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Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:33 pm 
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wildwench wrote:
There is no reason anyone has to endure such hateful behavior from your family. They think they can get away with it because you're "family." Bullshit.

So true. People shouldn't have to put up with behavior they wouldn't tolerate from any other person just because they're genetically related.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:34 pm 
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wildwench wrote:
There is no reason anyone has to endure such hateful behavior from your family. They think they can get away with it because you're "family." Bullshit. You have the right to have the people you choose to have in your life, whether they're blood relatives or not. You are not obligated to put up with anyone who disrespects you. The sooner you get toxic people out of your life, the happier you'll be. .


^This. DH is dealing with that regarding his sister. We have not spoken to her in 3 mos and honestly, I think we are doing better without her. Blood is not always thicker than water.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:35 am 
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Thanks everyone for the advice and support. It really helps.

I am going to at least take a break from dealing with her. Trying to defend myself against everything she said in the letter won't work, obviously, and I am too mad about that to speak with her about other things. I will decide about the longer term later.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:42 am 
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zeca wrote:
Trying to defend myself against everything she said in the letter won't work, obviously, and I am too mad about that to speak with her about other things. I will decide about the longer term later.


Your use of the word "defend" immediately made me remember to bring out the JADE acronym I learned on another forum (one about dealing with difficult in-laws, but I've found it helpful in dealing with lots of different kinds of difficult people.) You never want to JADE - justify, argue, defend, or explain. One of the other posters explained it so much better than I ever could, so I am copying and pasting her advice here:

To JADE is to Justify, Argue (and/or Apologize), Defend, and Explain. You never, ever, EVER want to JADE. JADEing is self-defeating behavior, because it allows the toxic individuals in your life an "in" to beating you into submission. To JADE is to hand over your power to someone else.

By "justifying" your decisions, you hand over your power by giving the other party the right to judge you. Nobody has the right to judge you for your needs.

By "arguing" with the other party, you hand over your power by making their desire to argue with you legitimate. Your needs aren't going to change no matter how much someone argues with you about them.

By "apologizing" to the other party, you hand over your power by admitting you're doing something wrong. You have every right to protect yourself and make sure your own needs are met.

By "defending" your position, you hand over your power by making the other party an authority figure. You're an adult, and fully capable of deciding what you do with your life. Nobody else has a right to tell you how to live.

By "explaining" the reasons for your boundaries, you hand over your power by giving the other party a chance to nullify your own experience. Your experience is your own. It is precious. Nobody else can know whether it's true or not.

I know it can be really really hard to learn new responses to situations, especially situations people have spent years grooming you to react to in specific ways. Fortunately, the script for avoiding a JADE moment is both brief and adaptable. It's something Nancy Regan taught us decades ago: JUST SAY NO!

"No, that won't work for me."
"No, I can't do that."
"No, thank you."

"No" is a complete sentence.

And when the "but whyyyyyyyyy?"s start, break all the grammatical rules with another one-word answer: "Because."

"Because that won't work for me."
"Because I can't do that."
"Because I said no."

The third and final step is the really brilliant one. Change the subject.

"No, I told you I won't be doing that. So how's the weather been where you are? Are the azaleas blooming yet?"

Now, there is a difference between JADEing to toxic people who don't have your best interests at heart, and exploring your own reasoning and reactions with people who are trying to help. You have to learn where that line is for yourself, from situation to situation. It takes practice--and that's okay. If you keep at it, it will become second nature, and you'll find your life is a great deal simpler.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:52 am 
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Several years ago I made a decision to distance myself from certain people in my family. The chaos that accompanied them created problems in my own life. I try to be a fixer in the family when something goes wrong or people have problems with each other. Doing so began to weigh heavy on me. I found myself being pulled in several different directions and felt I was sacrificing my own well being for the sake of helping others in the family who were not only ungrateful, but downright insulting when I couldn't fix things or come up with a solution.

It took a few years to make it happen but, over time, I've whittled down the family members with whom I maintain a relationship from a dozen (immediate and extended) down to 4. The only people in my family with whom I associate are my mother, father, brother and one cousin. My sisters, nephews, nieces and other cousins just aren't worth the time and effort. Making a change like this is not easy and not something to be taken lightly. It will result in hurt feelings, animosity, anger, and some regret. But the thing to remember is that you can't grow as an individual while allowing others, blood or not, to drag you down.

I've never bought in to the whole "blood is thicker than water" cliche. Just because a person is blood doesn't mean they are good for you.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:01 am 
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zeca wrote:
So, if you had to cut off contact with your family member(s), how did you know it was time? How have you dealt with any feelings of guilt? I am feeling guilty about considering this, but I don't know what else to do.


I knew it was time when I finally got it into my head that my mother, brother and sister would never agree to disagree and be a family anyway. It's just not going to happen. It is a very long story about what has happened, and there is a very complicated family dynamic, but the intolerance was, in the end, what killed it. The final straw for me was when my mother told me she could never again be a mother to me, and I realized that she and my siblings do not want to be a family.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:15 pm 
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Strike wrote:
Several years ago I made a decision to distance myself from certain people in my family. The chaos that accompanied them created problems in my own life. I try to be a fixer in the family when something goes wrong or people have problems with each other. Doing so began to weigh heavy on me. I found myself being pulled in several different directions and felt I was sacrificing my own well being for the sake of helping others in the family who were not only ungrateful, but downright insulting when I couldn't fix things or come up with a solution.


We may be related. The icing on the cake is, after you've made your best effort to "fix" a disagreement between relatives, they get pissed at you for "taking the other's side."

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:04 pm 
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I don't know anymore when I knew it was time. But I do know that it was years before I actually, finally could break off contact.

Sickness, illnesses of all descriptions, impending death - expect news of it when you try to cut off contact again. It's a common tactic people use to reel you back in. My parents did it, too. They're both still alive and well. And even if they weren't, I don't see how it would change things between us.

I no longer felt guilty about cutting my parents out of my life by the time I got to do it, so I was "lucky" to not have to deal with guilt-related feelings. The only thing I can tell you about them is that that's where your parents are going to try to attack you to get you back.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:46 pm 
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I've been estranged from family members in the past. I ceased communication after putting up with years of rubbish & them failing to act decently. My mum, throwing a melodramatic hissy fit, threatened never to talk to me again if I chose 'that man' over her. (She didn't even know DH so it was pure attention seeking). I asked her "Is that a promise or a threat?!" She crawled back a year later & tried to pretend it never happened. :roll: Moral of the story - if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. :lol:

Nowadays family members understand that reasonable behaviour is a requirement for maintaining a relationship with me. They don't have to be flawless but they do have to be civil. We're on much better terms now that they've grown up.

So it's possible to have a temporary estrangement. It's not always all or nothing but you need to hold your ground. There isn't always a need to burn bridges. I never said "you're out of my life". I told my mum that I wouldn't tolerate x behaviours. The choice for future reconciliation was up to her.

There's absolutely no reason to feel guilty about expecting to be treated decently. Everyone deserves this & that's how you treat others!

You have nothing to lose, except misery, by cutting people off if they decide that their company is conditional on you accepting their abuse.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 6:05 pm 
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Daphne - Thanks for that JADE tip, it sounds like something I really need to work on. And it is easy to remember, since that is the name of one of our doggies.


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