Friday, July 6, 2012

Obsession

Recently, Q (in his effortlessly comical and insightful way) left the following comment on my post, Recipe For Success that really struck a chord with me. He said:

Jonsi, do you remember the comment I made long ago about some friend's of my first wife that would stop themselves from leaving a bar if they had not danced on the table? I mean a vacant empty bar. And how you would hear them later discussing their hi-jinks and how they brought the roof down. (dancing on the table). It was forced and methodical and pathetic. It's so pathetic it really merits no effort from you/us. Not enough to dilute you and your life obsessing about them. I know it's hard to stop. The people I speak of were just about total strangers to me so I wasn't invested in them like you are here. They're like a pop corn fart in the wind. They make their one cheek sneak of a noise and then they are over.

Ah Q, once I got over laughing at your shrewd choice of analogies, I was struck by the truth in your words that I am, in fact, obsessing. Your comment got me thinking about the purpose of this blog and how long I will continue blogging for. I had to stop in my tracks and ask myself: Is this blog doing more harm than good? What will be my course of action if NMIL and crew find this blog? Is the time I spend either blogging OR looking for subject matter for my blog hurting me or my loved ones? Do I, in fact, spend too much time thinking about my husband's fucked up FOO? Do the benefits of continuing this blog outweigh the benefits of discontinuing it? And, how long will I continue to blog for, and when will I know it's time to stop?

I know that there will come a time when I'll cease writing about all of this. I may stop abruptly one day, or it may be a slower process, but someday, I will stop writing here. (Although, for the record, my plan is to always keep my blog up and open for anyone to read. Though I may stop writing, I do not intend to remove any blog posts. I've seen comments from far too many people, thanking me for sharing my story, to take it away from countless others who could happen along someday seeking solace.) I know that I'll continue to keep my own records of what goes on with DH's FOO, just in case we need to involve authorities, but there will definitely come a day when I'll stop putting everything up here.

I thought about my reasons for blogging. Currently, there are several motivations that keep me posting:

1. I write for me, because writing is soothing for my soul and because I feel most comfortable describing my feelings by way of the written word. I decided to write for an audience because, after stumbling upon my dear friend Upsi-Pant's blog, You Don't Have to Dance For Them, I found solace there and thought maybe I could do the same thing for someone else. I also wanted to expose DH's family for all their cowardice, hypocrisy, and evil. I wanted the world to know what they have done because I believe that truth is the only way out.

2. I feel that it's important to find information about them, to talk about things they've done, and to point out very precise examples to my husband, who is still very much trying to fight his way out of the dysfunctional pile of crap they've been shoveling on him his whole life. I think, how best can I accomplish helping DH open his eyes to their abuse? How can I get him to truly See the extent of the damage they have caused? How can I get him to understand that he must change his own behaviors in order to stop their legacy? My answer to all of these questions is that, as long as DH is still in the midst of this revolution, I have to be right there in the thick of it with him. I almost feel a duty to find all this stuff, show him, talk about it, and blog it out. I feel that I can also show this blog, as evidence, to my children, when the time comes that they want to know WHY.

3. I have a history of obsessive thought-patterns. I've been that way for as long as I can remember and don't have any recollection of truly trying to stop. My obsession with DH's family is the perfect example: The obsession with his family has led to a compulsion to find them online because (I justify that) that's the best way to learn what they are doing and what attempts they might make in the future to find or hurt us. I feel I spend too much time looking at their various social networking accounts. I also spend too much time trying to find things about them online; it's not impossible to find clues about them on the internet, but it can be time consuming, very much like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Though I often tell myself I'll ONLY perform searches for them online when my babies are sleeping, I don't always accomplish this and there have been times when I've sat at my computer, typing posts, or looking at their social networking sites while my kids are playing or watching a movie. I often justify it by saying that they are busy and that they don't need me right this very second. But, when two minutes becomes a half hour or even an hour, then that's a huge problem. I do not want to be a mom who is too preoccupied, by anything, to pay attention to my children. I do not want them to grow up feeling like I'm there physically, but I'm not there emotionally.

