Just say 'no'

Really? Who knew standing up for myself would be so hard. After the last post I feel the need to write an update today. My older sister is out of surgery and all went well. After a guilt-ridden dream I had she passed away during the operation.

I've been feeling hugely anxious/nervous and guilty all since I told my mom I wasn't sure I could watch my little sister overnight or have her as a house guest so both my parents could take off work to be there for my older sister this morning. I've been sleeping terribly with pregnancy-related issues and knew having my sister over would only add more stress to me, stress I couldn't handle due to the way I've been feeling lately. I knew I made the right choice in even bringing up this concern to my mom but can't help but feel extremely guilty this week as I went through with it. I feel they're mad at me. Maybe that's just me, maybe not. I haven't heard anything from my family except 'we'll manage' and 'she's out of surgery fine'.

I vented to DH last night when I finally found out my little sister would not be staying with us after all (after being left hanging since 11 the night before). Combating the guilt I felt for not being the reliable child and all the instances where my family has let me down and now expect me to be there for them unconditionally. It helped. Minorly. My best friend told me I did the right thing as well and that I don't need the stress right now.

I know I need to make some life changes before my baby is here. Gosh, I should have made them a long time ago when I first realized I was pregnant. (September)

But hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

I felt comfortable sharing so much of my life with my parents before I moved cities for DH's job and happened to be 30 minutes away. Probably the closest I've been since '08 due to university. My mom always had a motto she lived by regarding her bffs and us kids. They didn't talk about us at all. Whenever they got together they left their kids out of the conversation so as not to be busybodies. Moving down I acted as if this still were the case. Not realizing it's totally different for her than it used to be. I have no idea why my life is an open topic right now. Excitement? Even so- shouldn't that excitement be placed in talking to ME about my life changes instead of free publicity for her friends? And for my dad- his relatives I'm not close to at all? And for my older sister- friends who know OF me but frankly didn't know she HAD a middle sister until this past year because all she talked about was our youngest one and how they were besties- totally leaving me out of the picture. These are adults, right? Really? Cause it feels like we never left high school.

I've seen SO many examples of this in my family since I've been with my husband. So really- over the past 3 years. In my past post I mentioned some of this. But not all. Far from all of it. Looking back now I see the inconsistencies. It was different when I lived with them and was single. Or maybe it wasn't and I never noticed because it didn't put me out of my way as much as it does now. My family went on vacation last year. For a week. My older sister had work during the day and couldn't take care of HER dog when my family left (she lived with them at the time). So I had to drive down with DH over an hr or so every day as he went to work to dog sit for them. House sit. Whatever sit. Basically hold down the house because my older sister was incapable of taking on more responsibility. Couldn't they have put that on HER to find someone to let her dog out during the day? I did get paid for this but not nearly as much as I would have if it were for a friend. My older sister wasn't even going to pay me half of what my parents thought I should have- mainly for the extra gas it took during a gas price hike in the area during that month. I left MY home and MY pets to be there 12 hrs out of a day. I was fostering kittens at the time at my house and they were only weeks old. It was my job to look after them. And yet I dropped everything and was expected (again) to be there for my family.

This was in stark contrast to when I had a national audition which took me to the other side of the country a month later. I paid my friend to come check on my two pets. A far cry more than what I got for the much longer drive and stay with my parents. All went fine. I was relying on my family to come by and check on my house. A week or so before we left, they backed out. Thank god my friend was there. They didn't have any reason except they didn't want to. Fast forward to when we moved. My family all but threw a FIT hubby and I had to stay the night while our stuff was in our moving van along with our *gasp* two cats. They never left one room in my parent's house. Had their crates and water and litter all taken care of. And yet my parents threw a fit and wanted me to dish out extra money to board them overnight. I couldn't because both are adopted and one has severe separation anxiety from having multiple owners. It took me a long time to talk them into letting our cats simply stay the night. In their house. In the crate. Especially after all I did to leave my own house and pets to accommodate theirs.

There is also a stark difference between the responsibility they put on me vs. on my siblings. My older sister is nearly 25, single and completely capable of being there for my family (probably a lot easier than for me since she isn't married, doesn't live with anyone and has no pets or other commitments in her life). She refuses to. She never answers her phone. She is a reckless driver. More than once my parents have had to fish her out of financial situations because she literally doesn't have a savings account for when things happen- aka cars breaking down. She does not look to the future- nor does she take anyone's advice. She lives in her own little world. It's maddening really. She'll take my little sister out for girly dates, nearly get into accidents with her driving and then drops her off like a hot potato if her friends call her up to hang out. Much of her stubborn mindset has led to this past month where we found out she had a fibroid tumor the size of a 6 mo pregnancy that went unchecked because she is so stubborn she wouldn't see a doctor for YEARS although she frequently complained about female problems. The tumor was harmless and she's out of surgery just fine-  but it could have all been prevented if she had simply taken care of herself and gone in for regular check ups like any responsible adult should. But- she's void of responsibility and taking responsibility for her own errors. My family frequently is stressed out by constantly fishing her out of her own situations, financially or otherwise. Part of me really hopes this medical issue is a wake up call for her to be more responsible with her own affairs.

