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V defended/narcissistic parents- how to "grieve"

(74 Posts)
Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 17:33:41

Gosh weary myself of my own story but really struggling...
Rather shocked at how v much my parents- df as enabler, as well as dm- let me down as a teen and have done ever aince. More so at how very disloyal they've been even to the extent of trying to get dh/MIL on side against me, quite a revelation, thank God these 2 love and are loyal to me..

Head so full of toxic rubbish which is eating me all up with bitterness that am sorely tempted to just give in and allow contact to resume, as before -on their terms, with me the scapegoat sad

Am seeing counsellor and he's adamant i
should stay firm for my own psychological health and keep contact cut, even mourning
their loss ie tge loss of a vaguely nornal, empathic, accepting, loving, respectful

Not sleeping so this probably doesn't
Make sense but any thoughts/support appreciated.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 23-Nov-12 17:47:05

I think it's ok to grieve. And as such, it's normal to go through all the phases of grieving. Which includes denial, which might mean wanting to make it all "ok" again.

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 17:54:01

You have support from DH, MIL and a counsellor so maybe now is a good time to cut contact.

Once you've got some space, you can get some perspective and begin to process the historical stuff. Then, in your own time, you can decide whether or not you ever want, on your own terms, to let them into your life again.

If they add so little to your life, there's little to lose.

Take your time, take care of yourself and let the people who love you do the same.

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 17:56:47

Thanks, yes, i guess... It's just it feels so false and self-indulgent to grieve non-dead parents. In some ways i feel i should just be more tolerant now they're in their twilight years and just accept them despite their failings. Problem is thats made me feel rubbish all these years. sadangry

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 17:57:37

Apologies, I misread your OP - still I think the same about keeping contact cut.

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:00:52

Sorry that was to NQC

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:04:42

Something, you're right they add v little to my life and yet cause me such pain.
I think I've been projecting the normal parental feelings/behaviours one would expect on to them for years and hadn't realised the lack! Does that even make sense?

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 18:06:01

You are totally justified in grieving the thing you didn't have.

But if, in time, you feel that you've processed everything you need to and that the balance of things is such that some forgiveness, for want of a better word, and contact is better for you then the option is there.

It does sound like you could benefit from some time out to get things straighter in your head but it doesn't have to be forever.

Lottapianos Fri 23-Nov-12 18:08:09

You do need to grieve the parents you wish you had. I know that can sound weird but there is a good reason you're feeling so sad. It's bloody hard. I'm going through it myself. I find it helps to allow myself to sob and crash when I need to. Sometimes you can get on with things and sometimes you can't and you need to give yourself permission to feel shit.

ThatBintAgain Fri 23-Nov-12 18:10:32

Makes sense to me. Have exactly the same relationship with mine. Currently no contact (although there's the occasional prod from them, not sure why as they also have no genuine wish to sort anything out) and I have to say it's easier. Very bloody far from easy though, and you have my utmost sympathy. I'm currently off with stress an I attribute a hell of a lot of it to them.

It isn't self indulgent to mourn the parents you never had, and never will have. It's quite necessary and helps to move forward.

ThatBintAgain Fri 23-Nov-12 18:12:39

Xpost Lotta - I'm sure our paths have crossed on similar threads. smile

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:14:59

Hi lotta, how are you? Remember chatting before..hope you're finding more peace.
Hard to function w dc when i feel like this though and dh gets impatient
But you're right, logically i know i need to grieve my real loss of "!normal" caring parents, a real, real loss to me as i love and have needed them , the buggers!!!!!!angryangryangryangry

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 18:25:48

Sorry, I'm on my phone so replies a bit slow!

What you said makes perfect sense. As a child and young person you have emotional needs that parents should meet, yet you have no way of judging how well they are doing - perhaps there's a sense that all is not quite as it should be but as you said, there's also a strong tendency to want things to be right and so to ignore the doubt.

