Life without Sis is amazingly, surprisingly good! Boundaries rock!

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by MidwestMom, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    As you know, I set a boundary for my sister. Maybe I wasn't perfect, but I just decided I don't want the stress of hearing about her drama filled and dangerous relationship with a boyfriend she knows is bad for her but is afraid to leave. Well, she set her own line in the sand and said that he is a big part of her life and that she had to be able to talk about him. Then it spiraled from there and she cut me off for the fiftieth time and I grieved, but only for a few days.

    Sad as it is to be more peaceful without even one extended family member really in my life (except for my Dad...I love him very much...he is the only one who didn't do the Black Sheep thang), I feel great without Sis around to talk about her negative, merry-go-round relationship with a man I'm afraid could hurt her physically. I feel a little guilty at how free I feel knowing that I don't have to hear about K. anymore. I am a bit saddened that Sis thinks he is worth our relationship as we have many common issues to discuss, however I am not surprised either. Sis has cut off almost every member of the family at one time or another and seems to especially do it to me so I have to assume we are toxic to each other.

    I am sort of embarassed that it took me so long to express to her that to do another cut off would be a forever cut off because I'm tired of the games. Or to tell her, as I did, that if she is in therapy long enough and decides that the cutting off is not healthy, we can maybe try again, but that will never happen.

    I actually feel lighter that when the phone rings it will not be her. She is worse for me than 36, who is currently not in a good situation, but at least I know he loves me, no matter how vile he acts at times. I am thinking Sis doesn't love me and never did and it is what it is.

    The more I read about boundaries, the more I realize how much I needed to know about them. It is also helpful to read that it is ok to clamp down on a person who is not nice to you and to let THEM decide whether to accept the boundary or not. I do not accept the boundary where she gets to keep talking about K. I have never met him. I never will. There is no reason to discuss him with me. She has plenty of friends (but I tried to be empathetic and gave good advice, which she cherished). But it wore me out after three years. I can't do it anymore.

    Anyone think it's mean and awful that I won't let her talk about K. and that I am actually more serene without her?

    My real serenity is when I'm lazing at home with my hubby, my children and my dogs or in Chicago with Julie and Geoff and now a baby or, when he is not in a tizzy, sometimes even talkling to 36 can be fun (although I'd give it maybe 20% of the time).

    I kind of feel like I left Sis high and dry, but she DOES have a lot of friends and I don't and she doesn't treat them the way she treats me, no matter what they say to her.

    I feel in my heart I did the right thing for me and that it is ok to be selfish in this. I also think Sis doesn't realize it, but she is better without me too.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    FWIW, I think you did the right thing. I would do the same thing. I'm happy you're feeling good about your decision. (and truthfully, MWM, who cares what we think when YOU think you did the right thing and you're feeling good about it?)

    Enjoy your peace. :)
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    RE, I don't care what most people think. But so many of us, including you, have gone through so much of the same shoot that it it nice to be validated.

    It is amazing at how toxic our family of origin can be. That's why I call mine my DNA collection. That's really all they are to any of us. If we get along, GREAT, but just sharing DNA doesn't mean you will be good for one another.

    I think Beaver Clever is finally dead :) I guess I watched too many family TV sitcoms as a kid and got brainwashed.
  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    MWM, enjoy the peace. I was driving today and thinking about families that I know, and how many of them have grown adults, siblings, that aren't very close. Or they don't talk at all. Or one does and the others don't. Or some have died. There were a lot of them. There were more than I realized.

    It's the accident of birth thing. The "we don't choose" thing. We can love people from a distance---sometimes it's a LOT better from a distance.

    I used to think that if a friend was somehow distant or estranged from a family member, there was something bad wrong with all of them to allow that. That was way back when I thought both of my kids would have these great "normal" lives, with all of the trimmings. I smile at that person now, that naive person who hadn't really lived much of life.

    I think things are getting a bit simpler as I am getting older. I will be 58 this fall. I'm more willing to stop doing the things I really don't like to do, and do more of the things I do like to do. I'm impatient with any insincerity or falseness or posturing. I just don't have the stomach for that stuff anymore.

    This journey is a path toward an authentic life. A happier life with the people, places and things that aren't in the + column somehow not as much as part of our lives as they used to be.

    We can make choices. We can set boundaries. We can work to accept the people we want in our lives for who they are.

    Thanks for sharing this journey with your sister. Big hugs to you tonight. You are a true warrior woman!
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    COM, life is quite a journey, isn't it? Trust me, I chased after my disinterested mother like a two year old child who had been abandoned on a street corner, trying everything I could, including demeaning myself, just to get her love. And it never happened. It took that to sort of teach me. SORT OF. You'd think the disinheritance bit would have done the trick 100% as in "You can't make people love you even if you drop your pride, act like a fool, and grovel." But it didn't. I still groveled after my sister until maybe turning fifty, then I was starting to get mad at her treatment of me when she would hang up on me, disappear and call the cops. But I still didn't think, "Duh. Maybe we aren't good for each other. Doesn't matter whose at fault. We don't work." Instead I thought, "I must be this horrible person if my perfect sister doesn't want to talk to me. Whoa is me. I screwed up yet again."

