Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

I Am What I Am - Breaking out from enmeshed family dynamics

(122 Posts)
DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 05-Nov-13 17:16:06

Having been through a difficult situation with my own family, the support on this thread has helped me to realize that I am part of a very co-dependent enmeshed family dynamic.

I am working on detaching from my sister, given her recent bad behaviour. My DM is putting huge pressure on me to forgive, forget and get back in my old role of underdog to save making waves.

An excellent post from LazyJaney has given me much food for thought - copied below:

"I think my family like the fact that we are considered a very close knit family, and that my Sis and I are considered 'best friends'. So part of it is about maintaining that perceived closeness. They have always been very proud of it.

My DM is worried about my Sis having no support, and is leaning on me to give that to her"

I think this is the top level explanation, but IMO there is something else underneath it. This is just my view of course, but in essence I think your approval is essential for their dynamic to function.

I think something like this is going on:

- DSis is the Prodigal Daughter. She was once the Golden Girl and has been indulged all her time as golden girl and has grown into a selfish, headstrong, and error prone woman.

- For some time it's been clear she is very tarnished, even to your parents, as they have had to bail her out more than once (as a matter of interest was she both parents' golden girl, or just one?)

- Your parents know all this (or maybe just your DM, your DF so far comes over as very ineffectual), and are very worried about your sister's future, but cannot directly face up to it without admitting all sorts of other past errors.

(I wouldnt be surprised if they are also burned out by her dramas, and want to offload some of the burden)

- You on the other hand are succeeding. You can help.

- But that is not in their narrative, and threatens it.

- They feel if they can strap you closely to her then you can help "save" her. Otherwise all the responsibility falls on them. As a bonus harnessing you brings you back into the narrative in the assigned role, and reduces the painful comparison.

Your fitting in with the solution/story they have woven is thus absolutely essential to your parents (DM especially?) as otherwise, you are saying their little empress has no clothes and that you are not prepared to be yoked to her. This means all the responsibility for DSis' failures falls back on them, and they have to face up to the unfaceable.

In short, without your collaboration, the whole thing will fall apart. I can't tell whether DM or DF calls the tune, but DM is definitely the one leading the dance. I bet DM also worries DSis is on a train wreck trip with OM, exH, kids etc.

So, that's why there is the immense pressure on you to conform right now.

IMO it actually puts you in a position of more power than you think. IMO your DM is very manipulative, but is becoming more desperate as you slip away. I think you can start to put conditions on what your support looks like, but it will be breaking a lifetimes habituation.

Anyway, treat the reasoning as cod psychology from another Internet random, but I think my main point - they need you desperately to hold the edifice up - is correct.

I hope we can continue the discussion here grin

Gunznroses Tue 05-Nov-13 17:21:12

Lazeyjaney Excellent! just excellent.

tribpot Tue 05-Nov-13 17:22:30

Just marking my place. I think if you're inclined to do anything about your current situation, I would do some reading about family dynamics and then think about whether counselling might benefit you.

Whilst you remain critical of your sister's choices, you remain a threat to the façade your parents wish to project. It might help if the news becomes made more public so that others, with less immediate ties to your family, can express similar sentiments...

something2say Tue 05-Nov-13 18:42:05

When we change, other people are forced to change too. The dynamic has changed and ought not to go back, otherwise you will be unhappy.

But also, I think people sometimes go away. They dont like the change and don't want it to be. So you lose them. It changes between you and them.

But be brave. You deserve happiness and to live as you see fit.

I second the idea of maximizing other relationships while the dust settles, and possibly thereafter. I also wonder if you might need to grieve, for what once was, what could have been, and your loss. But in amongst that, is there a certain peace of mind?

Spoken by one who has had to do this; chosen to do it, in fact.

AnySpookyWolfyFucker Tue 05-Nov-13 18:57:23

Just wanted to say I'm still listening.

Lulu1083 Tue 05-Nov-13 19:18:39

Totally know how you feel OP. My dm worships the ground my younger twin sisters walk on. I'm not perfect but one conversation made me see her clearly.

I'm a sahm, with my dh living in our own place, my youngest had just gone full time at school and she told me I was stupid and now 'worthless in employers eyes' because I'd taken 5 years out of work. On my birthday. I cried so much I didn't go out that evening as planned.

However one of my sisters is 28 and never had a proper job. She has done 4 years of a degree at uni, that she doesn't even use, and has taken countless internships for no pay to get experience in the field she apparently wants, which is a good idea for a while but she's now out of work, not even on the dole and living with dm. This is apparently fine though. She even took her shopping last week and spent £100+ on new clothes for her.

I found out today I got the first job I had an interview for, and only the 3rd job I applied for. Turns out I'm not so stupid or worthless after all!

DontCallMeDaughter Tue 05-Nov-13 19:24:55

That post could have been about me. My eyes were only opened this weekend when the whole family was together and I finally saw my sister for what she is. I'm at a loss for what to do next, I want out of her drama (and out of the responsibility my dm puts on me to keep the peace) but I don't know how to do it.

tribpot Tue 05-Nov-13 19:40:08

Bloody hell Lulu! Well done you, plus a real 'up yours, mother' into the bargain!

Lulu1083 Tue 05-Nov-13 19:59:22

Thanks Tribpot, I wrote my text to tell her with a big smile on my face! She said well done, but also that it will be scary, not really sure what she's getting at there, as I'm not in the least bit nervous about it. My dh earns enough to 'keep' us but was always in the plan that I would work now too so we're just sticking to the plan!

My lovely dad sent me a text saying that he's so proud of me so at least I know I have one sane parent grin

something2say Tue 05-Nov-13 20:01:35

I have two bits of advice for people in this dynamic.

1.) Change. Change how you behave. Fight your inclination to do what you have always done.

2.) Don't expect the family to like it or approve, and do not seek long heart felt conversations about why you are doing it with them, which they suddenly agree with and support you. In this way, you sort of 'lose' them, as things with them change. Expect to be left out, and to know that. You are being left out, for you have changed. I wrote upthread that they will change, and I think they will. They may not like what you are doing, and they may close ranks with each other and leave you out. Only as time passes will you see things more clearly.

Results - in general I would wonder if you will feel relieved at not being involved in the drama anymore. You may find you do other things, enjoy life more, have less heart sinking conversations, less upset, feel less let down. I also found that members of my family sought me out for advice around each other. I had to watch that, as I could have been drawn in. I was rejected after that, and then I was revered and they changed their tune towards me and said they respected what I had done. I found it sad that it had to be that way, but it did and its all water under the bridge now.

DontCallMeDaughter Tue 05-Nov-13 20:33:25

Something2say you speak a lot of sense. I know that any actions I take to extract myself from the situation will result in me being left out, talked/gossiped about, laughed at etc.

It's really just a case of coming to terms with the prospect of losing my family, which I know is for the best, they're all toxic. It's just a hard path to start down.

I have a really wonderful and supportive dh and more and more I see him and my dd as my family.

It's good to hear from someone who's done the journey and happier at the end of it!

tribpot Tue 05-Nov-13 21:02:22

On the other thread, Numpty's just noted that it's not a question of 'family back each other no matter what' so much as it is 'everyone shall obey Sister no matter what' - and she says the same about your father. Has it always been the case that they are the dominant pair and your mother (and until recently you) forced to be the appeasers? It might explain why your mother seems so desperate for a sign that you intend to continue to appease. Your mother seems to be trying to bully you into resuming the role of appeaser.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Wed 06-Nov-13 08:18:00

Glad you all found my new thread, and I'm also glad that other people who are going through the same thing are able to post here too - I want this thread to not be just about me - we can all support each other.

Lulu excellent news! The best thing you can do is show your mother you're succeeding and happy despite her bringing you down. She probably realizes your sister isn't pulling her weight, and was probably a little envious that you have done so well for yourself. As someone said in my previous thread, your Mum probably knows all this but doesn't want to admit it.

DontcallMeDaughter I've had some wonderful support on my other thread, it has really helped me. Hopefully this thread can help you too.

captainmummy Wed 06-Nov-13 08:32:14

Excellent post lazeyjaney. I bet DM also worries DSis is on a train wreck trip with OM, exH, kids etc. - I'll bet she does too. If she also fails at this relationship with OM, well, dm, and df have invested a lot in it 'supporting' her. Though of course at that point they will rewrite history...

Lulu - great news!

I had the same with my parents - dsis the PFB, my younger brother the 'Golden BOY', me just a second girl, another mouth to feed. My sis now is a spoilt, lazy cow who I don't see. My brother is v introverted, and no-one sees him no and hasn't for about 4 years. I got away, I'm happy, have a lovely family of my own and friends to compensate for sister/brother/parents (they certainly have always been there more than family have) and I've realised recently how much my sis is jealous of me!

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Wed 06-Nov-13 08:51:56

As for me - well LazyJaneys post copied above really struck a chord, and made me feel that actually I do have some power here and my parents DO value my sensible head. It has given me the confidence to stick to my convictions, and keep repeating my reasoning - I'm here for her, but on my terms.

Last night, I phoned DF and it turned out they were all (Sis, DCs) at my parents house having a fireworks party. My DP commented after - "Didn't we go to that last year?"... and yes, we did but apparently weren't invited this year. Usually this would have really upset me, but I just laughed and said "Oh well!".

My DF also made a comment that my Sis had offered to do something for me "Even though you're not speaking to her". Like. It's. My. Fault. I just calmly repeated that I am speaking to her, and just stay out of it. Again, this would usually have made me very upset, but I'm fine.

How can I describe the dynamics with my DF. Well, he certainly favours my sister, I've never been in any doubt of that. For example, when the shit started hitting the fan about my Sister's affair, I said that she was also irresponsible with money, and had they forgotten about the huge bailout a few years ago (tens of thousands). My DF's response was "Well YOU owe me £15 from the other night". He wasn't joking, at all.

My DM has always been fairer between us. (** I must make it clear here, in their defence, that when I talk about favouritism I'm not talking financially or materially - they have always tried to be fair in their support of us both. What I mean is emotionally - Sis can do no wrong, whereas I argue with my DF a lot and get picked on for the tiniest thing).

But my DF is quite old fashioned, proud and headstrong. He also hides his emotions, finds it difficult to say nice things to us. I've lost count of the times our friends have assured me my DF loves us, but I've never, ever heard him say it himself. He just can't. I mentioned the favouritism recently to my cousin, and she said funnily enough, it's me he talks about (or rather boasts about) the most, and he doesn't mention my Sis much. This is only because what I do is more 'interesting' or 'boast worthy' than what my Sister does. I used to find the boasting very very difficult to handle - I used to feel that how dare he boast about me when he doesn't support me emotionally, but things have got better recently and Im ok with it now and just laugh.

