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Old 05-22-2014, 11:48 AM
 
635 posts, read 690,901 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
b][Yeah, I can see where that would lead to a strong, assertive personality. I was raised to be very compliant, never question authority, put others' needs ahead of my own, make everybody happy by being a good quiet little girl.[/b]

And on this rare occasion that I actually spoke my heart and said "No," I got hated on. NOT helping me on my journey out of door-matted-ness. If it weren't someone I cared about so much, I could deal with it better.

I was raised with both philosophies and it was confusing.

The times I did say no, my family thought I said no to the wrong people, so I would get in trouble. When my family felt that I should've said no to someone but didn't, I would get in trouble.

The hell?
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Old 05-22-2014, 11:49 AM
 
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What angers me is when you say 'no', that person has the nerve to say 'why?'

That's when I either look at them blankly or reply like my mom when I questioned her authority as a child- 'because I said so!'
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Old 05-22-2014, 04:52 PM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 67,065,320 times
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Your cousin lashed out because she didn't get her way with manipulating you into writing out a check.

Why would you feel badly about this? While your cousin gets her life in order (and I hope she will), it really should be a relief not to be involved in her drama.

Time passes. People change. Once she gets her life straightened out, she may well want to straighten out the relationships she damaged. If she doesn't, then that was her decision. Wish her well and carry on with your life.
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Old 05-23-2014, 06:51 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
I'm "nice." Too nice. I was raised to be nice to everyone, to "answer angry words with kind ones." (direct quote that was one of those "words to live by" that was drilled into my head and my heart). For decades I didn't really think about it; it's just who I am.

Only in the past several years have I begun to realize that sometimes being the "nice" person makes me the target for other people's crap. I've done a lot of soul-searching, read books about assertiveness and people-pleasing personalities, and have tried grasping that I don't ALWAYS have to be nice. But change comes hard.

Here is just one example, out of many in my life:
I had a situation last week, where a cousin with whom I've always been close, called me requesting a favor that I did not feel comfortable saying yes to. Actually, I KNOW I did the right thing to say no, and although that phone conversation seemed to go fine (she didn't sound angry when I told her no), she sent a nasty text message a few days later, and has now "unfriended" me and my husband on Facebook.

I am sick about this. I don't want our relationship to be permanently severed. Part of me wants to send a nasty response back, to stand up for myself and my decision, to "give her a taste of her own medicine," because the things she wrote were rude and hurtful. Another part of me wants to be my usual sweet self, try to gently explain why I made my decision, and try to "win back" our love and friendship.

I've actually been losing sleep over all this, and feeling sick to my stomach. SHE is the one who got rude first; why do I feel like I have to be extra nice and FIX everything? Sometimes I just wish I could "bite back." I find myself wondering, if I could respond back showing more backbone, assertiveness, and appropriate anger in situations like this, would the other person back down, realize she was wrongly rude, and the onus would be on HER to reconcile?....or would the problem and anger just escalate, and the door for reconciliation slam shut? That is, I believe, what I am afraid of in this kind of situation.
I haven't read through the whole thread so I may be repeating advice, but here's my take on your situation:

First of all, I am the farthest thing from a pushover - I'm pretty assertive. So this advice is not coming from someone who can't "bite back." I can and will if the situation warrants it. Just wanted to get that out there before proceeding.

I don't think "being a nice person," or "answering angry words with kind ones" are bad things. In fact, I actually like that maxim. I also like "you catch more flies with honey," "pay it forward," and "don't burn the bridge till your horse makes it to the other side." (I just made that last one up but I like it!)

I can really relate to your situation with your cousin. I had a very similar situation with my own dear cousin a few months ago. I keep up with my far flung family on Facebook, but I do not use FB to post political agendas, preach, debate, or post the 21st century's rendition of chain letters. Most of my friends and family are the same way. I have several friends and relatives who are atheists or of different religions, and many who have differing political or philosophical opinions. I do NOT argue with them or "try to correct them" or whatever on FB if they post something I don't agree with. I get all the debating fuel I need right here on this forum!

But being a spiritual person, I will occasionally post something about a religious holiday, or say something about praying or going to church or whatever. Not every day, and not in a preachy way, but I'll do it.

