The dilemma of ‘Gray Rock’ or ‘No contact’ in family

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Last night was a deeply upsetting night..I was overcome with sadness and grief in regards to my father and mother and the rest of my family on my mother’s side.

Something was said that triggered a rollercoaster of emotions in regards to the fact that I am realising more and more that all the family I have known since I was a child, is fading away ..The trigger I guess is a discussion I had with my husband about going to London for my coaching course and not telling my mum or aunt that I will be there. This is a new thing for me, to keep certain parts of my life private. I really wish it were different but it isn’t. I don’t want my mother to know I am doing a coaching course, as she is a Life coach herself and will probably try to bring me down again with her negative, envious remarks. My husband is uncomfortable with me ‘lying to my mother’ to protect myself. I of course completely understand that ‘lying’ isn’t in any way good however if it is done to protect myself from further negative remarks & toxic responses shouldn’t it be ok?

There is always a power trip of control and competition with my mother. She doesn’t like it if I talk about psychology and making any progress in my life. When I told her I wanted to do ART THERAPY her response was negative. .That I was not academic enough, that it isn’t a sustainable job etc etc..Then I got an unconditional offer to do it and I could see she wasn’t happy for me..So if I tell her about the fact that I have decided to do Coaching instead, I can only imagine what her response will be..

After all the grieving I did in and out of therapy, I decided to continue communicating with my mother, especially because of my disabled brother and also because of my other family.It just felt too tough to completely cut her off. I now practice the ‘gray rock’ method of communicating. I keep all my responses simple, superficial (talking about the weather, going to the gym, my plants, doing art, day trips etc). I keep my emotions to myself and don’t show sadness, happiness, vulnerability or anything that she can react to..

Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t overtly try to avoid contact with these emotional vampires. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the parasite must go elsewhere for his supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the psychopath, his mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama.

What I am finding extremely tough is that I can’t be myself, I can’t spread my wings and embrace what I really want to be doing and I feel like I have to hide, like I have to twist the truth or even lie..I don’t like lying as I grew up with a father who was a compulsive liar and it did me great harm. My husband pointed this out too. He said ”you shouldn’t have to hide yourself from your mother, as then she still has the power”. Her opinions, views etc still have a hold on me, because I am too uncomfortable with sharing the truth with her…

My truth being that I want to help people through their own trauma of having narcissistic parents and I want to be able to talk openly about it, without having to be anonymous and hide the reality of my life. My truth being that I shouldn’t care about whether her public image as a coach, supervisor, mindfulness practicioner with over 10 years of training is possibly destroyed because she was abusive. My truth being that I want to openly say that both my parents hurt me, stunted my emotional growth, caused me to suffer from depression, anxiety and ptsd my whole life. My truth being that I want to also start a youtube channel where I talk about my experiences and provide tips for others on how to deal with narcissistic parents, how to heal from trauma and how to manage ptsd symptoms.

I want to be free to be myself for once in my life, without feeling like I have to hide my truest feelings and experiences. I am very torn however. I don’t want anymore drama, threats, family involvement and hurtful, shaming opinions to affect my progress.

On my mother’s side she has 3 sisters and my grandparents. I have always had nice memories in regards to my aunts, cousins and grandparents. I never felt uncomfortable or strange. I always spent 1 month every summer with them and most recently in my adult years, I spent a lot more time with one of my aunts (as she lived close to where I was living at the time).

Since finding out my mother is Cluster B personality disordered and incurable, I have been trying to figure out what to do in regards to communicating with her. I have come to realise that if I go ‘no contact’ I will lose the family I have known that are connected to her. My grandma, aunts, uncles and possibly cousins. I came to this realisation, when I fell out with my mother and one of my aunts tried to act as mediator. I stupidly told her that my mother was horrible and hurtful and even gave her examples of what was said to me, and her response was ”and why do you think she said that?’‘,  ”I am a lot tougher with my kids” and ”I really hope you can fix things with your mum as I am worried about her”. She then continued a few months later to say that I should ”just get on with it like she does”, ”that life is too short and her advice is to stay in contact”. The general feeling was to ‘sweep it under the rug’ and move on. I confronted her by saying that some things you can’t just ‘sweep under the rug’ and she just said ”I think we should agree to disagree”. All these reactions give me the same uncomfortable feeling I get from my mother. I felt ashamed, flawed and needy, especially because my mother had portrayed me that way to her family.

