21 comments on “Eleven (the fourth redux)

  1. Happy birthday Stephen! I hope you had a good time (despite the commotion).

    That must have tarnished your birthday which could be another motive for him to interfere in such an odd fashion. It sounds an awful lot like passive aggression. He just can’t stand knowing you’re going to have a great birthday so he has to smudge your memory of it at least. He will no doubt tell everyone that he called and wished you a Happy Birthday! everything that’s creepy about his calling so much and at what times are going to be selectively deleted from his memory and no one will know better but you of course. You may have to block him or get a new number, or better yet move!


    • Thanks Cindy!

      I hope you are well!

      My birthday was great! Honestly, I just shake my head when things like my brother’s call happen and move on. It really doesn’t bother me at all, other than the inconvenience of having my phone ring 11 times in the middle of the night. Truthfully, I find it validating. Every time my family behaves in a rude fashion towards me, it further validates my need to stay no contact.

      I think his motivation is that of a spoiled child who isn’t getting his way. His phone bombing was his way to convey his displeasure with me and the current situation. He was essentially having a tantrum.

      Moving really isn’t an option for me at this point, but I have considered it and how I might be able to accomplish a move. If he does go through with another middle of the night phone bombing session, I do plan to block his number. Getting a new number really isn’t a good option since I have thousands of band business cards out there with my current number on them.

      My brother’s call wasn’t the only thing that happened on my birthday, my mother called me, too. She left quite the message. The subject of a future post.


  2. Hello! Good for you! I’m doing alright, thanks for asking.

    I see what you mean with the connections you’ve made and not feeling free to change your number altogether. Even if you were to accomplish it anyway, what would it take for your brother or mom to find out your new number with some research?

    I can only imagine your mom’s message, but I have a feeling she was soft spoken and victimized? I look forward to finding out what was said and not said.


  3. I am amazed that some how these people( Malignant Narcissists and flying monkeys) think (or don’t think) by badgering, harassing, bullying, ostracizing, etc, etc, that we will come back. They never use the only thing at this stage that would stand a chance. Love and Appreciation. They never had it for themselves or anyone else. For the scapegoats, well we got to carry all the ugly, emotionally disordered garbage from everyone in our family. Things like extreme rage, shame, fear, not being right some how, defective to the core, etc. etc.

    They are still blind because “the longer that nothing changes, nothing changes”.
    They lack the character to really look at themselves which makes genuine change impossible.
    At first it hurts and then it becomes pathetic. I mean is this all you can muster to get in touch. A bunch of lame late night phone calls, or as the case with my brother a lousy abusive, interfering email.

    thanks for the post

    • Wonderfully stated, David.

      Yes, you completely understand the dynamic. We are made to carry the burden of our family’s dysfunction and if we happen to reject that role, the consternation exhibited is more than palpable.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, David.


  4. Even though I have little contact with my sisters A few years ago one of my older sisters had big 50th birthday party for a friend of hers I got a invite and made an apearance but the next year on my 50th didn’t get so much as a card from her I guess things will never change

    • Hi Rick – Your 50th birthday reminds me of my 40th (4 years ago). I too have really no contact with my only sister (who is older), besides the filtered information my mother gives me or us back and forth. Our only communication has been mostly me sending Christmas gifts or b-day gifts with mom when she was driving to see her and her family a couple of times a year. Well, one year my sister began sending me flower bouquets two years in a row before my birthday and I would send a card back gushing about how beautiful they are etc. I was happy to have received them from her. I started thinking how odd it was that she would never send a birthday card with them or EVER and every time I thanked her or gave her gifts she NEVER acknowledged them at all. I felt like this was maybe a setup and confided to my husband that I had a feeling on my 40th the next year she will not send anything. I was right!!! Absolutely nothing for my birthday and a week later I emailed her, not mad but told her that it hurt me that she didn’t say hello for my 40th. She never did say happy birthday in between her lame stories of how busy she is with other things.

      I just wanted to share a similar experience with you. I don’t plan on keeping in touch with her in the future. It’s really too bad that our family members don’t care.

      – Cindy

      • Thanks for shareing Cindy if you have read any of my other posts on here you could see why it happened Im sure

  5. Hi RIck –

    I feel she derives some pleasure from pointing out to me that I’m not important and my acts of kindness are ignored making me feel sort of like I’m flawed, left out, maybe abandoned. We don’t talk or have any kind of connection since the time we were kids. When we entered junior high school she wanted no association with me. She became a preppy snob and basically looked down on me ever since.

