Author Topic: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.  (Read 12788 times)

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Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2013, 09:11:08 AM »
I would also talk to brother and tell him to never listen to a word your mother says when it comes to plans about all of you.  Just let it go in one ear and out the other.

This is a good point. I do think he and I need to talk more in depth about this. He is becoming increasingly aware that she withholds information from me and that we are often surprised by her plans. He and I had a good talk about her at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, and we share some of the same frustrations where she is concerned.

I only had a couple of minutes last night to let him know that she'd changed the meeting time without telling us. We both rolled our eyes, and he apologized, but of course it wasn't his fault. Part of me wonders if he said something to her last night.

A reality here is that she knows what she's doing, she knows that it's not respectful, she knows how I feel about it, and she continues to do it anyway. I have tried to change my behavior by not caving in when she drops this stuff on me, but it does not seem to be working. This has meant that we have missed numerous holiday meals, birthday celebrations, and other events because she drops them on me when it's too late to for us to attend. I don't know what message she is trying to send, but her behavior comes across as if she does not particularly care whether we attend any of these get-togethers. Then she'll claim that she doesn't get to see DS enough.

I don't want my brother to have to intervene. But maybe he and I could work together to counteract what she's doing.

Lynn2000

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2013, 05:25:18 PM »
A reality here is that she knows what she's doing, she knows that it's not respectful, she knows how I feel about it, and she continues to do it anyway. I have tried to change my behavior by not caving in when she drops this stuff on me, but it does not seem to be working. This has meant that we have missed numerous holiday meals, birthday celebrations, and other events because she drops them on me when it's too late to for us to attend. I don't know what message she is trying to send, but her behavior comes across as if she does not particularly care whether we attend any of these get-togethers. Then she'll claim that she doesn't get to see DS enough.

I don't want my brother to have to intervene. But maybe he and I could work together to counteract what she's doing.

I know this is tough, but I feel like you're doing the right thing here. Maybe she will never get it and change her own behavior. But you have to do what feels best for you. And you can be proactive about making new plans that fit with your schedule. If you miss Aunt Betty's birthday party because your mom didn't tell you until too late, maybe plan your own gathering with Aunt Betty later. Around holiday times, actively contact other members of the family, like your brother, and ask about plans if your mom isn't reliable about telling you. Or make your own plans for a holiday gathering and invite people to it. The first step is realizing your mother is the obstacle, the next step is finding ways around her. Good luck!
~Lynn2000

Danika

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2013, 07:37:05 PM »
A reality here is that she knows what she's doing, she knows that it's not respectful, she knows how I feel about it, and she continues to do it anyway. I have tried to change my behavior by not caving in when she drops this stuff on me, but it does not seem to be working. This has meant that we have missed numerous holiday meals, birthday celebrations, and other events because she drops them on me when it's too late to for us to attend. I don't know what message she is trying to send, but her behavior comes across as if she does not particularly care whether we attend any of these get-togethers. Then she'll claim that she doesn't get to see DS enough.

I don't want my brother to have to intervene. But maybe he and I could work together to counteract what she's doing.

I know this is tough, but I feel like you're doing the right thing here. Maybe she will never get it and change her own behavior. But you have to do what feels best for you. And you can be proactive about making new plans that fit with your schedule. If you miss Aunt Betty's birthday party because your mom didn't tell you until too late, maybe plan your own gathering with Aunt Betty later. Around holiday times, actively contact other members of the family, like your brother, and ask about plans if your mom isn't reliable about telling you. Or make your own plans for a holiday gathering and invite people to it. The first step is realizing your mother is the obstacle, the next step is finding ways around her. Good luck!

My dad's side of the family has a lot of this kind of behavior. My grandmother would be the gatekeeper and wouldn't tell us about parties until after they happened. I think she got some sick sense of happiness by hurting my father (her son). It was impacting my relationship with my aunts and cousins because they thought we didn't want to attend their events. Finally, I decided to find out who the liar was who was withholding information. My grandmother would tell me "I told your dad to invite you." And my dad would say "I didn't know" or "Yes, she told me but it's not my place to pass along the invitation." I finally handed my aunt a piece of paper with my address, phone number and email address on it and said "Here are various ways to contact me. Clearly, I'm not getting the invitations to events. Please, don't rely on grandma or my dad to invite me. If you'd like me there, please, invite me yourself. I would be pleased to come." Aunt invited me to many things after that and I attended. I didn't need to rely on my grandmother or my father to have a relationship with my aunt or cousins after that.

Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2013, 07:57:54 AM »
A reality here is that she knows what she's doing, she knows that it's not respectful, she knows how I feel about it, and she continues to do it anyway. I have tried to change my behavior by not caving in when she drops this stuff on me, but it does not seem to be working. This has meant that we have missed numerous holiday meals, birthday celebrations, and other events because she drops them on me when it's too late to for us to attend. I don't know what message she is trying to send, but her behavior comes across as if she does not particularly care whether we attend any of these get-togethers. Then she'll claim that she doesn't get to see DS enough.

