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Being NC at Christmas...and a dilemma(20 Posts)
Does anyone else find Christmas the hardest to cope with?
Being NC is for the best, and there is no going back for me, and most of the year I am very happy in that. I can live my life in peace. But when it comes to Christmas it just feels like all the good times come to the surface and it just highlights how isolated I am from the people I came from.
I have also lately been regretting/missing my GM. Being NC with her is a different matter to being NC with my parents as my parents are also NC with her. Its a bit complicated. But I was speaking to her again on my own terms, but 5 years ago this Christmas I had to go NC with her too. She is an enabler of another toxic relative, so that is why. But I love her so so much and I miss her terribly.
I was recently driving near where she lives and I had an overwhelming urge to go and see her, but I stopped myself. I just don't know what to do. I know the toxic relative will have painted me as the villain of the piece, so its not as easy as just showing up at her door. Has anyone been in a similar position? Did you ever try to re-establish contact?
I don't have any experience and I know someone else will be along soon with proper advice, but I just wanted to say that life is very short and if you love someone, and miss them, you should take the course of action that could potentially lead to the most happiness IMO.
Could you make tentative contact, a note asking if contact would be welcome?
I know of people who have done this and it has not ended at all well, they are back at square one.
Toxic people and their enablers/flying monkeys do not on the whole change. You have no proper evidence to suggest at all that she has changed. If she was a flying monkey she only acted in her own self interests and certainly not in yours.
What do you love about this woman whom you have not seen for 5 years. You went NC with her for good reason 5 years ago, do not undo the progress you have made since then out of feeling perhaps a bit sentimental because of the time of year.
I would keep that Pandora's box well shut because once opened you cannot readily re-close it without a struggle.
I agree with you...and I am in such a good place now I am seeing life for what it is and trying to grab it with both hands. So this sticking point is really hard to ignore.
But, so much has happened... I invited her to my wedding and she ignored the invite (probably because I didn't invite toxic family member). My GGM died and I was at the funeral and I said hello, but back then I was in the middle of terrible anxiety and depression and I couldn't bring myself to comfort her like I should have. She had a lot of people around her and there for her but I still feel guilty about a lot of things, although actually, I know I am not the one at fault. So much has been done to me over the years. I don't know how to properly explain it.
I guess my point is that there is so much in the past, and so much vitriol within my family, that I don't know if anything can be salvaged.
Wise words as usual Atilla.
Growing up she was the only source of unconditional love in my life. My mother (her DIL) went NC with her when I was 10. When I walked back into her life years later I was still loved and wanted but I was tarnished by the missing years. It wasn't as unconditional as it had been and the toxic family member sunk their teeth in hard. For years my GM stood up for me, supported me, helped me in so many ways. But eventually the TFM had worn me down so much I walked away from my GM to break free from it. I regret that now. I should have been stronger. But I wasn't mentally well.
I just can't imagine how I will feel when she dies and I know I walked away.
I don't think it's as clear cut as Attila is suggesting. It may or may not be clear cut in Attila's situation but not all situations are the same ; particularly as there are numerous people in your family who are NC.
Without knowing the details I would suggest you are stronger now and may see things from a different perspective. Eg I still see my
difficult parents bcs they're old and frail. By rights and on paper I have every 'right' to cut them off. BUT that's an awful lot of pain to visit on someone. It's not called the nuclear option for nothing. They are very damaged people who have salt been very damaging. In their disordered way they do love me.
To be fair, I have had a lot of therapy and have managed low to very low contact with them over the years ; now quite high contact bcs of their practical needs. I know to keep a keen eye on my mh and I am prepared to pull away if things get too much. However, they have learnt to keep a respectful distance (and I have stopped
trying to make them change arguing) so things go smoothly in the main.
If your GM loves you unconditionally imo no amount of toxic drip-feeding will stick. Turning up at her door could be a dream come true for her. BUT you would have to be prepared for things not necessarily going well - could you handle that now you are stronger?
Imo relationships within disordered families are not b+w and can change shape, esp as we get stronger. Lots of shades of grey in between the black and the white. Sometimes there is nothing for it but entire NC but that's rare imo.
But always good to keep a very close eye on your MH and to practise healthy boundaries. Despite the hype, NC is often challenging and painful (eg at Christmas) for the one who made the decision. It's not clear cut or plain sailing ; it's difficult to manage at times.
We are NC with my GM and Aunt / Uncle.
