Narcissistic Parents/Investment in success, performance of kids

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Copabanana, Sep 3, 2015.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    There are two articles. The second one is useful, too, but harder to read because of all of picture jumps.
    • The Problem with Narcissistic Parents
      [​IMG]A study byStress in Americarecently revealed that Millennials (ages 18 to 33) report the highest stress levels of any generation. It’s not necessarily wrong to chalk these pressures up to increased competition in college and the workplace, an ailing economy, or a culture geared toward multitasking. But let’s consider something a little more personal that may be at the source of increased stress levels. Let’s talk about something that may hit a little closer to home and, in fact, exist in the home of many children growing up today… the problem of narcissistic parents. These past few years, we’ve targeted helicopter parents and fought the “battle hymn of the tiger mother.” We’ve worried for the televised pageantry of “toddlers” and wondered whether “attachment parenting” was right or wrong. Yet, the problem of narcissistic parents may be at an all-time high. True, it can be a good thing that parents are taking a more active role in their child’s development. Remember the very first scene of “Mad Men,” in which a typical 1960s housewife scolds her child – not for the plastic bag she’s fixed around her head, but for the dry-cleaned dress the bag had contained that must be lying on the floor somewhere? While their parents and grandparents may have suffered through a culture that viewed children as second-class citizens, the kids of today, who are being raised as the focus of their household, are not necessarily better off.

      How Narcissistic Parents Live Through Their Children
      Parents who seem to be offering their kids something by immersing themselves in their children’s interests, activities, and accomplishments, are often taking more than they are giving. Narcissistic parents feed their own ego through the achievements of their children. Though the process is somewhat unconscious, they seek out ways to live through their child. A recent episode of NBC’s highly popular “Modern Family” illustrated this when housewife, Claire, took her teenage daughter, Alex, to an academic decathlon. Used to seeing her daughter victorious, Claire made snide comments to fellow parents and made sure to let the judges know whose mom she was. When Alex made a small mistake and was eliminated in round one, Claire made a scene and plotted ways to protest the loss. All the while, she tried to downplay and deny her deep investment in her daughter’s success. When Alex finally got it out of her, Claire confessed, “I like it too much when you win. I really love lording it over the other moms.” While it’s rare for narcissistic parents to reveal this of themselves, their investment in their child’s success is apparent to most people around them. This attitude is hardly selfless and often has nasty consequences. Another problem with narcissistic parents is that, while they may seem to support their children’s accomplishments, they often feel competitive with their children. They would like their child’s successes to reflect on them and attract attention to them, but at the same time, they do not want to be overshadowed by their kids. In this way, narcissistic parents don’t support a healthy sense of self-esteem in their children. Instead, they draw attention to themselves, using their children in a way that is disregarding and hurtful. The only use these parents have for their child is to reflect favorably upon them. Narcissistic parents often truly suffer from low self-esteem and are living through their children to compensate.

      Why Narcissistic Parents Overly Connect to Their Children
      [​IMG]Narcissistic parents want their child’s performance to reflect on them. The reasons for this are complex. Parents may be trying to compensate for what they believe are their own shortcomings. They may rely on their child’s success to bolster themselves up. In doing so, they are failing to see their child as a unique and autonomous individual. They refuse to recognize that their child is separate from them, with their own thoughts, feelings, and desires. A narcissistic parent tends to focus on or almost “feed” on their child’s accomplishments. They often do this, because something is lacking within them. They may try to use their child to fill an emptiness they feel within themselves. Parents with full lives, in which they have many interests, close relationships, and passions, often offer more to their children than those who give up everything to be with their kids. Though they do this in the name of love, they don’t realize that their conception of love is actually skewed. People often confuse love with emotional hunger. Parents who think they are giving their children love by showering them with constant attention are failing to see how much they are pulling on or draining the child. When a person feels a “need” or “longing” for their child, it can be a red flag that they are taking more than they are giving in the relationship. If a parent feels their child is “filling up” a part of them, for example, that they are their sole source of joy, it can be a further warning that they are experiencing emotional hunger toward their child. Love is an offering of encouragement, support, and affection. Emotional hunger provides just the opposite.

      The Effects of Growing Up with Narcissistic Parents
      The biggest problem with narcissistic parents is that, in trying to build their children up, they are actually neglecting to recognize and support their child’s independent sense of self. Instead, the child feels a heavy amount of pressure from their parents. They may carry fears of falling short and the sense that they will never be good enough. Their insecurities may lead them to become narcissistic themselves, seeking out attention and approval just to prove they are okay. Parents who give up their own lives enter the child’s world instead of inviting the child into theirs. Because, children learn by example, not having a parent who is fulfilled within themselves leaves the child with a sense of having to take care of that parent. They have to make them happy and offer support. This is a huge burden to put on a child, and it hurts them throughout their lives. They may recreate this dynamic in their relationships, looking for someone who inflates their ego or who tears them down in ways that support deepseated attitudes they have toward themselves. They may also seek out people, who, like their parents, use them to feel better about themselves. These dynamics can be harmful to an adult, but they are almost immoral to impose on a child. When we refuse to see our children as separate individuals, we project all of the negative and critical attitudes we have toward ourselves onto them. We may try to overcompensate for our parents’ mistakes, or we may reenact destructive patterns from our own childhoods. In either case, we are missing the mark with our kids. We are misattuned to their unique needs and insensitive to their true wants. By differentiating from our own past, we are better able to see our kids as separate from ourselves. Only then can we offer them real love as opposed to a fantasy of connection. Only then, can we appreciate our children for who they are and support them in reaching their full, unique potential. END, Article 1

      Children of narcissistic parents often become narcissistic parents themselves, the author says.

