TBM brother and SIL are visiting the area this week and staying nearby. Happened to see my brother Monday briefly when I ran into him at my parents house. SIL and kids were asleep and jet lagged. Everything was normal as if nothing untoward has ever happened. He said he’d text me for another get together before my family (excluding me) goes on vacation together from Saturday onwards. Ok, fine. I said I’d be able to make it if I didn’t get any shifts allocated. Mostly want to go, but with mixed feelings. I’m worried I’m pleased at the slightest hint of love and attention as my expectations are now so low.
Nothing heard until late last night. In the meantime they’ve been sightseeing further afield, and today apparently (I only know because my daughter told me) they’re going to pick my daughter up and she’ll be with them until the vacation. She lives further away than I do. He asked me if I’m free tomorrow. He wants us to go to dinner, just me and him (thank god) but he said he thinks maybe “you should come over and see the folks” first. Don’t like the word ‘should’ at all, but I guess this would be normal behaviour. Don’t know what normal is anymore. Kinda resent that my daughter will be there, hanging out with my SIL the whole time.
Trouble is, SIL doesn’t like me and has been saying negative stuff behind my back. Won’t go into this again, but she’s really uncomfortable by my exmo status even though it’s been ten years. At best it’s awkward and really I’d be entitled to tell them all to go to hell. But on middle ground instead: How do I do a drive by and keep it short when I’m dependent on my brother being ready to leave for dinner? Part of me doesn’t want to see anyone in my family but refusing kinda declares open war and then I’m the bad person. How do I gain control of this situation so I’m not at their mercy time-wise? It’s also clear I’m not a priority. But now I “should” go and see them. No offers to meet up together anywhere. I “should” travel twice as far as I would need to if it were just dinner. Tell them I have something pressing earlier or later in the day??i can’t think straight. The thought of it is sending my anxiety through the roof.
I shot myself in the foot by initially replying “that entirely depends on the rest of the information you’re about to give me”. He didn’t find it funny. Damn sense of humour gets me in trouble every time. I hate this.
The one thing I know for sure after a long life with much of it filled by the same as you are going through, is this:
"He who cares the least wins."
Your family cares the least. They have won at least for now. The spoils are no great prize. Such an empty, sad victory.
Your nose pressed against the window feeds their religiosity.
What worked for me:
I was totally prepared to never see my family again or have any contact with them. I would never put myself in the position of being what we become as exmo's in an extreme Mormon family.
I built my own life with my own friends, some of whom became new family. I invited my family into my life with open arms but I didn't participate in theirs.
You can't win unless you are prepared to lose.
I avoided the required gift giving things like birthdays and holidays and instead sent gifts and did special things during the year when no one was expecting them. I became more loving, but not on their terms. I had to throw them off balance. I had a big fantastic life that made it impossible for them to see me as less than.
It took decades for my parents to begin to see who I really was and not look at me through Mormon eyes; for them to love me as me and not as a project. Meant a lot that they finally did; that they quit telling me I really had a testimony deep down. I would not trade the life I had in the meantime and wasn't even waiting for that.
They say the best defense is a good offense. With family I don't buy that as true. If there is either defense or offense in play both sides have already lost. You need to create a new playing field not level the old one. Because, nothing in Mormonism is level as you already know.
I don't know if any of that is helpful to you, but that is what my life was. I came out as gay and exmo at a time when most of the world felt the same as the Mormon church does about us. Made me tough as nails so this approach may not be for everyone.
Just hate to see you hurting because I can feel it.
Thank you, that is actually really helpful and seems right. I admire what you say a lot. I think I will aim for that. I’m actually currently trying to finish off nursing school and then the plan is to move away. Next time I’m subjected to these occasional visits where I have no power or control over the situation, I won’t be here. I can invite them to me, and of course I know they won’t come.