So my DM and Sis hide things from him, especially the full truth about my Sis' behaviour. My DM's kneejerk reaction when I told her my Sis' latest round of nasty lies was "Oh I won't tell your father". To which I replied angrily that she must, I'm sick of him not knowing the full truth and then defending her. They treat him like an idiot - but how can he be expected to deal with things if he never knows the full truth?

I think my DM is just trying to keep the peace, not upset my DF and keep us close. I also think maybe she doesn't want to shatter my DFs illusions about my Sis... but I think it would do him good to see her for what she is!

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Thu 07-Nov-13 13:30:01

Well I'm making progress.

I have downloaded 'Codependency for Dummies' and have started reading it on my kindle smile

I'm keeping my distance from the issue and not talking to my parents about it at all. I've made it clear where I stand and they seem to respect that for now.

I have been pleasantly supportive to my sister, and she has invited me to spend the day with her and DNs on the weekend. Here is where I feel uncomfortable. The easiest thing in the world would be for me to just fall back into line, stop fighting for the new dynamic and relent back into the old one. I don't want to do that, I have come so far.

So how do I get to be pleasant, thus removing the whole 'Plastic isn't speaking to her sis, how awful we must intervene' thing, whilst maintaining my stance that her behaviour isn't OK and I won't just sweep it under the carpet??

I'm planning on just being nice, but if the subject of the OM comes up, refuse to talk about it. Or I could say that I'm willing to listen, but she must also be willing to listen to my response without attacking me.

I know i'm being petty or vindictive here, but I don't want her to think "Oh, Plastic is being nice, it's all back to normal". And get away scot free... But I don't feel that now is the right time to tell her how much she has hurt me - that time will come in the future.

My DP just said that I don't need to tell my family about my new position - I just need to know it myself and stick to it. They will soon realise, when I don't just jump at my Sister's whim, that something has shifted in me.

What do you reckon - am I still being a doormat, or is sticking to my guns in a silent way enough?

ljny Thu 07-Nov-13 16:43:33

It should be enough to just stick to your guns in a silent way. You're doing it for yourself. Your sister won't change, your family won't change.

I can't help wondering if a full day isn't too much to start with. Might it be easier to practice the 'new you' on shorter visits first?

tribpot Thu 07-Nov-13 17:20:29

My DM's kneejerk reaction when I told her my Sis' latest round of nasty lies was "Oh I won't tell your father". To which I replied angrily that she must, I'm sick of him not knowing the full truth and then defending her.

This is what you must stop doing, feeding the unhealthy dynamic with new fuel.

I do not think a full day with your sister is a good idea. If she puts the guilters on you early in the day about the OM it will be impossible to sustain a friendly distance, then you'll end up either seething or leaving early but either way you'll end up being the villain of the piece again. I would say you have plans but could pop in for an hour. And keep it to short visits for as long as you can get away with it. Remember, they want you drawn back in to the family dynamic, and so prolonged exposure works far more in their favour than it does yours.

I think you will need to confront the issue of OM, though - suggest that you've given her your view on the matter, and since discussing it leads to disagreement it would be better to leave it.

But you realise that she wants you back so that she can offload all her angst about the OM? There is honestly no way for you to be 'supportive' of her at the moment without condoning her behaviour as your parents have chosen to do.

Hissy Thu 07-Nov-13 18:51:26

She's inviting you for her own selfish reasons love.

Don't go, you know she'll manipulate you, you know the subject will come up, and you know you'll get angry/have words.

So don't.

She wants you to STFU and get over what she's done so she can feel better and pretend everything is just fine, that she hasn't done a thing wrong.

Don't play.

If your dad asks, tell him the truth and bollocks to all this cloak and dagger stuff.

Dump it and run.

Kundry Thu 07-Nov-13 19:32:11

A full day is a looooong time and very much her agenda not yours. I like your 'I will listen but you have to too and you may not like it' approach.

Can you say you aren't free for a whole day but you can meet up for an hour?

Aussiebean Fri 08-Nov-13 07:11:54

You could always do the diversion. Technique and refuse to engage.

'Om won't leave his wife'. 'Oh that's a shame. Have you tried this dip it is so nice. I wonder if I could get the recipe?'

'Dh is being really unreasonable.' Oh well did you watch that program on lizards last night? I never knew they could do that.'

If she pushes explain that she already knows your opinion, doesnt like it and SHE will ruin the day if she continues to bring it up. Then talk about how you have had to put the heating on already!

You don't have to do this if you feel she is genuinely asking for your honest advice. But if not, you are establishing your boundaries in a polite but firm manner.

captainmummy Fri 08-Nov-13 08:23:10

trib - well said. Personally I would stay well away from your sis for a good long while - be too busy. At least until this with the OM is either a) established, or b) over. (And i don't suppose your sis will let it be 'over' unless/until she wishes it)

And how hurtful that your parents had a fireworks party and didn't invite you! Wonder what they were scared of?

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 00:00:48

Well I'm back to square 1 emotionally - but not because of Sis, because of my DF.

Massive essay warning! - Sorry, just needed to get this all out

Day out with Sis did in fact turn out to be just an afternoon, and it was fine - I was nice, we didn't talk about 'The Situation', just left it as the giant elephant in the room. So I felt like a good person for doing a nice thing, and I got to spend time with my gorgeous DNs which made me happy.

Today, DF calls me about something else, but quickly gets on to talking about how everything is great with my Sis, her DH is fine, she told the DCs and they're fine isn't life wonderful. So I said <BIG MISTAKE ALERT> that that was great, but what a shame she didn't have the decency to leave her DH before having an affair, and as a consequence of her actions she has had to hide away from our social group. So DF said "She isn't hiding away, she has had to stay away because YOU were shitty with her, and DSil was shitty with her".

Now, those of you who read my previous thread will know that this is so far from the truth - that DSil has been amazing with her, but couldn't cope when she pushed her too far. I have been far from shitty with her, I have attempted to support her, but been honest with my feelings and have had nothing but spite in return. As a result, I have stayed away from her to avoid another outpouring of nastiness. A week or so ago, my Sis announced she was quitting the social club we belong to 'because my head is fucked' and she needed space (because now most of our friends know and my guess is she wants to hide for a bit). Both DSiL and I were really nice to her about it and both sent messages of support saying she didn't need to do that, we can all be friends and it would get back to normal soon. She still said she wanted to quit. (And in actual fact, didn't quit at all, so it was all just a bit of attention seeking)

So I flipped. I told DF that he cannot blame me for her actions, that I have done nothing wrong here. He denied accusing me of anything, denied blaming me. I asked him to apologize and he said "well I apologize if that's what you think I said". My DF's reaction to any argument is to cut off immediately, so that's all I get from him.

So then DM gets on the phone, and I admit I was raging at this point. I was angry at this continual deflection of everything, spinning it to make it my fault once again. She told me off for blaming her for what my DF said, which I did apologize for. She said I had to let go of what has happened with my Sis, and forgive and forget (so we're back to demanding I just stick to the script and everything will be fine). I reminded her that I'd spent the day with my Sis the other day, I had tried to do the right thing. But I thoroughly object to being blamed for any of this horrible situation.

DM kept saying we just need to move on, and I need to let go of my anger. She said I'll make myself ill and have a nervous breakdown - I think this is some way of manipulating me to make me believe this is my fault?

I said that I am angry that they keep spinning the truth and sweeping up her mess behind her. I reminded her that when this horrible situation originally unfolded, my DM asked me why was my Sis like this. So I said that the reason she was like this was because my DM and DF continually sweep away the mess she makes. She said that is what a mother is for - she believes it's her job to clear up the mess her daughter makes. (I really don't agree with this - but I'm not a parent - can any mothers out there tell me what would be a normal response to your married daughter having an affair with a married man?)

I also said that I was hurting too, when were they going to take note of my feelings and my hurt?

Then DM said that "this Jealousy and bitterness is really not becoming of you". She said I am jealous and bitter of my sister's life.... this floored me a little. I said I am categorically not jealous of her at all but that I am bitter about the favouritism that they have showed her. I said that I am still bitter about the financial bail out they gave her recently because my Sis was nasty to me over that, and that I'm very worried about how they will have to bail her out with her latest disaster.

My DM ended up literally screaming down the phone at me. She said I had to stop doing this, it was hurting her. She said that my issues with my Sis were between me and her, and she didn't want to be in the middle. So I reminded her that she had put herself in the middle when she demanded I talk to my sis, and reported back to my sis. She can't have it both ways.

She said I had to stop dragging up the past all the time - but I said I had stopped, I had gained some space and I was doing fine. It was my DFs accusation that dragged it all up. And I cannot defend myself without saying "But I didn't do that, I did X,Y,Z" - In my DMs book - that is me 'raking over old coals' and is not acceptable.

So - I have learned a lot through this thread, and the previous one. And my DP has just said the same thing as a lot of you have been saying.

1. I know I can't change their attitude. The only thing I can change is me. I know speaking to my DF about it was a mistake - we proved that in spectacular fashion tonight.

2. What they think privately of the situation, and what they say to me and present to the rest of the world could be very different. They want me on board to present a united front, to keep up the pretense that everything is FINE and therefore what their daughter has done isn't that bad. If I refuse to play along with this pretense, I get attacked.

But I can refuse. What they want is for our friends to see that our DSil, her DH and I are standing alongside my Sis, and so she isn't a bad person. If I refuse to do that, the breakdown in the relationship will be very apparent to all who know us. I'm currently considering whether I should quit our social group for a while - both to give myself much needed healing space, and to blow apart their crappy little facade.

3. I still feel anxiety and a need for approval from my parents. I want them to think I'm a good person, hence me trying to do the right thing by my Sis. So when they twist the truth and blame me for something that's not my fault, it really hurts. I need to let go of this need for approval, because if I didn't care what they think I could have brushed off DFs comment today and not had this massive argument.

I'm frustrated because I fail to articulate these thoughts clearly when I'm in the middle of an argument with my DM, with her screaming down the phone at me. I wonder whether I should write it all down and give it to her in a letter. What I want is for her to realize how this has made me feel, and how hurt I am at the way they have treated me. I want them all to feel sorry for the hurt they have caused me. (I give up hope of my DF ever seeing things my way, he favours my sis and always will, nothing I can say could make him feel sorry for that)

Am I stupid for thinking I can ever get them to see my point of view?

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 00:04:08

Oh and forgot to add - I know the solution right now is to take some space from them all. But it's my DNs birthday this week, so I have to see them all. A couple of days later I'm dropping my dog off with them for the weekend, and they want DP and to go for dinner - still striving desperately for 'normality'.

DP suggested I just refuse dinner, let them know I'm pissed off. But I'm afraid of doing that - I don't want to upset anyone more than I already have, and think it might be easier just to go along with things.

I can be strong in my own head, and just state that I refuse point blank to discuss anything to do with my Sister's affair because I don't like how she is behaving and we don't seem to see eye to eye on that.

