Can We Be Too Empathetic

I empathize.  Actually, I am an empathy-aholic.  There I’ve said it.  It’s not that I do it on a conscious level.  It comes automatically from somewhere deep inside my brain, I suppose.  I think I have some idea of where it comes from and how I got trained into being this way but, it hasn’t stopped me from doing it yet.

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Being empathetic is a good way to understand others and what they may be going through.  When we draw on our own experiences with issues or situations that we’ve been through, the idea is that perhaps, we can more fully understand and help in some way, those who are traveling down paths that we’ve been down.  At the least, we can imagine what they must be feeling and offer them some form of help one way or another.

Sadly, that’s not how it always works out and there’s good reason for it not always being the case or a help for that person.

We are not that person and no two people are exactly alike.

No one is you or will experience things the way that you do.  Some will take things harder than you would while others will experience those same experiences to a lighter degree than we do.  A lot will depend upon the person, themselves as well as what other experiences they’ve had in their lives.  We’re all created differently.  What soothes me may make you simply annoyed.  What calms you may make me question other things happening because I’ve had a different set of experiences than you and therefore, see and feel things differently.  What your friend, loved one, partner or spouse might feel, you’re not necessarily going to feel the same way.  Vice versa, you may have had a set of life encounters and dealings or issues that your friend, loved one, partner, neighbour or whomever may not have had and you may react far more towards certain things than they will as a result of those things.

Possibly the best thing one can remember or keep in mind is that what you felt during something you’ve experienced, may or may not be what the other person has or is feeling.  Empathizing internally or externally with that person or group of people might be fruitless for them and you because they’re not feeling or reacting the way that you imagine they would be for all of the above reasons.

Trying to feel what someone else may be feeling won’t necessarily help them but, it can hurt you when done too often and to excess.

Each of us in this life will have our own sets of baggage to carry around or deal with.  No one alive is baggage free.  If we’re metaphysical or spiritual or religious, we can put it down to the fact that each of us has a certain number of lessons to learn.  In other words, we need to go through what we have to go through for some Cosmic reason that we’re unaware of as a “lesson” of sorts.

If we’re not spiritually inclined or religious, we can say that perhaps, what circumstances we’re in, we’re in because of choices that we or others around us have made or are making.  If that’s the case, it’s often up to us to either find a way to cope with it or to make other choices wherever possible.

Whatever the case is, we’re all going to be dealt some good and some crappy hands in this poker game we call, Life.  Some will get more cruddy hands than others will.  Is the luck of the draw or our own personal choices or, is it the choice of something or someone else or higher than us?  Often we’ll never know which but we can decide how we deal with it one way or another.

While we can try to give advice or opinions to others we cannot climb into their skin and brains with them or do it for them.  Not only is that not a healthy way for that person to deal with things but, it’s not healthy for us either.

Simply put, we cannot take on everyone else’s burdens, problems or issues too lest we become over-burdened.  Emotional and mental health is fragile when we take on too much of anything.  Certainly, trying to feel what someone else or even everyone else around us is feeling and trying to take some of the weight off of their shoulders, is unhealthy and unhelpful more often than not.  Do that enough times, with enough people and we’ve got a recipe for disaster for ourselves.

Those we empathize with, often move on and out of situations while we’re left feeling dragged out, worn out and depressed.  

Many times now, I’ve worked hard at trying to help someone out of a jam or situation by empathizing with them so that I can draw on my own feelings and experiences to do so.  Unfortunately, I’ve done it with everyone around me at the same time while trying to deal with my own too.  I can say first-hand that it’s not a good nor, healthy thing to do as I’ve been left feeling overwhelmed, burdened, even ill and it’s not solved the other person’s issues.

Worse than that, I’ve found that once I’m a mess, those people I empathized with so heavily, have found a way to deal with their situations and moved on in their lives while I’m laying in a ball, trying to pick up my own pieces.

Human Nature wants equilibrium and will seek it out.

