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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 736102  
Subject: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 3:14 PM
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When I pulled the plug on my career in May of '00 I said I would keep the ER Wannabes and those who REed after me apprised of my experiences. This is kind of personal, but I thought it might be relevant to some. It concerns personal demons and my discovery of how my ER reawakened one of mine.

We probably all have personal demons. You might think of them as weaknesses or character flaws, but I like the mental image of grabbing a sword and beating something ugly and tangible back into its cage. For some, the symptoms would be impulsive overeating, smoking, drinking, spending, gambling or any of a variety of unhealthy behaviors. I believe these behaviors usually indicate deeper underlying problems.

I won't say that the source of these demons is unimportant, but I want to focus on the potential effects of ER on living with personal demons. My big demon manifests in the unhealthy relationship I have with my father. He is addicted to control of other people's lives and suffers from depression when he isn't pulling strings like a master puppeteer. My demon is how easily I succumb to the lure of the assets he offers in exchange for this control. It would be easy to blame my father, but Rule #1 in demon warfare is to face the demon head on. My father's problems are his and mine are mine.

My demon was safely in his cage while I had a career. My career provided distance and preoccupation with more pressing problems and more importantly, enough security to buy my independence. In retrospect, I had simply transferred my financial dependence to my career and allowed my career to manage me. I slowly lost my memory of how bad things had been during my youth and gained an awareness of how much I wanted financial independence. I assumed that age had changed my father for the better or that he had outgrown his need for control. I assumed that my years of independence from him had given me some immunity. I assumed that much of our conflict was simply normal "teen angst" or "growing pains" of whatever cliche you want to name it and that I had exaggerated his tendencies.

I now wonder if my demon isn't fairly common and many people deal with it by staying employed until their parents are dead or so weakened that they become less relevant. If I had stayed working until I was 65, that would put my father's age at 88. I think his control tricks would be substantially less effective by then, but I recall how pathetically clingy my grandmother (his mother) became as she aged and I now see the signs of that in him. I know how harsh that sounds, but I've been exploring the nature of control addiction and how to recognize it and combat it.

By retiring at 42, I lost the career security blanket that I was holding between me and him. I complicated the matter by moving "closer to family" and therefore gave him more opportunities to employ the tricks he had actually been enhancing and refining for the past 20 years. About two months ago, he made the mistake of chewing me out essentially for not being able to read his mind and anticipate his needs. It was like being teleported back to when I worked for him while he paid for my college. I thought I was accepting his used but repairable junk and dinner once or twice a week in exchange for helping him with things he is physically incapable of (he runs a hobby farm). He thought he was buying me mind, body, and soul.

This relationship had redeveloped in the two years since I had retired. I returned some of the assets and offers of "help" are now refused while control of my life is once again being withheld. I feel stronger because I'm now fending off his tentacles without using my career as a crutch. He's treating me with more respect, but he's showing signs of withdrawal and is becoming more demanding with others who are still dependent on him. I feel bad about that, but there doesn't seem to be a safe way to help them. He won't acknowledge that he has a problem despite the misery it has caused him and others.

My example may be extreme or may be common. There's no way for me to know, but I think it serves as an example of how people can use the requirements of their career as an obstacle to their self-destructive tendencies. Maintaining an image for a career might be a way to avoid overeating or excessive drinking. A steady income might hide impulsive spending and a busy schedule might minimize the opportunity for impulsive gambling. The added time and independence of retired life might allow these or other personal demons out of their cages and back into the limelight. It may not be enough to know your demons if you haven't also prepared for battle with them.

I hope this gives you something to think about and if necessary, to prepare for. The Fool's goal is to educate and amuse and I'm afraid this is lacking in the amusement department, but I felt it was an experience worth offering.

1HappyFool - reexperiencing the sweet sweet taste of freedom, this time a little bittersweet.
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Author: michaelangela Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86529 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 3:24 PM
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It concerns personal demons and my discovery of how my ER reawakened one of mine.

What's that old saying? "Idle hands are the devil's workshop"?? I'm not saying this particular phrase is exactly applicable in your case. But, overall, there's this idea that it's generally good to be "occupied".

For a lot of people, one of the good things about work is that it keeps them busy. It also gives their life structure and provides certain boundaries of behavior that tend to reinforce societal norms.

This has its bad points, but you remind us that there can be hidden benefits to having a good portion of your time occupied by work in a group setting.