Mumsyblouse Mon 11-Nov-13 00:07:35

Write the letter don't send it, it won't change anything.

You all still seem very enmeshed in each other's live, I really think a bit of distance and back to polite superficiality might be the way forward for a bit. It does come across like you are acting as the moral guardian here- but really, what is it to you if your sister is unfaithful and awful to her DH? Why is it your job to keep reminding your DF of that- they all know, deep down.

Keep out of it, don't discuss it, concentrate on your own immediate family.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 00:13:14

Thanks for getting through my epic post MumsyBlouse

When my DP suggested I 'write it all down' I was thinking 'I will.. on MN!' - this is great therapy, and a record for me should I ever need to remind myself of what I've been through.

We are indeed very enmeshed - something I've recently realized and will be working to change. And yes, you're right about the moral guardian thing - I suppose it's because my DF is minimizing what she has done, and I want to say "But what she did is NOT OK" and I want to hear him say that. He never will, so I should stop trying.

I'm partly upset by what she has done, but also by how she has treated me - and the pressure from my parents to be OK with how she has treated me. That's what I'm focusing on - our family dynamic. But it is all inter related.

I was doing so well with keeping out of it all... feel annoyed with myself for letting my DF start this horrible nasty argument today sad

2 steps forward, 1 step back and all that...

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 11-Nov-13 02:33:16

I agree with the others. You need to take a step back and disengage as much as possible. Which is easier said than done, especially when your parents and sister are desperately trying to suck you back in.

How long do you usually go without contacting your parents? A few days? Maybe if you start by leaving contact for 48 hours longer than you normally would, just to give yourself a break from all the drama. Good luck.

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 06:26:26


Get someone else to drop DN gifts round.

Get someone else to take the dog for the weekend.

This situation is NOT fine, and yes, strong possibility of a nervous breakdown.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 08:56:08

I did take a big step back, hadn't spoken to them in about a week, and felt much, much better. I've also avoided talking about the situation with them at all, so that really helped.

I do have to see them all this week, I don't want my DN to suffer for this. And they really are the best people to care for my dog - he has some complicated medical issues - so again, for his sake I need to go there this week.

But after that, I have no plans to see them for a while. I'm seriously considering leaving the club we all belong to - on the one hand it would give me a much needed break, and shatter their carefully crafted illusion of normality in front of all their friends (sounds like I want to be vindictive I know) - on the other hand, I would be cutting my nose off to spite my face, as it's the only time I get to see my other friends who I would really miss. So I'm going to sleep on that decision for a while and see how I feel.

So I know that cutting down contact helps. I just need to let go of the need to change their opinion - they believe my Sis is not that bad, and I'm to blame for our rift. Once I stop caring what they think, and accept I will never change their views, I can move on.

How do I do that?

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 08:58:20

I think after last night's episode (my Mum's screaming at me is still ringing in my head sad) I'm just caught up in needing to show them how much I'm hurting, how I'm innocent, how my sister's actions have upset me etc.

I want them to have this big revelation - "Oh, it is DD1 and OUR actions that have caused DD2 to be hurt"..

That's never going to happen is it? It's always going to be my fault.

Help me not care about that!!!

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 09:02:56

Sweety, sorry, but they won't ever acknowledge that you're hurting, they don't care at best.

At worst they derive a kind of depraved pleasure from seeing you suffer.

Your DN won't suffer if you still get gifts to her, your dog could be looked after by others.

When are you going to prioritise your feelings, and those of your H and indeed your pet?

Make bold decisions and be clear to ALL why you're making them.

Bugger the illusion of the united family.

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 09:04:01

I've cut my entire family off for a variety of different, but similar reasons, I know how hard it is, but you know you feel better when you don't have contact. Focus on that.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 09:10:06

My DNs keep telling me they miss me, and it breaks my heart.

I want to be the one to see his little face when he opens the present I bought him. So I will go - but I will just get in, and get out quickly. No pretending to be happy family, no talking to Sis, DM and DF. I know I can do that without causing too much fuss.

The NC can start next week, I just need to get through this week without too much upset. Then I can be free from all this shit for a while.

passedgo Mon 11-Nov-13 09:44:34

Plasticbag - I haven't read this thread in its entirety, this is mainly related to the OP and the observations made there.

Wow this resonates with me. Not a narc parent situation, just crap family dynamics. My brother had MH problems and rather than encouraging him to become independent they mollycoddled him and cushioned him to protect him. I always wanted to look after him but they never wanted us to do this as it had to be on their terms, ie, mollycoddling and over-protecting.

So in the end I said to them one day 'Don't think I am going to look after x when you are gone, he needs to learn how to be independent now and if you can't help him with that I'm not going to pick up the pieces'. I felt like a hard-nosed bitch.

However it made them realise that they had to deal with the consequences of their behaviour towards him.

Other sibs had previously given pseudo psychoanalytical explanations of 'dm needs him and is keeping him at home for her satisfaction' but in the end it was just them being crap parents and trapped in a spiral of fear for his future and wanting to protect. This turned into a need to control others around him so they were no risk to that cloying relationship.

I think sometimes we have a duty to put our parents on the spot and make them truly see their mistakes, let them live with them. Perhaps then they will allow their 'golden' or overprotected child to be free to make his/her own mistakes and learn from them.

Sometimes it's a simple explanation and they just need to be shaken out of it. But certainly as a sibling you need to excuse yourself from guilt, unless of course you have done nothing to change the dynamic.

Also it seems that parents letting go means that they have to allow a child to grow up, to have a future for themselves that doesn't necessarily involve them. It could be like losing their best friend. Encouraging them to see a future for the child - one where they will be OK - may help with their feeling of loss.

mummytime Mon 11-Nov-13 09:44:50

You really need to try to find ways to do things without engaging. So you need to start looking for someone else to look after your dog (put a card in at the Vets?).
A quick trip to your DN.

Finally: what would you do if anyone else started to yell down the phone at you like that? I am sure you would (and should) just hang up. You would still be upset, but it wouldn't be quite so bad.

You need to stop trying to justify yourself to them. If they ask a question you can answer it briefly and factually, but if they start to argue DO NOT argue back, just say "Sorry but I'm not prepared to discuss it". And keep saying that like a broken record. If they push it, say "Goodbye" and hang up (or leave if you are with them in person).

Its actually useful that you don't have children, it is much easier to leave swiftly with just you (and DH) involved.

BTW - I do not see it as my job to "clear up my children's messes" but to help them learn the consequences of their actions, and help them clean up their own mistakes.

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 11:04:16

I think if you can get in, get out with minimal damage done, that's as good as you can do.

If anyone says anything, state that you're there for DN an nothing else and don't wish to get any further sucked into this hideous mess than you already have been.

If they don't respect that? Kiss your DN and leave. Just like that.

You can only be in the drama if you allow it.

See what options you do have for the dog, and if seriously there are no alternatives, again, make it plain that it's the last resort and you'll not be there otherwise.

Yeah you will feel like a total bitch, because that's what works for THEM.$ but it's the other way round, and you are not doing a single thing wrong.

Lazyjaney Mon 11-Nov-13 14:12:02

Judging by your DF and DM reactions I think they do see your point of view, but very much don't want to and want you to change it! That again tells me you have more influence than you think.

Well done for laying it on the line too. Your DM is completely out of order, your DF is at best a numpty. I think if it were me I'd make it clear to DM that a fairly substantial apology is required.

It mY help to write things down so you can be more articulate when you face them off, but there is no point in sending anything.

Like everyone else is advising, I think it's time to look at every tie that binds and work out ways of cutting them so you can choose when and how to engage.

EldritchCleavage Mon 11-Nov-13 14:41:50

DP suggested I just refuse dinner, let them know I'm pissed off. But I'm afraid of doing that - I don't want to upset anyone more than I already have, and think it might be easier just to go along with things

Think carefully about this: in what way is it 'easier'? Emotionally? Does that mean you placate the others and suffer the upset yourself? And if so, is that sustainable over time or are you just going to break down/blow up?

And I agree about the phone calls: it really isn't healthy, normal or constructive to let someone scream at you like that, let alone hand the phone over for the next person to have a go.

This family is like the Mafia: no one can ever walk away, even when being abused and denounced.

EldritchCleavage Mon 11-Nov-13 14:43:51

Sorry, I meant let alone stand and wait while they hand the phone over for the next person to have a go.

I screamed at my parents once over something. They walked out. We dealt with it-I was right about the underlying issue (which was serious), and they were sorry, but they still were not prepared to stand and be screamed at. And they were right about that, too. Some kinds of behaviour are Just Not OK, and the fact that it is your parents doing it doesn't make it right, it makes it even more wrong.

"DP suggested I just refuse dinner, let them know I'm pissed off. But I'm afraid of doing that - I don't want to upset anyone more than I already have, and think it might be easier just to go along with things"

He's right you know; you can refuse dinner.

They do not give a fig that they have upset you; all they care about is maintaining the dysfunctional family dynamic that you are unfortunately still enmeshed in. It also sounds like you are very much still in what is described as FOG with regards to them; fear, obligation, guilt. You seem to have all three. Playing their game is something you simply have to stop doing.

I would also recommend that you start reading "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward if you have not done so already.

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 14:56:14

I think refusing dinner is a great idea, tell them that you have plans and therefore you won't stop, no need for dinner.

Please listen to your DH, he is not bound by the fucked up logic your family have inflicted upon you.

WE all know how scary you find this, but this fear is what they have drummed into you for the precise purpose of doing what you have been told and to keep THEM happy, even (and especially) at your expense.

Place your trust in us and your H. Let him guide you through this, he will be there for you. We will be here for you.

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 14:59:32

I'm reading Toxic Parents atm, it really IS very good.

It's the Why Does He Do That for victims of dysfunctional families! Very freeing!

Holdthepage Mon 11-Nov-13 17:00:05

You are being turned into the scapegoat here OP. The problem in the family is made out to be you and your stance on the whole sis/affair rather than the affair itself IYSWIM.

Everyone on here is telling you to step away from the drama & that includes not commenting on it to your parents. Start developing some standard replies. When they tell you that everyone is ok with the situation just reply, "ok, if thats what you want to believe" & then leave it at that. When you make comments about your sis they are jumping in to defend her & you are getting hurt by it.

tribpot Mon 11-Nov-13 19:34:31

What I want is for her to realize how this has made me feel, and how hurt I am at the way they have treated me. I want them all to feel sorry for the hurt they have caused me.

This. Will. Never. Happen.

They do not care about how people feel, they care about how things look. You are not making things look right, therefore you are wrong.

On your previous thread you spoke about how you wouldn't need to see your sister for a while - yet you have two events in one week and are contemplating extending the second so as not to rock the boat. You can't start to break free of this web by waiting until you don't have any existing engagements with them, you have to start now. Next week they will have thought of some new ways of dragging you back into this mess.

