I am qualified to even scrape the surface of his disorder. He has a LOT of issues that he has never dealt with.

Maybe it's not such a great idea. It's just so frustrating though, I don't see why I should be lumbered with all this shame because he takes no accountability for it. I think I automatically tell myself I'm a bad person for fading away but how can I possibly explain it all without prompting drama or encouraging harrassment? I'm not sure how to feel better about it. I just really feel this is an unfair situation and that I deserve to be heard and tell my truth in response to all his gaslighting, you know?  :sadno:

I agree and think it's a pretty reasonable, compassionate response to a letter from a parent who doesn't appear to be taking much responsibility for the estrangement, if any. He's putting the onus on his daughter causing upset and being the sticking point by refusing to have contact with him and the rest of his family without any insight as to what could have caused her to need that distance from them.

I’m not sure how much I agree with this one statement, as I think it goes too far making assumptions about the daughter’s motives, and ignores that she may simply be trying to protect herself from some aspect of her F’s behavior... “Right now the only way she can communicate her pain to you is by inflicting it on you in return—with her distance.“

Yeah, I do think it's good that the daughter's pain is acknowledged, but making the assumption that the motive behind the estrangement is to cause pain to her father seems quite short-sighted to me. I do think that estrangement is a massive indicator that the person who has chosen no contact is in pain, but after years of regularly reading other people's stories and accounts on sites such as OOTS I've yet to encounter anyone who has chosen no contact for any other reason than to protect themselves from further abuse.

I do appreciate this statement in the article: "Of course, it’s hard for most parents to hear how they disappointed their kids, especially if they tried their absolute best, but unless you can see how you contributed to her feelings of anger or hurt, nothing will change between you." I don't think trying one's best should mean that continuous, abusive behaviour should be excused and I'm glad that this is pointed out. Just one example (of many), I'm sure my own father was genuinely trying his best during his passive-aggressive phones calls and probably thought that the odd gift here and there would make up for bad behaviour. It doesn't make my automatic feels of anxiety in response to the phone calls any less valid though, nor my anger when I tried setting up boundaries to prevent said anxiety and had these violated.

I've been thinking about how my own father would react to being sent this article and I think he would completely miss the point. He remarried a few months after I decided to stop speaking to him so I think he would see the parallel there, get stuck on that point, accuse me of being petty and completely miss what the article is actually getting at. He doesn't have enough empathy to understand or care that his actions cause other people pain. He is stuck at the emotional developmental stage of a 2 year old and is only concerned with the fact that the current circumstances are upsetting for him.

An interesting article, saylor, thanks for sharing!

Yes, I often worry about this! Because I'm so socially awkward around people or get visibly flustered in social situations ( I'm a massive blusher) I wonder if they think it's because I'm attracted to them, which just isn't the case. Even if I'm not flustered I'm often left wondering whether I might have come across as flirting with someone if I was being friendly, then feel like I want to distance myself in case they think that.

Could this be a social anxiety thing for you perhaps? I have social anxiety disorder and I know that it causes me to overthink things like this.

I have been thinking why any friendships or other relationships I have seemingly attracted people who have treated me in an appalling manner when I feel they wouldn't treat others like this.

I have had and have a few friends in my life whom I would not expect would ever treat me in the manner I describe above.

However I do feel a bit disconnected but I'm grateful for who I do have in my life.

There was one person who out of her toxic jealousy exploded at me when we met for a coffee. I hadn't seen her in months. I was homeless and had just secured a flat at this time. I'm sure she planned to meet me in order to be emotionally abusive. This was about 12 years ago and I still feel some of the nasty things she said are in my head. I know this was her issue and nastiness but I can't help feeling this is my fault and a problem with me. I attract these horrible people.

I have had good things happen but I am quite disconnected and I have this negativity from what different people have said to me in my head. I just can't shake it off.

I don't know if this is a feeling of wanting to feel connected and a couple of these people making sure this didn't happen by their behaviour.

Does anyone else have these feelings and can't get even very old nastiness out your head?

I do feel as well I bother people some of the time and when I am 'found out' (my worth) I am not worthy of being treated with respect. This is not my belief system but it is a feeling I have deep down.

