Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things I Love Thursday - Part 21

My parents are coming.  Which means I'm on high alert for manipulation and stuffing of feelings.  With my mom it's stuffing.  With my dad it's manipulation and childish behavior.  I love that I know these things now.

The text from last night:
Dad:  you want us to pick you up for dinner?
Me:  No thanks, I told you I would meet you there, remember?
Dad: it's on our way, we can pick you up.
Me:  no thanks.  I have stuff I need to do so I will meet you there.
Dad:  ok, let me know if you want me to pick you up.

FUCK! and Jesus Christ already.

Talk about someone who does not accept no for an answer.  But I know this today and I know that because I say no to my dad it doesn't mean I love him any less. 

With my mom it's simply the stuffing of feelings and awkward silences.  I love that I know this behavior as well.  Because for a long, long time I took it as disappointment and shame.  But I know now it's just what they both learned growing up.

What I learned growing up is you either stuff it or you act out really inappropriately and make people feel extremely uncomfortable.  So, when I got sober I had to learn a whole new set of behaviors and reactions.  AND TO SET FUCKING BOUNDARIES. 

And just because I set boundaries, doesn't mean people will respect them.  But for me, it's a sense of control and protection.  This is not easy to do.  My gut instinct is to give in and to let my dad have his way, because, well, he's my dad and that's what every good girl does.  But Jesus fucking Christ, I'm 38 years old already.  When you get sober, they say you stay the approximate age of when you started drinking, so for me I was 18 for a long fucking time and have now gotten 10 sober years under my belt and can deal with things as an approximately 28 year old would.  That is some fucked up shit right there. 
I'm hoping once I have my own child, this dynamic will somehow change, but I'm not holding my breath.  I get so angry with myself for letting my parents turn me into a neurotic mess every time we are together.  But I have to realize this has gone on for a long fucking time and it will continue to go on.  I cannot expect them to change.  But I can do my best to not react.

and look, this one even has a skirt! Perfect.

And so, I put on my suit of armor to shield against the barrage of bullshit coming my way, and choose to see the good in them.  Which there is plenty of.  I am grateful I have my parents alive and well and around to test all my new behaviors.  I'm in love with myself today.  The good and the bad and the crazy.  And nothing they can say or do can change that.  Not anymore.


  1. Good girl! I had NO IDEA what boundaries were when I sobered up. I was simply an extension of "you" for most of my life. I spent a year or two in Al-Anon (i.e. Boundary Nazis), where they effectively beat it into my head that boundaries are necessary to protect my serenity. For the longest time, AA kept me sober, but Al-Anon kept me sane.

    Good luck with the fam!

  2. At my first contract negotiation job, I had to learn about "setting expectations." That's what we called it at the corporation, but it really was "setting boundaries."

    I told my manager how overwhelmed I was getting. She suggested that was because people didn't know when to expect things I was sending them, which meant to a lot of them that (a) I'd get to their task when I'd get to it and (b) they could probably speed up the return process by badgering me.

    She helped walk me through "setting expectations" and supported me at the beginning when I'd say things like, "Your item is fourth in queue. Expect a response within five business days" and they'd freak the hell out. "BUT THIS IS SO IMPORTANT."

    Yes, everyone's business is extremely important, to them.

    It was so uncomfortable to do this, but man! I was assigned a project where the PM was brutal. Just brutal. The six months of expectation-adjustment I'd done were put to successful use when, after two weeks of badgering, the lady figured out her brute force was simply not going to add more hours to the day, undo my additional workload, or make it not be the holidays.

    Now when people think I'm being grumpy because I squash what sound like concealed expectations straight out of the gate. I try to do so kindly, but it's important to me to be clear straight from the get-go. I can't make someone see where I'm coming from, but I can get them to avoid wasting both of our time by trying to force me to do something I'm not equipped or willing to do.

    Or, what you said so perfectly here:
    And just because I set boundaries, doesn't mean people will respect them. But for me, it's a sense of control and protection.

  3. Oh, good for you. Boundaries are so difficult for families. WHY, I have no clue, but I expect to be hated by my own children in twenty years. Sunrise, sunset.

  4. I don't think I would trust a post about parents if it didn't feature the f-bomb prominently. Good for you and good luck and also- enjoy your parents!

  5. Like you said, all you can do is suit up if you wanna keep the peace. My dad wasn't so bad (he passed away 4 years ago) but my mom is difficult. Always thinks she's right which would be fine except that she expects you to agree with her. Good luck!

  6. Good luck! I don't think I will ever perfect the "not reacting" thing...but I'm working on it! It is hard....oh so hard. But also so worth it.

  7. Good luck! I don't think I will ever perfect the "not reacting" thing...but I'm working on it! It is hard....oh so hard. But also so worth it.

  8. I am also still learning to set boundaries for myself and with my family. I am a pleaser by nature so I struggle with trying to make sure everything is perfect but when I know I can't then I try to accept that but unfortunately that's not always a a big hit with some of my family so we end up fighting about what I "should" I too put up armour...I hope that you are still feeling great and good and proud of yourself. That you don't have to be stuffed or stuff or be manipulated. <3