Most people will have to endure some not so lovely experiences.  We all have to face deaths of loved ones if we live long enough to see it or, we’ll all have money issues at some point or another unless we’re born with a proverbial silver spoon in our mouths and a never-ending stream of funds coming our way.  We’ll all feel the sting of rejection from one source or another, one type or another. We’ll all get sick even with only a cold.  We’re all going to die.  That’s the bottom line to Life here.  We’re all going go through negative spots or many.  The reality is, we will all seek out a more comfortable way of feeling and being.  Unless we have a true mental illness that keeps us in one state of mind, we’re going to automatically seek out feeling better and do whatever it takes to feel that way.  It’s part of Human Nature.  No one wants to feel down or depressed forever and we’ll do whatever it takes to feel better for the most part.  Empathizing with someone only takes the energy out of you in this case because:

  1. You can help but you cannot change someone else’s situation, pain, hurt or whatever they are going through.  That is their path to go down.  You can’t change it by trying to feel what they are feeling.
  2. By the time you’ve worn yourself out empathizing, they’ve likely found other ways to deal with their situations or emotions.  If they haven’t already done that, they eventually will.
  3. Because of the first point and the second, you’re doing no one any good except to weaken yourself to your own challenges in Life.

 

Not many will empathize with you in the same way nor to the same extent so, why not reserve some energy for your own struggles? 

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Have you ever noticed that you’re always there for others during their times of crises but, when you need someone or some help, everyone you’ve turned somersaults for during their bad times, is suddenly “too busy” to be there when you need someone?  I’m sure many of us can relate to this one unless we’ve led a rather selfish existence in not helping other soul.  Not many people can or will say that.

Not that we expect something in return when we try to help other people but, we would hope that the kindnesses that we’ve shown others will be returned to some extent or another should we ever need something.  However, that’s often not the case.  The question always begs, why doesn’t that happen?

“I’ve given and given to this person and that person and the other one down the street but, when I needed one simple favour, there was no one around,” you may be saying right now.  “As a matter of fact, the only time I’ve had someone help me, it’s been only half of the effort that I’ve put into them or less.  I don’t get it!”

You’re not alone in wondering why that is but, there’s often a simple answer.

You’ve been far too kind or generous with your time and emotions and, you’ve thought of others in ways that they don’t think about you or anyone else for that matter most of the time.  

If the truth is told, not many people can or will even attempt to empathize with you the way that you have done with or for them.  That doesn’t necessarily make them selfish but, it does stand as a lesson that putting too much effort into someone else, is not only not necessary but, it doesn’t get you anywhere except a lot of being overwhelmed then, frustrated and disappointed.  It’s time for you to turn down the volume a bit on your pouring out of empathy towards others.  That’s not to say that you don’t care about others but, it’s saying that you have to put yourself up there in the ranking of first place because while others may help you, they’re not going to take your problems over.  You need your emotional strength for your own issues.

Some points to remember:

  • It’s ok to understand what others might be going through on a “cerebral level” but, it’s not healthy for either of you to reach down inside yourself and try to feel what the other person is feeling.
  • If someone is in a hole, jumping into it with them (via empathy) is only trapping both of you.  You’re far more helpful to that person to stay safely on the side, being their for them to throw them down a rope so that they can climb out versus you being in there with them.
  • Expecting others to empathize with you in the same way or to the same extent as you’ve done for them, is not only unhealthy but unreasonable to expect because no one is you or can feel like you do and, not many people will be able to or even want to try.  Most people are in this world to look after themselves first and foremost.  Help but, don’t jump into that pit with them because they likely won’t do the same for you when or if you needed that kind of help.
  • There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy.  Sympathy is the ability to feel sorrow for what one is going through without the extra step of actually trying to put yourself in their shoes and feeling what they may be feeling.  Too much sympathy can be unhealthy too but, it’s easier to recuperate from and less intrusive to your life than full empathy.
  • You don’t need to feel what other people are feeling nor, can you really feel what they may be feeling.  As explained above, no two people are alike and even though they may be going through what you’ve been through, their other experiences in life as well as their personalities are going to shape how they react to a situation.  It’s rather fruitless, unhelpful and unhealthy for you to try to put yourself in their emotional shoes because they likely not only won’t fit but, it doesn’t help them or you.  Throw them a rope and let them climb out of the hole they’re in.
  • Look after your own needs first and think about yourself because not many people in your life will be there for you 24/7, trying to feel what you’re going through.  Those who have been there in their own experiences don’t want to re-visit it and those who haven’t, can’t feel what you’re feeling to help.  More to the point, not many will even try.

