When dealing with FOO (family of origin) that is dysfunctional; any encounter can feel like you have stepped into a strange world in which you've encountered Daleks and they promptly set about their agenda of exterminating you. In real life i is not an encounter with physical harm (though sometimes) but one where your spirit gets exterminated even when you put up a good fight. And just like with the Daleks a dysfunctional FOO will try to get at you anyway they can, whether it's "extermination" or like with Oswin Oswald- assimilation. Either way you feel like you lose pieces of yourself and have gotten mired in toxic muck. It often seems to be their intent to leave you feeling like you are no longer human. Any encounter is teeming with psychological war fare. You have to hold on to your sense of who you are which can be really difficult. When they somehow still reach through your defenses the feeling is so distressing you want to shut it out. You've engaged, you've trodden through their muck and you feel violated. They have won and made you the shameful loser in their crazy games.
Fighting for that sense of who you are after these encounters is hard. Oswin in Doctor Who essentially disassociated. The truth of what the Daleks did to her was too much for her. But even so she was able to hang on to her sense of humanity instead of being fully overtaken by Dalek programming. While decreasing disassociation during healing is ideal; I think Oswin is a great example of how disassociation saves those inner parts of ourselves when faced with unimaginable abuse.
There is no way to be a winner when engaging with dysfunctional FOO. And by dysfunction I mean abuse (types 1-3), and personality disorders or the tendencies towards them (NPD, Sociopath, Psychopath). While I advocate utilizing non violent communication even with dysfunctional and toxic FOO, I am learning that it does not matter in achieving any goal of them hearing you, being understanding or reasonable. You can say things as kindly and non confrontational as possible, be understanding yourself and get taken for a rip roaring ride on the crazy-mobile. It will make no difference in how you say things. No matter what they will still employ crazy making games, manipulation, shaming, punishment, and most of all they will always make you the problem. It will always be your fault, or that you have "done something to them". It will not matter how clearly you formulate your prepared speech in your head for calmly explaining things to them. It will not matter that you may have stayed up all night trying to make sure you had your facts straight and that you presented them in a simple logical manner. It will always be your fault, you will always be bad. Sometimes it can be really good to just tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine and immediately disengage. Just know that when you do stand up for yourself, whether calmly or not- it will not go over well. They will not like it when you are not being your usual cowering,-accept all the blame- self. This may cause them to push back harder and up the ante. So do stand up for yourself, just know that type of reaction is likely and not because you have done something wrong. When you feel like you have said what you needed to, I recommend disengaging. You will only accomplish standing up for yourself, not of convincing them of anything else.
I have learned that even when standing up for myself I have to be careful because everything I say or do- can and will be held against me. Toxic FOO especially likes to absorb information to use at a later date. They will sit on it and let it simmer until it proves helpful in attacking you later. They also might already know things from others. It's often things you have told to other friends or relatives whom you thought were safe and reliable, and Toxic FOO will find it out from them. These people are called flying monkey's. While a few might be completely ignorant of how FOO is using them- it is best to have really good boundaries with them and around what you share. I think if they have inadvertently been as silly as Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, Turkey Turkey and walked right into Foxy Loxy's den even just once- I would use extreme caution in communicating with them.
Part of feeling completely dehumanized in an encounter with FOO is that when you engage or fight back you still feel as if you have walked a mile through muck and further still you feel like you may have been a bad person for how you communicated. It's a normal healthy person that will have doubts about how they engage with others and asking themselves whether or not they were hurtful. Toxic FOO and especially those with personality disorder issues will not be asking themselves the same questions or using the same empathy about the situation. I feel safe in saying that it is much more likely that they are only thinking about how you made them feel and how everything is your fault. They will not include themselves in that internal discourse- it is highly unlikely that they are even able to be that self reflexive or empathetic. Doing so would tear at the fabric of their universe, if they were wrong about one thing what about all the other things they tell themselves to make their world make sense? It's easy in getting caught up in thinking about these encounters in normal terms and thinking about FOO as normal and reasonable. But they are not reasonable, they will never be reasonable. Note: Despite their lack of normality I don't advocate for dehumanizing them in the same way they would with us.
Daleks are not reasonable. They have reasoned with themselves until they believed everything they had to say and believed it is the truth. Toxic FOO has reasoned with themselves over and over about how things "really are". They have reasoned, and reasoned until it is clear in their minds that they are truly the victim. It is true that you can cause them a great deal of hurt. Hurting someone usually sparks empathy in a normal reasonable person. Toxic FOO's hurt is real. However it is based on perceived hurts which could be anything that goes against their wishes in some way. It is not a reasonable type of hurt because it is not self reflexive, it is only ever black and white. You hurt them and they are hurt. They don't usually stop and consider that you didn't mean the way you said something, think to ask you how you meant it, or communicate in a understanding way about their hurt feelings. It is not a reasonable hurt because they are always the victim, and have never done anything themselves to contribute to the perceived hurt. They've never hurt others, only been hurt. They always find a way to make it big, blow it out of proportion and make it all about them. And while being normal brings about empathy pangs when you hear Toxic FOO crying over something, approaching them about it in a normal way is not possible. What happens instead is that you get sucked into wacky dialogue with them where you get blamed for everything and even forget that it's actually you who have been their victim.
I am having to come to the sad realization that I cannot deal normally with FOO because they insist on being committed to unhealthy and toxic relationship patterns. Every time I try and be considerate and reasonable I get swept up in dialogue or encounter that lead to my demise in some way. Even though I do not want to dehumanize them- I can no longer get caught in thinking of them in terms of being normal or reasonable. They are not normal. And while I understand a great deal about them in terms of where they come from and why they might be the way they are- it changes nothing. That doesn't magically make them more reasonable or healthy. I have to take care of myself. I want to preserve my inner sense of self and not have it be relentlessly subjected to extermination.
I am Nora Woodhouse. I fought my FOO and I am human.