Get DP to drop the dog off for the weekend. No dinner. Seeing your nephew is justifiable but contact with your parents is not.

Cut the ties - it is always going to be painful, there is always going to be a reason not to start.

I'm currently considering whether I should quit our social group for a while - both to give myself much needed healing space, and to blow apart their crappy little facade

Do it. It will be better for you and it will undermine your parents' desire to create an artificial show of unity at all costs. Win-win.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 19:38:04

Thank you everyone for making it through my massive rant!

LazeyJaney and Eldritch I'm glad to see you both here, you were both so supportive on my last thread.

WE all know how scary you find this...Place your trust in us and your H. Let him guide you through this, he will be there for you. We will be here for you. Hissy that made me cry, thank you for being there, you're all so wise!

You are being turned into the scapegoat here OP. The problem in the family is made out to be you and your stance on the whole sis/affair rather than the affair itself IYSWIM - YY to this, I think this is exactly what is happening. And I just have to refuse to be that scapegoat.

I've just had a message from my Sis, to check that I'm still going to see my DN. I will, of course, because I love DNs more than anything. She said she knows that DF and I had words, and that he was wrong. She says the reason she was avoiding us was because of DSil, not me, for lots of reasons (this angers me a little, DSil is as innocent as I am, but then I don't know what was said between them and don't want to). She said that whatever I think of her, she loves me unconditionally.

I don't really know how to respond to that - it's not her fault that my DF had a go at me. But it is partly her fault that I'm in this situation in the first place.

It's clear that my DM has told her about last night, but omitted the bit where she screamed at me and told me I was 'bitter and jealous'. To be honest, DF's stupid comment hurt me a lot less than my DM's full on heartfelt attack.

Not really sure how to respond other than "Yes I'll be there. Yes both DF and DM hurt me very much last night. I'm upset at being blamed for something that is not my fault, and because of that I need space from everyone for a while"

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 19:43:17

Just reply, i'll be there, wouldn't miss seeing DN for anything or anyone.

Will not stay for long though.

tribpot Mon 11-Nov-13 19:43:45

she loves me unconditionally

Christ! If this is unconditional I would hate to see her version of conditional love! The conditions are feckin endless with this woman!

Nice that she is scapegoating the SIL to you (and no doubt vice versa). More reason just to avoid the whole pack of them for a while - as the recriminations fly around and around and around the one person who has actually done something wrong. But never landing on her. I wonder why ...

Don't respond to her at all except to say you will be there. She wants you to give her chapter and verse on what happened so that you're drawn back into the web, so she can report to your DM what you've said. You really, really need to Stop. Feeding. The Drama.

Hissy Mon 11-Nov-13 19:46:42

Narcs will write history any way they can to look good.

She's playing at being magnanimous and 'the bigger person' except she hasn't got a right to that position.

Go for your DN and give him the gift, then leave. Seriously, it's the only currency you have.

If you mumsnet on your phone, know that we'll be with you every second, so be as strong as you can be, and know we're all cheering for you.

Mumsyblouse Mon 11-Nov-13 20:08:12

They just keep dragging you in, don't they? I don't think I've ever had such conversations as 'I love you unconditionally' it's just not something that needs stating.

It seems like the default setting in your family is drama, with you as the audience and some-time cast member. Really you don't need to see them so much or phone them so much or respond to every calculated move so much. It's fine not to jump every time the phone rings.

AliceinWinterWonderland Mon 11-Nov-13 20:59:09

You are being turned into the scapegoat here OP. The problem in the family is made out to be you and your stance on the whole sis/affair rather than the affair itself IYSWIM - YY to this, I think this is exactly what is happening. And I just have to refuse to be that scapegoat.

Coming from the view of someone who has a family dynamic that is all messed up, IMO you need to let this part go. You are not going to get them to listen to what you have to say and if they are determined to place blame on you then they will.

I had to literally derail communications with my family for a time (about 7-8 years ago) just to put things back on my terms. Easy for me to do at the time, as there was a fair distance separating us. So for over a year, all communication was by letter or email. No phone, no "in person" contact. This allowed me to respond normally to "normal" discussion, think through what I wanted to say, and ignore anything that was toxic or simply negative.

After awhile, I noticed that communication with my mother started improving as she realised I was not responding to anything that was negative. The same with one sibling. The other two siblings are just now starting to figure that out. I have been talking to my mother on the phone now for the last three years. I initially only rang my mother and didn't give her my phone number. Conversation was fine but the minute she began getting negative or manipulative, "oh there's the door, I must run" and disconnect the phone. It didn't take long for the penny to drop. I've just recently been able to finally give her my number, although as I ring her fairly regularly now, I doubt she'll ring me, as she knows I will be calling.

None of my siblings have my house number. They have my mobile - and if they ring, I let it go to voice mail. Then I answer via email. It's just nice not to be put on the spot. And any gifts or cards for their children are posted to the children. Easy (and kids love getting post anyway!).

It was really hard to make that initial break in communication. I literally had NO CONTACT with any of them for 6 months before I started with written communication. But I set specific boundaries (with myself - I didn't discuss it with them), and stuck to them. And if anyone attempted to drag me into any family arguments, I had a stock answer "I'm Switzerland - I'm neutral - I'm not choosing sides." Always. Same. Answer.

Sorry for the long message, but I think that you may need to think about a complete break, and then when you're ready to reintroduce communication, make sure it's on your terms all the way.

AliceinWinterWonderland Mon 11-Nov-13 20:59:33

(when I say my siblings don't have my house number - I mean my land line)

Kundry Mon 11-Nov-13 21:48:17

^ "Yes I'll be there. Yes both DF and DM hurt me very much last night. I'm upset at being blamed for something that is not my fault, and because of that I need space from everyone for a while"^

Please, please don't send this. It would be entirely OK not to respond at all. If you need to respond, just 'See you then, am looking forward to seeing my nieces' will do.

What you are suggesting gives them more info with which to feed the drama and manipulate you.

It's so hard, but can you practice just talking about inoffensive non-personal topics - the weather, what the nieces have done in the week, what you are cooking for dinner. As soon as you talk about your feelings you open yourself up to being shat on by them as they don't care about your feelings really, only that you feel what the family rules say.

Kundry Mon 11-Nov-13 21:49:41

Oh and definitely do not tell them you need space. This will only guarantee they are round your house and calling you all hours of the night so you have less space than you have now.

If you want space, you don't need their permission or acknowledgement, you just take it.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 22:04:00

Thanks everyone - I replied "Yes I'll be there for DN, what time?" - she was probably a bit shocked that I didn't respond to her 'apology'.

If it wasn't for your advice, I probably would have gone with the more emotionally involved response above, and got into a discussion about it - but of course you are all correct in saying that only continues to feed the drama. So I resisted, and I'm glad I did. It's over and done with now.

I'm not worried about seeing them all - they're very good at pretending everything is fine and ignoring the issues. I'll do that too, no problem.

Once this week is over, I won't have any further obligations to see them all, other than the once a week social event that we all go to (god this makes it sound like we belong to a cult - we don't, it's a really normal social thing that we all go to. Difficult to explain without outing myself any further)

I'm trying to decide whether to take a step back from that too - but since it's the only time I see some of my friends, I'm not sure. I also feel that DSil needs support, and I don't want to desert her. I think she needs us to get back to normal as well.

God, just seeing the latest from the Philippines on the news - puts my silly little problems into perspective.

tribpot Mon 11-Nov-13 23:07:57

I also feel that DSil needs support

But it's not your job! These endless bloody requirements of support! Who the hell is supporting you at the moment? Not this lot. And bear in mind she's not your SIL, just a distant relative by several marriages, one of which is now over. I appreciate she is a friend as well but you are not responsible for her. She made her own (poor) choices and has her own path to walk.

I'm sure your friends will understand if you need to take a few weeks off from the thing. Give yourself some breathing space. You cannot get back to the 'normal' as it was before - you need to make a new normal.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 11-Nov-13 23:27:27

You're right Trib - DSiL has her head screwed on properly and she would completely understand.

I don't intend to do a 'grand announcement' that I'm quitting, as my sister did, only to return in less than a week. I'll just take each week as it comes. I have another city break lined up this weekend (this time with DP grin) so that solves this week's dilemma.

I'll worry about it next week.

And I'll stop worrying about supporting other people, and think about myself. I need to give myself some TLC too.

A New Normal. I like the sound of that.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Tue 12-Nov-13 00:11:52

A new normal sounds great. also you can always spend time with your SIL just the two of you. Go out for coffee or something. You don't have to drop her just because you're stepping back from your bonkers parents and sister.

Lazyjaney Tue 12-Nov-13 07:05:48

"Once this week is over, I won't have any further obligations to see them all, other than the once a week social event that we all go to"

I think you will find they will continually try and suck you in, if not this then that etc.

IMO your DM is totally, completely out of order and - if it were me - I'd probably have nothing to say to her or DF until some form of serious apology was forthcoming.

I'm also forming a view that she and your DSis are cut from the same cloth as far as being drama llamas is concerned, so I think you're not going to get any real respite until you make the ties to both on your terms.

Also seems like you may want to draw on your friends but outside of this social event as your family will use it as a tool to draw you in.

Do you have a natural friendship with DSil, she may be someone to keep in contact with for mutual support/keeping your family's yarn spinning under control.

captainmummy Tue 12-Nov-13 08:52:52

Once this week is over - def stand down from the social club. Don't tell them you are doing so; when they notice you are not there they will phone to ask why. You need stock answers to that, so that they cannot accuse you of 'making your point' by not being there with 'the whole united family.'

Sonething like - you want to spend more time with dp; you have taken up a hobby/bookclub/adult education/... Anything that is weekly.
Don't tell them it's because of all this, as you will then need to 'justify' your actions/non-actions.

And see your other friends and SIL outside ofthe club.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 12-Nov-13 09:38:16

Thanks everyone - it really sound like we're in a weird cult doesn't it! It's really normal, just can't explain on here for fear of outing myself!!

I'm not going to make any rash decisions, but just see how things go this week. But I am worried that if I don't take a stand against how my DM treated me, she will forget and think it's OK.

I just feel emotionally knackered and can't face another battering. The only way I can avoid that is to avoid them isn't it.

How did this happen? My Sister decided to have an affair with a married man, lie to everyone, attack anyone who told her she was wrong, refuse to tell her DH until she was outed by a friend. All along I've tried to be there for my parents, and been there for my Sis if she wanted me - but she cut me out for being straight with her and standing by my principles.

And now, Sis is being fully supported in all her selfish decisions, no judgement, rewriting what happened to make it look ok, they're even sympathetic to her pining for the OM, and making excuses for the fact that he hasn't left his wife (it's the wife's fault you see). Meanwhile I've been cut out, attacked by my Sis, and finally attacked by my parents for being honest.

