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Cutting the cord

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Aubrie posted 6/17/2013 16:12 PM

Quick update.

We have mountains of crap going on in our lives right now and are just trying to keep our heads above water. Saturday I had a bit of a meltdown. Talked to an "unofficial" therapist and she helped me ever so much. Thank you, thank you friend! Your words gave me strength.

It's hard to cut the cord with FOO. Want to. Desperately so. The knife is in my hand and I've started severing the cord, but then guilt trip and "obligation" kick in and I'm sucked back in. Often times, I'm sucked in before I even realize it. Then I'm standing in the middle of a mess going, "Well WTH??? How did this happen?"

Bottom line, I care too much. I love my parents. But I don't belong to them. Doesn't matter what they think/say/do. I am not theirs anymore. And they don't have boundaries. I'm still building and learning to enforce mine. So they waltz over theirs, on over mine, and then we're in a mess. It's easier to ignore Dad because he can be such a butt. But backing away from Mom is so much harder. I see the cycle she's in and I feel like I need to help/rescue her. However, helping and rescuing her will not do that. It will only enable her even more. Whether she realizes it or not.

Saturday while talking with my friend, I realized a few new things about my mom. Now I have ammo. I can cut her off at the pass. QS and I are already making plans for our birthdays (Aug. Sept. and Oct.) as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mom seems to be more OCD and her extreme and fanatical planning is where she catches me off guard every time. No more. We will have a plan in place. And her and Dad can deal with it, or get over it. I don't care anymore.

Yesterday I was really nervous. Father's Day. Didn't really want to spend the day with my passive-aggressive-sit-on-the-couch-with-his-ipad-all-day Dad. Just not very exciting or stimulating conversation ya know? Not to mention I'm still not feeling well after last week's ordeal.

I have an amazing husband, who is the father of my children. It's his day as much as my Dads. Even more so. Because I belong with QS. We're our own family now. My parentals will have to deal with that. It's part of that whole "Leave father and mother and cleave one to another" bit. (Which I'm totally going to make a craft project and plaster on a wall in my house with a giant picture of me, QS, and the kidlets.)

After church, we all met at my parents. Womenfolk in the kitchen, guys at the grill. My head was throbbing. Mom made a stupid comment about my medication. Whatever Mom. I'm going to ignore your stupidity. We got thru our meal. My brother, sister, and I pretty much ruled the table conversation and we had a blast cutting up.

After lunch, we watched Dad open his gift and cards, (Thank you Hallmark for unemotional, plain old boring Father's Day cards!) and I announced, "OK kids. Time to go home!" And we bailed. Came home and did our own thing. And it was NICE! Dessert and movies all evening. I kinda fell asleep halfway thru but QS forgave me considering the circumstances.

Survived Father's Day. Now to prepare for the rest of the year. Cut a bit more of the cord. Felt good.

rachelc posted 6/17/2013 16:25 PM

oh Gosh Aubrie, i don't have this issue as much as you but I want to tell you how brave you are!
One of my sisters is out of my life because she is so toxic but parents - yikes.
good luck and hugs!!!

knightsbff posted 6/17/2013 18:08 PM

WTG Aubrie!

I'm learning FOO lessons too. Yesterday was mom's b-day and I did much better than on mother's day.

authenticnow posted 6/18/2013 05:05 AM


"OK kids. Time to go home!" And we bailed. Came home and did our own thing. And it was NICE! Dessert and movies all evening.
Perfect! When you start to put boundaries into place where you haven't in the past, it feels so good and empowering, and it gets easier each time.

For me it was telling my mom that they couldn't stay at our house when they were visiting from out of town, they needed to get a hotel. The first time was so scary! And she guilted me big time, but I stuck to the boundary. Finally 'cutting the cord' (more like a noose!) felt so good!

Thanks for sharing your triumphs in self growth. I think you're awesome.

MovingUpward posted 6/18/2013 07:47 AM

Glad to hear that.

