Adults with Parents who push buttons...

Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 07:33 am
you don't need to lie, or shut up. A simple "I don't agree with that", is sufficient. Then change the subject.

this never worked with my family- They were upset with the fact that I didnt agree. They would argue until & said I agreed. Noone is able to have a different opinion. - Well, I went five years without talking to them. Eventually, I was upset with another insult from my mother and told her that I wouldn't continue a relationship with a friend who insulted me the way that she did & hung up. In order for it to work- I had to cut everyone out because she would have them call me with "messages" or call & listen on the line. It culminated in her calling me at work- I told her if she called again I would have to call the police. Then after I had my baby & contacted her- (hormones) and it didn't take but one month (for her one month without insulting me was a long time) for her to start acting like herself. I do mourn for the lost relationship- & the relationship that my child will miss out on but really, I am mourning for a relationship that was never there. I am mourning for a supportive loving family & I didn't ever have that.
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Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 07:48 am
I'm with you on that. I wish my family could have been different, or could be different in the future. Wishful thinking isn't reality. And I too mourn.
It was best for my mental and emotional health to cut myself out of the family picture.
It had come to the point where I had my fathers voice in my head if I was taking too long to do something, or I made a mistake at something. What the heck? Not even there, I can hear him. But it was stuff he'd actually said before.
I have a lot of negative thoughts to erase. Crying or Very sad
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L R R Hood
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 09:41 am
solar wrote:
It had come to the point where I had my fathers voice in my head if I was taking too long to do something, or I made a mistake at something. What the heck? Not even there, I can hear him. But it was stuff he'd actually said before.

I have that same problem. I think its just a matter of distance and time for that to go away... and you have to work at it a little, too.
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Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 09:46 am
Well i have no new advice to give so GOOD LUCK!
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Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 11:38 am

You cannot change your parents. You can only change the way you act/react to them.

If you label this Impossible Project, it will be Impossible.

Personally, I think Nancy Reagan is a flawed human being, but she might be a valuable poster girl for you. Just Say No

You are not a little girl. Your parents can withhold emotional support--but you really don't feel that you are getting emotional support from them. What are you going to lose? The close and loving family that never existed.

Think about it as a somewhat complicated form of dog training. Good dogs are rewarded. Bad dogs are ignored. Then follow through.

Good luck.
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Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 06:56 pm
I just want to restate- I got a very mean German Shepherd. I live 5 houses away from my inlaws - who I really like. BUT when we moved here they came - unannounced- alot. The dog really stopped them from coming over.
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Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 07:00 pm
Hood, I really don't think moving away is going to solve much of anything. If you are having problems with depression and even physical problems from IBS, your parents are not causing this sort of problem.

My 90 year old granny is reigning queen of criticism. My mother is the princess. My dad stays out of the line of fire. I have no clue what supportive parents are either. I am very understanding of your situation. Give me a break here! I'm reading in between the lines and interpreting. If I am not giving the correct advice or misinterpreting in any way, please forgive!

I think you may be expecting something your parents are unable to give. I have had the same problems. This isn't easy and I know it, been there! It took me a while (years to be more accurate), but I finally figured out it was me and my reaction that was the real problem. It doesn't stop with parents either. You can probably be blown out of the water by tough criticism at work too and feel like dying over it. That was me also, but never again. It never stops until you gain faith and strength from within an know that you may not always be 100% right all the time, but neither are other people. No one has any grand advantage of insight. We are all pretty equal.

At some point, say enough and say it to yourself. Have confidence in yourself without needing parental support or approval as a productive adult, which I think you are. The fact of the matter is, you are never going to get what you feel you should from your parents. You are also never going to agree with them either.

You don't have to walk on eggshells with them when you disagree, but I would advise to choose your battles carefully. No need to fight over the petty in life causing hard feelings over something stupid. You are completely correct by shutting up many times. Voice your thoughts when it is an issue of importance only. You aren't wrong in shutting up. What battle do you expect to ever win by opening it? You wont and that is reality.