So my sis fucks up her life and shits on everyone - and I end up on the outside considering going NC with my family, and leaving my social circle to save myself.

How did this happen? sad

middleclassdystopia Tue 12-Nov-13 09:41:48

Op, this is a long hard road to tread, I feel for you.

These people thrive off drama and conflict, they don't know any other way. Why? Because their own company and stillness scares them. They feel empty.

Try strict boundaries, it may work. I did with my own dysfunctional family for a while. But after a long time they still managed to wind me in again. It was the last drama for me. I did send a letter (this has pitfalls I know) but it was short and stated my position clearly. I have been no contact for a while now.

I feel free and it's wonderful. But there has to be acceptance they won't change or be sorry. That is hard.

I read exstensively around the subject and had counselling. I'm still on the journey but you can find peace from this I promise you. Keep posting. Remember you have a gift that they don't, insight.

Best of luck smile

middleclassdystopia Tue 12-Nov-13 09:43:54

A dysfunctional family operates very much like a cult OP.

Fear, brainwashing, rewriting history. All the tricks in the book.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 12-Nov-13 09:45:40

Remember you have a gift that they don't, insight ... and MN!!

At least I hope they don't have MN ... I live in fear of my Sis finding this thread, hence the change from the old thread which had a very obvious title which she might have spotted if she had the inclination to come here for support.

How do other people feel about posting personal problems and the risk of outing on MN? I would be mortified if anyone in RL knew about this thread.

tribpot Tue 12-Nov-13 10:15:03

I love the way the blame has now been pinned on the OM's wife. Yeah, how very bloody unreasonable of her to stand in the way of Love's Young Dream! How dare she think that actually being married to this man might give her a reason to prefer him not to be shagging someone else.

This is a startling example of doublethink and perhaps an insight into the fact that whatever you do, however hard you try to hold the moral high ground, they will choose to rewrite history and argue black is white, if you challenge the hierarchy.

How did this happen? You had a defined role to play within the family dynamic. It was uncomplainingly last place, providing uncritical support and a chorus of approval. You have chosen not to do that this time, so you must be punished. Just as you were punished when you chose to move (slightly) away to live with your DP.

You are not meant to be having feelings and thoughts and wishes of your own, you are only there to serve the narrative of the close knit family, who back each other no matter what.

Whether you take a stand against your DM or not, she is likely to choose to forget and rewrite history. But you will feel better if you haven't just swallowed this bitterness and hurt like all the rest, and have actually done something about it. Your DP is amazingly tolerant to even consider having dinner with them after they've treated you - I suspect because he wants you to take the lead in defining your future relationship with them, so you don't feel like he's influenced you into distancing yourself from your family.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 12-Nov-13 10:33:09

A good analysis Trib - I keep going back to some of the amazing words of wisdom on this thread to help me understand the situation.

You're absolutely right about my role in the family. It must be incredibly jarring (and 'Jealous and bitter' in my DMs eyes) to see me NOT following the 'close family' script.

I've just had a message from DSiL - I was giving her some space as I didn't want to keep reminding her of the situation. It sounds like she's feeling much the same as me (but for different reasons I guess). She said she had a long chat with a mutual friend, who was very sensible about the whole thing, and was trying to kindly tell her to get a grip as all my sis has done is fall in love - these things happen, etc etc. But DSiL says it's not that simple for her.

She is hurt, as I am, by my sister's attitude, lying and pressure. I told her a little of the family dynamic I'm dealing with and how I'm struggling with being made the scapegoat. I want her to feel that I'm here for her and will not be putting pressure on her to 'just get over it' as my parents have done to me.

Hopefully, she and I can come to a resolution where we feel happier and stronger, re-engage with the social group but remain disengaged from the affair and nasty manipulation.

I feel better to know that she is feeling the same as me - kind of proves to me that I am right to feel upset by this, and that it's not just because I'm a bad person, as my DM wants me to believe. Of course, my DMs analysis of DSiL's sitation has been that she is "emotionally unstable" (she really isn't), so knowing she and I are on the same page can hopefully help us both see that we can't BOTH be wrong.

Tenacity Tue 12-Nov-13 10:33:47

"How do other people feel about posting personal problems and the risk of outing on MN? I would be mortified if anyone in RL knew about this thread."

'Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.'

Reaching out to other people is a strength, and anyone who would begrudge you support in dealing with such a difficult situation, is not worth your time.

If you are worried about being outed, there are other solutions around this.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 12-Nov-13 10:37:39

What other solutions are there to being outed Tenacity?

I haven't put anything identifying on here, so the only way someone would recognize me on this thread is if they knew a lot about the situation in the first place - i.e. my DM, Sis, or DSiL. If they did recognize themselves, well they might learn something (or if it were DSiL - she might gain support too)

I have NC'd for this thread, so I still post on MN elsewhere under another name, so anything identifying doesn't appear as PlasticBag

So I suppose I just have to know that those who matter don't mind.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 12-Nov-13 10:45:39

Your DP is amazingly tolerant to even consider having dinner with them after they've treated you - I suspect because he wants you to take the lead in defining your future relationship with them, so you don't feel like he's influenced you into distancing yourself from your family.

Yes he is very tolerant and wise - and has said that he wants me to make my own decisions and not influence me. But he has started saying "Just stay away from them for a bit and give yourself some space"

I predict that sometime in the near future, my family will blame my DP for influencing me and 'taking me away' from them. In fact, I would be amazed if this does not happen.

middleclassdystopia Tue 12-Nov-13 13:21:24

My family accused me of turning my dh against them!

In their mind he thought they were wonderful and he was only doing my bidding because i'm that manipulative.

It's amazing what these people can rewrite, twist and warp to suit their own narrative.

middleclassdystopia Tue 12-Nov-13 13:31:48

It really is doublethink. On a much bigger scale, it's how whole populations can be gaslighted.

Some of these people, the main players in dysfunctional families, are mini despots. They want absolute control over their little kingdom i.e. The family.

It's such personalities, on the more extreme end of the spectrum, that if given power cause devastation.

Some good books to read are Jeanette Winterston Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal. Janice Galloway memoirs.

Also films Animal Kingdom and The Fighter portray the cold eyed Matriarch

EllieQ Tue 12-Nov-13 14:21:13

I must say I'm not impressed with DSILs mutual friend saying that your sister hasn't done anything wrong - I would think that most people would agree that cheating on your spouse is wrong!

I think you handled the conversation where your mother accused you of not speaking to your sister (on bonfire night) well - not getting pulled into drama about why had she said that, what had she said to your parents etc, you just said that you were speaking to her.

You do seen very involved 'socially' with your family - have they ever been negative about you socialising with other people outside the family and the group you all attend?

You mentioned on your previous thread that your DP wasn't close to his family. Did you mean they aren't close, or just that they're less involved with each others lives than your family is. For example, I talked to my sister last week, and it was the first time I'd spoken to her in about two months (though there had been a few texts and we keep in touch on Facebook). This doesn't mean we're not close, just that we're busy!

I would second everyone's suggestions of detaching and being less involved - it sounds very suffocating (and, between the village, the social group everyone attends, and your overbearing family, just a bit Royston Vasey smile )

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 12-Nov-13 16:32:02

Our mutual friend met her own DH while she was still married to someone else... so she's a little biased. She has said that 'all my Sis has done is fall in love'... In addition another pair of close friends of my DPs also met when one of them was with someone else, and have been blissfully happily married for 25 years. So I think my parents viewpoint is coloured by their friend's experiences. So they say "Well, no, having an affair isn't right, but we just want her to be happy and in love" - and I think that's what our mutual friend has said too.

But again, I think some separation is needed between the affair (no, it's not right, but yes these things do happen) and how my Sis and OM have dealt with the affair (the lying, pressure, spite and double crossing on my Sis's part - the parading himself in front of us all, refusing to leave his DW on the OM's part)

Re the social group - no, my parents aren't negative about me socializing elsewhere, although I think I mentioned on my other thread that my sister put huge pressure on me not to move in with my DP (30 mins away) because I'd be leaving our village. And yes, I am fully aware it sounds like Royston Vasey, you're not the first person to note that!!

RE my DPs family - no they're not very close, but his circumstances are unusual. But your point about being close without being in constant touch is interesting - My Sister and I always used to remark on families like this, thinking that they weren't close and were missing out. How wrong I was!!!

Kundry Tue 12-Nov-13 17:10:31

It's a good point - my mum and I used to talk several times a day and it was toxic and suffocating.

Now we talk 2-3 x a week, see each other about every 6 weeks and it's great.

My DH feels he is very close to his DB and DSis - but he might only see them 2-3 x a year and definitely wouldn't socialize with them. None of them feel they are missing out, they feel they have a great family which helped launch them into adult life to make families of their own.

toffeesponge Wed 13-Nov-13 21:08:38

You have some so far! You are stronger than you think.

For some reason your sister making a massive declaration about loving you unconditionally has really pissed me off. I would put my best cake on her saying it to you only because she wants you to say it to her. Manipulative madam.

EldritchCleavage Thu 14-Nov-13 11:23:09

People who actually love you unconditionally almost never feel the need to declare it, in my view. They just get on and do it.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 14-Nov-13 12:11:09

Also, people who expect unconditional love should not so completely challenge it.

It is more brainwashing, Plastic, sorry.

Well done on moving to your DP's house and breaking out of their "template for living" they had you stuffed into. When they drive through your village and not stop, I'd have a smile on my face. You do not want them in your sanctuary and they are obliging! grin

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Thu 14-Nov-13 12:18:24

My parents and sister have now gone into 'super nice overdrive'

I saw them all this week, and they seem to have taken that as an indication that everything is OK, all is forgiven, hooray!

I was at my parents for a family occasion, then my Sis called her StbexH and told him to come over. It sounded like he was a bit reluctant on the phone, so she was short with him "well come or don't it's up to you" then exclaimed "Huh, don't know what's got into him, he's in a right strop"..... is she really that deluded? Her poor DH was reluctant to come to his parent-in-law's house and play happy families, knowing that we all knew about her affair and didn't tell him - and she blames him for being stroppy?! I had to bite my tongue at that point, I just stared at my DM with this face shock hmm confused expecting her to put her DD straight. She didn't. DBiL came, bless him, and was his usual lovely self. That just feeds my parents view that 'Everything is OK'.

My sister has been messaging me suddenly trying to be supportive of me with my health issues and TTC. This made me feel a little sick really - like a little 'concern' for me can drag me back into the fold - where was that concern last week, or the week before? Either she's still feeling desperately in need of support herself, and feels that being nice to me will encourage me to reciprocate OR she's feeling guilty about the way I've been treated. Dunno really.

My DM on the other hand is in serious overdrive, to the point where it's a bit cringeworthy. "OOh you can come for dinner, oooh that would be lovely, how are you anyway?". I can't bring myself to be anything other than civil to her at the moment - she screamed down the phone at me, called me jealous and bitter less than a week ago FFS, and is now acting like that never happened.