I don't want my brother to have to intervene. But maybe he and I could work together to counteract what she's doing.

I know this is tough, but I feel like you're doing the right thing here. Maybe she will never get it and change her own behavior. But you have to do what feels best for you. And you can be proactive about making new plans that fit with your schedule. If you miss Aunt Betty's birthday party because your mom didn't tell you until too late, maybe plan your own gathering with Aunt Betty later. Around holiday times, actively contact other members of the family, like your brother, and ask about plans if your mom isn't reliable about telling you. Or make your own plans for a holiday gathering and invite people to it. The first step is realizing your mother is the obstacle, the next step is finding ways around her. Good luck!

Thanks. The bolded is precisely what my brother and I concluded when we talked at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. She does not seem to get it, and we don't think she ever will. She does not seem capable of taking responsibility for her behavior (she has rationalizations for it) and because of that she is unable to empathize with how it affects others. She has "her reasons" for doing what she does, even if it makes no logical sense and has consequences for her. Then she plays the victim card because she is experiencing the consequences. It's maddening, really.

Yes, it is time for me to start making my own plans with other family members (my brother included) without my mother. This is a very good idea, and it would only help to strengthen my rel@tionship with my brother.

Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2013, 08:38:51 AM »
My dad's side of the family has a lot of this kind of behavior. My grandmother would be the gatekeeper and wouldn't tell us about parties until after they happened. I think she got some sick sense of happiness by hurting my father (her son). It was impacting my relationship with my aunts and cousins because they thought we didn't want to attend their events. Finally, I decided to find out who the liar was who was withholding information. My grandmother would tell me "I told your dad to invite you." And my dad would say "I didn't know" or "Yes, she told me but it's not my place to pass along the invitation." I finally handed my aunt a piece of paper with my address, phone number and email address on it and said "Here are various ways to contact me. Clearly, I'm not getting the invitations to events. Please, don't rely on grandma or my dad to invite me. If you'd like me there, please, invite me yourself. I would be pleased to come." Aunt invited me to many things after that and I attended. I didn't need to rely on my grandmother or my father to have a relationship with my aunt or cousins after that.

Thanks, Danika. This is exactly what's happening in my situation, and your solution makes a lot of sense.

The situation has affected my rel@tionship with my brother. For some time, he has believed that I don't want to attend events that involve his family. The truth is that I either don't know about the events at all or my mother simply informs me that Niece/Nephew is having X event, and she's going to Brother's City for it. He seems to rely on her to pass information to me and then she doesn't.

Here's an example: About five years ago, my mother e-mailed me to tell me that she wanted to take DS to Nephew's birthday party in Brother's City. I was not aware of Nephew's birthday party. If I had been aware of it, I would have been perfectly happy to take DS myself and to participate in celebrating Nephew's birthday. I replied to my mother's e-mail, told her I didn't know Nephew was having a birthday party, DS had not received an invitation, and as such I could not confirm whether he could go. I didn't know what my brother (or my then-SIL) might have said to my mother about inviting him. It also seemed as if I wasn't invited, and that hurt.

A few days before the party, I got an e-mail from my then-SIL stating that DS was invited, my mother wanted to bring him, and I could come if I wanted to, but they weren't expecting me. Hmm ... Hard to know how to interpret that invitation. DS went with my mother. I stayed home. We got a handful of e-mail "invitations" directly from SIL when she and my brother were married that were phrased similarly: X event was happening, they wanted us to know about it, but they didn't expect us. My brother has never invited us to anything. I can't remember the last time we were invited to an event that involves his kids, and the only time we do know about them is if my mother tells us she's going to Brother's City for the event.

Either they want us there, or they don't care if we're not. I understand now that I have to communicate to my brother that we would be willing to attend events if we knew about them, but the not-knowing-about-them makes it hard for us to be there. There also has to be some communication that our presence is desired. Given my mother's behavior, my ex-SIL's behavior, and the fact that she and my brother are divorced now, the onus is on him now more than ever to communicate invitations directly to us. All I can do is try, and if he doesn't follow through, then that's on him.

Danika

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2013, 05:23:35 PM »
Hopefully, you can clearly communicate to your brother that he has to not trust your mother to pass info along to you. I'm sure he says to her "I'll email Coley" and your mother reassures him and says "Oh no. Don't worry about that. I'll tell her." Warn your brother in advance to communicate with you very clearly, regardless of what your mother tells him.

Hopefully, he will follow through, like you said.

When you have events and want to invite him and Nephew, have you sent him invitations? At least, then you're leading by example.

Danika

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2013, 05:26:31 PM »
Oh, and one more thing. Tell your brother that he is to only trust your responses to him, not your mother's. So if he emails you and says "This event is happening. You are invited" and you reply "We'll be there at 6pm" that's the final word until he hears from you again. So if he hears from your mother "Oh, Coley's changed her mind. She's not coming" he should not believe that. Or if she says "Coley's going to bring a cooked turkey for everyone to eat" but you never said that, then he shouldn't expect it. I don't know your mother, but I know my family members. They would do stuff like that and then you show up empty handed and everyone's mad at you for not bringing pizza or something that you never knew someone else claimed you were bringing.

Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2013, 07:29:40 AM »
Hopefully, you can clearly communicate to your brother that he has to not trust your mother to pass info along to you. I'm sure he says to her "I'll email Coley" and your mother reassures him and says "Oh no. Don't worry about that. I'll tell her." Warn your brother in advance to communicate with you very clearly, regardless of what your mother tells him.

Hopefully, he will follow through, like you said.

When you have events and want to invite him and Nephew, have you sent him invitations? At least, then you're leading by example.

This -- and your other post about my brother trusting my responses and not my mother's -- are both good points. Things have been rather rocky between my brother and me for about five or six years, so I have not reached out to him much in recent years. In some ways, his behavior often mirrors my mother's. He has a tendency to focus on his own self-interest to such a degree that it seems to obscure his ability to empathize with others. This affected his rel@tionship with both my parents (when our dad was still alive) and me. I'm still having some difficulties in dealing with things he said and done over the years.

I invited him (and his kids) to visit last summer. He was supposed to suggest some weekends that would work for him, but he never did. I invited him for Christmas Day. He said he'd be here, but then he decided not to come. He didn't tell me; instead, I heard it through my mother.

My brother is a difficult person. My mother also is a difficult person. Both are prone to temper tantrums. The message I have gotten within my family is that I am supposed to do whatever will cause the least amount of waves, lest my brother or mother throw a fit. Unfortunately, both of them are accustomed to being accommodated, and so they expect it.

I was in therapy for several years to learn to deal with this. My therapist told me once, "The system has to feel pain in order to change." She was right in some respects. I think in many families when one person (in this case me) changes the dynamic in the system, it ripples through the system, so the system is forced to adapt. Unfortunately, the level of narcissism in my family system is so strong and the roles are so entrenched that I'm not sure this system will ever adapt. Scapegoating is a lot more convenient than change.

My brother and I made some inroads a couple of years ago. I know that he sees my mother for who she is. I can try again with him on fixing our rel@tionship, but much of that depends on him. Rel@tionships are a two-way street with mutual give and take. If he doesn't follow through, then I'll have to accept this dynamic for what it is while maintaining the boundaries I've set. Thanks for your input, Danika. I appreciate it.  :)

Danika

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2013, 12:02:47 PM »
You're welcome. I can totally relate. I was the the doormat who put up with everyone's abuse for decades! I've read many books about Narcissism and one that helped me disengage was called The Dance of Anger. Just like you said. I had to stop bending to their will. I still have family members who try to get me back into the fold. They don't like not having a doormat because then all the abusive people have to pick on each other. But I'm a lot happier not dealing with them!

Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2013, 12:45:28 PM »
You're welcome. I can totally relate. I was the the doormat who put up with everyone's abuse for decades! I've read many books about Narcissism and one that helped me disengage was called The Dance of Anger. Just like you said. I had to stop bending to their will. I still have family members who try to get me back into the fold. They don't like not having a doormat because then all the abusive people have to pick on each other. But I'm a lot happier not dealing with them!

Thanks for the book suggestion! I will look into that. I read The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists. Have you read it?

Danika

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2013, 06:07:07 PM »
Yes, The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists is a fantastic book! Some of the others that really helped me were Toxic Parents - Susan Forward, Emotional Blackmail - Susan Forward, Trapped in the Mirror - Elan Golomb, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers - Karyl McBride and Children of the Self-Absorbed - Nina W. Brown.

I just finished reading The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- and Start Standing Up for Yourself - Beverly Engel.

Some about Gaslighting, cuz that's big in my family: In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People - George K. Simon Ph.D., The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life - Robin Stern

And I've read a few blogs too. Nice light reading in my free time. ;)

Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2013, 07:01:42 AM »
This is great. Thanks so much for listing all of these books.  :)

Waterlight

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2013, 03:27:45 PM »
Another book--and one that's been extremely helpful for me in growing a polite spine and saying no to unreasonable demands--is How To Say No Without Feeling Guilty by Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch.
“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Coley

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2013, 08:10:09 AM »
Thank you! Adding it to my list.  :)

YummyMummy66

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Re: It has been decided. We're coming to your house.
« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2013, 09:30:32 AM »
I have to ask, "Why are you not talking directly to your brother regarding events that include your brother?".  Why is everyone going through mom and then when you all receive different stories, you are surprised?

For the theater event, you and brother should have talked the day before and discussed the plans.  "Ok, bro, what is happening as far as you know on your end per mom?  Oh, this is what I was told.  Ok, now how do we want this to go?"
This way there are no surprises because mom did not tell you anything.

As far as brother and invites, why not just come out and ask him?  "Bro, please don't take this wrong way, but I am seriously confused by your invitations.  You say you don't expect us there, but is it tha tyou are just inviting kids and we can come if we want to, or do you not want us there or would you like us there, but you are leaving it up to us per our schedule(s)?  I'm sorry, but it is very confusing and I would just like to clarify you real intent so that there are no hurt feelings on either end if we are missing something".