    Kelly Wallace is CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. Read her other columns, and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

    (CNN)The dad stood as close to the goalpost as he could get, coaching his 9-year-old daughter from the sidelines of her recreational soccer league game.

    His daughter had two coaches, but that didn't matter. He was determined to coach her separately.

    "Move faster. Hands up. Get ready."

    "Come on. Stay alert. Get down low."

    He would not stop.

    And then you can probably guess what happened next.

    Related: How not to be a scary stage parent

    A girl on the opposing team kicked a ball right past her. Goal! The tears started to come down fast, and all I wanted to say to the dad of the goalie was, "Just. Leave. Her. Alone."


    We've all seen such parenting behavior countless times: Parents overly invested in their child's success, wanting to see their child achieve in sports, music, academics, you name it, competing with others via their children.

    It can take the form of both high praise and sharp criticism.

    And in the most extreme cases, there's actually a name for it: narcissistic parenting, according to Joseph Burgo, who devotes an entire chapter to this behavior in his new book "The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age."

    "The winner-loser dynamic is at the heart of extreme narcissism, and the narcissistic parent is somebody who plays that game through their children," said Burgo, a marriage and family therapist and clinical psychologist who has been practicing for more than 30 years.

    "They are the ones who are driven to create children who are winners, and not only are they winners, but they're better than other people's kids, and they will, in conversation, bring things up. They will bring up accomplishments, which schools their kids got accepted to, how much money they're earning, in order to make you feel bad -- your kid is less than them."

    Psychologist Joseph Burgo is the author of "The Narcissist You Know."
    Related: Parents may be to blame for narcissistic kids, says study

    Louise Sattler, a school psychologist, remembers acting auditions for her now grown daughter. The acting moms, she said, would be more "stealth" than the sports moms, and would just "casually" mention their child's success in the restroom when other people were around.

    "You would overhear the mom and daughter talking about, 'Oh, isn't it great that you just filmed so-and-so. This'll be a snap. You've already been in front of this producer,' " she said. "Anything to get into the mind of the poor kid who is going up for an audition."

    What's "tragic" about this type of parenting, said Burgo, is that it communicates to the children that they aren't loved and accepted for who they are. "They've got to perform. They've got to win to be accepted."

    Lori Day, an educational psychologist and former school administrator who runs her own consulting business, has seen firsthand the impact of narcissistic parents on children.

    "They are fragile. They have been told they are the greatest thing since sliced bread for their whole lives, while being terribly overprotected and overindulged by parents who live vicariously through them," said Day, who has a grown child of her own.

    "When they get to college, professors have a term for them: 'teacups,' because they are so fragile. Once they are separated from their doting, promoting parents, they struggle with basic skills of independence, their self-esteem is vulnerable and they lack resilience."

    Who becomes a narcissistic parent?

    I've often wondered about the narcissistic parents I've seen on the soccer field, at basketball games or even on Facebook. In my head, I've always thought they are living vicariously through their children to cover up any disappointments they might feel about their own lives.

    Burgo, who is also a father of three, says that is definitely part of the picture. "It's often a parent who feels that he or she has not achieved what she wanted in her own life, what (on) some level feels like a failure," he said. The parent then tries to fulfill his or her own goals "by making the child into a winner

    Top 5 parenting mistakes02:00
    Related: Opinion: Crazed youth sports parents: You've gotta ease up!

    But there are also narcissistic parents who may have had traumatic childhood experiences and who, in essence, use the narcissistic parenting to cover their shame about their own lives. They humiliate and exploit their children by making them feel like losers, said Burgo.

    "More often, those children are pretty crippled by that experience, but sometimes they come out of it by being narcissists themselves in order to escape that feeling of shame."

    It does seem counterintuitive, but on balance, Burgo says, "narcissism begets narcissism." Children of narcissistic parents can become narcissistic parents themselves or marry one.

    "I've seen that in my practice so often, particularly with narcissistic women who had narcissistic mothers, end up marrying narcissistic men."

    Growing up with narcissistic parents

    Danielle Le Roy, chief financial officer for an information technology firm and a homeschooling mom of two, said she grew up with what she describes as narcissistic parents but has adopted an alternative parenting style with her own children.