So then, I suppose, it's very important to acknowledge your demons and be on-guard ... once your time is your own.

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Author: arrete Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86532 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 3:35 PM
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Very illuminating post. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of early retirees and wannabes have a very similar problem. It may be because so many of us are unusually independent. It is sort of as if independence is the flip side of control.

I have no reason to feel controlled, yet what I wanted more than anything was to be completely independent financially. I wanted to be 95% sure <g> that if DH disappeared tomorrow with all his assets (except my half of the house) I could take care of myself. No one would have to step in and help out. And I relish that freedom, because I "control" my own life.

caveat One of those nuclear winters or a car crash could change that. Hopefully that's taken care of in the other 5%.

arrete

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Author: sydsydsyd Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86536 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 3:46 PM
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I have found that family demons can be exorcised quite effectively by 3000 miles of distance and an unpublished address and telephone number.

sydsydsyd

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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86537 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 3:47 PM
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What's that old saying? "Idle hands are the devil's workshop"?? I'm not saying this particular phrase is exactly applicable in your case. But, overall, there's this idea that it's generally good to be "occupied".

I've actually never been more occupied than I've been since retiring, but unfortunately some of this occupation was in an unhealthy codependency.

For a lot of people, one of the good things about work is that it keeps them busy. It also gives their life structure and provides certain boundaries of behavior that tend to reinforce societal norms.

I'm not certain that reinforcing societal norms is all that valuable, but I've written before about the need for people to understand their needs for structure and social interaction. I'm happier without structure now that I've got that demon licking his wounds and whimpering in the back of his cage. These weeks since my re-liberation have been among the best in my life.

This has its bad points, but you remind us that there can be hidden benefits to having a good portion of your time occupied by work in a group setting.

I can understand this POV, but I also question the value of these hidden benefits. Hiding from your demons works for a while, but I think it's ultimately better to cage them. As I said, I think this experience has strengthened me and I consider myself fortunate that I've gained an even deeper appreciation of independence. I had to get control of my Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses demon and a few other demons before retiring. This one snuck up behind me and pretended to be my buddy and through a net over me (I think he learned that trick from Art <grin>).

1HF


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Author: michaelangela Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86543 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:03 PM
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I'm not certain that reinforcing societal norms is all that valuable,

For many it is. Everyone's personality has these, shall we say, "rough edges". Putting on the ol' suit & tie everyday (figuratively speaking) smashes these down or at least hides them from view. The "rough edge" is still there, it's just not evident.

I've observed too many people become charicatures (sp?) of themselves as they retire. With the suit & tie locked in the attic, the rough edges of the personality sprout back up...and even thrive. With fewer restrictions, they can become a larger & larger portion of the person's overall personality.

In naval architecture, there's something called a "righting moment". As the ship sways side to side, the hull is contoured in such a way that the water's buoyant force tends to automatically correct the list and set the ship right. Group interaction, in a work setting, with goals & objectives can provide this "righting moment" for our personalities. When our behavior "sways" out of the acceptable range, the group (or the manager) brings us back in-line.

With humans, like with ships, it's often not good to tilt too much.



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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86544 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:03 PM
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I have found that family demons can be exorcised quite effectively by 3000 miles of distance and an unpublished address and telephone number.

That was where my career started (on the opposite side of the continental US). Unfortunately, family issues can become really complicated. My mother didn't deserve to be treated the same as my father. Taking the easy way out forever would have been unfair to her (this unfairness is one of the tricks in my father's bag-o-tricks).

It's a challenge to both keep the demon contained and minimize the collateral damage, but striking balances is what maturity is all about.

1HF


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Author: JLC Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86545 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:12 PM
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<<<Hiding from your demons works for a while, but I think it's ultimately better to cage them.>>>

Personally, it's better to face your demons and tame them. Putting them in a cage mearly contains them for awhile. When they're let back out, eventually they all are, they're just as strong.

To a certain extent, I had a similar situation with my mother. However, the one advantage I had was watching the interactions between my mother, her siblings, and Granny. I quickly saw that the only difference between my mother and Granny was 30 years. I often told my mother that, at first it pissed her off, but then we came to a new understanding. I could see the potential future, and eventually she could as well.

JLC

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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86546 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:23 PM
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JLC said:
Personally, it's better to face your demons and tame them. Putting them in a cage mearly contains them for awhile. When they're let back out, eventually they all are, they're just as strong.