No one in my family knows her well. She's been distant since she went to college and found her own group of friends. Too bad none of them are there for her because she really does rely on them more than on us. We both grew up conservatively. I went liberal and she went- well, even more conservative- as time went on. I knew our relationship (previously close!) was kaput when my mom and I were cleaning out her college papers to help her out after her freshman year. (I was 16) We found a paper she wrote for comp class telling her professor how spoiled I was and how I got everything (not true). It really broke my heart and my mom's to read how she viewed her family. She has made my parents cry on multiple occasions, honestly fabricating a reality to her friends in which my family was the big bad liberal family (also untrue, but compared to her I guess so) and how I was somehow a loose and wild girl although I never had any freedom and always picked up HER slack when she wasn't around.

Onto my little sister. I try to give her the benefit of youth many, many times. She's nearly 11 now. We adopted her into my family when I was only 12. I loved having a little sister. The age gap between us was HUGE, enough to where she had been raised basically as an only child. My grandma died shortly after she was in our family and my sister went off to college, so it was always me picking up the slack my parents left as my older sister experienced freedom for the first time and frequently lost her credit cards and other items. My little sister was also my parent's priority. This is the phase I started teaching myself at home instead of being home schooled.

As with a lot of youngest siblings, my little sister is given way more freedom than we ever had. She's allowed to wear makeup, listen to whatever music she wants and even back talk to my parents or remain unpunished when she slams off to her room. Her groundings consist of playing the wii and sneaking sweets when my parents aren't looking. She's generous. I give her that. I do believe she's a good person underneath all the wrappings of a brat. I hope she grows out of this phase and turns into a mature adult. Nothing much is expected of her. When I was her age I was cooking and cleaning for myself, often left home alone for hours while my parents were out with my older sister doing things with her and for her. I liked the freedom. She's not trustworthy enough to be left home alone though. Which is why she's so frequently dumped on my doorstep.

Normal family visits from my mom and little sister entail my mom critiquing everything in my new place, the cats, the baby's room, what we 'need' to do and what we should do right away because 'it's dangerous'. aka- call maintenance for that ice cycle over your front stoop (never mind it's a normal part of winter it could kill someone). Ew- you let your cat on your couch? You need to do this and that before the baby comes. Nevermind you're incapacitated and your husband works two jobs. Literally all this within five minutes of them being here. Usually my little sister will run to the bathroom in terms of using it quickly- emerge 10 minutes later when I call out for her since it doesn't take a normal person that long to take a pee! WITH half my good makeup on her face and about 1/3 of one of my favorite body sprays in her HAIR. I don't even keep these items on my sink- but under it. Contained. Out of sight. She looks for them. If I move them she'll tear up my room faster than I can turn my back to find them.

If she spends the night like she nearly did last night- she'll be up for hours antagonizing my cats, drinking my soda in the fridge- something my parents don't allow her to do, reading my stash of love letters without permission (to me from DH on all our anniversaries). Hiding DH's ipod out of sight so she can hide under blankets and watch all the harry potter series, most of which she's not allowed to watch at home due to scary images. It's enough to make me pull my hair out. I know, I know- a lot of kids go through similar stages but she's always been this way. What's mine is always her. Always. Doesn't matter if it's private. She's found and read my diaries. She listens at the door when I'm with DH or worse- having a friend over and we're talking about adult topics. She's humiliated me on purpose during my time dating DH. Showing him my bra collection- and his BROTHER my bra collection when she was way old enough to know better. She told me she did it because she wanted to embarrass me. Didn't get punished. I lent her my radio- she scratched her initials into it with something sharp. Doodled in it in permanent marker and broke my antenna for it. Took her bright nail polish and painted my nightstand with garish scenes when I was out. Never paid for or replaced anything she's broken on purpose. I know it's on purpose. She tells me.

Once she took a tiny bottle of antique perfume I had from my great aunt. I was saving it for my wedding day or another huge occasion. Well- in the course of ONE night she dumped out over 1/3 of its contents on herself and on her dolls. Knowing full well it meant a lot to me. She didn't care. She kicked me in the eye once, didn't care. The list does on. When I was her age I didn't so much as touch my sibling's items, especially ones so valuable to them. I didn't trash my toys or other's property. I took care of my things, maybe that's because we were broke and I knew I wouldn't get another. I wish I could say she's outgrown this, she's trustworthy. But she's not. Quite often she's very unfeeling, uncaring and honestly makes me question if she's able to feel empathy at all.

It's no WONDER I didn't want her over during this week. All the above has really shown me- not it's not me, it's them. I really need to step up and say 'no' to being there all the time for my family. I can't have my little sister stay over when I have a newborn. Quite frankly I don't trust my older sister or younger one with our baby. They can't be trusted to be reliable. I'll be watching them like a hawk if they come visit.

I know I made the right decision in opting out of the high stress situation of housing my sister this week. But I still feel guilty. Does saying 'no' ever get easier??? A lot of heartache and headache I could have saved myself from if I had only said no to so much during our wedding/engagement.