    Her parents weren't "micromanagers," nor did they scream on the sidelines, she said. "They were more like high-achieving parents who seemed greatly pleased when their kids achieved in a similar manner

    The study 'not so cool' kids will love 02:42
    Growing up, she said, she interpreted this message as, "You are what you achieve." Love and attention seemed very conditional, she said.

    While she and her brother went on to great success -- she as a lawyer and he as a doctor -- she said that throughout her academic career, she struggled with performance anxiety.

    Related: Brutally Honest: Is it OK to let you child fail?

    Her parents also didn't understand that she really didn't want to become a lawyer. "They didn't understand why I didn't feel loved unconditionally."

    As a parent herself, she is humbled by how challenging parenting can be and appreciates the things her parents did well but is taking a different approach when it comes to raising her two boys, who are 8 and 10.

    "My husband and I strive really hard to listen to what our kids are interested in, as opposed to imposing our own ideas of what 'success' looks like," she said.

    Advice: 'Focus less on wanting the best' for children[/paste:font]

    In our culture today, we place so much emphasis on being the best and being the winner, and that certainly makes modern parenting difficult, said Burgo.

    But he says there are key ways we can make sure we don't move into the narcissistic parenting arena.


      • "I would focus less on wanting the best for your children and wanting them to be happy, wanting them to find meaningful work -- work that satisfies them," he said.

    "There is so much competition these days about getting into the best schools, getting into the Ivy League, the best kindergartens ... and your whole life will be ruined if you get off the path."

    He continued, "If you don't go to Harvard, you could still be happy."

    I admit it's not always easy grappling with that desire to want the best for your children. For instance, every time I walk into my children's classroom for a publishing party or another school event, I sometimes find myself starting to compare my child's work and performance with the other children's. And each time that happens, I ask myself, "What's that about? Is it more about my ego than a true concern for my daughter's well-being in school?"

    "The very fact that you're asking yourself that question, you are way ahead of the game," said Burgo. "That's what is needed. Just a healthy amount of self-reflection. It's the parents who don't realize that, who don't stop and ask themselves and then just start getting overly invested in their child being better than some other student."

    Can you stop a narcissistic parent?

    Amanda Rodriguez, a mom of three who is also team manager for two children's football teams and an elite basketball team, has had plenty of experience with narcissistic parents.

    She said she has seen parents, on more than one occasion, pull their children to the side after a game and sometimes even during one to yell at them about their performance.


    "And I mean full-on in-your-face yelling," said Rodriguez, the founder of the blogDudeMom. "No kid of theirs is going to be a loser," they will scream.

    When you first see it, said Rodriguez, you are caught off guard because you can't quite believe a parent is doing that to a child. While you may want to step in, you also have to be careful that you don't make it worse for the child, she said.

    Personally, she believes it's appropriate for parents to say something to the coach (or the teacher if it happens at school), and that person of authority should say something to the parent.

    "We have had to ban parents from events for their behavior, and I think that is totally an appropriate response, since our job as an organization is to keep kids safe and allow them to participate joyfully in athletic pursuits," she said.

    As much as other parents would love to take on any narcissistic parent they see -- on the playground, near the stage, at science camp, in the restroom -- Burgo says there's really no way to engage with an extreme narcissist directly.

    "If you challenge them, they'll engage in battle and they'll have to win, so you might just make yourself a target," he said.

    If you have a relationship with the child, you can be there for that child in a supportive way and acknowledge what he or she is going through. But sadly, trying to get the parents to "reform is a lost cause," Burgo said.

    "Extreme narcissists are kind of like alcoholics. They kind of need to hit bottom. They need to have a severe wake-up call of some kind" before they ever realize they have a problem and get help.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2015
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You know, ever since I was very young I had a thing about "I-Am-The-Best Clubs" that are often more for the moms than the kids. Oh, the kids enjoy it too, but the parents really pump up talking about their child who is a cheerleader or my child who is a model...that sort of thing. I can not watch young kids in beauty contests. I feel they are sending the wrong message to the and charm is all you need. What if the cute little toddler grows into a not-so-cute teen, who has to face the same things other teens face--acne, weight gain, awkwardness, etc.

    I babysat for a kid whose sister was in pageants in her young life and she grew into a very awkward teen. I brought up the acne and weight gain because she had both. That is hard enough for a teen to handle, even with dad and mom saying "You are fine," but what if your mom had made subtle hints all your life that you are finer if you are beautiful? Not only is that shallow as a value, but it's got to impact th e teen as she goes throw the usual growing pains. This is the stuff that eating disorders are made from.

    "You're fat." (My mom)

    "Gaining a little weight, huh, SWOT?" (Me, when I got to 113 lbs, which I thought was obese and felt very shamed about)

    "You better watch it. Your hips are getting wider." (To me when I weighed 110 lbs.)

    It's a miracle I didn't have an eating disorder too.

    "Boys like girls with long hair." (Silent message to me: It is the ultimate importance t hat boys like me).