I've experienced this all my life and I think it stems from having never learned boundaries. Unfortunately some people do take advantage of this and will insidiously push and push until before we know it we are being mistreated and taken advantage of. I've had some lovely people in my life too who haven't done this but I think the more toxic people dominate because their behaviour is hurtful and therefore more memorable. They're probably used to having more assertive people telling them to shove off before they're given the opportunity to cause them any hurt (think back on these people's past friendships with others - I bet they constantly fell out with people), but with us we don't bark back at the point that most people would find their behaviour intolerable and they end up taking advantage of that.

There was one person who out of her toxic jealousy exploded at me when we met for a coffee. I hadn't seen her in months. I was homeless and had just secured a flat at this time. I'm sure she planned to meet me in order to be emotionally abusive. This was about 12 years ago and I still feel some of the nasty things she said are in my head. I know this was her issue and nastiness but I can't help feeling this is my fault and a problem with me. I attract these horrible people.

It baffles me how anyone could be like that, I'm sorry that happened. :hug: I had a frenemy all the way through school and into college who treated me like an emotional punchbag and I've also had people in the workplace who have treated me similarly. Again, it's my lack of boundaries. I've never had them and as a result these people have seen an opening and used me to make themselves feel better. They wouldn't do it to other people because other people would soon tell them to stop (or give them some other choice language probably)  ;). I've also wondered what could be so wrong with me that encourages these horrible people but really I think they probably attempt to be horrible to everyone, it's just that the other people they try it on with might have that little bit more assertiveness and experience with setting boundaries which means that they detect they're being mistreated and manipulated much quicker than we do, then as a result they withdraw themselves from the 'friendship' sooner to protect themselves.

I know this is an old thread but thank you so much for creating it, I relate to so much of it and it's comforting to see that so many others do too. For me, I think I need human connection but it needs to be the right kind. Currently I'm quite content with being alone much of the time with my dog and husband (though admittedly not much choice there anyway at the moment!) and perhaps engaging with forums or a tiny bit of the more pleasant aspects of social media if I need a bit more than that. That's really all I feel I want right now though, as my mind is always full of healing work or working my way through emotional flashbacks, which is intense but necessary I think. I'm finally coming out of survival mode, learning the very basics of boundaries and my sense of self and really I'm very ill prepared for the level of social contact that's considered normal for most people.

I must admit, though on the whole I agree with them I do get a bit frustrated when mental health professionals stress the importance of positive mirroring from other people in order to heal. I mean, where exactly do you find these caring, non judgmental people in day to day situations?! They make it sound so easy but I often find that there is little explanation beyond the vague "reach out to others" and very little advice given on how to negotiate positive relationships with other people when you have a lot of fear and reservations about trusting others. Given my poor sense of self and current lack of skill in making boundaries I actually think before I throw myself into social situations I need to calm my nervous system down further and learn better self care, otherwise by entering social situations that I don't have the skills to cope with I'm just going to continue to feel like a duck out of water and panic. I'm so prone to being taken advantage of too and unless I have a better understanding of boundaries and what I am and am not willing to tolerate in social relationships I think I'll justcontinue to attract people who aren't good for me.

For so long I've felt like I shouldn't trust my gut feeling about social situations I'm not comfortable with and have just assumed that there must be something terribly wrong with me, that I'm a bad person and useless for not being more social. I think this is because my feelings were never listened to or validated growing up and I was always called "silly"  or talked down to in the derogatory third person of "oh, she's just shy" when a social situation scared me. At the age of 3 my mum would dump me at playgroup thinking that leaving me there terrified and crying in a big room full of noisy children I didn't know would toughen me up (or some other flawed logic) but it never did and I hated it. I still feel like that 3 year old much of the time when faced with social situations and personally I think that if what feels socially normal and pleasant to other people doesn't work for us then we should perhaps look at what the inner child is telling us and try to reparent ourselves. I've ignored my feelings for so long thinking that the anxiety I feel is just "silly" but I'm starting to think that really it's my gut feeling telling me that I have unresolved trauma to process and need to work on myself a bit more before I can feel comfortable doing what comes naturally for others. And that's ok, most people haven't endured totalitarian parenting growing up and can't possibly understand the effect it has on a person. I think perhaps we need to have this distance from others to figure out what we should essentially have been lovingly taught from the beginning.

Many of us have been so focused outwardly to protect ourselves, to survive, we lose track of who we are and need time and space to focus internally, and to let our nervous systems heal.