I see what you mean about he who cares the least; that hits the nail on the head. That’s the thing that stings me right now; sounds so trivial but it doesn’t feel it: I’m last on the list of things to do, not invited to the vacation but my daughter is, and then I’m told I “should” go and see them, and if I say no then I’m the one who looks bad. At this point I don’t see what else I can do except relent, or lie and say I’m working and not even see my brother. Possibly best to pretend I care less than they do. But I hate being treated this way, and dread being manipulated into staying and not being able to leave. I don’t trust my family anymore.
They have power over you only if you seek their approval. It's like their version of a temple recommend – as long as you want it, you have to meet their conditions; but the moment you stop caring, their power evaporates. They have nothing to hold over your head. It sucks, but somehow you'll have to train yourself at least to stop showing them that you care what they think, even if you do still care. (Remember, with mormons it's about the appearance.) Otherwise, you will always have to dance to their tune.
Regarding the dinner, my advice would be to meet them at the restaurant. **Under NO circumstances ride in their car** because that holds you hostage. If you get there first, text them that you will find the table and wait for them 20 minutes before ordering, and FOLLOW THROUGH. If they're late, too bad for them.
You're not their child. They don't get to give you orders. Please stop taking them.
Yes I TOTALLY agree, good point. And I’ve also learned to always have my car and to never get blocked in so I can leave. The issue is my brother has suggested dinner just me and him. No SIL or kids. Which is good, but not surprising as that would be expensive. But since otherwise I will not see SIL and kids he has said “maybe you should come by and see folks then you and me go for dinner”. So if I say yes to dinner and no to visiting then I’m clearly stating I don’t want to see her. Need an excuse, or I need to magically want to go. I’m totally unprepared because I’d assumed they’d not bother to see me at all. But I do feel like I’m treated like a child, yes. My brother thinks he’s the patriarch/priesthood leader of the family as he’s the only male. My father would turn in his grave, because he wasn’t mormon.
"I think we 'should' all get together to dinner. You 'should' bring [SIL] and the kids for dinner. We can all catch up there. There's no good reason to exclude them."
This puts it back on his shoulders. You can then make HIM out to be the bad guy if/when HE refuses. "I made a good suggestion, and you didn't take me up on it. That's your fault, not mine."
Besides, you don't really want to see SIL, do you? She's been a toxic B-word for years. Brother will almost certainly turn down your idea because it was your idea. Best case, you can avoid SIL and still claim the moral high ground.
You don't want to be a people pleaser. "People Pleaser" = "Doormat."
I would avoid the whole house thing... when my dad passed had to travel through the morridor to get to Montana. Had two relatives that insisted I stop by their house (who were going to funeral) I relented and was trapped for hours at my uncles and when I finally escaped had to go to my cousin who treated me like crap. Better just do the dinner and skip the pleasantries... Mormons know how to be fake and phony as hell... And I am the evil one that needs saving...lol...
Why don't you suggest that you meet your brother at the restaurant and take your own car. Then you can swing buy the house after your dinner, meet and greet at the house, saying hi to everyone with your car practically idling in the driveway. Keep it short! Have an excuse ready why it's only going to be a few minutes.
What worries me is your daughter. With the "blood relatives"* working on her. Although she already knows how mucy you love her I am sure by what you have said, she needs to know that she is the world to you, how deep your love is, and, that, your love will NEVER have anything to do with any religion or anything else in heaven or earth and will never be withdrawn. No need to even bring the family or Mormonism into it.
Dinner with the brother would be good if you meet. You never know what he has to say and you want to. Dinner with your daughter would be even better.
*Some people are family and some people are only blood relatives. There is a difference. Real family doesn't even require you to be related by DNA.
Well that’s an interesting point. I do actually see her frequently and a lot more than they do. We are in the UK, and they are in the US (thankfully for me). However it is still a concern of mine; especially when they come here and then take her and my mother on vacation. I’ve figured out one of the reasons she is so unhappy has a lot to do with her perception of the past, the narrative of which has been shaped by my family. I haven’t figured what, if anything, I should or can do about that. I feel I’ve been discredited ahead of time. I’m so depressed about the whole thing myself, I might have to just go my own way, as I can’t rescue a drowning person if I’m drowning myself.
and meet at the restaurant." Like they said, put it on his shoulders. Then it also puts it on the SIL's shoulders.
