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Glutton For Punishment

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  • #91562
    Joe
    Participant

    I have described myself in two previous posts as being a so-called “glutton for punishment”. Anita wanted to know what I meant by this and invited me to discuss why I describe myself like this in another post, so here goes!

    I guess I just have this pathological need to just dive head first into things without thinking about the consequences. I admit – I am naive and stupid sometimes. Taking on new commitments or going for things without lining up the pros with the cons. Reckless impulsive decisions, I guess. I’ve made lots of rotten decisions in the past few years. Things I thought would be great became quite damaging. Over the past few years I ended up diving head first into things I really have regretted (okay, you’re not supposed to have regrets in life because bad decisions are supposed to shape you but some things I really wish I hadn’t done.)

    People often try and help me out and give me advice but sometimes I think I don’t need their advice – maybe I’m just too proud and too stubborn to accept their help. More often than not, not taking peoples advice gets me into a lot of trouble. I just won’t learn anything unless I learn it the hard way. I guess I just don’t like it when I am about to embark on something new and other people try and give me advice or reasons as to why that particular thing wont work in my life. It’s almost like I have this need to prove them wrong and I just scream “OH BOG OFF IT’S MY LIFE AND YOU DON’T MAKE MY DECISIONS FOR ME SO UP YOURS…”

    I guess knowing how and when to say ‘no’ is something I really need to work at – when I’m faced with certain situations, it often feels like I’m being cornered and saying ‘yes’ is my automatic response, despite the fact saying yes will not be good. “Yes, I will go out and meet you in town to go for a meal and a few drinks despite the fact I can’t really afford that right now…”

    So I guess that’s what I mean when I tell people I’m a glutton for punishment.

    What are your thoughts on this Anita? Are there any other self-confessed gluttons for punishment? Does anybody else constantly make unwise decisions and make things hard for themselves?

    #91590
    Saiisha
    Participant

    I think your recognizing and acknowledging that this is how you operate is a great first step J! Because without that recognition and acknowledgment you’d never be able to change – now at least you know what needs to change, if not how. You said you don’t like asking or taking advice, so I won’t give you any 🙂 but just wanted to let you know that there’s nothing wrong with the way you’re operating – yes, it’s a hard way, but it’s a way and it works for you – for now.

    #91615
    anita
    Participant

    Dear J:

    I appreciate your post. Based on your posts on my thread on Parents, months ago, this is what I think:

    * This may be difficult for you to read, if I am correct in my analysis, or in a good part of it, so just in case, please do something relaxing before you read this… I am worried. It is not easy stuff…

    Regarding your tendency to dive into things without thinking about the consequences, I think it is a result of being bullied, emotionally abused by your parents and siblings. You may be diving in without thinking because if you took the time to think, you would be hearing their voices and their voices will cause you to freeze in place and do nothing at all. So you hope for the best and dive in. Maybe you dive in as quickly as possible before they (their voices in your head, at this point) catch up with you, stop you, and rain on your parade. You RUSH so to not be stopped by them with.

    You learned maybe in school about pros and cons, listing those before decisions. Problem is, in the reality of your family, only cons were assigned to you. So you dive in before all the cons catch up with you.

    You have little tolerance to people giving you advice because the “advice” you got for decades from your family was that you cannot make things work, that you are a failure and “not normal” and such, so when people tell you the cons of a decision you are about to make, you “hear” all the abuse you heard as a child.

    No wonder you just want to scream “OH BOG OFF IT’S MY LIFE AND YOU DON’T MAKE MY DECISIONS FOR ME SO UP YOURS…” That is what you would like to say to your siblings and to your parents who either did not protect you from the bullying siblings, or preferred them to you, or abused you directly themselves.

    I believe that you have the ability to make good choices. Problem is you believed the siblings, parents (as children do) and you rush, in reality not checking before diving, not knowing that you do have the ability… to choose well. You try to stay one step ahead of … the bullying. The bullying is still happening.

    What do you think, J?

    anita

    #91667
    Joe
    Participant

    Hi Saiisha! Thankyou for your input – at this moment in my life I have been re-evaluating my life and thinking about what does and doesn’t work for me, and right now (especially as it is a new year) I feel like I am in a position to be making major changes in my life, and that I feel strong enough to start making them. You said you weren’t going to give me any advice – just out of curiosity, if you did have advice to give me, what would you say? Maybe what I meant to say was I don’t like receiving advice from my family, in part due to some of the points Anita has suggested.

    Hi Anita! I think your points are spot on – especially the point you made about me diving into things without thinking because the inner critic (created in part by my siblings) would soon rain on my parade.

