Brainwashing...?

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Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2014, 09:10:17 AM »
Hm, I do think it's connected. If I want my kids to be safe, I need to enable them to keep themselves safe. If they're to keep themselves safe, they need to be strong. They need to have a certain inner independence. I mean the kind that lets you see things around you clearly, develop your own opinion about them, and find your own ways of dealing with them. Without that, you can't have a moral code, you just have a set of prejudices and pre-programmed scripts handed to you by your elders.

So I'd definitely say you're right and your husband is wrong, Badmemories. We have to teach our kids how to be adults. And an adult has to be able to draw a line and set boundaries, beginning with small tiny things like saying "I'm sitting really comfortably right now, get your cigarettes yourself". One rule goes for everyone. (So if I ask my kids to go fetch me something, then they get to ask me the same.) Morality and ethics have to be all about WHAT'S HAPPENING, not in WHO'S SAYING IT. Everything else would be slavish obedience. That word, by the way, translates into my language as something like: a kind of obedience that makes you act like you're a lifeless body which is moved by a will that's not your own. An ability to dig one's heels in is a part of being alive.

Which isn't saying anything about people stuck in a Fawn response. That's an automatic reaction of our psyche to overwhelming trauma. It's not who we truly are. I'm so often stuck in a Freeze-Type response, and I'm slooowly learning that this isn't who I am, it's just a mixture of this :sharkbait:  and this  :spaceship:  and this   :fallingbricks:  and, in the case of Freezing, possibly also these:    :spooked:   and  :disappear: .

I guess we get to celebrate every last little bit of eccentricity, mulishness, and boundary-setting that we can wrest back from CPTSD. Actually, realizing this about my own life has made it a LOT easier to deal with my kids' tantrums and protests. At the end of the day, it's simply them learning a new skill (in a ham-fisted way at first, like all new skills are learned).



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zazu

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Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2014, 12:11:51 PM »

This made me laugh. Thank you, I really needed this.

I keep on sliding back into my old mindset, the one from way back when I was a child and a teen, when the least passive-aggressive or abusive thing they said to me was always so earth-shatteringly important. And it's not. Not anymore.

I'm glad you got a laugh out of that! ;D

It's true, about that programming that tells us to give every bit of attention and concern to those difficult people in our lives. I grew up having to respond to my mother's displeasure about anything as it were an international political crisis. There was no sense of proportion. A spilled glass of water or a barking dog would be treated by my mother with the same amount of gravity as a death in the family or an actual war. Often times it would not be clear (still isn't) what would be triggering her displeasure - but we were all trained to respond as if it were the most important thing that had ever happened to us. It's one crisis after another, and since she has very little insight into her own mental states or sense of personal responsibility, in her mind it had to be someone else's responsibility to "fix" her emotional state

The effect on me as an adult was that my anxiety also had no sense of proportion. The terror that overtakes me can be triggered by insignificant as well as important things, all demanding an emergency response. Like,"must fix, must fix...oh no, I can't fix it because I don't know what's wrong! Must panic!" It took a long time to see the relationship between the two, but once I did, it was easy to see that it was learned, programmed response. Not that it's so easy to get rid of... :sadno:

One of the hardest things to cope with has been finding out that some of these "crises" were actually engineered for control and manipulation purposes, to see us jump and scramble to fix the problem. That's one thing I'm still struggling to comprehend - I don't think it will be possible to overcome that part of the programming until I fully understand that someone could do that.

Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2014, 03:08:36 PM »
That rings a bell, too. Thank you for sharing that.

Has your mother got a personality disorder? Mine doesn't - but she still had explosive rages. No physical abuse, but long angry rants, slamming drawers shut, recriminations, etc. And it's like you said about your own life: it was hard to predict what would or wouldn't set her off, so I learned how to be socially hypervigilant in order to read her moods. And it was always hugely important. Whatever happened that I did, if it upset her and/or if it was something she disagreed with or wouldn't do like that if she was in my shoes: hugely important. Spilling a glass of milk, things like that. She was under a LOT of pressure and often had to deal with difficult people. I'm now wondering if I was the one place where she could just let rip without fear.

Here's where I first realized that this had real consequences for me. It's an article called "5 Stupid Habits You Develop Growing Up in a Broken Home", written by an author who swears - so in case you find that offensive, here's the eye-opening part of the article with the swearwords asterisked:

Quote
You come home from work, exhausted, and you just want to sit down, relax and enjoy the silence for a bit. You're not in the mood to talk. Your appetite is shot. You just want to be left alone so you can collect your thoughts and normalize. But every two minutes, your worried partner asks, "Did I make you mad? Did I do something wrong?"

Believe it or not, they knew about your mood long before you returned from the fridge, flopped on the couch and let out that long, beer-tainted sigh. It's another defense mechanism that they picked up years before they even knew of your existence. When Mom or Dad's moods started to fluctuate, bad sh*t happened. Over time, the kids learned that those moods always had telltale signs that predicted their eruptions. Ash that preceded the lava.

At first you take notice, even if it's subconsciously, that before Dad explodes, he starts rubbing his temples. Big, obvious things like that. But over time, you can't help but pick up on more subtle signs. He lets out a very soft sigh when it's going to be just a quick stick-and-move belittling session. He fidgets with his lighter when it's going to be a really bad one. The skill is developed so that when you see it happening, you can either brace yourself for the train wreck, or you can make yourself scarce so you don't have to deal with it.

Just like any skill, the more you use it, the better you get. Over the years, it becomes so woven into the fabric of your personality, you couldn't remove it without completely breaking down who you are as a person and rebuilding the cloth from scratch. So it's rarely ever a case of the person just trying to smother their partner with attention out of some sense of insecurity. It's force of habit. Alarms are going off in their subconscious that sh*t is about to hit the fan, and they need to defuse that bomb before it goes off. And anything can trip the alarm. The slightest change in tone of voice. The most subtle shift in eyebrows before you speak. The way you're standing. A simple change in your daily routine.