I'm tempted to say no again to the baby shower my mom wants to have for her friends in April- yes, the very friends who are busybodies and their relations. I'm tempted to say no because I know it'll be a miserable experience of acting happy yet again and seeing people I really don't want in my new life or around this exciting time for hubby and me. I am thinking of simply doing a diaper shower, as in - we're not having one- if you want to gift us anything please gift diapers or gift cards as we have all we need for our baby so far. (a lie- but hey- it beats dealing with these people in person) Having a small get together with the people we CARE about at our own home. And calling it a day.

I'm tempted to go to the hospital without telling anyone, maybe asking a neighbor to check on our pets while we're gone so I don't have to deal with my family announcing the birth the world and having a lot of unwanted visitors shortly after or IN the hospital. After all, DH's FAMILY doesn't even know the gender- when the due date is- or when the baby is born- why should these people if I barely know them. To me that's just really awkward. Also I'm worried my mom will go against my wishes and invite the N's down for a shower if she's hosting- although my dad said over his dead body will they ever enter his house.

It's a mess. I'm a mess. A pregnant, guilt-ridden mess trying to tell myself to snap out of it. I need to be strong for my new family and for my coming son. I can't be babysitting for a preteen when I have a newborn in the house, let's face it. My family needs to view me as an adult, a fully-functioning I-have-my-own-life adult.

I do still want to move someday. But I know I need to start the process of detachment now. Whether my family was ever really there for me, I don't know. Maybe they were. But they're not anymore. They don't respect my wishes. I need to act accordingly to make a better life for myself. To treat myself with respect and to respect that I just can't do it all. My world revolves around three people now, my husband and my son and myself.

Sorry most of this was a vent. I know my family has many wonderful qualities- but heck- anyone does compared to my in laws! I love them. I do. But right now I don't like them very much. I have to be open and say that truthfully.

I'm not perfect. No family is perfect. But I needed to vent to get some of those thoughts out of my head. Off I go about my day to NOT be guilty now. .... we'll see how long this lasts. ;)


  1. Okay... deep breath.... please don't be offended by the assessment
    that is to follow. Writing it because I see you are absolutely overwhelmed,
    stressed out, and in the hope that you can give up some of the guilt
    you presently feel for saying no.

    One disclaimer: your family of origin are NOT 'bad' people. Have not
    seen anything that would qualify them as 'bad'. So, keep that in mind
    while reading the feedback.

    Here is what I see... I see a family that lacks boundaries on a grand scale.
    I see a family full of folks that do not enforce boundaries on their
    own behavior in terms of how they treat others. I see parents (your
    parents) who do not enforce normal boundaries with your youngest
    sister. I see that you are far and above the 'good child' and the
    'person who can be relied upon'. I see that you are the person
    everyone comes to when they want something. You are the one
    who has put into the role of meeting the needs of everyone around
    you while at the same time being expected to not have any needs
    of your own. You are supposed to play the role of the 'yes person'
    and the one who can pull the family together when things fall

    But, I am going to have to say that this will need to change as of
    now. You need to put yourself, your child, and your husband first.
    Period. You are a mom now and priorities must change. You need
    to do this for the benefit of your son but also for the benefit of
    your own wellbeing...and that loops back around to your son. If
    you take care of your own well-being first, then you will have all
    of the energy you need to meet your sons needs. And infants have
    a lot of needs. You must draw the line. You must say 'no' and you
    must stand up for yourself.

    to be continued...

  2. part 2-- had to break up the post since it was too long.

    No one, family or not, has any business spreading your personal
    life on Facebook or talking about deeply personal things to others.
    Period. No one has a right, family or not, to put their burdens onto
    you. It is unfair, but even more, it enables people. Since you are
    taking over THEIR responsibilities, you are enabling them to continue
    to be irresponsible or not accountable for their own lives. Now,
    you are not an enabler at heart-- you are a kind person who wants
    to do the best for everyone she loves. But, when you keep doing things
    they should be doing, you end up enabling bad behavior on their
    part even though this is NOT your intention.

    And as for your little sister-- seriously. I would be livid if a family
    member treated me that way-- child or not. There is no excuse for
    your little sister doing the things that she does. Once again, she
    needs boundaries placed on her. By NOT hosting her in your house,
    that was a boundary. In fact, you can chose to NOT host your sister
    ever again. Or, at least if you choose to host her in the future because
    you enjoy spending time with her, you need to set ground rules and
    expectations of how she will behave while at your house.

    Now, when you start enforcing boundaries, people in your family
    are going to kick and scream. (Not literally, but emotionally). But
    you need to remember, you are not being cruel or mean. They will
    react badly because you have made things to easy for them. They
    will have to start taking accountability for their own lives when you
    start saying no. They will complain, they might say things like 'you
    have changed', they might cry. BUT, none of these things are true,
    What they are really complaining about is the fact that they will now
    have to pick up THEIR OWN slack in life. Because when you were
    picking it up for them, life was pretty easy!!!

