I can't do it. Am I supposed to?

by Ingenuous 15 Replies latest social family

  • Ingenuous

    My parents are acting loopy. Not toward me, but toward my sister. She's not doing anything wrong, just experiencing the normal ups and downs and unplanned surprises of marriage. Instead of giving her credit for how far she's come in her personal development - learning lessons she she spend 20 years missing the point of - by living with her choices, accepting the consequences, and doing her best with what she's got, they harp on her bad choices, refusing to let go, move on, and deal with present reality. While all that is rough on my sister, it's working pretty well for me - I seem to be under the folks' radar and they've taken a break from emotionally blackmailing me over my choice to leave the Org.

    I've been told that I should enjoy the break, enjoy the seeming sanity in our relationship for the moment, and not worry about what may come in the future. But I've found it impossible to do.

    During the last "blow-out" with my folks, they showed me such disrespect and insulted me so deeply, that I was in too much shock at the time to react rationally to it. I just sat there and blubbered while they walked all over me. Begging - through tears - to be heard, to be respected, to be given the dignity of having my own feelings meant nothing. I wasn't nasty or disrespectful - I just told them not to put words in my mouth or thoughts in my head, to listen to me and believe me when I told them how I felt and thought. Nothing - they had drawn their conclusions and nothing could change that. I learned that my father had gone behind my back and engaged in a reconnaissance mission to my apartment when I wasn't there to see if he could find anything incriminating. (Since he didn't "rifle through any papers", he figures it was OK. And, no, my parents no longer have keys to my apartment.) Of course, their perspective is that they are just loving parents and I'm going to have to learn things "the hard way" since I won't take advantage of their wisdom.

    So now, when they speak cheerfully when I call, when they act normal, when they do things that would normally make me feel safe around them, I can't buy it. My trust in them has been completely demolished. I cannot enjoy their seeming pleasantness when I don't know if it's a put on, a set-up, a ploy. I can't relax when I don't know if they will attempt to confront me tomorrow, when I know that, at the sound of a single sentence from the elders, they will treat me as if I'm dead. My father has told me plainly that they will have nothing to do with me if I DA or am DF'd. I have no interest in or need to do either, but just typing that sentence makes me wonder why I bother trying so hard to maintain this relationship.

    I want to tell them what I'm feeling, but I've already been ignored once, and that in the midst of tears and pleading. Am I missing it? Am I too prideful or bitter or heardhearted? Is there some joy or blessing in this situation that I'm preventing myself from experiencing?

  • mkr32208

    Sounds like your dealing from a weak position "I just sat there and blubbered", "begging to be heard..."

    1) Get some therapy (I do not mean this to be negative nasty or insulting IT WILL HELP)

    2) You are not a dog! Do not beg EVER you bow to NO man OR woman! You take disrespect from NO ONE if it's in their house you tell them so and leave, if in your house you tell them so and THROW THEM OUT!



  • Xandria

    Assertiveness Training

    Being assertive is about standing up for yourself. It's about expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your needs. If we look at behavior on a continuum: assertive behavior sits in between being passive and being aggressive.There are plenty of times in your daily life that assertive skills can come in handy. You'll use these skills at home, at work, with friends, with family and with your significant other. When should you not be assertive? Well, if a police officer is giving you a ticket, I'd advise you to just sit back and take it - don't practice your assertiveness skills in that situation, being passive may be called for. When should you you be aggressive? Well, possibly when you are physically threatened, but usually I think it's better to just get out of there!

    You might find that you are pretty assertive in some situations, that there are other times when you are passive, and still others when you are aggressive. This mini lesson will help you to improve in the areas that you are weaker in. Take notice of how you act at work, with your parents, etc. You might note differences. Lots of people have a tendency to act like they are five years old when they are with their parents, or with their siblings, yet are perfectly assertive with coworkers. Take an inventory of your behavior in all your interpersonal relations and then get to work on being more assertive where appropriate.

    We can all learn to be assertive. Most of us weren't born with these skills.

