Family are not being respectful of my wishes

Cath62 Member Posts: 1,239
edited August 2020 in General discussion
Dear all,

I have invasive BC. I had surgery in May and I am currently having chemo. When I was diagnosed after much thought I decided to only tell my immediate family and a few very close friends. I choose carefully and selected people who i thought would support me.

When I told people i had BC I expressly advised each of them that I did not want to have my breast cancer known to anyone else. I wanted my privacy. I wanted time to deal with my emotions.

Well my parents (in their 80s and in good health) have told distant relatives. I find out because I was messaged and called on the phone. Shock to say the least and totally unprepared. 

I was a annoyed with my parents but explained again I wanted my BC private. Again my parents have kept broadcasting my health to others including random retirement village people in their retirement village. I then hear a message from a male cousin i only ever see at funerals that they know of my condition. Of course it was a  nice message but hey I won't hear or see them until another family funeral.

I challenge my mother and she says I told her to tell all relatives, a complete and utter lie. She says i must have forgotten but my husband knows I was very clear. 

Our relationship has deteriorated. They just don't respect my wishes. In fact they tell me I am overreacting and there is nothing wrong with telling people. They now suggest i am 'not well'. They are gaslighting here.

What do I do? I had asked for space and said I would get in touch when I was able to (The intention was to create some space from them) however my mother can't respect that and haS called twice. Neither call had been good and she continues to gaslight telling me telling me I forgot whst I told her.  

I am stressed about it. I didn't want a bad relationship with them during this time. There is s long history of not respecting my boundaries. Yes i can forgive but I don't know if I want to see them. I can't trust them. If they contact me  and they will i plan to just say everything is fine and no further details. I am not sure if I should cut them out of my journey but at the moment I feel like it given their betrayal. 


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,328
    Dear @Cath62

    it is of course infuriating when people cannot respect your wishes. Even worse when they rewrite your comments to suit their own agenda. If your parents have a bit of a track record of this sort of thing, then it’s possibly not surprising but also repetitious and brings back other bad memories. Your story has become their story. 

    Cutting them off entirely may prove impossible. It’s also a drastic step. It’s possibly being in COVID conscious Melbourne that does it, but when your contact with family is as scarce as ours is (I’ve seen my daughter in the flesh three times since February!), it may be worth thinking twice. Distant relatives are unlikely to pester, particularly if not encouraged. You can limit your responses to parents. But you don’t need any added stress so perhaps let as much of it go as you can. It’s happened, perhaps time to put your energies to your own recovery and wellbeing. Best wishes,
  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,511
    I hear your frustration and at present you are, more than likely, trying to process the information and treatment options without the added pressure of discussing same with others.
    As @fraser has said, those of us in Victoria do not have any contact with family and friends at present, COVID19 has taken over, and/or parents are no longer with us.  God knows all I wanted was to speak with my Mum when I was diagnosed but alas she had passed, a few years earlier!

    There's a BCNA booklet that you may find something helpful within with regards to dealing with your parents and friends

    Until you are more comfortable perhaps keep the information trail open but very limited. 

    Can't undo what they have done but you can keep it shortened

    Take care and best wishes with your ongoing treatment
  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,239
    Thankyou. I am trying @Fraser .  To be honest if they weren't there ages I would cut them out as they are so toxic in there lack of boundaries.  I continue to look after myself but I do get distracted by this nonsense of theirs. I think my mother is actually a narcissist. 

     I feel happy when they are not in touch with me. I try to limit contact but do on occasion see them and admit some of those times have been nice.

     I try to manage them as they would contact me daily during this time if I didn't however  but they got out of control.

    I think I will not contact them and if they call again, I will let my husband handle that call.  I doubt they will pull their nonsense with him. Maybe that will help things settle. I can then continue to focus on getting through my chemo and the rest. 

    I am sorry for your Victorian situation and not seeing your daughter. Sounds like you have a good relationship with her. I hope you can get together very soon. 
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,340
    I actually cut myself off from my mother as she upset me everytime I spoke to her. She ended up ringing my daughter who was on board with it all and my daughter just told her I wasn’t speaking to anyone as I just needed to be concentrating on getting well. My mum begrudgingly accepted that. It wasn’t worth the anxiety she caused.
  • Beryl C.
    Beryl C. Member Posts: 270
    @Cath62 - setting boundaries with those who have no understanding of what this actually means can be so frustrating and unsettling.(even exhausting) Perhaps set your boundaries by letting everyone know that you will send them an 'update message' every Friday evening. Let them know that if they want to support you the best thing to do is NOT CALL for a couple of weeks. Consider getting in touch with BCNA counsellors or the Cancer Council - talking it over with others will keep you focused on your needs. Your husband also has enough to deal with, if people can't respect your requests then you always have the option to block - perhaps your husband could inform the next unwelcome caller of this option.
    Stay connected - this forum offers the best support - its a safe place to 'tell it as it is!'