    Let me finish by saying that again I do not believe your family is
    'bad'. People in the family have just gotten placed into roles that
    are not healthy for everyone in the family. Boundaries need to be
    set and you need to take care of yourself. Please do not allow
    guilt to take over. You are a mom now and you MUST be there
    for your child. He is the most important thing and you (and your
    husband) are all he has. In order to thrive, he needs parents who
    are looking out for his needs first. Otherwise, you will be too tired to
    attend to his needs. Everyone in your family is an adult and it is
    time they meet their own needs and start taking care of themselves.
    You can longer do that and raise a child at the same time.

  3. part 3... boy, really had to break up the post!!

    By the way, just wanted to do some self-disclosure on my part.
    Everything I have written above I have learned through my own
    experience. While my parents are wonderful people and very kind,
    my father is the type who does not like to solve his own problems.
    He always looks to someone else for that whether it be his own
    parents, my mom, or me to right things in his life when things go
    wrong. Now, I am not talking about anything big like crime or
    chemical dependency. I come from a family that literally lives the
    10 commandments and always has. My dad doesn't deal with stress
    well and kind of shuts down when he gets stressed out. He becomes
    immobilized. So, everyone in the family always rallies around him and
    kind of care takes him when this occurs. I stopped being a care-taker
    years ago and kind of have childhood stories similar to yours in terms
    of knowing how to prepare meals and clean house at a very early age.
    Literally also started working when I was 10 years old because I wanted
    to learn about how to be a self-starter and self-reliant. Would mow
    lawns, clean the houses of elderly neighbors etc. After I turned
    16, would work on landscaping crews or anything else that paid
    semi-well. Also worked 2 jobs during college and on and on. This
    was certainly a natural reaction to watching a father who would get
    immobilized by stress. There was a part of me that always knew that
    I needed to be financially independent well before I ever married. And
    I was and our family still benefits from all of the saving and investing
    I did before I got married. So, know ALL ABOUT being the over-achiever
    and the one who picks up the slack. Have had to learn how to not do
    that with my dad. But, I will admit it has taken several years to get
    over the guilt. The pull to rush in and help can be overwhelming. But,
    I always remind myself that I am not helping my dad in the long run
    by enabling him. So, I don't. But, sometimes it is very hard to do that.
    Anyhow...can certainly empathize with what you are going through.
    Just be sure to put your own family (you + your husband + your son)

    With Love and BIG BIG BIG HUGS to you, Gracie,

    1. Thanks for commenting. I'm absolutely not offended by any means- I actually welcome insight the more I open up about my family life as I know things need to change. Sometimes it's better if I hear it from those not involved at all as I merely present the facts with my inclination 'this is so not normal'. :)
      I think the change needs to start with not hosting my sister at all. Nada. Nope. Never. I've brought up her behavior to my parents who simply sigh, say her name and then do nothing. Or worse (to her at least)- insist she use her allowance to pay for something new of mine she's broken and then not follow through because she starts a tear-fest. Would she be different if they stuck to their guns and actually made her follow through with her punishment? Absolutely. She's grown out of a lot of behaviors- BUT- there is always a huge BUT- she has not changed to be at the same level of maturity I see among her friends. She has one friend her own age who I see as far beyond her by her actions. She is polite (I know I've only seen this girl when she's on her best behavior)- but consistently tells my sister- no, they don't want to play with you. Why would you ask them to watch you play the wii? That'd be pretty boring for them. We should clean up first. Is it okay if I use this? While my little sister charges through as gracefully as a bull in a china shop and (I feel) should be constantly humiliated at her words and actions when her friend is visiting her. It's good to her someone else thinking her actions are out of line. I've grown up with this as the 'normal'. She's gotten away with everything since birth. Maybe because she's adopted. Maybe not. I really wish she was in a normal school setting because others would set her straight and her behavior would not be tolerated. She really is an embarrassment to me as her sister. I know I'm not her parent- but if I were I'd be utterly mortified by her behavior.
      I'm glad it's been an utterly horrible week and I've been able to wade through so much with my own family and feelings about everything. I'm glad I'm seeing this now, while I'm pregnant. Things are going to change and I'm excited to get my life back from all the pressure!
      A boundary I'm not sure where to set would be the baby shower my mom wants to have for us at their place in April. Free gift grab with all the nosy busybodies ? Maybe. But I really don't feel comfortable seeing ANY of her friends at all while I'm pregnant. Sorry my uterus is not for open discussion and I feel so uncomfortable thinking about sitting through another awkward situation. I'm tempted to say no. To have a small one here with only my husband's friends from work. We could certainly use the money though. I'm just tired of dealing with these people. I know they mean well- but my mom's friends and their daughters- really put me into their box of what grace used to be. who she used to be. At age 14 (like I mentioned previously)

    2. part 2!
      honestly I don't want to actually SEE these people while I am pregnant and don't even want them to come over after the birth of my son. I know they are my mom's friends. But they aren't mine. They don't know me. Frankly I don't want to let them hold/see/visit with my newborn, no more than I am not interested in posing pretty for a shower with them invited. I don't know what to do. :/
      I don't think I'll regret saying no. The fact is, my family letting slip the gender has made me want to call the whole thing off, consistently, for a week now. I don't want to be with them or any of the people who know my personal affairs since that really makes me uncomfortable. I'm still hurt they did this. I don't want to be reminded of painful things this time around. I went through with so much during our engagement to please others. I regret it. Gifts or no gifts. I want to say no.

