Feedback needed---note to rude family member

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by zenouchy, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for reading my post. I hope you are all having a happy, "feel-good" day. I am experiencing some frustration with my mom. She goes up and down with her support of my illness. My dad is the same way. They are VERY complex people and try to keep me on edge, which I think is what they want. I'm learning over time that they can mask manipulation with love and sometimes genuinely be loving and very generous.....probably how they like it so they can keep me guessing, but I'm learning more and more how to deal with them.

    I'm trying to reach a place where I realize I don't have to keep these patterns going. Their patterns are very complex though---like a wacky Rubik's cube!! At any rate, my mom made mocked and make fun of me for having fatigue---something she hasn't dared to do before, and I had made so much progress with her; she is trying to test me yet again (she is absolutely relentless). She can be sweet as sugar for several calls and then toss in a horrible zinger once in awhile as an unwelcome surprise. I'm just learning that it's all part of the manipulation. So, I thought I would email a letter to her. How does this sound? Thanks again for reading.

    "Dear Mom,

    Whether or not you remember, you mocked and made fun of me for struggling with abnormal fatigue. For the future, I do not accept anyone, whether it's a family member or friend, to mock or belittle me for any reason, especially my deepest challenges and struggles. Going forward, your opinions of me are none of my business.



    I'm also not going to be talking to them for awhile. They live in another state, so I don't have to see them in person. Thanks all for your feedback and support!

    Warmly, Erika
  2. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Your feedback is appreciated, and I really need peace and sanity. Thank you for your help.
  3. I am so sorry you're having to deal with this.... I think the note is a good idea. If it were me, I would probably add some facts about the physiology of my disease (do you have ME?) and comment that this isn't something you asked for and that the disease is cruel enough to deal with without them adding to your suffering. It is also nothing to "joke" about...

    Have you ever described to them the day to day effects of this disease on you? Sometimes it takes us helping them imagine if this disease had afflicted them and getting them to think of how they would feel. But even then, it doesn't always change anything. You are right to put up healthy boundries for yourself. We all know that stress makes our disease much worse and prevents any chance for recovery. So do not hesitate to protect yourself from unnecessary stress.

    I, too, have to deal with hurtful family but not for what they say... They all live in the same town as me and once was very close to me but now it is as though I'm already dead... I never hear from any them (primarily siblings and their families) and have absolutely no support or encouragement from any of them (although occasionally I do hear from my parents and they do say that they pray for me). But it is very hurtful because when I was healthier, I was always there for each of them no matter what the difficulty or hardship was. So I do understand the hurt you must be feeling... and I'm so sorry! We SHOULD be able to count on our family for love and support... not cruel remarks or neglect.

    I'm so glad you shared this with us on this board because we can all empathize to some degree or another. Just know that there ARE those who care here and understand. I will be praying for you on this situation. Keep us posted...

    Blessings and Gentle Hugs,

    [This Message was Edited on 10/17/2012]
  4. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Active Member

    Those who don't experience the really draining fatigue just don't understand and never will unless they have those times also. My opinion is just drop it.....since hanging onto those hurt feelings is actually doing more harm to you.

    When one of them calls you and you're having a bad time, just tell them up front you can't talk since it's a bad day for you, then quickly close the conversation. Period. They will eventually get the idea......or they won't.

    Do you have caller ID on your phone? If not....get it.[This Message was Edited on 10/17/2012]
  5. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    i appreciate your kind words and advice. I'm so sorry to hear that you haven't had the support and care you deserve from your family either. It's hard to understand why this happens. If it happened to them, how would they want to be treated? It boggles the mind.

    I've had fibro for eight years. My mom has had more than ample opportunity to know and understand the fatigue and exhaustion. She won't listen or take the time to try to understand it---she says it hurts her too much, so I will no longer try, even though that makes perfect sense. I think she is acting out her frustrations and being a child because I can't visit often enough. Well, wouldn't we all like to have pity parties? I certainly would with all of my disappointments from fibro, but I choose to be an adult and accept it.

    Whatever her "reason", it's not my problem. Like you said, I need to place healthy boundaries, and I expect respect from all of my relationships. Both parents want to treat me like a child and be manipulative when it suits them, but they are starting to catch on that I am an adult. My mom took a giant step back with this nonsense. They don't catch on to subtleties, so hopefully the note will work! Or who knows, it may happen over the long as she gets the message. Reminds me of the song RESPECT----find out what it means to me! I'd rather have respect than love. At some point, enough is enough!

    Thank you so much for your kind, thoughtful reply and your prayers too. Sending warm, caring thoughts your way.