From my recollection the book Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend) had a section that addressed dealing with family and how to set and stick to boundaries.

Keep up the good work. Initially the road maybe bumpy but once you establish the boundaries and stick to them, things will improve.

itainteasy posted 6/18/2013 09:00 AM

Good for you!

I hope you're feeling better.

MissesJai posted 6/18/2013 10:21 AM

WTG Aubrie! Awesome job...

LA44 posted 6/18/2013 11:05 AM

Way to go Aubrie! You were fully aware and making solid decisions.

I am implementing these with my in-laws. I did notice that initially there had been some back-lash bc it took them off guard but I/we held firm and it seems to be dying down.

Keep it up!

Aubrie posted 6/18/2013 12:10 PM

Thanks y'all.

Way to go knightsbff. Glad it went better with your mom this time around.

AN, you're right. It did feel very empowering. QS and I didn't really have a plan other than getting out of my parents house as fast as possible. When I announced our departure, I fully expected comments but thank the Maker, none came. The weight on both our shoulders lifted as we walked out the door.

And yes! It does feel more like a noose.


I hope you're feeling better.
Getting there. Slowly but surely.

LA44, yeah I'm kinda hoping that with time it's easier for me to say "no" and that the whining from them tapers off.

Aubrie posted 6/20/2013 08:47 AM

Oh. My. God.

Days like today, I would pack up and move to frickin' Alaska with QS if he asked.

Mom calls me bright eyed and bushy tailed and announces, "Dad thought it would be a good idea for us to clean the church before Sunday because it's the Pastor and his wife's turn."

Uhhhh, first. We're on a rotating cleaning schedule. Every family has a week. The pastor asked to be put in the list. He enjoys it. (The trustee board wasn't going to put him on it just out of respect)

Second, Dad is out of town this entire week so when he says "we", he really means "Mom" and of course she can't do it alone so she recruits me and my sister to help.

Nevermind that my nephew is crazy sick this week with ear infection and pink eye. Nevermind that I am just now starting to feel like a human after our accident and I have my own mountain of housework to catch up on.

I was like, "Mom. You need to tell him no." None of us have time for it, I can't clean that huge building and have enough energy for my own home. And I'm sick of the stupid games Dad plays. Cause what's going to happen? Pastor and wife are going to get a phone call from "someone" that says, "Don't worry about cleaning the church. I found out that someone did it for you." In return, pastor and his wife will go, "Awwww that was so sweet!!! Do you know who!?!?" And "someone" is going to say, "Ah, it was my family. They just wanted to take care of you."

E-G-O K-I-B-B-L-E-S.

So I told Mom she needs to tell Dad no. She gets all defensive and says, "Whoah, wait a minute. I guarantee you that you wouldn't tell QS no. Try putting that shoe on the other foot." Uhhh, considering my circumstances, I would have absolutely NO PROBLEM telling QS no.

She gets all bent out of shape because I won't give in and say yes. (She had my job already picked out for me and totally expected me to jump up and say, "YAY Sure!!!!"

So she snaps and says, "Fine. Me and your sister will clean it. Your DD can babysit nephew and we'll do it on our own."

Wait. Did I volunteer to babysit? I didn't think so. (Love the kid but he is hell on wheels. Not to mention he is sick. I'd prefer not to have my kids infected thank you.)

So pissed off right now. I put up a wall and now she is trying to find a way to maneuver around it. I'm SO. Sick. Of It.

MissesJai posted 6/20/2013 10:56 AM

Stay strong Aubrie. Your mom isn't used to this so she's going to dig into her arsenal and do everything in her power to emotionally manipulate you. The good thing is that your eyes are open and you have tools to keep those walls up. Did you tell her you're not babysitting? If so, what was her reaction?

Aubrie posted 6/20/2013 11:31 AM

Did you tell her you're not babysitting?
Please do not kick my butt. I did not give a yes or no. The conversation was already heated enough because I was actually saying no to cleaning. (How dare I?) I was already starting to feel panicky. Like, really panicky and in a corner. I flipped out and quickly got off the phone using DD's appointment as an excuse.