    I finally got it.

    It is hard to let go of social norms as in, "You must love your family and if they don't love you something is wrong with you. You must take care of your child until you die (this was just something *I* thought)."

    At any rate, we live and learn. Too bad it takes so

    You are such a source of comfort on this board to me, COM. Wow, there are like ten members here who are always there and always know what to say. You are one of them.

    You have a great day.
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You know what, MWM? Standing right up for ourselves is not only okay, it really is the best thing we can do for ourselves and for the other guy, too. Those of us who commit to listen, who believe we can love someone enough for them to take hold and love themselves enough to change their situations are...well, I think we might be wrong, MWM.

    We have been living our lives as though we believed everyone is like us. We take the tiniest bit of direction or recognition and run very far with that little bit of fuel.

    I do that. I am thinking you do, too.

    For people like us, I think the belief system that keeps us lurching along is that if we love someone the way we wish we'd been strengthened and loved and believed in, they will rise.

    Just like we rose, without all those things.

    But I think that might not be true, MWM.

    I have not been able to change a blessed thing with my unconditional love, with my I-know-you-can-do it, I know you didn't mean it approach. What I have seen is that when my response is anything but "Yay, you!" those same people I have been (supposedly) loving into rising turn on me with a vengeance.

    That is how I got to a place where I did not even get it that my own son was calling me a jerk, saying I was not only a really bad mom but a crummy grandmother, and where's my money. Which was never enough, but where is it, anyway.

    Know what I did?

    Apologized, sent the money, and sent extra things to the grandchildren.

    He had an excellent teacher.



    Speaking for myself here, there was a time when I was so sure that if I could love someone enough, I could change them into who they already were, but just weren't living up to.


    They pick who they want to be just like we did, MWM.

    I am beginning to accept that people don't change.

    And not only that? But I am actually totally okay with that. I am not so much believing for the best anymore because what is happening right in front of my face is unacceptable.

    Instead, I am saying, "It is what it is."


    There is no more value judgment to it than that.

    My head is still spinning a little from all this new thinking I am doing. I am upset with myself for all that time I wasted believing other people gave a hoot whether I believed in them or not.

    Maybe all that believing for the best I did was the way I made myself feel better, feel stronger. Maybe, that was how I made myself matter.

    I was wrong to do that.

    It seems to me, MWM, that these people we thought we were holding strong for were using our tenderness to justify themselves and rationalize NOT changing.

    My head really is still spinning.

    It is almost like, if people choosing to go a wrong way believe someone somewhere believes they are bright, decent people...then they can be as jerky as they want to, with impunity.

    And they WERE jerky, MWM.

    And we never called them on it, because we believed they were better than to do what they were doing TO US, and we believed that one day they would get it.

    What to hay?!?

    So I am done with all that believing for the best stuff.

    I am being kind to myself, appreciative of myself, instead.

    And that is working pretty well for me, so far.



    This year, MWM, when everything seemed to explode into a million pieces for me, I somehow found myself in the company of a number of very strong women. The difference between them and me, as far as I can tell, is that whereas I pretty consistently look to see where I went wrong and try to keep everyone happily functioning away...these women, though they care very much how others feel, cut those who are too messed up to function with excellence and precision right out of their lives.

    They are so focused on meeting the world on their own terms, and on creating some good thing with their time and effort, that they really don't think overmuch about how to help anyone else feel better.

    It's like the emotional head room for worrying about what someone else says or does or how they feel is taken up with other, more productive things. They are goal oriented, and they drive themselves hard. What is in their heads is clarity about where they intend to take their lives.

    They surround themselves with people who are doing the same thing.

    That seems like a good way to be, to me.

    It isn't even about my sister or my mother or even my kids, anymore. I love them, but they get to be whoever they want to be.

    And if their actions are not acceptable to me, they don't get a free pass anymore because I am hoping they will change into someone who doesn't do those things.

    They do what they do with intent and purpose.

    I am learning to respect them (and myself) enough to believe they mean what they say.

    The story can end right there. I don't have to figure out what they meant or how to help them be stronger.

    Maybe you could think of it not so much as leaving her high and dry, as that you are bringing into your own life only those things that strengthen you and bring you joy.

    That is how I am thinking about it.

    And there are so many good things in or lives, MWM. Think of all the time wasted feeling badly or trying to figure out how to help someone else motivate to change.

    I feel badly for myself now, at all that wasted time.

    It seems to me that we have that responsibility to our own lives, MWM. If it is true that we are here on purpose, then we have some purpose, some dream of our own, that we are meant to pursue, something big we are meant to accomplish. If it was to heal our families of origin, we have put in our time.

    It didn't work.

    It's time to try this new way of seeing and of being in the world.

    Maybe that will wake them up.

    And if it doesn't MWM, at least we are awake, now.

    Good for us.

    It's been a long, hard road. It's time we let them walk on their own two legs. We have our own journeys to begin, and it is late in the day, for us.

    We have to love ourselves now, MWM. We have to make that conscious choice. We have to stop beating ourselves up wondering what we did wrong or how we could have done better. We are good, decent people MWM, who somehow came out of our families of origin functional.

    Just that makes us amazing.

