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Holiday battles — 44 Comments

  1. Zen, it is sad that some people seem to want to impose their idea of a holiday (or non-holiday) on others without regard for the feelings of the ones they are trying to impose on, but it is a fact of life.

    To enjoy ANY day, holiday or not, is up to us…we do NOT have to meet the expectations and demands of any other person at the expense of our own happiness and well-being.

    You talking about your ex refusing to go to your college graduation makes me chuckle…I was initiated into a national honor society in my junior year in college and I wasn’t even going to go as mommie dearest wouldn’t go, but my lovely step dad went with me and insisted I go. At the time I didn’t realize what a put down it was from her….it is amazing how once we have started healing that we can in retrospect realize what we put up with from those people who didn’t truly support us or encourage us.

    But those memories no longer hurt…they are just instructive in an odd sort of way….last night I was watching one of my favorite TV shows NCIS and the brother of one of the characters had been “befrending” a woman who was a Russian spy and he couldn’t believe that she was “evil” or a killer…she had used him and his position as a chef to a powerful man to steal military secrets and then killed everyone who knew about the plot, but the young man couldn’t see past the fake persona she had presented to him so he kept trying to rescue her from the authorities who were trying to arrest her.

    The young man was such a naive person and such an enabler that every psychopath he met used and abused him and I thought back and realized that I had been almost that naive and enabling for so long. I kept looking for the “good” inside every psychopath.

    But to recognize that there are evil people, and that they don’t care how they harm you to get whatever it is they want, is a fact of life that we must accept if we are to live a healthy life. But we must not allow anyone to abuse or use us. But at the same time, even while accepting that fact, we must not allow ourselves to become bitter. It’s been a long rocky road for me, but I think I’m finally starting to see the light.

    • Joyce, thank goodness for your stepdad! That was an important event and I’m so glad that you finally went.

      Yep, it’s history for me, these days. I’m no longer bitter, either – I just shake my head and remind myself that hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20! 🙂 Hopefully, I will carry the lessons learned on forward. At least, I intend to.

  2. That’s the thing Zen is to carry the lessons forward. To know what it is about ourselves that ever made us vulnerable to the psychopaths and toxic people…I know I am susceptible to the “love bomb”—WHY I am susceptible to this is not really important, but I realize my “inner-child” has a need for “love” and “approval” (which is normal) but mine appears to be VERY needy and a smooth, charming, glib psychopath or borderline can suck me in, HAS sucked me in repeatedly, but now that I recognize what a “love bomb” looks like, when I see one coming on and I start to feel that good feeling we all get when we are admired, then I don’t fall for it, but instead take a step back and decide what I need to do in ASSESSING the situation.

    Sometimes our inner emotions and our emotional NEEDS will over come our good sense or our “gut warnings” or maybe it is things we have been TAUGHT in early childhood, like the “everyone deserves a second chance” or “there is good in EVERYONE down deep” or one of a thousand other trite and WRONG sayings. But those sayings can cause us to give someone who is abusive chance after chance after chance.

    Zen I am glad that you have let go of the bitterness, because in the end, that is what it is all about. Lifting that huge weight of bitterness off our shoulders allows us to live JOYFULLY in spite of what the past has been. So in the end, we CAN have a joyous new year!

    • Joyce, I once believed that “joy” was an overwhelming exuberance that was supposed to be ongoing and self-sustainable. Well, I’ve been swinging back and forth across the axis of “healthy, normal, boundaries” where this is concerned, and I’m finally experiencing the average emotional bell curve. “Joy” is no longer required for every second of the day. I just let it “be” as it comes, and it’s much quieter and far more subtle, now. I still gasp at breathtaking scenery and hearing the open laughter of an infant still causes me to feel thrilled, but I don’t CRAVE those feelings every minute of every day. I suppose that it was a symptom of the dysfunctions, and that everything was “okay” if I felt joyous ALL of the time.

      At one point, I wasn’t sure that I would ever feel joyous, again. At one point, I believed that I didn’t DESERVE to ever feel joyous, again! I mean, I “allowed” someone to take advantage of me and to defraud me of my finances, right? WELL….I most certainly do deserve to “feel” okay because I AM okay. I just needed those lessons and experiences to guide me to where I needed to be. 😉

  3. Looking back over the article and the comments, I see the struggles one of my dearest long time friends went thru with her own so called mum. He mother is a narcissist to the n’th degree. Everything is all about her. She ruined my friends wedding or tried to in several different ways and recently tried to ruin her older daughters college graduation along with her grandsons wedding as well. When the ‘spotlight’ wasn’t on her, mum got incredibly pi$$ed off and told both of her girls, not to ever speak to her again.