    My siblings (especially my older sister) and parents have given me advice before and it didn’t turn out to work in my favour. For example – I wanted to go to a particular 6th form after secondary school – I had been to an interview/open day for this place and I fell in love with the college. My family, however, suggested against it and told me to go to another college which in their opinion would have been better – the place I wanted to go to, I would have only had to concentrate on my one subject (art). The place my family wanted me to go to, I could still have done art but I would have also done my other academic subjects as well. I felt pressurised to going to the place they wanted me to go to but I hated it and I felt really isolated. Maybe they think they know what’s best for me (they still do) but only I know what’s best for me when I am being completely objective about myself. What is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly.

    Maybe I just deliberately go against their advice or their wishes just to spite them and rebel against them. My older sister still speaks to me in a condescending manner, criticizing me and loves trying to rain on my bonfire despite the fact we no longer live under the same roof – I recently confronted my parents about the fact they allowed her to treat me like dirt most of my life but you know what they said? “WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH…”

    I think you are absolutely spot on Anita – I sometimes find it hard to deal with advice and constructive criticism because it reminds me of times when my family criticized me harshly.

    2016 is going to be the fresh start I want in life, and I have decided to no longer see myself as a victim. That’s not to just suggest I’m just going to condone the fact my siblings have been horrid to me but I don’t want to let them win and I am determined not to let them control my life at all costs. I guess I need to be more objective when it comes to making decisions and only asking people I trust for advice.

    But thanks again for your input Anita, this is a real eye-opener 🙂

    Thanks

    Joe

    #91679
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    I like your spirit, fresh start, changes to be made, no longer being a victim. If this forum can be of help to you in your journey, please do use it. Please do post again and again. I will personally respond with your best interest in mind.

    I don’t know if you are ready or willing to examine my following point, and it is okay with me if you are not: you choose, always, YOU choose.

    Your current contacts with your family, your still condescending sister, your still dismissing, disrespectful parents… how do you deal with that? My concern is that you are still a subject to disrespect, condescension, dismissal. And that it is still dragging you down, still feeding the inner critic.

    In my case, just looking at my mother, just being in her present, was hurting me like hell. She didn’t have to say anything. She could be looking at me with love… but I felt like dying, just being in her presence.

    How are you doing with them? With ongoing interactions with them?

    anita

    #91680
    anita
    Participant

    * Correction: just being in her presence (not present)

    #91711
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    I guess there is no point in trying to reason or logic with my family where there is none.

    A few months ago when my grandmother was dying, the entire extended family and myself were keeping vigil at her home. The things I’ve had to put up with from my own family are frequent regular things in the extended family. It’s one of the few times I’m glad to be introvert because I could observe their behaviour, and see how it affects everybody in the family.

    My family (I’m talking about the majority of my relatives here – aunts, uncles, cousins etc) are just insensitive, unaware, ignorant, there is no other polite way of putting it.

    I have relatives who think they know what they are talking about when all they talk is a load of bull.

    Most of my relatives are just pig-ignorant. One uncle in particular is a chauvinistic prejudiced bigot whose attitudes are still clearly stuck in the 1970s.

    My relatives love to just be as obnoxious, loud and insensitive to everybody and make constant digs. I see them as being really insulting and rude to one another but they would deny this – they would just say “It’s just a bit of banter, we’re a family of piss takers…” They also love to say nasty things about people behind their back – one uncle referred to my cousin as “a lazy bitch” just because she’s having to take time off work due to serious medical issues. Makes me wonder what they might be saying about me behind my back!

    I have relatives who think they are so above everybody else just because they are “academics”; they have important letters after their names, they teach and they have more than one degree and they wave these things around like badges of superiority.

    And then I have relatives who take the brutally honest approach when they don’t like certain people. One uncle is verbally abusive and delights in shouting and calling his kids every name under the sun – I think it is fair to say my cousins are pretty damaged now.

    You can try and logic and reason and argue with these people until the cows come home but that will accomplish nothing because everybody has to have the last word.

    The point I’m trying to make here? Cause and effect. There has to be some cause for these people to act the way they do.

    I don’t know what the cause is. I’m not in any way implying my grandmother was a failure at raising her children but she did always speak her mind when she smelt b.s. Maybe it’s a generational, societal and cultural thing – my parents, uncles and aunts were born and raised in 50’s and 60’s working class England.

    I guess some family members and siblings are just living up to their roles – maybe all older siblings are bossy and like to boss and bully their younger siblings; parents have to give them responsibility to look after their younger siblings and some people just abuse responsibility. My older sister got to take me and my younger sister out to the city centre – my mom had given us some pocket money but my older sister decided to spend it on herself. She has done things like that many times.

