Sister Act

Thank you so much for the all the comments and thoughts of support regarding the visit of my SiL and BiL.  Your comments helped me get through the aftermath of dealing with all of it that much easier.  Hugs to you all.

The past few weeks have been difficult.  I sat in shame immediately after the visit.  I had to forget that emotion to get ready for my language exam and thereafter, a holiday break.  When I came back I relived the events, played the tapes.  After some distance it is amazing on what you pick up, what you now see so clearly.  As I peeled the layers of shame I meet anger and grief (for not having a sister within SiL).  I was alone at home (DH was traveling for work) and they were my companions this past week.

Although shame is a more recent emotion for me, I move through it a lot faster than grief and anger.  I don’t know why?  Maybe grief feels more raw to me because I think I have always had shame along side me – I think I have been able to ‘handle’ it because that was a common emotion my mother tried to instil in me.  Grief and anger were not allowed to be expressed at home.

And for me, grief and anger seem to be a more outward emotion.  Whereas shame, although a release, feels more internal and more of an exhale in the end.  Grief, for me, I need to cry, let the tears out and anger, I need to vocalise it, yell a bit (not at anyone) just get the words out of my mouth.

And it was nice to be alone to deal with my shame and grief but anger didn’t erupt until DH came home.  I needed a person in front of me to hear my story, hear my anger.  It came out at once and I was surprised at what came out of me.  Well, as one can imagine, it wasn’t pretty.

Among the name calling, I found myself saying things that really surprised me.  This one, in particular, took me and DH by surprise:

She is so dangerous, she is the danger that you don’t see coming.

Not that danger has signs but there are some dangers that have some warning signs.  And in my SiL’s case she is one that we don’t expect there to be a danger just from her presentation of herself.

DH asked me why I thought she was dangerous.  It would be easy to say that she is dangerous to my emotional well-being but I don’t believe that to be the case, nor do I suspect others reading this do either.  And the danger I meant had everything to do in the physical state of being.

I retold DH about our trip home for MiL’s funeral and when we were visiting with DH’s aunt and uncle and cousins.  We were all in the living room of FiL’s apartment and SiL was sitting in MiL’s chair (ironically) and she found a small pill bottle tucked between the cushion and the arm rest.  She read the medicine label (she’s an MD) and looked at it and said across the room to FiL – what are you taking this for?

I could already tell FiL did not want to get into this discussion in front of the family by his response – He said it was for high blood pressure.  SiL said that this is not the medicine he should be taking and that this has the opposite effect.  FiL asked for the capsule and she brought it over.  He looked at it and put it in his pocket.  SiL continues to tell him he should go talk to his doctor to make sure he is getting the right medication and that he should in no way be taking this medicine if he is having high blood pressure.  FiL just shrugged and didn’t respond.  There was silence and I looked straight at SiL and I saw her eyes look around the room.

I remember the only thing I could do was watch SiL because she was the one behaving in such a way that initially had scared me.  There were many things I am now taking away from this and one of those things is danger.

Kara and CS and in the comments have started insightful discussions in their recent posts on the relationship between emotions and our physical health.  And the emotional distress unhealthy people have on us is not spoken about often in terms of specific physical repercussions or root problems.  I only wonder now, if Ns have more of a direct impact on our physical health when dealing with Dr. Narcissistic SiL.

xxoo TR

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Let the N just B

I’ve spent most of 2011 practicing ‘just letting people be’.  Joyful Alive Woman writes a great post about this subject (click here).  She refers to Maya Angelou in her post…

So… when people show you who they are, believe them. It saves a lot of time and aggravation.

Thank you, Joyful Alive Woman!  Through just listening and not reacting (and fighting my natural learned tendencies) I discovered that I was able to see who was an N.  From just ‘letting’ I ‘spotted’ 2 new people in my life as Ns.  I cautiously proceeded with my interactions with them before drawing anything definitive from it.  Another great blogger, Kathy Krajco (RIP), said that she has learned how to spot Ns and she moves cautiously with them without pre-judging.  I also took this with me as I ‘let’ 2 new people (both females) into my life this year.

One of the things I discovered is that I was able to ‘spot’ the N immediately and move cautiously…this saved me a lot of aggravation.  Here is a list of what I discovered about myself and when I was first getting to know a potential N.  Have you noticed other early warning signs?

How to Spot an N….Immediately: the early warning signs

  1. The first impression is great! My first few encounters with them gave me a great first impression!  I liked them right way!
    1. My natural tendency is to be attracted to Ns.  That is what is comfortable to me so it makes sense that I am naturally attracted to them.  Now, I put it to good use!
  2. Makes a negative out of nothing. I’ve noticed this in all my females Ns…they take a fact (it isn’t positive or negative) and make it a negative for you…when in fact it can easily be a positive.
    1. One of them said to me (upon learning that I was an only child)…‘doesn’t it suck to be an only child, you don’t have that personal connection with someone…that special bond.’
    2. The other one said to me (she is a co-worker): ‘do you like that sort of work on that project, I wouldn’t want to do that project.’
  3. Hiding comparisons in empathetic/sympathetic statements. Ns love making comparisons, especially if it makes them look and feel good about themselves.  But often, the comparisons they make at the beginning of a ‘friendship’ can be masked.  They wouldn’t want to alert you too soon to their Nness!
    1. One N said to us about their other 2 friends: ‘E & J are not used to all this (sympathy), we are able to do all this walking around, I guess, because we have kids.’
  4. Creates an image for you. Ns love creating their image the most, they love creating images of others, the second most.  My pre-Ns made assumptions about me without any facts.  Nobody told them this information but they assumed things about me.
    1. One of the pre-Ns stopped a conversation when a friend of mine said something about me (which was positive)…she turned to me and said…’oh, I thought you….’.  She assumed and was hit with reality…that her reaction was to stop the conversation to get clarification that this actually happened.  How messed up is that?
  5. Saying Thank You (over, over and over again).  One of the things I noticed that the 2 ‘new’ Ns kept pointing out things they were being helpful in and my natural way of responding was to say ‘Thank You’.  The pre-N at work (working on a project with her) kept telling me all the things she was doing and she ‘played’ it off like she was doing me tons of favors.  I noticed that every time I saw her I was saying ‘Thank You’.  And later into the project, she was actually not helping but stating things to make it seem like what she was doing was helpful or so generous.  
    1. Saying Thank you is important but NOT when there is nothing to actually THANK.    The way the N can communicate is to ‘paint’ you a picture of their helpfulness or generosity but in the end it didn’t help (and may have actually hindered) and the generosity came at a price.  
  6. Communications with others.  Since the Ns were new in my life I was usually around others and never really alone with them.  So, I became more of an observer than a participant.  Digital communication started up with one of them (Facebook).  And from the communications with others and with me I could sit back and let them be.  I started to see the lack of interest in what other’s had to say and how their communication seemed to more information seeking then out of a genuine concern for other’s well being.

This list is based on my personality and may not hold true in a lot of situations.  Seeing a pattern helped me understand myself and my natural tendencies…this helped me hold back, hold judgement before putting any energy into a new ‘friendship’.  After more time with them I did come to realize that these 2 were in fact Ns.  The early warning signs did help me and save me from a lot of grief in the future.

Does anyone know of other warning signs you have noticed when first getting to know a potential N?