I fell into the trap briefly this week - I'm dropping my dog off with them tomorrow, so my DM invited my Sis, the DCs AND the StbExH over to join us again (!!). Then declared she wouldn't have time to make any food. So I suggested takeaway - so they suggested I pick it up (I'll be passing the shops on the way, so it really is easier for me to do it). Then they said we would have to eat by xxx time because of some complicated reasons, so I would have to rush with DP straight after work.... I agreed to all of this.

I got home, explained the convoluted, complicated arrangements to DP and he said "Fuck that, I'm not doing that. If you want to, you can, but leave me at home. Or you can just say No".

So that's what I did - called my parents, told them it really wasn't convenient and they would have to eat without us if they insisted on doing it that way. DM relented, said they will re arrange to accommodate us. So DP and I are going for dinner tonight.

I feel a little disingenuous (and unfair to myself) that I'm being nice and normal after the way my DM last spoke to me. But I don't know that demanding an apology will achieve anything other than dragging it all up again. So I think I'm just putting on a brave face while knowing inside that things have changed. As many of you have wisely said - I can't change them or their attitude, I can only change how I respond to it.

God another essay - sorry everyone!

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Thu 14-Nov-13 12:25:07

I have also been chatting more to DSiL by email (people keep asking why it's all done by messaging, and not in person or on the phone - I'm really not a phone person, and DSiL has 2 young children so I don't like to impose. I never phone anyone, and had never really been as close to her as I am now, so I just prefer messaging really.)

She said she felt a little hurt at our mutual friend telling her to get over it. So I told her that our friend is probably projecting her own, very different affair, onto this one. She is not aware of the nastiness and hurt it has caused, so she can't understand.

I asked her whether she had actually argued with my Sis over this - she says she hasn't, but she has been avoiding her (i wasn't sure because of the twisting I've been hearing from my family). So that makes my DF's declaration that we were 'shitty' with sis even more unreasonable and completely untrue.

I reassured DSiL that I'm completely behind her and don't blame her at all for being angry. She said she felt reassured to know that she's not losing her head sad

This whole nasty affair has affected so many people, and more yet to come (OMs DW, DCs, family) it just makes me so sad.

Hissy Thu 14-Nov-13 17:45:12

Do the dog thing, then cut them all dead.

Best revenge is served cold. It'll pole-axe them! smile

Lazyjaney Thu 14-Nov-13 18:29:26

Sorry OP, you did the wrong thing with the song and dance around the food, the correct thing was to not have agreed to all the complex rigmarole in the first place and just dropped the dog.

Everything you need go know about DSis and DM is in that vignette with getting the Ex to come around.

Tonight they will cook up 101 more reasons for you to see them, and put you under pressure to commit to those.

Holdthepage Thu 14-Nov-13 19:01:46

Agreed, the poor old ex is now just a pawn in the game.

tribpot Thu 14-Nov-13 20:06:03

How deeply odd - to invite people over and then announce you don't have time to cook (WTF is she doing all day) but then not suggest the takeaway herself. She's the host, it's up to her to sort out her guests, not you!

I think that was the top of the slippery slope - you felt obliged to fall into the role of family fixer and come up with a solution that then put all the work and inconvenience on to you, and left you having to challenge or be put upon. You must stop trying to fix things for these people.

Lazyjaney's right - tonight they will invent reasons connected with the children, since they are your weak point, to make it impossible for you to disconnect without actively being rude. Now they're all being as nice as pie it makes it impossible for you to withdraw without being rude, whereas if you'd done it in the middle of a row it would at least have been a natural evolution of the current situation.

Plus this is what they always do - the cracks must be papered over as soon as humanly possible, and then any attempt to uncover them again is met with the 'raking over old coals' accusation. You can't win with them.

You really, really need some time apart to get some perspective.

EldritchCleavage Fri 15-Nov-13 13:36:39

It's ok to be rude. The sky won't fall in. Practise some 'self-care': doing what is best for you, finally factoring your interests into decision-making. Your family are not used to it and won't like it, but that doesn't mean it is wrong.

brass Fri 15-Nov-13 15:30:12

How deeply odd - to invite people over and then announce you don't have time to cook

aahh ticks so many boxes. I used to get this with MIL. We once turned up to a family lunch we had been invited to only to find that SILs mates had dropped in briefly so they all had the lunch with them. When we turned up at the agreed time MIL (an inch from my face) said 'I don't know what you're going to eat'. Me neither luv.

tribpot Fri 15-Nov-13 19:14:49

brass, were you tempted to say 'too right, we'll be off now to the nearest cafe, see ya'?

brass Fri 15-Nov-13 22:24:20

I wish we had. Instead I was stunned into silence. No surprise we are NC now.

tribpot Sat 16-Nov-13 11:55:51

Hard to believe you didn't want another few rounds of that sort of treatment confused

dozeydoris Sat 16-Nov-13 20:18:52

OMG, I am exhausted, I've just read the whole thread.

How do you survive all this, OP??? One drama after another.

Plastic said So I know that cutting down contact helps. I just need to let go of the need to change their opinion - they believe my Sis is not that bad, and I'm to blame for our rift. Once I stop caring what they think, and accept I will never change their views, I can move on

How do I do that

I want to say that I think you are wrong here and that DPs believe that Sis is bad, that she is making a mess of her life, but.... they cannot admit the fact. Not to anyone. And possibly they know full well that you are not to blame for any rift but....... if they don't blame you, OP, they have to admit that they have produced Sis who is selfish, immature and causing mayhem in the lives of those around her, and they can't face that (for some mysterious reason, possibly due to something that happened in Sis's childhood or in DP's childhoods that caused this insecurity).

If you can accept that DPs really do not think DSis is perfect and do not in all honesty think you are the baddie in all this (but they are in denial of the truth) you can stop trying to force them to speak the truth - because they actually do know what is the truth, but can't face or find the courage to say it.

But I wanted to post because we had a ridiculous dynamic in my family with DM supporting my 'unlucky' DB through money problems, broken marriages, fall outs with his adult DCs, etc, my DSis and I were embroiled with DM in trying to 'help' fix DBs problems. How many hours of wasted debate, worry, stress and angst we went through over the years I hate to think.
But the point I want to make is that once I took a step back from supporting DB and refused to get embroiled and DB had to stop his dependence on everyone pandering to him our relationships all improved. He became better company instead of just a drain on emotions, DM relaxed and had time for the rest of the family, I had a weight lifted from my shoulders (could for once just worry about my own problems instead of everyone else's as well) and we were all happier. So if you can 'step back' OP it might just improve things for everyone and not just yourself.

dozeydoris Sat 16-Nov-13 20:25:04

Don't know if I explained that properly, the point was that if one person changes their behavior the whole family dynamic changes (hopefully for the better).

EllieQ Sun 17-Nov-13 15:46:10

I am really glad your DP put his foot down over the convoluted dinner arrangements! How did the rearranged dinner plans go?

Your sister is astounding - I cannot believe that she forced your poor BIL to join the family gathering you describe upthread. I really feel for him (and for you, of course).

The reason I asked some questions upthread about your family's attitude to socialising outside the family was that I was trying to compare your relationship with them to a similar family situation (my best friend who lives in my hometown), as I moved away from my family so have a different set-up. My friend lives near both her parents and PIL, and they are close eg: has been on holiday with PIL, her mum helps out with childcare, she and her younger sister are close.

I think the main difference is that my friend's family aren't her primary 'social network' - her friends are, while you seem to have your family as your primary social network (in part because of your parents' insistance that you and your sister are seen to be close).

I agree with a previous poster that it is unfortunate you weren't able to make a 'clean break' after the argument on the phone with your parents - it has given the impression that you are fine with them treating you this way. It's understandable, though, as you're trying to break the habit of a lifetime.

Your sister and your mother both seem to be drama llamas, and it's interesting that once you started backing away they made more of an effort with you! I think that in some ways, this means that not making that clean break is better - there would have been lots of drama trying to pull you back in, while this way you could just continue your previous stance of distancing slowly - finding someone else to take the dog, dropping out of your weekly social group, responding to overly-emotional texts calmly as you did to your sister...

I did laugh a bit at your sister's statement about loving you unconditionally - I love my sisters unconditionally (if they murdered someone, I'd assume they'd done it for the right reasons), but I'd never feel the need to say that to them!

Disclaimer: I don't really think my sisters would ever murder someone smile

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 11:34:03

Well the drama seems to have reached its inevitable conclusion for my sister. Her OM has called it off, he has told his wife and she has forbidden any contact with my sister (good for her)..

So my DM has just told me this, and said "Sis is at her friends house because she has no one else^". Red rag to a bull I'm afraid - I said she is only in that position because she cut me and her BF out, and I'm not sure that her friend is the best person to be with right now since she was previously encouraging my sis to 'fight for the love of her life'. My DM said "Well all she needs is ^sympathy now, and her (new) friend is the only one who is giving her that". I said that she didn't want our sympathy when things were going well for her, and this is the consequence of her cutting us out. I said once more that all of this is my sister's doing, and is in no way my fault or her BFs fault. Once more, I feel my DM is blaming me for not 'supporting her' and now the real hour of need is upon her, the spotlight is well and truly on us all.

I said it was a good thing that the OM had finished with her, it was absolutely the best outcome for her (I really believe that, I'm not being nasty) But my DM is once more twisting the truth to fit her version of events.

I said "Well, he values his marriage more than my Sis", to which my DM said "Oh no, it's just that he has a child, and his wife has put her foot down, he has no choice"... I said "Errr, Sis has 2 children. she still chose him"... DM said "No. She had already decided to end her marriage before he came along". NO SHE HADNT!!! I said that DM was re-writing history once more, that my Sis was unhappy in her marriage but in no way had it ended before she had an affair. My DM cut the conversation off, said she wouldn't discuss it and put the phone down.

My parents are determined to twist the truth to fit with their idea that My Sis hasn't done anything wrong, and that the OM is wonderful and it's his evil wife that is stopping love's young dream (how dare she stop her husband seeing his girlfriend eh!).

Now, I have a dilemma. I love my sister, and I don't want her to suffer. I know what it feels like to be dumped, and you need your family and friends around you at all times. She has been there for me when I needed her, and I want to be there for her. I have sent her a message inviting her over here, and asking if there's anything I can do. She won't take me up on my offer, I know that.

However, I now have to go and pick up my dog, from my parents, right in the middle of this giant shit storm.

I will be accused of 'not being sympathetic' if I dare to speak my mind. I am determined to stand my ground on this - I will reiterate that I am there for her if she needs me, but that she must accept what I have to say if she wants my support.

Wish me luck......

