Inclusion vs. Exclusion- blog draft concerning families

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by NC Momma, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. NC Momma

    NC Momma New Member

    This is the draft of a blog that I wrote while studying for my undergrad in psychology. Thought I would share these thoughts...

    Families... they can be complicated. They can bring us up to a good place, give us confidence, make us feel happy, needed, and included. Or, they can do just the opposite. The impact on a "black sheep" can be huge. It can be life changing. It can be almost fatal.

    All mammals run in herds. Packs. It is an evolutionary form of protection and survival that has been around well, ever since there were mammals. Even the dinosaurs practiced this. As with our animal brothers, humans practice this too. Except, instead of herds, ours are called families. They are no less important, even in our modern society, for protection and survival.

    All packs, herds, families... have a hierarchy. There are those who are the leaders, and those who are the followers, just the members of the pack. Us humans, we call a person who is not like other members of our family for whatever reason, or who has done something that the rest of the family highly disapproves of the "black sheep". What happens to the black sheep ultimately depends on the rest of the family.

    But, there is an exception. Being the black sheep doesn't necessarily mean that anyone has to do anything bad. Or, the person could have done something a long time ago that the rest of the family in their high and mightiness doesn't see fit to show mercy and forgiveness or... just as in the animal kingdom, the death of parents or a spouse may cause the person to be the black sheep. Just as in the animal kingdom, having parents or a strong spouse connected to the family also ensures our connection. When that person is gone, our place within the family unit can become questionable. Confusing? Yes, it is. So let's use an example for this.

    A young woman, let's call her Amber. Amber is the daughter of the oldest of six children. Her father had two brothers and two sisters. As in many of today's families, the sisters are the leaders of the pack. The ones who put together all gatherings and make most all of the social rules. Amber was a wild teen and young adult and with problems with drugs and a thieving ex-spouse, well she did bring shame upon the family. But, that was long ago. And much more recently, children of some of the sisters have done some of the same things. Yet, it is Amber's transgressions which are remembered. She is the daughter of a son of the family and that, puts her on the outs immediately somewhat as since the sisters of the family are all very close, it is them and their children who see each other socially on a constant basis. Yet, because Amber's father is living and is included in the big family gatherings, Amber's place is secured. Then... Amber's father passes away. Now, she is a singleton in the family. A loose end out there. So what do her aunts do? Instead of ensuring that they and their children continue to include Amber, they start to pull away. They simply start to forget about her. Now, Amber is still out there and much of her identity was wrapped up in her father and his family since that is who she was around the most growing up. She knows she is left out. It hurts her. It makes her furious. It makes her a little crazy. But, she deals with it. Until, one day she signs onto a social media account and sees all sorts of wonderful family photos posted from a cousin's child's birthday party. She frantically goes to her invite section trying to find the invite she has missed but its not there. Amber is hurt. She is hurt badly. It was bad enough that they left her out, but now they are leaving out her young daughter as well. She looks at the pictures over and over of her cousin's children having a wonderful time together, and then she looks at her young daughter playing all alone and her heart just breaks. She deletes her cousin and aunt from her social media. Yet, she keeps thinking about it. She hates being left out- hates being ignored. So, she goes and pops an extra pain pill from her prescription and opens a bottle of wine. Amber sits in pain on the couch trying to numb herself. She hurts so deeply that she can't even cry. Meanwhile, her young daughter plays all alone for the rest of the night. Amber is a good mother, and she has good intentions. But, we all know that a mother has to be healthy herself before she can be any good to her child. And a cycle begins. A vicious cycle of being excluded and being alone.

    What did the aunts and cousins do here in this American family? They made one of their own an outcast- a victim. They took away her protection and her confidence, and made her young daughter a victim while they were at it. Why did they do this? Simple. They all believed this is the thing to do because one didn't want to cross the other. After all, why would they want to give up their safe place within the family unit? They don't. While they each may certainly have some pangs of guilt or compassion toward Amber and her young daughter, each is afraid to cross the others. Sad. Super sad. Yet, this is a real example. This is the true example of Amber, who is a real person. So is her young daughter. What is the best course for Amber?