There are times that I feel sad about this e.g Christmas, Birthdays and when DS was born but I just remember why we went NC in the first place. I have also given them
more than enough chances to talk through our issues and move past things and they threw it back in my families face.
It's a horrid time of year, bound to bring up fresh emotions but stay strong and don't open a can of worms which will easily make you feel worse
Has anyone read e books by HG Tudor, he is a self proclaimed person with NPD. He is clear, Narcs do not and cannot accept they are at fault and therefore are unable to change. It's something as a christian I struggle with. I went NC with my sister and mother just 3 months ago and so feel for you. This will be the first christ Max spent at home without any other family. I am petrified. I am so sad but not just for me ( although I hate note having someone to share the memories with) but for the kids. I grew up in a large family, plenty of aunts and uncles, that we never saw. I wanted it to be so very different and that's the key.
All we can do is focus on us and a smaller but equally wonderful family. Chin up and remember the memories when our DC are adults will be free of the guilt and pain from narc behaviours.
Sam Vaknin also writes about his NPD. He saved my life back in the day.
That said, the whole narc/NPD thing has got way out of proportion imo.Not everyone who is desperately selfish, blind and lacking in empathy has NPD. For a start it's monstrously difficult to diagnose; and for second it takes an experienced professional to make the dx. The narc label gets flung about with certainty these days and it's alarming.
Nothing is impossible with God, Oops.
I think the key thing here is that she could have chosen you, and didn't. She had the option to manage her relationship with the other, toxic, person differently and instead of doing this she lost you. She has made choices about how she behaves, and which relationships are mst important to her.
Sure, it's tempting to think you could walk in, stronger now, and "fight" for the relationship you really want but it is a fantasy.
She has chosen to be first, more distant from you, and then to maintain relationships that harm you. Her choices.
You have chosen yourself, chosen not to be harmed by the disfunction she surrounds herself with and that's healthy. But the " Happy family" thing sucks us back in. ...the need to have that..
It's a bit like an alcoholic looking at a bottle after years of sobriety saying. "Yes, but I'm better now. Stronger. This time I would manage IT, it wouldn't overwhelm me" We know it's a lie but wouldn't it be nice if....
It's always going to be tempting, and it's hard to step away but now you've done it once do you really have the strength to do it again ?
I think I have been in your situation,
My grandmother practically raised me, I spent 4 nights out of 7 with her then she ran off to America with my grandads best friend.
At this time she lost all contact with her family here in England but I was only 8 and was still sent out on a plane in my own to go see her during school summer holidays.
As I go older I became more angry as I hated the man she ran away with, I felt like she dropped us all just to be with him. She is still with him and still lives abroad But
6 years ago when I became pregnant with my first I decided to start the family talking again, she would come over with her now husband and live with us, after a few years it turned very sour as there was to much anger still there between her and the family and again it was all too toxic and we went NC.
It has now been another 5 years and I being older have said everything I've had to say to her, I got my whole family to explain and made her listen to what she did and how it effected us.
We are slowly (this time) talking again.
It feels different this time, because we have all said what was weighing heavy on our chest, we are taking it slowly.
She is 80 now, lives abroad with her new husband still and I think 'I only have one Nan in this life' if something happens to her I would rather know I tried then to let her die and be NC with her and constantly say to my self "what if?"
toasty what about writing to your GM and explaining that you do feel very glad of how much she loved you and you love her too.
Maybe say sorry that you it became more difficult in your teens; that your mother had had an effect and you found it hard to handle family, though you loved her dearly. Also that you were afraid that she was becoming more critical of you (or whatever effect Toxic Rel had on her), perhaps mistakenly because of the way you were feeling, and you found that hard too.
But that you do love her very much and would love it if you and she could be in closer contact, that you miss her. Then put your phone no in.
If you say 'you were afraid that she was becoming more critical / distant / thinking bad things of you (whatever effect TR had on her)' then it avoids directly naming or blaming TR, especially as you give her a get-out by saying you may have been mistaken. If she can think for herself, she'll know exactly what you mean. If she can't ... then the whole relationship may never quite be what it was.
But this obviously means a lot to you and somehow I suspect that you will always regret it if you don't try to get back in contact. If it doesn't work, then that will be clear. But if it does, you will get that relationship back.