  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    We have every right to decide what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable to us. That is where boundaries come in. And then, we can decide what kind of boundary we need to have, how thick the wall, how far the distance, and what a relationship, if any, now looks like with that person.

    I talked about my own sister on another post, her "....just curious" texts. Even after that, trying to have a more regular conversation---not just a text-a-thon---with my sister, i have called and left messages multiple times this spring. She often does not return the calls at all. That has hurt me more.

    I would like to have a closer relationship with my sister, but right now, that is not to be. She is careless with me. I am working not to take that personally, as Al-Anon has taught me, and not to act all pissy and cold because of it. Just to remain open as I can. I am trying to be lighter with her---last weekend I texted her pictures of the jetskis we bought. We had a light back and forth. I am leaving it there for now. I know and I believe that my sister is there for me in a larger sense. She has been very supportive of me through these last few years with difficult child, but I think she doesn't know what to do with my detachment from difficult child, she does better with me when the difficult child drama is high, and she also feels that I somehow don't approve that her grown kids are still living at her house. This is true, and I have let her know that, which really is none of my business and a boundary I should not have crossed with her. That is on me.

    I would like to get better at the tougher conversations. I am not good at saying what I mean without being petulant or hurt or upset when I am feeling very emotional about the situation. Again, on me to do better.

    I know that an overfocus on other people---not minding my own business---has been very much because I felt stronger and better about myself when I was 'helping" other people. I thought I was good at that. Now I see it more clearly for what it is and was.

    Ummmmm....yes and no, for me, Cedar. I am feeling uncomfortable reading that, thinking that in many ways, you are talking about me. I wrote on another post how I don't like being around difficult children. Mine or anybody else's. I don't have good feelings about them. Quite frankly, they bug me and I don't respect their behaviors. But I think I am still judging them, not accepting them, for just who they are and looking for something good in them that I can identify and value. Do I have to cut them out of my life because they....bug me? I hope not. Can't I detach with love/care/respect/cordiality from those who don't have the close relationship or power to wound me deeply and just be present, accepting them and hopefully, them accepting me?

    Just trying to work this out in my mind, here Cedar....Hugs and thanks for your deep insightful writings.
  8. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Thanks again for encouraging responses, ladies. I really appreciate it.

    COM, it is very easy for me to stay completely away from Sis without causing any damage to the rest of my family, which is only a brother in NJ and my 90 year old father. Sis was on her "off" switch so often that our children never got to know us so we are not known aunts to each others children. This was at a time when we lived in the same town, maybe ten minutes away from one another and both had young kids. We both never had a chance to develop relationships with one another's chidlren. In the end, I guess that is a blessing. I do not have to be sad that maybe Twin A and Twin B and her son will stop talking to me because of my decision as they never talked to me in the past so it doesn't matter. As I get attached to children, I am glad, since this happened, that I never did get close to them. And I'm glad my kids were far from her.

    My daughter Julie can't stand her for what she has done to me and during an "on" time she came to Julie's house with me and the rest for Thanksgiving. Later, my daughter told me she gives off a weird vibe and she really doesn't want her there anymore. THAT was HER boundary. I accepted it, but at the time it was mildly frustrating because, although she had cut me off 21 times (this was before the last time) I was hoping we could get closer and do Holiday together. Her son came with her (sis's son). I didn't recognize him. He didn't speak to us. We didn't know what to say to him. We don't know him.

    Because our family gatherings include, at the very max, only Tom, myself, Julie, Geoff, Jumper and Sonic (and used to include 36 before he moved), I never have to worry about seeing my sister on the holidays. My narcissistic father spends all of his holidays with his women friends so he never makes plans or expects us all to get together so I really don't have to deal with her unless I want some drama.

    COM, we can't even manage light conversation when she is in her "off" modes. She won't read or answer or even take a short reprieve from her anger. I could slap myself. Why did it take so long to see that this wasn't going to work and that I was just making a fool out of myself by putting up with it.

    Oh, well. Belatedly, it is over.

    Thanks again for the awesome support.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is what my husband meant when he said, "Forgive yourself." This idea that I had to help my family of origin (and myself) to see and break through isolating old patterns, through old hatreds and weaknesses and lies dominated every action, determined every response for most of my life.

    It was a conscious choice.

    I had been punishing myself for failing to help any of us, MWM. I didn't even know it until husband said, "Forgive yourself."

    What an apt description of how it feels to be casually mistreated, COM.

    "She is careless with me."

    And pretending we do, or fastening onto the positive belief instead of acknowledging what is really right in front of us results in loss of respect for self and other.

    That is what I learned, from my relationship to my son.

    That knowledge extrapolates to everyone in my life.

    I am telling, or at least, encouraging myself to see, the true thing for what it is these days.

    I may still be able to see what the best thing is? But I no longer believe the other guy didn't see it, too.

    They were just, as you said COM...careless with me.

    The dirty buggers.

    Sadly, the situation is the same in my family. Interesting to note: Our granddaughters were here one time when my sister came to visit. Sister was pretending/presenting with hositility/covering with too much noise/too many exclamations of wonder and devotion at the girls, at the girls' beauty, at the girls' everything to the point that none of it meant anything. This is typical behavior for my sister. She began pretending to do karate with the girls. (I was not in the room, but this is what all three of them ~ sister and both granddaughters ~ told me about what happened next.)