    "Girls don't have to be smart, they just have to be beautiful." (Well, not only was this confirming to me that I was a dummy, but that it didn't matter much because, as a girl, *I* didn't matter much as long as I could get me a man.)

    I don't know if my mother was a narc. She could have traits. I think she is more borderline, a worshipper of others and a hater of her scapegoats. She had a few GC. But she certainly sent a strong message that we better not be fat and, in my case, the long hair thing stuck.

    My mother didn't care about what the other mothers thought. She didn't know them. She never came to school. She sat at home talking to my grandmother all day. The only person she wanted to please was HER mother. Often, she couldn't.

    My grandmother, in my opinion inappropriately sharing too much with me (our family had no boundaries): "She was such a sweet girl. Now she's so ANGRY (high pitched voice) and so BITTER! She tells me I favored Uncle Vain, but I told her her brains were in her feet. I meant she was a DANCER!" I was an adult and heard this my grandmother's entire life, but I wonder why she confided in my against her mother. But I'm not stupid either. If s he said things like this to me about her daughter, I am quite sure, when upset with me, she said similar demeaning things about me to my mother."

    I love my grandma. She stuck up for me. I was her GC, along with Uncle Vain. But I can see her flaws. And how my mother may have gotten the way she was. My mother, in spite of fighting with her, told me often that she would never hurt her mother (although she did). And she really did try to do everything her mother asked her to do, even after she died. Sick, sick family dynamics through the generations.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
  3. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    I still do that.

    That is the essence of the harm in the spiral of enabling we get into when a child fails to launch.

    So, for us, and for the kids who are trapped in something awful, everything will be magnified. They don't launch successfully. We feel guilty, feel it was our parenting. We recommit to the parenting role because unless we do, the child will be endangered.

    For those of us whose kids are addicted or who are ill physically or emotionally, there are a thousand missteps. It goes against everything we are not to help. Helping spirals into enabling and then, we are all in trouble.

    How sad, for all of us.

    The key here has to be to believe in the kids. To let go and go on and believe they will come through or they won't. Which is a hellish place to be.

    But helping isn't helping.

    We do need to recognize how complex our family situations are. We need to find compassion for all of us. (I am still thinking about the way I was seeing my son and my daughter, too.) Their situations are difficult, but they can do it.

    I don't know how, and neither do they.

    But I do know they have a better chance if they believe in themselves, if they believe in the adults that they are. Pretty impossible to do that when there is addiction or mental illness.

    Nonetheless, for their own sakes, letting go is what we have to do.

    Crucially, I think, we need to reflect to them that we have faith in them, in the core selves that they are, to create whatever life they want to. To whatever degree it is that a parent's interpretation of who we are informs our own interpretation of who we are, that is the thing we can do.

    And nothing else.

    No enabling.

    That turns really ugly, really fast because it destroys the child's belief in self efficacy.

    Encouragement, support, and affection.

    Very nice.

    Emotional hunger...I don't know how that fits in when a child is in danger. I see the difference in intensity of every negative emotion when our children are self destructing. I agree that emotional hunger is active in long term enabling. The other side is: how is it possible to stay steady state when the kids are in real danger?

    That is what we are learning here: to detach from the overwhelming emotional punch of addicted kids; to stay steady state is a very hard thing to learn when they have been so hurt, and what you want to do is save them.


    That's what we have to do though. We are learning now how to do that without blaming the kids for where they are in their lives. I am learning that. It's a very hard thing to see how these threads got so tangled. Again, I am thinking about Serenity's article on flexibility versus role rigidity.

    Flexible is good. I think we are accomplishing adopting that concept of role flexibility. In refusing to parent inappropriately (money, advice, judging the kids for where they are or are not) we will come into acceptance. Remember when we thought we were losing daughter. All that stuff was gone, in an instant. I just loved that I knew her; loved and was so grateful she had been part of my life.

    We can do that without losing the child.

    That is the gold standard.

    To love them (and ourselves) like we were losing them.

    And, not to enable.

    Because no one can do enabling over time without judging the person we are helping.

    Not even a mom.

    Which is what I do, in devoting everything in me to pulling one of the kids out of whatever it is they are into. But again, how do you just let a kid go? You don't. So, I need to stop berating myself about enabling. The harm in enabling is in the patterns established over time and in how those patterns convince us we are. All of us in a family. Everybody's concept of self and other changes. We forget to remember who each of us was before the trouble came for all of us.

    It was right to do every single thing to have changed the course of events. The thing for us to remember, in defining ourselves and our kids, to ourselves and to them, is that addiction or illness pretty much mandate wild fluctuations in every member of a family. Daughter's problems did affect son. Not just in how I was affected, but in the very real ways the family emphasis on daughter relegated him to a different status in the family.

    He was abandoned.

    We were all right there, but everything was sad, and so desperate.


    It is right to change course. Which we are doing, all the parents here, as we compare notes on successful outcome.


    That is me.

    A mess.


    Just a glorious, messy human after all.

    Like we all are.