You can't let people hurt you over and over to the point of physical illness. They aren't worth it. No one is worth taking your life from you, which you are apparently allowing them to do by taking them so seriously. That is the first step. Sometimes you need to take a step back before reacting. What does logic tell you? What is emotion saying. Many times completely different things. This is something you have to evaluate before acting impulively. You aren't lying to your family. You are avoiding known problems with them of areas of disagreement is all and that is commendable.

The next step isn't easy either, acceptance. You can't change anyone. We all know that. I often feel betrayed by my mother first, then my father for not standing up for what is right. My mother is the one who raised my brother and I to be good people. As an adult, I have learned that she doesn't come anywhere close to living up to the beliefs she taught us. What a grand disappointment!

I may be way off base with this issue and tell me if I am. I feel you need to work on your own self confidence first. After you start having more faith in yourself, you start seeing flawed ways of your parents and don't forget to look in the mirror with this one either. Strive to be a good person with ethics and never stop. This takes a lifetime to learn. Many people, like my mother and granny, never bother with this idea.

As you build self confidence, whatever their stupid opinions (everyone has a stupid opinion and take that for what it is) are that hurt you now will stop. It will still bother you, as it does me, but you stop feeling pain. I believe pain relating to your family may be the cause of your depression and physical illness through stress. Once you accept them for the flawed individuals they are, you can deal with them with confidence.

I hate to even use the overused term, emotional abuse. My granny did a real number on my mother and it hasn't stopped to this day. My mother learned the same tricks. I have more of my father's looks and traits and am female. My brother looks like her and thinks like her. He could do no wrong and I couldn't do anything right my entire life.

Emotional abuse is no joke. Abuse was an unknown term when I was growing up. People understand it more fully today. I don't feel it is any excuse to continue damaging your own life. I have heard what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. It's got some truth! I am stronger because I had only myself to rely on, but it took me a long time to get there.

I apologize if I have misinterpreted your situation. I don't feel leaving is the answer. No matter where you go, you take yourself with you. Maybe your parents are too much to deal with now, so do yourself a favor and keep contact to a minimum.

I think in time, if you work on yourself, they will no longer bother you at all with their constant negativity and lack of support for you. You don't really need it anyway. I am sure that you are a capable adult. I understand the pain and disappointment of parents as an adult. Sometimes I feel it is manipulation, on their part, to keep you dependent out of some screwed up form of what they define as love.
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L R R Hood
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 07:33 pm
Wildflower... I think I need to clarify some things for you, and I'm not upset by your assumptions, but I'd like to explain why I disagree.

IBS is caused by stress. When I lived with my parents in high school, I had ulcers and I was on anti-depressants. I moved away and had no problems whatsoever. I moved back and have developed IBS and depression. Sometimes when I talk to my family, I get upset and my side starts spasming and I become nauseated... A pretty direct effect if you ask me. That's typical with IBS... people have bouts with it during times of stress.

Funny thing is, I get along with everyone else. Even in basic training for the army, the drill seargents didn't bother me at all, when they scared the hell out of other people. I was always thinking, "That's all you got?!?" ha ha And when it comes to being right.. I assure you, if you knew me personally you'd be proud of my level of confidence and will power. Sometimes I think I'm a little too pleased with myself... but I think that's better than not ever being content. Smile

When it comes to acceptance of my family... I have long since given up on changing their perspective, or changing anything about them. I completely accept the way they are, and I can no longer restrict my personality and who I am just to avoid constant battles with them. Its hard for me to realise this, but my family isn't exactly a happy bunch of people. They take joy in making others uncomfortable, or even unhappy. I don't think I ever needed their approval, necessarily, but their acceptance would have been nice.

Things that don't kill you can make you stronger... but stress doesn't fit into that saying at all. Smile
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Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 10:47 pm
I am very happy to hear your words!! Every individual is different. Parents don't always accept this. I actually crammed it down their throats and never dreamed I would have the guts to do it. Something good came from this, mutual respect. Elders often think respect is of age, but they are so wrong about this notion.

I do know the meaning of stress all too well. I also think that I understand your lack of fear when others did. You had to be self reliant, which many people don't. They were weaker in psychology than you are. That is how I got through a very strict nursing program. I was never dependent on any one but myself.