I suppose that as you become an adult, and maybe again when you have children of your own, it becomes clearer what was missing and it can be a very painful time, perhaps more painful than the childhood experience itself because you know it can't be put right, hence the sense of grieving.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 23-Nov-12 20:23:46

It's totally fine to grieve whatever you need to grieve. Did your parents raise you to think that trying to meet emotional needs was 'indulging' someone?

forgetmenots Fri 23-Nov-12 20:35:25

My DH is currently grieving, for the parents he wished he had had and the grandparents he wished our LO might have. It isn't self indulgent, but he thinks it is, because his feelings aren't important, or valid. Years of conditioning, years of being told that only his mother's emotions were worth anything have really left their mark.

You need to grieve the loss of people that you love and hoped could be more, so that you can move on and rebuild some of the damage they've caused. I really feel for you, OP. Take the time you need and find some peace thanks

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 21:01:48

Thanks, guys, it's just doing it, you know? Yea, i was/still am v much invalidated by them so counterintuitive to contradict them, its my default .. I am a work in progress !

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 21:31:52

And it is hard work, so look after yourself.

Everything feels worse when you're not getting enough sleep; it's easy to recommend more rest but difficult to achieve when your mind is going over and over things in the small hours.

So, see if this works for you... When you're ready for sleep, tense all the muscles in your body and hold for a few seconds, then release. Then, working from the tips of your toes, focus on relaxing each muscle, moving up your body. Go slowly and don't worry if other thoughts creep in - just acknowledge them, allow them to float away and return to your relaxation.

I think it works so well because it replaces complex thoughts about things you can't fix then and there, with something small and manageable that your mind can more usefully do for you.

Wishing you a peaceful night.

Lottapianos Sat 24-Nov-12 08:21:26

Hey Salbertina, I have had a dreadful week actually. Sobbing and panic attacks and self loathing. Took 2 days off work because I just couldn't cope. Glad I did because it gave me time to deal with the feelings instead of brushing them off. I can't remember if you see a counsellor but I highly recommend it - I see a psychotherapist every week and she helps me so much. It's all so painful - be as kind to yourself as you can and remember that you are doing a really good thing for yourself by living your own life.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 09:06:48

And hello to Bint also, our paths definitely crossed before. Sorry to hear you're off with stress, that sounds tough. Hope you get the time/space to work through it all.
I am no contact but occasional rather abusive v defended email to dh from df; dm cant even reply hmm

Df kindly pointing out to dh how I am "behaving as badly now" (not at all dh's view) " as i did as a child", no evidence to substantiate this but more to the point neglectful of the fact that HE was the parent, i was the CHILD angry

My current apparently "bad behaviour" has been basically boundary-setting ( and imho fairly basic ones at that):

1. Asking them (firmly but politely) not to speak of me behind my back in front of my young kids
2. Treating me with respect and as a fellow adult when we meet regardless of their actual view of me
3. Not making repeated, unfounded allegations about my mental health - the reason, apparently, why dh and i separated not because of his emotional affair hmm[hmm. They never even bloody asked, just presumed!! Feel the need to point out that I'm fairly high-achieving on paper - had reasonably high flying career before came overseas, finishing masters, got supportive friends and dh, never been off work with MH problems. Dh admits his escapade reason for our separation- hell, i know it was as i left him!! Something my parents failed to 'appreciate! Their default seems to be to blame me sad i had no inkling of this until v recently and am now questioning my life with them and all our conversations over the years. Feels like it was all so false, they were going through the motions while all the time thinking i was being "badly behaved" or mentally ill or thinking any of my problems - like the trivial matter of separation with 2kids @7,000miles- were not "real". angry hmmbiscuit

My bad behaviour encompassed passing my A levels to get to uni, not sleeping around, not getting drunk or ever taking drugs and never getting into trouble at school. So, other than being a moody adolescent who at times challenged parental boundaries as teens do and used to defend my spineless enabler df against being railed at by my mum, i cant quite see how i was so off the scale awful hmm To the extent that as df put it they thought of "turning their backs on me, then as now!"

Sorry fir the essay!