    Let's look at where some of our passive behavior comes from. You may have learned to be somewhat passive. Maybe you were told to be seen and not heard, or that it's selfish to ask for what you want in life. Perhaps you consider it rude or disrespectful to say "no" to people when they ask you to do something or go somewhere. Maybe you don't know how to set limits. You let people make decisions for you and take advantage of you. Is this what you want to be doing?

    Maybe you don’t readily express your opinions, you go along if someone asks you to go somewhere (even if you don't want to) and you most likely end up regretting that you did, but you don't know what else to do. You are definitely not in control of your life.

    On the other hand if you use the aggressive style, you are able to speak up for yourself, but at the expense of others' feelings. You blame others, you make them feel guilty, etc. In the end you make others resent you and you end up losing.

    An assertive person expresses his or her thoughts, feelings and needs directly, while taking into account the rights and feelings of others. You are able to say "yes" or "no" to the offers of others. You are able to accept rejection of your offers without taking them personally. You state your desires, but don't necessarily get what you want. Being assertive doesn't guarantee that you get what you ask for, but you have the satisfaction of having asked, and having made yourself clear.

    Let's talk about some of your basic rights as a person:

    •You have a right to say "no".

    •You have the right to say "I don't know".

    •You have the right to say "I don't care".

    •It's ok to put your own feelings, thoughts and needs first. In other words it's not necessarily selfish to think of yourself first.

    •You're allowed to make mistakes.

    •You're allowed to change your mind. It's not always best to stick with a plan, a relationship, etc. Live and learn.

    •Your feelings matter. In your childhood perhaps you were taught that your feelings were wrong, so now you don't trust yourself. Your feelings are telling you something. They were put there to help you. Pay attention to them.

    •You're allowed to have your own opinions. You don't have to agree with others, even authority figures.

    •You have a right to be alone sometimes.

    •It's ok to interrupt others sometimes. You might need a question answered or something.

    •It's ok to ask for change (and I don't mean nickels, dimes and quarters).

    •It's ok to ask for help or support. You don't have to do it all alone. You're not necessarily bothering other people if you ask for help. It's ok to let others know that you are in pain.

    •You don't have to take the advice of others.

    •It's ok to want some recognition for your achievements and good work. It's not necessarily showing off.

    •You don't have to justify your decisions to others.

    •You have the right to make decisions which seem illogical to others.

    •You are not responsible for other people's problems. You don't have to take responsibility for them.

    •You don't have to read minds. You don't have to be able to know what other people want. They need to tell you.

    •You don't always have to respond to other people's questions. Just because someone asks you a question, doesn't mean you have to answer it.

    Being assertive means making yourself and your opinions known. There's no pussyfooting around.
    An assertive statement states your opinion on something, your feelings about it and your needs or desires or wants related to it. It does this without putting blame on someone else or making the other person feel like they have to comply or they are a jerk. It's about you and what you think and want.

    If you don't know if the criticism is constructive or manipulative, or if you need more info-- Use this one: Ask "What is it about my... that bothers you?" Example: "What is it about my TV watching that bothers you?"

    The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. A first step is starting to know that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. That we have not only the right, but the duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.

    While you have the right to your opinion, they have a right not to take an insult or deal with a toxic shame comment. Boundaries work both ways.

    In order to stop giving the toxic shame so much power, learn to detach from the reactive process enough to start being able to see a boundary between being and behavior. Learn how to observe behavior without making judgments about yourself and others. There is a huge difference between judgment in my definition and observation.

    Three primary areas in relationship to learning to have a healthier relationship with self and others: boundaries, emotional honesty, and emotional responsibility. We start to naturally and normally: set boundaries with others; speak our Truth; own our right to be alive and be treated with respect and dignity. Setting personal boundaries is vital part of healthy relationships - which are not possible without communication.

    What toxic shame is all about: feeling that something is wrong with our being, that we are somehow defective because we have human drives, human weaknesses, and human imperfections.