Don't move because of parents who criticize. I live an entire seven houses down from my own. I can't say that I let my family stop upsetting me. I can say that I stopped letting them hurt me or cause me any serious stress. They are also financially well off and, for the time being, independent. I have helped them also. They needed a new vehicle to drive. I negotiated everything leaving my mother worried about when she became the child and I became the adult. She said so. This is a fact of life she was not ready to face.

You cannot live under your parents roof or they will drive you nuts. The same goes here, no matter what extent of my love or their ability to return it, which differs. You don't live with them, so I see no need to move from your home because of proximity. Family has a way of being a weak spot that does know you so well that they can and do push you to the limit or beyond.

Hang in there!! I am very happy to hear of your accomplishments despite no emotional support from your family at all. This stuff isn't for the weak, as you already know. Neither is dealing with difficult family members.

I am at a point in life that my family doesn't have the power to hurt me anymore. I even challenged my ill behaved granny's holiday family feud, which she has to pull every constantly, with ill will, towards someone in the family. We really never know who the victim is until the last minute.

Usually she picks on my brother's wife. She decided to start on me. It was horrible defending myself against a 90 year old woman, who was clearly wrong. My mother is in the background motioning me to shut up. Give me one good reason why I should. I think we have had enough of these two and their antics to last beyond a lifetime.

Picture a war of words on Christmas Day! It came to that. I do choose my battles carefully, but a dispute over my answering machine on Christmas was not the time to start a family feud and I told her exactly what I thought. It got way worse. It also earned respect for standing for what is right.

It about gave me an ulcer. I was so upset ripping into my 90 year old granny asking her why she didn't bring this subject up sooner. You wouldn't believe the wrath I got and had no idea why while my mother is motioning in the background for me to shut up and take abusive behavior and insults.

It was all over stupid missed calls on and answering machine that my two teens bombard. I tried explaining that my kids get a multitude of calls. Fact, there are 30 to 50 messages, including hang ups, on my answering machine in two days or max of three days. I apologized to her. I didn't even know she called because I quit bothering with my answering machine over teen kids. She would not accept this. The war of holidays has to continue!

My own granny had the nerve to call me, in her words, "a piece of ****." My memory left me in red fury. I recollect telling her exactly how I felt she treated my entire family, like ****, as she so eloquently described. I remember starting with my father who helps her. She calls him Nigger Bill. I kept going with every family member that I felt she treated with ill, meaning all of us and didn't shut up until I defended each family member, so I am told. I was so furious with that I only remember parts of what I said, no telling what language I used!

She has to be the center of attention, no matter what it takes. She acts like an ill behaved child. She loves attention because of her age or rage. It really doesn't matter at all to her. People with no regard towards others never feel guilt. I don't have any respect for this and have spent too many years ignoring her next victim of holidays. I blew a gasket, with little memory of exactly what I even said.

This took years of build up. She happened to pick on the already stressed out, me. Now, she wonders about me and what I may do if I see another family member picked on for her need of attention, no matter how it hurts another. During that argument, on Christmas Day, I apparently pointed out ever family member and completely described the wrong I felt towards each. So I am told, I left no one out after she called me "a piece of ****". I defined that definition, that much I do recall. It was her, not us.

No matter what age, people are not stupid. She has not attacked a single family member in a year only because I was the only one of my family to stand up to her. It is amazing what people will put up with as abuse only because it is family doing it, which they would never consider of others. That is how family works though. I just happened to be outraged enough to say what was on my mind, just as granny did and always has, her thoughts, right or wrong. We are supposed to put up with this, because of my mother. Wrong answer!

Granny graciously did refuse Christmas this year, at my home, claiming she didn't feel well. She always starts fights with my father in-law and knew I would not tolerate this. If you want to cause a problem, stay home. She did, which is fine by me. I did give her full welcome, but she knew that her behavior would be a problem with me if she acted ill towards anyone. She decided to play the martyr. Fine, as long as she isn't attacking another and ruining the holiday. Stay home.

No matter how horrible she can act, no one is all bad or all good. I took her into my home over, what she called a broken wrist. I call it a smashed wrist. I knew on sight that it would require surgical repair, and it did.