From my little corner of life, I see helping others as something that should be done when your own needs have been met and you’re able to emotionally be strong.  It does not mean hurling yourself into an emotional tailspin.  No one need do that to help others.  Heaven knows that were doctors, nurses, police officers, first responders, fire fighters etc., were to do that, they’d be crippled and couldn’t do their jobs after one or two incidents.

Do yourself and other people a favour.  Stay healthy by helping others in a healthy way.  Empathy has its place but, it’s limited.

Be well.  Love and Light.

 

 

When Your Adult Child Becomes Abusive

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If your adult child or children were anyone else on this planet, would you allow them the leeway that you are giving to your abusive child or children?

Tough question to answer, isn’t it?  Part of that is because we have that “bond” with our child or children as a parent that supersedes any other relationship that we can have or have had in our lives.  Love is blind as they say so, we often blindfold ourselves to the three dimensional view of our child or children.  We can see glimpses of their flaws and faults but, that’s as much as our guilt will allow us to see.  It’s nearly impossible for us to be as fully objective about our own child or children as we may be able to be with other people.

The word “guilt” was used for good reason. As parents, not only does the love we have for them become overwhelming and blinding but, we tend to tie our own self-worth into our child or children.  The moment we dive deeply into being critical of our own flesh and blood that we brought into this world or even adopted from someone else’s womb, we tie ourselves to that child or children in a way that we cannot tie ourselves to anyone else on this planet.  A put-down of our child even from our own minds and whether we gave birth to them or not, is oftentimes, felt as a put-down upon ourselves as both parents as well as who we are in general as people.  If our child or children are not doing well in life or is somehow “flawed”, we can unconsciously or even consciously, figure that it’s our faults.  We can leap to the conclusion that somehow, we have failed as parents and therefore we are also flawed as people in one way or another.

Not everyone will completely blame themselves for their child’s failures in Life.  Some parents will be able to see that our children have made choices in friends or groups that they’ve chosen to hang around and blame them instead of ourselves.  However, somewhere, deep down inside of us, there’s still a feeling of somehow being imperfect as a parent because our child or children have made those choices whether we’ve discouraged it or outright forbidden it or not. On some level or another, we feel “guilt” in one capacity or another and can tear ourselves to shreds as both parents as well as people.

This then leads us back to the question of whether or not we would allow any other human being to treat us the way that we allow our adult children to treat us.

First of all, were someone else to be treating us with any level ranging from disrespect to outright abuse, we’d likely toss those people from our lives to some extent or another, for some time frame or another or, more likely, until there was at least a sincere apology from that person.  If it was a long-termed thing, we’d likely walk away and not look back.   With family, it’s not quite that easy.  We can even find ourselves being victims as adults to poor treatment from our own parents and siblings out of a feeling of obligation and duty.  However, having said that, we can also come to a point where we begin to distance ourselves either somewhat or totally from them and their abusive or manipulative ways.  Friends or others in our lives are even more likely to be walked away from under these circumstances.  Our children are not quite as easy to distance ourselves from because of the above and for other reasons.

There is likely few people that we put more of ourselves into than we do with our child or children.  Even as adults, we are still invested in many ways in our children’s lives and well-being.  After all, isn’t that our job?  At least, that’s what we may reason with ourselves but, the answer to that is a resounding “no” once our children become adults and, we don’t need to continue to allow them to use, abuse or treat us poorly once they have become adults.  Our “jobs” are done.  We gave birth to them, loved them, raised them, gave them what we could reasonably give them and we supported them in more than a roof over their heads.  There are exceptions of course in the parenting world to this but, we’re talking about the average parent here, not those who were abusive to their own children or neglectful in any way.