But taming them deprives you of the pleasure of rattling their cages once in a while. <grin> Seriously, I think we're talking about the same thing. I don't assume anything that wild can be rendered 100% safe.

To a certain extent, I had a similar situation with my mother. However, the one advantage I had was watching the interactions between my mother, her siblings, and Granny. I quickly saw that the only difference between my mother and Granny was 30 years. I often told my mother that, at first it pissed her off, but then we came to a new understanding. I could see the potential future, and eventually she could as well.

I'm pretty sure my father realizes he is becoming more like his mother and he hates it. He's blaming age and us rather than understanding it's one of his demons. I would like to give him lessons on demon battling, but sadly, he doesn't seem mature enough yet.

1HF


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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86547 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:26 PM
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I have found that family demons can be exorcised quite effectively by 3000 miles of distance and an unpublished address and telephone number.

No, you just THINK they've been exorcised. They're still there, lurking below the surface, waiting to be dealt with.

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Author: ariechert Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86550 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:41 PM
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I have never lived less than 3 1/2 hours, sometimes 6 and sometimes 8, hours of driving time from my in-laws. Needless to say, I get along with my in-laws great. I can remember when we were living in Athens, GA, my wife telling me that she had a job offer in Knoxville, TN. Both my sisters were pregnant, and I got the vision in my head of both my sister's calling on me for baby sitting. It didn't take me long to decide that living 5 hours north of Athens, GA maybe wasn't such a bad idea. I still see them every 3 months or so, but not so often that we take each other for granted or get on each others nerves. Now my brother lives 8 hours away in the swamps of South Georgia, and I miss him a lot; but you couldn't pay me enough to live in that flat, insect, and briar infested God forsaken place. In the summer it's so hot and humid that going outside is impossible. So, I usually only get to see him once or twice a year. - Art

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Author: decath Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86555 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:52 PM
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Great Post 1HF!
I'm not FIRE'd yet but my wife faced a similar demon about 12 years ago when she quit work to become a stay-at-home mom. 2 years before she took the plunge, we paid down our debt, built up the emergency fund, put 401k contributions on autopilot and learned to live on just my income.

That was the easy part!

Then came the leaches from both sides of our families. She came from a family of 5 kids who were very close with a mom that still tries to micromanage each one of their lives. I had several relatives nearby as well. Since she was home, they all assumed she had all this free time to help them take care of their kids and do projects for them. They all worked so they would infringe upon my wife to watch their kids when they were sick or on school vacations. My wife is the "can't say no" type so she was consistently taken advantage of.

They also assumed that we were wealthy since she did not have to work. They asked for money all the time. What they did not see was the old cars we drove, shopping at garage sales and flea markets or that I took my lunch to work every day.

MIL & FIL gave lavish gifts to the other 4 siblings and their children but withheld from my wife and our 3 kids. MIL & FIL justified it since we must be wealthy. After all, we never came to them for money to pay for utilities or debtors so it had to be because I made so much money. During this time, I was making about 38k a year. A LBYM lifestyle is what made it possible.

After several years, I stepped in and stopped the leaching from my family and forced my wife to stop all the baby-sitting and money lending (which were rarely paid back) from hers. She found it exhilarating to be able to do that to her family and is now a much stronger person. She faced that demon and now I never worry that she will give in to any of their unreasonable demands.

It will be interesting in about 9 years (when I FIRE) to see what their reactions will be. My wife and I will be traveling, volunteering, playing golf, snow skiing etc. while they work another 20 years.


decath

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Author: jjbklb Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86556 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 4:54 PM
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I am partially retired.I have reduced stress & increased my excercise.This are good things. What I haven't done is cut down on my junk food. It is not uncommon for me to eat half a box of cookies at one time.The excercise has prevented me from balloning up from the snack food that I eat. I had promised myself to change my bad eating habits when I completely retire. I have to wonder if that promise is subconsciously causing me to extend my time working longer then I otherwise would.