  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,239
    @Blossom1961, sorry to hear how your mum made you feel. I have anxiety about having to manage my parents needs about my cancer all the time. It is just too much. My husband is in board with maintaining some relationship but protecting me as he sees and hears what they say and do. So I will let my husband take the calls and give me a bit of space from them.  We i feel stronger to deal with them   i well limit the time. Well these are my thoughts atm.
  • Sister
    Sister Member Posts: 4,960
    Getting your husband to be the gatekeeper is not a bad idea for you and probably for him as it gives him a support role in which he can really provide something for you.  Mine certainly found it was something positive he could do.

  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,239
    Thanks @Sister and @Beryl C. Very sound advise re asking them not to contact for a couple of weeks and the Friday update. I think given i have lots of treatment ahead and have to manage tyem ongoing it might be a good idea. 
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,340
    @Cath62 You’ve got this. 
  • Locksley
    Locksley Member Posts: 903
    @cath62 thinking of you.  Sending love and hugs xxx
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,328
    Good idea with your husband as gatekeeper! Bit of space will help a lot. Best wishes. 
  • FLClover
    FLClover Member Posts: 1,513
    Hello @Cath62

    So sorry to read about your situation. I can relate, as I also have an older sister who’s a narcissist, that I stopped talking to about a year ago. I also have my mum who’s borderline narcissist, who also tells what she wants to whoever she wants, completely irrespective of my wishes. She told my older sister about my bc after I specifically told her not to, and I had to yell at her a few times to make sure she didn’t tell her side of the family. She even got annoyed at me that she wasn’t allowed to tell. And sometimes she tells fibs too, just to not be ‘ashamed’ of certain things 🤦🏼‍♀️🙄. The word ‘boundaries’ means nothing to her. She gets offended by them. Worst part is, my daughter and I have been staying with her and my dad in Syd since my diagnosis in Feb., so no space at all. I’ve almost lost my marbles. Back in May I told her to stop giving me any advice on the cancer stuff, or anything else for that matter. So I feel you. I’m doing my best to move out now, because as the other ladies said, it’s best to keep distance and be very firm. I’m all for family, unless they start damaging your soul, in which case distance is necessary for self care and love. Good luck and I hope your anxiety around it gets better soon 🤞🤞. 
    Mon Xxx
  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,239
    Wow @FLClover 

    We sound very similar. My sister is just like my mother and she hasn't spoken to me for 16 yrs. I actually am better off with out her contact because it was some thing pleasant ever and she excused me of being all sorts of things.  Initially I tried to mend the relationship but eventually just gave up and accepted it was how it was.

      I  too asked them.not to tell my sister and they got annoyed at me.  I yelled about that and got told it was elder abuse and that I was sick!  My sister would see me getting cancer as a weakness. She hasn't contacted me since hearing about it, but my mother says she really cares - yeah I can tell that but all those caring calls she makes!  My mother tells fibs too and she doesn't like anyone having side conversations as it takes away attention from her. 

     i don't know how you have stayed with your mum all this time. It must be torture and you must be a very strong person. I hope you find a place soon so you won't have that situation. Thanks for sharing your story as it makes me not feel I am the only person in this situation.

    I am sad about my family. I am very family oriented too (probably because my family is so dysfunctional) and it is most hurtful to be dealing with this stuff when under so much stress/pressure in terms of the cancer stuff.  

    Best wishes @FLClover
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,340
    @Cath62 and @FLClover Sending big hugs to both of you. My hubby and children were great but SOME of my other family I could do without. I was on this forum a lot as the wonderful people on here were a fantastic replacement family for me, getting me through difficult times.
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,372
    @Cath62 Yep, that all sounds familiar. I'm quite fond of my mother--most of the time-- but she can be a horrible old trout and she did exactly the same thing to me when I was first diagnosed. Within hours of telling her, I started getting phone calls from friends of hers that I hadn't seen since I left home 30 years before, after quite specifically telling her I wanted to keep things quiet until I had figured out what the hell I was going to do. To say I was furious was an understatement.

    Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and after the first couple of calls I started telling her buddies and random relations (most of whom I had avoided for very good reasons) that I had absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I feared she was going senile. I got rumbled for that, but it was quite satisfying at the time.

    Most folk revert to factory settings when under pressure so, like the others with problematic families, I'm guessing none of this has come as a complete surprise. That doesn't make it any less hurtful. Hoping that just this once, they will allow you to call the shots and shut the F up for a couple of weeks is bound to end in disappointment.

    My advice? Just hang up; fighting with them is exhausting and ultimately pointless and if you give them the roasting they so justly deserve, you will have it thrown back at you until the end of your (or their) days. Mxx