    There may be behavior in which we have engaged that we feel ashamed of but that does not make us shameful beings We may need to make judgments about whether our behavior is healthy and appropriate but that does not mean that we have to judge our essential self, our being, because of the behavior. Our behavior has been dictated by our disease, by our childhood wounds; it does not mean that we are bad or defective as beings. It means that we are human; it means that we are wounded and we are all learning. How about cutting people some slack.

    I would seriously suggest you do go to therapy as well, as read the book "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward.You have some highly toxic parents, in which you and your sister need to learn to assert yourself. For if you don't respect yourself and your personal boundaries, how are you going to get them too?

  • Apostate Kate
    Apostate Kate

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ Ingenuous }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    You deserve to recieve unconditional love, and you deserve to feel free to give it. Sometimes such a simple concept as unconditional love gets tangled and shaded. It sounds like you have to set boundaries with them. You will have to have some quiet introspection and decide where they are crossing over your personal boundaries. I agree with the counseling suggestion. I had several different types of therapies after JWs and I still have anger issues.

    You can't contol what your parents are going to do, or feel, towards you. You can only control how you react to what they do. Family dynamics are intense and family birth order plays a part in how they treat you and your sister. As long as they are under the control of the org you cannot trust what they will do, but you can trust yourself and how you will deal with it.

    Don't be sad. It will get better.

  • Gretchen956

    Ingenious, what they are doing is called emotional blackmail. The society has taught them how to do it and they have learned their lesson well. They should be happy that you didn't call the police and have them arrested for breaking and entering. If you are an adult and live on your own they have no right to enter your property without your permission. It is trespassing and if they take something it is burglary. Does not matter if they are related.

    My parents are this way too, only worse if you can imagine that, but I won't hijack your thread with that! I finally had had enough and when they came 1500 miles to visit me and started in with their bull excrement, the guilt, the accusations, the bullying, the fear tactics about armeggedon and the threats of cutting me off I just waited for them to stop and then I told them they were in MY HOUSE and as long as they were IN my house they were going to treat me with respect. And further, I told them if they could not treat me with respect they were free to leave at any time. They stood up, packed up and left without saying another word to me.

    That wasn't the last of them, they still tried, but at long last they decided it was hopeless and decided to cut me off. It has been SUCH a blessing. I can't tell you how peaceful my life is, every single time they called my blood pressure would go up, I would have anxiety attacks about the confrontations and cons and guilt trips. After I was cut off it has been so so peaceful.

    Here's the best thing about it. I was able to come to terms with them and with their attitude and their parenting and their "crap". While it was happening I really hated them. But afterwards when I had had time to reflect about it I realized that they can't help it, they are doing what they know and what they believe in and they really don't know any better.

    I hope that you can take some of the good advice you have gotten about talking to someone (therapy really can help), and about asserting yourself. But you have to come at it from a position of power. When you beg and plead and cry, they have the power.

    Be strong, you can stand up to them and so can your sister. There is a point where you can choose not to be abused. Don't give your abuser any more power over you.



  • AuldSoul


    You are the opposite of disingenuous. Those who do not appreciate what you appreciate will take advantage of that if you let them. Remind yourself that decision mking from an emotional base is likely to lead to an undesirable outcome and remember that the emotional base is what they will appeal to.

    I know it is tough to think this way, but masterful abusers shift between compliment and nicety to downright vile and bitter. That is the cycle you are trapped in with your family, the organization they are a part of actively teaches sociopathy as a valid coping mechanism and training tool. It is endemic to the cult mentality.

    Bitter, vicious rejection if you do not meet their standards, and fake niceness if you seem to be trying to. I'm not encouraging you to choose the way I chose, but the reason I chose to DA was to get some finality and end the pressure they were able to exert. Apart from my wife, my family doesn't know the announcement will be read tomorrow night. My door and heart will always be open to them, why would I say goodbye? They will cut me off until they feel regret for it. If I have anything to do with it, they will regret it when the organization they are enslaved to no longer has the strength to hold them in shackles.

    To quote a good friend of mine, "I'm not losing my friends over this. I'm not losing my family because of their lies."

    Why would I be satisfied with the liars being unpunished and the one who wanted to expose them being a pariah? I will kill the beast that ate my family, or I will die trying. And as it lays dying, its life blood (money) pouring from its many wounds, it will see me smile.

