Author Topic: Boundaries  (Read 450 times)


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« on: March 22, 2019, 07:25:29 PM »
My entire life with my NM....ended at age 69....yes all those years.....she took advantage of me.....I was such a fool...but was I??
I was trained from birth she was in charge...of dad never spoke up for himself....never ever said No to her....she was a real Narcissistic person with a bit of Borderline thrown in!!!!
My husband and I did things we got caught up in with her.....doing things for her and taking our time away from ourselves and our children.
We drove her with six kids to and from a shrine on the weekends because she needed to go there and raise money for this Catholic church??
really did this for over 30 years straight.  Amazing how I never said NO and she could continue to get away in a sense like murder...When I said NO after 30 years she would say just one more time and yes we did it again and again.  Amazing how this little shit of a woman got away with this nonsense.  She also worked 5 days week in a real estate office as a secretary.  She finally died at 100 after she had fallen at the office because the guy who took her to the office left his puppy with her which entangled her legs with a leash.....and she died 8 weeks later.
But that goes back to myself.....what the H*** was wrong with me?? my own dad died at age 51 and he never said NO to her and last thing before he died told me to take good care of her....
Its amazing isn't it how they train you from allow them to get away with anything....and not having a normal mother I didn't realize how badly I was abused.
I am 75 now and looking back on this to six years ago when she finally died....what was wrong with me?? was I that stupid to allow her away with anything she wanted.  I had a retared brother (cerebral Palsy)she neglected and left  him with her elderly alcoholic mother to take care of him.  He never walked or talked and died 5 months after my dad died.  I was put in day care back in the 1940's and it was awful.  My T said she was never a mother to me.  Yes I realize that...
I am so mad at myself doing for her and it was not a two way street either.  I am so upset but I guess with everyone yesing her I didn't realize how bad she was.  I always knew I didn't like her....she worked 85 years of her life full-time ..yup I guess I could add she also OCD.
Anyone else have problems with boundaries??  Also see so many other problems I have had in my life because of her neglect of me.
Thanks, Bettyanne


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2019, 08:19:03 PM »
being angry at yourself, Betty Anne.

With the smallest tweaks, this could be me:
....what the H*** was wrong with me?? my own dad died at age 51 [mine in his 80s] and he never said NO to her [true for mine too] and last thing before he died [I knew my job was to promise him I'd] told me to take good care of her....

It is not your fault you didn't see it before you saw it, nor understood it before you found knowledge about it that would help you to. It's just the deck that you got dealt and your obedience, your dazed cooperation, is exactly what children of narcissistic parents all over this globe go through.

You're not stupid, there's nothing "wrong" with you. You did the best you knew how to do at the time with whatever knowledge you had then.

Please don't add self-flagellation on top the old bruises. OWWW. It's okay to let it heal and to be kind to yourself. Anger at Why Not Sooner? is natural. Looking at years "wasted" is common too. Pretty normal stage of grief (for the relationship with her you deserved but did not get).

But YOU are not a waste. YOU are valuable, alive, and whether for years or decades more, you still have a future in which to experience happiness. Every minute you spend reliving that painful past robs you of a future minute during which you could be opening up to joy.

I really have a feeling you will learn how to do that, when life frees a way. (And if you can't do THAT overnight, you don't get to beat yourself up for that either!)

« Last Edit: March 22, 2019, 08:24:13 PM by Hopalong »
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2019, 05:59:08 AM »
Gosh, BettyAnne, boundaries, so many people would have very different lives if we were all taught about boundaries from a young age!  I think it's very, very hard not to do things we've been taught to do from birth, and it's hard not to want to help out elderly parents as well.  I don't think you're a fool - you're kind hearted and caring and those are good things.  It's just unfortunate that some people take advantage of that.  I lost a lot of friends and family when I started putting boundaries in place and it was very hard.  They were people that I loved and cared about and I didn't realise that saying no would mean I lost them.  People say you find out who your true friends are when you start saying no, which is very true - but it doesn't make it any less painful to watch people walk away when you start putting yourself first some of the time.

I think growing up in dsyfunctional familes affects so many of us in different ways, and for a long time obeying your parents was just an absolute - sometimes more so for women, who were expected to be caregivers and sacrifice what they wanted to take care of others.  I think it's only been in the last couple of generations, really, that not doing everything you're asked to has even become possible in many cases.  My own mum hated her mother and never said a good word about her - but she still visited her every week, did her shopping, took her out and so on.  It's very deeply ingrained in us and I don't feel comfortable about not being around my mum in her later years, if I'm honest.  I just know I'd be opening up a can of worms if I did get in touch with her again and offer to help and I don't want to make myself vulnerable again.  It still doesn't feel right, though.

So you're not a fool - just a good person who unfortunately wasn't raised in a family that appreciated that well enough at the time xx


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2019, 12:44:21 PM »
It's OK that it wasn't OK for such a long time and that it's now how you've been conditioned to be BettyAnne.