I don't feel bad about my first two reasons for blogging. I do feel bad, however, about the third. I know that the original source of my obsessive patterns of thinking come from my father; who developed the same mechanism (one of many) as a result of his dysfunctional upbringing. Although I have seen him work at it his entire life, it is a battle he'll have to fight forever. I certainly didn't get it from my mother, who has never, in my recollection, displayed obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviors. I do own this particular problem as mine, but have spent far too much time justifying it to do anything real about it. Mulderfan talks often about getting off the "hamster wheels" in our heads. I've been thinking about that phrase a lot recently, sadly coming to the realization that I have been running a marathon on that damn wheel of mine, and eventually my heart will give out. There is no benefit to obsessing, nothing good can come of worry.

Step one, for me, is being honest with myself. Brutally honest. I have to answer the questions I outlined above about my behaviors and decide for myself what needs to be done. I am not ready yet to stop blogging, but I think I will set a new rule for myself: that blogging will ONLY happen during nap times and at night after my babies are all asleep, and that I will stop checking my emails or browsing the internet when my children are awake. Period. If that doesn't work and I still feel that I am obsessing, then I will have to re-evaluate my thought-patterns and behaviors again. I will have to force a reality-check on myself, because that is no one else's responsibility but my own.

And, in the end, Q is right. These people are nothing more than pop-corn farts in the wind. They aren't worth my time.

16 comments:

  1. I can honestly say, I no longer give a flying fuck about what my NFOO are doing at any given time of the day or night.

    For now, peace and serenity fill those days and nights. I thought in some perverse way I would miss the drama but am happy to report I don't!

    I blogged to spew and release myself from their grip and it seems to be working...finally!

    Jonsi, just like upsi, you'll know when it's time to let go. In the meantime, do what feels right for you.

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  2. I agree with MF, that you need to do what you need to do for yourself. And you will know when you can let it go. If you are still obsessing, then there is something that is trying to work it's way out. I know that, for myself, I still felt the need to validate my feelings and thoughts, and by obsessing I was looking for the "proof" that I was correct in my observations (and reactions to it.)
    Also, having a ACoN for a spouse can not be easy. And you must love him very much. You seem very much like the spouse who's husband has been diagnosed with cancer and is trying to learn all she can in order to fight it. Knowledge is power, and a good thing at that.
    And I believe that you are very new to this all. I don't believe (though I may be wrong) that you and DH have been married for very long and have been very long at dealing with this. It may take a long time to get to a place of strength and security with it. Take your time. Build up your defenses. You are actually both very lucky to confront this so early on, and I believe your marriage and your children will be better for it. And in order to do that, you will need to work through each step. Someone posted (I believe Cassandra) that working through all of this is like taking the basement to the penthouse via the stairs. You can't just jump like Spiderman to the top. You can't take the elevator. You need to take all the steps and stop at each floor. But you will get there, and don't beat yourself up for any step you need to take.
    With all that said, if you feel you need to stop the obsessiveness, you may need to back off a bit. Setting limits is a good thing. I've found that all this support can be like a drug to me. Or more like nourishment. Feeding me in ways that I've never had before. But checking only when the kids are asleep is a good thing (that's what I do...all my house is suffering for it ;)!). If you must, get your self out of the house, making the computer an impossibility for you. Find ways to distance yourself from the temptation.
    But do most, what you feel is best. For you, your kids, and your husband. If you need to work on something, your kids will better for it. And when you do give them your attention, give them all of it, and they will be better for that too.