She fell at her home and got me on the phone, not my mother who was not home to take the call. I took her to the hospital. I spent the night at her house. I took her out the next morning because her house had too many steps that were not safe. I have a fold out couch and half bath very close by on my first floor and only two small and separated steps to get her to a car, when needed.

I feel anyone who will advise you to ignore family is not a fully actualized person at all. I could have sent my granny, who rides a broom, to a nursing facility saying, "It's not my problem!" I am above the petty, which many have not yet come to this. Many never will strive to be better people. They are arrogant and selfish thinking they already know it all. Wisdom takes a lifetime, just an FYI! All should strive to be better people until death, but many don't bother with self righteousness. Sad, but very true.

I never regret helping my horribly behaved grandmother. I call it a form of evolution. She will not ever do wrong towards me. She shows no signs of any family feud holiday thing either. Yes, we are all from origin of Kentucky land owners, not white trash which KY jokes tell you, but there is truth in this also. I don't expect anyone to understand KY culture. Make all the jokes you want and I will laugh along with you!

I will not allow clear wrong in my life or stay away from me. She knows that by example of Christmas Day, which I feel a lot of guilt over. Who wouldn't feel horrible ruining Christmas by challenging an elder family member? Being right isn't so rewarding sometimes, even though I knew in my heart that I was. She has to stop this behavior and age does not matter.

I struggled many times about ethics and what I said to a 90 year old woman. I did challenge her and expected an explanation. Guilt is a heavy weight to live with, but I still felt that I did the right thing by my family, but wondered if I was wronging a 90 year old granny, who cannot be expected to live a whole lot longer by my confrontation.

I learned something very valuable by this. No matter what your age is, you can see better ways. I do love her very much. I don't approve of her ways at all. At the age of 90, she did change her behavior towards my family, only because I stood up to her.

If it were not for my maturity, my granny would live in a nursing home, which she fears. I gave her something beyond this. I gave her acceptance. I gave her my home. I tended to her needs. My mother couldn't do it. My mother is too selfish to do much.

What makes a good person? One that can be above family nonsense and not run or one who does run before they may be needed because they happen to stress you out?

Where do you plan on moving to and exactly why do you want to move? From your posts, it would appear to get away from family who causes you stress. I have not hear career goals or anything else but family members as a singular reason for moving far away where they can't hurt you.

A am thrilled to hear about your accomplishments, despite family support. It did make you stronger. Don't ever be complacent until your dying breath. All of us have much to learn about life. It never should end, the struggle to be a better person, no matter who you are faced with.

Why are your parents such a big problem causing you this much stress if you are as independent as you stated? They couldn't have any ability to affect your psychology and health if that were the full truth, could they? You are telling two contradictions here. On one hand, your family causes depression and physical illness to the point of consideration of moving away from them. On the other hand, you claim accomplishments that require personal strength. Which is the real truth?

I have a good guess. I have been there too. You aren't talking to the ignorant here. No one wishes to admit weakness. You already have though.

Send me an IM so this wont be on the boards. I understand exactly your struggle and pain, even if you want to deny the fact that it exists. It does or you would never make claim of depression and physical illness with blame of your parents. Right? I have been through this myself. I am not insulting you.
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Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 04:47 am
L.R.R. Hood - yikes! I can relate to your situation.

I do not know if it will help or not, but this is what I did with my father - thing is, it was easier for me, when I finally did it, because by than I lived some distance away - although the pull of guilt was strong, because he was on his own, and miserable.

The issue with him was verbal abuse - in an actual attempt to be helpful, I am sure (and because of his own far more abusive experiences in his own family of origin and his extremely obsessive, anxious and narcissistic personality - I have only just realized that part of the problem was his narcissism!) he would launch into endless tirades when I spent any time with him - how stupid and misguided I was, how irresponsible, how hopeless - how I should do this and this, but how I never would - on and on and on and on and on and on....literally for hours on end, if allowed to. (I was actually a pretty reasonable young person!)