What's REALLY OK is when you can stop blaming yourself for what you had no control over - THEN. Now, you can do things differently, right? And only you get to decide what "differently" consists of.

Hugs, hon. That kind of old anger can sometimes be put to good use now. But, one caution - and it's only my own experience - is that there isn't anyone to really blame. If you find anger fueling blame at anyone, you're still stuck in the N-game.

The only way to "win" is to NOT PLAY. That's been reinforced (validated, actually) around my place, by my D's experience and her friend's (house guest). As long as you draw breath - you can choose to be YOU and not just the way you were raised to be.

That's called "not playing".  ;)
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2019, 09:39:44 PM »
Thank you everyone for your responses...actually it made me cry...It is so hard to have been so abused and then recover from it all.  Boundary very sicko one.....was what my NM did to Dad, her mother another N of sorts, my retareded brother and me. 
It was hard growing up when no one is really an adult.  I didn't really have a sibling as my brother never walked or talked.  My dad as I said before would yes her all the time....but was gambling behind the scenes too.  I believe part of this dysfunctional wife he lived with.  I also believe my grandmother came from another dysfunctional family in Ireland.  7 kids and all hated who every there son or daughter married?  Also another thing they had in common was throwing things at strangers....or people they didn't like or even know?  It was truly a crazy house I grew up in....
I hated every time my NM was home was she going to be nice  or mean?? or my grandmother was the same.

I guess I have a whole lot of sadness going on too with what does Love mean?? as I was never told I was loved but I was a spoiled child.....some spoiled child.  Either my grandmother was drinking putting booze in a coffee cup....when I thought it was coffee....only figured this out not long ago.  Was my brother taking convulsions ?? My mother at an office who would slam a phone on me saying I am busy .....and I didn't know what the H to do? it was truly insane.  My dad would come home drunk when his gambling didn't go well......
My mother was jealous if my dad was nice to me.....go figure that a little kid.  Oh here another crazy thing...if I wouldn't go to sleep right away as a young kid....she would hit and make a noise on the wall or headboard the mouse was going to get me if I didn't go to sleep right away...what kid wouldn't be frighten by that??

I know I need to let it all go....but with my husband having stage 4 cancer and trying his best to recover and then the friend I wrote about its not been easy lately.

I truly want to say thank you all so much for your replies.  They were written with such kindness and I truly appreciate that..
I will give it my best to let go and let them all stay in their graves.....Praying my husband will recover and and have few more live.....he is such a good man and I have been truly blessed with him.  His own mother another nut job from Ireland too....I truly believe something wrong with the way these Irish women were raised.....I don't think it was because they were poor.....I feel something was truly missing.....

Thank you again and again....Love, Bettyanne


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2019, 05:55:03 PM »
Hi Bettyanne,
I found these basics so very helpful to me when I was struggling as you are to repair my damaged self-esteem. Hope they help!
Hugs to you,
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2019, 08:11:44 PM »
Thank you so much.....I will read it and digest it.  I find just reading the little I did how helpful it is.


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 09:03:26 PM »
How to Survive a Dysfunctional Family ......some of this applies to me....Hops...its very interesting....OMG
By Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.
Last updated: 27 Mar 2017
 All dysfunctional families are alike.

They all have mentally disturbed parents, one of them serving as the “mentally disturbed parent-in-chief,” and the other, if there is another, serving as the “enabler of the disturbed parent-in-chief.” Sometimes one finds a folie a deux, in which two parents share a psychosis.

These parents then become casting directors and create the roles each child in the family will play. One child, normally the oldest, plays the role of the savant. Others play varying roles that share a common denominator: they all have an accepted place in the family. The final role is the designated scapegoat who must take on most of the family’s anger and is viewed as not really belonging to the family and is therefore an outcast.

The “accepted” siblings are given permission by the mentally disturbed parents to treat the scapegoat any way they want. Scapegoats are demonized by the parents and therefore characterized as children who deserve whatever treatment they get. The siblings are glad to have someone over whom they can feel superior and on whom they can displace the anger that their parents have unconsciously contaminated them with. Nobody in a dysfunctional family emerges undamaged, but the buck stops with the scapegoat, so he or she is the most damaged.

It is hard to survive a dysfunctional family because these parents brainwash their children into regarding them as good parents, and they usually train the oldest children to praise them and stand up for them if one of the other children expresses criticism or anger. Each member of the family’s role is repeatedly described, so that by the time a child reaches adulthood his or her habits, attitudes, and feelings have been so well-practiced that they seem normal. Thus it seems completely normal for an older child to mock, kick, insult and in general treat the scapegoat like an inferior.

