Need a break from family's "games" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-16-2010, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sure this has been posted a thousand times before, but can someone fill me in on HOW to get a break from relatives. I had a breakthrough last week where it dawned on me that these people (parents, aunts, sibs) have for years been taking advantage of me and I am so tired of the guilt tripping and the false promises and the CREEPINESS and I just need to NOT be around them for a while, just so I can focus on me and my family (which includes me, my wonderful DH, and our 3yo DS with autism. The autism is starting to kick me in the pants, and it's a fact that I still have yet to share with relatives, though they have asked "what the doctor has said about him." ARRG!)

Just as I decided I needed an honest2goodness break I received 2 emails from 2 of the biggest culprits, the two who refuse to acknowledge my comfort level or boundaries, the two who make me most neurotic---the emails just contained more of their games---and then last night I received a drunken phone call from one of them at 9:41 pm---NOT COOL with a LO, I'm sorry. I was blunt and told her that I had to go, that after 7 rings of the phone my DS was now up (not true, but goddammit, don't call after 8! And don't call creepy DRUNK!) Problem is, I was so blunt that it was pretty rude, and I'm half feeling guilty about it, half not caring. But why should I be feeling guilty for HER complete disregard for my feelings and my home.

It's that sort of thing that forces me into absolutely needing a break from these people. I don't want it to be permanent and I don't want them dead or anything. Facebook and email and phones and skype don't make it easy, but being somewhat of a recluse I'm naturally able to cut down contact fairly well, but I usually end up feeling guilty about it. WHICH MAKES ME SO ANGRY because I feel like they control me with emotional blackmail--except of course theeeey don't see it that way and "oh, they're so sorry!!!" Mostly I feel conflicted just not knowing whether I'm justified in this need, or not. Do I have a right to take a break from family. FWIW, I also feel sexually and emotionally violated by these people, the way their eyes roll over me make me feel like a piece of meat.

ETA...these are also 2 of the oldest people in my family, I can't help but think WHAT IF I break off more contact, and they die. OR, what if I just continue to play along with their games just to cause no riffs and keep them happy, would that provide me relief in the end. Would I feel better about myself as a person if I just continue to play along. I can tell you what, I DON"T WANT TO. These people have broken me down so many times, I've lashed out at them telling them I needed my space that they were driving me crazy, it always ends in me feeling horrible and apologizing.
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#2 of 10 Old 08-16-2010, 05:59 PM
 
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1) I highly recommend the book "Boundaries" by Cloud & Townsend. It is written from a Christian perspective but even if you aren't Christian it is full of VERY good advice (just skip over the scripture references).

2) Boundaries aren't boundaries unless you've made them known to the other person (ie:Please do not call after 8pm)

3) when someone violates your boundary you need to respond with whatever consequence is appropriate (ie you call after 8pm, I put the phone on silent, or I block your number, or I don't answer the phone).

4) for people who are chronically toxic it is perfectly acceptable to limit contact. You do not HAVE to skype, FB, twitter, etc, whatever with them. on FB specifically you can create two lists..."List A" would be people you want to be able to see all your status updates, etc and "List B" would be those who you only want limited contact with. Then you change your default status update settings to only include "List A". Those on "list B" won't be able to see your wall AT ALL. Or just "Hide" them so you don't have to see them (but they can still see all your stuff)

5) YES you are perfectly within your rights as a human being to limit contact/disengage/etc from those who constantly create chaos.

6) Part of having boundaries is not letting the things that others say bother you... by letting it bother you, you are giving away your power. You give them too much credit. If they are toxic, mean, manipulative, hurtful people then WHY do you care what they think of you or anybody else. Does it *really* matter? If someone thinks you are (mean, bossy, lazy, stupid, petty, etc) but YOU know you aren't then what does it matter? It only matters if you let it.

7) you are NOT responsible for other people's feelings. If you are stating your boundary (do not call after 8pm) it isn't anything about THEM it's about YOU (you have a sleeping child that would be woken up by the phone ringing). Your intent is not to hurt them. They are allowed to be upset if they want but that doesn't change your boundary. It's not your job to then go back and "fix it" for them.