There are a few things to take into consideration in how parents can deal with their adult-abusive or even estranged child (a topic that not many sites will deal with).

Your influence over your adult child was watered down many years ago.

We all like to think that we still have some sort of power or control over our children’s lives once they are adults.  For some, this is true but, for the most part, our influences over our child, all of our teachings, morals and values that we feel we’ve instilled into them, was long ago watered down by the influences of many other people in our children’s lives as they grow.  We are no longer their sole source of influence.  Peers, bosses, teachers and society in general, also including technology as well as entertainment venues, have taken over the largest portion of what affects them or doesn’t affect them once they are adults and have been doing so for many years before this point.  Oftentimes, those sources are the biggest reasons for their actions, decisions or choices at this stage of their lives versus us, as parents.  We therefore, cannot continue to place blame upon ourselves for everything that our children decide to do or not do.  Those choices were influenced by many other sources and we are the least likely sources at this point in our children’s choices or lack of them so, we can halt the self-deprecating right there for their poor choices or in taking the blame for the way they treat us now.

Having given your child too much attention or in short, spoiling them.

A lot of parents from the 1980’s onwards are likely guilty of having given their child everything they could possibly give them including monetary things as well as attention, devotion, praise and love.  Parents of children from the 80’s onwards were also victims to a new way of thinking about parenting. Society was at a point where the theory was to reward children for almost everything that they did, including potty training.  They got stars, praise and even rewards or trophies for simply participating no matter how well they did or whether they did anything or not.  They simply had to show up more than half of the time in order to get a reward of some type or another.  Even education was play based and grades were given out according to effort, not necessarily, achievement.

This was a time frame in which parents were also encouraged to praise our children to the hilt for even small endeavours in the home and, it was done by most.  Support, praise, rewards and more of the same.  No matter what children did or didn’t do in those times, they were rewarded for one thing or another.  Not only did that lead us to believe that our children could do no wrong but, it led them to feeling “entitled” to getting rewarded in one way or another no matter what they did or didn’t do.  It was that entitlement that turned a fairly good chunk of those children into little narcissists who believed that the sun rose and set on them no matter what they did or didn’t do.  That wasn’t just parental influence but, also that of society in general.  Even were children to be disciplined at home, they were rewarded for even poor attitudes and skills outside of the home. Parents couldn’t override an entire system and if they tried, the parents became “The Hated Ones” because the rest of society and its systems were telling these children that they were “entitled”.   We did them no favours as human beings because it made it tougher for these kids to grow up into a tough, dog-eat-dog world where they weren’t able to cope well because everything had been handed to them up until this point.  That wasn’t necessarily parent’s faults but rather societal experimentation that failed these children and turned them into narcissistic tending little monsters who eventually, would grow up into adults who felt entitled and angry when they didn’t get what they wanted anymore from Life or their parents.

The “experts” are still saying that parents should tell their children they are loved no matter how badly they’ve treated us or, even if they have walked away on us and are now estranged from us.

Not to put down the so-called “experts” but, how many parents have tried with their children, always telling them that they are loved, only to find themselves being either doormats or punching bags for their children?

Answer:  Lots!

Sadly, many parents of children from the ’80s onwards are now finding their either fully adult or nearly adult children, treating them like yesterday’s garbage and being tossed to the side while they’re still telling their child, “I love you” and continuing to do so no matter how badly they are treated by their children.

Far be it from me to tell parents to not tell their children that they are loved and wanted.  Every parent needs to let their children know that much but, when that child not only disrespects that parent but, treats them poorly, it’s time to give up on the loving words and time to get real with their adult children by letting them know that while they are still loved, their attitudes and abusive, using actions will not be tolerated.  Enough already with sending them messages of “I love you” and leaving it there while rolling with the punches.  These are no longer 10 year old children who can’t understand the meanings of their actions fully.  These are fully grown adults who must learn that for every action, there’s an equal or greater reaction.  That doesn’t mean withdrawing love for them however, it does mean that these adults don’t get to treat their parents poorly and still get the benefits that they would if they were treating their parents with respect and love too.  Poor actions get poor reactions.  Withdrawal of love for them is never a solution but, rewarding them by permitting poor treatment is not the answer.  They need a wake-up call for their sakes as well as the parent’s own well-being.