    Now that I know that, that is what I am telling my kids, too.

    I don't know. That is what it means, to say: I don't know. I love you. I like you alot. I miss you. I want you. It's fun to be with you. I don't know what to say about how to do this ~ about how to live a life. But here is the difference, now: I don't feel like a failure as a person and as a parent anymore, when I feel that way.

    I feel like a human.

    How cool is that?

    So now, they can just be that flexible, questioning, sometimes feeling good and sometimes, feeling really bad human, too.

    Oh boy, I hate this.


    But I still say I really did love being a mom. I still do. And a grandma. And a wife and etc. When troubles came. That's when I fell into all those negatives from my childhood. I could not see then that troubles come to us all. I felt guilty. That was appropriate, in the beginning. If there was something I needed to address, it was correct to look for it.

    I like the way I am seeing now. I did respond correctly. Until I had tried everything I knew, I could not believe in detachment theory. While I read "detach from your child", I would not consider that detachment was valid. I now understand detachment to mean "detach from emotional flashback".

    That has made all the difference.

    But I really did have to try, and I did.

    It is the spiral into enabling and the changed concepts of self and other it results in that is the problem, now.

    So, that's a little bit of a sticky nastiness.


    That's okay. I would rather see it than not, for sure.

    Just me. Just human me. Just human daughter and son and grands and D H.

    My mom, and sister too, still get to be poops.

    Whether they can see what they are doing or not, I do. And I don't much care for it.


    Where is that James Cagney clip.

    Okay, so this would be me, right? That doesn't ring true. Though I will admit there was a mom who led my Brownie troop that I so admired and felt safe with. She was the reason I wanted to be a Brownie and Cub den mother.

    I wanted to be that mom.

    And I wanted to be that mom one of my friends had, when I was little. She was so calm and sweet. Their home was clean and welcoming, and no one cared if we made a mess.

    I wanted to be that mom, too.

    It's the same thing I'm still doing, if you think about it. I am wanting to be a good mom. I am learning still, how to do that.

    In secret? I am proud of myself. Except for the part where the kids are so troubled. What I am learning now about being a good mom is that what adult kids need is a mom who believes that, whatever it is, they will handle it well. That good things and bad things come to all of us and that, most of the time, we all are flying by the seats of our pants and that is okay.


    That feels very right to me, based on what I have learned in my life. Which is: Not to condemn ourselves when things don't turn out as we'd hoped. That was the path that messed me up. My mom's condemnation, the condemnation of that first therapist (which he should have clarified and etc). The brokenness that was already in me. But given all those things, we all did handle ourselves very well. I liked that definition of family President Obama repeated in his State of the Union address: Ours is a strong, loving family coming through challenging times.

    This is what D H says about son. This is what I had to take a look at when son did not choose education. Roar. I am still mad about that.

    So we see where I have to work, then.


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  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I have realized that when the bad time started with my son I turned into my mother. 100 per cent.
  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That sounds like my mom. That awe/patronization circle. I have that too...I mean, the empathy thing, where you know what the hurt is and can give a little extra attention or whatever. That involves judging other people instead of just accepting them. I still do that. That is why I like strong women. I want to know how to be strong like that, and very centered in myself instead of worrying about how everyone else is doing. It has to do with that wanting everyone to be contented, like life is a Disney creation.

    And we all know what happened to Mylie Cyrus, who was a real life Disney creation.

    Always and forever, a matter of degree. It isn't wrong to be as I am, but it isn't good to want everything to be perfect. Real boats rock. I condemn myself when the waters get rough. I am learning: Good things and bad things happen to all of us.

    That is the thing I needed to know.

    Everything is not always my fault.

    I am not running around trying to make everything perfect so much, anymore. Here is another thing I've noticed: In reviewing experiences, I emphasize what could have been better. Again, that is me not wanting to be my mom. D H says: Well, that's the thing. When we try not to be whatever it is we think is bad or harmful, we go so far the other way that we eventually do find something. Accept that we had that time together. Whatever it was, however it went, whatever you did or didn't do...that's okay. The kids like us enough to come visit. Son likes us enough, today, to call once in awhile.

    That's success.

    That's perfect, because it is real. Real boats sail on. The waters change. The boat sails on through them, beautiful in itself.

    Stop beating yourself up. That's your mom in you. Recognize those kinds of thinking, briefly review whether any of it is relevant, and end it there.

    Be human.

    Accept that the ship is beautiful. It is the waters that are changeable, as waters must be for them not to become stagnant things.

    Okay, so I added some stuff to what D H actually said. He didn't say any of that stuff about the waters or the ship.

    I like that imagery though, very much.


    Especially the part about waters that never change going stagnant.


    That is huge for me, you guys.
  6. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Oprah, who is exactly my age, has overcome so much and has been my idol for years, if I have one. Our cable doesn't have OWN though. Boo hoo.

    I have a judging problem too. One of my worst traits. I judge and I don't like being judged. How hypocritical of me, no? I have to work on that. I haven't put much effort into that aspect of me that I don't like at all.

