April 5, 2022 at 8:02 am #396978
I often need to rewrite a post, using some of my own words, so to process the information better, or best I can: of the family that took you in, older members didn’t want you there, no one challenged them about it, and since you chose to no longer be in contact with them, they’ve been arguing with the younger/ other family members who are still in contact with you, wanting them to stop being in contact with you.
Of the members you are in contact with, when you tell them that something they said or did hurt your feelings, they habitually deny that they said or did what they did, ignore you for a week or two, and in the past, they disowned you. They also blame you for feeling hurt, argue with you, yell and swear (they yell and swear less than they used to).
They don’t want you to bring up your hurt feelings about things they said when stressed, wanting you to wait until they calm down, but fearing abuse, you don’t want to wait.
Taken from previous and recent post: “I’m working on being less defensive myself. I believe this is a result of the abuse. I tend to expect arguments when I bring up hurt feelings. Ironically, being defensive and expecting an argument can sometimes trigger arguments… I feel that I can defend my boundaries a bit too much, because I am afraid of allowing myself to be abused. By this, I mean that I don’t tend to let many things slide. So, if someone upsets me, they hear about it. Sometimes, when I get emotional, I share my fears and worries. That can make them feel hurt and defensive too”.
I am sorry, Helcat, that the family who took you in was not, and is not a healthy, loving family.
My thoughts based on the very little information I have in regard to your relationships with your second family: it’s not a good idea that you bring up your hurt feelings to them anymore, it’s a repeat of an unhealthy behavior and an unhealthy dynamic between you and them. It’s not working to your benefit.
If I understand correctly, once in a while they yell at you and swear at you. When you then reach out to them with an effort to have a conversation, starting with letting them know that they hurt your feelings, you are doing something like this: you are hiking alone in the woods, and you see a mountain lion at a distance. Instead of keeping your eyes on the lion, pepper spray in hand, and walking away from the lion, you walk toward the lion, and when you reach the growling lion, you say: it hurts my feelings that you are growling at me!
anitaApril 5, 2022 at 11:37 am #397037
Yes, I would say that is an accurate summary of events. Thanks for your feedback! I think you have the right idea. I’ll see how it goes distancing myself from them a bit. It has been helpful discussing the situation. I really appreciate you sharing your reasoning behind why you left. I took some time to think it over, because ultimately it means confronting that I’m not being treat with respect, the attachment that is partly the reason that I have allowed these behaviours to continue and my fear about losing my family.April 5, 2022 at 11:58 am #397038
You are welcome and thank you for sharing with me, and for your appreciation; I appreciate you and value our communication! Any time you want my thoughts about anything, let me know.
* About your fear of losing your second family, if you want to share more about it, if you do, when you do… please do.
anitaApril 6, 2022 at 2:02 am #397151
I think there’s a desire to be loved and accepted by family. It’s sad, even by my own definition they don’t love me, because I’m not treat with respect. I believe that they care to some extent, as much as they can.
I’m afraid to give up on that because of the idea because in the back of my mind it’s blaming me because of my previous experiences. My biological mother couldn’t love me, my second family couldn’t. I am the common denominator. Apart from they all have mental health issues and a history of abuse.
There’s a fear of abandoning them. I support the family members that I am in contact with as they are abused by other family members.
They also expressed a fear of me abandoning them because I left my biological family. I don’t want to hurt them.
I know these are just fears. At the end of the day, pain is a part of their lifestyle and by staying in contact I am subjecting myself to that. Why? Because I love them and want to help. Is that a fair? I can’t save them for themselves, I can’t make them change, they have to want that for themselves.
I also feel indebted because they took me in as a child. I believe I would have likely committed suicide if I had to fend for myself alone during that period.
In some ways I have put them first, because I tolerated the abuse. I have to start protecting myself!April 6, 2022 at 9:12 am #397160
“My biological mother couldn’t love me, my second family couldn’t. I am the common denominator. Apart from they all have mental health issues and a history of abuse” – from my experience and just looking at the state of the world, mental health issues and history of abuse is the norm, not the exception. It is no wonder then that lots of us were not loved/ respected within our families of origin. We then go into the world… and because our families were not exceptional, love/ respect is still hard to come by.
I know that your mother was exceptional in the ways she abused you and in what it led to, but so was mine, I mean, no child, while abused, thinks: oh, this is nothing compared to (worse). When it happens to a child, abuse is just one-measure-of-bad. I am saying this so to emphasize how much child abuse, and later abuses, are indeed the norm.
“There’s a fear of abandoning them” – how about abandoning abuse.
“I support the family members that I am in contact with as they are abused by other family members” – support them as long as they don’t abuse you, I mean it’s the least they can do in return for your support.
“They also expressed a fear of me abandoning them because I left my biological family. I don’t want to hurt them” – you didn’t abandon your biological family; it was not your responsibility to stay in an abusive and dangerous situation.
“At the end of the day, pain is a part of their lifestyle and by staying in contact I am subjecting myself to that” – it’s like you are choosing to sink with the Titanic instead of leaving on one of the lifeboats available to you.