    All of the relatives I have described, I can see in my siblings – the bossy condescending older sister (the academic aunt and her eldest daughter who has a doctorate), distant-yet-prone-to-verbal-abuse-and-physical-threats older brother (verbally abusive uncle) fowl-mouthed younger sister (combination of both)…It could be a genetic thing, I really don’t know. Nature vs nurture!

    But back to your question Anita, arguing is absolutely futile with these people because they just deny everything, tell me I am talking a load of rubbish, making up stupid excuses for themselves…They don’t think the way they behave or treat me isn’t wrong…

    If I had a pound for every time somebody used that age old excuse – “I was just joking!” I would be very wealthy indeed…

    Being angry towards them isn’t going to help. I have a lot to say, and I am capable of being acid-tongued at the worst of times but I know this isn’t the way, and I am determined not to become emotionally abusive myself. It’s highly unlikely my family are going to think any differently and I don’t expect them to any more.

    I do still have my sense of humour, and I think this works in my favour sometimes. I have quite a dry, sarcastic, deadpan sense of humour (reflective on my outlook on life which must have been shaped by these relatives!), and I’ve became very good at sniffing out b.s over the past year or so. I don’t think I’m even that funny but I’ve came across people who I thought wouldn’t appreciate my sense of humour and I’ve had them shrieking with laughter at some of the things I’ve came out with.

    In spite of all this I do still love my parents, I just wish I could spend more quality time with them without my other siblings so this year I want to make a point of doing things with just my parents and nobody else. I think I said this in a previous post but my only happy childhood memories are from when I spent time with just me and my parents without the others. I couldn’t care less about my siblings at all – if we weren’t even in the same family I wouldn’t even be friends with any of them.

    I think all families are mad to some extent and they probably don’t know it. I remember reading somewhere that it’s estimated that about 80% of all families are dysfunctional.

    My favourite book in 2015 was ‘Sane New World’ by Ruby Wax and I highly recommend that people read it. She talks about depression, mindfulness and the effect family members can have on a person, but she manages to talk about all of these things in a humorous way. I must say reading this book has been a real eye-opener to a lot of this…

    #91718
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe

    I like your writing, your descriptions of your extended family. Reads to me that they are clearly PROUD of being harsh, abusive, brutal, etc… as if it is a beautiful thing. I can’t think of the right words… they take pride in being obnoxious, that’s it, taking pride in being obnoxious, crude. They wouldn’t consider changing because… that wouldn’t be cool. Or it goes against the traditional Family Pride in being obnoxious.

    If I didn’t know how devastating such behavior is for a child, maybe I’d think it is funny too.

    And I think it is a conservative estimate, the 80%. I’d up it to.. 95%. Or higher.

    And it is nurture, not nature, being obnoxious. Until an Obnoxious gene is isolated and identified, I am holding on to my nurture position.

    Now, my question to you is: can you make the needed changes you need to make this year, make it so that you operate not as a “glutton for punishment” but operate for your own well being while you keep contact with family members? All of them?

    I completely get your point about the futility of arguing with them (and taking away their source of Family Pride). So that will be useless, but considering your needs, what bothers you… certain assertions, will they be respected by any?

    Maybe, maybe you can examine and determine who in your family you can have what kind of interactions so that you are not harmed by them? For example, if your parents are obnoxious with you in front of others (loyalty to… family pride) but not obnoxious with you in private, just them and you, maybe you can see to it that you get together with them ONLY when it is just you and them.

    .. and if your older sister is obnoxious to you consistently (not always, I am sure, as she must take breaks), no matter where or when, maybe you can decide not to see her at all, or only in big family gatherings like Christmas. You can determine what limits to form and with whom.

    Do you think this is important enough to figure out, for he purpose of the positive changes you intend to make this year?

    anita

    #91722
    Saiisha
    Participant

    Hi J – I agree, a lot of times, family is overrated! To deal with them can be an obstacle course of dodging expectations and obligations… so I don’t blame you for not wanting to take their unsolicited advice, because they’re probably coming at you from the “family rules and reputation” perspective. You can stay in touch with them, stay polite, but stay out of the politics.

    As for your inner changes, it seems like you’re ready for them. You’re noticing what you need to change… what you need to say No to… who you need to stay away from. The reason you don’t have to regret some of your rotten decisions is because they come with their own lessons that you learn along the way. So you’re actually already learning – it might take longer to get a certain lesson than others, but as I said, your acknowledgment is the first step, and you’re already on your way.