    And the girls took her down.

    Sister came outside to tell on the girls.

    All I could do is tell the girls to be more careful with their aunt in future.

    Being raised by my difficult child daughter has had its downside? But knowing how to deal with a dysfunctional aunt isn't one of them.


    Ha! I am laughing to myself over here.

    Bad Cedar.

    That is what my children and grandchildren say about both my mother and my sister.

    And they are right, of course.

    Fortunately, no one has taken my mother down in pretend karate mode.

    But everyone does feel the shaming sting of rejection. I am so angry at this, and at my acceptance of the surprise of it.

    There is that same feral wolf feeling I was posting about on Echo's post, this morning.

    I really am quite angry.


  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Me, too. I am afraid to say the bad things. I have been so damaged by bad things spoken over me. I never, ever, want willingly to do that or anything like it to someone else.

    Forgive yourself, COM.

    Your heart, like mine, is in the right place.

    We are learning a different way to be honest.

    Growth is painful.

    Forgive yourself, COM.

    Your heart is good. I see it every day, every single day, here on the site.

    I think what it was, for you and for me too, COM, was a choice. (For Recovering, for MWM, for me, for you. There is a pattern here. There is a reason we presented in this way not only for our families of origin, but for ourselves too, COM.

    That is why we are able to examine and change our motives and interpretations, now.

    We have always been sincere. We have sincerely believed there was a better, brighter way. We have consistently taken our headings from that star and done the best, the very best, we knew.

    It is important to be honest about our parts in the ways that we are not proud of...but it is just as important to acknowledge the wonder of who we have been, too.

    Even if it didn't work.

    We are beautiful inside, COM.

    Yes. That is where you and I will come into balance, COM. That is where we will conclude and let go of this. But those who are suddenly confronted with a COM, a Cedar, A MWM or a recoveringenabler who stands up for herself are not going to like it. Not one bit.

    They are not going to feel comfortable, as we will, in reaching a balance of tenderness, of acknowledgement that we all do the best we know, that they are in pain too, and hope for better relationship in the future.

    I'm sorry, COM, but they are duck peckers.

    And their intent is to take bites out of us, and they practice their intent with purpose and determination.

    They do, COM.

    Ha! I love this! Thank you, COM.


  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think you always saw that you were being a fool where your sister or your mother were concerned, MWM. You chose it. It was the best and only way to see honestly, to respond appropriately, as long as you (or as I) had hope that we could heal ourselves and those we love.

    But it didn't work.

    Like me and COM and recovering MWM, you need to forgive yourself, too. You loved and loved them, MWM. If you are anything like me, you acknowledged jealousy, resentment, hatred, even ~ but you consistently tried to dig deep and come up with the positive interpretation, with the positive response.

    My motto for the longest time, has been: I have been a fool for lesser things.

    It isn't that we were Pollyannas, MWM. We knew full well what was happening to us, and what our responses were based in. We were not wrong or stupid, MWM. It is just that it didn't work. We are tired, now. We want strong, gentle people in our lives now who love us, people whom we can trust.

    It isn't so much that I am blazingly angry about these things. I am through accepting them, that is all.

    I a done trying, finished extending generosity or belief in people determined to duck peck me out of existence.


    I know better, and have always known better, than to trust either my mother or my sister. During those times when I have been so vulnerable over what is happening with my kids...they took their pound of living flesh every time, MWM.

    Remember my posting about what my mother said, when we told her difficult child daughter had been admitted to her first dual diagnostic?

    Quick as a wink MWM, she cut me to the core with an intensity of purpose I still find difficult to fathom.

    "Well, I guess you weren't such a good mother after all, were you?"

    That was the most painful, hurtful thing my own mother, who should know, could have said to me, MWM. It echoed my secret thoughts. It determined the course of my life, and it colored my belief in myself as I tried to help my children for the next ten years.

    It is only within the past few years, MWM ~ after difficult child daughter received her diagnosis...that I was able to pull that particular knife out of my heart.

    (Cedar spits into the dust and walks away.)


    It is something different now, MWM.

    You will come into balance loving your sister still. So will I. That is what we do. Our sisters will come unhappily into balance around something very different.

    But I think, once we are through the things we need to learn from this part, that we will not be hurt by how our sisters see us, in future.

    We will no longer be invested in healing or believing healing is possible, for our families of origin.

    I think we will view them with compassion, but we will no longer be vulnerable to them.

    Just as has happened with our children, MWM.

    It is less about the sister or the mother than it is about who we are and have always been, MWM.

    Unless I am wrong and we are like, really crummy people. I don't see that, here on the site, though.

    I think we are probably very nice people, very bright indeed people, MWM.

  12. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Oh, Scent, you were almost right o the money, except for this:

    It isn't that we were Pollyannas, MWM. We knew full well what was happening to us, and what our responses were based in. We were not wrong or stupid, MWM. It is just that it didn't work. We are tired, now. We want strong, gentle people in our lives now who love us, people whom we can trust.