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  3. We are rational creatures-we do want to make sense out of phenomena that make....none. Marrying into a family of Narcs must be absolutely mind-bending for someone who has not grown up in such insanity. Sometimes I think my "threshold" for craziness must be set at a much higher baseline than someone who didn't grow up with this crap. I get the whole "research" thing: Obviously you knew almost from the get there was something very, very....wrong with the in-laws. What surprised me was how quickly you were able to see through each individual and elucidate how the family dynamics played out. It must have felt like "Welcome to Twilight Zone."
    And I am aware of how much you've helped your DH, painful as it has been for both of you. Obsessive thinking colors my world when I'm doing research: I've literally lost track of time when I've come across something that captures my attention, my imagination. And taking on the EPs, sharing your experiences with your family when you went NC was really courageous, IMO. I've benefitted from your insights and your humor regarding some of the antics of the family members/"friends"-sometimes, you just have to laugh at how transparently they give themselves away. They may be "pop corn farts" but if you've never had the pleasure, it's pretty interesting and informative as well as...comedic at times.
    I miss Upsi as well. And I'd miss you too, no doubt! As mulderfan observed, you'll know when it's time to stop Blogging or just do a Post here and there.. It seems that "internal shift" happens gradually but that was just my experience. I've really enjoyed your perspective as one who married into the "Not Waltons" family.
    By all means, keep your documentary records. Respectfully, I was thinking about you and DH/kids recently when NMIL sent DH the "Birthday Greetings." He's told them he does not wish to have further contact and they're still violating this boundary with what appears to be impunity. DH is going through some major changes right now and these pokes are NOT what he needs, IMO. Respectfully, It may be time for you all to have an attorney write a letter that is precise and leaves no room for ambiguity. I know, I know-money's tight. But I'm not sure getting a letter in the mail from an attorney at this time may not be just what is necessary so he can continue his journey and your family can continue to move forward together.
    Jonsi, they're not respecting this boundary....and that doesn't bode well for the future. I'm not into drama or backlash but I see a pattern emerging and it feels familiar. This intermittent reinforcement with the contact at whim isn't helping DH or you: You just get calmed down from the last poke, things are moving along and here they are-AGAIN.
    Thanks for all you've done and continue to do, Jonsi. I've always thought of you as having such common sense-no wonder this "Family" has challenged you in so many, many ways!
    TW

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  4. Jonsi,
    You may have found one topic that is the nearest and dearest to my heart. I have a way of obsessing something to death and when it is dead, I bring it back to life just to obsess about it once again. My husband and I have had many (too many) conversations about this very topic. I find no peace unless I have worried about something for months and months - possibly years and I am not kidding. I do not suffer from obsessive compulsive behavior with anything other than my narcissistic family. They have turned me into something at times I hardly recognize. After years of verbal and emotional abuse at their hands (NM and NSIS's), I think it isn't too unrealistic for me or anyone else to obsess about every aspect of my/our lives. Recouperating from the abuse is so difficult but the first defining moment for me was when I sent my "no contact" letter to all of them and there was no response, not a word. After that, it was step by step until I could truly see my life as worthy of living separate and better without them in it. The second step was forgiving them for me. What I mean by that is forgiveness so I could move forward and start to put my life together again not forgiveness because they asked for it and I was going to have any type of relationship again with them. This is something my therapist helped me with over numerous months. After those steps, the "ugly" veil lifted and I started to slowly see "me" the "me" I always knew I was but never could be because they held me under their thumb, repressed me from being "Free To Be Me!"

    Jonsi, You have such a peace about you and you are so expressive with your words. Blogging is obviously theraputic for you and when it stops bringing you happiness, then and only then should you give it up. I agree with your thoughts (and Jessie's). Your chidren need you first and the blogging should only come secondary to spending time with our precious angels. I am so very guilty of the same thing. When I was knee-deep in my family hell, my children suffered because all I wanted to do was research, go on FB and any other outlet available to see what they where doing. Finally I realized I didn't care what they were doing, my children and husband needed me and they were the only ones that mattered any more!

    Thank you for always inspiring me!!!

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  5. If your role as lightening rod for those of us wandering through the narcissist desert is winding down........
    And it comes about because of a toss off comment from me, you will have to give me time to renew my passport because I will be leaving the country.
    Someone will find me and I wouldn't blame them for what ever they did to me.
    The only reason I wrote what I wrote was because I sensed something in you I had never sensed before.
    You were unsure of yourself in some way(I think)and you seemed to be turning it back on yourself.
    Or I could have just mowed the lawn and be suffering from heat stroke.
    You have fostered so much camaraderie amongst us all that I would petition that you be allowed to shift gears, but be denied even thinking about going away.

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  6. I wanted to say too, that I know only too well what position you are as a mother too. And it is OK to take some time for yourself too. It's OK to do the work you need to to heal yourself and DH. Sometimes, when my kids were really little, I also needed some "grown up" time, some reality checks. Don't beat yourself up too much...

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  7. If you are unsure, I think it's most when you talk about SIL. Posts about SIL confuse me. The words are contradictory. Like her having low self esteem and suffering and hating herself and then being a narcissist. I don't think low self esteem is something to criticize. So I think you are ambivalent. So the decision is whether she is an N or not, you will just have to choose. I would say when in doubt, no. I don't think it's right to chew SIL out because she is a victim, in the end. She isn't as bad as her mom. Her mom is worse than her. And SIL isn't the one who abused your husband. She never abused him. I'm not saying she might not start now, if you gave her the chance. It's best to act like you never knew her. Maybe 20 years from now, she will come back.