I agree entirely Kizzie, I think we just need a bit of breathing space to work it out. When your amygdala hijacks your nervous system around other people then I think the priority needs to be calming down your entire nervous system so that panic doesn't overwhelm in the first instance. If you think about it, children from stable backgrounds with mentally healthy parents have the opportunity to practise all these new skills and develop a healthy sense of self in a safe-enough, protective environment, which is something we never had. I think withdrawing from other people is a boundary we might need while we're at our most vulnerable in order to develop a calm, non-judgmental environment with which to centre ourselves and reparent the inner child.

Yes, I get very triggered whenever I read an article about Meghan Markle and her family. For me, I see how manipulative and uncaring her father has been towards her and I think I see that aspect because that's been my experience and I'm seeing parallels (he even looks the spitting image of NF  :aaauuugh:). It could well be that this blinkers me to the flaws that others point out in MM though and that I'm projecting my own situation on to her story too much.

And now to hear stories of accusing her being NPD and citing her ability to cut off her family as evidence of this?? Its made me confused and feel guilty and that I am in the wrong. But I cut them off BECAUSE they were NPD, not the other way around.

I try not to read remarks people make about her now because it's this very thing that upsets me. Cutting a parent out of your life is not done without a lot of pain and soul searching and is done as an absolutely final resort when nothing you do can make the relationship better, or when they're completely unwilling to change and respect boundaries. As far as I can see this seems to be the issue with Thomas Markle, since he won't respect his daughter's privacy and repeatedly sells her out to the media even though she has requested that he doesn't. It might not seem like a good enough reason to people who haven't experienced an upbringing with a disordered parent, but this might just have been the straw that broke the camel's back for Meghan.

I think when seeing people's reactions to the MM situation you have to remember that a lot of it is sensationalised by the gutter press and that Meghan hasn't publicly come forward with her side of the story, so people are swayed by a very one-sided narrative. I'm sure when my father gives people sob stories about how his only daughter has abandoned him then people might think I'm evil, however if they were to approach me personally and see me visibly get upset and tremble with anxiety as I describe what he did to me they might start to believe that he isn't the person he claims to be.

It's important to remember that people's opinion of her is about her alone and not you and your situation and that nothing is ever black and white. Even if there are parallels to her situation and yours they are two very different realities.  :hug: 

The Cafe / Re: The Potting Shed
« on: March 07, 2020, 01:29:47 PM »
Aww, I love robins and blue tits, I think they might be my favourite little birds. Robins because they're cheeky and have so much character and blue tits because they're just so beautiful. One of my favourite memories in the garden is when I was digging and a little robin kept coming along and sitting on the fork handle, singing and keeping an eye out for worms. So sweet.  ;D

I love this time of year, I think the anticipation of spring and the tiny little signs that start appearing is just as good as when it all arrives.

General Discussion / Re: self care
« on: March 07, 2020, 01:22:50 PM »
Oh wow, that list is fantastic. The social media detox is a really good one, I feel so much healthier mentally when I step back from it. Thanks for sharing, notalone.  :)

General Discussion / Re: How do you grieve?
« on: March 07, 2020, 01:17:07 PM »
Thank you so much Hope. :hug: It really is such a comfort that someone relates and understands the horrible, weird feelings stemming from emotional incest, though I'm really sorry that you had to experience it too. I think the emotional incest is the thing I struggle with most and I find it so confusing. It's something that anyone could easily write off as me being too sensitive about if I were to openly talk about it to people who haven't been through it. It was covert comments and an unsettling atmosphere/discomfort rather than outright sexual abuse, and yet I know how disgusting it made me feel and he even recalling it makes me feel shame and disgust.

It does feel good to get in touch with my real emotions and to express them healthily, as you say, it is so restrictive and negative to not feel safe enough to do so. I wasn't allowed to make noise as a child either and I remember being yelled at just for happily skipping, which I look back on and just feel so sad about. I now make a point of skipping about in my kitchen as a big "nerrr" to him.  ;D ;)


General Discussion / How do you grieve?
« on: March 01, 2020, 02:22:57 PM »
I was triggered today in the kitchen when I was cooking breakfast and my husband manoeuvred around me collecting things to load up in the dishwasher. I felt discomfort and a bit of revulsion and I knew I was emotionally flashing back to living alone with my father as a teenager. Emotional incest was rampant and I never liked being in a dressing gown or pyjamas around him (as I was this morning, but with my lovely, safe husband). After my mum died it always felt like he treated me as a substitute wife rather than a daughter and he had no concept of giving me space or privacy. It always felt icky and wrong, particularly with the covert sexual remarks or personal comments that would sometimes come up.

