Gaslighting yourself.

I thought I had overcome my familial relationship issues and set the proper boundaries for myself. But it seems this is a process that needs reevaluation on an ongoing basis. This lightbulb moment started. This weekend I discovered that a family member disclosed information (that he agreed not to share) about my whereabouts to another family member that has physically assaulted me in the past. It caused me to realize where I've kept unsupportive ties in my life and has come with a lot of realizations about why. Feeling like I'm offending people by setting boundaries, Feeling like I don't have the right to do so because no one is perfect. Has anyone experienced gaslighting yourself like this?

I realized that the remaining family ties I have besides the above, while not overtly abusive are one-sided and I feel like I'm always the one making the effort to maintain them. I'm getting the courage to set higher standards for relationships in my life, but it's come with a lot of second-guessing myself. Am I'm treating people with fairness and respect? Even if they are not concerned in the way I am, I tell myself, "well that's who they are and I need to accept them for who they are"...but this has got me nowhere and in the worst case opened myself up to unsafe situations.

Thoughts?
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
Feeling like I'm offending people by setting boundaries, Feeling like I don't have the right to do so because no one is perfect. Has anyone experienced gaslighting yourself like this?
Yes. A thousand times.

But I know it isn’t true.

I’ve been raised in thinking true love is unconditional and acceptance. But it isn’t, really. No love should come at the price of deleting yourself. Or if you do, at least know it’s what you’re doing. But I’m not willing to think in such sacrificial terms anymore.

What I found is that balanced people do respond well to boundaries Setting boundaries and enforcing them brings respect. Constantly letting them aside and revising your judgement will make people insist even further and get to you bit by bit. Not all of them. But the ones who do operate that way, yes. And the ones who do operate that way will blame you for setting boundaries because it’s blocking them in obtaining something. They can just be.

Boundaries aren’t made to make people change, it’s made to make the ones you don’t want to go away and allow the ones that are okay in. Setting a boundary won’t magically illuminate someone and make them understand. The ones who weren’t okay will respond with anger. This is how you can recognize someone who struggles with control. And it irks the ones of us who have been experienced control, coercion, blaming and gaslighting for a long time. Because we feared that response that we couldn’t escape.

But, guess what? Now I can escape and I do. They can go and get angry at someone else.

It’s hard but it works.

I try to remain correct and set my lines with coherence, but I don’t owe people any explanation. Forcing someone else’s boundaries isn’t okay. But enforcing mine, as bizarre some of them might be, is just normal. They can take it or leave it. It doesn’t affect their lives. But it affects mine.
 
I’ve been raised in thinking true love is unconditional and acceptance.
This...me too...but funny how the ones that imprinted this belief have the most conditional love ever and are the most judgemental.

Boundaries aren’t made to make people change, it’s made to make the ones you don’t want to go away and allow the ones that are okay in.
Wow, I actually never thought about it like this. I like this because it reminds me of my accountability to myself. Like having the courage to set them isn't a crime and it isn't inherently offensive.

if I purposely allow others to bulldoze them, I have a responsibility there, and only taking the victim's stance is ignoring my responsibility. If others bulldoze them after I set them, then it shows me very clearly the type of person I am dealing with, but if I never set them then I'm not making a clear statement to myself or others about how I desire to be treated and can never know who will be supportive in my life because I didn't have the courage to set them and placed people-pleasing over my wellbeing.
Forcing someone else’s boundaries isn’t okay.
What do you mean by forcing someone else's boundary?
But enforcing mine, as bizarre some of them might be, is just normal. They can take it or leave it. It doesn’t affect their lives. But it affects mine.
The way I am understanding is that we are who we are and that's not inherently affecting anyone, because people will take you or leave you no matter how you choose to act...and people that want to be in our lives will work to respect our boundaries unless it's a boundary they're not comfortable with and vice versa...but it affects us if we're not being true to ourselves and actually I'm seeing it's sort of manipulation to only act in regard to other people's feelings...like attempting to control the situation and other's actions to eliminate our sense of discomfort/guilt. I can see how this is natural to survive in an abusive environment, but maintaining this dynamic in our life after trauma seems like staying in survival mode/setting us up for the same types of relationships.

