First of all, I want to thank you for your course. I tend to sit in the background, but I’ve been working on myself and watching almost all the videos for each month for the past 5 months. Your model is really helping me overcome some wrong thinking that has hurt me in the past.
Second, I’d like your advice on mental preparation for an upcoming interaction with my ex MIL. I am a strong survivor of over 20 years of narcissistic abuse. We divorced 6 years ago and he died unexpectedly of a heart attack last year, leaving me with 4 teenage children. I have ongoing difficult relationship issues with his parents, also with NPD, who have a long-standing history of saying mean and inappropriate things to me and my kids.
I tend to be an empath and optimist. I see the best in people….to a fault. In general, I go into most social interactions hopeful, with an attitude of love and compassion, healing and forgiveness, and I expect the same from others. So, the result is I’m gobsmacked when they say hurtful things and are just plain mean to me or my children. It always catches me off guard, even though I know the history of their behavior, and I can never really think of how to handle it in the moment, because I’m totally focused in this other world of love and forgiveness, which sends me into an emotional tailspin after the event, triggering the old patterns of emotions, and leaving me feeling like a target again.
I’m working on re-writing my history of the abuse this month, and it’s really helping me let go of being the victim of the narcissistic abuse. I’m able to see it as part of what has made my beautiful and (mostly) joyful, amazing life that I have today. I’m truly able to forgive and I’m finding joy and gratitude in the incredible marriage and family I have today.
But I still have to face interacting with my ex-MIL again.
I have an upcoming event on the 4th of July where they will be coming to my house for a large family party. I’m cautiously optimistic that they will be kind, but I need help preparing in case they aren’t. Please help me break the thinking spiral from the triggers, if they say mean things, so that I can feel strong and empowered, kind and loving still (and not a victim) in the moment-to-moment of the present when faced with the strong probability of more unkind actions again.
C: Family Member says mean or inappropriate words
T: Did they just really say that? How can they think that? Wow, that hurt. Are they crazy? People surprise the crap out of me. Protect the kids…
F: Hurt, outraged, defensive, triggered
A: Cut them out (appropriate cutting ties with toxic people, right?), or say/do nothing and tailspin emotionally
R: Strained family relations because of the riff
C: Family member says mean or inappropriate words
T: Of course, they can say or do anything they want and it doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t have to affect me.
F: ??? – Dissociated or depersonalized psyche protection from their behavior
A: ??? Allow them to continue? Say something to confront or neutralize the bad behavior? Ask them to leave if they can’t be nice? Laugh? Shrug and walk away?
R: Stay away from them and have peace in our family? In which case the family is still fractured…..Love them from a distance? IDK…
What I want is for them to be kind and loving and to have a good relationship with their grandkids and me. I can’t control their behavior. I can’t have a good relationship with people who reject me or don’t want to be friends. So how do I manage my thoughts and limit the damage their behavior has on my family?