I was really agitated and wanted to process this flashback, and I ended up trying out the steps in this article: It ended up with me crying my heart out and then feeling a sense of peace and true validation of what I had gone through. This is the first time I have ever managed this and it sounds odd to say that I was thrilled at crying, but it felt so good to finally release this emotion and grieve!

I'm now wondering if anyone else has successfully experienced this. I come from a family where expressing emotion was just not the done thing and I would be ridiculed as a small child for crying. My SIL remarked at my mother's funeral when I was a teen that she was shocked that myself and my brothers didn't cry, and looking back I'm shocked myself that I was so closed off because I remember having a lump in my throat and wanting, no needing, to cry but feeling like it was unsafe to show so much emotion in front of people. I feel like everything I was ever taught in my family regarding emotion was just so wrong and toxic.  :no:

Friends / Re: Letting go of a friend
« on: March 01, 2020, 02:05:59 PM »
Thank you both so much.   :) :grouphug:

Yes, I think I've been considering other people's needs and abandoning my own for far too long and the more I consider it the less I think I'm just being too sensitive. I think with this particular person too I'd been pretending to be something that I'm not just to feel some kind of acceptance. It's the first time I've really started to look at what's best for me and my personality. I'd kind of known for a while that she had really been taking me for granted and been quite shallow about it, but I assumed that this was better than losing another person in my life. Turns out that it's not particularly better though as I feel that a shallow connection uses up such valuable energy that would be better spent elsewhere. I don't think she's a bad person and we're simply very different people, so the idea of boundaries in this situation has been a long time coming. Weeks have gone by since I last saw her and neither of us have felt compelled to text the other, so I think that says it all really!

The word "no", boundaries and reflecting on my own needs seems to be becoming way more of a thing for me nowadays, in some ways there is a sadness at letting go of what no longer feels right but also a feeling that it's the natural course.  :)

Friends / Letting go of a friend
« on: February 26, 2020, 08:32:31 PM »
I don't know if I expect too much, if I'm over-sensitive or whether it's the opposite entirely and I'm growing a bit more of a backbone. Basically I feel quite discarded by a 'friend' and have done so for a while. If I text her then it can be up to a week before she will respond, throughout which time she will have been messaging other people, going out with all her other friends and using Facebook. She's a massive extrovert. So on that front I'm pretty much just low down on her list of importance. It's got worse over the last few months and I don't really see much point in bothering with someone who blatantly can't be that bothered with me. I'm not perfect and can take a while to respond to a message if I'm feeling particularly low so I've been very tolerant, however this is tolerance framed by the understanding of how mental health can make a person disconnect. I can only have so much tolerance and benefit of the doubt and realistically I know she's just using me.

The big thing (or at least it feels big to me) and something that really upset me was her completely forgetting my birthday and not even realising until a few days later. Our birthdays are close together with hers being at the beginning of November and mine towards the end. Even though I was really struggling with anxiety I made the effort to go to her party where there were a lot of people I didn't know (my anxiety is social and this was really triggering for me), spent a long time and a fair bit of money picking out gifts for her and wrapping them nicely and spent more money and time preparing some party food to bring along. I didn't expect her to go to all that effort for me because I didn't have a party or anything like that, but she couldn't be bothered to even give me a late birthday card.

So I've been debating whether there's any point maintaining any illusion of 'friendship' or to bother making any more effort with someone who I've started to feel has really given me little reason to care anymore and the answer is no. I'm feeling so done with it. It's very similar to the feeling I had when I couldn't take any more contact with uNF, like both my brain and heart get on to the same page and say no to allowing anyone to take advantage of me. It's good in a way because I'm starting to see more of my worth and not hold on to the wrong people just for fear of being alone. I don't think I'm being unreasonable, am I? That's the thing, this is so new to me and I've always been such a people pleaser.

Just felt like I needed to get this off my chest, it's been on my mind so much! My brother's also massively distanced himself from me and barely bothers to contact me either. On the one hand it's hard not to blame and shame myself and assume all the responsibility (the old mindset I guess), but on the other I know I'm a kind, good-hearted person and don't deserve to feel like that.

Successes, Progress? / Re: Breathed through a panic attack
« on: February 21, 2020, 08:47:36 AM »
Thank you all.  :) :grouphug:

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