I also like the idea of meeting and then going to your mother's house AFTER having dinner as you can leave when you choose.
I know how it feels to be left out. Like I've said, my older sister and I aren't getting along and haven't for a while (or where did I say that???--old age here ha ha ha). My sister's way of getting to me was to leave me out. Do something fun while they are gone.
BUT may I just say, I often found that when I did go along with my sister's ideas of a fun time, I hated every minute and wondered why I even wanted to go along. I doubt it would be pleasant for you if you went along. It is just the idea of them leaving you out. Next time, tell them you can't go as you have some plans--and tell them what the plan is even if you are lying. Even my therapist has told me it is okay to lie in situations like this. DON'T EVER LET THEM THINK YOU ARE SITTING AT HOME even if you are.
Now, it seems your brother is younger? Right? Patriarchal bullshit. Leader of the family. ha ha ha My dad was authoritarian (and my mother found ways to get the best of him), but it was never about the church. It was just his personality. He was raised in "that" generation. But leader in the family/priesthood, etc., not on your life. I didn't grow up in a family where my brothers ever thought they were our bosses and they certainly didn't think they were my mom's boss because they had the priesthood. Priesthood was kind of a dirty word in our house. "Oh no, I have to go help with a blessing, shit!" Was my dad's attitude. Your brother is NOT the leader of you so that makes the idea of telling him to bring the wife and kids sound even better.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/2019 12:41PM by cl2.
Thanks cl2 for your support. I was thinking of saying I’d meet him there, and please bring everyone else. He probably won’t, because of the expense, and because the youngest is 3 and it’s the evening. I think they are asking (telling) me to go to their rented house. I might also say, well, I can swing by afterwards but not before. I foresee some guilt trips ahead, if I don’t comply. My family has always done that though, even pre-mormonism. My therapist is having a field day. And you’re right - I’d hate the vacation. I think they have little interest in what I’m doing, but I am aiming to do something fun myself anyway. Interesting your therapist said that, I like it because I’d been wondering about that. I will at least be better prepared next time. And yeah, my brother is younger. He’d never come out and say he’s the priesthood leader or whatever but it’s there; years ago he told me to come to the table so he could bless the food. I refused. I somehow feel my SIL is actually the one in charge though, which might explain a lot. My brother is actually a lovely guy, but it feels like mormonism is poisoning everything.
As much as mormon women like to boohoo about not having the priesthood, etc., in most mormon homes, the bitchy wife is running the show.
Don't you wish they would just not come to visit!!!!
My extreme TBM mormon aunt and her disgusting patriarchal husband used to come to visit from out of town. They'd stay at my grandmother's small house. My grandmother was also deaf. We took turns staying the night with her and my mother took good care of her. So the 2 other families would come to visit and take over her house and do their mormon religious family stuff and we'd have to participate for our mother. I'd always think, "I wish they'd just go home so my grandmother can have her place back."
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/2019 01:01PM by cl2.
Maybe overthinking things is a Mormon habit. Or I’m naturally neurotic. You shouldn’t be letting their weird ideas disturb your peace. If they are disappointed, you are only helping to unravel their unrealistic expectations. Someone had to do it.
It’s very unfortunate that Mormons have perverted faith. All of your experiences are here for you. It’s so easy to get down on them but they are yours. Made just for you. So it’s really a head game. It’s not like all of this just happened.
I’m sorry you’re having a hard time, for the pain inflicted on you by messed up people projecting their pain onto you because they have no other way to deal with it. Mormon prison isn’t exactly Disneyland.
Also, neuroticism isn’t all bad. You would never leave a baby in a hot car.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/2019 01:26PM by babyloncansuckit.
I almost started dating a male friend recently. I was excited about it because I like him so much. But then he started playing head games. Not his intention, but it hurt. Unfortunately one of said games was to go on vacation without me with (our) friends - long story. (Possibly why I’m in an extra bad place right now what with family doing the exact same thing two weeks later, but I digress).
