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Posted by: Gordon B. Stinky ( )
Date: January 11, 2021 08:57PM

[This got really long (sorry), but I guess I needed to vent, especially to a group who are very likely to understand where I"m coming from.]

After shunning us for 7 years, my TBM brother deigned to include me on a "family" email a couple days ago in which he announced where he "may" be transferred next year, and that he's looking forward to family visits.

So, Cog Dis #1: I don't even know where he is NOW. Because he didn't tell me. Because he's shunning me. So why tell me where he MIGHT go next YEAR?

Cog Dis #2: One of his gripes 7 years ago was that I left him off "family" emails and texts (I generally include whomever I think is appropriate). Nevertheless, he has discluded me from almost all communication for the last 7 years.

Cog Dis #3: He's done some pretty $h|++y stuff in those 7 years. For example, the day my wife died (3.5 years ago), he posted a preposterous message on Facebook saying it was a big loss, he and his wife were grieving "with" us, and would "miss her smile" (can you miss someone, or be "with" people, whom you're actively shunning?). And then never even contacted us about her memorial service (let alone attend). There's way more to all this, and I've posted about it before, so I won't go into detail, except to say that in my wife's last 12 months they lived only 100 miles away and could easily have arranged a visit if they were so inclined.

I responded the way I always do when I get hoovering messages from anyone in my "family" (because I've estranged myself from them all after my wife died; they were all pretty $h|++y, and I've thrown in the towel after a lifetime of their antics):

"I've asked repeatedly to be left off these family emails. Please stop contacting me."

My brother responded the next day with some lofty baloney about although I don't claim any brothers, he does. But he's the one who cut me off. Decidedly, and concretely. In words that he claimed to have thought long and hard about before sending them to me. And now he implies that I don't have the right to do the same! What a self-important hypocrite! Narcissism runs deep in several members of my family (and probably why the MORmON "church" is such a good fit for him).

One way I Know I'm on the radar in my family is that I'll "randomly" hear from multiple people in quick succession.

Fast forward another day and I receive a profane, flame-throwing scorched-earth (PFTSE) email from my half-sister (who's been officially diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, and is a textbook case thereof), including a screen shot of my mail with "please stop contacting me" circled and labeled "toxic," and ranting about all sorts of the usual stuff, but her b|+ching now has morphed over time to include me keeping my "lovely" wife and children away from them. I quote "lovely" not because it wasn't true (it most certainly was), but because she had sadly also been the recipient of many PFTSE emails (PFTSE is her vernacular, normal tone and intensity level), saying all sorts of horrible things, but the germane one here is that my wretched half-sister told my lovely wife that she wasn't "a member of the family", which hurt her tremendously.

I can't access my late wife's email, but all those years ago in an email titled "Stop Being A Jerk" my half-sister included the following comments to me and cc'ed my wife:

• "I absolutely CANNOT BELIEVE you & your wife have done such a shit job of remaining family after Daddy's death! You should be sooooo ashamed of yourselves ~ I've NEVER BEEN SO ANGRY AT YOU!!!!! Fuck ~ I never want you here in the home where I live everyday."
• "WAKE UP YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE YOURE BEING A DAMN JERK Anyways, don't think you'll be allowed to visit here now!"
• "I don't want to see you or your wife NO ONE wants to be around you"

This was just one of many such emails (and FB posts, and text messages, etc), and a Gmail search found it pretty quickly because I remembered the "home where I live" phrase,
but needless to say we weren't feeling the "love" at that point, or since (although, to be fair, it's thankfully been mostly silence for the last couple years).