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 09:20:15

Hi lotta, hope you're felling a little better today?? Agree, counselling vital. Also see psychotherapist weekly so much better than Cbt for this imho. Had seen 2x highly recommended, accredited Cbt therapists who both said i needed to reframe negative yhoughts about my childhood hmm

Lottapianos Sat 24-Nov-12 09:37:13

Glad you're seeing a therapist Salbertina, it's just not something that can be fixed with 6 counselling sessions is it? Shocked about what your CBT therapists said! Nice bit of victim blaming there!

I relate to so much of what you say about your parents. They think I'm a raving lunatic who is not capable of having good relationships or making good decisions. Oh the irony! I'm feeling better thank you. Going to start taking St John's Wort because I'm scared of ADs but feel I need a bit of extra lift. Well done for facing all this by the way, it's bloody gruelling!

ThistlePetal Sat 24-Nov-12 09:55:03

Salbertina, I've also spoken with you on other threads, sorry to hear how difficult you are finding this right now. You have every right to grieve the loss of the parents you never had, and I think it's very healthy that you recognise that this is what is causing you so much angst. It means you have an opportunity to break the cycle, and reset your boundaries on your own terms. It's painful though, isn't it? And so sad. I think the other thing that we might be grieving is the loss of all those years which we spent blaming ourselves - I can't help but wonder how different my life might have been if my parents had show me unconditional love and support....

I'm also having to come to terms with the fact that my parents just do not see how their attitude towards me while I was growing up, has had a direct impact on how we relate to each other now. I had been avoiding them since I split from DH, about a month ago, when they told me I'd broken their hearts by leaving my marriage. But I dropped round last weekend and could tell my mother was about to burst, and burst she did. Among the nasty comments and self-absorbed ranting, was the revelation from my dad that all my mum ever wanted was a "normal" daughter who took her out to lunch and shopping etc. I stayed adult as much as I could, and replied that I was well aware that our relationship wasn't normal (so, so tempting to say that I didn't have a normal mum either, but that would just feed the troll), but that if we wanted to improve things we would both have t work hard at that. She simply said she had done all she could. So that's a no to working on our relationship then.

So I came away with evidence, in my mind, that she still does not see me as a worthwhile person with valid opinions. She has absolutely no concept of the fact that her parenting of me is at fault here, and I'm pretty sure that she never will have. She simply sees me as an obstacle to be got round so she can keep in contact with her only grandchildren. Ain't happening, unless I bring them round and stay with them the whole time. She wouldn't be able to stop herself from making inappropriate comments about me to them.

And then we have the guilt, of minimising contact with people in their late 70s, leaving them sad and lonely sad. It's shit, isn't it?

Sorry to rant. I typed all this out into a notebook last weekend and thought I'd dealt with some of my feelings, but reading this thread this morning triggered it again. Thanks for the opportunity for some more catharsis, it's obviously still needed!

I'm also having therapy at the moment, interesting to hear that psychotherapy is working better for you than CBT. Not a fan of CBT myself, but my therapist is a straightforward person-centred counsellor, and that's working well for me. Just to be able to sit in a room and say all these things without being told that what I'm feeling is wrong, or invalid, works wonders for me. Gosh, imagine having had that for the last 40 years?

Anyway, lots of strength to you all - I wish none of us were in this position, but at least we are all doing something positive about it, and that's what we need to hang on to in the darker moments x

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 09:57:47

That's good Lotta, you don't seem raving to me. Rather eminently sensible! St johns wort meant to be good. I take 5htp, fish oils and make myself run, all self-care and all helps. Should probably have a couple of wine-free days a week blush become too much of a crutch at times..tho rarely have more than 1 or 2 glasses it IS every day..

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 10:04:19

Hi TP, yes remember you too. How are you? You seem v brave and pragmatic, quite a load you have w yr recent separation. So much for your parents' support, hey? hmm

agree v cathartic to let it all out, far better out than in - that way depression, shame, toxic self-blame lies..

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 10:08:11

And with you on the guilt at seemingly treating my 70-something parents so shabbily, if only people knew!

Your dm sounds like she nay have NPD, maybe? Have you read "children of the self-absorbed" or "toxic parents" ?

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