“Why? Because I love them and want to help. Is that a fair? I can’t save them for themselves, I can’t make them change, they have to want that for themselves” – continuing the titanic imagery: while you are waiting for them to change, you are all sinking because time is not waiting for you or for them, and busy waiting, you are not busy living/ learning.
“I also feel indebted because they took me in as a child. I believe I would have likely committed suicide if I had to fend for myself alone during that period” – when they took you in, weren’t they compensated by the state/ social services? If not, or if you think that more compensation is fair, you can give those deserving the monetary compensations you think they deserve, such that will allow them to pay for quality professional counseling, if they so choose to spend that money.
“In some ways I have put them first, because I tolerated the abuse. I have to start protecting myself!” – there is a saying in self-help groups: “Principles, not Personalities”, meaning, instead of trying to accommodate people, accommodate the principles you believe in, which brings me back to your sentence above: “There’s a fear of abandoning them“, and my response: “how about abandoning abuse“. Abandoning abuse is a wonderful principle, one that could save the world if enough people in powerful positions chose this principle.
anitaApril 7, 2022 at 1:01 pm #397218
Thank you for your thoughtful reply! How are you today?
I really appreciate the imagery that you have been using in your replies. It paints quite the picture. In attempting to help someone else you can certainly drown. I think being subject to ongoing verbal abuse is holding me back when it comes to looking after my own mental health. I’m sure my husband would be happy if I overcame anticipating arguments and the associated defensiveness. Perhaps this is something that could not be achieved while abuse is ongoing? Certainly, at least it would be more difficult to achieve.
Sadly, I would agree that trauma, abuse and mental health issues are common throughout society.April 7, 2022 at 2:05 pm #397222
You are welcome. I am fine today, thank you, busy.
“In attempting to help someone else you can certainly drown” -yes, and for no good reason when the person you attempt to help is drowning too and would drown whether you try to help him/ her, or not.
“Perhaps this is something that could not be achieved while abuse is ongoing?” – you cannot heal from abuse when abuse is still ongoing or is likely to re-occur at any time. The cessation of abuse is the beginning of healing… only the beginning, sadly.
anitaApril 8, 2022 at 7:10 am #397252
Very true! When I was younger a relative was having difficulty swimming. I tried to help her and she clung to me trying to drag me down with her. I got her off me and waited for her to stop struggling, before helping her again.
I thought about this and agree. So far I have managed to heal up to a certain point. But healing will always be to a certain point, while I allow abuse to a certain point.
Last night I thought about what it would be like if I was wholly loved and respected by everyone I let into my life. I wondered how that might change me and how I would heal.
You mentioned that cessation of abuse was only the first step. I’m curious about what other steps there are?
April 8, 2022 at 8:04 am #397256
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by Helcat.
“So far I have managed to heal up to a certain point. But healing will always be to a certain point, while I allow abuse to a certain point” – well said, I couldn’t have said it better.
“Last night I thought about what it would be like if I was wholly loved and respected by everyone I let into my life. I wondered how that might change me and how I would heal” – this reads to me like an unrealistic expectation: to be wholly loved by anyone, let alone by everyone that you let into your life. The reason: people are too busy with their own distress, anxiety, worries to wholly love anyone; no one always says and does what’s right for another person, far from it. But never abusing is possible (never yelling at another, never arguing with another, never insulting another with words like you are ugly, you are stupid, etc.). I am fine with being Never Abused and Sometimes Loved (NASL, I just came up with this acronym, lol) by the people in my life.
“You mentioned that cessation of abuse was only the first step. I’m curious about what other steps there are?” – the cessation of real-life people’s abuse of you is the first step, the second step is the cessation of those people’s mental representatives’ abuse. Like I shared with you not long ago, I still hear my mother screaming at me when I drop a dish in the sink: it is not the real-life mother who is screaming at me, but her mental rep.
anitaApril 8, 2022 at 12:09 pm #397349
When I say wholly loved, I am comparing the love say with my husband, to the attachment with family. I feel like they’re only partly care about me. At any point they might turn around and say you’re disowned again. Maybe next time is for good. There is that feeling of distain for me that is along side feelings of attachment. It is a very different experience with my husband. He loves and accepts me for who I am. Despite any arguments, we treat each other with respect and try to understand each other. I also have friends that love and respect me. Do you understand why I used the word whole now?
I like the acronym you came up with! I think never being abused by loved ones is a good goal. Sadly, I don’t think it’s always within our control in every circumstance such as work. We can do the best we can to protect ourselves in other situations. But we can decide who we choose to interact with closely.
For me, these things are not necessary in the form of intense flashbacks. It tends to be my own thoughts that have taken on the abusive cycle. If that makes sense. The rumination, catastrophising and suicidal ideation for example. It is a lot better than it used to be, still some things to work on though.
I tend to only have intense flashbacks when I intentionally subject myself to intense triggers. I can usually pull back before things get to that stage. I think this is because I did some very intense therapy called prolonged exposure therapy. Before that therapy, I was having intense flashbacks constantly.
I agree though, it is definitely an important goal to eliminate that internalised abusive voice I learned from others. As always, I value and appreciate your thoughts!