    Unfortunately, it is to simply walk away and try to rebuild a solid life for her daughter. Begging and pleading with the group will only reinforce their beliefs that she is unworthy of them as that will be perceived as a weakness. Just as in the wild, any sign of physical or emotional pain by an animal is perceived as a weakness, so it is with our human brothers and sisters. Amber's best option is to meet many people and make friends. This will help her to rebuild her confidence and self-esteem and maybe with lots of prayer, one day, her family unit will let her back in. That is what we pray happens to Amber. However, many times, people like Amber plunge into a desperate despair. It is then that issues such as drugs and depression that ranks on the level of mental illness take over.

    Making sure to practice inclusion is so important in a family. Even at small events such as a birthday party, double-check that list to make sure everyone is invited. Exclusion can cause a lifetime of pain and victimization. Just simply becoming a little angry at a relative or having a small argument is no reason to start the practice of exclusion, black-sheeping, or scapegoating within your family. It is a recipe for disaster, failure, and quite possibly a future of broken down generations.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Love it. Agree. Did it.

    Build your own pack!!!
  3. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    The threat of exclusion is itself a powerful tool for keeping family members in line. Once we can see the practice of exclusion for the tool that it is, and especially once we understand we are not the only ones this kind of thing happens to, it is a less hurtful thing.

    But it still is so stupidly hurtful a way to run a family. And not all families exclude (or shun). So just that it is happening to you (or to me) indicates that it is the family that is dysfunctional.

    If you have been shunned or excluded and have survived growing up in an environment where that kind of behavior is tolerated or even, encouraged (as it is in my Family of Origin, where it is used with zero finesse but to great effect), then count your lucky stars that you made it out of there with your heart intact.

  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This was a sad post to read, as I am coming to grips with the reality that I was shunned for years and years. I used to think it was something I used but I lied to my self. And since my mother died, I found a letter my mother wrote where she told her attorney that she never wanted to see either me or my sister again.

    My mother was very rejecting if she felt criticized. That made any reconciliation difficult.

    We turned it around, but I will never have those lost years of family. Sure, it was a dysfunctional family where I did not get what I wanted, but they were my family. The only blood family I will ever have.

    Even when things got better with my mother I was seldom invited for holidays or birthdays let alone weekend get togethers. My mother would invite my sister out to dinner. My sister would invite my mother over. I was never thought of. I did live 4 hours away. But many families travel for family get togethers. It was always assumed that I was not a part of things, until I was not. And there was no fixing it.

    The loss will always be part of me. Of my life story.

    Thank you for this thread.

  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That the mother could reject Copa ~ that tells the tale, right there.

    You are a mother. For you to even begin to accept detachment theory parenting where your child was concerned, you had to work very, very hard. I know this to be true Copa because I was here. You were (and continue to be) so proud of him, Copa. You post about his facility with languages, about his appearance and intelligence and height. You blamed not him, but yourself, when he began following a wrong path. And you did everything, everything and more, to help him change that path he was determined to take.

    I was no more able to stop helping either of my children than you were ~ than any of us here on CD are able to easily understand how we need to parent our difficult kids for their own sakes.

    It does not make intuitive sense.

    We learn it for their sakes, out of desperation. It nearly does us in, to say no; to turn them away. We do it because we see that detachment parenting helps the children of our peers on this site.

    So we take that leap of faith because nothing else has helped our kids.

    This is true of every parent here on Conduct Disorders.

    So...what was the deal with our mothers, Copa?

    Or...our sisters? Why are our sisters not suffering for our sakes as we are, for theirs? Why do the sisters do things as stupidly, pointlessly hurtful as the things the mother does?

    My answer is that, whether through some genetic shortcoming, or through having been twisted into weird shapes by their experiences in our wicked families of origin, our sisters, like our mothers, are also grandiosity addicted.

    At least they have an excuse.

    I think they hate us, Copa.