Listen to your heart and follow that...it's telling you what you need to know.

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#3 of 10 Old 08-16-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogWife View Post
I'm sure this has been posted a thousand times before, but can someone fill me in on HOW to get a break from relatives. I had a breakthrough last week where it dawned on me that these people (parents, aunts, sibs) have for years been taking advantage of me and I am so tired of the guilt tripping and the false promises and the CREEPINESS and I just need to NOT be around them for a while, just so I can focus on me and my family (which includes me, my wonderful DH, and our 3yo DS with autism. The autism is starting to kick me in the pants, and it's a fact that I still have yet to share with relatives, though they have asked "what the doctor has said about him." ARRG!)

Just as I decided I needed an honest2goodness break I received 2 emails from 2 of the biggest culprits, the two who refuse to acknowledge my comfort level or boundaries, the two who make me most neurotic---the emails just contained more of their games---and then last night I received a drunken phone call from one of them at 9:41 pm---NOT COOL with a LO, I'm sorry. I was blunt and told her that I had to go, that after 7 rings of the phone my DS was now up (not true, but goddammit, don't call after 8! And don't call creepy DRUNK!) Problem is, I was so blunt that it was pretty rude, and I'm half feeling guilty about it, half not caring. But why should I be feeling guilty for HER complete disregard for my feelings and my home.

It's that sort of thing that forces me into absolutely needing a break from these people. I don't want it to be permanent and I don't want them dead or anything. Facebook and email and phones and skype don't make it easy, but being somewhat of a recluse I'm naturally able to cut down contact fairly well, but I usually end up feeling guilty about it. WHICH MAKES ME SO ANGRY because I feel like they control me with emotional blackmail--except of course theeeey don't see it that way and "oh, they're so sorry!!!" Mostly I feel conflicted just not knowing whether I'm justified in this need, or not. Do I have a right to take a break from family. FWIW, I also feel sexually and emotionally violated by these people, the way their eyes roll over me make me feel like a piece of meat.

ETA...these are also 2 of the oldest people in my family, I can't help but think WHAT IF I break off more contact, and they die. OR, what if I just continue to play along with their games just to cause no riffs and keep them happy, would that provide me relief in the end. Would I feel better about myself as a person if I just continue to play along. I can tell you what, I DON"T WANT TO. These people have broken me down so many times, I've lashed out at them telling them I needed my space that they were driving me crazy, it always ends in me feeling horrible and apologizing.
Trust your instincts and take the break!

I am sorry you have to deal with this. I understand.
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#4 of 10 Old 08-16-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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I've found that part of taking care of myself is not forcing myself to deal with interacting with other people when/if/in ways I'm not prepared to.

I don't answer people's calls/emails when I have too much to do for myself (like I finally just sat down to eat or I've had a hard day with the kids - or I'm having a hard few days with the kids while dh works nights).
This does impact some family members who seem to expect me to be around all the time - others have a more similar general 'schedule' as I and our household and therefore try to get ahold of us when we're more available and so we talk with them more.
Sometimes, if it's someone in particular, I might just not answer the phone if I know I won't be able to genuinely, happily talk with them at the moment (unless there is something specific I need to talk with them about). Yeah, it may tend to be the same person or two over and over again and not others, but it's totally okay for me to do that and to have decided that I can manage being around someone X amount, myself, and not much more for whatever reasons. So, just saying, don't feel like you have to be dealing with them, you don't - you may be busy, you may be taking care of yourself and your household, part of that might be not involving yourself with someone more than you can handle (so that you can continue to take care of yourself and your household).