    3. Part 1: Your little sister

      You have an absolute right NOT to host your sister at all-- ever. You have
      a right to be bothered and even angry at your sister's behavior. It does not
      matter that she has not finished 'growing up'. Boundaries must be set on
      children at all ages, otherwise they can end up behaving in very
      undesirable ways. The way your sister behaves is NOT OKAY. The fact that
      your parents allow her to behave this way is NOT OKAY. Even if this
      is a case of your parents being lenient and just not noticing her bad behavior--
      or if it is a case of your parents having given up on her bad behavior, that
      is also NOT OKAY.

      One time a friend said something to me that had never occurred to me.
      While it is probably common sense to others, it was not
      common sense to me-- and yet it is such a simple thing.
      The thing my friend told me was this:

      ANYONE ELSE HOW TO TREAT US. Therefore, we must demand
      that we be treated with respect at all times if we wish to be respected.

      Wow...when my friend told me that-- I think I was like 35 years old
      at the time-- I was blown away. A light bulb went on in my head.
      I literally had never realized that we do teach people how to treat us.

      You see, I had been taught that I was supposed to be the perfect model of
      excellent behavior, the epitome of kindness, the one who turned the
      other cheek and forgave. (I was and I still strive to be that person.)
      BUT, I was taught that no matter what another person did, I was still
      to be that perfectly forgiving Christian who just kept on giving.

      Therefore, it never occurred to me that 1) We teach people how
      to treat us; or 2) We have a RIGHT to demand that others treat
      us respectfully at all times.

      Nope, no one ever taught me that and when looking at the past,
      I see several things that could have gone better if I had known this.
      But, as they say, better late than never and I have spent the past 5
      years learning how to set boundaries in a way that is fair and in a way
      where I don't come away from the situation feeling riddled with guilt.

      In your sister's case, you are going to have to teach her how to
      treat you.

      You are also going to have to teach your parents how to treat you.

      THIS IS YOUR BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, GRACIE. So, puuulllleeeaaaassse
      don't feel guilty!!!! :-)

      But, the most important thing is this: you will need to start doing
      boundary setting just to keep your sanity. (No, I don't mean you will
      literally go insane if you don't. I mean you will get very over-stressed if you
      don't and stress is not healthy for mom or baby).

      FInally, if you still feel too guilty setting boundaries with your family and
      teaching them how to treat you in a respectful way, think of this:
      If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for your son. He needs a mom
      who is as stress-free as possible. He needs a mom who is focusing on
      him and his needs rather than being pulled in all directions by others.


      BIG HUG! :-)

    4. Part 2:
      You do not have to have a baby shower. It sounds like having a shower
      will be a humiliating and uncomfortable experience. You have a right NOT
      to have a baby shower.

      Maybe you can set up an online gift registry; or a fund at a bank where folks can donate money for the baby. Certainly understand that it is helpful to get the
      necessities covered before he arrives. There has got to be another way to
      have folks donate some stuff without having to be there in person.

  4. Grace, some advice I got that I found helpful: "Free things have a cost". If you go to the shower for the goodies, the cost is having to deal with your mother's friends, and giving them fodder for gossip. You have to decide if the baby gifts are worth the stress and the talking that will go on behind your back.

    I come from a family very similar to yours and it's not easy. As to your sister: would you allow a large, destructive, untrained, un-housetrained dog in your house? That's what your sister is. IMO, it would be a kindness for you to start showing her that people don't behave that way--nobody else in your family seems to care.

    1. That's such good advice! Something I'm definitely writing down for the future. My best friend and I are in the same stages of saying 'no' and holding each other accountable for turning down some potentially horrid social situations.
      I've definitely felt that the gifts are in no way worth the cost of going to an in-person shower. My living grandmother (dad's mom) wrote hubby and I a letter recently. Her words touched me too. She really gave comfort in that babies won't remember what they didn't have brand new, etc. They grow out of everything so quickly that it's more important to cherish the time and memories with them than worry over what we can or can't afford right now. This just hit so close to home. She never had much. We never did growing up. Looking back I'd rather my parents looked out for me like I hope to look out for our son. Not being sucked into other people's drama but actually putting aside the best years of my life for the loves of my life- my husband and son. To me a shower run by my parents is completely not worth it. I don't care whom I offend in the process. I'm not doing it!