Over and over, a child is told who he is and what he believes. After a while, he or she believes that he is actually the person he has been cast to be, and no longer bothers to try to find any real self. This is especially true of the members of the family who have the better roles, such as the one who plays the savant. R. D. Laing, the British psychiatrist, compared this to hypnosis and noted, “How much of what we ordinarily feel is what we have been hypnotized to feel? How much of who we are is what he have been hypnotized to be?”*

The scapegoat is the most likely to wake up from the spell, because his or her role is the most repugnant. However, Laing warns, “If anyone in a family begins to realize he is a shadow of a puppet, he will be wise to exercise the greatest precaution as to whom he imparts this information to.” If the scapegoat, for example, exclaims to any members of the family, and especially to the parents, “This is crazy! This family is crazy!”—the scapegoat will be severely punished. Nobody must ever, ever cast doubt on the family mythology.

This is why families often feel threatened when one of their members goes into therapy. They fear that the family mythologies, which have been so well rehearsed for so many years, will fall like a row of dominoes, one after another. The fear is unfounded. Even when the scapegoat or other siblings with lesser roles in the family wake up and begin to tell it like it is, they are treated as if they are the crazy ones and sometimes are even admitted into mental hospitals in order to calm them down and bring them “back to sanity” (that is, back to a place of loyalty to the family’s mythology).

Indeed waking up and individuating from such dysfunctional families is a lengthy and arduous ordeal. In order to find one’s sanity after having been hypnotized and brainwashed for years, one must first of all have help—either from friends who have made this journey or from a professional who can hold your mind as you utter what seem like profane notions and cry out seemingly traitorous memories about the family abuse. The scapegoats in such family have had their egos crushed and it is extremely difficult for them to assert themselves or think for themselves.

The family and its remaining members (that is, most of the family) will ostracize, mock, belittle, degrade and in other ways punish the one or ones who break away and will try to make the breakaways feel like traitors. They will do anything and everything to prevent such a breakaway, for again it threatens the sanctity of the family and the very identity of those in the family.

The dysfunctional family will never let up and will never leave those who wake up in peace. Eventually, therefore, those who wake up will often need to make a complete break from the dysfunctional family, and even then the dysfunctional family will try in every way to interfere in this complete break or, in fact, initiate it. They will often be rude and abusive to those who break away, so that the dysfunctional family can think it was its idea to send the traitors away.

Therefore the breakaways must often do years of ego building through psychotherapy or another means. They will need to learn to believe in their true selves, as opposed to the selves they were hypnotized to believe the are. They will require years of practice relating in a different way.

Eventually, those members who have awoken will need to fight back. The best way of fighting back is to no longer react to the mocking, belittling, condescending and demonizing of the dysfunctional family. The best revenge is, as they say, living a good life. The breakaways eventually understand and ignore the dysfunctional family, even if a member of the dysfunctional family falls to the ground in front of them and feigns a heart attack, exclaiming, ‘You’re killing me!” It is then they can find peace.

The scapegoat can learn to stop playing their designated role in their adult life, but it won’t be easy. Each new situation in his or her life will arouse the scapegoat response that has been conditioned in them throughout their childhood. It will take years of practice, but eventually the scapegoat can discover who he or she really is, and can begin living a life that reflects their own aspirations rather than their parents’ frustrations.

*Laing, R. D., (1969), The Politics of the Family, Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books.


Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.
Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2017). How to Survive a Dysfunctional Family. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 25, 2019, from

Last updated: 27 Mar 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Mar 2017
Published on All rights reserved.


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Re: Boundaries
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2019, 01:09:52 PM »
Yes...I love R. D. Laing. That kind of reading began the odyssey out of hypnosis for me, for sure Bettyanne.

I would never have called my N mother abusive, but she was broken and numb and hollow. Hers wasn't violent narcissism, but the manipulative kind. In hindsight, though, I think her manipulativeness was an ancient practice she'd adopted young for survival. Eventually the self-absorption became so complete I don't think she could have changed it if she'd wanted to. I fully forgave her late in her life, which was a relief to me (and irrelevant to her). I think of her with love and sorrow now, but do not miss her. I was incredibly lucky that my Dad was gentle and good. He was also a passive enabler, but didn't understand what he didn't understand, either, so I'm not interested in blaming him. So I do have someone I can miss.

But that's probably possible for me because there was no overt abuse. And I feel so profoundly lucky that just as I was coming of age, everything from Psychology Today to books to knowledge to talk shows were available to me, to teach me we aren't alone in damage. Everybody just has a unique kind of hurt. I think the #1 thing that ultimately heals everything is compassion...first for your own inner child.

I love Laing's notion of hypnosis, and how most people grow up to believe (and defend) who they were "enchanted" to be. It just makes so much sense, and brings a kind of logic to the chaotic pain many children from sick families feel.

If it makes sense, it can be healed, I believe. KUDOS to you for these explorations, Bettyanne! Have you read Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl? Huge help.

"That'll do, pig, that'll do."