If you wouldn’t let others treat you this way and would walk away from them, why are you letting your child do this to you?  

As has been said throughout this piece in differing ways, rewarding poor behaviour is akin to a form of abuse from parents.  We are not doing them any good by rewarding our children for their poor treatment of us or by putting up with it and giving them more and more of ourselves.  Life doesn’t work that way so, why should we?

When a child is rewarded for poor behaviour, attitudes, actions, choices or decisions, it re-inforces that behaviour within them.  No, they won’t like being said “no” to nor, will they love the idea that they’re not getting their own way or what they want if we do start to stand up to them as adults and let them know that it’s not ok to treat us in a poor manner.  However, continuing to give them what they want, expect or feel entitled to getting, is only bolstering the idea that poor behaviour, temper tantrums, threats of withdrawal from our lives and whatever else they can throw at us to manipulate us into giving them what they want is simply training them to continue treating us as parents, wrongly, poorly and with disregard as well as disrespect.

Let me say something perfectly clear here.

Giving more of yourself and handing everything to someone who is treating us badly, let alone our children, is a recipe for becoming a “doormat” for others.  In short, we are laying ourselves down on the ground and letting people walk on and wipe their feet on us.  That’s not right.  We are people too and it doesn’t matter who they are to us.  

Sadly, sometimes, we have to let them go and hope that they will eventually come back otherwise, we risk our lives becoming infected with toxicity.  

There’s no bigger health threat than having someone we love, treat us like dirt beneath their feet and making us feel like we don’t matter in this life.  That goes for our adult children.  We all need to feel wanted, loved, respected and treated fairly and well.  We deserve that from others especially, the very children that we lovingly raised to the adult level and oftentimes, sacrificed more than a good night’s sleep for.  Many parents can tell stories of having given up great careers, being able to travel or do things that they, themselves wanted to do for themselves that would have made them happy, in order to give everything to their child or children, leaving themselves unhappy, unfulfilled and only to be treated in an abusive, uncaring manner or worse, have that child or children walk out of their lives, without contact, care or concern for their parent(s) and their well-being.

More to the point, those children have become what one can consider a “toxin” to the parent, making them feel as though they’ve wasted those years of their lives on someone who cannot or more to the point, return that love, care or respect to their parents.  Not only that but, it wears on the parent’s psychological well-being and soon after, their physical health.  It’s a vicious cycle especially, when the parent continues to feel as though they simply need to do more, try harder, give more or plead with that child to keep their love or the adult child in their lives.  It’s akin to a dog or cat, chasing their own tails.  It’s a fruitless exercise in not only futility but in a form of an illness of one sort or another.  It won’t change your child and sometimes, the only way to make one person’s lives healthier, is for the parent to either distance themselves, limit their time or exposure to that child’s ill behaviour and treatment or, to completely walk away if the child doesn’t do it for themselves.

Yes, that all sounds counter-intuitive to what we feel or have been taught to think of as “proper parenting” but, this all leads back to the original question….

If this were anyone else in your life, would you continue to let that person abuse or mistreat you?

If your answer is “yes” then you, yourself need to find some counselling because you’re not valuing yourself as a person and instead, are valuing others above yourself.

If you answered “no” to this question then, why are you allowing and encouraging your adult child to continue to do it to you?

From my little corner of life, while this is a longer piece than I usually write, it’s an under said topic that needs addressing more and more fully.  We’ve turned out a couple of generations of children now, both adult and children who need to learn that you aren’t rewarded for treating others poorly.  There are consequences to their behaviours and reactions to their actions of equal or greater proportion.

Be well and let me know what you are dealing with in the comments, please.

Best wishes from one parent to another or to adult children who might be reading this and recognizing what may be happening in their own relationships with their parents.

Comment!

 

 

 

Is Your Child Involved In An Enmeshed Relationship With Someone?