Called QS. Told him how it was going. He backed me up completely. Mom can "ask" me to babysit but she can't "tell" me. Which is what she's trying to do. I haven't talked to her since. Of course she will assume my silence means yes. I have to find the courage to tell her "You can ask, but you can't demand or make arrangements for me." I'm so scared.

Standing up to my parents is "disrespectful". And if/when I have tried in the past, I was always wrong. And if I wasn't wrong, was guilted into being wrong. (make sense?) The comment I'm most likely to hear is, "It's only 1-2 hours out of your life. Why would you want to miss a blessing by helping the pastor!?"

Well...who said he wanted help? Why would he put himself on the list if he didn't expect or want to clean the building!? Why is this my fault now, ya know? Now I'm the bad guy.

I dropped DD at VBS, ran 2 quick errands, got home, and it's all I can do to move. I'm exhausted. My shoulders are locking up. But I can't tell Mom that because "I'm a wuss that can't handle pain." If I'm *that* bad, I should take all my meds. Those pills make me feel weird. I don't want to have to rely on them. Why should I pop a pill and push myself for her? If I take all those pills, I'm not going to be able to care for my 2, much less my nephew. Why can't I just relax, take my time to heal, and be pill free? What's wrong with that? But either way, my way is gonna be wrong.

There is fear. And I'm hitting a wall. I'm scared to be a grown up and make grown up decisions. In cutting this stupid cord, I'm realizing that there is nobody to catch or direct me (Yes I know, QS, but still) and what happens if I fail? I will disappoint and humiliate the whole family. Will that be said exactly? No. But I will hear the stupid, disrespectful, off-hand comments.

Example: I'm absolutely terrified with the idea of shopping for a new car since mine is going to be totaled. I don't know if it's a good choice, bad choice. What if we make a bad decision? What if we get what I love? Dad is gonna be all PA about it, throw attitude and stupid comments around, and pretty much just spoil it all for us. We're going to be judged if we buy something on payments. (which is what he's doing. But ya know, it's ok for him.) We spent too much, we could have gotten a better deal elsewhere, oh look, there's a tiny dent, the interior is too rugged, the tires are going to have to be replaced soon, is that fender crooked?

There's this vicious cycle of do, please, don't do, disappoint, try to break free, throw up a wall, they try to get around, I'm guilted if I don't do, I'm lectured if I do something different.

It's my life. I know that. But I am my father's child. I can't disappoint or humiliate him. There is *so* much pressure to be fabulous, perfect, and saintly. I want to just scream.

At the end of the day, I know it doesn't matter what I do, I'm always going to be wrong or a disappointment to them in some way. Why can't I find the courage to just stand up, do my thing, and not feel that guilt or fear? I *know* what to do, I'm *trying*, but it's still not enough.

[This message edited by Aubrie84 at 11:32 AM, June 20th (Thursday)]

alphakitte posted 6/20/2013 11:51 AM

Why would you want to miss a blessing by helping the pastor!?

Since the Pastor requested that task for himself, who am I to take that blessing away from Pastor????

I know exactly the manipulation you speak of!!! My heart goes out to you.

It helped me to practice saying the word, "No" in front of the mirror. Don't follow on with any other words. Just, "No." It can be very difficult with families like ours.

Know that you are going to see this type of manipulation over, and over. Practice a phrase that puts the ball back in their court. Phrases like, "I don't think that will work for me/us, but if I change my mind I'll let you know" - or "if our circumstances change I'll get back to you."

You are saying no and you are saying that no is the answer unless you tell them different.

Good luck, PM me if you need coping suggestions! I'm older than you and I've heard it all.

It can be quite funny in hindsight, but not so funny when you gut tightens up and your throat goes dry! BTDT!

P.S. I so get the "respect your parents thing." The thing is; you are now an adult and you have left your parents ways and are cleaving to your husband. That is what requires respect from them, as well. You'll have to set and maintain that boundary, however!