All of these things are fixable, but it requires you to take a long look at yourself and decide if there is even a problem in the first place. It's harder than you think. ... It's a whole lot more common than you think, so don't let the a**holes of the world make you feel weak for seeking help. You have as much of a right to be normal and happy as everyone else on this g*dd*mn planet.

He gives two links in this article, and I followed them, and then I followed more links, and then I found out I had CPTSD, and then things finally started to change for the better. It's rare that something literally changes one's life, but this article did.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 03:10:40 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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zazu

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Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2014, 11:32:11 AM »
Wow, Schrodinger's cat, it sounds like that writer was living in my house! Yes, I do that and it does have real world consequences. Luckily my husband knows where it comes from, but it's still annoying to him. He says it makes him feel as if he's an angry person, like my mother (who has NPD, by the way). It causes further problems in that I've been unable to stop.

Well, hopefully I will be able to make a better effort now. Thanks for the link.

Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2014, 02:00:45 PM »
Glad you liked it, zazu.

Yes, it can be really annoying to people who have to live with that level of scrutiny. Having said that - I'm not really sure that the answer is to "simply stop doing it". That's probably not what you said, but it's what I tried to do before I read that article. It was really bad - I ended up feeling like this defective, needy person who had to struggle and fight in order to simply be normal. Since that's a really bad feeling, I felt a bit alarmed when you said you wanted to make a better effort now. In all likelihood, that's just me reading my own struggle into your text. If it is so, I apologize. But jiiiiust in case you're about to fling yourself into that same "I'm so defective, let me try to overcome this" mindset, here's my bit of probably useless advice.

The bit where the article says: "...it becomes so woven into the fabric of your personality, you couldn't remove it without completely breaking down who you are as a person" really gave me pause. Because it's true. It's who I am. It's not "me being oversensitive" or "me tending to accuse people of things", it's simply an automatic early-warning-system and my husband accidentally tripped a wire. It's a coping mechanism. It's how I see the world. It's how I see social situations. I'm socially hypervigilant because in the past, I had a good reason to be.

I'm now less apologetic about it. I told my husband what I know about my hypervigilance and how I got that way. He was very understanding. So now, I can simply just ask him for reassurance. Because I'm still insecure about all this, I pack it up in sarcasm. ("Now would be a really good moment to tell me: 'I may look really grumpy right now because my bread dough didn't rise, but I would NEVER dream of taking my frustration out on you because you are my sweet wife whose very presence is a balm upon my wounded soul.'") It makes him laugh, and he usually says something like: "No, I'm just frustrated, that's all. It has nothing to do with you. I like you a lot. Of course I wouldn't blame it on you, that'd be stupid." And then I'm feeling better and tell him so, which makes him feel good.

Seen this way, I'm not "defective and need to stop thinking this way": I have a coping strategy that has given me excellent mood-detecting skills (yay!) which occasionally hit my red alarm buttons without good cause. He isn't the suffering victim who has to endure his wife's insecurity: he's the good guy. He's the voice of reason. He's the positive "after" picture to my FOO's "before" - helpful where they were rejecting, sensible where they were bizarre. He gets to make a real difference simply by having social skills. Other guys would have to kill a dragon, he just has to say something reasonable. Luxury!
« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 02:26:28 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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zazu

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Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2014, 08:25:36 PM »
Hi Schrodinger's Cat -

No need to worry...I just meant that I may not have tried enough in the past to understand and gain some control over the behavior as it pertains to others. I ask my husband if he's upset so often that he becomes irritated, thus my worry becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the part I haven't been able to get under control, and it does cause difficulties in our relationship.

Thanks for your advice.  You've done a good job of re-framing the issue to get a different perspective. That's an important part of managing these things, I think.

Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2014, 09:20:34 PM »
It is, I agree. How we see things tells us what to do, whether we want this to be true or not. Sometimes, having an exaggeratedly positive image about something helps me counteract the exaggeratedly negative image I've already got in my head.

Glad that this was fine. All the best to you and your husband.

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Annegirl

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Re: Brainwashing...?
« Reply #37 on: November 28, 2014, 11:41:57 AM »
Thanks, both of you. I'll look at these links, they sound interesting.

I'd be surprised if my mother had a personality disorder, though. She had a crap childhood and basically had no one to help her deal with problems. She parented her younger siblings and did grown-up work from the time she was... four? And she and her siblings were never allowed to rest or play. They always had to work at something, even if it was simply just knitting stockings. She doesn't talk much about that time, but I get the impression that she was a functional adult by the time she was about eight, give or take a few years. My working theory is that her parentalization plus overwork explains her erratic parenting.

So when people get too close, she unconsciously sees this as "yet MORE work" and "yet ANOTHER person who wants to be taken care of". She uses Medium Chill to put distance between her and others. Once the relationship has cooled to a temperature she feels comfortable with, she takes it back up again. She is generous with her help, but only in places where she could pull back any time she wanted. To me, she's always been a fair-weather friend. But why shouldn't she be? After all, she was a functional adult by the time she was eight! She must've seen me as a functional adult by the time I, too, was eight, which explains most of the neglect. My father was critically ill for years, so that was her focus, everything else had to wait. The over-worrying and micro-managing - I've begun to wonder if she didn't simply project her childlike, vulnerable need for guidance entirely onto me, so in "protecting" and "guiding" me she assuaged her own inner pain.

Omg, SC, your mother's childhood sounds very similar to mine, it opens up a lot of insight for me, into why, how i treat people.