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Our children can be our worst haters and abusers especially, when they have chosen to become involved in what one could term as an “enmeshed relationship” with a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse.  Even adult children can turn into seeming monsters who can make us out to be The Devils Incarnate, out to ruin their lives while in one of these types of relationships.

My own daughter, now a fully grown woman, has been involved in a relationship with an issue riddled man, living with him for nearly 7 years.  As parents, my husband and I, both tried to get her to see the fact that this man was most definitely carrying a lot of “emotional baggage” and begged her to wait before making a move in with him.  Of course, both of us as parents, were turned inside out and made into demons in her mind.  Let’s just say that she didn’t have that opinion of us before he entered her life and she had a lot of help in doing so but, must have wanted that end for some reason or another.  The question we set out to figure out was the “why” behind it all.

We watched our daughter go from a loving, giving, thoughtful person who prided herself on her accomplishments in life to someone we didn’t recognize anymore.  She stopped taking care in her appearance, became preachy, holier than thou, appeared sullen, negative, took up weed smoking, lost all of her substantial savings, moved into a tiny, over priced, broken down apartment, racking up debt on her credit card, putting on weight, sleeping every other night on a mattress on the floor or a spring bare couch, dropping all of her friends and becoming a recluse who watched downloaded television programs or documentaries that The Jerk had spent his entire day working on instead of focusing on working.  This once vital, beautiful and ambitious young woman had now become a version of the lazy, un-driven, un-ambitious, debt riddled, pothead she was living with who had no friends of his own and had literally been thrown out by his own parents on several occasions, no longer welcome in their home because he “caused too much trouble for the family and wouldn’t change.”

We spent close to a year without her wanting to speak to us.

“We’re enmeshed,” she screamed out one night after having tried to throw a bowl of salad from our dinner table across the room while visiting us for dinner then, picking up a chair to hit me with while I stopped her and having stopped her again in mid-swing as she attempted to strike me for the first time ever in her life and ushering her to our front door where I  told her that violence would not be tolerated by us in any way. At that very moment, I realize that this person was most definitely not the daughter I had loved and raised.  There was not even a physical resemblance of her remaining visible in any way or sense of the word and, that was the most frightening part of all of this.  We had not only lost her physically but, we had lost our daughter as a person.

For over a year, I sought out counselling for myself.  Had we, as parents, done something wrong?  Were we bad parents?  What was this term “enmeshed” and was I doing it to her?  I had no clue but, I certainly was more than willing to figure it out and if we were at fault, I was determined to find a way to rectify the matter with her any way necessary and even him, if that was warranted.

A year’s worth of therapy, research and journalling, looking back at her childhood and being kicked by her through nasty, ill-tempered emails that cut me to the core during a period of grieving where I was already on the ground after the sudden and accidental death of my brother at the young age of 53 years, I realized that it wasn’t us as parents who were to blame for this entire fiasco and shambles of a parent-child relationship that was left behind.  Nor, was her anger, bitterness or sudden lack of caring about herself or others.  This was totally the work of a master manipulator and sick person…the man she was living with.  She was ‘enmeshed’ with him and with his chronic use of pot as well as heaven knows what other substance he possibly used.  We knew that she was also now heavily into it all as well.

For those who don’t know what the term “enmeshment” means, the short-hand version is similar to the idea of people who become entangled in one another’s lives so greatly that they forget where they begin and the other person(s) end.  While there are many different types of enmeshments and every family possesses some form of it to one degree or another, the definition, for my purposes, is an exaggerated form of dependency on someone else for your own enjoyment of life or to fit an unmet need on one end while other(s) feel guilty if they don’t meet those needs.  In a simplified version, it’s some what a form of “co-dependency”.

“Keep your friends close.  Keep your enemies even closer.”  

It’s uncertain who came up with the phrase above but, my husband and I decided that in spite of our own hurt and anger, we were best to keep this messed up man and our daughter in our sight even though we had never said that he wasn’t welcome and had been allowing him around, just not his weed or whatever he and she had gotten into.  With a lot of tongue biting and swallowing blood, we simply did our best to tolerate the dirt bag being around us when needed/required and saw her on non-occasions on her own when she’d grace us with her presence.

