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Distancing yourself from your family - how do you do it?(18 Posts)
The easiest way to distance yourself from narc relatives is to send the clear signal that they're not going to get a reaction from you any more. They soon get bored because they're getting nothing out of you any more and then they just stop wanting to be around you, so you don't have to do any distancing as they do it themselves.
For example I have a bitch of a sister whom I suppose could be described as narc. She made my life absolutely hell up until I was about 15 when I snapped and decided I couldn't take any more. Rather than getting riled up and shouting (which only feeds the monster) I just decided I wasn't going to react to her in any way any more. I answered any questions she asked me and was very polite in public, I even socialised with her now and again but I made a conscious decision that things she said wouldn't get to me. It drove her absolutely batshit for ages and she really went to lengths to push my buttons but I stuck to my guns and it worked. She got bored and just stopped. Since then she's tried a few times to get under my skin again and I'm sorry to say that last year when I was pregnant she did make me cry again but I was tired and hormonal so it was a one off. It takes effort to maintain distance like this as narcs tend to try to reel you back in, and they're very good at it, but you need to stay strong and be aware of when you're responding to their tactics.
What was the situation with your family?
I am of the same vein as WriterofDreams in that the most sensible thing is to ensure that they do not get to you. I fell out quite spectacularly with my cousins and aunt and recently they tried to draw me in again by claiming that we should reconcile etc etc. What it really was for them was an opportunity to tell my mum what an awful person I was, how arrogant I was, a bully - you think of an insult - it was directed at me. My reaction to all of this was nothing, I just could not even be bothered to engage in any discussion with them. It just served to reinforce to me that I never wanted to speak to them again in my life as they are a bunch of narcs.
After realising that they had not got any sort of reaction from me, they are now phoning my mum acting as if all those insults they directed towards me did not happen. Absolute nutters
I don't have any advice apart from my own situation and how I am handling it. I did go for some counselling to help me cope with the situation. HTH
Can I ask a question WriterofDreams? How do you stop letting it bother you? Even if it don't get drawn in I find myself mulling over accusations and getting upset by comments made.
It is very hard not to let it get to you missorinoco and at times my sister does get under my skin. Last year she said some very hurtful things that really upset me and I made the mistake of engaging with her, so I don't always succeed in ignoring it. It just takes a lot of mental effort. You have to keep telling yourself that what they say isn't true. The problem is that at times things they say will have a kernel of truth in them and so you can start to mull over it, as you say. The only thing to do then is to admit that yes, maybe you're not perfect but they have no right to keep pointing it out and judging you. You don't have to accept their criticism. You are allowed to make mistakes and normal people will support you rather than try to put you down when you do make them.
I suppose an important part of it is building up your self confidence so that you can resist the onslaught. If you feel insecure about things they will see that and use that insecurity to get at you. You need to reassure yourself that you're a grown adult and you're quite capable of managing without their "help."
The sad thing about it all is that you're a nice person who wants a real family relationship so you're going to have the urge again and again to make things better. That's definitely not a bad thing but in this situation it's just not appropriate. In effect you have to become a less nice person, someone who appears not to give a damn and develop a "don't give shit" attitude in relation to them. It goes against the grain and it may feel like you're being a bitch (and no doubt one of the narcs will want to tell you what a bitch you're being) but self preservation is the key and you have a right to be a "bitch" in order to achieve that.
Agree with everything that's been written so far and thought I'd add my tuppence worth.
In my experience with my family, I've very gradually, over a period of the last few years, distanced myself in subtle ways. E.g. I am not always available for the periodic Sunday roast and last Christmas we (DH and I) made a point of not attending something that it was expected we would go to. (Sorry to be vague but the details would risk outing me!).
We are currently living overseas which makes things easier - I am loving not living near them. I also put my foot down over a few issues before we left, e.g. they were insisting that we spent our last night staying with them. We didn't.
There comes a point where you have to stand very firm and it's not easy but it's worth it. It's possibly slightly easier for me to get away with because I've always been cast as 'the difficult one' so my lack of availability fits the family narrative IYKWIM. If my siblings started doing the same then that would be more of an issue but then they wouldn't because they fall into line with what our parents expect.
I lived hundreds of miles away from all my family until 2 years ago, now I live near enough to see them, go to parties. I have thrown two parties recently, and parents and uncle all showed up. Seemed to get on fine. Now my sister just emailed me to tell me "Uncle's party was lovely" - in other words - she's been invited to my uncle's party and I haven't. And I think sister was telling me in her little petty "look how popular I am" way. Spiteful is what it is. So I have no idea why I'm getting forgotten when uncle's sending out the invites. It hurts cos I thought I got on well with my uncle and aunt, and their children are the same age as mine and they all get on well... so guess they just plain don't like us.
I'd recommend when you move, take things slow, don't be idealistic about how you're all one big happy family cos you're geographically close. I lived away for half my life, seventeen years, now I'm back I think they still think of me as hundreds of miles away. When first back I invited my Dad for Christmas, he came, he drank lots of lager, he had a good time, then we didn't hear from him for about a year, during which time we went through hellish emotional upheaval with nephew coming to live with us. Next time I saw Dad he just boasted for hours about the pension he's got now and the inheritance his dad left him (which he will piss away before we ever get to inherit anything). But Dad sees my sister regularly every week or fortnight. The favouritism where my sister is the bee's knees and I'm just "the other one" is partly why I moved 400 miles away from these people, and it is less painful when you can think "Oh well they forgot about me cos I'm so far away." I'm not far away anymore. I throw parties, my sister never has anyone to her house, never takes people out for meals and yet my sister gets invited to every family party. Galling in the extreme.
Have you got friends still in your hometown, where you're moving to? That can be quite strange, picking up on friendships you last saw a lot of in your teens. Sometimes it works. I'm developing a good friendship now with a girl I thought was just an acquaintance at school, whereas my bosom friends, we don't have much to say to each other. Throw yourself into new friendships too, don't pine for what you used to have. Good luck.
I'm coming round to thinking that, Littlewheel.
I visited one old friend, she used to be a very sparky friend, we used to go cycling loads together as teenagers. When I saw her, she was obese, and very depressed due to a stillborn son. She doesn't go out - ever - doesn't have any friends - has her husband and two kids and doesn't need anyone else. I felt really stupid hoping we might rekindle our old friendship.
littlewheel - worth it in every respect you can think of! Just feel 'free' of them really and the 'inner voice' (which is their voice) bothers me less and less.
Interesting what you say re it was expected that you would struggle as a mother. For years I didn't want DC which I now realise was 90% to do with my childhood and my relationship with my parents. This has always been a source of great annoyance to my parents as I know they can't wait to have grand-children - I am the oldest.
However I've changed my mind in the last couple of years and my truly wonderful DH and I are TTC at the moment. However none of my family know this and I know that (hopefully) when I tell my parents I'm pregnant, that the subtle digs will start, all insinuating that I'll need a lot of help and how will I cope with it all etc. My mother will want to paint herself as the uber-mother - the experienced one who was a natural mother (she wasn't / isn't, just thinks she is!) and will be offering up help in her usual patronising, faux-concerned way. I'm dreading it.
Thanks for the advice. I'm planning on being VERY vague!
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