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Boundaries and codependency

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Soph1802, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone

    I am in a bind and wanted some advice. I’m
    part of a really codependent family and My brother and mum in particular are incredibly overbearing. They are fixers - if me or my partner give them even an inch towards a conversation about our lives, job choices, housing situation, finance etc they instantly go straight into a barrage of unwanted advice, opinion, telling us what to do etc. They’ve even started to contact us out of the blue saying stuff like ‘we have found your perfect job you HAVE to apply’. If we say no? they proceed to go into a long explanation of why that decision is ‘idiotic’ or madness. A recent chance to move has come up and my mum asked us what we plan to do, we said we haven’t decided yet and then an hour later she was still telling us how it’s a no brainer and we have to go for it and all the reasons why we’d be crazy not to etc - totally unsolicited. I have really low self esteem and self confidence which all stems from not having a voice or making my own decisions because I grew up with this constantly, and as I tend to disagree with them (we just have different values) I always believed I was wrong or not doing the right thing. My whole life has this been built around what I think I should do, not what I want. Hence, TMS. So while many might think this is just something to be shrugged off, I find it really triggering and it makes me very angry. I’m desperately trying to break this cycle and learn to listen to my own voice/wants/needs as I know that this is why I have TMS and this is what will get me free.

    I do my journal speak to get the anger out as best as I can, but my question is this: what is my work here? I see two options. 1) I rise above it, let them say what they want knowing I am safe in my own truth and I don’t have to listen, and work on allowing/nurturing my own reaction and honouring it, but not allowing it to overwhelm me, knowing that journaling etc and this approach will eventually make the trigger less prominent. Or 2) i set a clear boundary with them both and tell them that we find their constant need to fix us very difficult and we’d rather they didn’t intrude so much and instead, tried to find it within themselves to support us with our own decisions and allow us our own space to make both mistakes and good choices and find our own path.

    The latter will inevitably cause some emotional backlash I imagine, and would be hard to do. My worry is that I’d also just get more angry if they don’t listen/honour the boundary. So the 1st seems more desirable, if harder, but I also worry that this is letting them off the hook and not helping me to learn to stand up for myself more.

    does anyone have any thoughts? Or has anyone been through similar and could advise?

    thanks so much to everyone as always - this journey is a long but worthwhile one!
    Ellen likes this.
  2. hecate105

    hecate105 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I understand - my own family (and my husbands - are major 'triggers' of tms and I have to be really vigilant so that I do not feel 'put upon'.... unfortunately - they are so skilled at manipulation that they still keep catching me out!!
    I think you need to do both.. Perhaps frame it that you welcome the short version of what they advise in a situation - and you will consider that but you WILL be making whatever decision based on your own needs and wants. It would be great to not let them off the hook and force them into the realisation of the harm they cause - but - I don;t think (if they're anything like our family!) that they would be able to take it on. People are all understanding of tms and bodymind medicine - when it is 'other' people. When it is them that is in the spotlight - suddenly they do not agree and will not see it in themselves......
    So - yes - it is annoying and another 'twist' of the family knife!!! But - if you also do the first suggestion and keep journalling etc - you deal with your 'stresses' - they will have to deal with their own. Ultimately by obsessing about other peoples 'stuff' instead of their own - they are setting up their own repressed stress/pain etc.....
    Us tms folk have to firmly stand in our own truth. We cannot let ourselves be bullied by others - it is hard, but we need to be vigilant - and also understanding and kind to ourselves when we do occasionally get caught out...
    I wish you all the luck you need!
    BloodMoon, Soph1802 and Ellen like this.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree that you need to do both. On the second option, realize that the boundary you set will likely not be honored. It is very hard to change other people. I think you can respectfully and lovingly tell them that you appreciate their concern for your well-being and will take their advice under consideration. However, then you have to be strong and do what feels right to you, and know that they will object. This is all hard work, but it is the work that is the road to recovery from TMS--the road to freedom.
    Soph1802 and BloodMoon like this.
  4. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @Soph1802,

    I had an overbearing mother...and didn't realise until late in life that she was almost certainly a narcissist (I didn't know anything about narcissists and wouldn't have wanted to think that she was one if someone had told me about the possibility). Narcissistic parents often have what psychologists call a 'golden child' who can do no wrong in their eyes - and in whose pockets they live, or try to live - and their other children become 'also rans' who they like to manipulate in order to feel powerful/important -- it's all about them being 'the big I am' (even if their general demeanor appears to be otherwise) and for this reason they also like their children to be beholding to them.

    An example of how my mother used to behave: When I was 21 and had just passed my driving test, without any consultation, she bought me a Volkswagen beetle car...and then expected me to pay her back for it! I went along with it in order not to fall out with her and told myself that I had wanted a car at some point anyway (even though I would have chosen something other than a VW beetle and would have bought it when my finances were stronger). But then, when I paid her back very quickly despite my finances being quite tight, she wasn't pleased. At the time I hadn't worked out why she wasn't happy I'd paid her back quickly, but much later I realise that she had wanted me to be beholding to her.

    I ended up having to keep my distance from her.

    So, anyway, I'm not saying they are narcissists, but if it were me, I'd do some analysis regarding what makes your brother and mother tick.

    There's also a 3rd option you could consider that might be a little less stressful for you and that's to gradually set boundaries as you go along in your relationship with them with no big announcement that 'things are going to be different from now on' and (most importantly) continuing to journal etc., to make the trigger less prominent to you.

    I wish you all the very best.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
    Soph1802 likes this.
  5. Sita

    Sita Well known member

    I vote for the third option too. No big announcement. And you start reading about assertiveness (there are plenty of good books about it) so you increase it in yourself. You'll change in time, have a better solid foundation. And you'll be able to be authentic, to be yourself and not care anymore so much (at all?) about their opinions.

    You can't change other people, it's impossible. But you can change yourself. And it's hard! Sometimes, when people around you pay attention and see the changes in you, then, they might change too. But it's not guaranteed for them to change.

    Take care!
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
    BloodMoon and Soph1802 like this.
  6. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone
    These responses are all so helpful thank you! You’re totally right that maybe the 3rd option is best - in that I slowly set boundaries around this and keep practicing assertiveness and standing in my own truth and allowing them to be who they are without letting it affect me. This is essentially what everyone has suggested which is to do both things - set boundaries and continue to journal and work on myself, but do it in a gentle, progressive way as opposed to anything abrupt that may get an explosive reaction. My focus needs to be me, not them, that’s the key.

    Thanks so much everyone - this forum is such a lifesaver for me. I’m so grateful to everyone.
    Ellen, Sita and BloodMoon like this.

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