    Soft hugs, Erika
  6. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Love your screen name. Wish I could change mine. :) You are so kind to respond. I think I'm going to send the letter anyway. I've tried dropping things in the past, only to have my resentment build and simmer and have the same thing repeat the next time. My parents are just too relentless. That would probably work with some people, but not my folks unfortunately. They have over-crossed their boundaries for too long.

    I'm almost to the point where I feel peaceful and relaxed about it. We wouldn't let friends or neighbors do this, so parents don't get a pass at being jerks either. She'll find a way to throw a rude zinger into the conversation to the point where I almost didn't hear it or wonder if I did something wrong, and I will not stand for it anymore. She needs to know this in a straightforward way. If she's not happy about the letter (or the phone conversation), whichever the case may be, fine. The games are over! Her reaction is not my problem, and I prefer being respected to being loved. Wish me luck! ;)

    All the best and thank you so much for taking the time to respond.


  7. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    It saddens me to know that such a toxic and dysfunctional family dynamic is hurting you. Is there therapy available to you? I hope so because the only other option I see is to cut them out of your life. You don't have to tell them the relationship is over if you don't want to but if you cannot even have any relationship with them without their manipulative games you may have to just walk away before you continue to get hurt all the time. Sometimes, we have to let toxic people go. A therapist can help you set your personal boundaries. They have obviously been acting inappropriately so long and playing unhealthy games that they may not even realize how hurtful it is to youn or be able to change.

    This is the one thing that, over the years, I've found to be so prevalent here. I don't know why so many of us have family and friends who kick us when we're down. Sometimes, I think it's because they fear what they don't understand and that fear causes them to lash out. In any case, we have to survive and the last thing we need is abuse. We have enough to deal with.

    God bless you and help you with this. Prayers going up.

    Love, Mikie
  8. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Active Member

    I had to learn to set the boundary around daughter learned to set the boundary around herself (letting me know that I was not to step over it) even though I was HER mom. It hurt at first (she learned this from her therapist) but I understand now. Then I had to learn about the boundaries that I personally stepped over in other's lives. We ALL are guilty of this at one time or another with many people in our lives.

    Erica.....learn this lesson.....kindly with your parents, since they may not realize they are doing these things. I wish you healing.
  9. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Best advice I ever got from a therapist. "Get the toxic people out of
    your life."

  10. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Your responses, support and prayers are so appreciated. Not sure exactly how I will proceed at this moment, but I am soaking it all in. Thank you all so much. Sending prayers back to everyone here for your health and well-being as well.

    Love, Erika
  11. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    A little update. :) Having more time to think and having seen my psychiatrist, I am going to proceed with the email I wrote above when my parents attempt to contact me. I have already read two books about boundaries and have set firm limits with them. (I've also ordered another book on covert manipulation---jeez!!) It was working well for awhile and for whatever reason, my mom has chosen to stomp way past a boundary again in this way.

    Indeed, she will be given two harsh signals that this is not appropriate in any way. First of all, I will not be speaking to her (and probably not my dad) for awhile. I do not have a time period specified, but I know it will make its point. My psych liked the letter as well, and the letter should make the point. Also, perhaps a third signal, I am not committing to any trips to see them. They keep pushing for them, then changing their mind and then criticizing ME for not seeing them frequently enough. ENOUGH of that.

    At this time, I am not prepared to break off contact completely. She is hurt and doesn't know how to accept my illness. That is her problem completely, and she is not allowed to lash out at me. I will see if time will help her, but she needs to decide if she can be an adult. If these actions on my part help her along, great. If not, I will decide from there what further contact I will or will not have with her/them.

    Thank you all so very much again for your support, prayers and concern.

    Much love and light to all,

  12. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    She probably wouldn't go, but it might really help Mom if she would get some therapy to help her with self-awareness and to see how her manipulation is ruining the relationship.

    Love, Mikie
  13. Hi Erika,

    I'm glad you've had a chance to come to a decision on how to proceed... that alone should help give you a sense of peace in this situation.

    I don't think I would be able to cut my parents off completely either.... But it is absolutely necessary to put up healthy boundries, as you are doing... ESPECIALLY for those of us with ME/CFS. The LAST thing we need is for someone to make us feel guilty for our limitations and other effects of our disease. Many of us already battle guilt from within ourselves for the things we can't do for others anymore. We don't need it coming from outside sources.

    I will be praying that your parents will see the light and have a change of heart toward you and your illness... and finally give you the empathy, compassion and support you deserve... I pray this for all of us... not just from our parents (if still living) but from all of our family and friends.

    Let us know how it goes... God bless you, Erika...