Anyway, my cousin, who I love dearly, went off on a diatribe with my daughter about a post she put up about a religious topic (my cousin is an atheist). I didn't argue with her, but she noticed that I "liked" a comment by someone else who disagreed with her (WHAT THE HECK - WHO PAYS THIS MUCH ATTENTION TO FB?). My cousin went off on me too - I mean really tore into both of us. It was as if she suddenly realized just how much she hates Christianity and she let loose with 45 years of hatred and directed her animosity, apparently out of the blue, to my daughter and me. And then she "unfriended" us both. WOW.

Hmmmmm. This was a new experience for me, because like I said, I basically use FB to keep up with people who live all over the world (we are a military family so we have friends and family everywhere). NOT to publicly argue and debate, especially not with beloved family members. WHAT TO DO?

I decided to send her a private message. In that message, I told her that she has to live by her own principles of course, but that I was sad to see that she had "cut me off." I told her that I felt that she was being just as judgmental and intolerant as she claims Christians are. I told her that in spite of this, she has always been my favorite cousin and still is to this day. Finally, I told her that I love her very much but that I also have boundaries, and that if she expects me to accept HER differences, she is going to have to accept mine. I will not stand by while someone - anyone - trashes my faith. But that doesn't mean I am going to argue with them in public, or "unfriend" them in public. I told her that I was surprised that our decades of a loving relationship didn't mean more to her, because it does to me, but that I respect her decision and if she wanted to sever our relationship, that was of course her choice I would not pursue her or bother her in the future. However, if she wanted to maintain the relationship, let me know and I would be happy to just pick up where we left off - as long as she respected my own boundaries in the future.

I heard back from her in about four days. She was apologetic and told me that she had just had a very dear friend who was gay MURDERED in a hate crime sort of scenario and that she had been very angry with Christianity at the time because he had felt like an outcast and she had been grieving for him and his life.

She also has not made a single "anti Christianity" comment to any of our Christian family members on FB since. She still continues to post anti religious stuff on her own time line but that's her call. (I have never responded negatively to any of those posts or argued with her on her own posts by the way.)

I think it's entirely possible for you to be kind and yet firm. Being kind or answering angry words with kind words are not faults. What you DO need to do is have a clear idea of your own personal boundaries and then enforce those boundaries. You can do so in a kind but firm manner.

You DO love your cousin. You don't like animosity between you. You are grieving the relationship. It's OK to tell her all of that. That's not a sign of weakness. You said, "Another part of me wants to be my usual sweet self, try to gently explain why I made my decision, and try to "win back" our love and friendship." I personally don't see anything wrong with this approach, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T BACK DOWN FROM YOUR GOOD DECISION. It's quite possible to "gently stick to your guns."

You can also call her hand on her rudeness - but I don't think that lowering yourself to her level is the best way to do so. You can tell her that as much as you love her, you will not engage in a conversation on those terms.

All that being said, Dr Laura pointed out something one time that really stuck with me. She said, "Have you ever noticed that it's always the nice people who are so concerned about hurting other peoples' feelings? The jerks aren't concerned in the least - it's only the nice people." Your cousin is certainly not as concerned about YOUR feelings as you are about hers. That's food for thought. Chew on that before you respond to her. This realization should give you a little more strength to be clear about your own boundaries. Look back on the relationship. Is it a one way or a two way street? Are you the one doing all the tolerating, the forgiving, the apologizing, etc? If so, this may be a relationship that could use some distancing, or at the least, some "re defining." If your cousin doesn't respect you, or feels that she can just say anything to you she feels like at the moment, then you're enabling a petty tyrant and YOU need to stop.

Hope that helps.
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Old 05-23-2014, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,511 posts, read 35,964,225 times
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By the way, I was raised in a very skewered environment. My dad is an only child (spoiled and bossy) and my mother is the oldest of four girls (very bossy). As you can imagine, their relationship has always been pretty volatile. My mother, for some strange reason, apparently expected me to be a compliant little girl like her little sisters. My dad expected me to be a sweet, subservient little girl. But both of them were all hat and no cattle when it comes to living in a gentler, kinder world. So they TAUGHT sweetness, kindness, gentleness, but lived assertiveness, bossiness, and "sticking to your guns." My father is passive/aggressive and my mother is simply aggressive/aggressive. Wow.