Anyway, the above attitude has morphed into this bit of yesterday's PFTSE tirade:

"God’s GREATEST BLESSING OF A PERSON FOR YOU, stayed by your side (even though you were WRONG). WHAT DID YOU DO?! Keep her & the girls away from us BECAUSE WE LOVE & ACCEPT all family members-YOU KEPT HER AWAY & HID HER SICKNESS FROM ALL OF US UNTIL SHE WAS DEAD????!!! UNTIL SHE WAS DEAD, DUDE THAT’S SOOOO FUCKED UP! You are CRUEL for that~we ALL loved her too!! You USED to be a better “YOU.” That was a REALLY REALLY low thing to do to all of us who loved her dearly & thanked God for her union with you!!!!"

In other words, I'm all the more an "a$$hole" and she's in complete denial about all the many horrible things she said to my wife, like "you're not part of the family," "no one wants to see you," and don't come back. She burned the bridges, locked the doors and battened down the hatches. I'm not gonna lie and say we were anxious to return, but in other emails she literally "forbid" us to.

I didn't keep my wife away from anyone. My family is toxic, this half-sister in the EXTREME, and my wife asked me not to tell them when she was diagnosed. I simply respected her wishes. That said, it's also a lie that I kept it from them. As sad as this sounds, because her mother was suing all the children from my father's first marriage, our attorneys talked about it. I also spoke directly to her oldest brother about it, because he forced the issue when he found out. I don't claim that I wanted this sister to know, we weren't speaking, but if she didn't it's because her own mother and brother chose not to tell her (and, frankly, I can see where they would chose not to given how amped up she gets about things).

I don't claim to be an angel or saint. Family spats happen and escalate. But the thrust of this episode naturally revolved around mormonism. One thing was that my niece came to Christmas Eve services with us at an Episcopal Church where I sang in the choir for about a decade after college and before moving away from the hometown. For me, one of the pleasures of being home for the holidays was visiting, enjoying the Christmas music and seeing old friends.

We got home after midnight, and most folks had gone to bed. The house was dark, but we found my sister-in-law waiting up for us in the living room with just a reading lamp on, and we dropped into a sofa. Our girls and my niece were messing around somewhere else in the house, but after a while my niece burst into the room, and, clearly not seeing my wife and I, blurted out, "Oh mom, it's was like a cult. They walked around holding a book in the air," arms over her head like she was acting it out.

Her mom lightly scolded her, but it was clear that she felt very normal and matter-of-fact about belittling another church to her mother. And I've since been told that groups of Mormon youth will even visit other churches for the express purpose of criticizing them after the fact, like an official activity (is this correct?).

Anyway, after that I decided that I was done walking on eggshells about Mormonism, and politely avoiding it. Not that I went looking for a fight, but I wasn't going to treat it like an elephant in the room any more.

I have a different niece who in that period of time was at BYU, and she'd frequently post Mormon crap on FaceBook. I'm professor, so I routinely challenge college student's weak or bad ideas, encourage critical thinking, etc. So I started challenging her to think about what she was posting from different points of view. She unfriended me.

My sister-in-law had a habit of sending links to "great talks" to all the women in the family. The recipients griped about it to each other, but didn't push back.

Later she posted an essay on FB from a Mormon feminist, commenting how "smart" it was and tagging all the young ladies in the family, including my girls. The premise was that she was a feminist not in spite of being a Mormon, but BECAUSE she was a Mormon. This is going way back, but I posted something to the effect of feminism being about having options other than being barefoot and pregnant, and that eternal motherhood struck me as the antithesis of it.

The above resulted in a pile-on and circling of wagons by all her TBM Facebook friends. It escalated. Even my TBM brother acknowledged that their comments were uncalled for (or words to that effect). I admittedly said some regrettable things, for which I apologized.

So, my half-sister, blew it all out of proportion--these events that she didn't participate in and wasn't involved with or effected by--and made me out to be a monster. Our dad at times would get apoplectic about Mormons (also Catholics, since another brother married a Catholic girl). In a twisted attempt to preserve or revere her daddy's memory, or so it seems to me, has hung all this antimormonism on me, convinced my brother than I hate them, that I've never liked being around them, and that I don't want my kids affected by them, etc. My brother has chosen to accept this narrative, from a well-known liar, rather than deal with the hard questions in play. She ranted and raved about it then. She's ranting and raving about it again. And she's not even Mormon, but way over the top about it all to show that she's a "great person", and that I'm a "monster".