  5. "Who knew standing up for myself would be so hard." "I've been feeling hugely anxious/nervous and guilty since I told my mom..."
    This has been probably the finest Post I've read regarding "What Happens" when an AC attempts to differentiate, to escape the Role for which they've been groomed since time immortal. Further, your Post elucidates a variety of responses to Parental Neglect vis a vie the adaptations of the kids to Neglect.
    Your oldest sister plays fast and loose with adult responsibilities, instead preferring and indeed *expecting* your parents or you to dig her out/"rescue" her from the Natural Consequences of her behavior. She demands all the attention be focused on her latest and greatest Drama thereby focusing *all* the attention-not to mention-material resources from her self-induced "Victim" Status be afforded to Her Majesty. In her world, you exist as a tool, as does any other unwitting person who happens to wander into her world. She is the consummate Predatory "Victim" and shamelessly reminds you of your *non-existant status* in her world when your presence/talents/caring are not required at the present moment. However, she "calls in" her self-delusional chits when it serves her purposes to re-focus the familial attention and resources on Her Majesty. Even youngest sis functions as a tool when it is necessary to maintain Her Majesty's Appearance of being the Ultimate Oldest Sis and thus is just as easily discarded as you when she no longer is necessary to prop up Her Majesty's Image or utility.
    Youngest sis is competing for the same outcome/resource as you hoped to achieve: Parental Unconditional Love and Acceptance. In these FOOs, there's a Starvation Mentality in that there's only "so-much" approval/love (again, conditional is better than none) Parental Love to be gained. Consequently, if you/older sis get *any*, that means there's LESS for her-if any left over at all. That Scarcity Mentality in conjunction with all kinds of reinforcement for years from the Parents ensures all the siblings will have painful relationships.
    Remember: According to the Parents, "Family is ALL you have! We're the *only* ones you can depend on" etc. despite the reality of their behavior which is in complete opposition to these kinds of proclamations. You've been hard-wired, Gracie, to not question the disparity between what your Parents say, the platitudes they spout and the reality of their behavior. They insist they *want* "their kids" to have close relationships-"Remember, when we're GONE, you'll only have one another!" and speak despairingly about any "rift" between their kids. The fact is, the Parents set this template up ages ago in effort to fulfill *their* needs, not the needs of their children. It seems to me this is at the heart of the struggle in which you now find yourself.
    In a nutshell, they abdicated the role of "Parent" by making their kids responsible for them AND for one another through abdications of their responsibilities/Neglect and reinforcement of attitudes/behaviors which ensure to this day their kids prop up the transparent illusion of "Family." You are now aware it's BS and you're furious, frustrated and resentful.
    WELL YOU SHOULD BE. Your feelings are a normal out-growth of an abnormal situation. As you attempt to back away from the crap, their efforts to push your guilt/anxiety buttons will increase exponentially: How DARE you, Gracie, the "Family Fixer" call BS when you see it. And have lived through it.

  6. (Part 2)
    Sometimes, it's really hard to articulate the tone and tenor, the "music behind the words" so let's take a look at the Parental responses in your Post: "I haven't heard anything from my family except "We'll manage" and "She's out of surgery fine." "
    Sounds reasonable, right? On the surface of course these types of "responses" always do. However, your history with your FOO and their responses allows you to see beneath the surface to the abject disapproval, the message that screams, "SHAME on you Gracie! We'e here busting our asses (no, they haven't-they're circling the wagons) and you haven't answered our clarion call to take care of bid'ness as we *expect* you to!"
    Covert shaming and blaming. And THAT'S what you're picking up on, Ms. G. And THAT'S what pushes your anxiety and guilt buttons through the roof. How well they know which levers and buttons to push/manipulate: They installed them. If you were somehow lacking-in conscience, in empathy and not invested in making this Family "work,"-these kinds of messages wouldn't "work." But the reality is, you indeed do possess *all* of these wonderful qualities which are actively and covertly being used against you in an effort to remind you once again of your Role, your "place" in this FOO-lishness.
    Yk, once you open the door to awareness you can't slam it shut: You can't "un-know" what you know to be truth. And acting on that reality will result in a huge back-lash from all members of your Family. How dare you rock the boat? How dare you bring light into the covert-as well as overt-manifestations of the Legacy of Parental Neglect? No matter how gently you try to "go quietly into the night," every effort on your part to no longer participate in the FOO-lishness is going to meet with frantic, unabashed overt and covert efforts to keep you enmeshed.
    This is exactly what I meant when I spoke to the lack of elasticity in these FOOs: They refuse to see you as most fundamentally a separate, unique human being in your own right. You are not "allowed" to grow, individuate, to have your OWN thoughts/feelings/experiences, to be the unique human being you are: This is entirely too threatening to the lurching-along, screwed-up FOO.
    Every last living entity from a single celled amoeba to an adult human being is meant to Grow. To develop. To individuate. To separate. To strike out on their own. Paradoxically, these FOOs stand human growth and development on it's head, seeing these natural evolutions as a threat to their very existence. Consequently, your efforts will be met with all kinds of tactics to jerk you back to their rigid "back-wierds," Roles/Rules, distorted view of themselves and their world and everyone in it: Ultimately, it's all about Power and Control. Possession. Tools-To-Be-Used as it suits the "Owner(s)." And you can be certain once that "tool" has outlived it's usefulness, it will be cast aside before the "tool" decides on it's own, "I am NOT gonna be treated in a way which denigrates me, denies my basic nature (humanity) any longer."
    Unless the tool walks away on it's own. In the event this happens, the "one that got away" will face a Smear Campaign beyond belief. Not only will you loose the (faux) "approval" of your FOO when you stop playing the game, you and/or DH will be denigrated, slimed and maligned beyond belief.
    Sadly this is a part of the price we pay for being true to our knowledge, experiences and speaking up for our most basic human needs: To be treated with dignity and respect. The other option-denying our reality, years of experience, our ability to see the underlying dynamics ensures a slow, painful metaphorical death by strangulation courtesy of our "FOO."
    The label is *not* the person or the Family. The reality is much, much uglier.