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Author: 2828 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86557 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 5:18 PM
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Demons:

1)Keeping up w/Jones-working on it.
2)Pot- haven't smoked since July.
3)Drinking- Hey! I'm f***ing working on it get off my back
4)guilt from father-"i can't believe i raised such a lazy bum"(use Italian accent)
5)guilt because wife still working and i'm not-not too bad really
6)scared that money isn't enough-house paid off before met wife,money coming in still from previous job for 2-3 years,but former business partner in charge of selling remaining inventory(he's been retired for his whole life if you go by work ethic)


2828


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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86558 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 5:31 PM
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guilt from father-"i can't believe i raised such a lazy bum"(use Italian accent)

Maybe you could benefit from learning how to "extinguish" such behavior. One way is to have snappy responses--quips, if you will--that have nothing to do with what your father just said. Examples:

I'm neither for nor against apathy.
Blessed be the pessimists, for they carry extra ammo!
By all means, let's not confuse ourselves with the facts!
I know everything. I just can't remember it all the time.
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."—Freud
Redneck marriage proposal.........YER WHUT!!??????
Oh no, not another learning experience!
Some days it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
There be no more nits, for thou hast picked them all.
Egotist: a person who plays too big a part in his own life.
It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing MilkBone shorts.
Everyone has a photographic memory. Some of us just don't have any film.
Always go to other peoples funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours.
If you don't disagree with me, how will I know I'm right.
We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.

Dad: I can't believe I raised such a lazy bum.

2828: Dan Rather was once known to say, "And now the sequence of events in no particular order."

Pretty soon, Dad will realize that when he says something hurtful or inappropriate, you'll simply respond with a quip. Pretty soon, Dad will stop saying those things.

Start searching for quips! They're great ammunition and fun to collect!

(I totally extinguished my sister's Drama Queen behavior--at least with me--with this method.)






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Author: arrete Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86559 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 5:36 PM
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Start searching for quips! They're great ammunition and fun to collect!

(I totally extinguished my sister's Drama Queen behavior--at least with me--with this method.)


CC - you never cease to amaze me. Always bouncing back. An envious attitude.

arrete


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Author: 2828 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86560 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 5:38 PM
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CC,

I usually quote Joe Walsh," you say i'm lazy but it takes all my time"

or Raising Arizona "i got my health, what do i want with a job"

2828

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Author: CatherineCoy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86563 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 5:56 PM
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I usually quote Joe Walsh," you say i'm lazy but it takes all my time" or Raising Arizona "i got my health, what do i want with a job"

No, no, no...the key is to respond with something not even remotely related to your tormentor's comment. They think you're nuts! But! when they're speaking to you respectfully and sensibly, then of course you respond in kind.



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Author: michaelangela Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86568 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 6:32 PM
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Pretty soon, Dad will realize that when he says something hurtful or inappropriate, you'll simply respond with a quip. Pretty soon, Dad will stop saying those things.

Ever see the movie, "Point of no Return", where Bridget Fonda is being trained to be a big-time spy? In spy charm school, she is told that, whenever someone makes a nasty comment, respond with some meaningless non sequiter (sp?) like,

"I never did mind about the little things."

DW uses this on me all the time. ;-)

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Author: sydsydsyd Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86570 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 6:40 PM
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No, you just THINK they've been exorcised. They're still there, lurking below the surface, waiting to be dealt with.

"Waiting to be dealt with" does not imply "will be dealt with."

sydsydsyd

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86575 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 7:13 PM
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1HF writes,

That was where my career started (on the opposite side of the continental US). Unfortunately, family issues can become really complicated. My mother didn't deserve to be treated the same as my father. Taking the easy way out forever would have been unfair to her (this unfairness is one of the tricks in my father's bag-o-tricks).

It's a challenge to both keep the demon contained and minimize the collateral damage, but striking balances is what maturity is all about.


I mean no disrespect 1HF, but you make it sound like everyone in the family is in agreement and keenly aware of your dad's rediculous behavior. If I'm wrong about this then ignore the rest of my post.

That said, why doesnt "the family" have a sit down and tell Dad that he can "Cut the Sh!t" or everyone's gonna make-like strangers, mom included?

Maybe I'm missing the obvious, but that's kinda how it would go if it were my family.

Golfwaymore




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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86590 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 8:27 PM
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I mean no disrespect 1HF, but you make it sound like everyone in the family is in agreement and keenly aware of your dad's rediculous behavior. If I'm wrong about this then ignore the rest of my post.

You're partially right about this. One of my siblings has been to counseling, which of course means that the counselor has only heard one side of the story. Her belief is that most/all of us (8 counting my mother) are in codependency relationships and that interferes with everyone seeing the same thing. We've each found different ways to cope. We've all seen the depression and we all agree that he's manipulative, but we don't all agree that he's addicted to control. That makes some of us enablers (people he can use to fool himself that he doesn't have a problem). Even if we could all agree that we need to act, I doubt we could all agree on a course of action.