April 8, 2022 at 12:57 pm #397357
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by Helcat.
“When I say wholly loved… my husband. He loves and accepts me for who I am. Despite any arguments, we treat each other with respect” –
– before I proceed to read your whole post and reply, I wanted to ask in regard to the arguments between you and your husband. A definition of argument is “an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one“. Are there heated or angry exchanges between your husband and you when exchanging diverging or opposing views, such as raised voices, interrupting each other, walking away while the other is talking, anything like that?
April 9, 2022 at 2:43 am #397380
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by anita.
I would say that the arguments we have tend to be differing views but not usually angry or heated. I do get upset because challenging conversations and arguments are a trigger for me. Because I am sensitive to challenging conversations I tend to call them arguments.
Length of these challenging conversations is probably a determining factor for calling it an argument. If a disagreement continues I have a tendency to start crying.
We don’t tend to walk away from each other, interrupt each other. There have been occasional issues with raised voices but the content of our communication doesn’t change. It’s an issue that we are working on.
We communicate when we don’t feel understood. Much of the argument is trying are to explain thoughts, feelings and intent and trying to understand each other.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed and need to stop talking for a short time to calm down. We continue the conversation shortly after.
For example, yesterday I was discussing the family issue with my husband. I asked for his opinion on how I’d handle various scenarios and how they might impact me. He was reluctant to answer and said that it was my decision. I said that I felt that I wasn’t being heard because I wasn’t asking him to make a decision for me. I was asking to discuss how he thought I would cope with and respond to different situations.
Even during this short exchange were no voices were raised. I felt upset and wanted to cry. Not because of something he said. But because of the PTSD triggers around challenging conversations and arguments. I wouldn’t call this specific conversation an argument because it was fairly short.April 9, 2022 at 8:19 am #397388
The example you offered is helpful, it gives me something concrete: you told your husband about an issue that you have with your family and asked him how he thinks you should or would cope with and respond to different scenarios regarding the issue. He told you in so many words: it is your decision. You then told him that you felt unheard (“I said that I felt that I wasn’t being heard”) because you didn’t ask him to make a decision for you. The exchange was short, no voices were raised, yet you felt “upset and wanted to cry“.
My comment: his response does not mean that he didn’t hear you, but that he didn’t want to process the information you presented to him and answer you. If you rarely ask him for his input in regard to conflicts in your relationships (with your family members, people at work or elsewhere), then his response may be rude, meaning he doesn’t care. But if you often ask him for such input, or if you ask him for such input sometimes, but the theme (in regard to the conflicted relationships) repeats itself, then his response is understandable: he sees that the theme persists regardless of his previous suggestions, figuring he can’t make a difference for you, so what would be the point of processing the information and giving you suggestions once again, why bother.
You wrote yesterday: “When I say wholly loved, I am comparing the love say with my husband, to the attachment with family. I feel like they’re only partly care about me. At any point they might turn around and say you’re disowned again. Maybe next time is for good. There is that feeling of disdain for me… It is a very different experience with my husband. He loves and accepts me for who I am… I also have friends that love and respect me. Do you understand why I used the word whole now?” –
– yes, I understand, you think that your husband wholly loves you, as in 100%, and your family members, those who are in the habit of disowning you and expressing disdain for you, from time to time, they partly love you, as in 30& or 60%.
NASL – Never Abuse, Sometimes Love. If your family members repeatedly threaten to end contact with you and this repeated behavior is fueling your anxiety and PTSD… then what you have with them is SASL, Sometimes Abuse, Sometimes Love, a mix. The love in the mix is very unreliable, you can lose it at any time. It’s like standing on a ground above a fault line, it may be solid now, but you never know when it’s going to shake, causing you to fall.
You wrote, March 22: “Wondering at any sign of affection, is this love?” – not if the affection is mixed with threats of ending contact.
“Many people have a desire to feel loved at any cost” – at the cost of SA (Sometimes Abuse)?
“Abuse victims have a tendency to gravitate towards people that perpetuate their cycle of abuse” – is this part of your attachment to your family members, this gravitation (“the attachment with family”, April 8)?
anitaApril 9, 2022 at 4:45 pm #397422
In the past, I asked him to let me make decisions when it came to my family. I don’t usually ask for his insight when it comes to making decisions. I think he was trying not to pressure me and there was a misunderstanding of what I was asking. He did give an answer after I clarified exactly what I was asking of him.
I don’t know, potentially. I think it’s complicated. I’ll have to think more deeply on it.
I’m the kind of person that when they make a decision I don’t take it back. That is why I haven’t acted yet.
I previously communicated with my family that the arguments were unhealthy and negatively impacted my mental health. So largely they stopped yelling and swearing. I give people chances and appreciate when people actively try to change.April 9, 2022 at 7:29 pm #397431
“He did give an answer after I clarified exactly what I was asking of him” – effective communication is so very important in relationships and it looks like the two of you are communicating effectively.
“I previously communicated with my family that the arguments were unhealthy and negatively impacted my mental health. So largely they stopped yelling and swearing” – I hope that the yelling and swearing stops completely.