Anyway I made a decision: I’m not playing. So I’ve taken myself out of the equation, and he can come to me without said games if he wants to. That’s what I’m aiming to do with family going forward, as per the advice of Done & Done. I wasn’t prepared though so for now I’m in the place that isn’t Disneyland.
and then they hit me out of the blue (or so it seems) as I tend to forget or suppress what they can be like.
AND if someone had just done what this guy did to you, I'd be feeling that way, too.
As my boyfriend says, "We are 2 porcupines trying to have a relationship." As we get older, we all have so much baggage that we do things to push the other person away. My relationship hasn't been easy especially since he was just getting divorced when we reconnected and he lived in Colorado and I was in Utah for 7 or 8 years of the relationship. We've been together almost 15 years. There are still things we do if we are feeling vulnerable.
“Some mormons withhold love and attention as a manipulation tool in hopes that we will be so desperate for their company that we'll return to their church”
Wow. I’d not considered that. I wonder if that’s why my daughter is included in so much and I’m excluded a lot. I might be excluded from the family for not towing the line generally, which is why my mother is completely fine with it.
Yes I’ve decided to let them go. I’ve been holding on as I worry they’ll get to my daughter too much. It’s like they’re holding her hostage in my mind. But what can they really do, from across the pond? And she’s an adult. Before my daughter was involved I literally didn’t care, which is why I wasn’t on here for five years. Do they have some master plan? I had decided not to worry, yet sometimes I think I’m actually not paranoid enough with these people.
If it were me, I'd give the others about half an hour of your time, and then go out to dinner with your brother. Since you are in nursing school, you have plenty to talk about that isn't churchy. Touch base with your family, give them hugs, be cheerful and friendly, and then enjoy your brother's company.
Do your brother and SIL have kids? Make kind, supportive comments to the kids that will build them up. Kids notice and remember such things.
Whatever your SIL says behind your back has more to do with her than with you. I would just shrug it off. She may be jealous of you in certain ways.
LDS members treat tscc like family, and (non-lds) family, worse, even like strangers.
I have no trouble with my sense of humor, but fools sometimes do. But then again, they have trouble with a lot of things. Can't be funny, smart, kind, cool, or even noteworthy. Must be second class, or worse.
I don't have much to offer in terms of advice because I don't know the solution, and may be in a similar situation. Dealing with fools/ TBMs is often difficult. It's like pulling teeth (and I'm no dentist).
LDS' have problems and blame non-mormons, especially family, rather that tscc, for the disconnect with reality.
They usually trust the untrustworthy 'church' rather than themselves or 'normals'. Be assertive. Be strong. Be yourself.
Your posts sound just like me, whenever my TBM relatives would come to visit. Yikes! You seem like you are facing a major war, and you are strategizing how to avoid getting killed! One of my older brothers was physically and mentally abusive, for my entire life, and I was anxious and afraid that he would abuse me again--and he always did--one way or another, while the rest of my family enabled him. I would never know what he would do. I would lock up all my personal financial records and private client files, because he invaded everything. I would make sure he had no contact with anyone at my office, or anyone I needed to impress, or anyone I was dating. My brother was out to get me, and I was NOT being paranoid. When I couldn't tolerate being around him, and left the house, or went to work, he would break my furniture, break my children's toys, eat all our food, trample our flowers, hurt our pets--and claim that it was all a series of accidents. He was in my desk files looking for paper and a pencil, in my dresser drawers, trying to find the key to wind my clock, etc. Whew, I learned from all of this that you can't out-guess, you can't out-maneuver, you can't adequately prepare for whatever it is your family has in mind for you!
I was too much of a coward, at first, to stand up for myself, because my parents were so angry with me, because I "didn't love my brother." "Love?" Puhleeze!
At first, I avoided. I took one encounter at a time, and make up one lying excuse at a time. I kept my children away from my brother, because that was the only way he would not abuse them. He spied on our nieces, when they were getting dressed, and made crude sexual remarks on how they were "developing" into women. He stole their underwear--I mean--there was no way I would let him around my children! I agree with Cl2, that it is just fine and dandy to lie to these people as much as you need to!