    Take courage, Ingenuous. No evil can forever withstand the collective will of those it wrongs.


  • Ingenuous

    Thank you all for that much needed slap upside the head! Mkr, Xandria, thank you for reminding me of my rights and responsibilities. Apostate Kate and Sherry, thank you for your compassion. AuldSoul, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    I did visit a therapist after the last incident with my parents, which was just under 6 weeks ago. In addition to keeping the keys, I stopped visiting my parents for about 3 weeks. I wanted to stay away from them for a while. That was a big step for me, since, after letting my folks know I was leaving the Org, my calls and visits have been more out of guilt and obligation than because I actually enjoyed visiting them.

    My weeping and pleading during that "discussion" was a special low point. I was so completely unprepared for their behavior and so shocked that my parents weren't the people I thought they were. After leaving and getting myself together, I decided that I could no longer trust them. I decided that religion would no longer be an acceptable topic for discussion. Instead of calling them multiple times a day and spilling all the details of my thoughts and deeds - as I'd done all my life - I call a couple times a week and keep my plans and activities to myself.

    It took writing this thread and reading your responses to refine things for me. While I can trust them to come through in an emergency and to feel what they consider love for me, I can no longer trust them in specific areas: with my more fragile emotions, with my privacy. And I've learned that when I disagree on an area as important to them as religion, they don't address the issues, but resort to attacking my motives and my integrity. They've got sore points that make them nasty when touched.

    So now I have to decide if that's enough. I realized after reading the replies that part of the problem is that I'm still trying to hold to the old terms of our relationship: I do what they want, try to anticipate their desires and take responsibility for making them happy, and they will, in turn, give me their approval and displays of affection. A big part of the disappointment I feel after a decent conversation with them is from the fact that, unlike them, I can't act like everything is normal, and I know things will never be the way they were, no matter how much I want to get back to that fuzzy, nebulous, unbordered blob of codependency we called a relationship. If I'm going to maintain this relationship, I have to write new terms: I love them for the good I see in them and know is there and refuse to feed the sides of their personalities that have been warped by this religion. I have to inject some space into the relationship and, while giving up the responsibility for their emotions and happiness, take up the responsibility of caring for my own, independent from and regardless of anyone else.

    And to just think that four months ago, everything was honky-dory and I was happily ensconced in an immature relationship with my parents and a spiritually abusive relationship with the Org!

  • luna2

    Sometimes there are things you have to accept about your parents, set boundries based on those things, and never cross them.

    I cannot completely trust my parents. I didn't realize this until 13 years ago when I foolishly said I'd move out to CT with them and work in their store. They made many promises (wage they'd pay me, training I'd get, duplex they'd buy using my money as downpayment) which they didn't bother to keep for one reason or another. If I reminded them of said promises, I'd get a lot of excuses, outright denials and abuse. I learned that they have a sort of system in their marriage where my mother comes up with the plans and my father tries to make them work. The problem is that he isn't always honest about his ability to make these plans come to fruition. I guess she's used to being told one thing and getting something else much less than what she asked for or expected. I was not.

    He treated me like he does my mother, as someone looking for him to make everything happen and take care of me. They didn't hear me when I said I could take care of myself. They didn't hear me when I asked for truth. I paid for it big time. I know now what I can and cannot trust them with, but it was a hard lesson to learn. The really sad thing was that it was all so unnecessary. I didn't need them to take over my life in any way.

    Sometimes you can't have the relationship you long for with the people you love. Sometimes you have to face reality and make do with much less.

    It sounds like you are coming to this conclusion yourself. I hope you can find a balance with them that works for you.

  • serendipity

    (((Ingenuous))) It seems that you're trying to find a comfortable, realistic path for yourself. I wish you success!

  • Gretchen956

    Ingenious you have a good head on your shoulders, girl. I'm proud of the progress you've made in a few months. The distance does help to decide what's important in your relationship and what your boundaries are. Good luck to you, I know you'll find your way through this and be happy in your life.



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