My mother and her sisters all grew up in the same family home, so it isn’t susprising that they would also deal with things in a similar manner. I also understand that they would mostly stick by my mother if I did choose to go no contact.  Despite the fact that I have grieved and accepted my mothers’ illness, it still hurts to imagine that I might also lose the rest of the family. It isn’t that we are extremely close as we have always lived in separate countries, towns etc..but it was always comforting to know I had somewhere else to go. My other family always made me feel more comfortable than my own mother did. They are less disordered as my cousins don’t have depression, ptsd or other problems.Then again they also didn’t have both parents with narcissism, which I am sure makes a huge difference.

Again, I am back at the original predicament..Do I continue what I am doing with the ‘Gray rock’ communication and try and keep the lies to a minimum, whilst still hiding my true self? Or do I break free, show my face and hopefully work as a life coach, who specialises in trauma, ptsd and narcissistic abuse healing?

I am a more uncomfortable with my aunt than I used to be because of her reactions to my fall out with my mother. However, over the years she had been very supportive to my brother and I, and helped us with many things. She always offered her time and included us in family events. My mother’s younger sister has also been lovely, even though she lives further away.The only big thing that let me down, was that when they all found out through my mother, that my father had attempted suicide, none of them said a word to me! Yes they were shocked and yes suicide is such a taboo issue but the least I expected was ‘‘I’m so sorry to hear about your father”...

I cried so deeply last night to the thought of completely going ‘no contact’ with my mother and her family but the fall out is just too much to handle..I am already on ‘no contact’ with my father and I am struggling with it everyday..

Anyhow, if anyone has any input from their own experiences dealing with narcissistic parents then I would love to hear it.

Thanks for reading. x

 

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12 thoughts on “The dilemma of ‘Gray Rock’ or ‘No contact’ in family

  1. I think the struggle is, at least for me, the longing for a meaningful relationship with my mother. All that I did not get as a child, I still long for. And I will never get it.

    For a long time, I have kept my parents at a arm’s distance. I needed the space. I still need the space, not because I don’t want something closer, but because the distance is the only way I can protect myself. Do I “lie”? Yes. Do I omit truths? Yes. Do I steer conversations away from things that are personal to me? Yes. Do I feel bad about it. Not at all. It is healthy? I don’t know. What I do know is that I need to take care of myself. My parents will never change. As I grow stronger emotionally and functionally, their dysfunction becomes more glaring. And that reinforces that I need to make sure I have my space.

    And do I do it perfectly? Of course not! I still get sucked in. I still want I never had. I still set myself up for disappointment. And that’s when I remind myself that I can change. They will not. I have to do what is right for me.

    So….I don’t know if that actually helps any. You are faced with hard decision and no matter what you decide, at some point, you will likely second guess it and have to try something else. That’s okay, it’s part of finding what the right relationship fit is for you.

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    • And I totally forgot to say that I am struggling right now with this!! What do I tell my parents about the fact that I am going to an eating disorder facility? More than anything, I would love to not tell them…But they will probably notice if I drop off the planet for 4-6 weeks. I don’t want to give them too much info, because I don’t want to field their intrusive questions, plus I am NOT going into anything about the trauma with them. And I don’t even know if they’d understand.

      You are totally not alone in trying to figure out what works.

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      • It’s hard to separate yourself from those who have always violated your boundaries. Although, it’s your body, your temple, and thus your choice.

        Just because someone brought you into this world doesn’t mean they deserve access to your medical records or other personal information.

        Many blessings!

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      • Very tricky Heidi and I completely feel for you. Maybe instead of lying, just tell them you will be away for awhile and will not be in touch.Something like that. Tell them it’s personal and to please not ask questions and respect that.

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    • Thank you so much for your insight Heidi. It makes me feel a little better that you also do similar things to protect yourself. I hate feeling that I have to lie..but I guess protecting oneself means that you do whatever you can. I am sorry you have also suffered so much.much love

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  2. Going NC is difficult because one is leaving the life they’ve always known. However, the decision ultimately rests on the individual deciding whether or not to pull the trigger because they are the only ones who can determine how valuable their life is.

    Loving parents never make their kids feel shameful or guilty for wanting to be treated fairly. Your life has value, and anyone who says you should dismiss your mother’s crummy behavior does not have your best interests in mind.

