Friday, February 24, 2012

Escaping The Narcissistic Family III

I think it's common in our society that the relationships we have with family are held to be sacred.  Obviously our family are the people we have known, and who have known us, the longest in the world, and it is impossible to really see and understand ourselves without seeing and understanding our family.  We played together as kids, and suffered losses and celebrated gains together, and at face value, and all things being equal, this is completely understandable and correct.

But consider this:  On November 24, 2011, I sent my brother a Facebook message after he'd stopped making payments on a debt and had not communicated with me for over a year...
You owe me money. I want to know what your plan is. I will print up a complete record of all my expenses and all your payments and send it to you. The total is around $72,000 outstanding.  Let's solve this problem together, finally,
His response was...
Fuck you
I wrote...
He wrote...
Sue me
...and he unfriended me, and he's happy to leave it at that.  And I can't really fathom that,
and suffice it to say, this is not the only case where a family member feels significantly wronged by this person.

So when is a group toxic?  And who's problem is it, ultimately, that I feel unsafe?  And what am I going to do about it?  So, applying the best 'question answering' process, the scientific method, which goes like this...
  • Form a hypothesis
  • Do experiments
  • Form a theory
 ...I have proceeded as follows.
  • I hypothesize that I come from a narcissistic family.  When I think of my brother and I read the list of symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder at Wikipedia I believe I have a match.  And I see those symptoms in me too, and other family members.  And when I read about the narcissistic family I discover dynamics that I see in how my family functions, that there is a golden or charmed circle, that there is a scapegoat (and she's getting an even worse deal than me).  In addition I hypothesize that resolution with a narcissist is impossible, because the narcissist can never claim authorship for a problem.
  • My experimental action--for the situation I find myself in and for other family issues that are beyond the scope of this article--is to go no contact, which is a not uncommon approach to solving problems in a narcissistic arena.
  • And it's too early to theorize authoritatively, but I have been contacted only once by one family member.  She wanted to meet, and I set conditions.  She met them, but then told me she wouldn't meet because I had set conditions.  She did not propose a remedy and I did not ask for one, and there has been no other contact.  To date I am interpreting the group's silence as consent.
I'm not seeking to hurt anyone, only to protect myself, and if I have hurt you in this choice I've made I take full responsibility.  I'm sorry.  For what it's worth, I do deem it a weakness of mine that I am not able to maintain a sense of my own safety in certain contexts. That said, I believe the safety of the individual is also the responsibility of the group, and I will not participate in a group that doesn't seem to me to take that responsibility seriously.

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