That said, why doesnt "the family" have a sit down and tell Dad that he can "Cut the Sh!t" or everyone's gonna make-like strangers, mom included?

My mother would be the last one who could make like a stranger. She's a "why doesn't everybody just let it go" kinda person. He can become extremely irrational when his authority is challenged. He is incredibly stubborn and he has shown that he will punish one person in retaliation for the actions of another. Three siblings work for him and he could jerk the rug from under them. If they left his employment then it would all fall on my mother. I'm no psychologist, but I would rate his social development at age 3-4. Combine that with a high IQ and it spells danger.

Maybe I'm missing the obvious, but that's kinda how it would go if it were my family.

I imagine the dynamics are just different here. He's Dictator For Life of his company and the four other family members that are dependent on that company have to be my lead on the matter.

1HF

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86596 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 8:42 PM
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My mother would be the last one who could make like a stranger. She's a "why doesn't everybody just let it go" kinda person. He can become extremely irrational when his authority is challenged. He is incredibly stubborn and he has shown that he will punish one person in retaliation for the actions of another. Three siblings work for him and he could jerk the rug from under them. If they left his employment then it would all fall on my mother. I'm no psychologist, but I would rate his social development at age 3-4. Combine that with a high IQ and it spells danger.

Yet another great testament to the value of remaining independent of family, at least from a business standpoint.

My FIL is the most normal and likeable person one can imagine, 90% of the time. But 10% of the time he is down right insane, and should probably be taking medicaton to provide some balance to his life. We have all tried to compassionately convince him of this, he wont listen. His open mindedness is rewarded by extremely short visits and grandkids that have zero affection for him.

Fortunately we have no critical or life sustaining ties whatsoever to any of our families, and no relatives live any closer than 1 hour from us. Also nice is the fact that DW has the bravado to tell FIL to "get lost" when his ugly side rears it's head [oddly enough, usually around the holidays]. Christmas dinner at their house is always so exciting; it could last 10 minutes, or 10 hours, you just never know what FIL will show up. <grin>

I feel for your situation, I really do. Sounds like, as you've demonstrated, "containment" is the best policy.

Golfwaymore


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Author: workwayless Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86617 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/13/2002 10:30 PM
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1HF,

What a gem of a post! Thanks for sharing something that is so relevant to RE.

It is a very good point that work can mask demons so that RE will unlease them.

Here's two examples in my life:

1) Towards the end of my marriage, I worked on a project that totally consumed me. I'd work seven-day work weeks, back-to-back and work up to 20 hours straight. As exhausting as the work was, it was frankly a relief not to have to go home and deal with the ex.

2) Every time I've mentioned about me retiring early to my mom, she gets that worried look on her face. Then she tries to talk me out of it and it brings up a "demon" of self-doubt in me.

Lately though, I've been thinking about her frame of reference. In her extended family, I believe that there are only one relative who FIREd. And his path to FIRE was a military retirement, while mine is not. So I realized that concept of investing your way is totally alien to her. When I say retirement, I think she sees me eventually going broke and moving in with her!

So I have decided that to spare her and to not unlease my self-doubt demon, then I won't use the "R" word around her any more.

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Author: iamdb Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86636 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/14/2002 12:43 AM
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1HappyFool,

This may not be the advice you want to hear, and it's easy to give at a distance, but I think your interaction with your father is in your hands. I think you're old enough and secure enough to firmly ignore your father's demands without resorting to brinksmanship. It's difficult not to want to strike back, to respond in kind, but you will find it much more rewarding if YOU can rise above problems your father tries to generate. I'm not suggesting you roll over. You can be firm without being confrontational. Simply refuse to play his game, but don't distance yourself or your family from your father. You understand what he is doing, and understanding can set you free.

ER is not the problem, it just surfaced something that needs to be dealt with in your life -- staying busy and far away was never the answer.

Good luck,
db
(the doctor is in)

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Author: FlyingCircus Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86642 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/14/2002 1:33 AM
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1HF,
with regard to the italics below:
I believe this has nothing to do with early retirement and resentment of it. This is about your father's depression and anger at getting old. Why do I say this? Because my wife went through this exact scenario - exact - with her mother for the last few years before she (mercifully, to her) passed away of a stroke this summer at 72. And she also had the same kind of lousy relationship with her as a teenager and young adult. They sound like birds of a feather.