To further complicate things, I am the oldest and the only girl. I was often left in charge of my younger brothers. So I had very conflicting messages, and responsibilities as well, not to mention the living examples of assertiveness playing their lives out in front of me.

I dislike arguing and conflict and as a little girl, I did my best to avoid it. I sincerely hate "personal drama." But as I matured, I realized the totally alien concept of personal boundaries. It took me a botched first (and abusive) marriage to really clarify things in my life but when I did, it was like a light bulb turning on in my head.

Today I am a tolerant person with firm personal boundaries, and I am much happier than I was the first thirty years of my life. I give people a lot of space to "be themselves," but if they expect me to respect their boundaries and tolerate their idiosyncracies, then they darn sure better return the favor. If not, sorry, but they're getting booted to the curb. Life's too short to surround myself with jerks.
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Old 05-23-2014, 07:12 AM
 
Location: A tropical island
4,553 posts, read 4,416,938 times
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Kathryn, you have given me a LOT of food for thought, and it seems that you really understand where I am coming from, having experienced something similar with your own dear cousin. I will be re-reading your posts multiple times to really mull your thoughts over. Actually the past few days have been something of a turning point for me, as this situation has prompted deep introspection. I listened to an excellent podcast called People Pleaser No More, am reading a book about codependency, and happened to come across the most wonderful article on Facebook (of all places) that was just what I needed! Here's the link:
http://elitedaily.com/life/10-things...rently/598934/

I am feeling much better about everything, and want to say thanks to everyone who took time to respond.
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Old 05-23-2014, 07:35 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,511 posts, read 35,964,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
Kathryn, you have given me a LOT of food for thought, and it seems that you really understand where I am coming from, having experienced something similar with your own dear cousin. I will be re-reading your posts multiple times to really mull your thoughts over. Actually the past few days have been something of a turning point for me, as this situation has prompted deep introspection. I listened to an excellent podcast called People Pleaser No More, am reading a book about codependency, and happened to come across the most wonderful article on Facebook (of all places) that was just what I needed! Here's the link:
10 Things That The People Who Love Their Lives Are Doing Differently

I am feeling much better about everything, and want to say thanks to everyone who took time to respond.
This is WONDERFUL news! I am so glad I could help in some small way!

I am pretty sure, just from reading your posts on the forum, that your kindness is one of the charming aspects of your personality. You also come across as intelligent and thoughtful. You don't want to try to change any of those inborn traits, which are assets. It does sound as if you simply need to really get your head around establishing personal boundaries and sticking to them. Honestly, I didn't "get" this concept at all till I was thirty years old, because neither of my parents had much regard for personal boundaries, especially not my mother. I was the sweetest little girl you ever met - because I hated conflict so much.

But establishing personal boundaries doesn't necessarily equate to a lot of conflict. Look at it this way - you're already conflicted internally. When you try to placate others, when you tolerate their lack of respect for you, does this make you happy? What are you gaining? Not only that, but you're not really even helping them. THEY will also be better off emotionally and psychologically when you enforce some personal boundaries, and if they're not, then frankly they need to get out of your life.

I want to give you some hope. Get this - I was even able to completely salvage my relationship with both my parents, which is a bit of a miracle, considering how jacked up our interactions were. Yes, they still bug the crap out of my sometimes, and yes, I do get tired of their incessant personal drama - but apparently love does cover a multitude of sins because 55 years later, they are still married and still in love with each other. So that's their deal, their balance - NOT MINE. I tolerate their style of marriage between the two of them, but I don't allow them to push me around. This was easier to accomplish with my dad than it was with my mom. I honestly had to "retrain" her to see me as a competent and strong adult, and this took about three years and it WAS VERY HARD but so worth it in the long run. In the end, they both finally respect me and usually respect my boundaries - and when they don't, I now have the inner strength to call their hand on it and to enforce those boundaries. And we still have a loving relationship -in fact, it's better than it has ever been before.