    Passionately, and without surcease or insight.

    Typically, they blame us for the unreasoning hatred they bear us.

    Go figure. That is why there is no communication; everything gets twisted in the ugliest ways to justify the way they already feel. I suppose it has to do with hating us so they don't have to hate themselves or something.

    It isn't about empathy. I am not sure what to call the thing that makes them different. In my family of origin, empathy is a given. It is used in a weird way, though. Like, where we might employ empathy to build a little bridge across a broken place for someone, they use it to lay a trap very few people are foolish enough to fall into.

    Then, they feel they have been victimized because they did not get to victimize the person they laid the trap for. They don't even see that no one else thinks like they do or values what they value or needs what they need.

    Which means, for both the mothers and the sisters, that they don't even do what they do on purpose. They do what they do with determined intent, but without purpose because their win is a meaningless thing, at the end of the day.

    WTF, right? It also means they do not have the capacity to change.

    Back to the mothers.

    It also means they will have allied, initially, with our own fathers against the children to accomplish a skewed value system which, to their minds, guaranteed control of their primary relationship to the father whom they assume to be grandiosity addicted, too. To them, control of the mate's grandiosity supply was the perfect tool.

    That is a dynamic in our families of origin that we have not had a look at, yet.

    The fathers (or the mothers, if the father was the grandiosity addict) will have been twisted into grotesque parodies of themselves because they loved their children. And that made them vulnerable to mates they may long since have found morally repulsive.

    So says me, but I am just a person on the internet.


    In a healthy relationship Copa, the mother does not believe herself to be so above her child that no "criticism" is tolerated. D H and his mother say ~ and sometimes, yell ~ the strangest things to one another. Neither is afraid to do that. No one threatens to exclude. Each actually means what they say when they say it and so, they do not make empty or outrageous threats.

    They don't apologize, because they mean what they say. They don't say things they don't mean in the first place...and that is respect for self and other.

    That is telling the truth.

    Exclusion is never an issue ~ not in any smallest way. Things that are wrong are just things that are wrong. They are discussed openly, and so is anger displayed openly.

    In D H family, grands who cannot be there on any given holiday call home to wherever the family is having dinner. It is expected. It is expected that the family will be busy with dinner preparations, but that it will matter that the missing members will have called, no matter how inconvenient the timing. Sterling conversation on world events (which is encouraged, in my family of origin) is discouraged, in D H family conversations. "Hello, I love you, what's for dinner, how did the sauce come out" ~ those kinds of things are appropriate.

    It would be considered rude and hurtful not to call home ~ "home" being where the mother is.

    Our families were and are nothing like that, Copa. Our families ~ mine for sure ~ deal in the currency of exclusion. It is a multi-faceted thing, subtle and outrageously overt at the same time...but we are blind to it.

    A blind and savaged Child recall
    its first and bitter tears
    copper colored fears....

    Remember Dickens' character ~ the little boy who was made to steal? In one scene, he is so hungry, and the master of the house is having soft boiled eggs for breakfast. The little boy watches the man cut the tops of the eggs, salivating like crazy because sometimes, the man tosses the tops of the egg to the little boy. And if he does, there might be just a little yolk. The boy is utterly powerless, not only due to his position in life, but to his own desperate hunger, Copa.

    He needs what he needs; needs what he must have, to live.

    That's how it was, for us.

    And it is criminal that this was so.

    We were little girls (or, little boys) made to believe our own appetites, our own need for protein or survival or to love and be loved, were wrong.

    How awful, for us.


    As we heal, as we tear off the scab covering shame and, going deeper into our psyches toward places that are so terribly painful that shame turns out to have been nothing more than a cover a thousand times more survivable than the truth, that is the thing we begin to see and understand differently. That though we were hurt, none of it had anything to do with us. We were made powerless in every sense, and that is the battle for us, now: To reclaim our senses of efficacy. To reclaim and rely on and believe in, internal locus of control.