  7. TW, thanks so much for your response. Your comments really put into words what I've been feeling. It's been a whole week since the terrible incident at my parents home ending with my mom in tears over the gender reveal. I saw her (and my older sister) for the first time since that today at the hospital. I was there anyway for a maternity tour and hubby and I felt like we wanted to drop in for a few minutes as my sister is still recovering from her tumor removal she had done there this past week. My mom was there, too. I'm glad it made my sister at least a little happy to see us. I do miss the close relationship we had in childhood. I know that's probably all but gone now and has been for years- but I'd like to think somewhere deep down she remembers it.
    It was hard seeing my mom again. I haven't talked to her all week. Haven't come by to do laundry, etc. I'm fighting back tears as I write this- not sure if that's related to pregnancy hormones or not- but I am. I don't know what I'm feeling inside- I really am feeling anger and contempt and all the feelings you mentioned I may have towards them. Little things. I pick up on the little things now. You're so right in saying this is how my mom goes about it, getting us to do what she feels is right by her. Ever since I can remember. She is not an overly-emotional person but being home schooled by her has desensitized me to these tactics. Her crying and screaming when I was a little girl. She would get so mad at me she would break my things. We moved when I was nine to a different house. Under my mattress I remember finding a kitchen spatula I had hidden years ago there. She used to spank us with that, well- me. My older sister cried at the drop of a hat but I got the spankings in the family, most of which ended by age 9 or so. I remember that clearly. I remember my grandma had brought me back a bamboo painted fish mobile from the caribbean islands on her travels to see family. I don't remember why, what it was about. I think it was over my unfinished homework (when she did teach me that is). I remember she ran into my room and tore it off my wall. She trampled it into the ground. I still have that mobile. The shards I could find of it. I scooped them up into a pile and put them into a plastic bag, telling myself I would fix it. It was beyond repair. But I would fix it. I loved it so it would work. She did that to several of my things, containers, dolls, anything I held special value to. I only have a handful of things unbroken left in my keepsake box that I still have.
    She would cry. She told me it was 'for me'. For when I acted out against being abandoned by my family at age twelve. She talked to my dad about my 'anger' and told him to take me downtown to show me where I would end up. As a prostitute. Sleeping with guys who 'weren't my husband' because of the way I was acting out (I don't remember being anything but angry, angry at everything and understandably so after my grandma's death)...

    1. part (2) whew this is getting long!
      She would cry about the cross and about Jesus. Probably why I never ever 'got' the Bible. Not according to her anyway. It was jaded by tears I couldn't equate to anything normal. Whenever my mom would cry something was wrong. Something was MY fault. Looking back I see it wasn't.
      She does things in this way. She underhandedly tries to manipulate me.
      In my time away from home, in discovering myself I have certainly strayed from this path. No self-respecting girl wears a two piece. I did. And she saw me at the pool in it. Later that day she posted on facebook how Christian women shouldn't wear bikinis (I understand the point- but really, mom, really??? I know several good friends who choose not to wear them, but I did. My husband was comfortable with it. So was I. I was 22 and MARRIED at the time with my own place with my OWN pool and my mom has to go and do that publicly the very afternoon after seeing me in a two piece)
      It was upsetting.
      Today we saw her again at the hospital as I mentioned. Another thing struck me as odd. I mentioned my lack of sleep and discomfort due to pregnancy as she was asking me how I was doing. She said 'oh, stop it' like she was disregarding everything I was saying. I've had a really difficult pregnancy this far and I know (I know!) it will get worse before it gets better. But I don't need that. I don't need her denying my right to what... insomnia??? It's just so ridiculous. That's what she was doing though. Unless it's la-la-cheer about the baby, about pleasing HER, about seeing my family and doing things with them or to HER liking (home improvements around my house, etc) I have absolutely nothing to talk about with her. I realized today how awkward that was. Unless I ask about her friends, her life, my sisters, the DOG even- I have to be chipper about everything.
      She had a nickname for whenever my sister or I would get depressed in high school. 'Miss D' D for depressed of course. She would say things like 'oh Miss D won't want to go with us'.
      Looking back on this is so hurtful. Really hard for me to even write this. I want to write more of these memories to actually let the TRUTH of it all flood out of me. You're right, I can't hold it in! Once you see the tip of the iceberg you have to look at the rest of it. You have to size it up and realize your whole life you were only looking at a piece of it as if it were no more than an ice cube that would fit in a glass.
      I don't know what else to say but I AM mad at them. Angry I am not allowed to feel the way I do or live my life without complete and utter judgement. Without prayer and constant 'nudging' to go to her church. To get 'plugged' in in a way that she approves of. In a way that would 'solve all my problems'. I know it won't. Because I followed that advice my entire life and it's only ended up making me miserable! IT IS BS. I know I don't share the same values as my mother. Or my family for that matter. (God knows my sisters think I'm a whore for wearing what I do- for living the way I do just by not going to church)But it's a different matter entirely for them to have treated me the way they have. It's not simply agreeing to disagree on certain issues- it's the way they have and are still trying to have- control over me and my life.
      -sorry for the longgg posts- I certainly feel I've turned over a new section in my life that needs to be written about, too. I never knew there was so much crap until I started looking it over this past week. It's a lot to process!