If you go see your family, go AFTER the dinner, and drive your own car, but don't park it in the driveway, because someone could park behind you and block you off. Park on the street. After dinner, you can always comment on how late it is. Is this dinner going to be on a work day? They are on vacation, but you are not, and your career is important.
Talk to your daughter--I mean, LISTEN to your daughter. Probably she feels uncomfortable being used as a pawn. It must be awkward for her to be included, when her mother is not.
Sometimes, you can use people's skewed logic against them. In your case, I'm wondering WHY you are not included in their vacation. Whatever the reasons for your exclusion, these still exist when you go visit them. Do you know what I mean? You're still an ex-mormon when you go see them, just like you would be on the vacation.
When my cheating husband abandoned me and our children for multiple other women, his TBM family blamed me. They also blamed me for my ex leaving the church. They had not communicated with me or my children for four years. My ex's TBM sister gave a fancy birthday party for their TBM mother, at the JS building. My MIL wanted all of her numerous grandchildren lined up in a row, so she could show them off, and have them all sing "I Am A Child of God." My children wanted to go, because they hadn't seen their father in four years, and they missed their grandparents and cousins. I was willing to take them, because at the time I believed that my children needed all the family support they could get. I was wrong--that family was the destruction of both of their sons (bankrupt, divorced, and depressed) and several of the Mormon cousins. Two cousins committed suicide, one died from an overdose, and one is hopelessly in rehab. I wonder how much of a "plus" it is for your daughter to have a relationship with these people. You aren't obligated to smooth things over for them!
Anyway, my SIL called me at the last minute and UN-invited me to the party, telling me that my ex and his woman were going to be there, and the MIL didn't want any awkwardness. I still was "supposed to" drive my kids downtown, and drop them off in front of the building, and pick them up, afterwards. This happened a few other times. Three years after that, after no contact from my Mormon ex in-laws, my ex-MIL and SIL wanted me to bring the children to my TBM FIL's funeral 6 hours away, which would have involved missing work and school, and staying overnight in a hotel, at my own expense. They had conletely disowned my children, and my ex-husband, and me, because we had all left Mormonism by that time. Again, they wanted all the grandchildren (who were still alive) lined up and singing "I Am A Child of God." I told them that nothing had changed. The reasons they had dis-owned us were still on-going. If I made the trip, I would probably be told at the last minute to NOT come to the funeral, and I didn't want my children to go through that alone.
I don't blame you for being suspicious that your family does not want you to go on the vacation, but they DO want you go visit them. It seems like they might be planning some kind of ambush, confrontation, or intervention, or something.
No, it would not be a good battle strategy for you to meet them on their own turf, where you are out-numbered, and have no quick and easy escape!
I'm sorry you are dealing with all of this by yourself. When my children got a little older and could see for themselves the dysfunctional Mormon family dynamics, they became my allies. Having each other's backs made us closer than ever!
We had a large enough family, and enough really good people who loved us, and we were able to nurture those good relationships. Having good friends helps, too. RFM helped me.
Stay true to yourself, and close to your daughter. Be real. Don't try to out-manipulate the manipulators. You are doing better than you think, in establishing your boundaries, and creating your own happiness. Be proud of yourself! I hope you have a heck of a vacation on your own! You deserve it!
Ask yourself: "What's best for my daughter? What will preserve our relationship?" Nothing else matters as much.
Lots of good advice above (and surely below)... Limit contact. Make the rules. Break theirs [they always break yours (as well as your heart)]. Talk about what's important: life, the future, your family, ANYTHING but 'church' (Morbidism). Make the terms. Set boundaries (even with them concerning your daughter).
Mormons manipulate (as do others), degrade, deflower, and attempt to define what's right and what's wrong (because they think they know it).
The problem is, they have a superiority complex. They are trying to follow the (faux) rules. You have your own, and they are the right ones, in fact, the only ones worth living by.