    To understand that our abusers were not only not able to think better than we were, but that they were sub-normal thinkers in many ways. Focused somehow on hatred, but I don't understand the importance of that piece, yet. Why hatred? Yet, there it is.

    Like a live thing.

    Once we get those pieces, we will never see ourselves through their grandiosity-addict eyes, again. It really is like we have been enchanted in some land without water (love) or air (the capacity to create, and to think). The work we do, here in FOO Chronicles is like breaking a spell, in that sense.

    The Sleeping Beauty kiss, Copa.

    That beginning, over and over and over again, until the Rose is saved, thorns and all, from the stupidly marauding sheep who could as easily have eaten the grass all around them as the Rose, with her thorns.


    Our childhoods were mismanaged things and yet, here we are, strong enough and brave enough to reclaim ourselves.

    And we should reclaim ourselves. In a way, it is not something we should go about timidly. We should roar with it. The hurt done us was illegitimate, the win for the abuser a stupidly worthless and outside the families the grandiosity addict will have created, an utterly meaningless thing.

    And yet, we have lost so much that is meaningful in life ~ and not even for their sakes, which is what we tell ourselves, at first ~ but for the sake of something so patently ridiculous as a grandiosity addiction.

    We saw it, we sort of knew it, all along...but we could not believe our own parent was that morally bankrupt a human being.

    This is for me, Copa. I do not know your mother or sister, of course.

    But we do know that my sister "walks with the Lord".

    As so many of the sisters do.


    The win in the chains of behaviors, in the cascades of behaviors (in the sense of one thing needing to happen to mandate the next, worse or better thing ~ that kind of cascade) all the pain and twistedness created in our families of origin and costing us our relationships to our siblings to this day were come of the pointless, stupidly wrong reasoning processes of the grandiosity addict. Accidentally tumbled into a position of potential power-over when they became parents, they fed like gluttons and then, refused to give it up when their children became adults and left them.

    Shunning. Exclusion.

    It's disgusting, Copa.

    That is what we have been hiding away from ourselves.

    We feel broken all over again to admit what it was that happened, in our families of origin. We feel we should have been able to do better and that tells the truth of it ~ all of it ~ right there. We were children when it began. Even as adults, we could not break the mother's insistence on maintaining her grandiosity feed at the expense of the sibling relationships we all should have had and should be relishing, today.

    Their grandiosity fix cost us plenty, Copa.

    It cost our sisters more. They actively hate us. Their hearts are blackened with it and they cannot think beyond it because their hatred for us protects them from hating themselves and their mothers.

    Please, stop blaming yourself. You are the sufferer, here. Your sister is the sufferer, here.

    So is mine.

    I see no path that could ever lead back to where I tried or felt generosity toward my family of origin. This feels very safe to me, now. I will be alone and that will be better, for me. It comforts me that I did the best I knew to do. I would not do it in the same way, again. These were choices my mother and my sister made, Copa, to have things as they are.

    Not my fault.

    Once we see that, we see all of it.

    I think we do not unsee it, again.

    It isn't all that sad, Copa. Not once we get our true situations. It just is what it is and it is better to know.

    You may be alone too Copa, for a time or by choice. And you will do very, very well.

    The difference will be that you will no longer believe "alone" means "shunned".

    And that is huge. That means everything, to see in that different way.

    That is how we will know we are healing or healed. We will see shunning for what it is. No sting. No burn. No point.

    Alone can mean blessed and strong and clear headed and sane, instead of a headful of chittering that, in the end, means nothing more than that the sister walks with G-d and therefore, to commit the evil that shunning, in all its multiple facets, is, is somehow legitimized.

    Neat trick.


    It truly was nothing we did, Copa. It was nothing we were or are. It was never that we were not perfect enough, though that is what we believed. It was never that there would come some magical moment when we would somehow feel loved without feeling we had cheated, that we had taken those good feelings from some exculded sibling.

    That is why we excluded ourselves, Copa.

    And that is why we are excluded, today.