    The “disease to please” is drilled into us early on in our lives… we’re taught to please our parents, teachers, friends, etc., so saying No is a very hard lesson to learn for a lot of us. What helps me is to prepare myself ahead of time to say No to certain asks. For example, I already know I’ll always say No if I have to travel somewhere for a wedding or an event. I already know I’ll always say No to corporate work lunches (I don’t work at a corporate job anymore so I don’t have this problem now). But you see where I’m going – if you prepare ahead of time to say No, you won’t have to make a split-second decision when someone asks you. It might take a little longer to be able to say No and not feel like you have to give an excuse. But you’ll get there 🙂

    #91736
    jock
    Participant

    J
    Your issues with family and relatives struck a chord with me. My strategy now is to maintain good boundaries and keep a respectful distance. I always check I am not triggering a smart alec response from them. Keep the conversation boring and avoid stating strong opinions. I have a debrief with myself, before seeing them at get togethers. Psych myself up. Keep up my guard. Now some people might say this is not very nice and kind of unfriendly. But other peoples’ behaviour can be very childish. (Ok mine too 🙂 ) Sometimes you have to be the mild-mannered mature one, in order for them to stay on the leash.

    #92337
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita (sorry for the delayed response 🙁 )

    “Now, my question to you is: can you make the needed changes you need to make this year, make it so that you operate not as a “glutton for punishment” but operate for your own well being while you keep contact with family members? All of them?”

    I feel like I’ve got this – like I said, I’m feeling pretty confident about myself lately. As for my family members – I guess people have no choice in the matter as to who they are related to. A phrase I’ve been pondering on over the past few days is “you kill more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”. That’s not to say I’m not taking any more crap from anyone, but I do believe it’s possible to stand up for yourself without resorting to their standards.

    My sister has always been and always will be super judgmental and critical of other people and I don’t expect she will stop being super judgmental or critical.

    The next time she has something she would like to pick at, I’m just going to respectfully tell her I’m not okay with it. I’m nobodies scapegoat.

    We’re not even close at all – my other siblings are all best pals with each other, they always phone each other and do things together, they only text me when they don’t have anybody else to talk to or when they need something like me putting money towards buying a big present for mothers or fathers day (I just buy my own just to spite them haha!) I’m okay with it – like I said before, if we weren’t related we wouldn’t be friends. We don’t share the same interests, we’re not into the same things. I know it sounds cruel and heartless but I can think of several other people I would happily spend time with instead of my siblings.

    I’m 24 and I’m old enough to make my own decisions. My grandmother passed away last October – she was the linchpin that kept the family and relatives together. Now she is no longer with us, I am under no obligation whatsoever to spend time with my other relatives and attend family functions.

    My sister also has a nasty habit of being rude to me in front of everybody at family events and humiliating me. She plans to get married in Italy either this year or next. The truth is, I really don’t want to go. I’m not sure if I will be able to afford it and I don’t want my parents to pay for me to attend. Even if money wasn’t a problem, I don’t want to spend a lot of money to go to some snotty hotel just for my sister to be rude to me in front of all her guests. She is a very shallow, materialistic judgemental person and I just know she will find something to nit-pick over. I hate weddings – I hate making small talk, I just get ignored at these things. Am I right to not want to go to her wedding?

    #92352
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    * There are currently two people posting as “anita” on this forum. One of them is not me. So the comment above posted on Jan 7 was posted by “anita” who was “juanita” and before that “Jack”. At this point, therefore, all my posts start with “Dear (username)” so to distinguish myself from the other “anita”

    To your latest post, Joe: You do sound confident and I like it.

    Please notice this: you wrote “I know it sounds cruel and heartless” to state what you stated, that you would rather spend time with people you are not related to than with people you are related to.

    I strongly disagree with stating that being cruel and heartless. It is cruel and heartless to yourself to spend time with people who repeatedly hurt you, be it family or not family.

    You later stated that you don’t feel like attending the wedding of your sister who… repeatedly hurts you and you are asking if you are right to “not want to” go to her wedding. My answer: of course you are right to feel what you do! No wrong feelings, only the interpretation of what we feel may be the wrong interpretation:

    When you feel you don’t want to attend the wedding, the interpretation or the message behind that reluctance of yours to attend the message is NOT that you are cruel or heartless or bad or wrong (wrong interpretation!) The correct interpretation is that she repeatedly hurt you and you don’t want to get hurt. The correct message is that you don’t deserve to get hurt and that you need to protect yourself from future hurt.

    What do you think so far?
    anita

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