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 11:38:39

If you can accept that DPs really do not think DSis is perfect and do not in all honesty think you are the baddie in all this (but they are in denial of the truth) you can stop trying to force them to speak the truth - because they actually do know what is the truth, but can't face or find the courage to say it your post was really interesting DozeyDoris

I will try and believe that they are in denial of the truth, as that would help stop me feeling the need to force them to acknowledge the truth - as I just have in my example above. HOwever, it's really hard when they continue to blame me "YOU'RE not supporting her" - I just feel the need to defend myself.

I need to stick to my principles, know I'm doing the right thing, and try not to care about what my parents think of what I'm doing. Today will be a big test of that.

EldritchCleavage Mon 18-Nov-13 12:04:56

Please write a big notice with non-committal phrases like 'I don't want to talk about it any more' and 'I have nothing to say about it really' and post it up by your phone. Or at the very least, have a piece of paper saying 'Don't engage!' next to the phone.

It' is a shame you've got to go and get the dog today. I think realistically your DM is going to blame you again, possibly your DF too, possibly in very angry and accusatory ways. I also think the absolute best thing is just to shrug it off. Don't accept it, but don't argue back. She goes on, you say, 'Well, there we are. Thanks so much for having the dog. Bye.' Or similar.

You can't talk your way out of being blamed, remember. Reality is too uncomfortable, they are fixated on making it a problem that you have to fix.

EllieQ Mon 18-Nov-13 12:32:47

I'm sorry, but I think you've got over involved again. It would have been better if you'd just said something 'neutral' like 'Well, that was always the risk of being involved with a married man' and not got into justifying why he's done the right thing. When your mother started going on about your sister's lack of support, you should have said something along the lines of 'of course she can always talk to me' and said you'll contact her soon. Your mother shouldn't need to manage your relationship with your sister and relay messages!

Holdthepage Mon 18-Nov-13 12:41:25

Fully endorse what others are saying about neutral phrases. You are on a hiding to nothing with your parents when it comes to apportioning any blame on your sis.

AllThatGlistens Mon 18-Nov-13 12:44:12

Have to agree, I think you're still way too enmeshed in it all, you don't need to be involved.

Do not discuss it with your parents, at all. Change the subject, or leave.

You don't need to message your sister. If she wants your support, she'll come to you.

Disengage, and keep your sanity flowers

dozeydoris Mon 18-Nov-13 13:42:49

YOU'RE not supporting her really means you're not joining us in our little fantasy world around our poor unlucky DD.

There is no way you are ever going to choose to join them in this fantasy world so just don't respond. When they list DD's misfortune, just nod but don't waste time arguing. They won't change because you point things out.

Perhaps if you take a step back they will up their attempts to bring you on board, but if you stick firm at not having debates and discussions with DM then eventually they will do it less. If there is no one around that they feel they must persuade to their way of thinking (ie you OP) then they might just do it less. DD has had a hard lesson in life, although she won't admit her mistakes she might change her behaviour in the future.

Take a step back and just watch from the sidelines. Things might improve without you being dragged into it.

Hissy Mon 18-Nov-13 14:10:33

i don't know where to start love.

Your sister is owed NOTHING. She has been fucking someone elses H, your entire family have rallied round her, protecting her at every turn and making YOU the bad guy in the process.

They have had you dancing to their tune, insulting you and your own family by refusing to respect you or listen to you, refusing to actually host you properly and STILL now are writing history to make you look the bitch in all this.

Stand back? Fucking EMIGRATE love!

You are in a totally fucked up family. Your sister has only ever been there for you as it makes her feel better about herself, she's there to point score and gloat, or run YOU down to her parents.

You need to STOP talking to EVERYONE in that shit family and focus on the ONE person that IS there for you, your DP.

Collect the dogs and tell them to go fuck themselves leave it at that, don't call them, don't return calls, don't answer them. Let christmas come and go and see how you feel in the New Year. Send presents to your DN if need be, but fuck the rest.

Lazyjaney Mon 18-Nov-13 15:44:36

"I want to say that I think you are wrong here and that DPs believe that Sis is bad, that she is making a mess of her life, but.... they cannot admit the fact. Not to anyone. And possibly they know full well that you are not to blame for any rift but....... if they don't blame you, OP, they have to admit that they have produced Sis"

I must admit I thought the same, but the OPs recent posts make me wonder if they are in such very deep denial they are just unable to admit she is bad, so when someone else holds up a mirror and forces out the contradictions and they have to kick out and/or shut down. Even worse if it's people "in the circle" like OP, so the reaction is worse.

OP nothing you do will ever make your parents agree with you, but note the impact your disagreeing and withdrawing is having, they are desperate to get you on board. That means you have influence.

I think stick to your guns, and play the tough love card - reiterate the damage your sister has done to others and still needs sorting, point out their responsibility - that unless they step up to the mark here your Sis will just ricochet from one disaster to another, and use their ensuing denial as a reason to add distance for yourself

"Now, I have a dilemma. I love my sister, and I don't want her to suffer. I know what it feels like to be dumped, and you need your family and friends around you at all times. She has been there for me when I needed her, and I want to be there for her"

You've done your job, just tell your DM you've offered support but your sister wants to wallow in her self made bed and be told she is right, rather than actually step up to her responsibilities and sort herself out.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 16:02:10

Well that was interesting

Went to my parents - Sis was there. Best outcome really, because rather than rely on hearsay, my parents got to see and hear for themselves how I have been reacting to her.

Despite that, DF almost what Eldritch predicted and tried to blame me before I'd even walked in the door. He warned me that she was in bits, and said "Don't be horrible to her, don't be nasty just be a sister to her".. as though anticipating I would be the horrible monster they have all decided I am. I said "Don't be ridiculous. Just stop this now" and ignored him (yay for me!)

My Sister is indeed in bits, and I listened, hugged her and was supportive. My DM actually said a few times (in a 'surprised' tone, or did I imagine that?) - "Plastic is giving you good advice here, she's right, listen to her". I felt like saying "THIS is how I've always been, when you've accused me of being unsupportive" So I was so pleased that they saw me doing, and being, and saying what I've always done without the opportunity for someone to twist it to make me out to be the bad guy.

I was a little hard with my sis - told her that she just needed to accept the OM's viewpoint on this now, he has chosen to save his marriage, and she should focus on herself. She didn't like that much, but still no one could construe that as anything other than constructive support. Her BF and DSil have been messaging her trying to support her, and she is ignoring them. When she mentioned this, DF steps in with "Oh just IGNORE them" because he believes they have wronged my sister by being pissed off with her behaviour. She has turned to new friends, including a lovely friend who to this point was just a social friend, but she has been spending a lot of time with her offloading on her. Classic behaviour of someone who has burnt all her bridges with her true friends. Here, I'm afraid I got involved, defended our friends, and said they are good friends to my Sis, she needs them, and they are trying to support her (and was of course also implying that I am too). She replied "I already have VERY good friends thank you"..

So I said, "That's great, you'll need them" and left.

DM tried to go into damage limitation, and asked me to go for a walk with her and Sis, but I refused , said thanks for having the dog, and got the hell out of there.

I feel SO much better. I'm sad for my sis, and I'll be there for her if she needs me. But I'm so glad my parents got to witness me doing what I've always done, with no opportunity for misconstruing things, and no chance for them to have a go at me for not being supportive. And they also heard my sister's attitude to not needing her friends. Now its up to them to deal with the mess their DD has made - I feel proud that I've managed to stay relatively distant from the whole thing.

mummytime Mon 18-Nov-13 16:11:57

Why should you be sympathetic?

You really need to think about that. You need to back off big time, for your own sanity. Refuse to take part in their dramas.

You got sucked back in again. That was a mistake, but it's okay, stop now and start withdrawing again.
Fulfilling your family's role for you is a habit, that you need to break. It will be hard but start to retrain yourself. The less contact you have the easier it will be.

Try to take up some new interests so you just don't have time for them (so much). Of course emigrating is a good option too smile

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 16:14:23

There was another revealing conversation with my DF in the middle of all this.

I have a large family, with a lot of cousins, most of whom are very close to each other (see a pattern?). One, however, is a bit more 'reserved' and distant from the rest. She has always been criticized by the rest of her family for this who call her the 'Ice Queen'. (totally outing myself to anyone in my family now)

However, my DF (her Uncle) favours her because she has achieved a lot, which he loves to boast about. Well she called my DF recently to say she had heard about something I had achieved, and how proud she was of me. She said I reminded her of herself.

DF told me this today, but I think feels a little cognitive dissonance between being proud of me, hearing his favourite DN being proud of me, and yet wanting to blame me for the latest disaster. He is incapable of giving me a compliment without tempering it with some sort of criticism. So he said "She said you remind her of herself... huh, yeah an Ice Queen like her"....

I ignored, ignored, ignored... another tiny little achievement for me!

.. and I also gained a little insight into just why my cousin might be distant as she is. She learned how to step away from a very enmeshed family, and has borne the brunt of the criticism ever since, and yet seems to hold her head high and be close to her family in a way that suits herself. Maybe I am a bit like her after all.

Little does she know that by phoning my DF with that comment, she has given me a boost in a situation she knows nothing about, and a little more insight to help me grow stronger.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 16:18:18

By the way Hissy Stand back? Fucking EMIGRATE love! - that made me laugh, but that was more relevant than you realize.

I did indeed once plan to emigrate - well to take on a position which would involve me working abroad. My Sister emotionally blackmailed me into refusing it. Told me I would miss my (future, not yet conceived) DNs too much. I agreed with her, refused the position, and have regretted it ever since.

I'm at peace with that decision now, but it has impacted my life and career, and self-esteem very much.

Meerka Mon 18-Nov-13 16:19:01

YOu need to disengaged, disengage, disengage. Keep neutral.

If you keep on getting involved YOU are the one who suffers here - along with your DH becuase I'm sure he has to cope with you being upset and angry.

Secondly, if you get too involved you run the risk of them turning on you adn making you out to be the bad one even more than now. That makes you the black sheep of the family and if the worst comes to the worst, you'll have a lovely new role of being the Bad Guy instead of the previous role of the Supporting Cast Member.

Please, find someone else to look after your dog next time and keep to the neutral noises.

EldritchCleavage Mon 18-Nov-13 16:33:40

Something strikes me reading your update-how much of your behaviour is a performance for the audience of your parents, in this case, your interaction with your sister.

Your sister has her faults, but the relationship still has the potential to be a good one once it is conducted for its own sake, authentically, and not as a means of sending a message to your parents.

See your sister without them, without reference to them and as and when you want to. Similarly, see your mother (and father) without your sister and in the same way. At least for a while. That's if you want to see them at all. In your shoes I'd be booking Xmas in Norway with your DH.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 16:47:33

I think you have a point Eldritch - in this situation, my parent's meddling and criticism has made me hyper sensitive of the way they perceive my relationship with my sister - to the point that it has affected the way I interact with her, to the detriment of our relationship.