Over the next 3 or 4 years, we had them for dinners and occasions, taking them out and paying the bills for it all, even buying her new clothing for work, new coats and boots, giving her money for what she needed, personally but, refusing to pay off their debts when asked to co-sign for a loan for them both or, provide them with money for first and last month’s rent on a year’s lease on another apartment when our daughter temporarily gave him an ultimatum to shape up or she’d ship out.  We smiled, gritted our teeth and put up with comments from him that we would never accommodate from anyone else for the most part.  We even bought him gifts for birthdays and Christmases so that our daughter couldn’t say we were treating him poorly and yet again, allow him to convince her to walk out on us.  We were keeping her close and him…closer.

Over the next 4 years, things went from bad to worse.  The jerk came to dinners with our families, dressed like he’d rolled out of bed, thrown on the first thing he’d stepped on, hair uncombed, unshaven, brown teeth and wreaking of weed and B.O..  We are far from wealthy but, in spite of the fact that we struggled financially, we bought him clothing as gifts with which he could wear to be presentable had he wanted to and, despite it all fitting him with his declaration that he liked it all, he refused to wear anything except his old, faded, stained, overly small, psychedelic rock t-shirts, dirty blue jeans which didn’t button or zipper properly due to his large weight gain over the past few years to even semi-formal restaurants with us and family.  To us, that showed a total lack of respect for not only us but, the family and more importantly, our daughter.  Yet, we still kept on permitting him to be with us until every last one of our family and friends had been so completely insulted by him verbally and they refused to have anything further to do with him.  Some wondered if we’d lost our minds and perhaps, we had.

The final blow came between Thanksgiving of this year and our daughter’s birthday where he had been thrown out of his own parent’s home for the final time because he became abusive with them when they refused to allow him to smoke weed at their home and our daughter, who had backed him up, was ejected with him.  The writing was on the wall then.  It became an “I’m not with my family so, I’m going to see to it that you’re not going to see yours either” type of campaign.  He pulled out a hash/weed wax vaporizer after dinner and was stopped by my husband whereupon, our daughter decided to back “his right to smoke up” then, proceeded to hurl insults at us and my brother to the point where my brother nearly hit him.  That was it.  It was done.  We’d all put up with more than enough from not only the jerk but, our daughter as well.  They left.

 

Since then, I’ve heard nothing from our daughter except for some nasty messages and texts where she has blamed us for everything that’s gone wrong in her life.  If she could have blamed the kitchen sink, she would have.  That’s how bad it had become.  She was now an “abuser” and I put a stop to every method of her being able to be in contact with me except by phone.  Since she was telling us that we were the source of her total discontent with her life, we decided that it was time to set her free totally. She’d have no other source other than the jerk she is with to blame eventually and given enough time and rope with which to hang himself.  At least, one can only hope.  Reality and honest given, neither my husband nor, myself can take anymore.  She’s become a bully, backed by a bully and we cannot take anymore without our own sanity and health going down the tubes.  As an adult, we don’t owe it to her to lose either of those precious things anymore.

We have no doubt that there is still a lot of fuel and mileage that this jerk will get in siding and coaching what our daughter thinks and does.  There’s no doubt that he pulls her strings and she is allowing him to hold onto them and do the dancing.  Her words do not sound like hers but rather, versions of his thinking.  It’s sounding and seeming almost as though he’s either written these messages for her or, she’s become so “enmeshed” with him that she no longer can find herself.

The main point behind the idea of enmeshment is that there are no personal boundaries and therefore, there is a loss of self.   If they can’t find their own boundaries, they will set their lines with you, according to the other person’s call instead.

Is your child in an enmeshed relationship?

“Those in an enmeshed relationship come to depend the other enmeshed person for their identity. They become so lost that they lose, or fail to develop, their sense of self.

An enmeshed person depends on the person their enmeshed with for their self-worth.”