You got this! READ GOOD BOOKS and articles on the topic, NOW - while your mind and heart are receptive to it. The old standard "Co dependent No More" is a great book on the topic. Also, M Scott Peck has several books that tie in to that topic and which I devoured at the turning point in my life that you seem to be at now. They are "The Road Less Traveled," and (the best one) "People of the Lie." WOW. That book was really an eye opener. In that book he describes some people (a type that my life was cluttered with before I learned about boundaries) as "crazy makers." These people THRIVE on keeping you out of balance, unsure, worried about their reactions, etc. I had those sorts IN DROVES in my life. One of them was my own mother! That is her way of trying to control people - her reactions are so unpredictable that many people were constantly on edge trying not to make her mad - but then sometimes she'd be absolutely the most loving, charming, appreciative person you ever met, and when she reacted that way, it left you wanting more of that good stuff from her. But the next time, you might do exactly the same thing and get the Tasmanian devil! Or a totally bland reaction. So you end up tiptoeing around people like that, trying to placate them, keep them happy, MAKE them happy.

Did you know that you can't make anyone happy? True happiness only comes from within a person. If you're in a relationship of any sort in which the other person implies that their own personal happiness depends on YOUR actions...then that's a huge red flag. Also, if YOUR own personal happiness depends on the actions of other people...that's a red flag about your own mindset. You mentioned that you are losing sleep over this relationship. When you get your head around the concept of healthy boundaries, this sort of thing won't cause you to lose a minute's sleep, because you will be confident in your own decisions and you will know that you've done what you can and should in the relationship. You will sleep the sleep of the innocent! LOL

It's great.
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
She definitely knew she was being nasty. And originally I chalked it up to her having a bad day, but then I happened to be talking with her brother, who said she is doing great, he talked with her several times this week and she sounded the happiest she's been in a while, etc., so I believe I am correct in taking it personally. Also, I have sent a couple of nice follow-up texts (thinking of you, wish we could clear up this misunderstanding kind of text messages) but they have been ignored.

My "niceness" is, once again, getting me nowhere. This seems to be my pattern. The ruder someone is to me, the more I try to be nice. Just once I would love to try being the rude one, and have the other person be extra nice to win ME back. (Not really, but it is tempting to see if it would work. It's just not in my nature though).
I am sorry, but the above is why this is happening to you. She knows she can treat you badly and you will do the work to win her back. You did nothing wrong, but until you stand up and stop letting people walk all over you this kind of thing will continue to happen. You don't need to get on her level or be nasty; just stop communicating with her. If she comes back one day and apologizes, then, it will be your choice whether or not to accept it. Please, don't try anymore to make amends because you have nothing to be sorry for. Hold you head up, smile, don't let anyone know it is bothering you and go on with your life. She knows exactly how she is making you feel, and you have to take that power away from her.
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by KathrynAragon View Post
I haven't read through the whole thread so I may be repeating advice, but here's my take on your situation:

First of all, I am the farthest thing from a pushover - I'm pretty assertive. So this advice is not coming from someone who can't "bite back." I can and will if the situation warrants it. Just wanted to get that out there before proceeding.

I don't think "being a nice person," or "answering angry words with kind ones" are bad things. In fact, I actually like that maxim. I also like "you catch more flies with honey," "pay it forward," and "don't burn the bridge till your horse makes it to the other side." (I just made that last one up but I like it!)

I can really relate to your situation with your cousin. I had a very similar situation with my own dear cousin a few months ago. I keep up with my far flung family on Facebook, but I do not use FB to post political agendas, preach, debate, or post the 21st century's rendition of chain letters. Most of my friends and family are the same way. I have several friends and relatives who are atheists or of different religions, and many who have differing political or philosophical opinions. I do NOT argue with them or "try to correct them" or whatever on FB if they post something I don't agree with. I get all the debating fuel I need right here on this forum!

But being a spiritual person, I will occasionally post something about a religious holiday, or say something about praying or going to church or whatever. Not every day, and not in a preachy way, but I'll do it.

Anyway, my cousin, who I love dearly, went off on a diatribe with my daughter about a post she put up about a religious topic (my cousin is an atheist). I didn't argue with her, but she noticed that I "liked" a comment by someone else who disagreed with her (WHAT THE HECK - WHO PAYS THIS MUCH ATTENTION TO FB?). My cousin went off on me too - I mean really tore into both of us. It was as if she suddenly realized just how much she hates Christianity and she let loose with 45 years of hatred and directed her animosity, apparently out of the blue, to my daughter and me. And then she "unfriended" us both. WOW.

Hmmmmm. This was a new experience for me, because like I said, I basically use FB to keep up with people who live all over the world (we are a military family so we have friends and family everywhere). NOT to publicly argue and debate, especially not with beloved family members. WHAT TO DO?