    My friend has complied with her wishes. I told her that her mother wouldn’t be happy with that either, even though that’s what she wanted. They haven’t spoken in over 2 years. The older daughter still has contact with their mum, but it is limited. I’m not sure that the mum is a spath, but she does have some major issues and my friend is not willing to overlook them for the sake of keeping the peace.

    She has come to the realization that her mother is a toxic and bitter person. It’s not something she can change FOR her mum, it’s something mum has to do for herself. While discussing things over lunch the other day, my friend said that not having contact with her mother anymore was not her decision. “She slammed that door. I just turned the lock on the deadbolt.” I think that is a very interesting way to look at it.

    • Phoenix, good for your friend!!!! It’s very painful to shoot that deadbolt home after a door has been slammed in our faces, but it’s the healthiest and most proactive thing we can do to begin the processes of recovery and healing. Some people never allow that door to close because of one reason or another. For those folks, I have genuine compassion and empathy for – it’s no simple task to cut a family member out of one’s life.

  4. Phoenix, I am with Zen, your friend “turning the deadbolt” when someone else slammed the door IS A HEALTHY THING. (great way to look at it BTW) I’ve done that with several relatives, and it hurts, but at the same time, “keeping” the peace is an impossible job as some people just want to get their way and there is no way to appease their constant affronts at everything.

    My husband’s sister was one of those people like your friend’s mum, always had to be the CENTER OF ATTENTION, to the point that her own mother threw her out of the wake for my husband’s father. The entire family turned the dead bolt on her at that point. In fact, no one, not her mother, brother, or her daughters heard from her for over 10 years when one night in the middle of the night my husband received a person to person collect call from his sister, and he refused the charges and hung up so didn’t speak to her. We figured she was in jail is the reason she called collect. LOL

    It took me a lot longer to learn to turn the dead bolt than it did my husband. But I finally saw that it was the ONLY healthy option. Those people cannot be appeased no matter what you do.

    And you are right Zen it IS difficult to not try to put our foot into the door to keep them from slamming it shut, (gosh I love this analogy!) and my foot has been broken more than once by those I loved trying to slam the door in my face and I tried my best to not let it shut (to my own peril I might add) but now I am very much at peace with it. I realize totally that while we might WISH that this person we love was not the way they are, we can NOT change them, only ACCEPT that when they slam the door, we MUST turn that dead bolt and not allow them to open that door again. THEN we can grieve for the lost WISHES that didn’t come true, that wouldn’t come true, and then move on with our own lives and our own paths.

  5. Joyce, there have been a few analogies she has given me that have put an interesting spin on things and I have given her some as well. Some of them I learned here actually. Your reach here is far and wide. Not only online, but in real life as well. *Grins*

    Zen, I will respectfully have to disagree about how difficult it can be to cut a family member out of your life. I agree that sometimes it can be extremely difficult, but I also think that level of difficulty depends on the person and the situation. I have found it easier and easier to cut people out of my life lately. Friends, family and otherwise, if they are toxic- they’re gone. It’s a done deal and I don’t look back.

    Many times it’s not like I didn’t see it coming and had little or no time to prepare for it. I will change that up a little to apply to others.
    Many times it’s not like WE / YOU didn’t see it coming and had little or no time to prepare for it. Think about it and let it sink in a little. Many times it’s not like none of us see it coming.

    Nope, there are typically plenty of “WARNING SHOTS” fired in my direction. Several of them at my head if you will. By sitting back and observing, watching, waiting, listening and taking it all in… it not only gives me a chance to see how toxic this person is, but it also gives me a chance to evaluate just how much I need them in my life. Not ‘WANT’ but actually. really. ‘NEED!’ them.

    During this time there is usually some distance gained between us. With that distance, it becomes easy to cut them loose for good or bridge the gap if I decide to. Even if I decide on bridging the gap, I still have my own respective space and can go back later and burn that baby down if I decide to. It’s my /our /your choice, not theirs. We decide, not them.

    One phrase I used a long time ago and recently brought back to the surface is this. “I don’t get paid enough to take sh!t like that, off people like you.” There are several variations of this for just about every situation. Are you getting ‘paid’ enough (money or emotionally) to put up with this crap? If not, it is well within YOUR rights to tell the person- “I don’t have to take this from you. You can’t talk to me this way. You can’t treat me like that.” The power has shifted. Now it’s all yours!

    Just a word of advice here- It feels good when you stand up for yourself!