But the advice I'm getting on this thread is helping me not to care too much about what they think any more.

tribpot Mon 18-Nov-13 17:11:23

I'll be there for her if she needs me -

I've managed to stay relatively distant from the whole thing.

It's one or the other, PlasticBag. Which one do you want?

I know what it feels like to be dumped, and you need your family and friends around you at all times.

But you don't need all of them around at all times - and btw whilst all this has been going on, absolutely fucking none of them have done anything to help you with any of your REAL problems, you've just had to knuckle down and get on with them, whilst she crashes about inside a drama entirely of her own making.

The fact that you think your parents can't rewrite history just because all participants were there at the same time is a triumph of hope over experience. They have done this repeatedly and, if it suits them, they will do it again over this.

However, this is the right outcome:

"I already have VERY good friends thank you"..

So I said, "That's great, you'll need them" and left.

Leave her to it. Last week you were determined to reduce contact with them once you had the dog back. The fact that the drama has moved on doesn't change that. Focus on your friends and getting support for yourself - the conversation with your sister could have been held in reverse (albeit without the snippy and accusatory tone I am sure she employed).

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Mon 18-Nov-13 17:21:55

albeit without the snippy and accusatory tone I am sure she employed you're damn right on that one Trib

and btw whilst all this has been going on, absolutely fucking none of them have done anything to help you with any of your REAL problems Good point there as well - last week my sis was messaging me being all 'supportive' over my TTC issues. She knew my AF was due this weekend, no one has actually asked me whether it arrived (it did, with vicious vengeance!)

And so it becomes clear that her sudden concern for me and my issues just happened to coincide with the breakdown of her relationship with the OM - apparently it has been on the cards for the last few days. I wonder whether she suddenly knew she would need me and so started being nice...?

I've sent her a message of support and told her i'm happy she is with a friend at the moment. Staying distant but being supportive. I can't be accused of doing any wrong with that.

And yes, back to keeping my distance. I'm still waiting to decide whether to attend our weekly social thing this week... going to see how I feel on the day to be honest. But I do think that any sudden dramatic pull back from me now would be met with frantic pressure from my parents, so it might be easier if I just go along and keep my distance in my head without making a big public thing of it..... I dunno.

Lazyjaney Mon 18-Nov-13 17:25:43

"I did indeed once plan to emigrate - well to take on a position which would involve me working abroad. My Sister emotionally blackmailed me into refusing it. Told me I would miss my (future, not yet conceived) DNs too much. I agreed with her, refused the position, and have regretted it ever since"

That tells you all you need to know about your sister. She doesnt need all around her at all times. Don't get suckered in to all this again. IMO the only relationship your sister does is "I use you", which she is now doing with those who will support her. If they ever disagree with her, they also will be toast.

But good on you for getting out like you did, but I think your parents will turn it all on you anyway, so don't be disappointed. I do think you still bite your tongue too much, given they will hang you anyway.

And start building up other friendship networks!

"Little does she know that by phoning my DF with that comment, she has given me a boost in a situation she knows nothing about, and a little more insight to help me grow stronger"

Sounds like she is someone you would be well advised to get closer to!

dozeydoris Mon 18-Nov-13 17:56:53

The Icequeen sounds a happy and well-adjusted person. As she isn't embroiled in her family's dramas she won't give a fig what they call her. Perhaps someone you can emulate, OP.

tribpot Tue 19-Nov-13 07:04:51

My gut instinct is that you should not attend the weekly social thing because they will use it to pull you back in, esp now you have shown interest in the situation with the OM and so are more likely to be suckered by the 'oh I need more of your excellent advice' routine.

On the other hand, provided you can get in and out with minimal contact, why give up something you want to do? A big, stroppy, point-making absence is more your sister's style than yours.

I agree with the others, reach out to the Icequeen and see what she has learnt about managing your mad family.

Meerka Tue 19-Nov-13 08:10:08

But I do think that any sudden dramatic pull back from me now would be met with frantic pressure from my parents,

actually, I think this is a very good reason not to go.

Because I think you need to actually face the full pressure of what they can do before you can -really- break free and face them on your own terms and not theirs. Right now you're beginning to mentally break free a bit but you are still very, very enmeshed in the whole family dynamics. I havent been able to post but have been following the thread and at the moment it seems that you can't stay free from them for more than 3 or 4 days; and you do get drawn back into the drama again and again and again and again.

Which is very understandable, after a lifetime of being pushed into a role and kept there its incredibly hard to break free. But I think that you do indeed need to break free and you still have a long way to go <said more gently than perhaps it sounds>

And yes, talk to the Ice Queen.

EldritchCleavage Tue 19-Nov-13 10:46:03

Yup. Bluffs should be called. And then you will be free! Free! Mwah ha ha ha!

Hissy Tue 19-Nov-13 14:33:31


I also wanted to say that your sister has not 'been dumped' she has had the MARRIED MAN she is screwing go back to his wife. that is not actually being dumped, it's called HIM doing what he should have done RIGHT from the start.

(can you tell I'm rather cross? wink I HATE cheats)

You are 100% right to be suspicious of her motives of paying the lip-service SHE needed about YOUR issues in order to get what SHE wanted.

Basically, if the end hadn't have been nigh with Mr LoverLover, she would not have given you the time of day. Why? because she doesn't actually care.

A real person would set aside their issues to support you (as you have tirelessly done). She has done what classically dysfunctional and narcissistic pricks do; to outpour to you ONLY what SHE WANTS BACK IN RETURN.

Abusers do this, they shower their prey with attention, but only, and purely to get it bounced back from them. the hole in their self esteem is so gaping that it can't be filled and you will never ever be able to satisfy it. They will demand more and more and more, and you will never ever be able to satisfy the need they have for attention and validation.

They don't have the self esteem to look at themselves and be content, the image to the outside world is all they care about and there is no price too high to pay to ensure it's maintained.

Basically your entire family has this gaping need to be pleased/recognised/admired and have raised you to be the one to try to do it. I say try because whatever you do is never enough. You will always 'fail' them, so will always be the one they go to to kick until they feel better. they are not a 'close' family, they CLING through terror of others finding out how mediocre/shit they really are.

What you need to do now is say 'I have supported you all in what I find abhorrent and immoral. I have hid things, covered for and lied to protect your collective image. I have done enough. Don't ask me for any more'

Let your sister suffer, she brought it upon herself. she has caused this suffering in the first place. She was warned against it, and still had to carry on with her journey. Is HER suffering more than that of the DW, or her DC? No. It was all utterly unavoidable.

You DO need to end the social thing, and you do need to take a long hard look at your life to make sure that you are living it for yourself and for your own immediate family.

Do not discuss this affair again with anyone within that lot. Tell them that it's over and you are not involved in any of the drama, nor do you want to be.

You HAVE to be strong on this. Your family have ridden roughshod over and over on you and your family, and it's gone on long enough.

Hissy Tue 19-Nov-13 14:36:12

And yes, this stuff IS incredibly hard, it is excruciating.

You would strongly benefit from being on the Stately Homes Thread, you really do need to read Toxic Parents and you really do need to face up to the fact that your family will never be what they should be, or what you need them to be.

I know how hard this is. All Stately Homers do.

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Tue 19-Nov-13 15:01:03

I called my Sis today - first time in months. I was supportive and let her talk it through, and you know what, I felt good about that. I was being there for her on MY terms, not because my DM has ordered me to, or my DF has threatened me to be nice or else, but because I wanted to.

I think I am finally able to sympathise with her - because while I had no time for her when she was arrogantly carrying on with her affair, lying and cutting out anyone who didn't agree with her - now, she is utterly devastated and lost. All the arrogance is gone (for now), and having experience of being suddenly dumped myself, I can support her in that at least.

She did allude to our falling out by saying that she didn't want to get into it, but she had felt so alone with no one to talk to. I didn't rise to the bait, I thought we'll take that up another day. But I just said that she didn't need to be alone, she needed her friends. She is planning to go to see her BF today.

I'm not going to get sucked into it, I plan to tell my DM and DF to stay out of it and refuse to discuss the situation with them. I have no sympathy for the OMs situation and won't listen to any false hope that he might suddenly grow some balls and leave his wife for my sister. I've told her exactly what I think of him. In other words, I will speak my mind and never be afraid again of doing that.

I have learnt a lot about my family dynamic from this, and I'm under no illusions that the problem is over. I'm sure, when my sister is feeling stronger, her arrogance may come back. I know I'll hear my parents minimizing what she has done, and possibly re-writing history again. If the OM suddenly has a change of heart, or more likely, his DW kicks him out, then the lying and headstrong 'I know better' attitude will come back in force.

But I feel like I have turned a corner. I have been very hurt, sidelined, bullied and gaslighted by my family. I have seen that for what it is, but I am still able to be the bigger person, and give my sister a shoulder to cry on when she needs it. I'm not sure I could have forgiven myself for continuing with this rift when she is so totally distraught.

My parents cannot blame me for not being supportive, but at the same time, I am no longer doing anything as a performance to them. I don't care if they know what I've done, or what they think of me.

I'm going to head to the Stately Homes thread and settle in there. I've been aware of it for a while but never read it, I never really thought it was relevant to me... how wrong I was!

Hissy Tue 19-Nov-13 17:21:36

i only realised the SH relevance to my life very recently. It's more of a home now than anywhere else. sad

See you over there! It does get easier. the truth really DOES set you free.

Hissy Tue 19-Nov-13 17:21:54

Well done btw, you did a good job today! smile

AllThatGlistens Tue 19-Nov-13 17:25:24

I'm with Hissy, my mother is a classic candidate for Stately Homes and I've posted on there a time or two over the years, my brother and I were only discussing her this morning, we're pretty amazed how relatively sane we both are! grin

It does get easier to break away, promise wink


Yes do visit the recent "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread.

BTW with reference to your comment on another thread I would not visit with your children in tow if your parents cannot hold back on the favouritism. They both either behave or you do not see them.

Basically if you find them too difficult/toxic (and from what I have read of your family they are deeply dysfunctional) to deal with, they are too difficult for your vulnerable and defenceless children to be around as well.

Hissy Tue 19-Nov-13 19:37:58


Does anyone remember which thread someone posted a massive post about No Contact and what it means.

It may have come from some religious site iirc

I need to find it and store it and learn it chanty, head-noddy parrot fashion remind myself of it

DoYouEverFeelLikeAPlasticBag Fri 29-Nov-13 15:23:06

To everyone who has been wonderfully supportive on this thread I want to continue talking about this, but am still worried about this thread being too visible so I have started another thread in the other place. (Thank you Tribpot finally took your advice)

It is pretty easy to find, if you are at all interested in my pathetic family drama. PM me if you can't find it.

Thank you again to everyone so far flowers

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now