My wife took it personally, got extremely angry and upset at the controlling, the btiching, criticisms. Nothing she could do was good enough - and she did a LOT for this woman. We had long talks about it, because I had been subjected to that behavior more subtly earlier in the marriage and reacted the same way - until I realized it wasn't about me, it was about her. When my wife stopped trying to change her, and stopped taking it personally, she handled it much better. It didn't change her mother's behavior, but my wife was able to brush it off much more easily.

My mother in law became nasty to everyone around her, but still managed to convey caring and a smile when possible. The mood swings were amazing. She was frosty to her granddaughter. But I digress. They had several runins over not being able to read her mind.

The point is, I'm guessing that your 75 year old father is mentally becoming your dependent - hence the signs of withdrawal. Unfortunately, you may need to start treating him similar to how you'd treat a child. Firm, fair, unwavering, and above all unemotional about making the right choices. He probably desperately needs your attention, and to believe that he is still of some use in the world. It's not about controlling you - though he may seem that way - it's about being part of your life.

Here was the single best thing that worked for us: "come over for dinner every Sunday. When you feel like you need to go, go." It was something she could control, depend on and be part of - and it made a HUGE difference in her attitude. She could play grandma/family elder for a few hours until she got tired, and then would leave. I actually got to enjoying those visits because she was so enjoyable during them!

Just my observations. Could be wrong. Think about it. You don't want him to leave this world thinking you didn't care about him.

FC
. About two months ago, he made the mistake of chewing me out essentially for not being able to read his mind and anticipate his needs....I thought I was accepting his used but repairable junk and dinner once or twice a week in exchange for helping him with things he is physically incapable of (he runs a hobby farm). He thought he was buying me mind, body, and soul....I returned some of the assets and offers of "help" are now refused while control of my life is once again being withheld. I feel stronger because I'm now fending off his tentacles without using my career as a crutch. He's treating me with more respect, but he's showing signs of withdrawal and is becoming more demanding with others who are still dependent on him. I feel bad about that, but there doesn't seem to be a safe way to help them. He won't acknowledge that he has a problem despite the misery it has caused him and others.


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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86652 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/14/2002 10:39 AM
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iamdb said:
This may not be the advice you want to hear, and it's easy to give at a distance, but I think your interaction with your father is in your hands. I think you're old enough and secure enough to firmly ignore your father's demands without resorting to brinksmanship. It's difficult not to want to strike back, to respond in kind, but you will find it much more rewarding if YOU can rise above problems your father tries to generate. I'm not suggesting you roll over. You can be firm without being confrontational. Simply refuse to play his game, but don't distance yourself or your family from your father. You understand what he is doing, and understanding can set you free.

ER is not the problem, it just surfaced something that needs to be dealt with in your life -- staying busy and far away was never the answer.


I agree with you db. Lest there be any misconception, I do not consider my father to be a demon. He has demons of his own driving him to self-destructive behavior. My demon is my tendency to be lured back into the codependency. This benefits neither of us. I backed out of the codependency, making clear to him that he could not treat me as property. In effect, I refused to play his game without telling him he was unwelcome in my life. This isn't easy because there are deeper issues of abuse of authority in our joint past.

1HF




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Author: arrete Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86655 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/14/2002 10:51 AM
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I don't think anyone has mentioned the huge number of depressed elders that are not diagnosed and helped medically. If this could be the case, I would suggest trying to get him to a doctor as quickly as possible. I have heard of cases where the turnaround in personality was amazing. An older aquaintance had seriously thought of leaving her husband before he was diagnosed as depressed and given Zoloft. It was night and day.

I don't think anyone really understands why, but as people get into their seventies and eighties, many get depressed who never were before. It could be stress (dealing with ill or dying loved ones), hormonal changes, or difficulty dealing with failing strength and other debilities that occur with old age. So if it hasn't been done, try to get him to a doctor. It might help everyone.

arrete

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Author: iamdb Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 86661 of 736102
Subject: Re: Unanticipated ER Consequence Date: 12/14/2002 11:45 AM
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1HF,

Seems to me as though have it together. It may not be easy to refuse playing a destructive game, but you grow by doing so.

Good luck keep those demons at bay.

db

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