I decided to send her a private message. In that message, I told her that she has to live by her own principles of course, but that I was sad to see that she had "cut me off." I told her that I felt that she was being just as judgmental and intolerant as she claims Christians are. I told her that in spite of this, she has always been my favorite cousin and still is to this day. Finally, I told her that I love her very much but that I also have boundaries, and that if she expects me to accept HER differences, she is going to have to accept mine. I will not stand by while someone - anyone - trashes my faith. But that doesn't mean I am going to argue with them in public, or "unfriend" them in public. I told her that I was surprised that our decades of a loving relationship didn't mean more to her, because it does to me, but that I respect her decision and if she wanted to sever our relationship, that was of course her choice I would not pursue her or bother her in the future. However, if she wanted to maintain the relationship, let me know and I would be happy to just pick up where we left off - as long as she respected my own boundaries in the future.

I heard back from her in about four days. She was apologetic and told me that she had just had a very dear friend who was gay MURDERED in a hate crime sort of scenario and that she had been very angry with Christianity at the time because he had felt like an outcast and she had been grieving for him and his life.

She also has not made a single "anti Christianity" comment to any of our Christian family members on FB since. She still continues to post anti religious stuff on her own time line but that's her call. (I have never responded negatively to any of those posts or argued with her on her own posts by the way.)

I think it's entirely possible for you to be kind and yet firm. Being kind or answering angry words with kind words are not faults. What you DO need to do is have a clear idea of your own personal boundaries and then enforce those boundaries. You can do so in a kind but firm manner.

You DO love your cousin. You don't like animosity between you. You are grieving the relationship. It's OK to tell her all of that. That's not a sign of weakness. You said, "Another part of me wants to be my usual sweet self, try to gently explain why I made my decision, and try to "win back" our love and friendship." I personally don't see anything wrong with this approach, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T BACK DOWN FROM YOUR GOOD DECISION. It's quite possible to "gently stick to your guns."

You can also call her hand on her rudeness - but I don't think that lowering yourself to her level is the best way to do so. You can tell her that as much as you love her, you will not engage in a conversation on those terms.

All that being said, Dr Laura pointed out something one time that really stuck with me. She said, "Have you ever noticed that it's always the nice people who are so concerned about hurting other peoples' feelings? The jerks aren't concerned in the least - it's only the nice people." Your cousin is certainly not as concerned about YOUR feelings as you are about hers. That's food for thought. Chew on that before you respond to her. This realization should give you a little more strength to be clear about your own boundaries. Look back on the relationship. Is it a one way or a two way street? Are you the one doing all the tolerating, the forgiving, the apologizing, etc? If so, this may be a relationship that could use some distancing, or at the least, some "re defining." If your cousin doesn't respect you, or feels that she can just say anything to you she feels like at the moment, then you're enabling a petty tyrant and YOU need to stop.

Hope that helps.
This is very good advice...enjoyed reading, however, my one fear and I'm not saying she shouldn't try it is the fact that if this cousin will end a long friendship over this stuff, then, she'll do it again....and again, b/c she knows she doesn't have to change, that her cousin will always try and mend the fences....regardless?

But then the other half of me says, yeah, you won't know until your try....but she does need to let her cousin know she was wrong for ending the relationship....people have disagreements....what is she going to do if she gets angry with her children, walk away from them to?
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:20 AM
 
Location: A tropical island
4,553 posts, read 4,416,938 times
Reputation: 11189
Kathryn, the first book you recommended, Codependent No More, is exactly the one I'm reading. (My hub ordered it for me; he said he has owned numerous copies through the years but always ends up giving them away!)

Earlier in this thread someone said something about the angry person doesn't lose any sleep regarding the person they hurt. That really struck me, and helped me do a better job of putting this out of my mind at bedtime. I've actually slept quite well the past couple of nights!

Thank you for what you said about my kindness and thoughtfulness, and maintaining those within the confines of personal boundaries. I don't know why I was seeing my only options as sweet little doormat or angry b*tch, lol! There are a lot of possibilities between those two extremes. Kind, but confident and firm, with boundaries, is what I need to keep working toward. And NOT feeling like I need everyone's approval! Who can ever have EVERYone's approval anyway?
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