You have given me a lot to think about. Thank you for sharing.
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
if I purposely allow others to bulldoze them, I have a responsibility there, and only taking the victim's stance is ignoring my responsibility. If others bulldoze them after I set them, then it shows me very clearly the type of person I am dealing with, but if I never set them then I'm not making a clear statement to myself or others about how I desire to be treated and can never know who will be supportive in my life because I didn't have the courage to set them and placed people-pleasing over my wellbeing.
Yes and no. We have yes some responsibility (or more agency) in what we have to define to ourselves and what we’re okay or not for. Responsibility stricto sensu has to do with actions that are done, not statements before. If you ask someone to kill you, even if it was filmed and your "consent" validated, if the person does it then they’ll be imprisoned for murder. Because regardless of what you might have said, there are things that at least in terms of justice you cannot give away.

So if you fail to set your own boundaries out of being people-pleasing, it doesn’t mean you are an avenue for abuse and that it justifies being abused. Sure, being able to enforce your conditions will hopefully keep these people as far as possible. But it’s still their responsibility to be decent.

What do you mean by forcing someone else's boundary?
Very simply, someone manifests a boundary or a limitation, and you bulldoze over. Like someone tells you stop yelling at me, and you continue. Or, I do not consent, to this, and you continue. Now, depending on what it is and how big it is it might not be an immense deal, but generally when someone manifests a clear problem with something decent response is to step off and respect that.

The way I am understanding is that we are who we are and that's not inherently affecting anyone, because people will take you or leave you no matter how you choose to act...and people that want to be in our lives will work to respect our boundaries unless it's a boundary they're not comfortable with and vice versa...but it affects us if we're not being true to ourselves and actually I'm seeing it's sort of manipulation to only act in regard to other people's feelings...like attempting to control the situation and other's actions to eliminate our sense of discomfort/guilt. I can see how this is natural to survive in an abusive environment, but maintaining this dynamic in our life after trauma seems like staying in survival mode/setting us up for the same types of relationships.
And here I realize I wasn’t super clear. It is true that in certain ways of gaslighting, it’s possible to use your own "boundaries" as means of control. Like, if you don’t behave like this <insert some demand that the other person generally cannot meet> then I’ll walk away. To work out boundaries need to be enforceable. And modulated. It’s evident that if you have the boundary "I do not accept to be yelled at", at some point if you yell at each other, normally your response will vary Probably you’ll just state I don’t want to be yelled at and I’m asking you to calm down, I’m gonna have a walk and we’ll talk about this another time. Now if the person is scary and screams relentlessly at you it might just be reasonable to walk away. That’s modulation.

Sometimes the person cannot meet the demand but are of good will, then you can try to negotiate something and define patterns to work it out. In that case, you can by example plan how to manage a specific trigger you know you cannot avoid in life. Asking for an accommodation as a boundary is reasonable; weaponizing the trigger to force someone to comply into something impossible is not. Sometimes it’s not so easy to see where to draw the line.

Sometimes, demands can be unreasonable. There I wouldn’t see it as a boundary.

But in certain cases like with PTSD after DV, now I just know that there are certain kinds of yelling and certain kinds of dynamics that are just shitty the way they are and I don’t want to hit myself in trying to improve something that can, thank you I tried enough. And if the person cannot meet that reasonable demand, then my only option is literally to walk away. Even if they’re willing, even if they’re making efforts. For certain things, the only thing that counts is the results, and end of story. And it isn’t unreasonable to be rather rigid regarding to these things. It isn’t because I’m being too exigent or demanding, it’s basic safety.

I guess after trauma we get very scrambled with what is reasonable and what’s unreasonable. Stupidly high thresholds of pain and stress also don’t help finding where to draw the line. Dissociation incapacitates the congruence of these over time. Hypervigilance can drift into being controlling. There are many ways to f*ck up with boundaries. But it doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have them. It’s important to figure where they are.
 
I guess after trauma we get very scrambled with what is reasonable and what’s unreasonable.
Yes - it's like I'm learning a new language lol. I really appreciate these spaces for that reason. It's fascinating how traumatic relationships seem to put these blinders on and hearing how others relate in their lives it's like a wow, a whole new world! I really appreciate your insight.
 

FauxLiz

Sponsor
I realized that the remaining family ties I have besides the above, while not overtly abusive are one-sided and I feel like I'm always the one making the effort to maintain them.
I get this, it is something that I struggle with a lot. I was taught that "blood is thicker than water, there for family relationships supersede all problems and everything should be forgiven" The problem is when my ptsd went into overdrive, my life started falling apart and I realized that our relationships were all one-sided and I was the only one keeping them up and I no longer had the energy or strength to do so.

I am working on putting boundaries in place with them but it is tough, I don't want to deprive my kids of their extended family who treats them much better than they treat me by cutting them out of my life but as my youngest is about to graduate from college and can make those decisions entirely on his own I will be moving to make those decisions more in the future and holding.

Good luck with setting and holding your boundaries.
 
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