The pp's advice about boundaries sounds really good - I'd think about that alot in your situation too.
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#5 of 10 Old 08-18-2010, 12:21 AM
 
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I would go ahead and take the break you know you need. I have some rather toxic relatives too and find that if I take some time away from them I can better handle them later. As was stated before you are not responsible for their feelings and having set boundaries in place is a very good thing to do for your own well being as well as for that of your own family. I know what you mean about the guilty feelings too, i get those as well and don't know why I feel so obligated to other people but taking care of yourself matters very much and is perfectly ok to do. God bless.
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#6 of 10 Old 08-18-2010, 11:13 PM
 
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I recently made this decision wrt my family. I never made any grand pronouncement. I just haven't called and don't interact on FB unless they post a direct question. Then it's short & sweet, here's the answer, and that's it. Doing so has been incredibly freeing. I've been able to work through a lot of the problems I have with my family pretty quickly once I cut them from my lives. I hope it's something you'll consider to help you make a positive impact on your life.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#7 of 10 Old 08-19-2010, 02:46 AM
 
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With the difficult folks in my life, I take great pains to do it all on my terms.

I have a phone with caller id. If it's a difficult person and a positive interaction is unlikely, I don't answer. I call back when the timing is better and when I am in a good place. For example, mornings are a good time for me to talk to my alcoholic relative. I would never take that call in the evening. I do always call back, though. I don't like being accused of avoidance, and I like getting to choose when I communicate.

I don't do visits during the evenings when my kids and I are grumpy/needing downtime. If it's an evening event, I can't do it.

I have one relative who is horrid at their house, but much better when we see them at someone else's house. I never go to their house.

As far as the elderly aspect...I did cut back on (not cut out) a relative and she did die before we made up.

I'm at peace with it.

My relative called my infant child a very nasty name (dh and I had been committed to each other for many years, but we were unmarried at the time of our first child's birth. Also, dh has a darker complexion and this relative was deeply racist. She made an assumption about his race and I never bothered to correct her. No need to dignify that crap with a response.)

I wish it had been different, but it wasn't, and it's not my fault.

I was raised to be courteous to and respectful of my elders. Even in cutting back on the relationship, I was always courteous and respectful. It was just as important to me to respect myself, and that meant not accepting any more verbal or emotional abuse.

You have every right to insist on healthy relationships for yourself and your family.

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#8 of 10 Old 08-22-2010, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here, I'm so glad to not be alone, thank you for your responses.

to you all.

There was an "incident" this week, by the way I was feeling it was only a matter of time, I'm not sure where the relationship stands with some people, I think they might be pissed. It was like a quick lightning storm and it shoo'd them away for a while, but I still feel a little guilty that I haven't full-on set the boundaries, like, I wish I had addressed the boundaries beforehand and then once they violated then then shoo them away.

It breaks my heart to think I might have hurt my father's feelings (I barked at his wife, we have decades of history that they all try to brush under the rug, my frustration with family was too great, my father ultimately made his choice about who he wanted bending his ear---he didn't choose me) but our relationship is so eff'd up and eeky, I have this giant relief getting unhooked from him, but if he has any health flareups I know they will be blamed on me, for life. Hate this.
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#9 of 10 Old 08-23-2010, 03:36 AM
 
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Yeah, the "what ifs" will get you every time. What if I stand up for myself and my relative dies of a heart attack the next day? The real fear isn't that your fight might cause your relative to die---it's the fear of living with doubts and self-blame and unfinished business and guilt for the rest of your life. Say this: I am afraid of doing something that will make me feel guilty for the rest of my life. If you break it all down, this is the heart of it.

We don't have the power that we imagine we do. We don't control life and death for other people. If they were as fragile as we sometimes imagine them to be, they'd have broken years ago. If they choose to live in a crazy, dysfunctional cycle, that's up to them. You have every right to choose to not be a part of it. They won't like it, but it won't devastate them. I'm sure you're not the only person they're manipulating and "feeding off of." Once you quit the game, they'll move onto to the other players.

And you will be free to focus your energy on those who matter most to you--those who rely on you the most. And by breaking that extended family pattern, you will create a new way of connecting for your own little family.

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#10 of 10 Old 08-23-2010, 04:05 AM
 
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You felt guilty about telling them not to drunk dial you at nearly 10pm with a LO in your house? No wonder you need a break! Not only are they being awful, you're beating yourself up when you react to them how they deserve.
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