    I truly kept trying because I thought it was me who was the bad guy. I really bought it. If not, why did my family of origin treat me like a pariah? I learned after my mother died and didn't even do what Joan Crawford did....negatively acknowledge me in her least acknowledging my existence...that I had been so foolish to chase after her like a love starved toddler. I never expected her to be so cold as to cut me out of her will THAT way. I thought she'd at least give me my dollar and say something nasty like Joan. And I think Joan was kinder by doing that, although I have no doubt her children were devastated. But what did I really learn? I learned that I had been foolish with Mother and that you can't change people, but I let Sis abuse me wit her cut offs and cops. And the cops were a really sneaky and constant way she shut me up. If I called and she didn't like my message she made sure I couldn't call her again by making a bogus claim of harassment and the cops would come because they had to and warn me that she doesn't want me to call and that legally I can't. Why did it take me THIS long to ponder how crazy using the cops on your sister is...just to stop her from asking you what is wrong? WHO DOES THAT? Yes, when our difficult children are a danger to us or steal from us we call the cops, but we don't do it in make them shut up.

    It is good, I guess, when we can finally laugh at the dysfunction. I tried telling a few "safe" people about Sis' love of calling the cops to force mt to not contact her...hahaha to me. The safe people did not laugh with me. They were mortified. They did not find it funny. They found it over-the-top appalling.

    Why didn't I?

    Anyhow, we are all learning and growing and I appreciate your extremely insightful post to me, Scent. As always, great wisdom there.

    Read more:
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Of course you did, MWM. She was your mother. We are so vulnerable to our mothers. If they are ill...we are in deep, long time trouble. Until we can figure out what they did to us, where they damaged us, how to heal it, we sort of lurch through our lives trying to figure out what it is that is wrong with us so we can fix it.

    We have to be our own best mothers now, MWM.

    You need a role model.

    I picked Maya Angelou.

    Challenging an abusive parent as you defiantly chose to do, MWM, is not likely to be forgiven.
    I don't understand why our mothers did the things they did, why our sisters do what they do. I expect it is because they have been hurt even worse than they hurt us.

    I am sure they tried to do their best, MWM.

    Whatever it was in us that allowed us to choose kindness, that allowed us to believe there was some better way to be, as a family...our mothers, and maybe even our sisters, too, cannot see it. The only reward system they can understand is the old, exclusionary one. I hear what you are saying, about feeling foolish and rejected?

    That is how they want you, MWM.

    Remember the duck pecker story? Someone you trust to tell you true things blows on your skin to anesthetize you. Then, quick as a wink, so quickly you can't even see it, she leans in and takes a bite out of your earlobe or maybe, out of that little round part on the side of your nose. Blowing on you again so you can't feel where they bit you, they make you feel really stupid because you're bleeding.

    That's a duck pecker.

    Just say "Stop it!", MWM. Shout it across the room, do whatever you have to do to keep them too far away to take that piece of meat out of your cheek or your nose or your earlobe.

    The dysfunctional family will do anything, pretty much anything at all, to keep the balance of the status quo. Unless you were to continue to participate in the dysfunction, MWM, this was bound to happen.

    I am proud of you (and of me, too) for standing up.


    The family of origin typically circles the wagons too, MWM, just like we do here on the site. But the wagons of dysfunctional families will be circled, not to protect and support, but to shame and isolate and disparage anyone with the courage to question the family mores and values.

    We have been trained all our lives not to see the wrongness in our families of origin, MWM.

    There are lots of things we have been trained not to see.

    We are beginning to recognize the ways in which the dysfunctional value system we were raised with was harmful and wrong.

    Maybe, at this point, we don't know so much about what to do, about what comes next, about how this will all look in the future? But we are both pretty clear MWM, about what we refuse to do anymore, in the name of family unity.

    You are doing great, MWM. You are looking right at the dysfunction, not looking away and pretending it is funny or okay to hurt someone, or to be hurt, yourself.

    Good on you.

    Because, like me, didn't know any better.

    Mom and sister together created an exclusionary reality where they could do whatever they did. It is a complexity of evil intent.

    That is the horror of it. All that pain, all those questions, all that confusion...and it was never anything personal.

    You took on your role in that dysfunctional family because you had no choice. Then, like I have been doing too, you got better. So you said, "Hey! Hey you guys, look what I found! We don't have to do it this way. We can be real people together. We can stop playing wooden people roles and share warmth and joy and all the good, positive things, instead! It doesn't always have be that we ridicule or exclude or condemn, anymore! Yay for us!"

    And boy, they hate that.

    That took alot of courage, MWM.

    I wonder if anyone has ever told you how courageous a heart you have, to have stood up to your mother for the sake of your children.


    There is laughter, oh so much laughter, in my family of origin too, MWM. If everyone is laughing, then there is nothing wrong here, right? In dysfunctional families though, there is a shrill, desperate note to the laughter, and there is blood in the water.


    I was in group therapy for family of origin issues for a really long time. It was so strange MWM, that I could see and be angry at what had happened to the others? But the things that had happened to me, I could not see as even abnormal. That is because, having been raised in an abnormal family, I had been taught abnormal things.

    I didn't know any better, because I had no way to know any better.