    My father, it turns out, sexually molested her as a teen and not me. I tend to think that she resents me because I was daddy’s little girl who only got hit by him now and then. Most of the time he was my supporter more than anyone else in my family. He liked to make me laugh and take me places. I had no idea anything was going on with them. All I saw was my sister shutting me out and putting me down, being an A student, playing flute in school (first chair), and cheer-leading. She had a good group of friends. I was a B student, belonged to choir, played a little tennis one year, and had a strong group of close friends. After high-school she doesn’t associate with a lower class than herself. She wants to point out that she’s left behind the garbage in her life (including me). It hurts me that she hates me with a purpose. It’s beyond my capability to connect and be sisters, for her it’s nice to have a sister to punish when the mood arises. I think she smiles inside.

    My dad’s out of the picture, mom I do see her and we do things together, but she’s a go-between and doesn’t have any desire as a mom to make sure her daughters get back together. She’s probably N I think and has a heavy hand at keeping us separated. I’ve also noticed her behavior now and again as being jealous of me, competitive, and many times holding back praise or anything that she considers building my confidence as a threat to her.

    It’s a bad family I have. I’m lucky to have the best husband in the world though. He sees what I see as he is the scapegoat in his own dysfunctional N family. I just recognized in my writing that I may have been my father’s golden child and since he left the picture I quickly became the scapegoated daughter and sister to them both.

    What do you think from an outside perspective? Am I missing the mark or do you think it’s just the way I think it all is? Was your sister similar with you?

    – Cindy

  6. HI Cindy

    I was diffidently the scapegoat my little sister was the golden child for sure my two older ones I guess I would place as silver children even though they weren’t as bad toward me as my younger sister I think they did resent me for some of the things they were required to do. Seems you may have just figured out everyones roles in your family


    • Hi Rick –

      I guess maybe I have figured it out some, though I’m uncomfortable considering myself a golden-child of my fathers.

      When you attended this other 50th Birthday celebration did your sister also invite your other sisters, or specifically you? and if not them, did you think anything of it?

      Your experience feels so baited just as it was for my 40th. It feels like a sneaky, underhanded attempt to minimize you on your own special 50th Birthday. It’s sort of done in a covert way that she can easily deny any wrong doing.

      I hope you can see your equal value despite the strong forces in your family. You’re far better off without their drama.

      – Cindy

  7. Hi Rick –

    Maybe it’s just coincidence, these types of happenings are so easy for the N to pull off and quietly slip away from any wrong doing, because it’s the kind of thing that’s all in your head basically. If you were to say anything to her about your birthday, she might resemble my sister and give the reasons why she had been so busy with her own family. Too busy to buy a card.

    Thanks for your posting about your birthday. It’s good to know it’s not only happening to me but to others out there.

    – Cindy

  8. Stephen: I found your blog a few days ago. It’s a good one.

    I wonder if you can tell me how you think I could respond to my brother’s invitations when I’d rather not see him.

    Mom was the N, Dad the enabler, and my younger brother (only sib) the GC. Mom’s been dead a year after about 3 years of chronic health crises, the finale was pancreatic cancer. I carried the ball on this while my brother was “too busy” to help. Of course, when Mom died, he was devastated. I was exhausted and bruised by her last days. She pulled some nasty tricks which have left alienation with extended family.

    Things transpire while Dad’s health declines. He is 85 and getting his weight back on, not as sharp as he used to be, so I help him out quite a bit. Mom’s illnesses just about finished him off, too.

    My brother sounds like your brother on the phone. He calls or sends text messages after he’s had a few in the evening, and tells me how my absence from his life hurts him. I know he’s been triangulating with the rest of the family, and you are right that no one will believe that I’m being bullied.

    So…. how to reply when I receive the text that says, “Let’s get together and just have some dinner.” It would not be fun for me to meet with him. I don’t want to be confrontational, nor do I want to make up a white lie. How to decline and still be true to myself?

    I don’t think telling him why I don’t want to see him would do any more than stir up (another) hornet’s nest. I just get upset and feel awful for days.

    There are many dynamics and layers to the situation in my father’s home… it is hard enough to keep him going without family funnies. I have had 3 years of therapy and I may be going back for more.

    Thank you for whatever you might advise.


  9. Welcome Denise!

    I’m sorry you had a narcissistic mother. It creates a horribly dysfunctional family environment that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Kudos to you for being a survivor!

    I often feel that we, as survivors, never give ourselves enough credit for surviving. I believe it comes from our programming from youth where we were never recognized for our talents, skills, or achievements. When every achievement we make is somehow devalued or ignored by the people from whom we seek validation, we soon learn to devalue or ignore our own achievements, and we carry that paradigm with us well into our adult lives.