    Even as children, we refused to play the game. If there is a difference between our sisters and ourselves, that is it. The sisters do hate us. They do see us as threats to whatever small supply of mother love there was.

    Our families were dysfunctional.

    That is the cost.


    How stupidly mean, to buy and sell and bargain with the sibling relationships of your own children; to continue even after they are adults, using love and money and family identity to do it.


    I suppose what we are supposed to feel (and what the younger sibs may have felt toward us) was that we were safe if the other guy was the excluded one ~ and remember that, for a child, to have been excluded meant shunning in place ~ meant no protection in our very homes where we lived our childhood lives and where we should have been safe but were not.

    The very sibs we protected learned to ally with the grandiosity addict mother to get what they so desperately needed, too.

    Like Oliver and the tops of the fat man's eggs.

    Ours is an ugly story.

  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    So, this is taken from an article in our newspaper this morning. The columnist: Carolyn Hax, of The Washington Post.

    "You can, though, come up with an understanding of his behavior that feels less personally insulting, such as, "He faced temptation as we all do, and this time it exposed him as weak." Or you can acknowledge where you're drawing conclusions without enough facts ~ maybe, "A failure to express remorse is not the same as a failure to feel remorse." Indeed, he could feel bad about his actions but lack the courage to say so.

    Or you can leave him mostly out of it and concentrate your mental dialogue on forgiving yourself ~ for picking the wrong guy (that would be the wrong parents and sisters, in our cases, you guys), for missing signs that all wasn't well, for not embracing that having real feelings for real people is a messy business, that disappointments are inevitable. Or just forgive yourself for caring so much, since it's better than the alternative ~ even when it feels otherwise.

    Find what sits right with you, and when you're ready, make it all the reason you need to consider the matter closed. Not painless, just closed."

    And that fits so well with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:

    “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

    Or, this one, which I found looking up the one I wanted, but which I like very much, too:

    “It is very important that you only do what you love to do. you may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. and you will not have a pleasant death.”

    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


  7. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    That's my favorite one Cedar, thank you for sharing this...
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is important. I am learning with M to when I am displeased, to keep my mouth shut. Instead I look fierce (my version of it.) I think this amuses him and gives him space reflect. And then he gives his version of apology. Which is to minimize what he did or did not do. But I choose to hear that as an acknowledgement, which is enough for me.

    In this quote I like the way she goes the extra distance, to give understanding to the other, while maintaining her integrity. It is honest, yet generous. I am grateful that M is somebody I want to do this for. I want to go the extra mile for him. And I am grateful when he does so for me, too.

    I absolutely love this quote, so much that I will chop it in pieces.
    This part, really points me in the direction of going East. Of taking care of business here. And leaving. Assuming that I will be healthy enough to work into the future, assuming, not just hoping for, the best.
    I think that has been what my buying has been about. I did not yet feel I could do what I loved. But I could vote with my pocketbook. Flood myself with stuff that would force my hand. I wish I had been, felt do it. But I could not. I still cannot. But I will. I think we have to grow into that which we love. Maybe that was the buying. Giving myself all that I needed to grow into it.

    The only thing I know that I love (in terms of doing) is dancing. And walking in cities. And creative stuff, in general, but not as much as dancing. And I love to eat in fine restaurants, by which I mean very, very good ones. And I like very much to travel.
    This is a chilling set of thoughts. I believe I lived this way for a long time. I had to work very hard for most of my life. Much of it was to meet goals. That I thought were my own, but really were not. They benefited me, that is true. But these goals of mine were what I thought would serve me. Make me happy. Make me worthy of being loved and respected. So these goals were really instrumental. What I thought would open up doors to things I believed I did not deserve. I did not feel I deserved love and appreciation or respect. Until I achieved. Which of course, is not the case.

    Everybody deserves these things. Just as they are. Even me. Especially, me. Because I have to begin with myself.

    In so many ways I learned to abandon myself, as a child. Not entirely. I had my bottom line. But in terms of knowing what I loved, doing what I loved. I lost sight.

    Thank you. Merry Christmas, everybody.