    Blessings and Gentle Hugs,

  14. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    You are all so kind to extend your prayers support, advice and care to me in this rather challenging time. It is so very appreciated. I pray as well for your health and well being.

    This experience is one of unchartered waters and really unfortunate. The array of emotions I'm going through is across the board from anger, sadness, disappointment and confusion, to peace, hope and serenity. Very interesting.

    I have been reading a very fascinating and enlightening book called "In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People". It proving to be very helpful. Sorry this is a little long. The author has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and specializes in these types of people. My mom is what is called a "covert manipulator".

    It's a very specific kind of personality, very hard to detect their methods of manipulation and therefore easy to follow along what they want sometimes and feel guilty and aggravated in the process without even knowing why!! They say and do just enough things to have it all make sense to get what they want to whoever they want to manipulate. These people run rampant in our society. I didn't experience this with her until recently (long story why--we usually were in sync with things...)

    I read two boundaries books prior to this one that were helping somewhat, but because she is so sneaky, it wasn't always going the distance. When I sent this letter, she may apologize, but she may also do anything not to as well AND to try to make me feel bad or guilty in the process. It will not happen anymore. I'm completely prepared for it.

    Examples of how she could manipulate and try to wiggle her way out of it: 1) Make light of it, such as: "I didn't know you were so sensitive and would hang onto this for so long" or "I thought you were tougher than that." Well gosh, who wants to be perceived as weak, so maybe I'll drop it! WRONG. That's what she might hope for and could work that angle.

    2) Play the victim herself. Something like, "I was just so upset you were going out of town when you haven't come to visit us in so long." (Knowing darn well it's health issues and completely ignoring it yet again just because she wants to.) "We just miss you all terribly and aren't getting any younger." So now she's the victim and can abuse me. (Of course they've cancelled plans---and that's also something the book mentions---the manipulators think can do whatever they want and not own up to it.)

    The book goes through several more examples of their tactics, how they all appeal to your sense of what is right in you, caring in you and how they turn it around. It's pretty awful. Now that I'm onto it, I won't buy into it. WOW.

    Mikie, yes, she should DEFINITELY go into counseling. These types of individuals often do not think there is anything wrong with them. They are on a certain spectrum of the personality that has no remorse, although I may still suggest it sometime and she may not be that extreme. Yikes, wish me luck! ;)

    Thank you all so much again. You all have helped tremendously. My mom doesn't even know the email is coming yet b/c they haven't tried to call yet, so it will be interesting. Thank you so much for the continued support and prayers. I send them back to you and wish you all a happy, healthy day.

    Love, Erika
  15. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Good luck with this. This may have been said already, but I would not expect anything to change with your parents due to your e-mail. I tried for years to change my dad, and it was a lot of wasted energy on my part. I found I could only change myself and not others, but that others often changed when I changed first, and stopped giving others power over how I see myself or how I feel. And of course if someone is continually abusive, then cutting off contact most definitely may be needed.

    So I think your e-mail's fine, as long as you're doing it just for yourself and not expecting anything in return.

    It is really too bad that so many of us with these awful illnesses get so little support from family. I don't really understand it. THe only thing that makes the least bit of sense to me is when I try to imagine myself in their shoes - if I'd never suffered from CFS - how compassionate would I be with someone who had a debilitating invisible illness? I really don't know, but hope I would be supportive.

    Let us know how it goes!

  16. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Thank you so much for your insights and words of support. I really appreciate it. I'm so very sorry that you had to go through a similar experience with your dad. You are spot on---I can only change myself. I'm not at all sure what to expect with the note, and the reason it hasn't been sent yet is because I'm waiting for them to call me. There's this dynamic sometimes re: how we contact each other. They expect me to be "the good daughter" all the time and contact them regularly, and I of course shouldn't have to and refuse to after her terrible nonsense.

    My sister lives close to them and has already told me that my mom has noticed I haven't called since I returned from my trip (she pulled this ridiculousness right before I left, and I have no doubts she might have hoped my trip would be ruined---nice try, but it wasn't at all). Already, the manipulation has begun, and my mom is playing a victim here----as if she can't call me and why haven't I called her? Such total nonsense that I won't buy into or feel guilty for. So, the seeds of change and growth are in motion on my end (I hope!). :)

    Nothing less than a complete, sincere apology will be accepted. Whether or not that will come, I have no idea. She may throw any type of manipulation tactic my way, but I am prepared this time. Very saddened and disappointed as well, but at least I'm armed. I also made the letter I wrote above much stronger and even have a follow-up letter in case she tries to pull more antics. She doesn't know who she's dealing with any more.