    My Mom judged everyone--either all good or all bad. Ugh. I don't want to be her. Now that I named the bad trait I have, I realize I have been judging my sister's choices. The ones that have to do with me, well, maybe I have a right to check in on them. The other decisions she has made t hat I would not have made or that are outside of my own moral code--do I have a right to judge that? I don't think so, but I am. Just like she is judging me. We are both drawing conclusions. We are both at least partly wrong.

    Judgment. I have to work hard on this one. How dare I judge anyone. Am I God?

    Thanks, Cedar. Seriously, I need to be mindful of this in myself, especially regarding those who judge me. The wrong thing done twice doesn't make it right.

    Then, again, who is to judge whether or not judging is right or wrong? ;)
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am thinking now that the problem with my relationship with my sister is that I have personalized what she has done.

    The same thing I did with my son. On some level I believed that when my sister treated me badly that I deserved it.

    I believed that accepting the mistreatment of my sister was to accept that I did not deserve more.

    What is the quote you provided, cannot give what you cannot afford to...As long as my worth was defined by the criteria of my family of origin...

    zero sum game
    victim, golden and abuser
    worship or disdain
    Scapegoating or Movie Star

    I could not afford to accept my sister....because it would mean that I would be confined to a victim perpetually a person. Because there was no flexibility...And that was what I had fought against my whole life escape that role.

    After reading the last article I posted (Loving a Narcissist) I am not that hopeful. Because it seems that my sister will always want to put me in a fixed position as responsible for all bad things, less than, undeserving....Even if I could find a position of therapeutic neutrality (with my own sister) Is it worth it just to have connection to put myself in that kind of position? Maybe someday I will write a letter, asking for nothing, just summarizing where I am.

  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    If I ever write my sister a letter? I am going to say: Speaking specifically to that ring of thorns you and your fanatic cohorts had the temerity to pray around me and my kids? Payback is a biatch.

    THAT is what would Cedar do, you little turd.

    Or: Karma comes to us all. With my eyes all rolled up into my head so I look really spiritually spooky.


    D H came home. He says I am just being a bigshot because my sister isn't here.

    Whatever. I am celebrating vengeful privately, in future.
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  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes. I am hiding under the bed, not in it.

    I agree with your earlier post. I need to stay away from my sister. No letters. No contact. No fantasies.

    I think M is right. Some day when she wants or needs something she will contact me. I need to be strong. (M also thinks I need to bequeath any assets I have to her or her sister, in case my son does not survive me and leaves no survivors.)

    I asked the attorney if I should send my sister copies of pictures I found (he had promised her I would.)

    He responded: Why bother? She isn't doing anything to you. Why remind her you exist.

  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    OMG, Copa. Me too. And my mother. And my uncle. And everyone else. Nobody abused me more about being "baaaaad" than myself.

    Do we equally believe we deserve to be treated well when we are? Do you think about that? I don't exactly think, "I don't deserve to be treated this good" (I used to), but now it's more just something I accept and don't have an inner voice about. But when someone treats me badly? It is still very hard for me to think, "This is THEIR problem." I still tend to think, "I caused this."

    Even on my best days, if I think of those who don't like me, I believe it's my felt, deep inside.
  11. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Thank M. for me. This is great advice. He is a very wise man.
  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    For this little longer time Copa, until we are firmly seated in ourselves enough to identify and respond to inappropriate behaviors from our sisters, it is best for us if we do not remind them we exist.

    It is best Copa and Serenity, for us.

    I feel wrong to think the things I think about my mom and my sister, let alone post them. That's why I do post them. To keep myself honest and not pretend I am better than I am, or kinder than I am, or brighter, or a better mom or whatever. I really do want to be myself, right strong in the middle of myself.

    The quote:

    "...and to lose its bravery perhaps hampers some other bravery of the spirit; to lose even one felicity is to have been robbed of more than we have a right to spare."

    Charles Williams
    Descent Into Hell

    And here is us, Neitzsche's love within us from the beginning:

    Once, my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities I was capable of unfolding.

    Mary Shelley

    That is how it is for us in trying to relate to toxic family systems. Everyone can only afford to see everyone else as they were, and never, ever, as we all might become.

    I don't know why.

    But I for sure know that one of the people in a toxic relationship cannot believe all of us into better. Think about it. My sister, and the condo. My sister, and going to dinner. My sister, and going to visit.

    My sister and what she did to my daughter, and how she had to see her, to do that.

    It blows me right out of the water; that is who my sister is. Maybe I am claiming some moral high ground here in wanting family. Maybe, I don't want them, either.


    I hope that's true.

  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Me, too.

    That's why our sisters (or moms, for me) can do these terrible things to us and get away with it. They did it. They must know that is who we are or why would they say or do or believe all the crummy things they say and do and believe.

    That is our filter. That is why I liked Brene Brown's "Just sit with the feelings."

