Hey Brooke and team,
Regarding the “manual” people have for each other:
I get the “accept people as they are” on my side, regarding my expectations of them. And it is liberating to let people be who they are instead of trying to change them.
However, accepting people as they are does not change the fact that they don’t accept me how I am. I understand that I can’t make them accept me (as this would be expecting them to change). But I don’t know how to manage my own mind around that.
Concrete situation : I have a grandfather who is still alive, and quite unwell these days. I have made my peace with a lot of things regarding my family/childhood, but as a grown-up, I have made the choice to keep a healthy distance with this side of my family. However, my sister and father often badger me to call my grandfather regularly, even though I have made the conscious choice to keep the contact scarce. I feel pressured and manipulated by their insistance (they try to make me feel guilty about not calling as often as I “should” according to their manual). Finally, when I tried to express my feelings of pressure to my husband, he replied that my sister and father are right to act this way, because I *should* call my grandfather more often as he probably doesn’t have long to live. We should love and care for our family, whatever they did in the past, isn’t it society’s manual for all of us?
As a note, I intend to keep with my choice of keeping contact scarce, I know why I made that choice and I am at peace with it. It is the fact that other family members try to make me change my mind that I have a hard time managing.
Two questions regarding this situation :
First, when does this become a violation of my emotional boundaries ? How do I recognize the difference between them having to right to try to make me call my grandfather more often, and when does it become something I must set a boundary on?
Then, how do I deal with those insistent injunctions from these people, who want me to behave according to their manual ? Since I can’t change the circumstance (them badgering me), and I don’t want to change my behavior (keep my distances), how can I change the feelings I have (pressured, manipulated, try to force shame on me) ? Especially as I don’t have my own husband’s support on this, so this is a particularly tricky issue. I’ve made several models but I can’t seem to figure out which line I should work from, or what angle I could consider to create the intentional thought pattern where I’m no longer feeling pressured and manipulated. Here is a model example if it may help answer this question :
C: sister sends a text asking me to call my grandfather (can’t change this)
T : She wants to control my behavior. I won’t let this happen. I get to decide how I deal with family issues.
F : Pressured, stressed out, angry, suffocated.
A : Ignore her text and not call my grandfather (and have a bad day because of the feelings above)
R : since I didn’t call, my sister (or father, or both) eventually badger me again – with all sorts of manipulation attempts that get worse as I don’t comply. (probably can’t change this either unless I do call my grandfather more often, which I’ve decided not to)
Thanks for taking the time with this question. I am forever grateful for your awesome support, keep up with the great job !
Warm sunshine and blooming flowers from Paris 😉