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 Post subject: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:20 pm 
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My brother came to visit my parents over the holiday weekend. I find it difficult to enjoy his company, but because I'm trying to rebuild my relationship with my parents, I was determined to be on my best behavior while he was in town. I'm not sure if I succeeded in doing my best to get along with him, though. In retrospect, it seems that I take some of my brother's behavior very personally. (Just to provide a little backstory, he exhibits many of the classic symptoms of OCD, though he's never been formally diagnosed and refuses to get professional help.)

One thing that really rubs me the wrong way is his tendency to offer unsolicited advice about things that concern him. He does this by asking questions that seem innocent on the surface, which comes across as really passive-aggressive to me. From my point of view, it seems like he's judging me harshly for not doing things the way he thinks I should, but he doesn't have the balls to come out and say what bothers him. He did the same thing to my mother, and it was all I could do to keep quiet and let her speak up for herself.

That's really all I could manage to do, keep quiet. I tried not to get defensive, especially on behalf of others. My brother expressed his opinions on all sorts of topics, and I found his take on just about everything to be offensive and ill-informed. Now, three days later, my lack of assertiveness continues to eat away at me. My husband and I made a graceful exit as early as we possibly could, but I still find it draining to be in my brother's presence for even a short amount of time. If I weren't constantly biting my tongue and holding myself back, maybe I wouldn't feel so worn down. On the other hand, when I'm a guest in someone else's home, I feel a certain obligation not to make a scene.

How can I tell if I did my best when I feel so crappy about the outcome? Can I ever find a way to be true to myself around my family without making them uncomfortable?

Thanks for reading,

EmJay

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 7:36 pm 
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Quote:
...because I'm trying to rebuild my relationship with my parents, I was determined to be on my best behavior while he was in town.
This was your goal.

Quote:
My husband and I made a graceful exit as early as we possibly could...
This was your boundary.

You achieved your goal and practiced self-care by making a graceful exit. You actually were true to yourself by leaving as early as you could. I think you did a fantastic job.

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:28 am 
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Emjay I too think you did a really great job. I have to say I agree with Ann here, considering what you set out to do which was to "rebuild things with your parents."

Biting your tongue being civil and not being able to say how you feel are difficult especially if you are hearing / feeling

Quote:
it seems like he's judging me harshly for not doing things the way he thinks I should


Sounds to me like you handled that distress pretty well. Without trying to shove your own views back at him. Without holding onto his beliefs as your own.


What could you really have done any differently under the circumstances?


All I will say is I hope I could learn to do such with my own brother. It would save a lot of hostility within my own family, if I could learn to be as tolerant and as non defensive as that!

What is making you feel so bad I wonder?

Quote:
Can I ever find a way to be true to myself around my family without making them uncomfortable?


What does being true to yourself mean to you Emjay?

I wonder some if it is to do with wanting them to accept you as you are, more than you accepting you?

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:29 am 
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Sorry, I don't know how that got so spaced out! I hope it is readable.

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:23 am 
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I must agree as well. Looks to me like you not only did your best, but you did a tremendously effective job under difficult circumstances. I wonder as I read that scenario how your responses might have been different if the visitor was someone outside the family.

Would your boundaries about their behavior been different? Would your choice of consequences for violating the boundaries have been different? If so, how and why? I suspect they would be pretty similar.

Nice work, EmJay. A fine gift (and expensive one, too!!) to your parents, your husband and yourself.


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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:17 pm 
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Sorry it's taken me so long to acknowledge people's responses. For a while I'd convinced myself that I didn't deserve so much praise, but I'm starting to see the light.

I did achieve my goal, didn't I? Hooray for me! :bananadance

Tonight will be the second time I've had dinner with my parents since my brother went home. My husband and one of my uncles will be there, and last week two of my uncles joined us. My brother's absence makes such a huge difference in my comfort level, which tells me that perhaps I need to revise my goal by doing one or more of the following:

1) cut down even more on the time I spend with him at family gatherings

2) learn to voice my opinions in a respectful manner, if staying silent is too much of a strain

3) choose not to attend family gatherings if he's planning to be there

4) be more assertive about steering the conversation toward my interests, if I'm feeling ignored

Thanks so much for the feedback, everyone. It means a lot to me.

Take care,

EmJay

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:44 pm 
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It is extra challenging to try and manage our own mental health, and live up to our behavioral goals when we are exposed to someone Else who has mental health issues as well- esp if it is not being acknowledged or treated- and extra esp if it is your brother, and all the complex family dynamics come into play.

I think you did exceptional. your brother sounds like an opinionated know it all Bully. Not someone you would have in your life by Choice.

The only thing I can add to what others have already said, is that perhaps your inner turmoil, and feeling like you may not have done your best because you felt so awful could be eased in the future if you found a way to not internalize his behavior- you struggle because you want to respond because he is being a bully, and you can't because you are trying to be on "you're best behavior" - it all just sounds less like a you and your BPD thing and more like a crappy family dynamic thing. Of Course you want to defend yourself and your mother! but that is hard to do without slipping into BPD land.

But what if you found a way to see him as a sick and suffering person, and decide to hear all his blather as pathetic posturing? It has no bearing on who you or your mother really are as people what he thinks of you. I say find a way to become an observer instead of a participant- because you participated by letting him get to you, by letting his words mattter. You deserve inner peace as much as your parents deserve the outer peace you are striving to give them when your brother is around.

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:24 pm 
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sadgirl, i took a line you wrote and made a new thread, it was just SO huge for me and important. i hope you dont mind. this is such a key statement for all of us.

"""""I say find a way to become an observer instead of a participant-"""".

that is so key.

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 Post subject: Re: Did I Really Do My Best?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:15 am 
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I too think you did very well. I also understand the conflict, however, between 'coping well' and 'being honest'. I think what makes it easier for me to do what you did is that I only do that with my dad, and only because he's schizophrenic. It's very easy for me to place him in a pity category, and nod and smile my way through our encounters. When someone is just dysfunctional, it's harder for me to be so tolerant, and I often feel the need to burst the bullshit bubble.

I s'pose this is where some more DBT comes in! I don't remember the specifics, but this reminds me of that part that tells you not to be so focused on what is Fair or Just, but focus on what is Effective, which is obviously what you were trying to do. :)


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