I am writing this watching a storm approaching.
Like many others, I have challenging relations with my immediate family. To help, I eagerly learn tips and advice from Moodscoper’s Blogs and Comments, and I consult the University of Google. I know I need to move forwards, and the key is managing my emotions.
My relationships with my two brothers are difficult. I used to be close to them, but not now. I think at least one of the sister in laws has narcissistic behaviours (the 2 SiLs have close friendship). Google tells me that there is no winning with narcissists, no chance that they will change their behaviour, and the advice is to distance and be “grey in communication style”, ie remain calm, not rise to their bait, reveal nothing about your insecurities or reasoning, and just limit conversation to the weather etc. I haven’t seen or spoken to one SiL for over 12 months (apart from sending xmas cards etc), and I am not supposed to phone or visit without prior invitation, so direct contact is not an issue. (Though I would love to have quality time with my brother). However, behind the scenes, the influence of this SiL on my brother and direction of aggression and manipulation against me appears to be very active (narcissists need to blame someone, and she is jealous of me).
This brother has sent a message he wants to speak (the approaching storm). I know what the issue is, having seen the writing on the wall of accusations laid against me. Naturally, I can do better, but my intentions have been good, and I haven’t done anything fundamentally wrong. My plan for the call, is to listen to what he says, and ask some clarifying questions, eg. What brings you to that conclusion? Eg when he says “We think” ask him who “We” is? Is he speaking for the whole of rest of family/subsection of family? Eg. ask him what he is proposing? Maybe summarise what he is saying, ie so you are saying you feel xxxx. But not agree, defend, or explain. If pushed say I need time to think and digest.
Moving to handling my emotions. I read that labelling them is a first step to handling them. As a feeling pops up, I label it.
I know there is quite a high chance (particularly when my mother is gone) that the relationship with both my brothers may become non-existent. I try to keep communication channels with them open and not to judge. I know I can’t force a relationship that they don’t want through either apathy, or fear of upsetting their spouses. It makes me feel sad but I can’t change to be a doormat for them to wipe their boots on.
So I am moving forwards, or onwards and sideways as a friend dryly says… carrying my old, tattered bag of emotions with me.