Does your child, even adult child, appear to have left their personality by the way-side for the most part and has taken on their “other half’s” personality, habits, hobbies, manner of speaking and mannerisms to some real extent or another?

Do you not really recognize who your child is and can see that they are putting up with things or circumstances that you know they wouldn’t normally permit or want in their lives?

Are they becoming increasingly isolated from their old or own friends and making the other person’s friends and family theirs, instead?

Has your once happy child, decided that their entire childhood was nothing but, a farce or was bad for them?

Is your child seemingly finding more ways to match their childhood with that of their partner’s even though it’s incorrect to you and others who watched your child during those years?

Have they been finding ways to protect their relationship, even if it means distancing themselves from those who have loved them most throughout their lives or up until this person entered their lives?

Are you finding yourself being pushed aside in favour of the spouses/partner’s/girlfriend/boyfriend’s family?

Is your contact with your child more limited and only under certain terms or conditions?

Does your child allow their partner to speak up for them mostly or when they do speak for themselves, are you finding it sounding more like the other person than your child?

There are plenty more examples to give you hints but, if you’re noticing some or all of the above, you may be dealing with a child who has become enmeshed with their partner/boyfriend/girlfriend.  While you may not be able to get your child out of it, certainly suggesting professional therapy in some form or another for both your child or yourself is certainly a good step forward.  If nothing else, it’s up to you to set your own boundaries with your child.  You don’t need to allow them to abuse you or treat you wrongly.  Remember…this is their issue, not yours and at a certain point, it’s up to them to figure out the consequences and remove themselves from the situation.  You can only encourage them to set boundaries for themselves while setting your own.

At least, that’s been my experience thus far from my little corner of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Want To Whine….

I’m going to date myself here in what I’m going to say but that’s ok.  I wear a badge of honour for my years.

Back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, there seemed to be a line that every parent gave.  Perhaps, it was written into a Dr. Spock book somewhere but, most parents back then, didn’t put up with their child’s whining especially, in stores and would swiftly swat us when we acted up.

If you want to whine…I’ll give you something to whine about,” they’d say, ushering us out of the store or over to the side where we couldn’t bother anyone else.

kid

Yesterday, I was in a mall shoe store, trying on shoes with the help of a friendly clerk.  The store was crowded and there was barely room to try on shoes or get past other customers.  As I bent down to try on a pair, a child ran up the aisle, knocking over boxes of shoes, swiping down displays and carrying on like a lunatic.  He was no small child who didn’t know any better.  He appeared to be around the age of 8 or so, possibly even older.

No one did a thing.  His mother and grandmother went on blissfully looking at shoes while this kid ran wild through the store, continuing to wreak havoc with not only store merchandise but, making it impossible for other shoppers to try on shoes or even look.

One brave sales clerk, dared to try to stop this little creature from his reign of terror by taking a box out of his hands, telling him it was rude and asking where his parents were.  The little monster ran to his mother, whining and screeching out whining noises that sounded like something from a horror movie.  The mother did nothing and the child returned to his antics.

At that point, another store clerk attempted a similar tactic and met with the same results. Most other shoppers at this point had stopped to stare at this Child Gone Bad in either amazement, disgust or both.

It was at that exact moment that my own parent’s words came flooding back as though they were standing right there and were it not for being put up on assault charges, I would have smacked the child upside the back of the head then, proceeded to repeat the same gesture and words with his mother and grandmother.

“If your child insists on being such a pain in the behind and, you’re not going to do anything about him…you may as well feel it like everyone else in the store is feeling it!”

Of course, I couldn’t and I didn’t but, I can tell you that it was mighty tempting.

From my little corner of life, what you put up with from your child at home is your business but, if that child is annoying the pants off of everyone else around you, either do something or expect some sort of consequence.

I would have loved to have seen that family kicked out of the store at that point but, I’m sure, like me, other customers left instead.

Sadly, I have come to truly appreciate that line that was given out so freely back in the 50’s and 60’s.  I wish more parents would learn it…or, perhaps…a t-shirt with the saying imprinted on it would serve a purpose?