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  8. Everybody is making really great points that I want to address.

    Mulderfan - I think my problem is that I'm wondering if the obsession is getting in the way of my feelings about what is right. Like, if my judgement is being clouded by the obsession, than how am I to know when it will be time to stop, or if I'm taking things to far, etc? It feels comfortable writing about all these things and doing my cyber-sleuthing, which is why I don't want to stop. I just don't want it to become something that is all-consuming.

    TW - "They may be "pop corn farts" but if you've never had the pleasure, it's pretty interesting and informative as well as...comedic at times." Definitely true. I am guilty as charged when it comes to being amused by their antics (perhaps not always in the moment, but after the fact I always find that I can laugh about how absurd their behaviors are) and in a way, that's sort of soothing to me. I want to be able to hash it out, laugh it out, and then let it all go. And you're right, it may be time to bring out the big guns and doing something legal about the FOO's refusal to respect our NC. That may be something we look into in the near future, if they won't cease and desist on their own. NMIL, in particular, has such a blatant disregard for our requests/demands/whatever you want to call them. She never followed our request for NC, she just did whatever the hell she wanted to whenever the hell she wanted to do it. And I have no doubts that she'll continue doing so. I have always been aware of their fear of me, even though there truly was no logical reason for it. It never had to be this way...THEIR choices and behaviors towards us have created this entire situation. I'm all about placing responsibility where it should be placed, and it certainly isn't sitting on my shoulders.

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  9. Continued:

    Free To Be Me: It's always nice to know that I'm not the only one who does this, even though I wouldn't wish the whole "obsessive-thought-patterns" thing on anyone. It can be awfully anxiety-inducing, that's for sure. I have been a "worry-wart" for as long as I can remember, this is just another topic about which to worry for me, and that's something I've been trying to work on. I don't want to worry, I don't want DH's FOO shit to consume me. I don't mind thinking about it in a reasonable way, dealing with their shit as it comes, but spending too much time thinking about it isn't helping anyone. Worrying just isn't practical, even though I'm very good at it!

    I think, perhaps a part of my fascination with all of this, even though we've gone NC, is that DH is still fighting through the mess of bad behaviors they taught him, and through a lot of emotional baggage and so, we're physically separated from his family, but not emotionally. And I have this deep desire to keep at it until he's "better." I know he'll always have some baggage, but I'm hoping that he's able to deal with it and then lock it away where he can just take it out from time-to-time if he needs to re-examine things, rather than be carrying it around 24 hours a day. It's a struggle for him, this whole recovery thing, and I don't want to miss a beat. I want to be there with him, understanding the "whys" of all of this so that, when he needs an answer, I can help him find it.

    I want to thank YOU, Free, for your kind and supportive words, and for sharing a bit of you with me. I didn't say it above, but part of the reason why I blog too, is not just because I want to help others, but because others have so much to offer as well. I get as much, if not more, from you guys that I try to give out. So thank you.

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  10. Continued:

    Q - You're not "to blame" for me questioning my desire to be doing all of this. Actually, I'm glad you said what you did, because it's given me another reason to reassess my behaviors. I don't want to become stagnant; my hope is that I can continue to both give and get support here, without letting THEM take over my life. I don't want to cross that fine line between healthy and unhealthy. And I don't want THEM to "win" anything, especially my precious time, or that of my husband's and childrens'. For the record, making me think is NEVER a bad thing.

    Jessie - When I'm relaxing on the couch drinking a cup of tea and watching my kids play, I'll be thinking of you. You're right, we all need a little time for ourselves, even if it's only twenty minutes.

    And Lisa, dear girl, you've got me thinking even more - You bring up some excellent points. I think you're right that part of the question about obsession comes into play when I'm looking up information about SIL or writing about her or whatever. I mean, in the scheme of things, she's been a non-player in the game, except for a very rare or occasional outburst on her part. I do believe she's a narcissist, or at least will be a full-fledged one in the future; but I think I need to check myself when it comes to writing about her: Am I doing it to bully, because it makes me feel better to pick on someone with low self-esteem? Do I have valid reasons for writing posts about her behaviors? What is her role in all of this and how has she directly affected me and mine? ALL very good questions and I have you to thank for making me question that.