    It wasn't until I got away from them that I could see the wrongness in them. Every time I come back into the fold of my still precious, so messed up family that I still do love, right this very minute...I get sicker, get weaker, feel my boundaries fuzzing up.

    I start feeling guilty and wrong and conflicted.

    But I still want to be part of them, I still want to be there, to see their faces and hear their voices and feel that special way family feels.

    But their laughter is always about someone, MWM. Not just family, but friends, extended family, anyone who comes close to them. They do alot of eye rolling, alot of making themselves better-than at the other person's expense.

    What a waste. What a terrible waste.


    It is very wrong for your sister to treat you as she does, MWM. Your sister is wrong, and your mother was very wrong, for encouraging it.

    I'm so sorry that happened to you, MWM.

    But you are going to be just fine.

  14. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Scent, thank you. Your post made me think very hard and finally cry, but that's okay. When you wrote about how Mommie Dearest (my version) was actually eternally cutting me off because I stuck up for my two adopted children, it just made me melt into putty. That was her final straw with me...I would not listen to her dead mother's wishes about giving all the dang $5000 (as if it were a million) to my only biological son and Grandma's motive was because "he is my blood." It was mean. I loved my grandma with all my heart and soul. She was the only person in the family who stuck up for me, was there for me, and, yes, loved me.

    But like everyone else in my sick, perverted loony bin family, she liked to divide and conquer and she very badly played favorites (such as her son and me). This time she did it with my own children. She knew me well. She knew I would hate it. It was her passive-aggressive "up yours" to the fact that I adopted two children and took attention away from 36. She obviously didn't approve of it, although she was not the kind to come out and say so. She did often say to me, "36 is special because he is my blood." As long as she only said it to me, I just changed the subject. But then she DID something to show us all and that changed things.

    I don't keep secrets from my children.

    There is no way I was going to sneak $5K to 36 and say, "Never tell Scott or Julie."

    I sat 36 down and told him the story when it happened and we have spoken of it in his adulthood too. As much of a horrible difficult child he is, and with Scott dumping the entire family, and Julie wanting nothing to do with him because he was so cruel to her when they lived together, 36 still thinks I did the right thing. Even 36!

    My Grandma loved me, oh, yes. She used me to show my mother that my mother had no control over me because she'd always shield me. So she set Mother up against me, but Mother allowed it (I blame them both). But at the end of her life, even after I sat with her several times telling her that I will never divide my own children that way and will have nothing to do with this money going only to 36, she still did it and put it in my Mother's hands. And when Mother got tired of holding onto it until 36 turned 21, because she didn't want to pay some tax she had to pay to keep it, she sent it to me and I didn't do what I was supposed to do, per my dead grandmother's instructions. And although my mother often fought with Grandma, she NEVER disobeyed her and was shocked *I* had. So was her beloved son, my icky uncle who used to call me a pest and Mother laughed when he did it.

    So my loving Grandma, the ony member of my family of origin who loved me, kicked up a firestorm when she passed and that's when I think Mother decided to disown me. I'm laughing now because it's all so sick that it's funny.

    Most of us have such sick parents. No wonder all three of their children have had so many issues.

    I am doing good without Sis, who is so much like my mother.
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That you were able to hold yourself in compassion and cry for the child you were, that you were able to identify and cry for the unfairness of what happened to her ~ Ha! That is GREAT, MWM. That means you reclaimed some little piece of yourself for yourself. You will never be vulnerable in just that same way, again. Other vulnerabilities, yes ~ until you find and work through them. But not that particular one. That is your energy, now.

    All for you.

    As it was meant to be, from the beginning.


    All those shameful things that happened, all those times we were seen and treated as less than ~ we need to relearn that stuff and reclaim ourselves, MWM. We need to see through our adult eyes just who was playing what role and what the adult involved got out of that thing that cost us so much.

    We need to see what we were taught to name ourselves through those experiences, and we need to really get it that those things we were made to learn about who and how we are never had any validity.


    There is no way we could have been responsible, no way we could have fixed or changed a thing.

    We need to see with our adult eyes what the adults who were supposed to be parenting and cherishing and teaching us how to survive and love and be honest and kind...what were they teaching us, instead?

    And what could they possibly have gotten out of it that would ever justify the pain and the years of uncertainty and wrong thinking their little victory cost us?

    It cost you a mother and a sister. It cost your sister a grandmother and a sister.

    I feel badly for all of us.


    She willed the money to you, MWM.

    That must have been a slap in the face for your mother.


    They say one person who loves us can save us. I had a grandmother who loved me too, MWM.

    For anyone reading this? Never underestimate the effect your love has on your grandchild. Whatever the circumstances, however seldom you see them...your love can change everything, for your grandchildren.


    What I find, the more closely I examine the hurts from my past, is that there is no one I do not find myself viewing with compassion by the end of it.

    Note I said by the end, not at the beginning.


    At the beginning, I am overwhelmed at the stupidity of what was happening, at the wrongness of all of it. So much hurt, recycled again and again, until it got us all.


    I feel that way too sometimes, about my family of origin. Part of that is because there is so much in me that is numb. It is like I am watching a movie where everyone is ignoring that the craziest, most unconnected things are happening. As the numbness thaws, I realize it is a really, really sad movie. I am trying to stop or change something.