    Your story of your brother ‘doing nothing’ while your mom’s health declined is very similar to my story. If you read the story in my blog entitled “His Dying Breath”, you will see how similar our stories are. When my father passed nearly 20 years ago, my GC twin younger brothers and I were all in college. My brothers were ‘too busy’ to help, but I took several weeks off of school to assist my mother during my father’s last days. My brothers never showed up at all until after my father had passed. If you were like me, you were filling a familiar family role during this time. I was the scapegoat, but also the caretaker. I was the one that was there to be manipulated into helping my mother whenever she deemed she needed my help. After my father passed, I would get phone calls from my mother about “a few things she needed me to do around her house”. Often, I would show up to a laundry list that was nearly a page long and I would spend the entire day working on her list, sometimes having to return a second day. Even recently, after my mother and I had not communicated in 18 months, she called me out of the blue one day to ask me to help her with something. In her mind, I only exist for one purpose: To serve her needs.

    Yes, it certainly does sound like your brother and my brother are very similar! I’m not certain, but I imagine my brother’s late night phone calls are after he’s had a few, too. Talking to him after he’s been drinking is even more of a waste of time than talking to him when he’s sober, and neither is ever productive.

    To me, it sounds like you still feel much obligation to family. In my experience, this is programming from childhood, where I was required to put the family’s needs (as defined by my mother, and now my brother) ahead of my own. This strong sense of obligation to family meant I let my family walk all over me, meaning they could behave however they wanted to towards me and I would just accept it because they were blood. Breaking that strong sense of obligation was extremely difficult for me, but I believe I have succeeded. In order to maintain that sense of obligation for so long and continue having a relationship with my family, I had to rationalize away and / or overlook all the bad family behavior. Again, this was programming from childhood, where I was taught (gaslighted) that all family issues were ‘my issue’ and that I was the one that was being ‘difficult’ while everyone else remained blameless.

    You mentioned that your brother says your absence from his life hurts him. What does this say? In my opinion, it says several things:

    – You are responsible for his feelings (i.e. you’re hurting him by not having a relationship with him). The truth is, we are not responsible for other’s feelings. To behave in such a fashion as to make other’s feelings take priority over our own results in us walking on egg shells so we don’t upset the apple cart (yes, it’s cliché day). This leads to enmeshment, and is not healthy. For example, let’s say you gave your brother a gift of $1000 out of the blue. How would he respond? Would he be ecstatic that he elicited such a generous gift from you? Would he be angry because he felt you were insulting him because he felt that you were implying that he needed the money? Would he be frustrated with you that it was ‘only’ $1000? You have no idea. The truth is, you are NOT responsible for how he feels! Feelings are the result of a stimulus after an internal filter has been applied. The internal filter is defined by a particular individual, and others have no control over how / when / by what means that internal filter is applied.
    – Any relationship that you have with your brother will be all about him. My brother is the same way. It is very obvious to me that any relationship I would have with him would be all about him and his feelings, and my feelings would be ignored. Before going no contact with him, I found that anytime I would bring up my feelings he would immediately shut me down. Yet, if I tell him I don’t want to listen to his feelings on a matter, he will call me ‘rude’ and ‘insensitive’. To me, this means any relationship that I have with him would be a one way street, where I would be required to accept him and his feelings but the same courtesy would not be extended to me.
    – Another slant: In a narcissistic family, family relationships are not supportive or uplifting, but they are absolutely required. They may be horribly dysfunctional, but as long as they exist in some shape or form, they are sufficient. For my brother, my not having a relationship with him is a huge black mark on his grandiosity and his need to be ‘liked’. When a member of his own family won’t have a relationship with him, it’s impossible for him to accept, as it goes against his perceived perfection and ‘good guy’ persona. In that light, any type of communication or relationship, however dysfunctional, alleviates his stress and permits him to feel whole with his grandiosity again. The only reason my brother wants a relationship with me is so he can feel better about himself, it has nothing to do with me.

    How to reply to your brother? Reply with what your instincts are telling you. If you don’t want to meet him, then tell him that you do not desire to meet him at this time. You are not obligated to meet him or have a relationship with him. You don’t need to explain yourself. Nowhere is it said that you are required to explain yourself. As you are already aware, attempting to explain yourself is a waste of time. He has no interest in accepting your reality due to his lack of empathy. The only reality that exists for him is his own. If he truly respected you as a person, he wouldn’t badger you by demanding an explanation; an explanation that he could devalue and gaslight until you again are doubting yourself and end up resuming the relationship because ‘you took it wrong’ or ‘that’s not what he meant’. Look at it this way, if he wasn’t blood, would you want to have relationship with him? Would you have a relationship with him based purely on the merits of that relationship, or is the only reason you are considering a relationship with him because he’s your brother?

    I hope that you have found some of this helpful.

    Best wishes on your healing journey, Denise.

