So, some questions have been banging around in my head lately. I am hoping that any of you, or all of you, will have some insights for me. I welcome anyone, and everyone, to offer up thoughts on anything or everything.
1. Enmeshment: So, I get it. I've read a lot about it. I've seen the defintions. In theory, I get it. But what does it really look like in a narcissistic family? Do you have some examples from your life or those you've seen written about. How can you distinguish a "close" family from an "enmeshed" family? And I've seen the examples about the family who pressures the kids into the family business, etc. I'm looking for more "everyday" examples...does that make sense? Also, any good websites or articles on enmeshment would be appreciated.
2. How do I know if I actually am over-analyzing something? I know that in the past I've been told I'm over-analyzing things in order to get me to back down. It has been used against me. But, could it be possible, that I am, at times, over analyzing? Am I reading into things too much? Am I stuck into thinking about narcissistic personality traits, that I'm applying them to everyone? Or am I really just attracting narcs like fly paper? And on the same hand (but opposite fingers), how do I know if I'm being oversensitive? We speak a lot about sensitivity being used as a character flaw against us inappropriately. But are their times when I am just oversensitive? Do I need to let some things roll off my back more? Are their times I take things personally that are not really about me?
3. Which leads me to...where is the line between "putting myself first, prioritizing me, protecting myself" and being self-absorbed and narcissistic? Sometimes, all of this putting myself first stuff makes me feel selfish. Sometimes I feel, that by not reaching out and extending myself, I'm being self-absorbed. I hope that makes sense. I mean, where do my self-preservation begin and my fleas end?
4. How much support should I have/should I now offer to my sister? She didn't call me, she hasn't told me, she sends messages through my parents. We were not on "unfriendly" terms before this but this newest development doesn't surprise me? What are my obligations to her? I've reached out twice. Do I just let it go now? NM likes to preach "taking the high road" and not dropping down to someone else's level (ironic, huh?). But I do wonder. Am I punishing her for not telling me by not calling her again? How far do I extend myself out? I don't feel like it is a vindictive move on my part to not contact her again. I don't feel anger towards her for it. It sometimes feels like a relief. Finally, just getting it out of the way and giving up the "pretend" relationship. But am I just being stubborn?
5. Where is the difference between NC, or even LC, and "withholding" one's self? I saw a talk show today. The one daughter, the obvious scapegoat, was discussing her abuse with her mother. Of course, the golden child other daughter jumped on. This talk-show host introduced the subject as "turning her back" on her family. Is this just what we are up against as ACoNs? Having the fucking world think we are turning our backs by establishing boundaries, refusing to be hurt? Is it ever a punishment someone chooses to inflict on someone by withholding themselves? Is it just a more amped-up version of "I'm not talking to you"? (And, I must say as I write this, I hope no one gets offended. I'm not judging or suggesting that any NC ACoN is playing this game. In fact, as I wrote this, a light bulb went off and I realized...The "I'm not talking to you" game is meant to control and demand behavior out of someone else. Going NC has nothing to do with controlling someone else, but rather, taking control of our own lives....So, maybe I answered my own question.)
And lastly, (although I think I have more questions that will pop up. Be prepared for Post of Questions #2):
6. How do I reconcile the fact that I do feel empathy for my mother and sister? They are both ACoNs too. And in fact, my grandmother was a much worse narcissist than my mother. I know that that does not excuse my NM's behavior towards me. But she did, somewhat, try to do better than her mother (a fact she never lets me forget). She was better. She made progress. Her progress has allowed me to be a better mother. And hopefully, my kids will be better parents than me. But progress does not excuse or erase her behavior. I empathize with what she went through. And it's hard for me to line up these two images I have of her. The narcissistic banshee that continually rips out my soul and the lost little girl who was treated horribly. That somehow, didn't stand a chance. Even my sister. I know what she went through. And even though she was the GC, she was also the rebel, so life could often be very, very much worse for her. Her childhood was no picnic either. Yet, she treats me horribly. She treats damn near everyone horribly. How do I let go of that little, little girl that I wanted to protect (and still want to protect) like she was my own daughter? How do I stop allowing my empathy for my mother's wounded little girl from coloring my abilities to set boundaries in my own life?