    It's already happened.

    I can't change it now.

    But I can see it through my adult eyes.

    And feel compassion for the child that I was.

    And that changes everything.

    That is the point of all of this, MWM. Not to lay blame or to make accusations, but to revisit what we've lived through and view ourselves with compassion for all that we got that we never should have been given, and for all that we so desperately needed, and never received.

    And there, we find compassion for all of us, abused and abuser, alike.

    It was just such a mess.

    But we have something the others don't have, MWM. And that is the courage to revisit the past and see what happened. To see what happened to us, and to refuse to carry it on to the next generation.

    I wish you every peaceful thought tonight, Pam.

    You are an amazing woman. You have raised children who are stronger, in some intrinsic way, than you or I ever were.

    We are doing well, MWM.

    How are you? There is strength in naming what happened, and in reclaiming ourselves.

  16. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Cedar, you are so kind and so right. I am fine. I just wonder why it took me so long to realize that what my sister was doing was not just abuse, but MASSIVE abuse. I am letting go of her and, with that, everyone except my father. He is no peach, but he never treated me any worse than he treated anyone else. In my loonybin family, that is something to

    I am comforted by the fact that you're will not go onto the next generation. My kids do not know this kind of cruelty. They never will.

    It is noteworthy that my kids, all of them, caught onto my sister far before I did. She was never an aunt to them. She was "your sister."
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Ha! Good for you and for me too, MWM. My kids are the same way with my sister.

    When her children were little my sister would do things like having her two little girls parade around the dining room at family gatherings (which were always at my house) waving American flags and singing about our country.

    Over and over again. The song would change, but not the marching around waving the flag part. Everyone was supposed to stop what they were doing and clap and praise the little girls.

    And they were nice little girls, very cute.

    But after awhile it got so you hated to see them coming.

    And here is the strange part. I swear, my sister knew that.


    When my daughter was little, my mother had her on a pedestal to the detriment of our son. When other grandchildren came along (my sister's) that pedestal was already taken. And though it sounds too mean to be true, I believe that was the true nature of that little game my mom was playing.

    My brother's children never had a shot at the pedestal. Had there never been any other grandchildren? His children still would have had no smallest hope of pedestal dwelling.

    And all this was just accepted. Just how my mom was. I am going back over all this nasty, hurtful way that my family is, this morning. I am so surprised that I knew it, but that I did not know it, at the same time.

    Dysfunction is so weird.

    When difficult child daughter was admitted to dual-diagnostic at fourteen, my mother said what she said to me about not having been a very good mother after all, and abruptly turned her back on this "favorite" grandchild. It was very hurtful to difficult child daughter. My mother was never to support difficult child in the smallest way ~ not with a visit during her time in any treatment or diagnostic, not with warmth, not with advice or a card or money, not with belief that she could turn things around.

    difficult child turned forty this year. That weird nastiness my mother displayed toward difficult child then has never changed.

    It's like the children are sucked into the evil at the heart of the hurt, and the adults stand by and don't believe it could be what it looks like.

    difficult child son never did think much of his grandmother or even, of his grandfather. (And just lately, I am beginning to see my father too in a new light.) After he grew up, he would speak of his hatred for her, and would tell me I should not have anything to do with her. It is only just lately that I am letting myself acknowledge the emotions locked away around so much of this. Like you, MWM, I wonder why I couldn't see it; why, in all the Hells that ever were, I allowed these things to go on.

    When I learned I was pregnant with difficult child daughter (our first) I had told husband we were not going to see my parents, that I did not want them involved in any way with my children. husband is Italian. Large Italian family. He thought that was a spiteful, foolish way to be...and we saw my family through all those years when the kids were growing up.

    Know when we stopped seeing so much of them?

    When everything fell apart for us, and their support might have meant everything in the world to us, that's when.

    Good for me, that I am seeing it, now.


    Somewhere just recently I posted about my granddaughters taking their aunt down in pretend karate moves. (Begun by my sister ~ the granddaughters' behaviors were entirely gutsy and appropriate and no one got hurt but my sister's vanity.)

    Generational payback, maybe.


  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Since I am "telling" on my mom this morning (thank you, MWM, for witnessing for me)...she never did manage to make it to the hospital to see me or the baby when I gave birth to difficult child daughter, my mother (and my father's) first grandchild.

    She never made it when our son was born, either.

    And she worked in a hospital three blocks away.

    And this did not seem at all unusual to me.

    I feel badly for myself now, this morning (!) that this was so.

    husband's mom came, of course.

    When my children had their babies? We were there with them, in the case of difficult child daughter, or, in the case of difficult child son, who lives in Louisiana, sent lots of money and flowers and celebratory phone calls.

    We visited difficult child son shortly after the baby's birth.

    For difficult child daughter, who was in the same state when she had her babies, we brought red roses and fried chicken to the hospital. (You can do that, now.)

    Ha! It is good, to change bad things into good and positive things.

    But...what in the world do you suppose my parents were thinking, to do as they did?

    They did come to love our children.

    They did. For a time, ours seemed almost like a normal family. Except that, now that I am revisiting alot of this...there were hurtful things happening all along.