[This message edited by alphakitte at 11:52 AM, June 20th (Thursday)]

Unagie posted 6/20/2013 11:59 AM

Aubrie I get this really I do. I knew growing up that my sister was my dad's favorite child, she could do no wrong and my brother was my mom's although she denies it. Despite this I was the one relied upon because although they were the favorites I was the one who helped with everything and always wanted to impress because I wanted to be on equal level with my siblings. I started cutting the cord in college and breaking away from it. I had to make phone calls for them, take care of problems with the bills, pick up prescriptions, I had a curfew until the age of 19. When my parents moved I had to turn in their NY license plates, pick up their medication and a few other things. I remember the day SO told me "you do everything for them, when are you going to step back and do for you?" So I did. I put boundaries in place. I let them speak their mind and tell them thank you for your opinion but this is my decision and whether you like it or not it is my choice. My mom got it quick. She will talk with me and has said its your choice baby but I'm here if you need help. She doesn't interfere and just listens if I need to talk or steps back if she feels she is getting too involved. My dad doesn't call me as much anymore and prefers to ignore my personal life so he won't get involved. When he does comment on it he still tends to try to step over the line. He is being more independent though. Asked me to teach him how to do a lot of the things I did for him and now he calls when he has trouble using the computer or something similar. I stopped having their opinions mean so much. It didn't matter what they were going to say because the choices of my life are kine to make. I know you can do this too.

MissesJai posted 6/20/2013 12:31 PM

I'm not going to kick your butt. Aubrie, I SO understand. I grew up the same way. To speak up is to be disrespectful. Even as an adult, all it would take was one look, one word, a certain tone of voice from my mother and I am 8 all over again. That sinking feeling, the shame, the guilt. It's all so powerful. BUT, we don't have to allow them to keep that power over us. You know this on a very cerebral level, Aubrie - it's just hard to make the emotional connection. Are you in IC at all?

Aubrie posted 6/20/2013 13:14 PM

Since the Pastor requested that task for himself, who am I to take that blessing away from Pastor????
No kidding right?

I have got to practice the phrases. "That won't work for me. I'll get back with you." Our lives have been so ingrained, it's difficult because they know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I do. So we've been working on not sharing personal info, the more mundane details of our lives, or anything else. Making it more standoff-ish so they are more in the dark.

Example of progress in that department: After the accident, the initial crazy storm that followed, and in starting to deal with the insurance, I went dark on the family. All they know is we are in "negotiations". I refuse to tell them dollar amounts or future plans. We're going to just do it. (Like the car shopping) and let the chips fall where they may. I'm sure I'll be trying not to flinch when the comments come.

It's stuff like this where part of me wants to just shout from the rooftop that QS and I are in the middle of a crisis and need time and space. Back. Off. Of course that could totally backfire. And then there's that whole, "You're a disappointment" bit.

Rock and a hard place isn't cool.

all it would take was one look, one word, a certain tone of voice from my mother and I am 8 all over again.
Exactly where I am. We managed to handle Father's Day pretty well considering. But not without a pep talk from a friend. I am struggling with getting all this stuff to become second nature to me.

Are you in IC at all?
Oh em gee MJ, if it got out that I was in IC, the world would stop turning on its axis. "Only messed up people need IC." No, I'm not in IC. I've been doing everything on my own. And I know that's exactly why I'm spinning my wheels.

I talked to QS today about asking our pastor for some advice. He has a daughter that was married 3 years ago. I know their family is very tight knit, but I also know his daughter and son-in-law run around and has her own life. I want to know where they have found that balance. How he has accepted that she isn't his baby girl anymore. That she is...well, his equal now. Of course it's boundaries, respect, and a healthy example of life. But I need help in how to get there. Maybe he can help me. So scared to make the call.