    It’s all in perspective because you’re the one who has to carry those feelings of shame, which means YOU are the captain of YOUR ship.

    Expect the best and nothing less. Only you have the power to change your life for the better, and you are perfectly capable of doing so! You don’t owe anyone anything – especially a parent simply because they brought you into this world.

    Doesn’t mean they took care of you…

    Many blessings! Check out my blog to get some free books that describe my personal experiences with narcissism, along with how I broke free.

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    • Thank you so much for your insight.It really helps to hear your opinion as well. I realise that my aunt and others dont have my best interest at heart. They just dont want to clean up the mess that is left behind and the difficulty it causes in the whole family, as my mother becomes this victim who was treated terribly by her daughter. I will definetely pop over to your page and check out those links. Thanks again.

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  3. I don’t know how to say this except for I feel like I am reading my entire life on your blog… We could practically be twins ..it’s so crazy .. I have so much to say… To share with you but where to begin? I have to process all that I have read on your site tonight .. But would really like to communicate as I haven’t found anyone whose story is comparable and those who do support me, my therapists, my boyfriend, and of course no real family, do listen and for the most part get it and help. However, the loneliness of not knowing someone who has experienced it all similarly still keeps me at the .. “I am still different from everyone else” or the resentment of what my life could have been if only I was nurtured properly. I too am considering becoming a life coach for this reason as my therapist suggested it .. Right now I am so far from anything like that … My father passed 6 years ago (passive with low self esteem depression)and my mother (the covert narcissist ) just passed Sept 2015 .. In between their two deaths, I was diagnosed with ADHD (and through medication became aware of who I was married to!) so I have lost my marriage to a covert narcissist, my 30 year career (as breadwinner ) which was my passion, not to mention my identity safety net, while working for an overt narcissist, went bankrupt in the process, lost basically all family connections on both my ex husbands side and with my 3 siblings, two sisters whom are def bi polar or manic and divorced as well and a brother who has depression and low self esteem who is married to a control freak, I have twin boys that are 13 now and so afraid that I have damaged them but am assured by many that they are wonderful , yet one seems to fit a lot of his fathers personality traits and I want to disengage him from that .., obviously I could go on.. I know the Gray approach all to well and was only learning the deep truth about my mother through therapy at the same time as she became ill and dying and had to decide what to do … I was in hell because of this woman but as an Empath I still loved her and had to care for her as she was dying … Well I need to stop because it is always too much for anyone to digest including my therapists who agree I must have had a strong spirit to have survived and say I will come to like myself eventually and make a full recovery … I stopped trying to talk to anyone except my therapist and boyfriend ( of course who I wonder if I’m in a codependent relationship with) because no one would believe me anyway .. I am just a messed up chick with a whacked family who finally snapped and disappeared from life …

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    • I am so sorry to hear that we have shared similar pain and loneliness Kieran.It really sounds like you’ve had it tough! It’s great you have reached out! It helped me so much when I started this blog and found other people with similar backgrounds too.. Felt less lonely and more connected for the first time. Just like you said..
      I am positive your resilience helped you pull through and I am sorry both your parents are now gone..I’m not quite there yet, although nearly lost my father to suicide last year and it might happen again. (We are on no contact now)..I am very happy to talk with you on here or just email me..Talking to people who haven’t had sick parents and especially who aren’t in therapy, can be traumatic and not validate you..Been there too..I am starting to develop compassion for myself, which I never used to have..I really hope you do as well! much love x

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  4. Ah, Grey Rock! I never knew there was a name for it. But that’s exactly what I do with my father….. You’ve taught me something new today, thank you for that. I don’t hide or mask anything with my father. I’m merely selective in what I answer and what I say. We used to talk and he used to know every inch of my life. But now, he communicates via text message (his choice), once a week, and it gives me the time to compose what I want him to know. Loosing the rest of the family is difficult but I keep busy with my own life. After a while you get used to it. As far as one ‘lie’, if there’s something I can’t answer quickly enough, I just blame my meds…..”Oh, um, I’m not sure, I can’t remember, its the medication you know. Lemme get gather my wits and then get back to you”. Then ‘forget’ to get back to them. Practice it with your husband until it rolls off you tongue 😉

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  5. I think you should do what feels right, only you know what is comfortable for you, but speaking your truth, being true to yourself is so important, but you dont want to feel hurt in the process. X
    —– Or

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