    • Phoenix, at one time, I also believed that cutting people out of my life wasn’t a challenge, but I’ve come to grips with my “emotional” self and allowed myself to grieve all losses, including the fantasies that I may have held forth with people that I once cared about. For me, personally, it’s “okay” to feel those emotions and process them in order to allow the “practical mind” to say, “Okay, you’ve dealt with the sadness, now let’s move on.”

      I completely agree that I have the power to make healthy and positive decisions, now. In my previous life, I had no concept of this, especially on an emotional level. I didn’t live within the “normal” parameters of that bell curve, and it’s taken me 5 years to get here. So………I’m assertive without being aggressive, and I’m beginning to soften my edges, so to speak, to be firm, resolute, and confident without being hard.

  6. Zen, I agree with you. A couple of years ago when I cut off contact with my Best Friend of 30 years duration, after a verbal attack that was totally unjustified, I realized that I had ignnored such attacks from her for years (for the most part) and when I came home, I did NOT grieve the “loss” I processed it, looking back over the “friendship” for 30+ years, looking at the good, but finally FINALLY acknowledging that there were “problems” all along that I had denied.

    So the “loss” of this “very dear” friend was not the emotional loss that I would have expected it to be. LEARNING how to grieve and how MUCH to grieve over the loss of a relationship is I think a portion of our healing process.

    I’m not “hard” but I am FIRM when necessary. I don’t want to be HARD. Callous, etc. I dont’ want to retain bitterness and wrath in my soul against anyone no matter what they have done, but to ACCEPT that this person is what they are and recognize I’m not able to change them, and just move on. Forgiving not only THEM but forgiving MYSELF for allowing it too go on and on and on. The last one, forgiving myself was I think the hardest part.

    I actually have compassion for my ex BFF as she was programmed from childhood to be an enabler, has HUGE anxiety issues and is married to an abusive man and is in A situation where unless he dies first she will never be free. Her verbal assaults on me, I realize are actually from Jealousy…and from her sense of insecurity and I can “feel” for that because I have been there. Maybe not to the total extent she is there but definitely some. But that doesn’t mean I want her in my life any more. And recognizing these things, I didn[‘t go into a mental or emotional melt down when I cut her out of my life. I ACCEPTED what is. Not grieved over what I wanted to be, but what really NEVER WAS.

    • Joyce, yes! Spot-on!

      I used to be so frigging hard and coarse and it was my belief that I could keep bad people away by BEING hard, mean, and untouchable. The problem was that the GOOD people were put off by my behavior and quickly went the other way – as I certainly would do, myself, now that I’ve healed enough to feel comfortable doing so! The BAD people saw my charade as a challenge – to pierce that tough, hard exterior and skewer the emotional center, and that’s precisely what they did.

      So, I don’t play games, anymore, either. But, I have learned how to actually have compassion (as opposed to HYPER-empathy) and pity a person’s emptiness and feel gratitude that I am not like them.

  7. Ya know Joyce, A lot of us seem to have the biggest problem forgiving ourselves when things turn sour and don’t go as we hoped. We didn’t get what we wanted, planned or maybe even expected, but as long as we live and breathe- it didn’t kill us. We survived. We got thru it and now it’s time to move on.

    I used to be the Queen Diva at throwing myself a Pity Party Royale…. At first there may be a friend or two there with me, but eventually it got old. Not only did everyone else get tired of it, but I did too. Someone else can have that crown. Girlfriend has to stand on her own two feet sooner or later and shine.

    • Phoenix, the people who have been raised in a dysfunctional family are most likely to be hard on themselves, and it’s just one of those nasty facts. I know that I’ve seen the same scale of unrealistic expectations in every individual that I’ve ever met throughout my lifetime when that individual was raised in dysfunction.

      It sort of goes like this:
      * Kid sees the dysfunction and is inherently aware that it’s hurtful and painful
      * Adults tell kid that they need to “be quiet,” or, “just agree,” or “pretend it didn’t happen” in order to AVOID instigating or exacerbating the situation
      * Kid tries to comply to adult expectations
      * Adults ridicule kid’s efforts to acquiesce and lays BLAME and SHAME upon kid as the scapegoat
      * Kid grows up believing that they are responsible for every hurt of the world
      * Kid-turned-chronological-adult tries to predict and control outcomes via every means possible, only to see that they cannot predict or control outcomes and interprets this fact as a “failure”

      It’s almost written in stone that anyone who is raised within any type of dysfunction is going to experience shame and blame, and that’s how this “perfectionism” develops. For me, when it was obvious that I wasn’t ever going to BE perfect, I just gave up on myself, entirely. I can only thank God that I took the option of counseling therapy and did the work to escape that dreadful and grievous vortex of shame and blame.

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