Gransnet forums



(55 Posts)
Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 18:21:56

So often I see references to people "walking on eggshells" to maintain relationships. Often they reference a fear of estrangement that keeps them doing it, even though they feel annoyed at being in that position.

Over time there have been posts from AC who say that they tread on eggshells with their parents and posts from Parents who say they tread on eggshells with their AC. Some have said that they have ended up estranged and are glad that the eggshell treading has gone.

Basically anyone who is treading on eggshells to maintain a relationship is not able to be themselves in that relationship. Is it worth it?

Bbarb Wed 11-Dec-19 18:26:02

I see where you're coming from, but there's nothing worse to bear than a family relationship that is irretrievably broken.

Summerlove Wed 11-Dec-19 18:33:01

I find eggshell walking interesting.

It seems to come in a range of forms. A version I see often though is that someone has to “walk on eggshells” and “hold their tongue” about things that aren’t really their business to discuss anyway. A lot of cases it’s just being polite, but people dislike not being about to say whatever thought comes into their minds.

Chewbacca Wed 11-Dec-19 18:37:02

To answer your question is it worth it, I would say, without hesitation, no, it's not Madgran. I can only liken it to having beaten your head against a wall for years and years and years and then suddenly, you stop. And all you feel is a blessed relief and sense if calm. It takes a little while to get used to because, for so long, the egg shell walking and sense of trepidation before you see or speak to that person, has become the norm. I was just relieved that it was all over and I wouldn't have that "pit of my stomach" feeling ever again.

HolyHannah Wed 11-Dec-19 18:47:03

In my experience, 'walking on eggshells' and 'holding your tongue' are not the same things AT ALL. Some people use the terms interchangeably but I disagree.

Walking on eggshells to me is when you are in a situation you cannot 'escape' (like minor child/parent) and you are watching every 'step' so you don't 'crack any more shells' (induce their rage).

Having to 'hold your tongue' to not get a "bad reaction" is just common sense and polite behavior. If someone is getting annoyed at the tone or content of what you are saying to them, then stop. NOT being able to say whatever you want (regardless of intent) is not the same. The annoyed party, "not hearing you out" (continue to put up with comments/behavior unwanted) is not the same either.

Starblaze Wed 11-Dec-19 18:49:15

My NM used to say that to me all the time, it was very odd because I used to tolerate a lot from her but I couldn't place a toe out of line. Generally she said it times I actually did get upset, then it was all "that's not what I said, you are so over sensitive, I'm always walking on egg shells around you". And so no apology ever came it was all my fault.

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 19:12:08

In my experience, 'walking on eggshells' and 'holding your tongue' are not the same things AT ALL.

I understand your point Holy Hannah but I think there are times when "holding your tongue" does equate. If someone is being rude, saying unkind things, lecturing you or whatever ...and in other circumstances you would respond, say how you feel, give your point of view ... but in eggshell circumstances you don't respond and keep quiet because of the possible consequences me that is holding your tongue because you are treading on eggshells.

Sorry I know that is a confusing sentence confused

PamGeo Wed 11-Dec-19 19:30:25

I've always thought 'holding your tongue' was when it either isn't appropriate to voice your opinion or thoughts as in , unsolicited advice not required, or, 'holding your tongue' when perhaps the moment doesn't require it because the situation will right itself, all will be revealed and you've not made it worse.

'Walking on eggshells' is totally different, it's kinda like creeping past a sleeping dragon and not wanting to disturb the peace in anyway.

It's not until you are totally away from the sleeping dragon that you realise how long you've been holding your breathe or walking in an unnatural way so as not to disturb them.

MerylStreep Wed 11-Dec-19 19:31:08

If it's your husband/ partner, no, what's the point? Thats assuming that's it's been going on a long time and just because someone gets a strop on for nothing in particular.
If it's your children, that's a completely different scenario.

PamGeo Wed 11-Dec-19 19:32:39

The other big difference is, you can walk away from the first situation easier than the sleeping dragon situation

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 19:35:34

If it's your children, that's a completely different scenario.

Yes I think that is true!

HolyHannah Wed 11-Dec-19 19:41:19

When you are 'walking on eggshells' it isn't about 'holding your tongue'. That's the difference. When you are 'walking on eggshells' NOT saying anything can be as "bad" as saying something.

That's why I believe some use the term incorrectly. It's not about what you are saying/doing because it's all about not "waking the dragon" as PamGeo said. And when the dragon "wakes up"? They'll find a 'reason'/excuse to breathe fire on You.

Smileless2012 Wed 11-Dec-19 19:47:26

Walking on eggshells wasn't something we ever had to do Madgran, it was all over very quickly.

For me it isn't a relationship in the truest sense of the word if you're afraid to say what you think and feel for fear of being cut out of that person's life.

I think the terms are interchangeable, you may find yourself walking on eggshells for fear of estrangement and find yourself biting your tongue for the same reason.

It's far more than someone being annoyed at what you say or the tone you use for saying it. It's being afraid of saying the 'wrong' thing because the consequences are far greater than they should be.