I tried reasoning, fighting, ignoring, screaming, covering my ears, running into other rooms - even listening calmly....everything.

Finally, one day I said to him how I felt about his behaviour - and that I would not put up with it ever again. I said that I understood it was motivated by good intentions, but that its effect was abusive and I would no longer tolerate it.

I said that the choice was his - he could see me in future, or not.

I said that, as soon as he began with a tirade, I would warn him once, and once only. If he did not stop, I would simply walk out the door, without another word, and that I would not see him, speak with him, or have any other kind of interction, for two weeks.

After that time, I would make contact with him again, as usual - however, if he repeated the behaviour, I would also repeat mine - but, if he persisted after the first warning, I would not have any contact with him again - this time for 3 weeks - and so on...

It took a few walkouts, but eventually the avalanches of crap stopped.

Things certainly were not easy after that - (he died 12 years ago, but I sometimes still have nightmares that he is alive, and I am still totally responsible for him and his misery!!!!!!!!!) - but that particular terrible behaviour stopped - though I had to give some later warnings... (I once received a 10 page, closely written, letter of abuse - because a forgotten $7 gas bill, from an address we had moved from, was sent to him because I had given his as a fallback address - it was a first notice. Even he was embarrassed by that one!)

Of course, it is harder to order your parents from your house - but I wonder if a variant of this might help?
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L R R Hood
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 06:43 am
Wildflower... that was one wild story! Smile I'll say this, though, I used to think it was better to stay and keep trying, and do the right thing, and tell people how things really were... but after four years of constant strife, I realise that you just can't reason with unreasonable people. If only one of them were the problem, I could just enjoy my relationship with the rest of them... but it is more like they all get along because they all have similar mentality... and I am the outcast. I'm the one who thinks differently and can't communicate.

I am independent, and I am stressed... not because of weakness, but because I care about my family very much. I don't call that weakness, but that was a good guess, though Smile

dlowan, that is a very good way to deal with the problem. If I had to stay here, I would try that yet again, since I have before (similarly).

People tend to think that removing yourself from a destructive situation is "quitting", "giving in"... but I say -- No matter how far you've gone down the wrong path, TURN BACK!"
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Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 06:55 am
I am independent, and I am stressed... not because of weakness, but because I care about my family very much.

L.R.R.Hood- Is your family is as caring of you as you are of them?
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L R R Hood
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 08:10 am
Good morning, Phoenix.

Honestly, no, I dont think they do care as much as I do. I think that they probably think that they do, but I think that if they really did they would try harder to listen to me and work with me when it comes to getting along.

I care, and I'll always care, but I think I'd rather care from a distance... now that everyone here has helped me think about this from different perspectives.
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Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 08:12 am
Glad that we have been of help. I know that it isn't easy, but I think that you know what you have to do, for the sake of your own health and sanity!
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Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 08:15 am
I have to agree with that...I think you already know what to do.
What feels right to you.
I wish you well!
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L R R Hood
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 11:37 am
I thank you all so much! Its always helpful to hear other people's perspectives and stories, and its also comforting to know that there are others who have dealt with the same kind of thing. I seriously hope that I don't do this to my kids. Are there parents who don't do that to their kids? You know, I just think that older people may not have enough to do.
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Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2004 10:06 pm
Standing ovation Delowan! I have had to do the exact same thing with my family. It wasn't an easy thing for me, as I am very sure that it was not easy for you either.

I refuse to sell my house, an entire seven houses away from my parents. I gave them the same choice you did. Give me respect as an adult or leave me alone. I don't wish to participate in any of my mother's abusve games, learned by her own elderly mother. It does take time for elders. They still think you wear diapers or something!

People are not stupid. They get it when you make a firm stand, as my family has. It did take time and stress on both parts, but it has stopped for me only because I did have the guts to stand up for myself, as you did. Good for you and your family!! I'm sure your dad learned from this as my mother and her's did. Be kind and do the right thing by others.

I don't deny a complete blackout with communication, but it never lasted in time. You do have to stand up for yourself, no matter. I also understand the abuse you lived with because of my mother. I will not tolerate it to be a family tradition.

You did the right thing and I commend you for that!!
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