    I know that sounds a little confrontational. The letters, however are in no way confrontational, but they set very strict, direct boundaries that I refuse to compromise, and in no way will I respond to any manipulation tactics, so she will have no fuel or arguments to work with (both of these things are key according to the book I read by an author who has a Ph.D in counseling and is an expert in this area---very helpful!). So, we shall see what happens! A sad state of affairs coming from a parent (or anyone!).

    Yes, don't know why people are not compassionate in this world. A long time ago before I was diagnosed with fibro, I remember meeting someone someone in the workplace who had it. Some people made fun of her behind her back, which was kind of shocking to me. I didn't think it was my place to judge her. She seemed so much nicer than many people than I had encountered in some of my jobs at the time, so I appreciated her kindness.

    Thank you so much again for your help and support. Have a happy, feel-good day.


  17. Saoirse3

    Saoirse3 Member

    Having three highly toxic adult (?) kids, I know what you are going through. Now I am going to tell you this first, so you know where I'm coming from. I'm an old goat who was in the Viet Nam war, so you know I've been around awhile. And believe me, I've seen and been in more drama than you can imagine and it hasn't all been verbal. I've been shot, stabbed, had my throat cut, broken bones and internal injuries and that wasn't from war, that was my ex-husband. Okay, that's the Reader's Digest version of me. Here's what I learned.

    One person's negativity, even if it IS a family member's, does NOT have to become YOUR negativity. And I agree, nobody has the RIGHT to treat you with less than respect. But respect isn't something you can demand, let alone get, just because you deserve it. Negativity won't bring you respect. Sure, you'd like to hurt them because they hurt you. But is it the most effective method? No. Because when you let them get to you, when you let them push YOU into being negative, you're letting them live rent-free inside your head. That in turn causes YOU stress, which will sit inside you and make you miserable. "How DARE they hurt me?" Well, they just did. Again. And to retaliate isn't going to make things better, or get you an ounce of respect. So, who IS going to respect your feelings? YOU ARE! Look at some of the true heroes of the world. The Dhali Lama isn't leading an army, and Ghandi never fought his own war. And yet these men are the most respected of men. My thoughts are to step back and let God handle it. My own daughter used to think I was making this up and I wasn't in pain. I told her to be careful with her own health, because it could turn on her at any time. But I was just being "overly sensitive". So I stepped back and let it be. Two months ago she was diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri. She is doing much better now, but she said the other day "Mom, I was a jerk. I never understood your pain or even believed you could BE in that much pain. NOW I understand and I'm so sorry". While I would NEVER have wished this on my own child, it was a lesson I could not prevent. But the point is, that I didn't have to use negativity on MY part. Some people will learn from your example. Some people won't. That's the way of it. And this is just the way it worked for ME and just MY advice. If you look for beauty, you will find it. If you look for adversity, you'll find that too. But real strength comes from kindness, compassion and letting someone a little bigger take control.

    Soft hugs,
  18. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Thank you sooo much for your amazing note and support. My heart goes out to you for everything you have been through. I pray for you and your daughter for complete healing. You are a hero to our country to have fought in the Vietnam War so selflessly. I pray every day for our soldiers and veterans and thank you for your service, which isn't adequate for your sacrifice but please know it is very sincere. It is a true honor to get your insights and perspectives and talk to you.

    It's hard to describe what I'm thinking and feeling without rambling on and on. Additionally, it's a challenge to explain all of the nuances of years of family dynamics here, and I'm sure no one would want to read it all. I have been doing a lot of praying and soul searching, and that is what is giving me inner peace and strength. What you have written is so spot on with what I am getting back from my prayers. Yes, let God handle it, and He is guiding me every step of the way. This is bringing much inner peace and serenity inside and helping me work through the anger better.

    I felt like I had to have an initial piece of communication with my mom, regardless of what her reaction would be. It wasn't negative or mean-spirited in any way. If they didn't hear from me for a long time all the sudden, they wouldn't know why unless I told them.

    Retaliation has never been my goal, and hate towards people is like drinking a poison and makes a person sour and bitter, which could spoil my wonderful life. No matter what my challenges and circumstances are with this illness at times, there is so much beauty and wonder in this world that I embrace from God as an amazing gift that has come from soul-searching and prayer. In this particular situation, yes, I have had feelings of anger and frustration because that is normal, but I am journaling and cycling through those feelings to work through them so they don't stay inside me, and I can move past it.

    No matter what happens, I will always love and pray for my parents and that will be communicated to them as well at some point should I have to break off communications with her or both of them for a longer period of time.

    Thank you so much again for kindness, warmth and support. Thinking and praying for you and your daughter.

    Soft hugs,