My brother has apparently had some weird pang of conscience, or made a "family-oriented" new year's resolution. But in my family, doing the "right thing" never includes admitting that you ever did the wrong thing. You just dummy up and pretend everything's normal. I am oh so done with that.

They treated me (and my wife) like crap for a long time. Without going into detail, because this is already way too long, they've been smug about ostracizing us (shunning in the TBMs case) for seven years. At first it bothered me a little, but when my wife died, and the burst of grandstanding antics ensued, I realized that I just didn't care any more. I'm better off without them.

The perverse thing is that I think they're shocked to discover that I really don't care, and they're actually offended now to realize that I really prefer it that way. I've been saying "leave me alone" since my wife died, but they're only now realizing that I really mean it. And as stupid as it sounds, they don't like it. They're "supposed" to blow me off. Not vice versa.

Ok, I'm out of steam.

Thanks for reading.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: January 11, 2021 09:51PM

You're welcome.

There may be many methods for getting through shizz like this, but I remain a fan of Living Well. Keep up the good fight.

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Posted by: Gordon B. Stinky ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 04:49AM

Yeah! They maintain a collective family fiction that I must be unhappy and miserable, and that’s why I stay away. The reality is that they make me miserable, so I stay away. And I’m happier that way.

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Posted by: Cauda ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 05:11AM

Family system feedback.

”Positive feedback occurs in a family system when members respond to the introduction of new information in such a way that destabilizes the unit. The feedback is labeled “positive” not because of intended valence, inherent health, or value to the system but rather to indicate the presence of an active shift away from the standing rules, roles, and norms of the system.”

We easily get stuck on trying to identify valence, health and value.

In a family system good or bad things do not exist.

A family can be a inbreeding-cult and everyone involved think they are together and live healthy.

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Posted by: Cauda ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 05:38AM

Positive feedback = You are the source.

A threat to the system. They use negative feedback to get you into the system again. To stop you.

For example: You could be someone who left a good looking on the outside-family with severe addiction problems. You sobered up, got clean, got treatment, a job, a house, a future. Your health back.

Your old family see you as a threat. They want to undo your health. They want you back at the bottle and to the pills again. They alienate everybody. Tell lies about you. Call your new job and tells your boss that you are an addict, you steal from employers and so.

They want to cut you off. Get you back.

Even if science would establish that oyu live a better life.

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Posted by: Cauda ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 05:59AM

My perspective inspired by this blog post. It describes the theory minted by Psychiatrist Murray Bowen (1913-1990):

The Undifferentiated Ego Mass

A quote "The level of self differentiation of a social system’s member is conversely proportional to his/her level of fusion into the undifferentiated ego mass of that particular group: the lower the level of self differentiation, the higher the level of emotional fusion. Through their implicit and explicit norms, social systems with a high level of fusion tend to maintain their homeostatic equilibrium (i.e., the enmeshment) by suppressing the attempts of their members to increase the level of self-differentiation"

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Posted by: dogbloggernli ( )
Date: January 11, 2021 10:07PM

Set up an email filter for their addresses and send them all to the trash. You never have to see it again. Don't respond to it, don't even read it.

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Posted by: Gordon B. Stinky ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 04:52AM

They all have multiple emails. My half sister might just create more. When we blocked her on Facebook, it enraged her, and she actually went into my dad’s account and started sending us both hateful messages. It was shocking for a minute until I realized what had happened.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: January 11, 2021 10:13PM

And then to have such a family treating you like that and treating her memory like they are.

There are many things you could say in return, but obviously they don't see their actions as the problem.