I agree with springydaffs that this is not a straightforward black and white situation. There is nothing to indicate that your grandmother herself is a toxic personality-you remember many positive aspects of your relationship with her and times that she stood up for you. It sounds as if third party interveners have soured your relationship with your grandmother and her crime (if any) is to have not asserted herself.
Much depends upon how strong you are feeling now and whether you could keep certain boundaries. Do you know if she is still close to the TFM? How would you feel about writing to her to say that you remember so many good things from your childhood relationship with her but that person X later got in the way. Perhaps that you would like to see her. Could you keep a boundary that you would just like to see her on her own and not to talk about anyone else? What do you think her motive is for remaining close to this toxic person? Why does she think this is the right thing to do? It would be sad not to ever see her again but it may also open up some upset for you if you do contact her. Flying monkeys do sometimes act not in their own interests but out of a distorted view that they are peacemaking. Did contact with the TFM benefit your grandmother significantly or was she acting in a misguided attempt to keep the family together?
I know exactly how you feel, I am struggling too. Please listen to Attila, the advice I have been given has really changed my outlook. It's still so hard though. I have posted under a different name about reaching out to family and the pain it causes when you get yet again ignored or put down. I am unfortunately going through a couple of NC situations myself. Good luck OP
Sorry I haven't posted. I have been trying to get it straight in my head. But I still feel conflicted. I think I always will.
I think that 665 has tapped in to what I fear. Ultimately, if her relationship with me had meant enough to her, she should have salvaged it. There were times when I attempted to bring up the situation with TFM. I was met with side stepping. I think she knows full well, but feels powerless to change it.
I have this worry that any attempt at a letter that contains any kind of sentiment would be open to ridicule. Either because it gets intercepted by TFM or because I am such a lost cause she has chosen to follow TFM in bitching about me.
One to one, my GM is the loveliest person. She is warm and generous and funny and she is young at heart and very current. But TFM is so influential....GM regurgitates her bile. Its horrible. I don't think I am strong enough to go through it again. I think I need to accept it for what it is.
Yes, but I'm better now. Stronger. This time I would manage IT, it wouldn't overwhelm me" We know it's a lie but wouldn't it be nice if....
It took me a long time, and lots of therapy, but I can say I can take it now.
Before I was ready I wouldn't have been, well, ready: still too damaged and sensitive. These days I don't have to be my absolute top priority; that there are other priorities I feel strong enough to consider eg my aged mum who is heartbroken about her broken family. I may or may not resume contact but it's no longer absolutely out of the question because I would be doing it for her.
Perhaps it's time, or lots of therapy etc etc, but my toxic relatives no longer have the same punch. They are damaged, therefore damaging, 'little' people who have to do their stuff to feel good about themselves. Sad sorts, really.
I am a lot stronger in all aspects of my life...I am coping with everything so well. I almost don't want to test it in case it is the one weak spot.
I just miss her horribly. But am I actually missing the reality, or just the thing I thought I had! It couldn't have meant the same to her as it did to me, could it?
Ìmpossible to tell, toasty.
But a grown woman has a lot in her life. To a small child the important people in their life are towering figures who mean the world.
If your grandmother repeats the toxic stuff that she's been fed, though, about their beloved granddaughter it means that the influence has gone pretty deep.
I think you should try, but only if you can handle the idea that she might still be badly influenced by this woman. But you obviously love her very much, and if she has freed herself from the influence then you could gain someone back.
It couldn't have meant the same to her as it did to me, could it?
What ever the lowest standard of behaviour you could allow yourself to find acceptable ( and we will go pretty low before considering NC) had been exceeded, probably multiple times..
But you are hoping for something to have changed, something to have changed in your abscence when you being there, and visibly hurt, infront of her, by her, didn't stop her.
As I write this I really would like to be wrong, more than I can say.
But you can't change someone else, you can only change yourself, and in this situation you are effectively saying" I can now tolerate lower standards of behaviour from others than I could five years ago" sure therapy and boundries give you better coping mechanisms, but the basic unacceptable assault on your person is till the same.
Collusion in putting someone else down is a form of bonding. Your GM is clearly closely bonded with your toxic relative, and chooses to be so.
You can ask if she might be capable of change, but you have already shown fear that doing this would be something that she would share, and use to get closer to toxic relative, I assume that this is born of experience.
It is hard to be succinct, but not brutal, although Atilla did it well earlier, but it is hard to see how this relationship could progress in a positive way for you , unless she has had a sea change in her thinking or developed a self awareness she didn't have before.
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