You summed it up very well Chewbacca when you said about the "sense of trepidation before you see or speak to that person".

As I've said, we were never in that position and that's something we are thankful for.

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:00:32

I suppose anyone who has felt in the position of eggshell walking will possibly see it/experience it differently depending on their particular circumstances.

Even within those different viewpoints, is that eggshell walking worth it in any circumstances?

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:01:17

I think the terms are interchangeable, you may find yourself walking on eggshells for fear of estrangement and find yourself biting your tongue for the same reason.

I agree

HolyHannah Wed 11-Dec-19 20:15:24

Starblaze -- If someone is not doing anything questionable to another person, why would they fear estrangement? If you fear something, I assume there's a "reason" for that fear, otherwise the fear is irrational.

This is where I get confused. Which is it? Are some EP's confused as to what they believe? What is the thought process? "I'm not doing 'anything' questionable BUT I'm 'walking on eggshells' in fear of being estranged."

Where is that fear coming from? Did the fear come first and then the controlling/overbearing behavior begins that leads to estrangement?

I 'walked on eggshells' as a child because I was desperate for her love. I was afraid she'd abandon me because I was taught I was 'worthless' and deserved nothing. I knew I was disposable because I was unwanted in every way. She may feel now that I rejected her, but she rejected Me first.

So if my choice were 'holding my tongue' with her and have her love and respect, I would gladly. I can't walk on egg-shells while she uses the term to describe her 'victim-hood'.

Starblaze Wed 11-Dec-19 20:27:59

HolyHannah, I don't think it matters with parents like ours. No matter what we did it wasn't good enough. There was nothing wrong with us, we deserved to be loved. It's just that they don't love us and so they look for justification, I guess because they know they should. Yet... We MUST love them, we must adore and worship them. It's no wonder we end up feeling crazy.

I see it all the time, someone being utterly wonderful to someone else then suddenly the switch flipped. They had already decided they don't like you but instead of just ignoring you, they look for reasons to justify not liking you, even if that is the smallest step out of line. Even if they have to twist your words or lie about what was said to do it. Somehow if they can just turn one other person against you, they feel vindicated.

It's exhausting and pointless

Smileless2012 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:28:41

You can tell HolyHannah, there are warning signs, red flags.

The fear comes from the way you are being reacted too. The atmosphere when having asked if you can hold your GC as baby, you are then made to feel uncomfortable.

When you call round at a pre arranged time and the moment you arrive your d.i.l. goes upstairs with the baby.

It isn't necessarily that you are doing anything questionable, it's quite obvious that your very presence isn't welcomed.

Although EAC and EP's experience some of the same things, others that we experience are completely different. I understand that as a child you will have experienced controlling and overbearing behaviour from your parents that finally resulted in you estranging yourself from them.

We experienced controlling and overbearing behaviour firstly from our d.i.l. and then our ES prior to our son's estrangement from us.

As you did with your mother, some parents walk on eggshells for fear of being abandoned by their AC and for some that happens in the end anyway.

You cannot have love and respect from some one be they your parent or your AC, if you have to hold your tongue in order achieve them.

That isn't love and respect, that's fear and sometimes that fear is experienced by parents too.

love0c Wed 11-Dec-19 20:29:46

Madgran77 the simple answer to your question is I really don't know. Yes, I admit I am frightened to find out. With our eldest you must agree with everything he says or else he is really hurtful towards my husband and myself. We skirt around subjects that we know are like a hot potato to him but if he is in that mood he will keep on at us till we take the bait. He never used to be like this. He was a kind, considerate, honest and never hurtful towards us or his younger brother. Sadly we can no longer say the same.

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:32:50

If someone is not doing anything questionable to another person, why would they fear estrangement? If you fear something, I assume there's a "reason" for that fear, otherwise the fear is irrational.

If someone is doing something questionable then the person they are doing it to may feel they have to walk on eggshells! The person doing something questionable may be a Parent; an Adult child; a Sibling; an in-law or whatever. They may be doing something questionable to a Parent; an adult child; a Sibling; an in-law or whatever.

So whoever it is being done to may well fear estrangement if they respond because of what else they might lose ...other relationships that are connected!

GagaJo Wed 11-Dec-19 20:34:37

I would walk through fire, never mind treading on eggshells, to have a relationship with my grandson.

Wouldn't do it for anyone else tho!

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:34:57

loceoc flowers I dont know if it is worth it either!

Madgran77 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:36:23

GagaJo ?

Smileless2012 Wed 11-Dec-19 20:40:49

GagaJo it's such a shame that some GP's have too.

I don't believe it would have been worth it for us, even if we'd had the chance loveOc because I can't help but think if it's going to happen it will happen anyway, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. If estrangement it what they really want, estrangement is what you will getflowers.

GagaJo Wed 11-Dec-19 20:53:59

Touch and go for me at times. But I will try to keep an even keel until hes old enough for an independent relationship with me. Precious little boy!