I have had on and off relationships with both my sisters since our parents died. They can't stand it if I am friends with the other sister (I'm in the middle and we are together in birth order, brother above and below so we had a lot to do with each other all our lives with a lot of arguing). Back in July, I was going through some difficult things and my little sister likes to drunk text and she started doing it again. Then she acted like she didn't do it and I told her to just leave me alone. And I haven't talked to her since.

Is there any way you can block them?????? This is just too toxic for anyone to have to deal with everyday. I don't know how you deal with it.

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Posted by: Gordon B. Stinky ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 04:54AM

Yes, they’re all pretty wretched, but my half-sister is especially so. It’s all narcissism, gaslighting, triangulation, etc, pretty much all the time.

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Posted by: Jaxson ( )
Date: January 11, 2021 10:16PM

Nice vent!!

If I were you I would no longer respond to ANY correspondence they direct your way. No response to phone calls, letters, emails, etc. Nothing!! I found that breaking away from my toxic family was just as satisfying (or more so) than breaking away from the church. "Family" is overrated.

I remember when I left the church a TBM friend of mine said, "But...but...if you leave the church you won't be reunited with your family for the eternities." I told him, "I can't imagine a greater HELL!!"

Best of luck to you.

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Posted by: Gordon B. Stinky ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 04:56AM

Thanks. I’m gonna respond to these, because I want to point out their undeniable hypocrisy. And then I’ll go back to ignoring.

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Posted by: Cauda ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 05:05AM

Great post. Can identify.

A core point.

People that lacks empathy do not understand that the feelings they now have are the feelings they caused other. They can not feel their input. So even if their were rude they do not remember it because they can not feel or understand feelings of others. They feel and just do whatever they feel. Seen it personally. A relative upbraids people but when individuals say stop the relative feels offended.

It is crazy making.

Stay away.

My lack of theory of mind pushed me to start to read psychology-books and watch psychology-clips om youtube.

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Posted by: wondering ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 06:41AM

I just tell them that they are being shunned and are not welcome at your home. It blows their mind that they could be shunned by their actions. Perhaps respond on the group letter so everyone knows they are shunned. I know on Facebook you can ignore all posts by dropping dow under the colon . But I do not know about others.

Or just ignore them, it is your home don’t answer the door, use a garden hose if necessary.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 10:23AM

He who cares the least wins. Also sleeps the best at night.

It isn't that you lack empathy or understanding, you just find it inappropriate in this situation.

Demoting family to the status of "minor blood relatives" is necessary sometimes. Sharing a bloodline does not bring entitlement even if they think it should.

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Posted by: messygoop ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 12:49PM

I am sorry about your loss. Nobody deserves to treated so poorly.

I wanted to add that many of us have toxic families who are NOT mormon. But mormonism definitely fosters extremism.

I have one sibling who is incredibly anti-social. Lots of family drama trying to please this monster. One thing that happened after my Dad passed on, both my Mom and my sibling went on a blame game for this sibling's gross behavior. I became the indirect target because my Dad spent more time with me than the others. It just happened that way because they [other siblings] always told him to bug off. Both my Mom and sibling conveniently "forgot" that fact and didn't like it.

"The perverse thing is that I think they're shocked to discover that I really don't care, and they're actually offended now to realize that I really prefer it that way. I've been saying "leave me alone" since my wife died, but they're only now realizing that I really mean it. And as stupid as it sounds, they don't like it. They're "supposed" to blow me off. Not vice versa."

-Yes, when you empower yourself and set boundaries, they become enraged. They want to play the game of manipulating feelings, assigning guilt and shame.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: January 13, 2021 03:28PM

I would just cut them off entirely. Send their emails to the spam folder, or even consider getting a new email addy. Block their phone numbers, or get a new number. If they mail you, put, "Declined - Return to Sender" on the envelope and drop it back in the mail. I wouldn't let them rent even an inch of space in your head.

>>...because her mother was suing all the children from my father's first marriage...

What the heck was that all about? Yeesh!

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