    Is having low self-esteem something to criticize? I think I disagree with you that it's not. I believe that one of the key "components" of a narcissist is their low self-esteem. (That's not the only component, but I think it's a contributing factor to their narcissism). I think her poor self-esteem is what allows her to remain under the thumb of her mother; I also have a lot of anger towards her for not being a kind and decent human being. She's never shown an interest in DH, save for some superficial chitchat, and that bothers me. I have also pointed out to DH that he seemed mutually uninterested in her life, and that originally, that was not their fault at all.

    But in reality, they are both adults now and I think it's time for both of them to take responsibility. They aren't responsible for what their parents did to them, but they should be held accountable for what they do to others and to each other. I think, more than anything, that's what I'm (attempting) to criticize when I write about her.

    Also, you're SO right that SIL is a victim too. But when does she cross over from victim to abuser? NMIL was a victim once, but that doesn't mean I have to feel bad for her now, or stop writing about her and what she has done. I mean, I feel the same way about my husband. I feel like he's an adult now and he needed to stop making excuses for his FOO and take the appropriate actions to change that legacy. Otherwise, he could have wound up just like his sister and eventually, just like his mother.

    Ah. So much to think about. This comment is like a post in and of itself. But man, you've got me thinking and re-thinking whether it's right or worth it to be writing about her anymore. Thanks Lisa.

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  11. I've always had trouble with obsessing, myself. First I obsessed over breakups, going over and over it again in my head for many months, wondering if they'd come back, not moving on as fast as I should have, wondering if I'd behaved as I should, getting angry at how they treated me. It took, several years later, writing everything down into novels, diaries and memoirs, and reading about abusive relationships, to finally stop obsessing. But even now they'll come up again in my mind on occasion, because one of the relationships was emotionally abusive, one was with a guy who used me and then treated me like dirt, and another had an ugly breakup that left me with scars. I'd be long over the guys, and happily married, but still remember the abuse.

    I'm going through the same thing now with ex-friends who turned out to be narcissists. I had to blog about them to get them out of my head. I finally began feeling better and moving on, when they found the blog, their fangs came out, and not only have they disregarded my demand to go no contact (in order to rip me a new one and threaten legal action and deny, deny, deny), but they keep checking the blog and coming to my church (on purpose because I don't want to see them). So the obsessing began again, when I had finally put it to rest. ARGH! It's discouraging to realize how many years it took to put my past relationships to rest in my head, and wonder if this will take years as well. :P

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    1. Nyssa, you just described the cycle I have gone through as well. With abusive ex-boyfriends, I obsessed. After I broke up with them and was left with the memories of abuse and the scars, I obsessed. It took a long time for me to move past that dark place, to build up my self-esteem, to stop obsessing. And, like you, it still comes up from time-to-time. And it's always terrible when it does, but I'm able to move past it a million times quicker now. But maybe my brain feels most "comfortable" in that place of discomfort and so I find something else to obsess about for a while. I need to find peace. Sounds like we both do!

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    2. It doesn't help that the N ex-friends appear to be obsessed with me, as well: I keep blocking them from my blog, but they keep finding a way around it. :P I thought I finally had them kicked off, but today they found a new way to get in. Why do they care so much? Why don't they drop it already and let me lick my wounds and move on?

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    3. Hmm, my first guess would be that they like the DRAMA of it. It's like, "Ohhhhh, look what that rancid bitch said about me now!"

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    4. It makes me wonder if I should bother to keep trying to block them, or just think, Oh, there they are again, maybe they'll learn something. I'm so tired of them being one step ahead all the time. Apparently they've figured out how to block their IPs now. But the thing is, I don't want them trolling my blog looking for ammo to use against me. I have to keep track of how my blog is doing, and I get legitimate traffic all the time, but their constant presence in the trackers reminds me of them when I'm trying to go no contact.

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    5. Hmm. Hmm. That's such a hard call to make. I think right now, if the situation you are describing happened to me, I would not block them. (Like Upsi did when her FOO found her blog.) But then again, I can understand why it would feel like an invasion. We all know they aren't reading your blog so that they can "learn" something about how to be better people so you might accept them back into your life (yeah right). Instead, they're just using it as a means to a (very manipulative) end.

      I think no matter how persistent you are in blocking them, they will ALWAYS find a way around it. That's what narcs do best, isn't it? Break the rules.

      I wish I had an answer for you. Or better yet, a solution.

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