    Overcoming our shame bases has to do with surviving our vulnerabilities. It's a hard thing, to do that, and not employ whatever poor defense we have evolved. But it is an amazing way to know what to do with those terrible feelings.

    Nothing at all.

    Just know they are there, and let them be. They fall apart on their own. An adult trapped in the situations we grew up in would come away with the same defenses we have had to erect. "If I call myself out first, it won't hurt as much when someone else calls me out."

    But we cannot be strong adults from shame based cores.

  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Look at the abusive mom thread. I was all giddy with being Donald Trump. For one day.
    This makes me very, very sad.

    Because there is no way out for us....with them.

    "Why don't you love me any used to love me?'"

    Said to me when she was in her late 20's. What they want, our sisters, is the Cinderella sister, who cooked and cleaned and watched them, and loved them as little doll mothers. Sisters without a sense. Undeserving, abused sisters...who know their place. They ask nothing for themselves. Automatons. Undeserving of one thing. Accepting that their piece of the pie is not one crumb. And happy about it.
    This is the worst example of all, Cedar. When your sister visited your place in the South, was it, and dismissed your second rate...because she on purpose went to view all of the other models say she would have chosen a better one.

    She is saying here, Cedar, you deserve nothing. And if by accident, by luck or circumstance you did get something,(but never because you deserve it) it is second best and never, ever something I would have wanted.

    See the zero sum game? She must render any single thing you have as not worth having. Especially your very best thing...D H. And your children. Imagine the victory lap she was running when very Dear Daughter was suffering...She had to claim that scalp for her very own...and celebrate it. I am tearing up here for all of us.

    And because Dear Daughter is so completely clean and healthy and morally pure...(although she seems to test herself by fire every now and then--as I think I might have needed to do...but I am a mere reflection of her)it could not touch her.

    It only wounds us. Because we are the ones that are soldered together.
    You are speaking here, Cedar, of feeling responsible when others treat us badly.

    I will add my me too, here. Too.

    M knows this about me. That is what the tongue out is about.

    We are working in the house. Not today, he is out making his rounds. So yesterday afternoon was a work time.

    So he says, just tell me what you want me to do (and I am already afraid and defensive and feel there is no way I can do this right.)

    So I say: Well I am thinking of moving this here..and that here, and the other thing...there. (And I go on and on.)

    So M says: You never say. Move this there.

    And I say: You expect me to turn into another person. Who gives orders. I have never given an order in my life. I do not think I can turn into a person who gives an order. We can never work together without you wanting me to change into another person. I have to work by myself.

    M: Why do you always think I am attacking and accusing you?

    I believe him. I believe he started out wanting to avoid a fight.

    So, I walked into another room to work and shut the door. And he started doing some of the things...that I said I was thinking about.

    I really do not know why this fits here. But I think it does.

    I think even with creativity...I love decorating and design...I cannot work with anybody else without feeling that I will be dominated or destroyed....And I surrender my voice. In my own house, only.

    In my sister's or mother's house mine was the only voice that they listened to.

    And my sister is the exact opposite in anything other than her house. My mother and my sister absolutely cede any authority to me about design. Go figure?

    I am worn out from today's posts. Just wrung out.

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Actually, Serenity, these were the attorney's words. My mother's attorney who is now mine. He is who we went to see last week so that I could sign my trust.

    M feels exactly the same way, though. He sees no reason for me to contact my sister. He sees no benefit to do so or the responsibility to do so. All he wants is that she not hurt me. He thinks she has nothing to offer me.

    But he does believe I should put her or her children in my will, as beneficiaries of whatever assets might be left, if my son leaves no heirs. He feels I am obligated to do so morally, because they are my family.

    So M believes in family, but he does not believe we owe it to them to be damaged or destroyed by them.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Copa, it wasn't even our condo. Before we settled on Florida, we rented something on Padre Island that we found on the internet. Just to see whether we wanted to do Texas or Florida before we committed to Florida. That is what is so crazy wrong with it. The condo was rented sight unseen. It was beautiful. Two beds, two baths, balcony on the beach. Filled with original Mexican artists' work. Beautiful stuff, and so interesting a place to be. Mexican families ~ generations of Mexican families, around the pool in the evening. Everyone so gentle and loving to one another. We invited my parents, who were wintering in a city further up the coast, to come down. My mom said wouldn't it be nice to invite my sister, too. That meant there would not be room for my parents to stay with us, but my parents were close enough to drive home and my sister wasn't.

    So, my sister and her husband spent two nights there with us.

    And left early the next morning claiming whatever reason for why they needed to leave, and then, spent that time looking into condos further down the beach that were "better" than the one they had stayed in with us.

    And then, my sister told me they had done so.

    And I mean, what is there to be said about these kinds of things?

    I just said I was glad they liked the beach well enough to check it out.

    But I wasn't able to think very well, then. The kids were in such trouble, and I felt so badly about myself in those years.

    I am better, now.