    I feel strong and happy and right, at last, in standing up to my family of origin. I wish with all my heart that I had been strong enough to say "no" when husband insisted that family was family.

    He had no idea, no way of knowing, then.

    He does, now.


    It is so strange a feeling, seeing all this in that kind of double vision. One, what I let myself know and the other...what has really been going on all along.


  19. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Cedar, are you sure you aren't in my family...lolol. YES! They definitely did sneaky, dysfunctional things to upset the balance and I'm convinced in dysfunctional families, favortism that is blatantly shoved into the open is really, really common. And OMG "That's just how mom is!" familiar. In this case it was more like "That's just how Grandma is, she plays favorites." It is interesting that my mother would not do anything Grandma didn't like, yet in Grandma's last days, in a nursing home, my mother was having a screaming match with Grandma over how Grandma had favoried Uncle Jerk. Honesty, Grandma was 82 and Mother was 62 and they were fighting like a teenager and her mother. Yet since I didn't obey Grandma's meanspirited wishes, Mother wrote me off. I learned too late that I should never have told her the truth. I should have said, "Right, Mom, I gave it all to 36." But I did think it was wrong and had to take a stand.I couldn't keep my ideas to myself and my big mouth shut. You don't have any independent ideas in our loonybin family. That was unacceptable.

    OMG! I can almost see your little nieces and nephews marching around the dinner table with a flag, singing patriotic songs, making you wan to scream at them to shut up, although, of course, it wasn't their idea. They are kids. Certainly Sis was trying to bother you; maybe bother everyone. Who can figure out this level of nuttiness?

    LIke you, Cedar, I feel very free to realize that I was not the big problem in my family origin and that I can leave my sister behind. Let her try her little tricks on somebody else. It is so good to know I will never be her victim again. Ever.

    It is very cathartic to me to be doing this I hope I'm not boring most people.
  20. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Okay, and so I have come full circle with all this. As I sifted through it after posting to you MWM, I realized how little we were given, and how much each of us, you, me, recovering, my sister, my brothers too, have changed the paths for our own children.

    My sister has changed so much for her kids, and for her granddaughter. Maybe, I cannot blame her too much for not being able to resist that tendency to exclude. She has needed so much for so long a time. Like me, she has had to battle on alone or with what help she could find in a pretty cold world where, just as is the case with us when we seek support for what is happening with our addicted or mentally ill children, no one understands.

    And in the worst cases, where there are people who use the tragedies of our losses to judge and find us wanting.

    And all we can do is stand there, is try to be stronger, is try to keep going when we don't even know how we got where we are.

    But we are doing it.

    Good for us.


    But my sister has made good, positive changes for her children and her grandchild. As I have, as you have too, MWM. Maybe that is enough to accomplish in this one lifetime.

    You had to do it, MWM. Once we can name the wrongness we feel but cannot define, we have to speak it out loud. That takes courage. It takes trust in the other person's good heart. When we stumble into that old toxicity at the hearts of our families instead...we see it, now. We are responding differently. We did not succeed in changing the toxicity at the heart of things MWM, but we dragged that toxic thing into the open.

    It's not a secret, anymore.

    And that is a good, good beginning.

    You do not have a big mouth, MWM. You have the courage of your convictions. Anything less, once you knew better, would have been a lie. Anything less would have been to collude in the sickness, would have been to celebrate and pass on, the toxicity.

    Joseph Campbell wrote about something called The Heroes' Journey, MWM. The hero (who is each of us) hunts for and confronts the hoary old dragons of the past and faces them down.

    You do not have a big mouth, MWM. Nor are you foolish. You are a courageous woman who has battled dragons all her life. Through your own choice, MWM, you elected to undertake The Heroes' Journey.

    And you won.


    It's just that the Journey has no end point. We want it better, stronger, cleaner, for our families of origin, too. Now that we have seen that better way, we want that for them, to. I want my sister, my mother, my brothers to celebrate all this with me.

    They aren't there, yet. Your sister isn't there yet.

    And that has to be okay.

    It is necessary to have a witness to take it further, to take it deeper, to take it to the place where we can see it for what it was and heal.

    It is that way for me, anyway.

    When recovering and I were doing something similar, we found that there were others following, not because it is interesting to see into the lives of people we don't know and will probably never meet, but because participating in someone else's awakening spurs our own awakening, which brings us into freedom, too.

    So, I am pleased for me and for you and for anyone who would like to post into our discussion. I wish us all strong and healthy and free from the hurts of the past.

    That we can choose to do that, that we find one another to support ourselves and each other as we rise, as we grow and become strong and vibrantly healthy, is part of the magic we create, here on this site.

    If you are reading along with us and would like to post in, please do that. This site is safe, and it's anonymous. For any of us who chooses to bring herself (or himself) through those old traumas and questions and hurts and into a new understanding of self, please feel very welcome to do so.

    MWM, thank you very much for holding strong for me, and for giving me the opportunity to hold strong for you.

    I think we have done very well together.

    And because we have, the world is a brighter place, now. Maybe it is just a little corner, but you know how light has that tendency to brighten and burst through.

    And the next thing you know, the sun has come up, all over the world.


    Who knew?