Good grief, I'm old enough to be considered elderly by some. Why can't I get a handle on my family issues?
I am still broadsided by feelings of envy, inadequacy, sorrow, anger when I hear about the wonderful things my stepmother/DF have done for her AC & GC when we have been completely left out. Trips abroad for all, family holiday celebrations, expensive, meaningful gifts, help w/home repairs, special trips w/GC, etc.
What's worse, my SM claims it's not true & says I'm at fault for not feeling like I'm part of the family & then minutes later reminisces w/my step sis about their great trip to Europe. Or claims to hate crowded family gatherings & then plans the annual gathering @ the lake (excluding us) while I'm present!
There are photos of her AC & GC all over the house, not one of any of us, not even the one family photo we were allowed to be in 15 years ago. There's a photo of my stepsister's puppy but not one of my kids.
I googled "narcissistic gaslighting" and checked off every symptom. My dad drank the kool-aid long ago. Just call me lucky, lol.
Other than that it's been a good visit :P
So Pen, my question is....why do you go? I gave up attending things where I knew I would feel worse and now I plan trips to avoid thinking about the gatherings I might miss. To be honest I got tired of spending money to go to places where I knew I was not going to enjoy the people I was going to see. Tell your Dad why you are avoiding things and ask him what to do.......
(sigh) That sounds painful. But not surprising given her history, right? It's a good question that Still Learning poses: Why put yourself through that misery time and time again? What do you think your dad would say if you told him that you're not comfortable there and explained why you are uncomfortable?
I hope you can put into perspective why you may be feeling particularly vulnerable at this time. You recently posted you were being unfairly treated by your DH, and you were remembering this is the kind of behavior you have also received from your DS. All of this hurts, whether it is "personal" or not.
Please recognize that SM's behavior is purposely meant to be hurtful. But it has nothing to do with the real you. She is obviously threatened by your relationship with your DF or she would not go out of her way to so overtly exclude you and your immediate family. Your DF has indeed drunk the Kool-Aid in order to make life with his wife work. It's all very sad. Just don't drink the Kool-Aid yourself. See the injustice and get angry, but don't take on the shame they want to put on you.
If you relate to what you found regarding "narcissistic gaslighting," you may want to explore further to see if your SM may have traits of a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It may help you to understand the dynamics so you don't get sucked in emotionally. Not many therapists have a practical understanding of NPD, but there is a lot of info online and on YouTube.
As I've mentioned before, I believe my DIL has NPD and she has done her best to get me out of the picture. Although she only has limited contact with her family because of distance, I have heard about fabulous family celebrations/vacations. The reality is they may not be as "fabulous" as they are made out to sound. When DIL's mother paid for a cruise for herself and some other family members, including my DS and DIL, word got back to me that it was okay because they would not have to spend much time with DIL's mother on that cruise because of all the cruise activities--as if it were a hardship to spend time with DIL's mom, and yet it was fine to still take advantage by going on the cruise she paid for! That smacked of "user" to me. I mention this story so you can keep in mind that not everything may be as rosy as it looks on the surface.
If you questioned your dad, I bet he would say he didn't know what you were talking about. (The Kool-Aid does that to people.)
Please take good gentle care of yourself.
If NPD sounds farfetched, look into material that discusses how to deal with the techniques of abusive, manipulative/controlling, or bullying people. It is as if these toxic people all went to the same school.
Thank you guys, love my WWU!
I'm a dutiful daughter from another era, up to a point. Since my dad is approaching the century mark I made the decision to take advantage of an opportunity to see him. He's not much for conversations these days (come to think of it, was he ever?) He says he's glad I came, but I'm not getting a lot else from him. No big discussions are likely.
I let SM know I am not buying her lies & manipulations. She got extremely defensive when she realized she'd caught herself in her own web. She backed down, momentarily. It's likely she'll retaliate in some way, she's way smarter than I.
At this point I don't believe I have anything to lose.
NPD does not sound at farfetched. Not wanting to play junior psychiatrist here, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Pen, you said your SM was way smarter than you, when she simply sounds mean to me. That's not smart.
Good for you to call her on the lies and manipulation. Woo hoo for you!! Having nothing left to lose sounds like freedom to me. Remember the line from Me and Bobby McGee: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Those lyrics make sense to me now :)
I can understand your desire to see your DF. The trick is to stay emotionally detached from SM's tactics. If you can just quietly observe what she is doing and not take it personally, it really won't matter what jabs or lies SM tries. It will be quite unsatisfying to SM if she sees no effect on you. Indifference is the cruelest response to a bully. Easier said than done, but you might find it amusing to observe SM when she is not getting the emotional reaction (hurt, anger, frustration, etc.) she is trying to elicit from you. It's like deflecting a rude comment such as "that's an ugly sweater you are wearing" by saying "thank you!"
I apologize for being MIA. I don't have the energy I once did but/and I love you dearly, Pen.
What a tough road! I can't imagine how it must feel. Where beyond WWU can you find support? Can you take a look to see who matters to you that you matter to, and focus there? It seems to me that it's too much to address without a counselor and a good friend or two. We are here for you. How can you be 'here for you', too?
I can see why you went and it seems like what you got for your effort was confirmation that nothing has changed. I may be wrong. Again I urge you to love yourself, in the face of all of this, to the degree that you can establish some much needed nurturing. You deserve it, Pen.
Thank you all. I'm very grateful for you & for my DH who centers me & reminds me to focus on those who love me.
We are here to remind you of how lovable you are! :D
I want a "Like" button........