    My mother has been in the house we then built in Florida, but my sister would never come there. Her husband and I had talked (because he was the only one who would pick up the phone for us when we called there ~ I have posted about that before) anyway, he and I were excited they were coming and talked about we will do thus and so when they come.

    But they never did come.

    By the time I was done with them, but not done with them like I am now, my sister called and wanted to come by herself. That turned out, after like, an hour and a half conversation where things were just not right, to be because she wanted to "accidentally" run into a television producer vacationing in a city near where our house is.

    I was so offended that she would trick me into an invitation ~ I mean, she had a standing invitation, but that long conversation first about how she needed time away, and how it had to be just these certain days, and was I sure those days were good for us, and all the justifications for all of that and then, she mentions the stupid producer who might want another shot at creating a reality series out of my sister's life and I kid you not about that part. When she might just have called me up and said: There is a television producer and blah blah. I would have said great, and gone with her to accidentally run into the producer, and what a coincidental thing that she just happened to be right where my sister was visiting her sister on the same exact days she was there, too.

    But that tricking me part.


    That is the third blatantly worse thing my sister has done. First is what she did to my daughter. Second is the way I am seeing that she relishes seeing my kids instead of the way family circles the wagons when something bad happens. Third is this.

    I forgot she did that.

    roar whatever how rotten she is to me.

    It makes me feel weak, to think about these terrible things.

    They seem terrible, to me.

    And they are terrible. Remember Serenity when you believed you must not have been abused really because your mom didn't hit you and mine did? This is the same kind of thing. My sister is not as terrible as yours have been to each of you. But what she did and what she does is so pointlessly, disgustingly hurtful.

    Isn't that something, that she would play a game like that with me regarding that visit.

    Know what I did? I had already assured her a million times that the days she wanted to come would be great. So I couldn't just say: Don't come you poop, though I wish I had.

    But what I did do is call her back. I told her of course she could come, but I thought it was really cheap of her to have presented her visit as she had. and she started crying really loud and said she wasn't cheap and she could afford whatever and etc.

    And I was like...didn't she hear me correctly?

    And D H said: She heard you just fine. I'm proud of you.

    I don't know what she did about the television producer. I do know she does not have a reality television show based on her family.

    She better just hope I never get one.


    I had forgotten about that, Copa and Serenity.

    That is why D H says I will be vulnerable to my sister if he is not here.

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    During what period was this, Cedar? Remember, my sister would not talk to me or answer the phone as my mother was ill.

    If I had to guess...your sister does not in any way ever want to be vulnerable to you. I do not know exactly why.

    My sister could show her vulnerability to my mother. But not to me. Nor do I remember for years and years ever showing any vulnerability to her.

    Except to her I was always vulnerable. That was the role I played, I guess. I am still smarting that she told me that my hair was aging (during the last contact that was superficially cordial.) My sister must spend $350 a month on grooming, alone, not counting clothes. He hair is dyed and coiffed and styled. My hair is silver mink. It goes to my waist and is in a pony tail or a braid. My hair is "aging" because I am.While I absolutely aspire to be a woman of style.. I do not feel comfortable to aspire to create the illusion of youth. Young hair next to wrinkled skin to me looks jarring.

    Although I may dye my hair Platinum like Lady Gaga.

    Each sister seeks to gain advantage, to have the power position. They plot. See, in their world view there is always a winner and a loser. A victim and aggressor.

    They will always maneuver to avoid the possibility that we will have the opportunity to defend or to have voice...because they see this as limiting their own. That is why my sister fell apart when I asserted myself even minimally with my mother. For her it is all or nothing. That is why she is such a horrible boss. She needs to subjugate. She does not understand collaboration or reciprocity. Your sister could not have asked you with the truth. She would not empower you to say no.
    This is so helpful, Cedar. I had wanted to ask you how you did it with the animals. That is my biggest stumbling block. I mean, showing up with 3 animals and no home.

    Where I want to go typically wants a one year lease. Were you able to negotiate to a shorter period?
    But I hope you will always have Serenity and I.
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Cedar and Serenity, that is what we have changed. Our process invites each of us to become more and different in each post. In words you love, Cedar, it is a paradigm shift.
  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My mother's world had winners and losers. My mother would always be the winner. I do not remember any relation in which she was a part...where she lost. Except, eventually, her kids.
  20. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Me three.

    I must add, it hardly ever happens now with FOO out of my life. Most people mean well and are not enmeshed in childhood issues with us. I don't know if the same people at work or "play" are acting out their own childhoods with FOO members, but they aren't doing it to me. I think FOO ties, when the family unit was a mess, cause the collateral damage to take it on on one another, and there is usually one that is more aggressive than the other one. I think it's her. I'm sure she thinks it's me. Does it matter? As long as we stay apart, my particular life is calm and peaceful. My mental health means more to me, and my loved ones, than trying again to have a relationship with somebody who thinks she is the normal one, when that is not true. Until you can face your issues, you can't heal.

    The difference is night and day. There is always drama when FOO interactions occur so why ask for it?