    Stephen Bach

    • I said I was busy. And I was. And I am. It was easy because he mostly communicates with me through text messaging. I’m too scary to talk to face to face. That’s the angle. He tells his (adult) children that I am mean and cold. They believe him, I think, so I give up relationship with them as well. I am just not up to defending myself.

      “My daughter tells me she’s worried you won’t attend her wedding. It’s really important to her. Please don’t hurt my daughter.”

      I’d already RSVP’d “yes.”

      This is the stuff that makes me nuts, and as you say, would we be friends if we weren’t family? Well, maybe we would. In the course of discovery, I’ve found I had an entire flotilla of friends who were similar in nature. As I have changed my life strategies, most of them have drifted away. The real friends are easier to identify nowadays, and I treasure them. I haven’t had to direct anybody.

      I think he will wander off on his own if he is as false as those former friends.

      I do find your blog useful, and it’s my hope that interaction with your readers is useful to you as well!

      • Hi Denise,

        I find it ironic how all N-family members behave in a similar fashion. My mother communicates through snail mail and my brother does it through texts and middle of the night phone calls when he’s had a few and knows I most likely won’t answer. All very similar to how your family behaves.

        Yes, I’m sure you’re being smeared to the extended family. I’ve been told over the years that I am “impossible to get along with” and “narcissistic”. It’s projection at its finest. If I’m so “impossible to get along with” and “narcissistic”, why do they continue to try and engage me?

        I think it’s ironic that it’s portrayed as you hurting your brother’s daughter if you don’t show for her wedding. If you had a healthy relationship with your brother, you would be excited to be in attendance. It’s your brother that creates the environment where you don’t know if you really would want to attend, yet, your lack of enthusiasm to spend a day with your family is portrayed as your issue and your brother lays a guilt trip on you that you will ‘hurt’ his daughter if you don’t attend. I’m so tired of my family’s guilt trips!

        I’m right there with you when it comes to discovering that many of my ‘friends’ that I had for many years were similar to my family. I naturally gravitated towards people who treated me similar to my family. It’s what I knew. It’s also one of the most difficult things to overcome when moving beyond; finding myself very alone with no real friends or family. Thankfully, I have been able to make new friends that are supportive and enjoy me for me, and not for what I might do for them.

        Honestly, I never thought I would attain the amount of interaction that I have through my blog. I started more as a cathartic exercise for me to put down my feelings and thoughts and my perceptions of how I managed to get where I am today. It’s always humbling and also validating when others are able to relate to my experiences, and I do find the interaction to truly be a blessing.

        Thanks for commenting, and best wishes with your healing journey.

        Stephen Bach

  10. Stephen:

    Cathartic, yes. More than enough thanks to go around!

    I did attend the wedding, which was about an hour’s drive from my home. And I drove Dad, going another half hour out of my way. That meant potty stops, but it also meant I would leave the reception early when Dad was tired. All of this I explained to my niece, who I do love and admire. I told her getting Grandpa to her wedding was one of my gifts to her.

    I was a little worried about how I would be received by the extended family and friends, since I felt pretty sure my brother and his other daughter had been gossiping about me. And that kind of gossip can be very subtle, as you know. Much of the extended family are good people, so this made me feel some dread.

    But lo and behold. The only three people giving me sideways looks were my brother, his wife, and the one daughter. Everyone else talked to me like they normally do. It was very nice to see people I hadn’t seen in quite awhile (the way life goes on), and I had a pretty good time. I was able to congratulate the bride and groom, meet his family, and leave when I was ready to. (Thanks, Dad)

    I haven’t mentioned my new husband, so I’ll tell you here he’s the one in my life with no capacity for head trips, and the contrast between him and the crazy-makers is stark. I’m so grateful I have this clearly kind and gentle soul in my life because it is ordinarily hard for me to sort the good guys from the bad guys. There have been so many betrayals in my life. The marriage before this one was a 20-year doozy. That ended three years ago, just before Mom got really sick and those family funnies began to swirl into a storm.

    I let that man take 60% of the marital assets that we built together just so I could have quick and uncomplicated freedom. That’s another story…

    I am so very grateful there is peace in my own home, at least, while I finish the business that is the last days of my father’s life and the love I can share with him. Frustrated as I sometimes am with my mother’s legacy, and how my brother and his daughter continue to build on that, I won’t let that *hit ruin what is good. I just avoid the two of them and visit my father privately.

    I still have anxiety, some sleeplessness like last night when windmills in my mind wouldn’t stop churning. An over-the-counter sleep aid put me under around 2 a.m. Good enough.

    The house is quiet. Husband has gone to work. I have my two little dogs at my feet. No need for music or TV… just quiet and still.

    Safe. I feel safe here. That is worth protecting, and I most certainly do not allow anybody inside who gives me the slightest apprehension.

    Thanks again, Stephen. And my best wishes to you, too.


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