MissesJai posted 6/20/2013 13:59 PM

Sweetie, you NEED IC. It doesn't matter what *they* think. All that matters is what YOU think and YOU know that you need help get through this. Remember you said, "I DON'T BELONG TO THEM" and you don't. This is YOUR life, not theirs. Even if it gets out that you are in IC, so be it. You don't owe them any explanations. Get the help you need. You are worth it and QS and your babies deserve a happy, healthy, whole Aubrie.

alphakitte posted 6/20/2013 14:03 PM

Oh em gee MJ, if it got out that I was in IC, the world would stop turning on its axis. "Only messed up people need IC." No, I'm not in IC. I've been doing everything on my own. And I know that's exactly why I'm spinning my wheels.

Yeah, there's that, . . . and then there's the, "Well, there's only one book you need to read, it tells you everything you need to know." which preceeds the inference that since they've read the Good Book several times over they know all the ansers and their way is the right way.

wifehad5 posted 6/20/2013 14:03 PM

Were your grandparents around when you were little? How did your parents interact with them?

How do your parents react if QS goes against their wishes?

Aubrie posted 6/20/2013 14:42 PM

then there's the, "Well, there's only one book you need to read, it tells you everything you need to know." which preceeds the inference that since they've read the Good Book several times over they know all the ansers and their way is the right way.
Oh my Gosh, yes. She saw a couple self-help books on my bookcase and just looked at me weird. I have a stash of infidelity books hidden in a box under my bed. Heaven forbid she find those.

Were your grandparents around when you were little?
*sigh* Sit down, grab a drink, this'll take a minute.

Mom's entire side is a mess. Her mother married a guy, had 5 kids, he was an abuser and cheater. She left him. Married again. This guy has every illness you can imagine. Bipolar, NPD, OCD, schizophrenia, the works. He's an abuser. My mother never knew a healthy relationship other than her grandparents. When her step dad said "Jump", everyone in the family said, "Where and how high Master?"

When my parents married, they cut her parents out of their life because they were so terribly toxic.

I remember going to my great-grandparents a few times. Loved Grannie. She was fun. She was an old school, Charismatic, Benny Hinn lovin', Dottie Rambo listenin' Jesus worshipin' fanatic. Crazier than a coot, but a really cool woman. I think she was probably the most sane, healthy one in the entire clan. Wish she was still alive.

My Dad's parents...Upper-Michigan Catholic upbringing. Work, come home, make babies, drink till you pass out, repeat. My grandpa was a functioning alcoholic. Drank himself to death at the age of 54 when I was 2. Grandma worked, then came home and worked some more caring for the house and family. Dad is the youngest of 8. The baby. Left to his own devices. Zero emotional connection with any of them.

So I don't know how to describe my parents relationships with their parents. Mom's side is completely toxic. Every now and then she can talk to her mom or sneak a message to her.

Dad would talk to his mom a couple times a year. It seems mostly to be the exchange of pleasantries. Nothing deep. Nothing emotional. She passed last summer.

How do your parents react if QS goes against their wishes?

Burns. Them. Up.

They tell me (not him) he's just stubborn and being a bully.

QS shoots pretty straight. Rarely have I seen him wrong. He's got a good grip on reality. I have let myself resent that about him in the past. That he's so perfect and right all the dang time. He's smart. Quiet. But smart. And he has a good head on his shoulders.

He's seen what my parents are doing for years. He's been trying to get me to see. But I've been blind till the past 20 months. Now I'm saying, "OMG, can you believe this!?" And he's like "Duh, coulda told you that 10 years ago. I've had your Dad pegged the whole time. It's just getting *you* to see it."

I don't think he planned on it taking me this long to get a clue.

My husband is not what my dad expected I would marry. Mom always wanted me to marry someone like him. Strong. Stable. Honest. Moral. Loyal. I think QS scares Dad because he's so quiet. He isn't this loud, obnoxious party animal with quick wit and hysterical stories. In other words, he isn't an ego kibble chaser like other family members.

MJ, you're probably right.

I feel like maybe if I keep pushing, something will give. I'll have an epiphany or the angel trumpets will sound. Maybe I'm fooling myself.

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