    2. Oh my. I'm so sorry this is happening. These people aren't emotionally or physically safe to have around you or your baby:

      "Quite frankly I don't trust my older sister or younger one with our baby. They can't be trusted to be reliable. I'll be watching them like a hawk if they come visit."

      Well, you are already too exhausted to be having to do that, and why risk it at all, given the following:

      Your older sister is irrationally jealous: "We found a paper she wrote for comp class telling her professor how spoiled I was and how I got everything (not true)." Is she safe to have around you or your son?

      You're younger sister is jealous and vengeful:
      "She kicked me in the eye once, didn't care...Quite often she's very unfeeling, uncaring and honestly makes me question if she's able to feel empathy at all...I lent her my radio- she scratched her initials into it with something sharp. Doodled in it in permanent marker and broke my antenna for it. Took her bright nail polish and painted my nightstand with garish scenes when I was out. Never paid for or replaced anything she's broken on purpose. I know it's on purpose. She tells me." Is she safe to have around you or your son?

      Your mother is irrationally jealous and vindictive and vengeful: "I remember my grandma had brought me back a bamboo painted fish mobile from the caribbean islands on her travels to see family...I remember she [your mother] ran into my room and tore it off my wall. She trampled it into the ground...She did that to several of my things, containers, dolls, anything I held special value to. I only have a handful of things unbroken left in my keepsake box that I still have."

      Is your mother safe to have around you or your son?

      How can they be counted on to not cross the line with your son?

      'Accidents happen' with these types; it's too tempting for them when they're feeling all sullen and resentful and disgruntled, for whatever reasons or nonreasons.

      Just the stress of trying to deal with or placate these people is emotionally and physically directly harmful to you and your baby. --quartz

  8. Oh, Little One, This is so sad, really. From the destruction of the mobile your beloved gma gave you (which, BTW, is inappropriate beyond belief), the manipulative tears, the name calling, the demands-and yeah, they are demands-you and DH create your "nest," YOUR HOME according to her "specifications" etc.
    None of this is "for you," Gracie, not a bit of it: It's all for HER, from her projection of her anger/frustration, "depression" etc. on you to the "Dog-'n-Pony Show" she wants to "put on" for your Shower: THAT'S just more of her projecting her wants/whims on you. Quite frankly, my sense is she has been jealous of you and your life for years, wanted to *be* you and appears to believe she *is* you and you better play your/her "Script" or face the consequences of shaming/blaming/raging etc.
    What a manipulative bitch. She wants to take credit for all your achievements from your (self) education to your successful college completion, successful career, successful marriage, pregnancy, home-anything and everything she can expropriate from you, she's determined to make all about HER.
    I'm not a Christian, OK? I'm just a recovering Catholic-years of Catholic School "education" in the '50's/'60's left their mark. But all this oh-so-pious act she pulls (and yeah, IMO, it's an act) tells me she's as much a hypocrite about her Religious Fervor as she is about the rest of her so-called 'life" and pulls that card out when it suits her.
    I'm not trying to hijack here, but just a quick question: You've mentioned your Engagement and Wedding is some previous Posts. Did you do a Post about them that I missed? I'm asking, not because I wish for you to re-live what sounds like hell, but because as the expression goes, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. And I'm thinking about the "Shower" she's planning for you which sounds like a nightmare you'd want to avoid at all costs-for good reason! But somehow, I missed the Engagement/Wedding debacle-if you could direct me to that/those Posts, I'd appreciate it-Thanks!

  9. It's very possible this is what's happening. We are alike- very much so- much to my own dismay at times. I feel in some way this is her living out her life as she wished she had years ago- marrying a different man- living more christ-like than she does now (in her mind, anyway- she wasn't actually a christian until I came along)- there is her way or the highway. I do surmise that she uses religion as a way of explaining her actions and her thought processes. Maybe even subconsciously? I'm not sure. Still figuring that out. I feel she projects a LOT without realizing it and of course some realizing completely what she's doing.
    I'm not a Christian either- not really. I believe in God and I try to live my life according to the Bible (not the religion I grew up with- for me it took a lot of self discovery that the Jesus I know now is a LOT different than the Jesus my parents worship) So I totally understand you there. In some ways it is a recovery process! Recovering evangelical I guess if you have to pin point me right now lol.
    Oh no problem. I'm not sure if I ever outlined exactly the wedding/engagement struggle for me with my own family- I mainly focused on my in laws so it may be worth it to go back and write out the facts for, as you say- the past repeats itself. It'd be good for me to list out exactly what happened with my own family instead of focusing on the N's. If I can't find a direct post about it- I'll do an updated post including that :) Thanks for pointing that out. I tend to lose posts I don't tag.


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